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Chapter 6: battle of Winchester (continued)—Federal retreat across the Potomac to Williamsport.

The commanding ridge that has been described1 as partially surrounding Winchester, and extending southwesterly, parallel to the pike road to Strasburg, is towards the south broken up into a succession of hills which extend to within one mile of Kernstown.

As one stands on the ridge within about one third of a mile from the town he will perceive to the south, on his left, the turnpike gradually surmounting a gentle ascent; in his front a valley, and beyond, perhaps four hundred yards distant, the crest of a higher ridge.

On his right the valley leads to a hill whose summit, one hundred yards farther to the west, is lower than the ridge upon which he stands, and higher than the crest beyond.

When I arrived at the spot where the regiments of my brigade had dropped down to sleep, I found them forming in line in the valley I have described. Posting my battery of Parrotts (six guns, under command of Lieutenant Peabody) on the bluff end of the ridge, I moved my brigade up the valley, and occupied the summit of the hill to the right, with the Second Massachusetts. Next to it I posted the Third Wisconsin, farther down the ravine the Twentyninth [230] Pennsylvania, and on the extreme left the Twentyseventh Indiana. Before us, just over the crest of the hill opposite, was the enemy; but he could not show himself without being in sight and range of my command. From one and a half to two miles on my left, on the Front Royal road, Ewell was confronted by Donelly's brigade of three regiments,--the Twenty-eighth New York, Fifth Connecticut, Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, and Best's United States Battery of six smooth-bore brass pieces under command of Lieutenant Crosby. The country in front of Donelly on the south and east is almost level.

From this description it will be seen, that, with Winchester as a centre, we occupied at daylight of the 25th a portion of an arc the whole of which was at least two and a half miles in length, or 4,400 yards. We could with our. command occupy only 1,750 yards of the 4,400; for 3,500 men in two ranks will cover no more. In other words, we could extend over a little more than one third of our front. With 16,000 infantry in two ranks in line of battle, the enemy could not only encircle our entire front, but extend 1,800 yards beyond our right and left flanks, or forty more than a mile. With my brigade and Donelly's we could occupy only the flanks of our line; the centre was unprotected, except by a fire from Best's Battery, which was so posted as to bear upon either flank of the enemy's line.

My picket line, which had occupied the crest of the hill opposite, had been driven back upon the main body just before my arrival. General Jackson had hoped to seize those hills before daylight warned us of his presence; 2 but if the detention of the previous day did not show the futility of such a wish, the strong line of pickets that confronted him must have been more convincing. Looking upon this position as the key-point upon the field, and [231] determining to possess it, Jackson threw forward, after a careful examination of a few moments, a brigade of infantry, under General Winder (the Stonewall brigade), and strengthening this on its right with the Fifth Virginia, he threw this force, larger than my whole command, against my pickets on his front. It was this contest that aroused me from an attempt to secure a moment's sleep. Of course my pickets gave way, and when I reached the ground the enemy was in possession of his coveted prize,the hill beyond the ravine, in front of my battery and line of infantry.3

A strong detachment of artillery, composed of the batteries of Poague, Carpenter, and Cutshaw, were then advanced and supported by two brigades of infantry, the “Stonewall,” and that of Colonel John A. Campbell.

As the Second Regiment on the right of the line moved up to the crest of the hill, the enemy opened upon it with grape; but it continued steadily on and took up its position without wavering. Colonel Andrews then threw out to his right and front his right company, commanded by Captain Savage, as a covering skirmish-line. Soon, however, this company was sent forward to a stone-wall a few rods in advance.

It was now five o'clock in the morning. As my eye fell on the columns of the enemy under Winder moving up in support of their batteries, I ordered my gunners to fire upon them; and at the same time Captain Savage, finding the Rebel artillery within good range from his stone-wall, opened upon their gunners. Now Colonel [232] Andrews strengthened Captain Savage by Captain Cary's Company.

While the fire from my battery was incessant and effective, the two companies of the Second behind the wall poured an harassing fire into the enemy's gunners, and the two right companies of the regiment added to the effect by firing volleys at his battery. The effect of our artillery fire was to drive the enemy back over the crest of the hill, where he had for a moment vauntingly showed himself, and to cause one of his guns to be abandoned by his cannoneers. From five until almost seven o'clock in the morning, nothing saved us from a heavy fire of shell, roundshot, and canister but the accurate aim of our men of the Second, who from behind the stone-wall and the crest of the hill so annoyed the enemy's gunners that his firing was wild.

A Southern account of these two hours of the fight bears testimony to the pluck with which we responded to our enemy's challenge.4 General Jackson, it seems, had been an observer of our movements. He is described as having ridden forward with two field-officers, Campbell and another, to the very crest of the hill, and amidst a perfect shower of balls observed the position. It is said that though both the officers beside him were speedily wounded, he sat calmly on his horse until he had satisfied himself of our dispositions. He saw, it is said, my battery, as I was posting it on the edge of the ridge; he saw, nearer to his left front, Captains Cary and Savage behind an oblique stone-fence pouring a galling fire upon his gunners that struck down many men and horses. He saw his battery, [233] sometimes almost silenced, holding well up to punishment, until Winder ordered it to change front to the left and bring part of the guns to bear with solid shot, to shatter the wall behind which were the two companies of the Second. With solid shot crashing into and over them, and with canister raking them, General Jackson found that not one inch could he make Savage or Cary turn back, although Cary was knocked over by a flying stone, through a shell that killed a man by his side.

As Jackson looked upon the scene, it is represented that he did not doubt that the enemy would attempt to drive his artillery from this vital position and occupy it with his own; and so turning to Colonel Neff, commanding the Thirty-third Virginia infantry, then supporting Carpenter's Battery, he asked him,--

Colonel, wllre is your regiment posted?”

“Here,” he replied.

