Appendix to Chapter XXVII.
General Early to General Lee.
Port Republic, September 25, 1864.General: I had determined to write you a full account of recent events, but I am too much occupied to do so. In the fight at Winchester I drove back the enemy's infantry and would have defeated that, but his cavalry broke mine on the left flank, the latter making no stand, and I had to take a division to stop the progress of the former and save my trains, and during the fighting in the rear the enemy again advanced and my troops fell back, thinking they were flanked. The enemy's immense superiority in cavalry and the inefficiency of the greater part of mine has been the cause of all my disasters. In the affair at Fisher's Hill the cavalry gave way, but it was flanked. . This would have been remedied if the troops had remained steady, but a panic seized them at the idea of being flanked, and, without being defeated, they broke, many of them fleeing shamefully. The artillery was not captured by the enemy, but abandoned by the infantry. My troops are very much shattered, the men very much exhausted, and many of them without shoes. When Kershaw arrives I shall do the best I can, and hope I may be able to check the enemy, but I cannot but be apprehensive of the result. I am informed that all the reserves have been called from the Valley. I think Sheridan means to try Hunter's campaign again, and his superiority in cavalry gives him immense advantage. If you could possibly spare Hampton's division, it might be sent here at once. I deeply regret the present state of things, and I assure you everything in my power has been done to avert it. The enemy's force is very much larger than mine, being three or four to one. Respectfully,
J. A. Early, Lieutenant-General.
General Lee to General Early.—(confidential.)
Headquarters, Petersburg, September 27, 1864.General: Your letter of the 25th is received. I very much regret the reverses that have occurred to the army in the valley, but trust they can be remedied. The arrival of Kershaw will add greatly to your strength, and I have such confidence in the men and officers that I am sure all will unite in the defense of the country. It will require that every one should exert all his energies and strength to meet the emergency. One victory will put all things right. You must do all in your power to invigorate your army. Get back all absentees. Manoeuvre so, if you can, as to keep the enemy in check until you can strike him with all your strength. As far as I can judge at this distance, you have operated more with divisions than with your concentrated strength. Circumstances may have rendered it necessary, but such a course is to be avoided if possible. It will require the greatest watchfulness, the greatest promptness, and the most untiring energy on your part to arrest the progress of the enemy in his present tide of success. All the reserves in the valley have been ordered to you. Breckenridge will join you or co-operate, as circumstances will permit, with all his force. Rosser left this morning for Burksville (intersection of Danville and Southside railroads), where he will shape his course as you direct. I have given you all I can. You must use the resources you have so as to gain success. The enemy must be defeated, and I rely upon you to do it. I will endeavor to have shoes, arms, and ammunition supplied you. Set all your officers to work bravely and hopefully, and all will go well. As regards the western cavalry, I think for the present the best thing you can do is to separate it. Perhaps there is a lack of confidence between officers and men. If you will attach one brigade to Rosser, making him a division, and one to Fitz Lee's division, under Wickham, Lomax will be able, I hope, to bring out the rest. The men are all good, and only require instruction and discipline. The enemy's force cannot be so greatly superior to yours. His effective infantry I do not think exceeds 12,000 men. We are obliged to fight against great odds. A kind Providence will yet overrule everything for our good. If Colonel Carter's wound incapacitates him for duty, you must select a good chief of artillery for the present. Wishing you every prosperity and success, I am very truly yours,
R. E. Lee, General. General J. A. Early, commanding Valley.
(Official Copy) C. Marshall, Aide-de-camp.
(Official Copy) C. Marshall, Aide-de-camp.
General Early to General Lee.
