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[98]

On the 14th, Sigel's advance finally reached Rude's hill, near New Market, pressing back Colonel Imboden. Colonel Smith, in command of Imboden's force during that general's absence to meet Breckinridge, formed his little brigade and held the town until night, artillery firing continuing during the day. In the morning Breckinridge arrived with Echols' brigade, Wharton's brigade (Forty-fifth and Fifty-first regiments and Thirtieth battalion), and the Virginia military institute cadets under Colonel Shipp. The fight was opened by McLaughlin's artillery, and presently the Confederate line advanced, while Imboden's cavalry and McClanahan's battery occupied a hill commanding the enemy's left. The fire from this position scattered Stahel's cavalry, and Sigel fell back half a mile, pressed by the Confederate infantry. Men were falling rapidly now under a destructive artillery and infantry fire, and the Sixty-second regiment and the cadet corps made their famous charge upon a battery at the Federal center, capturing it and the gunners, but suffering terribly in the movement. McLaughlin defeated a cavalry charge and Sigel was soon in retreat. Breckinridge occupied Rude's hill that night. In this battle the Federals lost 831 out of about 6,000, the Confederates 577 out of about 5,000.

Immediately afterward Wharton's and Echols' brigades were called to Lee's army on the Cold Harbor line.

In the latter part of May, a Federal reconnoissance was made through Pocahontas, Webster and Braxton counties, gathering in a considerable number of partisan rangers, and horses and cattle.

Sigel was soon replaced by Gen. David Hunter, who advanced to Mount Jackson simultaneously with another incursion by Crook, who left Meadow Bluff on the last of May to attack Staunton. Thus was begun the Lynchburg campaign, in which many West Virginians served with great credit. Imboden's men stubbornly contested Hunter's advance, and were reinforced by W. E. Jones,

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