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Zzzvictory for a time—retreat.

At midday a splendid victory had been gained; but alas! that brave and accomplished officer, Major-General Rodes, had fallen; the gallant General Godwin, of Ramseur's Division, had also been slain, and General York, of Gordon's Division, with hundreds of others of brave men, lay stricken. At 2 o'clock Breckinridge, with [305] his division and King's and McLaughlin's Artillery, had arrived, and Sheridan was preparing another assault. He had intended to send Crook to cut off Early's retreat southward by the Valley 'pike, but Lomax there had so checked Wilson's progress, and Early had now given him so rough a handling, that he determined to concentrate his three corps on Early's left, while Averill and Merritt, with their two cavalry divisions, were to sweep down the Valley 'pike, also on our left, and in touch with their infantry, and the whole force, with the exception of Wilson, were to decide conclusions there. The most massive concentrative charge of the war by Federal troops on the open field in Virginia followed.

As this tremendous cavalry force, nearly 10,000 strong, came thundering down the 'pike to the very skirts of Winchester, Fitz Lee fell wounded while gallantly striving against them, and our cavalry, with Patton's Brigade of Infantry, were forced back. In double-quick time the two brigades, under Breckinridge, and King's Artillery was thrown into line at right angles to our main line, and the cavalry was again and again repulsed; King's Artillery in the angle firing at the same time to front and flank, until their ammunition was exhausted, and still then sticking to their guns. But our men in front heard the fire rolling to the rear, and with it came the pressure of three corps of 30,000 infantry upon their front, while they were but three meagre divisions. The front line began to wither away—Evans's Brigade broke—and it became evident our men could hold out no longer. Early was everywhere. As the enemy pressed to the very muzzles of Carter's guns, and his officers stood like statues, pistols in hand, for close encounter, there was Early; and now, as the crisis came on the left, he sat his horse amongst King's guns, coolly surveying the scene. ‘Joshua has the sun by the heel,’ exclaimed some of the men—for it was yet lingering over the weary combatants, and there was no Blucher to come. Early now gave the order to retreat; and, with Wharton on the left and Ramseur on our right, maintaining organization and covering the movement, he deliberately, in good order, retired with all the honors of war, losing but three guns, which could not be brought off, because the horses were killed. The enemy reported five.

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