New market, October 9, 1864.General: Rosser, in command of his own brigade and the two brigades of Fitz Lee's division, and Lomax with two brigades of his own cavalry, were ordered to pursue the enemy, to harass him and ascertain his purposes, while I remained here so as to be ready to move east of the Ridge if necessary; and I am sorry to inform you that the enemy, having concentrated his whole cavalry in his rear, attacked them and drove them back this morning from near Fisher's Hill, capturing nine pieces of artillery and eight or ten wagons. Their loss in men is, I understand, slight. I have not heard definitely from Rosser, but he is, I understand, falling back in good order, having rallied his command, which is on what is called Back road, which is west of the pike; but Lomax's command, which was on the pike, came back to this place in confusion. This is very distressing to me, and God knows I have done all in my power to avert the disasters which have befallen this command; but the fact is that the enemy's cavalry is so much superior to ours, both in numbers and equipment, and the country is so favorable to the operations of cavalry, that it is impossible for ours to compete with his. Lomax's cavalry is armed entirely with rifles, and has no sabres, and the consequence is that they can not fight on horseback, and, in this open country, they cannot successfully fight on foot against large bodies of cavalry; besides, the command is and has been demoralized all the time. It would be better if they could all be put into the infantry; but, if that were tried, I am afraid they would all run off. Sheridan's infantry moved off from Fisher's Hill this morning, and I am satisfied that he does not intend moving this way again, as he burned all the bridges in his rear as he went down, and the question now is what he intends doing—whether he will move across the Ridge, send a part of his force to Grant, or content himself with protecting the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. If he moves across the Ridge, I will move directly across from this place to meet him, and I think I can defeat his infantry and thwart his movements on the east of the mountains. But what shall I do if he sends reinforcements to Grant, or remains in the lower Valley? He has laid waste nearly all of Rockingham and Shenandoah, and I will have to rely on Augusta for my supplies, and they are not abundant there. Sheridan's purpose, under Grant's orders, has been to render the Valley untenable by our troops  by destroying the supplies. My infantry is now in good heart and condition, and I have sent a special messenger to you to get your views. Without Kershaw, I would have about six thousand muskets. Very respectfully,
J. A. Early, Lieutenant-General. General R. E. Lee, commanding Army of Northern Virginia.
General Early to General Lee.
Headquarters, Valley District (New market), October 9, 1864.General: In advance of a detailed report, I have determined to give you an informal account of the recent disasters to my command, which I have not had leisure to do before. On the 17th of September, I moved two divisions-Rhodes's and Gordon's—from Stevenson's depot, where they, together with Breckenridge's division, were encamped (Ramseur's being at Winchester, to cover the road from Berryville), to Bunker Hill; and, on the 18th, I moved Gordon's division, with a part of Lomax's cavalry, to Martinsburg, to thwart efforts that were reported to be making to repair the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. This expedition was successful, and the bridge over Back creek was burned by a brigade of cavalry sent there. On the evening of the 18th, Rhodes was moved back to Stevenson's depot, and Gordon to Bunker Hill, with orders to start at daylight to return to his camp at Stevenson's depot, which place he reached at a very early hour next morning. About the time of Gordon's arrival on that morning, firing was heard in Ramseur's front; and now a report reached me that the enemy's cavalry had appeared on the Berryville road. I ordered Rhodes, Gordon, and Breckenridge to have their divisions under arms ready to go to Ramseur's assistance, and rode to his position to ascertain the extent and character of the demonstration. On getting there, I found Ramseur's division in line of battle, and the enemy evidently advancing with his whole force. The other divisions were immediately ordered up, and the trains all put in motion for their security. Rhodes and Gordon arrived just before the enemy commenced advancing a heavy fire in Ramseur's left for the purpose of overwhelming him; and, when their columns commenced advancing on Ramseur, I attacked them with Rhodes and Gordon's divisions, and drove them back with great slaughter, the artillery doing most splendid service, Braxton's battalion driving back, with canister, a  heavy force, before which Even's brigade of Gordon's division, which was on the left, had given way. This brigade was now rallied, and, Battle's brigade coming to its assistance, the enemy was pushed back a considerable distance, and we were successful. Breckenridge's division did not arrive for some time, because General Breckenridge had moved it out, after my orders to him, to drive back some of the enemy's cavalry which was crossing the Opequan, and I sent for him again, and he came up in the afternoon before the enemy had made any further attack; but, as he reported the enemy's cavalry advancing on the road from Charlestown and Stevenson's depot, I ordered one of his brigades to the left on that road, and directed General Fitz Lee to take charge of all the cavalry on that flank (my left), and check the enemy's cavalry, and moved the other two brigades of Breckenridge's division towards the right, where our forces were weakest and the enemy was making demonstrations in force. Breckenridge was