The retreating troops found very little time for rest.
The Confederates, composed entirely of Ewell
's corps, were closing around them in vast numbers compared to their own. Banks
's force was less than seven thousand effective men, with ten Parrott
guns and a battery of 6-pounders, smooth-bore cannon.
The Confederate force was full twenty thousand in number.
The leaders of the latter felt confident that on the morrow they would see the capture or destruction of their opponents.
Yet they did not idly revel in these pleasing anticipations.
Like a vigilant soldier, as he was, Ewell
, who bivouacked within a mile and a half of Winchester
, began operations to that end before the dawn.
The equally vigilant Banks
was on the alert, and at daylight his troops were in battle order.
, commanding the right, was strongly posted on a ridge, a little south of the city, and Colonel Donnelly
was in charge of the left.
Near the center, the troops were well sheltered from their foes by stone walls.
(who was cut off at Middletown
), with Tompkins
's cavalry, had rejoined the army just in time to participate in the battle.
The battle opened furiously in front of Winchester
had placed a heavy body of troops on the Berryville
road, to prevent re-enforcements reaching Banks
from Harper's Ferry
, and regiments were heavily massed on the National
right, with the evident intention of turning it. This danger was so boldly and bravely met, that the Confederates
were kept in check for five hours by a steady and most destructive fire.1
In the mean time Jackson
's whole force had been ordered up,2
's signal officers reported the apparition of regimental standards in sight that indicated a strength equal to twenty-five thousand men. The Union commander perceived that further resistance would be only a prelude to destruction.
In anticipation of this contingency, his trains had been sent toward the Potomac
, and now an order for retreat was given.
Under a most galling fire of musketry the army broke into a column of march, and, covered by a rear-guard composed of the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin, passed rapidly through Winchester
, assailed in the streets by the secessionists