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[301]

October 17.
[To his mother.] If I'm ever taken prisoner, you'll find one fellow who won't think he's badly treated, and won't come home and make the friends of all prisoners sick with his twaddle. . . . . People must be patient: we are going quite fast enough.


On the 15th of October, General Sheridan left the army, then strongly intrenched near Cedar Creek, for the purpose of visiting Front Royal and other points in the valley. The story of the 19th is well known. It will be remembered how, in the dawn of that day, the enemy succeeded in accomplishing a surprise; how the whole left of our line, suddenly exposed to a deadly fire poured into them from the rear, were driven from their position and rushed headlong down the valley, while the only hope that seemed to remain was that of saving the army from total destruction; and how, at midday, into that routed and huddled mass Sheridan came galloping from Winchester, with a speed that left most of his escort far in the rear, and, received by the troops with wild cheers and a spontaneous resolution to renew the battle, how he turned ruin into victory.

Late in the evening of the 18th Colonel Lowell had orders to make a reconnoissance, as soon as the fog broke the next morning, in front of the position occupied by the cavalry, on the right of the line. He caused reveille to be sounded at four o'clock, and at half past 4 his brigade was in motion. Crossing the creek, he encountered the enemy in force. A sharp skirmish ensued,—the beginning of the battle. Lowell held his position till half past 7, when he was relieved by infantry, and withdrew. His punctuality in making his advance had saved the right wing of the army from a disaster, possibly as great as that which befell the other end of the line.

Soon after eight o'clock the whole cavalry corps passed from the right of the field to the left, a distance of three miles, with the object of obtaining an advantageous position for covering the retreat of the army. The Reserve Brigade took the lead in this movement. Passing along the fast-retiring

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