in strong force. Reported on the road to Winchester this morning, in strength from 6,000 to 10,000.
N. P. BANKS,
P. H. WATSON,
Assistant Secretary of War.
WINCHESTER, May 24, 1862-8 p. m.
(Received 9.45 p. m.)
I was satisfied by the affair at Front Royal yesterday that I could not hold Strasburg with my force against Jackson's and Ewell's armies, who I believed intended immediate attack. Though I might have saved my command, it would have been impossible to secure the vast stores and extensive trains accumulated there, and, learning from a variety of sources entitled to belief that Ewel intended to put his force between Strasburg and Winchester in order to cut off retreat and prevent re-enforcements, I concluded that the safest course for my command was to anticipate the enemy in the occupation of Winchester. My advance guard entered this town at 5 this evening, with all our trains and stores in safety. A strong attack was made upon our trains at Middletown by rebel cavalry, artillery, and infantry, but it was repulsed by our troops, and the few wagons abandoned by teamsters nearly all recovered. I learn here that the pickets of the enemy were within 5 miles of the town this morning, on the Front Royal road. I shall return to Strasburg with my command immediately. I learn from a prisoner taken to-day, who was at the engagement at Front Royal yesterday, that Colonel Kenly was wounded only and not killed.
N. P. BANKS,
The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
(Same to General Fremont.)
May 24, 1864.
Major-General BANKS, Winchester:
In your dispatch of this evening to the President you say that you intend to return with your command to Strasburg. The question is suggested whether you will not by that movement expose your stores and trains at Winchester. The President desires therefore more detailed information than you have yet furnished respecting the force and position of the enemy in your neighborhood before you make a movement that will subject Winchester or Harper's Ferry to danger from sudden attack. You will please report fully before moving.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
WINCHESTER, May 24, 1862.
(Received 11.50 p. m.)
I am persuaded that a large force of the enemy occupied positions to-day between Strasburg and Winchester, but had not time to co-ope-