part of our line. I had, however, hardly reached the central position between the two wings before a heavy infantry fire commenced on the right, and apparently extending along the whole front of Gordon's brigade, and before I could, reach with all possible speed the crest of the hill upon which Gordon's brigade had moved I saw the artillery were limbering up to move to the rear. At the same time stragglers from the Twenty-seventh Indiana Regiment, on its immediate right, were slowly falling back in considerable numbers. With members of my staff I made a strong effort to rally them. The men generally obeyed orders, but before anything valuable could be accomplished the whole regiment apparently was retiring over the hill in much confusion. I observed Colonel Colgrove in their midst striving to restore order and other officers exerting themselves in the same way. The men did not run, but were rapidly retiring in disordered ranks, as if broken by a superior attack. The report of Colonel Colgrove gives, I doubt not, a true statement of this confusion.
Seeing that our right was exposed by this movement I hurried forward to the reserve of Michigan Cavalry, on the extreme right, hoping by a prompt demonstration with this force to hold the enemy right, hoping by a prompt demonstration with this force to hold the enemy in check and protect the remaining regiments of this brigade from a flank attack. Major Town, at the head of the column, spiritedly rode out to meet me, and moving his command to the front with great promptness and gallantry formed in column for charge on the crest of the hill. Meeting with a terrific fire of infantry from a whole brigade, and being menaced on the right by a large column of rebel cavalry, he was obliged to retire, which was done in good order, considering the nature of the ground and the obstacles on the line of his retreat.
Colonel Gordon held the remaining regiments of his brigade unbroken, and checked columns were overwhelming and would soon cut off the avenues of retreat. The regiments were then withdrawn, for the most part in column, after reaching the edge of the town, through which they passed in good order. I immediately dispatched a message to Colonel Donnelly to withdraw his brigade by the east side of the town.
When the right was giving way, I directed Captain Wilkins, my assistant adjutant-general, to endeavor to rally the Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteers behind a stone wall in the outskirts of the town and cover the rear. This was in a measure successfully done, and the rebels were received with repeated volleys, which greatly checked their advance.
Having retire through the town, my personal efforts and that of my staff were given (for the most part of the time under the immediate supervision of the major-general commanding) to restore order to the fugitives, and to check the growing irregularity of the retreat, which the pressure of an immensely superior force was beginning to create. For this purpose I ordered Lieutenant Fleming to put a section of his artillery in battery on the first elevation near the town, which he promptly and cheerfully did. Other positions were taken by the artillery near the Martinsburg road. The straggling infantry were collected, and the rush of some flying cavalry stopped in the first woods after leaving town. In a short time all disorder was removed, and the retreat was continued with coolness and in order. It is but justice, however, her to acknowledge the important service rendered by Brigadier-General Hatch, with the cavalry under his command, not only on this occasion, but during our whole retreat, by covering the rear of our march,