War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0548 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

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at the head of the column it would have been thrown into such dire confusion as to have made the successful continuation of our march impossible. Pending this contest Colonel Brodhead, of the First Michigan Cavalry, was ordered to advance, and, if possible, to cut his way through and occupy Winchester. It was the report of this energetic officer that gave us the first assurance that our course was yet clear, and he was the first of our column to enter the town.


When it was first reported that the enemy had pushed between us and Winchester General Hatch was ordered to advance with all available cavalry from Strasburg, leaving Colonel de Forest to cover the rear and destroy stores not provided with transportation.

Major Vought, Fifth New York Cavalry, had been previously ordered to reconnoiter the Front Royal road to ascertain the position of the enemy, whom he encountered in force near Middletown, and was compelled to fall back, immediately followed by the enemy's cavalry, infantry, and artillery. In this affair 5 of our men were killed and some wounded. The loss of the enemy is not known.

After repeated attempts to force a passage though the lines of the enemy, now advanced to the pike, General Hatch, satisfied that this result could not be accomplished without great loss, and supposing our army to have proceeded but a short distance, turned to the left, and moving upon a parallel road, made several ineffectual attempts to effect a junction with the main column. At Newtown, however, he found Colonel Gordon, holding the enemy in check, and joined his brigade. Major Collins, with three companies of cavalry, mistaking the point where the main body of the cavalry left the road, dashed upon the enemy until stopped by a barricade of wagons and a tempestuous fire of infantry and artillery. His loss must have been severe.

Six companies of the Fifth New York, Colonel De Forest, and six companies of the First Vernont, Colonel Tompkins, after repeated and desperate efforts to effect a junction with the main body, the road now being filled with infantry, artillery, and cavalry, fell back to Strasburg, where they found the Zouaves d' Afrique. The Fifth New York, failing to effect a junction at Winchester, and also at Martinsburg, came in at Clear Spring with a train of 32 wagons and many stragglers. The First Vermont, Colonel Tompkins, joined in at Winchester with six pieces of artillery, and participated in the fight of the next morning. Nothing could surpass the celerity and spirit with which the various companies of cavalry executed their movements and their intrepid charges upon the enemy.

General Hatch deserves great credit for the manner in which he discharged his duties as chief of cavalry in this part of our march as well as at the fight at Winchester and in covering the rear of our column to the river, but especially for the spirit infused into his troops during the brief period of his command, which, by confession of tried and foe, had been made equal, if not superior, to the best of the enemy's longtrained mounted troops. From this point the protection of the rear of the column devolved upon the forces under Colonel Gordon.


The rear guard having been separated from the column, and the rear of the train attacked by an increased force near the bridge between New