“I expect,” answered Jackson, “the enemy to bring artillery to this hill: they must not do it. If they attempt to come, charge them with the bayonet.” 5

Then after this survey, leaving two more of his batteries to reply to my single one, Jackson, glancing again at the scene, planned his attack and turned to his command.6 [234]

Turning now to the southeastern part of the town, the left of our line of battle, we find Colonel Donelly confronting [235] Ewell. Having reached a position on the direct road from Front Royal to Winchester, within two miles of the latter, at ten o'clock the preceding evening (where he was joined by Steuart's cavalry from Newtown), Ewell confronted our outlying pickets. This command consisted, as it will be remembered, of a North Carolina brigade under General Trimble, of the First Maryland Regiment, and two batteries (Courtenay's and Brockenbrough's). As Ewell, at dawn the next morning, advanced his brigade, the left regiment, the Twenty-first North Carolina, under command of Colonel Kirkland, encountered Donelly's brigade in line, covered by a stone-wall. Donclly's fire was terrific. We claim that Kirkland's regiment was nearly destroyed; and the enemy admits that all the field-officers were wounded, and that the “gallant regiment was obliged to recoil” 7 (run away). Ewell then sent in the Twenty-first Georgia Regiment. Approaching with caution, its fate was better than that of its predecessor; but yet Donelly was not routed, nor in danger of it, from that mode of attack, nor from any other that the small force Jackson had given Ewell could make. Seeing this, Trimble suggested throwing forward the right and turning Donelly's flank. It was done, and the enemy claims that Donelly, who had been driven from his cover by the Georgia regiment, now gave way entirely.8 In his report General Banks thinks [236] that Trimble's flank movement was abandoned because General Williams, our division commander, sent a detachment of cavalry to intercept it.9

Could Donelly have held Ewell back? It is more than probable that he could, if there had been no other force confronting us. Did Jackson's movements on my flank, by causing me to withdraw, compel Donelly to retire? This is quite probable: Banks avers it in his report. Why then did I withdraw? To answer this, I resume my narrative. For two hours the Stonewall brigade (Jackson's own, under General Winder), with Carpenter's and Taliaferro's brigades, and three batteries, had been held in check on the heights opposite by the rifles of the Second Massachusetts, and by the battery of six Parrotts on our flank. During this time the roar of artillery and infantry on our left before Donelly was continuous. And now General [237] Jackson, thinking the battle had reached a critical stage,10 determined to strike a final blow. For this purpose he ordered forward one of his reserve brigades, the one commanded by General Taylor, which with Elzey's brigade was in reserve behind the mill-house on the turn-pike, about three fourths of a mile from town. Burning with eagerness, Jackson, outstripping the speed of his messenger, rode rapidly to meet it. Conducting it by a hollow way in rear of the two brigades before us, he gained the cover of a wood to our right, and there directing its rapid formation in line of battle with the left regiments, thrown forward 11 to gain our rear, he was ready for his assault.

The moment the enemy's column began to emerge from the woods, Colonel Andrews, through Major Dwight, reported to me that he could see his troops advancing in line of battle directly upon our right flank. Receiving this message while opposite the centre of my brigade, I dashed up to the head of the Second, jumped from my horse, and with Colonel Andrews crawled forward to the crest of the hill, just behind which this regiment was formed in line. On any day in spring the view from that summit would have been most fascinating, There to the south and west was a cluster of beautiful hills, commanding the town, and covered with luxurious clover and pasturage, with here and there a forest grove crowning the eminences. Everywhere the fields were enclosed with fences and stone-walls. The verdure of the forest trees, the rich green of the grasses, the blue sky overhead, and the soft beams of the morning sunlight adorned the picture. But to all that Nature offered, man had added his touch to stamp forever the scene upon my mind. There, just below us, in good rifle-range, preceded by swarms of skirmishers, regiment after regiment of the enemy were moving in good order [238] steadily but rapidly up the hill.12 Farther south, coming from the direction of the Strasburg pike, and galloping across the fields, I saw a new battery urged forward to a new position to support this attack; while nearer my centre the crest of the hill was wreathed with the smoke of the three batteries that for two hours had tried in vain to drive us from our position. There was no time to linger. In an instant I again mounted my horse; ordered the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania and the Twenty-seventh Indiana to move by flank on the run and extend to the right of the Second, at the same time directing a section of my battery to the front, where the guns could bear upon the enemy's columns. But at this time a shell killed one man and three horses, so that the guns were pulled up by hand, and progress was necessarily slow. Before the arrival of these regiments the Second had opened upon the enemy a heavy fire of musketry, which was taken up and continued by the new regiments as they came into position. Although the enemy claims that his flanking column was greeted with a shower of shells and rifle-balls, it is true to history to state that when the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania and Twenty-seventh Indiana reached their position, they [239] were imperfectly formed, and their fire was hasty and less effective than it should have been. At all events, the fire did not check the advance of the enemy, who, somewhat favored by the ground, formed his lines with the accuracy of a parade.

When Jackson saw Taylor in motion, he galloped along the rear of his line to the centre, and ordered a general advance; then moving to the hill where Carpenter's battery was firing upon us, the same from which he had exposed himself at the beginning, he mounted it with an air of eager caution and peered like a deer-stalker over its summit.13 What Jackson saw ought to have encouraged him; for now, looking down upon the steady movement of Taylor (despite the fire we poured into him), he saw the Twenty-ninth and Twenty-seventh of my brigade break into disorder and begin to fall to the rear; while the Second, holding on for a moment, soon turned, and we were in retreat.14

“I can't help it,” replied Colonel Andrews, as I rode hastily up to him with the question, <" Why are you falling back?" It was true. With his right uncovered, it would have been madness to remain. “Move in order, then, and retreat steadily,” I replied, giving at the same time the [240] same caution to the Third Wisconsin, for it too had turned. The scene unfolded to Jackson was one in which two regiments were retiring, somewhat in disorder, down the hill towards the town; another, the Second Massachusetts, breaking to the rear in columns of companies as quietly and orderly as if on parade; while the fourth and last, the Third Wisconsin, with line of battle formed to the rear by an about face, was moving leisurely in retreat. Seeing this, Jackson, setting spurs to his horse, bounded upon the crest, and shouted to the officers nearest to him, “Forward after the enemy!” Then, on right, left, and centre, they swarmed in pursuit. There in front were the Stonewall, Carpenter's, and Taliaferro's brigades; to my right was Taylor's brigade; and hurrying up from the reserve was Elzey's,--all in pursuit of my four regiments, who were now in full retreat for the town.15

On right, left, and centre, immensely superior columns of the enemy were pressing upon my brigade, which numbered at the beginning of the fight, all told, exactly 2,101 infantry and one battery. Not another man was available. There was no support between us and the Potomac.16 Above the surrounding crests surged the enemy, who opened upon us a sharp and withering fire of musketry. A storm of bullets from the hill where we had so long confronted the main body of Jackson's forces crossed a deadlier fire from Taylor's brigade, now on the crest in our rear. Above the din of musketry, a yell of triumph rose from the [241] endless columns that seemed to gird the town. My troops were not dismayed, though many had fallen. We had not yet gained the cover of the streets, and some of my brigade, notably the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin, disdained to do so until again they had turned in defiance upon the foe.17 In full sight of Jackson and his army, the Second kept its formation and delivered its fire; while three companies of the Third Wisconsin, from behind a stone-wall, emptied their muskets into the faces of the advancing lines.

