through the broken infantry. I then rode along the line of the Nineteenth and Sixth corps, ordered their advance, and directed Wilson, who was on the left flank, to push on and gain the valley pike south of Winchester; after which I returned to the right, where the enemy was still fighting with obstinacy in the open ground in front of Winchester, and ordered Torbert to collect his cavalry and charge, which was done simultaneously with the infantry advance, and the enemy routed, At daylight on morning of the twentieth of September the army moved rapidly up the valley pike in pursuit of the enemy, who had continued his retreat during the night to Fisher's hill, south of Strasburg. Fisher's hill is the bluff immediately south of and over a little stream called Tumbling river, and is a position which was almost impregnable to a direct assault, and as the valley is but about three and a half miles wide at this point, the enemy considered himself secure on reaching it, and commenced erecting breast-works across the valley from Fisher's hill to North mountain; so secure, in fact, did he consider himself, that the ammunition boxes were taken from the caissons and placed for convenience behind the breastworks. On the evening of September twentieth, Wright and Emory went into position on the heights of Strasburg, Crook north of Cedar creek, the cavalry to the right and rear of Wright, and Emory extending to the back road. This night I resolved to use a turning column again, and that I would move Crook, unperceived, if possible, over on to the face of Little North mountain, and let him strike the left and rear of the enemy's line, and then, if successful, make a left half wheel of the whole line of battle to his support. To do this required much secresy, as the enemy had a signal station on Threetop mountain, from which he could see every movement made by our troops; therefore, during the night of the twentieth, I concealed Crook in the timber north of Cedar creek, where he remained during the twenty-first. On the same day I moved Wright and Emory up in the front of the rebel line, getting into proper position after a severe engagement between a portion of Rickett's and Getty's divisions of the Sixth corps, and a strong force of the enemy. Torbert, with Wilson's and Merritt's cavalry, was ordered down the Luray valley in pursuit of the enemy's cavalry, and, after defeating or driving it, to cross over Luray pike to New Market, and intercept the enemy's infantry should I drive it from the position at Fisher's hill. On the night of the twenty-first, Crook was moved to, and concentrated in, the timber near Strasburg, and at daylight on the twenty-second marched to, and massed in, the timber near Little North mountain. I did not attempt to cover the long front presented by the enemy, but massed the Sixth and Nineteenth corps opposite the right centre of his line. After Crook had gotten into the position last named, I took out Rickett's division of the Sixth corps and placed it opposite the enemy's left centre, and directed Averell with his cavalry to go up on Rickett's front and right, and drive in the enemy's skirmish line, if possible. This was done, and the enemy's signal officer on Threetop mountain, mistaking Rickett's division for my turning column, so notified the enemy, and he made his arrangements accordingly, whilst Crook, without being observed, moved on the side of Little North mountain, and struck the enemy's left and rear so suddenly and unexpectedly, that he (the enemy) supposing he must have come across the mountains, broke; Crook swinging down behind the line, Rickett's swinging in and joining Crook, and so on the balance of the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, the rout of the enemy being complete. Unfortunately the cavalry which I had sent down the Luray valley to cross over to New Market was unsuccessful, and only reached so far as Millford, a point at which the Luray valley contracts to a gorge, and which was taken possession of by the enemy's cavalry in some force. Had General Torbert driven this cavalry, or turned the defile and reached New Market, I have no doubt but that we would have captured the entire rebel army. I feel certain that its rout from Fisher's hill was such that there was scarcely a company organization held together. New Market being at a converging point in the valley they came together again, and to some extent reorganized. I did not wait to see the results of this victory, but pushed on during the night of the twenty-second to Woodstock, although the darkness and consequent confusion made the pursuit slow. On the morning of September twenty-third, General Devins, with his small brigade of cavalry, moved to a point directly north of Mount Jackson, driving the enemy in his front, and there awaited the arrival of General Averell's division, which for some unaccountable reason went into camp immediately after the battle. General Averell reached Devins' command at three o'clock P. M., and, in the evening, returned with all the advance cavalry of which he was in command, to a creek one half mile north of Hawkinsburg, and there remained until the arrival of the head of the column, which had halted between Edinburg and Woodstock for wagons, in order to issue the necessary rations. Early on the morning of the twenty-fourth the entire army reached Mount Jackson, a small town on the north bank of the north fork of the Shenandoah. The enemy had in the mean time reorganized, and taken position on the bluff, south of the river, but had commenced this same morning his retreat toward Harrisonburg; still, he held a long and strong line with the troops that were to cover his rear, in a temporary line of rifle-pits on the bluff commanding the plateau. To dislodge him from his strong position,
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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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