War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0020 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

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in reserve; left wing. Stahel; center, Cluseret; reserve to Stahel and Cluseret, Bohlen. Colonel Disckel's Fourth New York Cavalry occupied position upon right and rear were the cavalry of Schenck's brigade. Captain Conger's company were held imposition near headquarters.

The enemy occupied a position of uncommon strength, commanding the junction of the roads to Port Republic. He had chosen his ground with great skill and with a previous full knowledge of the localities. his main line was advantageously posted upon a ridge, protected in front by a steep declivity, and almost entirely masked by thick woods and covered by fences. Near his center, and on the summit of an abrupt ascent, bordered at the base by the high perpendicular bank of a marshy creek, he had massed,in addition of his guns elsewhere, three of his best batteries. From superiority of numbers his flanks both at the right and left considerably overlapped my on. It was almost impossible to force this position by a regular attack in front, which would have exposed us to cross-fires and flank attacks, and to have attacked him irregularly and at random on either of his flanks would have carried us off the roads into wooded and broken ground of which I was entirely ignorant, and would very certainly have resulted in disaster.

To give this effort any chance of success it would have been necessary to lose valuable time in reconnoitering the ground, during which he could have withdrawn his troops, crossed and destroyed the bridge at port Republic, and possibly, too, the command of General Shields.

I wa without reliable maps or guides, but from what could be seen of the rods, and from the understood position of the bridge at Port Republic, I judged that the enemy's right was his strategic flank. I decide, therefore, to press him form this side, with the object to seized, if possible, his line of retreat, and accordingly gave all the strength practicable to my left.

Continuous firing had been kept up during the time occupied in getting my forces into position, and with the full establishe men to f my lines the battle became general. Urging vigorously forward his brigade, General Stahel encountered in the first belt of woods a strong line of skirmishers, which with hard fighting was driven out of the timber and pushed by the Eighth and Forty-fifth New York over the open ground beyond to the edge of the woods, where these regiments open ground beyond to the edge of the woods, where these regiments suddenly came upon the right of the enemy's main line, held by the troops of General Trimble, and composed in part of the Sixteenth Mississippi, the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Alabama, the Twenty-first North Carolina, and Twenty-first Georgia. Two of General Stahel's best regiments, the Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania and Forty-first New York, had been diverted to the right in the timber, and the shock of the entire force here was sustained by the Eighth, which was attacked in front and flank by four regiments. This regiment behave with great gallantry, charging with impetuosity into the enemy's ranks, and for a time holding its own, but yielding at length to the great superiority of numbers was driven, together with the Forty-fifth, back over the open ground and through the woods upon Bohlen's brigade, which had in the mean time advanced to Stahel's support and joined in the action, supported by our batteries.

Steinwehr's brigade coming up was deployed in rear of the batteries, and General Blenker arriving, took command of his division.

The enemy now brought up additional artillery into the open ground