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[305] that we had better attack the enemy; but as he did not agree with me, and as I at that time understood that he was sent to aid me in the contest which was then ended, I did not insist on his remaining. He left me about four P. M. I then disposed the three regiments in the woods, in regular order, about one half a mile distant from the enemy, with skirmishers in front and on the flank, sending word to General Ewell that the enemy had been repulsed on our right, and that I awaited orders.

About half an hour after General Taylor left, Major Barbour came to me, with orders from General Ewell, “to move to the front,” and that a force would be sent forward on the enemy's right to make a combined attack before night. It was too late to recall General Taylor. I moved through the woods and halted in line, five hundred yards from the enemy's front, (displayed along the Kisseltown road,) prepared to attack him as soon as I could hear from their fire, that our force on his flank was engaged. I waited half an hour without any intimation of this attack, and sent a courier to General Ewell, to say I awaited the movement on our left. Half an hour afterward, I sent another courier with the same message, and, soon after, Lieutenant Lee, of my staff, to say that if the attack was made on their flank, to divert their attention from my movement, I thought I could overpower the enemy in front, but that it would be injudicious to do so alone, as I could plainly see three batteries of the enemy all able to bear on our force, as we should advance across the open fields, and what I estimated at five brigades of infantry. I waited in suspense until after dark, saw the enemy go into camp, light their fires, draw rations, and otherwise dispose themselves for the night, evidently not expecting any further attack. I then sought General Ewell, to recommend a night attack, and found he had gone to report to General Jackson. Before leaving, I was strongly tempted to make the advance alone, at night, and should have done so, had I not felt it a duty to secure complete success by waiting for the combined attack before alluded to, and having some scruples in regard to a possible failure if acting alone, which might have thwarted the plans of the commanding general, whose success the day after would be seriously jeopardized by even a partial reverse, after the fortunate results of the day. I regretted that I had not detained General Taylor until Major Barbour reached me, as, with his brigade and my own, the result would have been reasonably certain, without consulting General Ewell. Finally, convinced that we could make a successful night attack, and capture or disperse General Fremont's entire force, certainly all his artillery, I awaited General Ewell's return, and then urged more than ever the attack, and begged him to go with me, and “see how easy it was.” He said he could not take the responsibility, and if it was to be done, I would have to see General Jackson. I accordingly rode seven miles to see him, obtained his consent to have Colonel Patton's battalion cooperate with me, and his directions “to consult General Ewell and be guided by him.” On returning to General Ewell with this permission, he declined taking the responsibility which he said thus rested on him, and continued, with General Taylor, to oppose it against my urgent entreaties to be permitted to make the attack alone, with my brigade. He only replied: “You have done well enough for one day, and even a partial reverse would interfere with General Jackson's plans for the next day.” I replied that, “we should have the army of Fremont pressing us tomorrow, if not driven off, and that we had better fight one army at a time.” So ended the matter. My regiments remained under arms all night, and I moved to camp at daybreak with reluctance.

Having received orders to retard the advance of the enemy on the Port Republic road, on the ninth, I took up our old position, and remained until nine o'clock, when, being without artillery, and finding the enemy had placed a battery to drive us out of the wood, where they had sustained so fatal a repulse the day before. I slowly retired toward Port Republic. Receiving from General Jackson two messages, in quick succession, to hasten to the battle-field, where he had engaged General Shields's army, I marched rapidly to obey this order, crossed the bridge, burned it just before the enemy appeared, and reached the field after the contest had been decided in our favor. To sum up the occurrences of the day, I may state that our handsome success on the right was due to the judicious position selected, as well as to the game spirit and eagerness of the men. The flank movement to the right, totally unexpected by the enemy, and handsomely carried out by Colonel Cantey, completed our success, and although we failed to take their battery, it was not attributable to unskilful manoeuvring, but to one of those accidents which often decide the result of battles and partial engagements.

To the bearing of all the officers — dismounted by my order, except myself and staff — and the men, I give most favorable testimony, and cannot withhold my highest admiration of their gallant conduct and fine discipline, and after the contest, as you witnessed, every regiment was in line, as composed as if they had been on drill.

The prisoners and wounded say two brigades were opposed to us, (General Blenker's old brigade, now Stahl's, and General Train's, with reserves, probably not less than six to seven thousand men, one regiment having brought eight hundred men on the field,) with two batteries of artillery. My three regiments, counting one thousand three hundred and forty-eight men and officers, repulsed the brigade of Blenker three times; and one hour after, with the Thirteenth and Twenty-fifth Virginia regiments, whose conduct, while observed by me, was characterized by steadiness and gallantry, the other brigade of the enemy, with their battery, was driven from the field, a mile and a half from the first scene of the contest.

On the ground where we first opened fire,

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R. S. Ewell (8)
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