Winchester there. I concluded at once to enter the Pughtown road and seek a mountain road that would lead me into the west side of Winchester. I soon discovered a German Unionist, who conducted us through the wood s a mile or so to a grade running direct and entering Winchester near Mason's house. Halting on the grade only long enough to brig my train on the rough road well up with the column I lost no time in approaching Winchester, spurred on by the hope of rejoining the main column, so as to assist in the battle I supposed to be raging, as from dawn we heard heavy firing.
At 9 a. m. the head of the column was within a mile of Winchester, moving cautiously lest I might betray our presence to the enemy, whose picket was suspected to be on that road, as we took prisoner a private of Colonel Dudley's Twenty-sixth Kentucky Regiment, who said he had come from Winchester, and that there was a picket on that road, though he refused to tell what it was. Ascertaining through my vedettes that General Banks had nearly evacuated Winchester, closely followed by the enemy, I decide to search for a mountain road to Martinsburg. Counter-marching at once and striking over a bad road for some 3 miles, guided by a Union refugee, we struck the mountain road to Martinsburg, and running parallel with and abut 3 miles from the Winchester and Martinsburg pike. Moving rapidly to within about 4 miles of Martinsburg and a mile north of Gerardstown, we halted about two hours to graze our horse, which wee much jaded, and mean-while Pratt, the scout, went forward to within 2 miles of Martinsburg, and returned, reporting that the enemy were shelling the town. Cut off now the third time, I resolved to cross the mountain to the west and strike for McCoy's Ford, on the Potomac, passing through Hedgesville. Counter-marching the column a mile, I passed through Gerardstown and to the west, crossed the mountain by the pass, and took the road to the ford, picking up some guides by the was.
Learning subsequently that a spy had gone to inform the enemy of our intention to cross at McCoy's Ford, I moved the column instead to Cherry Run Ford, arriving within a mile of it about 2 a. m. on Monday, the 26th. I have since learned that McCoy's Ford was occupied Sunday night by a force of the enemy's cavalry and infantry. Finding some hay here, we baited our horses while waiting for dawn, that we might reconnoiter the ford.
At daybreak I became satisfied, by a personal reconnaissance, that fording was impracticable, on account of the rise of the river. I then resolved to move on Hancock, with the view of crossing there, there being some facility for ferrying there. While passing along the river with my command a man reported to me that he had that morning forded the river twice, though it was quite deep, and volunteered to ford it again in my presence. Convinced, on seeing him ford it, of the feasibility of fording, I ordered my cavalry to ford at once, the infantry to cross by the ferry, and the wagon train with Company K, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnstone, to move at once to Hancock and cross. The ford, though rapid and shoulder-deep to the ordinary sized horse, was, I am happy to report, made without a single casualty.
The Maryland bank affording good clover fields, we unsaddled and grazed the horses here for some hours and gave the men some rest, after which we marched 7 miles to Clear Spring, and bivouacked in a grove near the town. The wagon train crossed Monday afternoon on boats, swimming some of the mules, and rested at Hancock Monday night. Tuesday morning it joined my command, and I moved to Williamsport, 11 miles by the pike, and bivouacked.