advancing. There was also a regiment of troops advancing along the main street in column by company. I then directed the captain to deploy his company behind a stone wall which an perpendicularly form the road and across the ridge, whilst I reconnoitered the regiment advancing on the main road. Being in doubt as to their uniforms, and fearing I might fire on friends, we approached quite close, and owing to a number of stragglers and cavalry, who crowded behind him, we received a volley from the leading company. The then marched steadily onward, in perfect ignorance of the locality of the Zouaves, who from a close distance poured in the whole company fire upon them. This staggered them for a few moments, and the Zouaves continued to load and fire until the column to the right threatened to outflank them, when Captain Collis ordered them to retire. This they did, deployed as skirmishers and firing steadily.
By the greatest good fortune we found one of our batteries in position on the hill to the south of the town (Captain Hampton's.) From this place we shelled the enemy, and as he approached near enough gave him some canister, which checked him. We then retired upon Strasburg, where I directed some pieces to be placed in the fort, but the very side of the enemy's approach (to be north) was completely unfinished. I then directed the battery to follow me, and I would try to save it by taking the back road to Winchester, but the officer in command, when I told him that the road ran parallel to the main road, and was only 3 to 4 miles distant from it, said the enemy's flankers would intercept him, and that it would be vain to make the attempt. I therefore left him, and taking that road, pursued it toward Winchester alone. Within 3 miles of that city I found the road occupied by the enemy.
The next morning I started for Martinsburg, and learned I was again cut off. I therefore resolved to strike off for Batch, and if necessary cross the Potomac at Hancock, where I arrived Tuesday evening, and I had the honor to report to the general at Williamsport on Wednesday evening, the 27th of May.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES W. ABERT,
Captain, U. S. Army, Topographical Engineers.
Commanding Fifth Corps d'Armee.