Not until my acting adjutant's18 horse was shot dead by my side, not until my aid returned to reply that he had given my message to General Banks that my right had been turned land 1 was ialliug back, did I, with the last of my command, leave the field and turn into the streets of Winchester. We had made our last stand, and though driven after a three hours fight, in such a retreat there was nothing of shame. There were but fifteen rounds of ammunition left for my battery; and there was no ammunition-train from which to replenish the cartridge-boxes of the infantry. All this, if there were no other reasons for turning when we did. But there was another, even this: a delay of a few minutes from the time the Twenty-ninth [242] Pennsylvania and Twenty-seventh Indiana broke to the rear from the right would have caused our capture or destruction. It was officially reported 19 that an order to these regiments to fall back was given. If so, it was without authority. I feel sure none was ever given; but in view of the results, I cannot condemn the want of discipline that caused it.

As my troops faded away into the streets of Winchester, the scene, as painted in colored sketches by the imaginative Dabney,20 is represented as the most imposing sight that ever greeted the eyes of a victorious captain. “Far to the east,” he says,

the advancing lines of Ewell rolled forward, concealed in waves of white smoke from their volleys of musketry, as they were rapidly passing the suburbs of the town. On the west, the long and glittering lines of Taylor, after one thundering discharge, were sweeping at a bayonet charge up the reverse of the hills with irresistible momentum. Nearer the General (Jackson) came the Stonewall brigade, with the gallant Twenty-third Virginia, who sprung from their lairs,21 and rushed panting down the hillsides. Between him (Jackson) and the town the enemy were everywhere breaking away from the walls and fences behind which they had sheltered themselves, at first with some semblance of order, but then dissolving into a vast confusion, in which the infantry, mounted officers, and artillery crowded and surged through the streets.

Vast confusion! Our artillery and infantry moved through the town in as good order as the crowded condition of the streets would permit. The Second Massachusetts Regiment, marching in order, passed through the lower part of the suburbs, and formed in line by Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews with perfect steadiness and regularity, in order to [243] change the position of certain companies,22 that they might be, if the fight were to be continued, in the order provided for by the regulations. To do this, he threw out his guides to secure a good alignement. A hot fire of grape and shell from the enemy's batteries close to the town, the near approach of the cavalry, and the victorious cheers of their infantry about his ears induce Colonel Andrews to follow the retreating column, even though he sacrificed some paragraphs of the tactics. The Second, the last regiment to leave the town, followed the line of the railroad, which for some miles runs parallel to the road from Winchester to Martinsburg, and joined the main body of Banks's column a few miles out; but the enemy was so close upon it that Major Dwight fell into his hands. He could have escaped but for his sympathy with a wounded man, whom he aided into a house.23 [244]

Return now to the main street, through which, towards Martinsburg, moved the main column of our troops. An eager enemy was close upon us; there was no time for any arrangement or defence. Pursuers and pursued were swallowed from view, and the rout roared through every street with rattling rifle-shots and ringing cheers.24 In the main street I found myself, with my staff, in rear of a battery. All around and in front there was a confused mob. At the windows and on the piazzas there were more men than I had ever before seen in the town. Women, too, were there, well dressed, rushing to their doors and windows with unrepressed expressions of joy at our defeat. Besides soldiers, horses, and batteries, there were men, women, and children in the streets, each making frantic efforts to get out of the way. Amidst the crack of rifle-shots and the bursting of shells;25 through the fire of musketry and pistol-shots, which killed many of our men in the street; and, worse than all, under the humiliation of jeers and taunting glances of defiance from young and old, male and female,we at length came out of the town upon the north, on the Martinsburg road, where a long column of baggage-wagons, division, brigade, and regimental, were making their way in fair order towards the Potomac. General Jackson was in possession of Winchester. Greeted with every demonstration of affection by the inhabitants, Jackson is represented as, for the first and only time in his life, tearing a greasy, faded old forage-cap from his head, swinging it in air, and attempting to cheer; then, with “face inflamed [245] with towering passion and triumph, galloping amidst the foremost of his pursuers and urging them upon the enemy.”

With all the baggage that we had saved from Strasburg, and with all that we had added at Winchester, leaving behind us the sick, the dying, the dead, and many prisoners, we moved rapidly northward for Williamsport to cross the Potomac. As we gained the hill north of the town, I turned to look back upon the ridge of which I have spoken as almost surrounding Winchester. The entire crest for three parts of this vast circumference was covered with the enemy. Now, for the first time, I saw General Banks, making a feeble effort to arrest the troops, and uttering some words about promised reinforcements. Turning his eyes backward, I think there was no doubt in his own mind that the enemy had “developed” his force to him, -thus reversing the necessity with which General Banks had met my most urgent appeals on the night of the 23d of May.26 General Banks had made no provision for a retreat, evidently believing that with his inferior force he should comply with his telegram to the War Department, sent the day before, and return to Strasburg.27 Why, encumbered as we were with baggage and wagons and all the material that hours before should have been sent away, we were not destroyed, must be answered by those who claim that on this occasion Jackson exhibited the highest order of military talent.

The pursuit was feeble in the extreme. Jackson followed us to Bunker Hill, thirteen miles, but finding that he could [246] not flank or cut us off, halted his infantry and gave up the pursuit to his batteries and cavalry,--and these annoyed us for a time by sending shells, round-shot, and grape into our rear, with destruction to some battery-horses and a few men; but even this was stopped a short distance beyond Martinsburg. After twenty-four miles of mounted pursuit of foot-men, even the cavalry was tired. Where was Steuart with his three cavalry regiments,--Ashby's, Munford's, and Flournoy's,--to oppose General Hatch with less than one (he had, as it will be remembered, less than nine hundred men at Strasburg). Undoubtedly a feeble pursuit by cavalry was made on the Harper's Ferry road and on the railroad, where broken parts of our command were seeking to make their way to Harper's Ferry: many stragglers, and men wearied from long marching, fasting, and fighting; also the wounded “who had sunk on the ground overpowered,” --many such were picked up by the enemy's cavalry; but what else?--what that any commander of even ordinary ability would have done, under similar circumstances?

Feeling the necessity of defending him, Dabney or Cooke, or both of them, aver that General Jackson ordered General Steuart to follow with his cavalry and capture us, even as Flournoy had ridden down and captured Kenly on the 23d in his attempt at escape; and that Steuart would not obey, because he was under the immediate command of Ewell, from whom he had received no orders. What man of military fame would not blush at such an excuse? It is with amazement that I, even now, recall that retreat from Winchester. Encumbered with baggage, a wearied, defeated, overworked, and desponding force plods on its foot-march for fifty-four miles to the Potomac, receiving a constant fire of artillery in its rear for twenty-four miles, and is permitted to cross its material and its troops, [247] occupying in so doing until ten o'clock of the next day; and this without an attempt to waylay, to flank, or to surprise it with a cavalry force in numbers quite equal to if not exceeding one half of the whole of Banks's command.

