The battle of Kernstown.
an interesting Narrative.
[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Mr. Jackson, Va., March 28, 1862.
On Saturday, the 22d inst., Gen. Jackson
rapidly moved his little army from camp, near this place, back to Cedar Creek
, twenty-six miles, in one day, and camped there that night, making his headquarters in Birdsburg, which was evacuated by the enemy the day before.
Early the next morning (Sunday) he again moved forward, and the artillery opened on the enemy near Kernstown
about 12 o'clock. The fight was made by the Yankees
as they fought at Manassas
, first making a demonstration on our right and then throwing their whole force rapidly to our left.
An "artillery duel" was kept up until about four o'clock, our forces moving gradually to the left, when the enemy's infantry advanced in force.
They were met by the 37th and 21st Virginia regiments, and repulsed three times.
Three times the Stars and Stripes fell, and three times did our gallant troops drive them headlong down the hill.
The 1st brigade, the "Stonewall
," then came up, and again a fresh column of the enemy was driven back, leaving the side of the hill black with their dead and wounded.
Our artillery was now retiring from the field, firing as it left.
Another column of the enemy came up to attack our wearied troops, and, overpowered by numbers, they were forced to leave the tierd.
The 5th Virginia, Col.
W. H, Harman
, which had been held in reserve, now came up, repulsed three regiments of the enemy three times, and with the aid of the 42d Virginia, Col. Burks
, saved the artillery and gave our scattering troops time to rally on the next range of hills.
By this time, night was approaching, and the enemy, tired of trying to conquer our little band of heroes, ceased firing, and the battle ended.
No battle has been fought during the war against such odds and under the same trying circumstances.
With a force not exceeding 3,500 men — men who had been on forced marches for weeks — the ranks thinned by the process of reorganization in front of the enemy, we attack 20,000 fresh troops, repulse them again and again, until overpowered by numbers, and so cripple the enemy that he dared not follow us on our retreat.
The history of the war affords no contrast to the gallantry of our troops and the desperation with which they fought on Sunday, March 23d.--The Yankees
fought better than at Manassas
, but their officers could be seen riding behind their columns sabering the men on to the work.
While the battle lasted, the firing was sharper and more rapid than on the glorious 21st of July. It was equally as hard a fought battle and against greater odds, and if not so successful on our side; the result leaves no blush of shame behind, and adds news lan to the desperate, bravery of both officers and men of our little army.
Our loss is estimated at about 300 killed wounded and missing. Letters received from Winchester
last night, from reliable persons, state that one hundred and forty-six of our men were prisoners; some forty-six being wounded.
admit a loss of 300 killed, and from 1,000 to 1,500 wounded and missing. The same letters state that there is "no exultation among the Yankees
and that they look upon Jackson
's army as a band of heroes" Our ladies in Winchester
gave every attention to our wounded and prisoners.
For the first time since the Yankees
entered the town they crowded the streets, and the march of our men to tire railroad depot was as one expresses it, "a march of triumph rather than of defeat. " The Yankees
did not interfere with this patriotic demonstration, or the shouts of our brave boys for "Jeff Davis
and the Confederacy
." The same letters represent the Yankees
as looking upon Jackson
's army, particularly Col. Ashby
's cavalry, with fear and trembling.
The men claim no victory over us, though the usual noise will be made in their papers.
Our people on the border look upon our gallant fight on Sunday in the light of a victory, and seem cheerful and hopeful.
Where all acted so gallantly and fought so bravely it is hard so particularize, but a few instances deserve especial mention.
It is useless to say that Gen. Jackson
acted bravely; he was in the thickest of the fight and exposed to every, danger.
A braver man God never made.
, of the 2d Virginia, distinguished himself.
Three times the flag of the 2d Virginia was shot down and the stan shot away.
, the masses of the enemy close upon him, jumped from his horse and carried the colors from the field.
, of the 21st, had his horse shot under him and acted his part well.
, of the 27th, had his arm badly broken while leading his men to the field.
, of the 4d, received six shots through his clothing and his horse was shot four times.
, of Delaware
, who joined the 5th at Harper's Ferry
, was killed, fighting bravely.
, of the 5th, was badly wounded and left on the field.
, of the 27th, going on the field lame, was taken prisoner.
, Gen. Jackson
's Aide-de-camp, was taken prisoner.
He mistook a body of Yankees for our men, and was taken.
The whole army regrets the loss of the gallant Lieutenant
, and Lt. Lisle
, of the Liberty Hall Volunteers, of Washington College, who fought so gallantly at Manassas
, were taken, and his company badly cut up. It is impossible to get a full list of the killed and wounded — The missing are coming in every day, and the first estimate made is greatly reduced.
's report will no doubt soon settle all doubts on the subject.
In the hurry of marching and counter marching.
I give you what I have picked up as facts.
We lost two six-pounders and three caissons--one of the Rockbridge Artillery and one of the West Augusta.
gun was lost by the horses being killed early in the day; that of the West Augusta, by the carriage turning over, on the retreat.
Both lost some four or five horses.
All of our batteries acted well on the field, and the enemy admit that they did terrible execution.
, held the right, and before the fight was over was completely in the rear of the enemy.
He covered our retreat, and by his tireless enemy has made himself the terror of the Yankees
The morning after the battle we fell back to Strasburg
, and that evening came to our old camps near here.
If the enemy had possessed courage and daring our train might have been taken and would have been but for Maj. John A. Barman
, Chief Quartermaster
of this army.
It is no slight job to move at train three miles long across a dangerous ford, (Cedar creek
bridge was destroyed by Ashby
on our first "fall back,") in presence of an enemy.
Our train was in night of the battle held, when Maj. Harman
, seeing the position of affairs, ordered it back.
By his energy during the night, he had it ready to move in the morning early, and passed it over safely and rapidly.
I am glad to say he has had the enormous proportions of the train cut down, and the army is now in light marching order.
Few men do as much work for the army, and none do it better than John A. Harman
But I must bring my rambling letter to a close, for the signal for as advance to Winchester
has again been given, and our army, in no manner dispirited, has marched forth to meet the hated Yankees
The ranks are rapidly filling up, and the militia that pour in are armed and organized at once.
If my letter, hurried as it necessarily is, stops all croakers' tongues about "the defeat of Jackson
," and gives even an idea of the grand battle we fought my time has been well spent, and its imperfections will be excused.