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[304]

Zzzbattle of Winchester.

Early was none too quick in his divination, for at dawn on the morning of the 19th Ramseur's Division, at the crossing of the Opequon and Berryville road, is assailed, and from that time till nightfall grim battle raged. The Confederate army was posted across the Berryville 'pike on an elevated plateau between Abraham's Creek and Redbud Run, about a mile and a half east of Winchester, with Lomax and three cavalry brigades covering our right and the Valley 'pike going southward, and Fitz Lee covering the Valley 'pike to Martinsburg on our north and left. Sheridan lost an hour in getting his troops well in hand, which Early, as he says, ‘was not slow to avail of.’ For, as he pressed upon Ramseur with the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps, Wilson's Cavalry Division, which had preceded them as a cover, passed to the Federal left flank to threaten our communications on the Valley 'pike. Early, who had brought up Rodes' and Gordon's Divisions from Stevenson's Depot, hurled them upon his flanks in a moment of ‘imminent and thrilling danger,’ and concentrated upon them the fire of his artillery under Braxton and Lieutenant-Colonel T. H. Carter, its chief. As the massive infantry of the enemy pressed on in three lines they broke and scattered under the counter charge, and were driven from the field. And ‘it was a grand sight,’ says Early, ‘to see this body hurled in utter disorder before my two divisions, numbering a very little over 5,000 muskets.’

Lomax on the right had held Wilson's Cavalry Division in check, and with part of his force had gallantly charged the infantry when pressing Ramseur's line. Fitz Lee, from across the Redbud, poured a hot fire into them with his sharpshooters and Breathed's Artillery, while Nelson's and Braxton's Battalions, under Colonel T. H. Carter, their guns double-shotted with canister, ripped broad gaps through their lines when they had got close enough almost to feel the hot breath of the tongues of flame upon their cheeks.

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Ramseur (3)
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