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[722] and knowing that no interests in the valley, save those of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, were suffering by the delay. In this view I was coinciding with the Lieutenant-General commanding.

Although the main force remained without change of position from September third to nineteenth, still the cavalry was employed every day in harassing the enemy, its opponents being principally infantry. In these skirmishes the cavalry was becoming educated to attack infantry lines.

On the thirteenth, one of these handsome dashes was made by General McIntosh, of Wilson's division, capturing the Eighth South Carolina regiment at Abram's creek; on the same day Getty's division of the Sixth corps made a reconnoissance to the Opequan, developing a heavy force of the enemy at Edwards' Crossing.

The position which I had taken at Clifton was six miles from Opequan creek, on the west bank of which the enemy was in position. This distance of six miles I determined to hold as my territory by scouting parties, and in holding it in this way, without pushing up the main force, I expected to be able to move on the enemy at the proper time, without his obtaining the information which he would immediately get from his pickets, if I was in close proximity.

On the night of the fifteenth I received reliable information that Kershaw's division was moving through Winchester, and in the direction of Front Royal. Then our time had come, and I almost made up my mind that I would fight at Newtown, on the valley pike, give up my line to the rear, and take that of the enemy. From my position at Clifton I could throw my force into Newtown before Early could get information and move to that point I was a little timid about this movement until the arrival of General Grant at Charlestown, who endorsed it, and the order for the movement was made out, but, in consequence of a report from General Averell, on the afternoon of the eighteenth of September, that Early had moved two divisions to Martinsburg, I changed this programme, and determined to first catch the two divisions remaining in vicinity of Stevenson's depot, and then the two sent to Martinsburg, in detail. This information was the cause of the battle of Opequan, instead of the battle of Newtown.

At three o'clock on the morning of the nineteenth September the army moved to the attack. Torbert was directed to advance with Merritt's division of cavalry from Summit Point, carry the crossings of Opequan creek, and form a junction at some point near Stevenson's depot with Averell, who moved from Darksville. Wilson was ordered to move rapidly up the Berryville pike from Berryville, carry its crossing of the Opequan, and charge through the gorge or cañon, the attack to be supported by the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, both of which moved across the country to the same crossing of the Opequan. Crook moved across country to be in reserve at the same point.

Wilson, with McIntosh's brigade leading, made a gallant charge through the long canon, and meeting the advance of Ramseur's rebel infantry division, drove it back and captured the earthwork at the mouth of the cation; this movement was immediately followed up by the Sixth corps. The Nineteenth corps was directed, for convenience of movement, to report to General Wright on its arrival at Opequan creek. I followed up the cavalry attack, and selected the ground for the formation of the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, which went into line under a heavy artillery fire.

A good deal of time was lost in this movement through the cañon, and it was not till perhaps nine o'clock A. M., that the order for the advance in line was given. I had, from early in the morning, become apprised that I would have to engage Early's entire army, instead of two divisions, and determined to attack with the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, holding Crook's command as a turning column to use only when the crisis of the battle occurred, and that I would put him in on my left, and still get the valley pike. The attack was therefore made by the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, in very handsome style, and under a heavy fire from the enemy, who held a line which gave him the cover of slight brushwood and cornfields.

The resistance during this attack was obstinate, and, as there were no earthworks to protect, deadly to both sides.

The enemy, after the contest had been going on for some time, made a counter charge, striking the right of the Sixth corps and left of the Nineteenth, driving back the centre of my line.

It was at this juncture that I ordered a brigade of Russell's division of the Sixth corps to wait till the enemy's attacking column presented its flank, then to strike it with vigor. This was handsomely done, the brigade being led by General Russell, and its commander. Upton, in person; the enemy in turn was driven back, our line re-established, and most of the two or three thousand men who had gone to the rear brought back.

I still would not order Crook in, but placed him directly in rear of the line of battle; as the reports, however, that the enemy were attempting to turn my right kept continually increasing, I was obliged to put him in on that flank instead of on the left, as was originally intended. He was directed to act as a turning column, to find the left of the enemy's line, strike it in flank or rear, break it up, and that I would order a left half wheel of the line of battle to support him. In this attack the enemy was driven in confusion from his position, and simultaneous with it Merritt and Averell, under Torbert, could be distinctly seen sweeping up the Martinsburg pike, driving the enemy's cavalry before them in a confused mass

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