It was eleven o'clock at night when the last of our column reached the banks of the Potomac, opposite Williamsport. Our men tumbled down upon the grass and slept until 2 A. M. of the 26th, when we were aroused to begin the passage of the river. The scene before crossing seems to have struck General Banks 28 as “of the most animating and exciting description.” “A thousand camp-fires,” he says, “were burning on the hillsides, a thousand carriages of every description were crowded on the banks; and the broad river rolled between the exhausted troops and their coveted rest.” The appliances for crossing were most inadequate. It was a mercy that Jackson's unwilling cavalry and too tired infantry did not follow us up; it was a crime not to be forgiven that our passage of that river depended upon such contingencies. For the passage of the “thousand carriages” (if there were a thousand) there was a single ferry, and over this the ammunition-wagons had precedence. In the ford, too deep for safety, many hapless mules were drowned and many wagons lost. Only a few strong animals got through. Some of the pontoon-boats, luckily saved from the burning, were found in our wagons; and with these, the ferry, and the ford, some in one way and some in another, all got safely to land. At midday of the 26th the last of our command had crossed, and there were “never more grateful hearts in the same number of men,” says Banks,29 “than when we stood on the opposite shore.” I certainly can speak for one grateful heart, that of my colored woman Peggy, who with her child I passed [248] among the first across the swollen river to a land of freedom.

Across the Potomac! Yes, we were again where, in July of the preceding year, we had made our march so gayly into Virginia. One more campaign was ended. There was now left from Banks's command on Virginia soil a feeble rear-guard of four companies from the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin of my brigade.

The purposes and plans that animated General Banks during this retreat were revealed to the world on the 31st day of May, 1862 (six days after the events here narrated had occurred), in his official report. In this paper I not only learned for the first time what his plans were (if he had any) at our conference in Winchester, but I further found out that before three o'clock in the morning of the preceding day, the 24th, while at Strasburg, he knew all about the “extraordinary force of the enemy,” and fully appreciated that “to attack him, he being in such overwhelming force, could only result in certain destruction,” and that “it was apparent that the enemy's troops, embracing at least 25,000 to 30,00 men, were close upon us.” In corroboration of all this information and these appreciations on the 24th, Banks had heard at Winchester before daylight of the 25th all my statements in confirmation of his own opinions, had questioned my prisoner, and received from all classes,--secessionists, Union men, refugees, fugitives, and prisoners,--such an account of Jackson's numbers, that (as he admits) his “suspense was relieved, for all agreed that the enemy's force at or near Winchester was overwhelming, ranging from 25,000 to 30,000 men;” and yet with all this information, and the conclusions based on such incontrovertible testimony, he officially reported that then and there, at Winchester, he “determined to test the substance and strength of the enemy by actual collision.” [249]

Everything was confirmed at Winchester that was known at Strasburg of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, and yet Banks “determined to test by actual collision the substance and strength of the enemy;” to attack an enemy known to be “in such overwhelming force that our attack could only result in certain destruction” --to ourselves, With this conviction, upon his arrival at Winchester Banks sent off his telegram to the War Department that he would return to Strasburg the next day.30

In conclusion, I may say that it was not until the scenes of that march from Strasburg had been carefully reviewed; not until the terrible fatigue, the heat and dust, the rack and roar of battle, the feared attacks of cavalry hovering around the long miles before us, the wide and dangerous river in our path, and the panic-stricken crowd of fugitives,not until these were over, could we fairly estimate the sum total of our achievements. Between the 24th of May, at eleven o'clock, A. M., and near midnight of the 25th, my brigade had marched from Strasburg to Williamsport, a distance of fifty-four miles. To this, two miles more should be added to the march of the Second Massachusetts, on its return from Bartonsville to Newtown, where we turned upon Jackson. Without sleep on the night of the 23d, the brigade marched the next day eighteen miles to Winchester. On the same day the Second Massachusetts not only marched farther than any other regiment of the brigade, but from three o'clock P. M., until two o'clock of the next day, it was engaged in an almost continuous skirmish with the enemy, holding back alone, in the most plucky manner, as narrated, the head of Jackson's army, materially defeating his plans, and giving ample opportunity, which might have been availed of, to remove much Government property, that was destroyed or captured. [250] And on the 25th, after two hours rest, my brigade maintained its unequal contest for three hours against almost the whole of Jackson's army. In this, the principal share of the fighting in the infantry fell to the Second Massachusetts. It was entirely due to this regiment that Jackson was unable to, or at any rate did not, seize the crest of the hill from which he had driven our pickets, and render untenable the heights from which we at last fell back into the town. After its three hours fight, my brigade marched thirty-six miles in about twelve hours.

In Jackson's report, he admits that the Federal forces, in falling back into the town of Winchester, “preserved their organization remarkably well;” but affirms that “in passing through its streets they were thrown into confusion, and shortly after debouching upon the plain and turnpike to Martinsburg, and after being fired upon by our artillery, they presented the aspect of a mass of disordered fugitives.” “Never have I seen,” he adds, “an opportunity when it was in the power of cavalry to reap a richer harvest of the fruits of victory.”

Hoping that the cavalry would come up, Jackson pursued the Federals for two hours with artillery followed by infantry, and then as nothing was heard of the cavalry halted his troops,--his infantry being exhausted,--and went into camp. It appears that the cavalry failed Jackson because those of Ashby's command had not yet been collected since they scattered for pillage and plunder of Banks's wagons the day before; and those under Steuart (the Second and Sixth Virginia cavalry regiments) were held inactive, while their commander wasted valuable time on a point of military etiquette before he yielded to an urgent order of Lieutenant Pendleton of Jackson's staff to follow the enemy, which afforded the Federal army time to make such headway that it was “beyond,” as Jackson [251] declared, the reach of successful pursuit. With what cavalry Ashby could collect, he moved by way of Berryville to Harper's Ferry, halting at Halltown, while Steuart, passing the advance of the Confederate infantry an hour after it had halted, proceeded as far as Hainesville beyond Martinsburg, contenting himself with picking up a good many prisoners.31

It remains to consider our losses in this retreat,--first of men, second of material

Banks, in his official report of losses on the 24th and 25th, gives as killed, 38; wounded, 155; missing, 711, -total, 904. He thinks “the number killed and wounded may be larger than this, while many missing may return,” but that “the aggregate will not be changed.” 32

Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews reported the loss in the Second Massachusetts Regiment on the 25th, as 7 killed and 28 wounded; among the latter were included two commissioned officers, Captain Mudge and Second Lieutenant Crowninshield. He also reported 131 missing, “though many are coming in daily, who having been compelled to halt from exhaustion, after recovery found their way in by different routes.” On the 24th, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews reported his total loss to have been 3 killed and 17 wounded. Banks also reported that there were 189 men of Williams's division sick in hospital at Strasburg, and that 125 of them were left in the hospital at Winchester, and 64 not removed from Strasburg,--left there [252] with two surgeons and attendants. At Winchester, Dr. Stone of the Second was left in charge. In addition to these surgeons, there were eight others who fell into the enemy's hands. General Shields, when he marched for Fredericksburg, left 1,000 sick and disabled men at Strasburg. Banks says, “Surgeon King, division surgeon, exhibits the disposition of them,” but does not say what it was.