scarcely in position before our cavalry on the left was discovered coming back in great confusion, followed by the enemy's, and Breckenridge's force was ordered to the left to repel this cavalry force which had gotten in rear of my left; and this, with the assistance of the artillery, he succeeded in doing. But, as soon as the firing was heard in rear of our left flank, the infantry commenced falling back along the whole line, and it was very difficult to stop them. I succeeded, however, in stopping enough of them in the old rifle-pits constructed by General Johnston to arrest the progress of the enemy's infantry, which commenced advancing again when the confusion in our ranks was discovered, and would have still won the day if our cavalry would have stopped the enemy's; but so overwhelming was the battle, and so demoralized was a larger part of ours, that no assistance was received from it. The enemy's cavalry again charged around my left flank, and the men began to give way again, so that it was necessary for me to retire through the town. Line of battle was formed on the north side of the town, the command reorganized, and we then turned back deliberately to Newtown and the next day to Fisher. We lost three pieces of artillery, two of which had been left with the cavalry on the left, and the other was lost because the horses were killed and it could not be brought off. In this fight I had already defeated the enemy's infantry, and could have continued to do so, but the enemy's very great superiority in cavalry and the comparative inefficiency of ours turned the scales against us. In this battle the loss in the infantry and artillery was: killed, 226; wounded, 1,567; missing,  1,818—total, 3,611. There is no full report of the cavalry, but the total loss in killed and wounded from September 1st to 1st October is: killed, 60; wounded, 288—total, 348; but many were captured, though a good many are missing as stragglers, and a number of them reported missing in the infantry were not captured, but are stragglers and skulkers. Breckenridge's division lost six colors, and Rhodes's division captured two. Rhodes's division made a very gallant charge, and he was killed conducting it. I fell back to Fisher's Hill, as it was the only place where a stand could be made, and I was compelled to detach Fitz Lee's cavalry to the Luray valley to hold the enemy's cavalry in check should it advance up that valley. The enemy's loss at Winchester was very heavy. Dr. McGuire has received a letter from a member of his family, who states that 5,800 of the enemy's wounded were brought to the hospital at Winchester, and that the total wounded was between 6,000 and 7,000; and a gentleman who passed over the field says that the number of killed was very large. Sheridan's medical director informed one of our surgeons, left at Woodstock, that the number of wounded in hospital at Winchester was the same as stated in the letter to Dr. McGuire, and I am satisfied from what I saw that the enemy's loss was very heavy. The enemy's infantry force was nearly, if not quite, three times as large as mine, and his cavalry was very much superior both in numbers and equipment. This I have learned from intelligent persons who have seen the whole of both forces. I posted my troops in line at Fisher's Hill with the hope of arresting Sheridan's progress; but my line was very thin, and having discovered that the position could be flanked, as is the case with every position in the Valley, I had determined to fall back on the night of the 22nd; but, late that evening, a heavy force was moved under cover of the woods on the left, and drove back the cavalry there posted and got in the rear of my left flank; and, when I tried to remedy this, the infantry got into a panic and gave way in confusion, and I found it impossible to rally it. The artillery behaved splendidly, both on this occasion and at Winchester. I had to order the guns to be withdrawn; but the difficulties of the ground were such that 12 guns were lost, because they could not be gotten off. The loss in the infantry and artillery was 30 killed, 210 wounded, and 995 missing—total, 1,235. I have been able to get no report of the loss in the cavalry, but it was slight. Very many of the missing in the infantry took to the mountains; a number of them have since come in, and others are still out.  The enemy did not capture more than 400 or 500; but, I am sorry to say, many men threw away their arms. The night favored our retreat, and by next morning the commands were pretty well organized. At Mount Jackson next day I halted, and drove back a force of cavalry which was pursuing, and then moved to Rode's Hill, where I halted until the enemy's infantry came up next day and was trying to flank me, when I moved off in line of battle for eight miles, occasionally halting to check the enemy. This continued till nearly sundown, when I got a position at which I checked the enemy's further progress for that day, and then moved under cover of night towards Port Republic to unite with Kershaw. After doing this, I drove a division of cavalry from my front at Port Republic, and then moved to Waynesboro, where two divisions under Torbert were destroying the bridge, and drove them away; and, after remaining there one day, I moved to the vicinity of Mount Crawford, where I awaited the arrival of Rosser's brigade to take the offensive; but, before it arrived, the enemy was discovered to be falling back on the morning of the 6th. I immediately commenced following the enemy, and arrived here on the 7th, and have been waiting to ascertain whether Sheridan intends crossing the Blue Ridge before moving further. Respectfully,
General R. E. Lee:
General R. E. Lee:
J. A. Early, Lieutenant-General. Official. Sam. W. Melton, Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
General Early to General Lee.
