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[102] since sunrise of thirty-three and a half miles and no rations. Next morning the Colonel procured us a barrel of crackers, and off we started again, still as rear guard. A short time after noon a perceptible movement among the stragglers who lined the road in front indicated something unusual. It soon became known, as we approached Middletown, that Shields had driven in our pickets three miles east of the town, and that Fremont's advance was coming rapidly, a short distance on the west of it. We had a column of limping stragglers, two miles long, to force through the opening between the two Federal armies. As we pressed on artillery opened sharply on our right, showing that Jackson had grappled Fremont. Then the rattle of musketry indicated that he was closing with him, and we in the rear were prepared at any instant to fight Shields's cavalry. Through Middletown we went, and reaching Cedar Creek, halted to allow stragglers to close up before burning the bridge, as Winder had ordered. In this halt we lost an hour, but in the meantime got up at least a thousand men, whose halting steps were accelerated by the sound of Fremont's artillery on our right, and the sputter of Shields's skirmishers to the left. Thence we marched through Strasburg to Fisher's Hill, where we hoped to stay for the night, knowing that Fremont had been sharply checked, and we had our faces to the combined armies, and our backs to a sure retreat. But we had no such good fortune. The Colonel had succeeded in saving a barrel of whiskey from the Winchester plunder, and a stiff drink was served out to each man. We then marched to Mount Jackson that night. The next day — though relieved as rear guard--Ashby, who had just been made a General, asked Colonel Johnson to protect a battery with which he was driving back Fremont's pursuit at Rood's Hill, and another place after this. As we were marching through Woodstock squads of cavalry commenced hurrying by us — some jumped their horses over fences, and some pushed down gates in their hurry to get forward and away from the rear. It was not until a young officer rode up and vainly commanded and implored them to rally, that the truth flashed out they were stampeded and running.

Instantly the Colonel cried out, “File left — march! Front, charge those men and drive them back.” The men went at it with a yell, and belabored men and horses so thoroughly with rifle-barrel and butt, that they stopped the running by them. Few, however, went back. It was not until next day they rallied, and a few days after retrieved their disgrace in a fight with Sir Percy Wyndham.

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