Of material, Banks makes the following statement: “All our guns were saved. Our wagon-train consisted of nearly five hundred wagons, of which number fifty-five were lost. They were not, with few exceptions, abandoned to the enemy, but were burned33 upon the road. Nearly all of our supplies were thus saved.” But the stores at Front Royal, of which he “had no knowledge until” his visit to that post on the 21st inst., “and those at Winchester, of which a considerable portion was destroyed by our troops,” are not embraced in this statement. Quint34 says, “A wagon-train eight miles long lost only fifty wagons, and we brought off all our artillery, losing only one caisson.”

The enemy's account of his captures is put with force: “The complete success of our efforts can never be known. We have captured thousands of prisoners, killed and wounded hundreds more, seized miles of baggage-wagons, immense stores of every imaginable description, together with many cannon, thousands of small arms, ammunition by hundreds of tons, medicines, and public documents of value, thousands of shoes; and have burned millions of [253] property for want of transportation.” 35 Says another Southern writer, “Banks had abandoned at Winchester all his commissary and ordnance stores; he had left in our hands 4,000 prisoners, and stores amounting to millions of dollars.” 36

Our own papers reported our losses as very heavy. This excited Banks, who sent on the thirty-first of May, through the Associated Press, from Williamsport, a despatch that “Great regret and some indignation is felt here, that exaggerated and unauthorized and unfounded statements of losses of public property sustained by our retreat from Strasburg and Winchester have found publicity through papers at a distance. At present the figures cannot be accurately ascertained; but the heaviest losses are known to be very light compared with the amounts exposed to capture or abandonment by such a rapid retreat as it was necessary to perform.”

General Joseph E. Johnston, in his order of May 29, 1862, announcing “another brilliant victory by the combined divisions of Major-Generals Jackson and Ewell, constituting a portion of this army,” over General Banks at Front Royal, Middletown, and Winchester, declares “that several thousands of prisoners 37 were captured, and an immense quantity of ammunition and stores of every description.” 38 Among other captures the enemy claimed to have taken a large amount of baggage at Cedar Creek, with all the knapsacks of the Zouaves.

The original reports of this retreat, my own among the number, attributed many cold-blooded atrocities to the enemy. In the excitement of such a retreat, and thus [254] early in the war, it was not strange that we put faith in improbable stories. I have before me the account of one of the theatrical company, whom I met in flight at Strasburg, which, so far as it goes, may correct the earlier reports. He got safely to Winchester, slept through the fight there, and was captured. Taken for a Southerner, which he was by birth, he volunteered to drive Ashby to Martinsburg in an ambulance: Ashby, it appears, was wounded at Front Royal in the shoulder, and could not mount a horse. Following in the rear of our retreating army amid cannonading and dust, he saw nothing of the reported cruelties, but upon one occasion was directed by Ashby to see if one of our men lying by the road-side was alive. He was of the Tenth Maine,--was dead. “Carry him over into the adjoining field to prevent mutilation by animals,” was Ashby's order.

It does not come within the scope of this narrative to follow the fortunes of the enemy under Stonewall Jackson further than to say, generally, that for one week he held high carnival along the Potomac. He concentrated his troops in and around Charlestown; he attempted with his infantry to ford the Potomac two miles above the railroad bridge at Harper's Ferry, and was driven back by our shells, fired from batteries established where we first pitched our encampment in July of 1861; he ascended Loudon Heights between the Shenandoah and the Potomac, but was driven off by our guns from across the river. Information of the numbers of Stonewall Jackson's forces given by observers during his occupation of towns between Winchester and Martinsburg, shows that we had not greatly exaggerated his strength. Their lowest estimate placed the combined strength of the enemy at twenty thousand.39 In the pursuit of Shields and Fremont, [255] the battles of Cross Keyes and Port Republic, the march of Jackson to unite with the Army of Virginia, we did not participate; therefore I leave them with no other allusion. On the thirty-first of May, the enemy at Bunker Hill, Martinsburg, and Charlestown was apprised that Fremont from the west and McDowell from the east were closing in upon his rear. In one week after our fight at Winchester, Jackson, with his whole army, turned southward in flight.

The effect of our retreat upon the country was startling. In Massachusetts the people were aroused by a proclamation. Hardly had “the thousand camp-fires” begun to glow around “the thousand carriages upon the banks of the Potomac,” at eleven o'clock at night of the twenty-fifth of May, when Governor Andrew at Boston penned the last words of a proclamation, calling upon Massachusetts to rise once more for the rescue and defence of the capital. The whole active militia of Massachusetts was summoned to report on Boston Common “to-morrow,” from thence to “oppose with fiery zeal and courageous patriotism the march of the foe.” 40 The next day the public was again excited by an appeal41 from Major R. Morris Copeland, Banks's adjutant-general, who happened to be in Boston [256] during the fight. Copeland blamed the War Department for leaving Banks defenceless.

“ The hands that hold the pen, the ruler, and the hammer were made in these days,” says Copeland, “for better things.” “Seize the musket and the sabre!” he continues. But alas for Copeland! that he should have told the country to blame the Secretary of War for our retreat; for this was given by the President as one of the reasons 42 why Copeland's hands, during the remainder of the war, held nothing more belligerent than “the pen, the ruler, and the hammer.” 43

In other States the excitement was scarcely less intense than in Massachusetts. New York sent her Eleventh Regiment of State Militia. It arrived at Harper's Ferry on the thirtieth of May; but the men refused to be sworn into the service of the United States unless they could dictate terms, which were, that they should go to Washington and be placed in a camp of instruction. These being rejected by officers of the United States army, the whole regiment marched over to Sandy Hook, where the troops slept upon it, with the result that eight companies took the oath, one asked for further time, and one started for home. [257]

On the twenty-eighth of May, General Banks thought it his duty to assign a full brigadier-general to the command of my brigade, and make the War Department responsible for the change. For this he selected General Greene, 44 one of the two supernumerary brigadiers who had [258] accompanied us from Strasburg. In his order General Banks took especial care to speak in praise of the part taken by my brigade during the retreat.

