a messenger to General Ewell
, to inform him that there could be no doubt that the enemy was
in very heavy force, and if I was to be withdrawn, it had better be done that night without waiting for daylight, as by moving to my left the enemy could post artillery, so as to command the bridge and ford completely, and prevent my being either withdrawn or reinforced, and that I was satisfied that he was preparing for that very object.
In response to this, General Ewell
came over himself a little before three o'clock A. M., and, after consultation with me, gave the order for recrossing, which was begun at once, Lawton
's brigade crossing first and carrying over the artillery by hand, and my brigade following, so as to complete the withdrawal a very little after dawn.
had not been entirely satisfied that the enemy was in such strong force as I represented, and he was rather inclined to the opinion that movements I had observed indicated a retreating army.
To satisfy him, we remained behind until the advancing skirmishers of the enemy made it prudent for us to retire, and we then rode across the bridge in rear of my brigade.
's whole corps, supported by those of Banks
, moved to the position which I had occupied, and a very heavy cannonading followed.
My command was thus rescued from inevitable destruction, for it would have been impossible for General Jackson
to have crossed his troops in time to arrest its fate, as his only means of crossing the river consisted of one narrow, temporary bridge, unsuitable for the passage of artillery, and which the enemy could have commanded from several positions beyond the reach of our artillery on the south bank.
's whole army was in easy supporting distance of the force sent against me, and I had in part confronted that army on the 23rd and the following night.
The men of my command, including Douglas
' regiment, had had very little to eat since crossing the river, and were without rations, as there had been little opportunity