New market, October 20, 1864.General: The telegraph has already informed you of the disaster of the 19th. I now write to give you a fuller account of the matter. Having received information that the enemy was continuing to repair the Manassas road, and that he had moved back from Fisher's Hill, I moved on the 12th towards Strasburg, for the purpose of endeavoring to thwart his purposes if he should contemplate moving across the Ridge, or sending troops to Grant. On the 13th I made a reconnoissance in force beyond Strasburg, and found the enemy on the north bank of Cedar creek, and on both sides of the pike; this was too strong a position to attack in front; I therefore encamped my  force at Fisher's Hill, and waited to see whether the enemy would move; but he commenced fortifying. On the night of the 16th, Rosser, with two brigades of cavalry and a brigade of infantry mounted behind his men, was sent around the left to surprise what was reported by his scouts to be the camp of a division of cavalry; he found, however, that the camp had been moved, and he only found a picket, which he captured. As I could not remain at Fisher's Hill, for want of forage, I then determined to try and get round one of the enemy's flanks, and surprise him in camp. After ascertaining the location of the enemy's camps, from observations from a signal station on Massawattan mountain, I determined to move around the left flank of the enemy. I selected this flank from information furnished by General Gordon and Captain Hotchkiss, who had gone to the signal station, and because the greater part of the enemy's cavalry was on his right, and Rosser's attempt had caused that flank to be closely picketed. To get around the enemy's left was a very difficult undertaking, however, as the river had to be crossed twice, and between the mountain and river, where the troops had to pass to the lower ford, there was only a rugged pathway; I thought, however, the chances of success would be greater, from the fact that the enemy would not expect a move in that direction, on account of the difficulties attending it, and the great strength of their position on that flank. The movement was, accordingly, begun on the night of the 18th, just after dark, Gordon's, Ramseur's, and Pegram's divisions being sent across the river and around the foot of the mountain, all under the command of General Gordon, and late at night I moved with Kershaw's division through Strasburg, towards a ford on Cedar creek, just above its mouth, and Wharton was moved on the pike, towards the enemy's front, on which road the artillery was also moved. The arrangement was for Gordon to come around in the rear, for Kershaw to attack the left flank, and for Wharton to advance in front, supporting the artillery, which was to open on the enemy when he should turn on Gordon or Kershaw, and the attack was to begin at 5 A. M. on the 19th. Rosser was sent to the left to occupy the enemy's cavalry, and Lomax, who had been sent down the Luray valley, was ordered to pass Front Royal, cross the river, and move across towards the Valley pike. Punctually at 5, Kershaw reached the enemy's left work, attacked and carried it without the least difficulty, and very shortly afterwards Gordon attacked in the rear, and they swept everything before them, routing the Eighth and Nineteenth corps completely, getting  possession of their camp, and capturing eighteen pieces of artillery and about 1,300 prisoners; they moved across the pike towards the camp of the Sixth corps, and Wharton was crossed over, the artillery following him; but the Sixth corps, which was on the enemy's extreme right of his infantry, was not surprised in camp, because Rosser had commenced the attack on that flank about the same time as the attack on the other, and the firing on the left gave that corps sufficient time to form and move out of camp, and it was found posted on a ridge on the west of the pike and parallel to it, and this corps offered considerable resistance. The artillery was brought up and opened on it, when it fell back to the north of Middletown, and made a stand on a commanding ridge running across the pike. In the meantime, the enemy's cavalry was threatening our right flank and rear, and, the country being perfectly open, and having on that flank only Lomax's old brigade, numbering about 300 men, it became necessary to make dispositions to prevent a cavalry charge, and a portion of the troops were moved to the right for that purpose, and word was sent to Gordon, who had got on the left with his division, and Kershaw, who were then also to swing around and advance with their divisions; but they stated in reply that a heavy force of cavalry had got in their front, and that their ranks were so depleted (by the number of men who had stopped in the camps to plunder) that they could not advance them. Rosser also sent word that, when he attacked the cavalry, he encountered a part of the Sixth corps supporting it, and that it was too strong for him, and that he would have to fall back. I sent word to him to get some position that he could hold, and, the cavalry in front of Kershaw and Gordon having moved towards Rosser, they were moved forward, and a line was formed north of Middletown, facing the enemy. The cavalry on the right made several efforts to charge that flank, but was driven back. So many of our men had stopped in the camp to plunder (in which I am sorry to say that officers participated), the country was so open, and the enemy's cavalry so strong, that I did not deem it prudent to press further, especially as Lomax had not come up. I determined, therefore, to content myself with trying to hold the advantages I had gained, until all my troops had come up, and the captured property was secured. If I had had but one division of fresh troops, I could have made the victory complete and beyond all danger of a reverse. We continued to hold our position until late in the afternoon, when the enemy commenced advancing, and was driven back on the right centre by Ramseur; but Gordon's division on the left subsequently  gave way, and Kershaw's and Ramseur's did so also, when they found Gordon's giving way, not because there was any pressure on