On the thirty-first of May a paper was handed me by General Hatch,45 signed by all the officers of rank who were cognizant of or had participated in the events of the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth of May. This paper, containing most flattering references to my brigade, was the more acceptable, as, without any knowledge whatever of it or its contents on my part, it was presented to me with all the names it now bears, save that of Crawford, which was placed there afterwards.

But the feeling among the troops themselves, as indicating their opinion of the part taken by the Second Massachusetts Regiment, is of more worth in my eyes than any praise bestowed upon us by others.

The thirty-first of May found Mr. Dwight, of Boston, the brother of our captured major, at our camp, en route through Martinsburg to Winchester to learn his brother's fate. Colonel De Forrest, then in command at Martinsburg, [259] was ordered by General Hatch to send with Mr. Dwight an escort of ten men,--“men who can remember what they see of the enemy and his strength.” “Let them move,” said the order, “with a white flag, twenty yards in advance of the main body, and waving the flag, wait to be recognized by the enemy's pickets.” 46

A telegram from the Secretary of War, that my promotion from colonel to brigadier-general “could no longer be deferred,” was sent immediately after our arrival at Williamsport to Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts. This final act, connected with the days of the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth of May, requires explanation.

In July of 1861 it came to my knowledge that the congressional delegation from Massachusetts had recommended my promotion to a brigadier-generalslip. The President of the United States in a personal interview informed me that the reason why he did not heed this recommendation was because “the Governor of your State protests against it.” Mr. Lincoln, at the time of making this reply, held in his hand a paper, from which he assumed to read the protest.

On the 4th of June, 1862, Governor Andrew, in acknowledging my application for two surgeons, and informing me that he has sent Doctors Heath and Davis, adds, “Permit me in closing to congratulate you, Colonel, upon your nomination for promotion to the rank of brigadiergeneral; and also upon the brilliant success achieved by the withdrawal of our forces, with so little loss, from the heart of the enemy's country and against a force so completely overwhelming.” 47

On the tenth of June General Banks's corps recrossed [260] the river at Williamsport, moved through Martinsburg and Winchester, over historic ground, and went into camp at Bartonsville, where the Second had so ably arrested Jackson's march in the night of the twenty-fourth of May.

On the twelfth of June, at Washington, my commission as brigadier-general of volunteers was handed me, accompanied with an order from the Secretary of War to “report immediately for duty to General Banks, wherever he might be found;” and this proving to be at Winchester, I arrived there the next night to learn from him that he could not remove the brigadier-general commanding my brigade without a special order from the Secretary of War.48 The next day, therefore, I returned to Washington, carrying with me on her way to her new home my negro woman Peggy and her child. Before I could purchase tickets for the woman, I was compelled to give a bond to save the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad harmless from any lawful claims that might be hereafter brought against it by the owner of this colored property. I readily gave my bond, secured the tickets, placed the bewildered woman and child in charge of a faithful expressman, and soon heard of their safe arrival at the North, where, since then, they have in prosperity continued.

On the eighteenth of June the Secretary of War specifically assigned to me the command of my old brigade;49 [261] and on the 22d, after a fruitless effort on the preceding day by rail, via Manassas, to reach Front Royal, to which place my command had moved from Bartonsville, I shook the dust of Washington from my feet, not to return to it again for two months, when, as part of a wrecked and broken army, we made our way across the Potomac to fight under McClellan at Antietam, for the safety of Maryland and the North. Before leaving Washington, I enlightened the Committee on the Conduct of the War upon the subject of Union guards over enemy's property, upon which political soldiers were much exercised.

1 Ante, p. 219.

2 Cooke's Life of Jackson, p. 149.

3 “ That the enemy did not post his powerful artillery upon the foremost of these heights, supported by his main force, was due to the will of God,” ejaculates the pious Dabney. To which I reply that it was due rather to the will of the War Department, which deprived us of the requisite numbers of troops to hold any position against the overwhelming force in our front. See Dabney's Life of Jackson, p. 104.

4 This part of the contest is spoken of as a “fierce cannonade, intermingled with a sharp, rattling fire of riflemen,” the smoke of which “melted away into the silvery veil of May dews, exhaled by the beams of the rising sun.” See Dabney's Life of Jackson, p. 104.

5 Dabney relates this incident as of such powerful cast, that he uses the words “strident voice” and “blood tingle” to convey its effect. See Dabney's Life of Jackson, p. 104.

6 There is still another account of the forward movement of the enemy to the hill upon which our pickets were stationed, of their reception by my brigade, and of Jackson's observation of the scene: “When the Fifth Virginia was thrown forward as skirmishers in advance of Winder's brigade, which was deployed in line of battle, a rush was made for the hill, and they [our three or four companies on picket duty] recoiled before the Confederate fire, and the Southern troops, uttering loud cheers, gained the crest and were in possession of the hill. Prompt measures were then taken to improve this advantage, and open the attack with an energy which should give the Federal forces no time to prepare. They had hastily opened with a battery directly in front; and to dislodge these guns, Carpenter's and Cutshaw's batteries, with two Parrott guns from the Rockbridge artillery, were rapidly placed in position and opened fire. The battle speedily commenced in good earnest. It was absolutely necessary, if the Federal forces expected to hold the town of Winchester, that the Confederates should be dislodged from their commanding position; and a body of Federal sharp-shooters was promptly thrown forward to feel Jackson's left, and drive him, if possible, from the hill. [So the enemy seems to have interpreted the movements of Captains Savage and Cary.] At the same moment another Federal battery began to thunder on the left, and a dangerous enfilade fire was poured upon the Southern lines. This advance of infantry and the fire of the new battery was promptly responded to by Jackson. The battery in his front had been reduced to silence, and his guns were now turned upon the enemy's sharp-shooters, who hastily retreated behind a heavy stone-fence that protected them. From this excellent position they opened a galling and destructive fire on the cannoneers and horses attached to the Confederate. batteries, which were now engaged hotly on the left. The combined fire of sharp-shooters and artillery was so heavy that Captain Poague, who was most exposed to the enemy, was compelled to change position in the midst of a storm of balls. He rapidly withdrew his guns, moved to the left and rear, and again taking position, poured a determined fire upon the enfilading batteries of the enemy. The Federal sharp-shooters continued to fire from their position behind the stone-wall with a precision which was galling and dangerous in the extreme. No one could mount to the crest of the hill without hearing the sudden report of their excellent long-range guns, succeeded by the whistling of balls near his person. Colonel Campbell, commanding the second brigade of Jackson's division, went up to the summit to reconnoitre, and was giving some directions to Colonel Patton, the senior officer under him, when a ball pierced his arm and breast, and he was borne from the field, leaving Patton in command. To drive out these persistent and accurate marksmen, Captain Poague threw several solid shot at the wall which protected them; but in spite of the missiles and crashing stones around them, the line of sharp-shooters still gallantly held their position.” --Cooke's Life of Jackson, p. 149.

