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[303] day, on reaching Manassas Gap, found Wright's brigade of Anderson's division deployed to repel a large force of the enemy, who were advancing upon it through the Gap. The insignia of two corps could be seen in the Gap and a third was marching up. Over ten thousand men were in sight.

The enemy were so close to Wright's brigade that the line of battle had to be chosen some distance in the rear, and accordingly some two hundred and fifty sharpshooters of Rodes's division, under Major Blackford, were added to Wright's brigade to hold the enemy in check while the line was formed. Rodes's brigade (Colonel O'Neil), deployed as skirmishers, formed the first line, and the remainder of Rodes's division with Carter's battalion of artillery, the second line. These dispositions were made by General Rodes, with his usual promptness, skill and judgment. The enemy were held in check for some time by the line of Wright's brigade and the skirmishers under Major Blackford, which they at last drove back, with considerable loss to themselves, by flanking it.

These troops, in our full view, showed great gallantry, and though in very weak line and intended merely to make a show, held the enemy back so long and inflicted such loss that they were satisfied not to come within reach of O'Neil, but remained at a safe distance, where they were leisurely shelled by Carter's artillery. Johnson's division was ordered to take position near the river, to prevent the enemy's cutting us off from the ford at Front Royal, and though not required in action, was promptly in place. Early's division, much jaded, was fifteen miles off near Winchester, and could not possibly reach me before the afternoon of the next day.

I had reason to believe that Meade's whole army was in our front, and having but two divisions to oppose him I decided to send Early up the Valley to Strasburg and New Market, while I marched the other two divisions up the Page valley to Luray, the route pursued by Jackson in 1862 in his campaign against Banks. Johnson's and Rodes's divisions moved back two to four miles and encamped near Front Royal — the rear-guard, under Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, of Johnson's division, leaving Front Royal after 10 o'clock next day — the enemy making only a slight advance, which was driven back by a few rounds of artillery.

Rodes's division, the only troops of my corps that I saw during this affair, showed great eagerness and alacrity to meet the enemy, and had he advanced, would have given him a severe lesson. I was indebted for correct and valuable information regarding the strength and movements

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1862 AD (1)
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