them, but from an insane idea of being flanked; some of them, however, were rallied, and, with the help of the artillery, the army was checked for some time; but a great number of men could not be stopped, but continued to go to the rear. The enemy again made a demonstration, and General Ramseur, who was acting with great gallantry, was wounded, and the left again gave way, and then the whole command was falling back in such a panic that I had to order Pegram's and Wharton's commands, which were very small and on the right, to fall back, and most of them took the panic also. I found it impossible to rally the troops; they would not listen to entreaties, threats, or appeals of any kind. A terror of the enemy's cavalry had siezed them, and there was no holding them back; they left the field in the greatest confusion. All the captured artillery had been carried across Cedar creek, and a large number of captured wagons and ambulances, and we succeeded in crossing our own artillery over, and everything would have been saved if we could have rallied 500 men; but the panic was so great that nothing could be done. A small body of the enemy's cavalry dashed across Cedar creek above the bridge, and got into the train and artillery, running back on the pike, and passed through our men to this side of Strasburg, tore up a bridge, and thus succeeded in capturing the greatest part of the artillery and a number of ordnance and medical wagons and ambulances. The men scattered on the sides, and the rout was as thorough and disgraceful as ever happened to our army. After the utter failure of all my attempts to rally the men, I went to Fisher's Hill with the hope of rallying the troops there, and forming them in the trenches; but, when they reached that position, the only organized body of men left was the prisoners, 1,300 in number, and the provost guard in charge of them; and I believe that the appearance of these prisoners, moving back in a body, alone arrested the progress of the enemy's cavalry, as it was too dark for them to discover what they were. Many of the men stopped at Fisher's Hill, and went to their old camps, but no organization of then could be effected, and nothing saved us but the inability of the enemy to follow with his infantry, and his expectation that we would make a stand there. The state of things was distressing and mortifying beyond measure; we had within our grasp a great and glorious victory, and lost it by the uncontrollable propensity of our men for plunder, in the first place, and the subsequent panic among  those who had kept their places, which was without sufficient cause, for I believe that the enemy had only made the movement against us as a demonstration, hoping to protect his stores, etc., at Winchester, and that the rout of our troops was a surprise to him. I had endeavored to guard against the dangers of stopping to plunder in the camps by cautioning the division commanders, and ordering them to caution their subordinates and take the most rigid measures to prevent it, and I endeavored to arrest the evil while in progress without avail. The truth is, we have very few field or company officers worth anything, almost all our good officers of that kind having been killed, wounded, or captured, and it is impossible to preserve discipline without good field and company officers. I send you a map of the battle-field with the surrounding country. You will see marked out on it the different routes of the several columns. The plan was a bold one and was vigorously pursued by the division commanders, and it was successful, but the victory already gained was lost by the subsequent bad conduct of the troops. The artillery throughout, from first to last, in this as well as in all the actions I have had, behaved nobly, both officers and men, and not a piece of artillery has been lost by any fault of theirs. I attribute this good conduct on their part to the vast superiority of the officers. Colonel Carter and all his battalion commanders richly deserve promotion. They not only fought their guns gallantly and efficiently, but they made the most strenuous efforts to rally the infantry. It is mortifying to me, General, to have to make these explanations of my reverses; they are due to no want of effort on my part, though it may be that I have not the capacity or judgment to prevent them. I have labored faithfully to gain success, and I have not failed to expose my person and to set an example to my men. I know that I shall have to endure censure from those who do not understand my position and difficulties, but I am still willing to make renewed efforts. If you think, however, that the interests of the service would be promoted by a change of commanders, I beg you will have no hesitation in making the change. The interests of the service are far beyond any personal considerations, and if they require it I am willing to surrender my command into other hands. Though this affair has resulted so disastrously to my command, yet I think it is not entirely without compensating benefits. The Sixth corps had already begun to move off to Grant, and my movement brought it back, and Sheridan's forces are now so shattered that he will not be able to send Grant any efficient aid for some time. I  think he will be afraid to trust the Eighth and Nineteenth corps. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded was very heavy, and we took 1,300 prisoners, making, with some taken by Rosser, and others taken on the day of reconnoissance, over 1,500. My loss in killed and wounded was not more than 700 or 800 men, and I think very few prisoners were lost. A number of my men are still out, but they are coming in. Except for the loss of my artillery, the enemy has far the worst of it. We secured some of the captured artillery, and our net loss is twenty-three pieces. I still have twenty pieces, besides the horse artillery. The enemy is not pursuing, and I will remain here and organize my troops. Respectfully,
General R. E. Lee, commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
General R. E. Lee, commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
J. A. Early. Official. John Blair Hoge, Major and Acting Adjutant-General.