The battery upon which Dabney says “Carpenter and Cutshaw also kept up so spirited a contest with the batteries in the direction of the town as to silence their fire,” was Best's smooth-bore battery, which alone, near the Strasburg pike and to my left, formed the centre of our line of battle. The battery which Cooke says began to thunder on Jackson's left with a dangerous enfilading fire, was my battery of Parrotts.

7 Dabney's Life of Jackson, p. 109.

8General Ewell had bivouacked not far in front of the Federal line, and moving his troops at dawn he soon came up to the enemy, drove in his outposts, and attacked him. The Twenty-first North Carolina Regiment, Colonel Kirkland, was in advance, and at 5 A. M. boldly made a dash at the position held by Donelly across the road. The North Carolinians met with a bloody reception. The Federals, taking advantage of the stone-fences with which that country is everywhere intersected, had posted their line behind some of these fences, and poured a well-directed front and flank fire into the Confederates, as they advanced across the open field. In a few moments the Twenty-first North Carolina, having lost both the field-officers present, and a large number of men killed and wounded, fell back. This check was, however, but brief in its duration. When Kirkland advanced in the centre, Colonel Johnson, with the First Maryland Regiment, moved forward on his left, nearer the valley turnpike, and meeting with little opposition reached the suburbs of the town. On the right of the Twenty-first North Carolina, Colonel Mercer, with the Twenty-first Georgia, advanced, turned the flank of the enemy on that side, and by means of an enfilading fire quickly drove him from the position unsuccessfully attacked by Colonel Kirkland. Latimer (in command of Courtenay's guns) and Brockenbrough contributed to this result with their batteries. The Federals took a new position nearer the town. The remainder of Trimble's brigade (Sixteenth Mississippi and Fifteenth Alabama regiments) now joined the Twenty-first Georgia; but instead of attacking in front again, General Ewell adopted the suggestion of Trimble, and moved farther to the right, so as to threaten the Federal flank and rear. This manceuvre, combined with Jackson's success on the other flank, caused the whole to give way.” Jackson's Valley Campaign (Allan), pp. 111, 112.

9 Banks's Report.

10 Dabney's Life of Jackson, pp. 108, 109.

11 Ibid., pp. 104-109.

12 This was Taylor's brigade, numbering four thousand men (about five hundred more than the whole of Banks's army), as appears from the following letter to me from General George L. Andrews, my former Lieutenant-Colonel:--

West Point, N. Y., June 14, 1875.
Dear General,
After the surrender at Meridian, on the borders of Alabama and Mississippi, where I went to receive the parole of General Taylor's army, I had a conversation with the latter about the Winchester fight. In the course of it, I said that if we could have opposed his whole brigade with a battery, and reserved the infantry fire longer, I thought we might have checked him.

He replied in substance that no doubt we should have hurt them a good deal, but he thought we could not have stopped him; adding, “I had four thousand men in that brigade.”

13 Dabney's Life of Jackson, p. 109.

14 General Anldrews says, in letter of June 14, referred to, “The fire of the two regiments (Twenty-seventh Indiana and Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania), opened at first at too great a distance from the enemy, suddenly ceased; the men broke ranks and fell to the rear. I now gave the command to the Second Massachusetts, ‘By company, right wheel, march!’ intending to deploy forward and support what was left of the line opposed to the enemy. But I soon saw that there was nothing left in line to oppose the enemy. The Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania had partially rallied in a line oblique to the front of the Second Massachusetts, before the wheel into column, having their backs turned towards us. The Second Massachusetts being now in column of companies, I moved it to the rear towards the town by the right of companies, the organization being perfectly preserved.”

15 Dabney's Life of Jackson, p. 109.

16 During our whole fight the Tenth Maine Regiment, on duty as a provost-guard at Winchester, was allowed to perform this duty. If Banks knew they were in town, he did not call upon them. It is claimed that they were held in reserve ; but it is manifest that if in that battle of Winchester it was proper to hold any troops in reserve, there was no lack of occasion to call upon them; and this was not done. See “Maine in the War,” p. 229.

17 It was about this time that Lieutenant Crowninshield was wounded. Says Captain Comey of the Second Massachusetts Regiment, in a letter of April 24, 1875, “The right of the column had nearly reached a street on the outskirts of the town when Crowninshield was hit, and cried out, ‘ I am shot! Do not leave me!’ Immediately we left the ranks and went to his assistance; found him trying to rise from the ground. Together we strove to reach the town; had but little hopes of doing so, as the Rebels were closing in on all sides but one. Sergeant McDowell came to our assistance, and picking Crowninshield up, we hurried him to one of the main streets, and placing him in an ambulance, he started for a safe place. The driver of the ambulance at one time was going to cut the traces and leave, but Crowninshield's revolver persuaded him to stand by.”

18 Lieutenant Charles P. Horton, of the Second Massachusetts.

19 Banks's Report.

20 Life of Jackson,p. 109.

21 “Lairs” is good.

22 In General Andrews' letter, of June 14, he says, “I supposed the struggle might be renewed in the town itself, as I saw some troops apparently disposed to make a stand in one of the streets of the town. It was in one of the streets that I halted the regiment and rectified the position of some of the companies that had got out of place in filing into the narrow streets. Soon finding, however, that everything was in full retreat, I marched off the regiment.”

23 After Major Dwight's capture, a very quiet and peaceable affair (given by Quint in the “Second Massachusetts Record” ), the Major remained in Winchester, and of course was not inactive. He visited the scene of our fight, reviewed our position, comforted the wounded, and buried our dead. For some required conveniences Major Dwight was compelled to appeal to General Jackson, of whom the Major had often heard me speak as an old friend and classmate, as well as associate in our Mexican War. It was urged by Major Dwight, in his appeal to Stonewall Jackson, that he was a major in the Second Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by Colonel Gordon of Massachusetts, “who is, I believe,” said the Major, “an old friend of yours.”

“ Friend of mine, sir?” replied “old Jack,” --“he was, sir, once a friend.”

