Doc. 80. battle of Newmarket, Va.
headquarters, camp near Strasburg, Tuesday, May 16, 1864.A portion of the Army of Western Virginia, under General Sigel, started at five o'clock, A. M., yesterday, from Woodstock, marched eighteen miles to Newmarket, and fought the combined forces of Echols and Imboden, under Breckinridge, for four hours, and returned to this place, thirty miles--making forty-eight miles marching, and four hours fighting, all in thirty-eight hours. General Sigel sent out from Woodstock, where he lay encamped for several days, (during a rain of four days), a force which he thought sufficient to whip Imboden, under Colonel Moore, of the Twenty-eighth Ohio. He attacked Imboden at Rood's Hill, two miles south of Mount Jackson, and drove him to Newmarket, and then Breckinridge and Echols reinforced him, just as General Sigel reinforced Colonel Moore. In fact, all of our troops did not arrive until the fight was over. The rebels were just forming to charge Moore's battery, as our forces came on the field. Our drenched and jaded men were hurried on as fast as possible. The first charge was repulsed, and we rapidly formed a second line, half a mile in rear of the first. Their second charge was successful, and drove our line back. They then came down on  our second line like an avalanche. They outnumbered us two to one, and came up in three lines in splendid style. When within two hundred yards they raised a cheer, and came on at the double-quick. We met them with seventeen pieces of artillery, loaded with grape and canister, the infantry pouring in a most destructive fire. Their first line was almost annihilated. We charged in turn, and drove them back. Our batteries had to cease firing when we charged. It was then that their numbers told on us. They drove us back in turn. Our guns were worked until the last moment, losing five, the horses having been killed or the wheels broken. Then commenced our retreat, which was conducted in good order. The lesson they learned in charging our second line, made them cautious as they again advanced. The artillery opened on them from our third line, formed in the vicinity of Mount Jackson, and composed of troops which had just arrived, and caused them to pause in front of the hill where our artillery (composed of 6 and 12-pounders), was planted and worked with marked effect on the rebel ranks. We retired a battery at a time, and finally brought all off. Our forces were then quietly withdrawn two miles across the Shenandoah, which was flood-height from the excessive rains. It fairly poured while the battle raged hottest. The bridge was burned after our army had all crossed over, and the day closed upon our men, jaded and worn out with excessive marching and hard fighting, but in the best of spirits, and eager to resume the contest. Colonel Starr, Provost-Marshal General of the department, had a narrow escape. A shell struck the ground under his horse's neck, but fortunately it did not explode. His horse at the same moment was shot from under him, and, in attempting to mount a riderless one, a squadron of our retreating men ran over him — without, however, doing him any serious injury. Among the killed is Captain Boniker, formerly Post Provost-Marshal at Cumberland, who fell at the head of his command. He was universally esteemed and respected by every one in this department. Lieutenant-Colonel Lincoln, Thirty-fourth Massachusetts, was wounded and left on the battle-field. Colonel Wells, of Massachusetts, had a narrow escape. His clothes were pierced with four bullets. Our engagement may be summed up as follows: We underrated the strength of the enemy at Newmarket, and sent out an insufficient force under Colonel Moore. At Rood's Hill he met Imboden, who, on the approach of our force, gradually fell back to Newmarket, skirmishing all the way with our advance, and drawing them after him. At Newmarket he was reinforced by Echols. They evidently intended to draw him into their lines sufficiently far removed from his supports, and then, with an overwhelming force attack and capture his command. In this they were defeated, for Colonel Moore succeeded in holding his ground until the main column under General Sigel arrived. After a severe fight of four hours duration, it was evident they outnumbered us two to one. So we fell back to our supply train, where a portion of our troops were stationed.