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[455] safe. Torbert, running out his artillery, commenced a furious shelling, which our battery answered with vigor. His men demonstrated heavily in front of Payne, whose men were at the bridge, and they moved up in our front as if they intended to assault my lines. Payne repulsed those in front of him, and our rifles opened from behind stumps, rocks, and rail piles and trees with such a ringing fire, back they all went. This was being kept up so long I began to suspect something, and sent Captain Thomas Whitehead, of Company E, Second Virginia cavalry, to my extreme right with a scout, who soon notified me by courier that a considerable force (he thought a brigade) were making around across the mountain to turn our position. My line had already been stretched to its greatest tension; our led horses had consumed one-fourth of the command. I was in conversation with Major Brethead when this information was brought me; I asked him if he felt safe with his battery, if I moved the squadron in his front, and over whose heads his guns were firing? He smiled and said: ‘If “Billy” (Colonel Payne) can hold that bridge—and it looks like he is going to do it—I'll put a pile of cannister near my guns, and all h—l will never move me from this position. I'll make a horizontal shot turn in full blast for them to come through; you need not be afraid of my guns.’ Just then the enemy repeated their feint again. I withdrew Captain Strother, of the Fourth Virginia, with his squadron, and gave him the buglers of the First, Second and Fourth regiments, and directed him to move his men, dismounted, quickly on the ridge parallel to the ravine in the woods the enemy were working around to get down behind us, this squadron to be deployed at about fifteen paces interval, and the buglers to be in their rear about regimental distance apart, with orders that whenever my headquarters' bugle sounded the advance they were to echo the same notes, one following the other. This little ruse acted just as I hoped. They had hardly gotten to the point before Whitehead's rifles could be heard falling back. When these troops arrived opposite Strother, his rifles opened sharply; I had the bugle for the advance sounded, and it was responded to in turn by the other three. The echo up the crags and cliffs pealed and reverberated; on our sharpshooters moved, and at the second blast from the bugles back started this column. As some of my men were now in their rear and on their flank, back they went in a hurry. Torbert continued to be active until Custer returned, when they withdrew and went back to Front Royal, as has already been described by Pond. Finding that they had withdrawn, I withdrew, leaving Colonel Payne with his brigade. (At that time


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Front Royal (Virginia, United States) (2)
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