Major Dwight retired, his request unheeded. As I write these lines, the name of “T. J. Jackson, of Virginia,” confronts me from a sheet filled with the autographs of my classmates at the Military Academy at West Point, reminding me of that boy companion to whom the dawn of life was as serious as its close,--that honest, dear “old Jack,” who as Lieutenant-General (Stonewall) Jackson remembered me, in 1862, no longer as a friend.

24 Dabney's Life of Jackson, p. 104.

25 One of which burst close to us, nearly demolishing a house.

26 “I must develop the force of the enemy.”

27 Such a telegram was in the hands of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, and an explanation asked of a witness who was attempting to show that Banks knew before he left Strasburg the number of Jackson's forces. When Banks in his official report said he did know the number, he forgot this telegram.

28 Banks's Report.

29 Banks's Report.

30 Alas for history when made up from official reports!

31 See history of the Campaign of General T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson, by William Allan, p. 115.

32 To our own force, as enumerated, should be added five companies of Maryland cavalry that were stationed at Winchester. The loss of the Confederates is given in Jackson's report as 68 killed, 329 wounded, and 3 missing. But to these Allan thinks about 40 should be added, to include Ashby's loss, and that in the Louisiana troops at Front Royal, and in the First Maryland. See Jackson's “Valley Campaign,” p. 118, note.

33 I never heard of any wagons burned upon the road but the nine I destroyed near Newtown. I never heard of our recapture of the six miles of wagons, taken by the enemy between Strasburg and Middletown.

34 Chaplain Second Massachusetts, in “Record of Second Massachusetts infantry.”

35 Ashton's Letter from the Battle-fields of the South, p. 324.

36 Pollard's Lost Cause.

37 In Johnston's Narrative he puts the prisoners at 2,000, probably nearly correct. See Narrative of military operations, by Joseph E. Johnston, General C. S. A., 1874, p. 129.

38 Richmond Examiner of June 5, 1862.

39 See “Jackson's Valley Campaign,” p. 111, in which the total of Jackson's command is placed at 15,000 or 16,000.

40 This was dated the twenty-fifth of May, Sunday, 11 P. M.

41 This appeal came out in the “Boston daily Advertiser,” of which C. F. Dunbar was then editor, on the 26th of May, 1862. As soon as it came to his notice, Banks, in a telegram to Dunbar, offered up Copeland as a propitiatory sacrifice, as follows :--

Major Copeland should secure some position in the Massachusetts regiments of equal rank to that he now holds. It is not consistent that he should return to his post here after his proclamation in Boston. Please convey to him this information.

N. P. Banks, A. A. C.

See Statement of R. M. Copeland, p. 17.

42 After Copeland's dismissal from the army, in August, 1862, he sought an interview with Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, at which the following occurred :--

“The President replied, ‘ Well, sir, I know something about your case, and I'll tell you what I know. You're the man who went to Boston about the time Jackson broke through at Front Royal, and wrote letters and editorials abusing the Administration, and made speeches, and did all that you could to make a fuss.’ ” Statement of R. M. Copeland, p. 30.

“And then the President replied, ‘ Well, I did not know you were dismissed. I never saw the order, that I know of, until to-day, though of course it has been laid before me and received my official sanction.’ ” Statement of R. M. Copeland, p. 32.

43 See a letter vindicating Secretary Stanton, written by Horatio Woodman, Esq., in “Boston daily Transcript” of June 2, 1862, supposed to have been inspired by Governor Andrew.


General order no. 26.

Headquarters Department of the Shenandoah, Williamsport, Md., May 28, 1862.
I. Brigadier-General George S. Greene, U. S. A., having reported for duty at these headquarters in accordance with the orders of the War Department, is assigned to the command of the Third Brigade, General A. S. Williams's division, and will relieve Colonel George H. Gordon, Second Massachusetts Volunteers, who on being relieved will assume command of his regiment.

11. InI announcing this cllange in the organization of the Third Brigade, under the general direction of tie Dea)tlmlent of War, the commandinggeneral desires to express his unlqualified approval of the manner in which Colonel George Ht. Gordon has discharged the duties of brigade-commander. In organization, discipline, instruction, and equipment he has maintained and elevated the standard of his command. In the execution of his orders, --often, from the extreme necessities of our position and the great reduction of our forces, sudden and difficult,--he has been prompt and successful, exhibiting on all occasions the qualities of a prompt and patriotic officer.

The commanding-general has also the pleasure of expressing his approval of the manner in which the Third Brigade and its commander discharged most important duties on the march from Strasburg, on the 24th inst., in the affair with the enemy, as the rear-guard of the column, on the evening of the same day, which contributed so much to the safety of the command, and in the engagement of the 25th, at Winchester, Virginia. He has the strongest confidence that its distinguished character and reputation will be maintained hereafter. The commanding-general commends to the just consideration of the brigade its new commander, General George S. Greene, as an officer of large experience and distinguished character.

By command of Major-General N. P. Banks, D. D. Perkins, Major and A. A. A. Gen.
By command of General A. S. Williams. Wm. D. Wilkins, Capt. and A. A. S.
Official, S. E. Pittman, 1st Lieut. and A. D. C.


Williamsport, Md., May 31, 1862.
To the Hon. Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War.
The undersigned officers of the army, serving in the Department of the Shenandoah, take great pleasure in recommending for the appointment of brigadier-general, Colonel George H. Gordon, commanding Second Massachusetts Regiment.

Colonel Gordon has for the last three months filled the position asked for him, having been in command of the Third Brigade of Williams's division. The high state of discipline attained by his brigade, together with its admirable drill, have proved his competency for the position.

The appointment is more particularly asked as a reward for the military skill and good conduct shown by him at the battle of Winchester on Sunday last, and throughout the retreat from Strasburg to this place.

N. P. Banks, M. G. C. John P. Hatch, Brig.-Gen. Cavalry. S. W. Crawford, Brig.-Gen. U. S. V. A. S. Williams, B. G. C. 1st Div. Geo. S. Greene, Brig.-Gen. U. S. V.

46 How our major escaped from captivity without aid from his brother has been told too many times to repeat. On the twenty-first of June a despatch came to me,

Dwight is safe, prisoner at Winchester.

(Signed) F. D'Hauteville.

47 Was this consistent with a written protest against my promotion?


Winchester, Va., June 15.
Brigadier-General Gordon will proceed at once to Washington, and report to the Secretary of War for further orders. By command of

N. P. Banks, M. G. C.


Special orders, no. 138.

War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, Washington, June 18, 1862.
9th. Brigadier-General George H. Gordon, U. S. Vols., is assigned to duty in the Department of the Shenandoah, to take command of the brigade now under Brigadier-General Greene, and will report in person to Major-General Banks. By order of the Secretary of War.

L. Thomas, Adjt.-General.

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