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Fight at Waynesboroa.

On the 28th they had arrived, and he was now ready again to take the offensive, and sent me across the South Fork of the Shenandoah river over towards the Staunton pike. General Gordon's infantry followed. We found the position of the enemy, and from where we were we could see the enemy's artillery in park in the direction of and near Weir's Cave. I placed two of [457] our guns in position to open on this part of their artillery which was now expecting our approach and was moving around to get in a piece of woods to attack. General Wickham arriving after we had started, ordered our guns to open before we had gotten near enough to accomplish anything, and the first shot from that gun had about the same effect that a stick in the hands of a mischievous boy, near enough to stir up a nest of wasps, would have had: they swarmed out and very soon were ready for us. Moving over to the Staunton pike, we soon learned that Wilson's division and Lowell's brigade had been sent to Staunton and Waynesboroa to destroy the iron railroad bridge at the latter place. General Wickham ordered me to move with my brigade to Waynesboroa and attack, saying General Pegram's brigade would follow me. Captain McClung's company of the First Virginia regiment came from this county-Augusta. I moved up to within half a mile of the enemy's pickets facing down the Valley, the direction they would expect us, and making a detour by a blind road used years before for the hauling of charcoal, passing in and around the foot-hills; this brought me out about a quarter of a mile from the mouth of the tunnel through the mountain, and between it and the railroad bridge, upon which the enemy were at work.

Two companies of boys and reserves from Staunton and Waynesboro, with a battery, had fallen back in front of Wilson's command to the mouth of the tunnel. Their pieces had been withdrawn to the top of the mountain. I sent a scout forward, who cut off the enemy's vidette and captured it. We had to wait a little time for our artillery to come up. The blind road was filled with fallen trees and logs, but that splendid battery could follow the cavalry anywhere, and overcome any reasonable obstacle. When well up, the First Virginia cavalry was dismounted and sent down the Chesapeake and Ohio railroads towards Waynesboro and the bridge over the Shenandoah. The Fourth Virginia, mounted, was ordered to charge the enemy's reserve picket. Capt. Johnston, commanding the battery (a gallant officer), was ordered to move up at a trot and occupy an elevated piece of ground with his guns, while the Third and Second, dismounted, supporting it and the Fourth Virginia. They were all pushed over across the Charlottesville and Staunton pike, south of and parallel with the railroad. This was promptly executed, and immediately after the move was started, the enemy started back. (Coming in behind their picket from the opposite direction from [458] which we were expected was a complete surprise, which advantage I pressed, and was heartily seconded by the whole command. Prisoners captured told me they supposed it was Hampton's command, from Gen. Lee's army, as we had come from the direction of Charlottesville, and they had heard that morning that General Early had been reinforced from Richmond). Captain Johnson's battery was handled with great skill. He opened on the working party attempting to pull the bridge to pieces with splendid effect. They scattered and started back at a run, and as long as there was a mark to fire at, east of Waynesboro, his guns blazed at it. Arriving at the river, the First, Second and Third were mounted, but the Fourth had pushed on, and had some sharp skirmishing in the town before the other regiments came up. Upon their arrival we soon cleared the town, and Johnson's battery took position on the west end and was having a sharp duel with the enemy's battery. This was after sun-down, when Gen. Early with his infantry appeared on their flank, and with a few shots from the artillery attached to Gen. Pegram's infantry brigade, they started to retire, and after night moved rapidly back through Staunton to join their own army.

In this spirited little fight of my brigade Gen. Early had accomplished all he had expected and saved the bridge from serious damage. The conduct of the whole command—officers and soldiers and the battery—was all that could have been desired. I was especially indebted to Capt. Henry C. Lee, Adjutant and Inspector General of the brigade, and Rev. Randolph McKim, chaplain of the Second Virginia Cavalry, now a distinguished divine of the Episcopal Church, diocese of New York City, who acted as my aid-de-camp with great spirit

In this engagement Capt. Geo. N. Bliss, commanding a squadron of Rhode Island cavalry, a Federal officer, who fell into my hands, behaved with such conspicuous gallantry, strikingly in contrast with the conduct of his command, I take pleasure in making a note of it. Seeing how small a number we had, he urged his Colonel to charge the Fourth Virginia cavalry as it entered the main street of Waynesboro. (So he told me in conversation when a prisoner in our hands after the fight.) The Colonel ordered him to charge. He moved forward, flashed his sabre, and dashed ahead, he being well mounted. His men started all right, but began to falter and stopped. He, without turning his head to look after them, dashed on at the head and into the Fourth Virginia cavalry, single handed, and [459] was cut down, but not until he had made several very ugly cuts with his sabre upon the men of the Fourth, and fell bleeding from his horse. His gallantry won the admiration of my men, and, as he was recognized as a Mason, and seemed to be a sort of a ‘head devil’ among that fraternity, Capt. Henry Lee of my staff took him in charge, treated him kindly, and reported him ‘all right and accounted for.’ (Lee being a Mason.) The Masons—of which body I was not a member—seemed to be active in my brigade, and frequently seemed interested in people that I did not appreciate as they did.

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