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[260] in line of battle; the cavalry of Imboden giving way to our infantry skirmishers and going to the right, with instructions to operate during the day as a cover to our right flank, and to endeavor, as the battle progressed, to gain the rear of Siegel and to burn the bridge across the Shenandoah near Mount Jackson, four miles from New Market. The topography of the country was as follows: The main turnpike passes down the Valley due north through the town of New Market, which lies rather in a depression, from which, both to the north and south, the road and country rise with a gradual ascent. The Massanutten mountain runs parallel with the road, at the distance of a mile or more, with an intervening wooded valley, interspersed with wet weather marshes, rendered by the rain then falling difficult for field operations, which gave Breckinridge's right, good protection. On the left of the turnpike, and also parallel with it, and half a mile or more distant, runs the south branch of the Shenandoah, then swollen with the rains, a high ridge intervening and ascending by a gradual slope from the turnpike. General Breckinridge formed his line of battle with the right resting on the turnpike and his left on the summit of the ridge, placing the cadets in the center between the two brigades. He had but one line of battle in two ranks, with no reserves. It was not long before the skirmish line of the opposing forces became engaged, and after sharp firing the enemy fell back beyond New Market. Then ensued heavy artillery firing, which occupied the greater part of the morning. A reconnoissance showed that Siegel, finding he was opposed by infantry instead of cavalry, had abandoned the offensive and assumed the defensive. To.this end he had retired with his main force to the crest of the hill about a mile north of New Market, where, with open ground in his front and his flanks well covered by the topography already described, he occupied an exceedingly strong defensive position. The rain was almost continuous during the day, and Breckinridge's forces had operated in wheat fields, which made it very laborious, particularly in handling artillery, beyond the reach of which Siegel had now placed himself Notwithstanding the odds at which General Breckinridge now found himself, he determined to press to the attack. Putting his troops in motion, he passed beyond the village of New Market and began to ascend the open space intervening between himself and the enemy, composed of blue grass pastures intersected occasionly with stone fences. Seeing that his troops would be exposed to a heavy artillery fire unless there was some provision to prevent it, he boldly

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