the Kanawha division, the rebels came on in perfect confidence of victory. There they come, old veterans of the famous Ewell corps, practised in the hundred battles of tile Potomac army, rank after rank. Will our men resist and repel this almost irresistible torrent of steel, lead and iron, rushing on to overwhelm them? We wait but a few minutes. Grape, canister, shell, are hurled on them from our batteries, while regiment after regiment pours in its effective fire at short range. They waver, halt, turn, when, with a cheer, our men are up and after them, driving them clear into and behind their breastworks. These being completely commanded by works in the rear, our men reluctantly retired, bringing with them numerous guns, dropped by the rebels in their hurried flight. In this charge the Fifth Virginia infantry by some misunderstanding got into the front ranks, although they, with the whole Second division, were only used as reserves. As it was, they rushed on with the advance occupying the left, and suffered severely, losing about thirty men. With this charge, repulse and charge, ended the second day's work before Lynchburg. We had tested the enemy's position and numbers, and found both too great for our army, with limited rations, to overcome. Before us was a strongly-fortified town, that if taken by us at all, could only be taken by surprise. In it were troops far surpassing ours in numbers and freshness, fighting behind breastworks. So, quietly, on the night of the eighteenth, the wagon and ambulance trains were started; in the afternoon and about nine o'clock the troops were withdrawn, and our journey home was commenced, General Crook's division bringing up and guarding the rear. On Saturday evening, Colonel Powell, Second Virginia cavalry, with the First and Second Virginia cavalry regiments and two guns, marched around by the right, to cut the railroad east of Lynchburg, and surprise a fort about two miles from the city. By some over-sight, the guide missed the road and led them ten miles out of the way, to Campbell Court-house. After a slight skirmish, in which they killed two and captured six, a messenger arrived from Averell, informing the Colonel of our withdrawal, and he was compelled to rejoin the main column without doing much injury to the railroad. Flying rumors, and false rumors, too, passed from one end of our column to the other, as to the number and designs of the enemy following in our rear. The event proved their only object to be to harass, as much as fifteen hundred men could, our army, and pick up stragglers. Early's division could not be spared from Richmond longer than absolutely necessary for Lynchburg's safety, so McCausland followed us with his brigade. It was galling to our brave soldiers to retire thus in the guise of retreat before the men they had so often overcome and routed. To give them a battle, if they really wished it, at Buford's Gap, General Crook drew up his division in line and awaited their onset. The men were fairly longing for one more chance to punish the wolves hovering in our rear, but they came not, and after waiting a couple of hours, once more we marched on, and once more they followed. All night of the twentieth we marched along the line of the railroad, and every bridge or culvert that was burnable was burned, so that through the whole country for miles shone the light of these traces of our devastating march. As the command was at breakfast on the morning of the twenty-first, in and around Salem, the rebels made a fierce attack on the rear, with both musketry and shells. A brigade being sent back to assist in covering the retreat into the valley at the foot of the Catawba Mountain, the trains were hurried on. For a few moments it was very difficult to decide whether we were not going to have a regular stampede, such a panic seemed to possess the inevitable teamsters. The trains passed on in safety, and were followed by Carlin's and Stone's batteries, that by some strange neglect, were left unguarded by any except the artillerists, they having neither revolvers nor sabres. Passing into a defile, a party of one hundred and fifty to two hundred rebels rushed down on them, drove them off, and proceeded leisurely to chop up the spokes of the wheels and cut the traces, and lead off the horses, and all, too, without firing a single shot. So quietly was it all done, that persons accompanying the line, quietly resting in a wood near by, heard or knew nothing of it, until a score or two of frightened artillerists rushed up to tell of their loss. The remaining command coming up were astonished to find the ruins of two splendid batteries standing in the road a desolate monument to somebody's inexperience and guilt. An effort was made to haul off the pieces in wagons, but it was found possible to carry but four; the remaining six, spiked, and with trunnions knocked off, were hidden. The ten carriages and ten caissons were then, by some brilliant orders, fired and left to burn by the roadside, over which almost our whole column has still to pass. The result may easily be imagined, and the folly and stupidity of the morning's work culminated in the killing of six men and wounding ten of the Second Virginia cavalry. Our loss, then, by this sole disaster of our retreat, is six cannon, ten carriages, ten caissons, one hundred and twenty horses, six men killed and ten wounded. It is entirely owing to the policy maintained in the First division, of carrying the batteries as trains separated from the column. Unarmed as the men are, we can readily perceive what an easy matter it would be for any enterprising rebel with a small command to dash in and destroy and capture, as was done Tuesday morning. Attempts had been made to induce General Crook to place his batteries in the same position in our columns, but he steadily refused,
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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