War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0590 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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on Middletown, and to again ask for instructions; that this be sent by several different couriers until a communication could be gotten to headquarters.

Our column was reformed under the fire of the enemy's battery without receiving any injury, and moved at a trot until it reached a piece of woods through which the road ran leading from the chapel to Middletown. Here the leading squadron of our retiring column, which was now moving left in front, having advanced at a brisker pace than the center and rear, was ordered to halt until the order to advance should be given from the rear, where Lieutenant-Colonel Douty and myself had taken our posts, in rear of the rear guard, between them and the enemy, to watch his maneuvers.

The enemy continued to shell the woods for some time after we had passed it with our main force, with the view, as I afterward learned, of dislodging our troops, whom he conjectured were strongly posted there, supposing us to be the cavalry of your advance guard.

Here I most respectfully beg you will permit me to state that much credit is due to the officers and men of the First Maine Cavalry, whose companies were ordered to the front, for the boldness and celerity with which they prepared to resist this threatened cavalry charge, which feint was made by him for the ostensible purpose of masking the approach of his battery, which opened upon us with such warmth and vigor as to render the abandonment of our position near the chapel an act of necessity. The manifest reluctance with which we retired from before him, and the deliberate coolness exhibited by the rear guard as they hung upon his front, made his advance slow and cautious, he evidently being yet ignorant of the strength and character of the force before him.

From the moment that the enemy's guns opened upon us doubt could no longer be entertained respecting his purpose, but the spirit of our little command was kept buoyed with the hope of finding at Middletown the force of artillery, infantry, and cavalry which were seen by us as we passed through in the morning, as well as instructions in reply to dispatches, looked for with such earnest solicitude by Lieutenant-Colonel Douty and your most humble servant from your headquarters.

We reached Middletown about 11.30 o'clock a. m., and the head of the column, turning to the left, halted in column of fours in the street, at the east side of the village, which runs at a right angle from the Chapel road in a southwesterly direction and parallel to the principal street on the pike. Some disappointment was felt when it was ascertained that the force seen here in the early part of the day was withdrawn, and that nothing had yet been heard in reply to the dispatches sent by courier more than an hour previous to the signal station, in accordance with the instructions given at your headquarters.

The firing, however, from the enemy's battery had ceased. Pickets were again stationed in our rear, supported by a strong rear guard, and the troopers ordered to dismount and rest. The horses having been under the saddle since before daybreak without forage or water, permission was granted to commanders of troops to water by companies. Thus nearly the interval of an hour had elapsed without seeing the enemy, he being hid from view by a belt of woods which intervened in our rear, some half mile or more beyond, in the direction of the Chapel road.

The relative positions of the companies comprising Lieutenant Colonel Douty's command at this juncture were as follows: Pickets, extending from the rear guard to an approximate distance from the