the northwest front of the town and his right near the Central railway.
He was located on a ridge, on the western edge of the town, with four pieces of artillery placed on his right, near the railroad and on the River
road, and on the road leading to Staunton
His left rested in the edge of a small body of woods.
The day was bitterly cold, with a biting wind and a steadily falling, heavy sleet.
came on, at an early hour, and drove in Early
's pickets, having destroyed the railroad bridge over Christian
's creek as he advanced.
He first made a feint of attacking and then fell back, creating the impression that he had retired and gone into camp.
At about 2 p. m. he again advanced in force and formed in line of battle about a mile in front of Waynesboro
, across and at right angles to the Staunton
road, with skirmishers in front and deployed some distance to the left.
's artillery opened on this advance, especially that near his left, breaking the enemy's line and compelling them to fall back, seemingly, as could best be observed through the blinding sleet for some distance; but about 3 p. m. a heavy mass of cavalry that had been moving, concealed, from the Federal
right, came through the open woods and turned Early
's left, which made but a feeble resistance, with its little band of benumbed men, against the mass of well-mounted cavalry that fell on them.
The whole line at once gave way, and wild panic and stampede took place.
The enemy, its whole force being cavalry and mounted infantry, dashed furiously forward into the swarm of flying men, following those that escaped across the river and the Blue ridge
at Rockfish gap, capturing all the artillery and trains and about 1,000 prisoners, many of them citizens and convalescents who had retreated with the army from Staunton
and most of his staff escaped to the mountain.
The discomfiture was complete, and nothing was now left to oppose the advance of Sheridan
across the Blue ridge
and along the line of the Central railroad toward Richmond
, or toward James river
to cross to Lee
's rear, which it did that night and on the morning of the following day, after sending a brigade back down the Valley
, with the prisoners and a few of the captured wagons and artillery, but leaving many of the latter stuck in the mud between Staunton
On the 4th, Rosser
, having collected a portion of his