of ammunition left to sustain another well-contested battle. I immediately ordered all the baggage and supply trains to retire by the Bedford turnpike, and made preparation to withdraw the army as soon as it should become sufficiently dark to conceal the movement from the enemy. Meanwhile, as there still remained five hours of daylight, they were ordered to maintain a firm front, and with skirmishers to press the enemy's lines at all points. I have since learned that Early's whole force was up in time to have made a general attack on the same afternoon (18th）—an attack which under the circumstances would probably have been fatal to us; but, rendered cautious by the bloody repulse of Breckinridge, and deceived by the firm attitude of my command, he devoted the afternoon to refreshment and repose, expecting to strike a decisive blow on the following morning. As soon as it became dark I quietly withdrew my whole force, leaving a line of pickets close to the enemy, with orders to remain until twelve o'clock (midnight), and then follow the main body. This was successfully accomplished without loss of men or material, excepting only a few wounded who were left in a temporary hospital by mistake.By a critical examination and comparison of these reports it will be seen that the men who did the fighting say nothing of the Confederate force being ‘disgracefully routed,’ or of their ‘overwhelming numbers,’ and maintain a prudent silence as to the cause of Hunter's withdrawal. No one can read the whole correspondence without being satisfied that such men as Averell, Crook, Sullivan and Hayes, who seemed to have all been gallant soldiers, were much discouraged and had no faith in Hunter. They believed they could have forced their way through our lines and were anxious to do so, for they knew that they had force superior both in numbers and equipment. Believing this, they were chagrined that a retreat was ordered just as victory was apparently within their grasp. Hunter claimed that he was overwhelmed by numbers, and that he was short of ammunition. That he was not outnumbered the official reports plainly show. He had two full divisions of infantry, each with three brigades, two of cavalry, composed in the aggregate of five brigades and thirty-two guns. Early, on the other hand, had only the small though very efficient force belonging to Breckinridge's Department, McCausland's and Imboden's Cavalry, the Corps of Cadets, the Silver Grays of the city, the invalids, and about one-half of Ewell's Corps; the second half did not reach Lynchburg in time to take active part in the battle on the 18th. Opposed to Hunter's
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.