War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0667 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN SHENANDOAH VALLEY.

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enemy concealed there in force and still endeavoring to extend himself to the left, with the evident object of turning our right, as I had expected. A few shells thrown into the woods on that side by De Beck's battery checked this movement and drove back the rebel infantry farther to our left. The whole of the Seventy-third, Eighty-second, and Fifty-fifth Regiments, being then deployed in the woods on my left front, formed in line of battle and slowly advanced, feeling the enemy's position and gradually bringing the concealed line of the rebels to close quarters. The firing of small-arms at once became brisk, especially with the Seventy-third, which seems to have been brought nearest the enemy's line, and at this time had several men killed and wounded by the fire. It was at this point of time, too, that Dr. Cantwell, surgeon of the Eighty-second, fell severely wounded by a shot through the thigh, received while he was passing along the line of his regiment carefully instructing the men detailed from each company to attend to conveying the wounded to the ambulances.

I believed that the moment for attacking and pressing the rebels successfully on this wing had now arrived, and I brought forward the Thirty-second to advance also in the woods and form on the Seventy-third, extending thus the line to the right, and intending to order a charge which should sweep around the enemy's left flank and press him back toward our sustaining forces on the left. Never were troops in better temper for such work; but just as the Thirty-second was marching to the front for this purpose, leaving only the Seventy-fifth in the rear to cover the battery, I received the order of the general commanding to withdraw slowly and in good order from my position and go to the relief of the left wing, composed of the brigades of Blenker's division. I felt reluctant to obey, because I was satisfied that the advantageous and promising position and condition of my brigade could not have been known at headquarters. I held my place, therefore, and sent back instantly to ascertain whether the emergency was such as to require me with all haste to retire. The order came back repeated. To prevent my being followed and harassed by the rebels while falling back I then began to withdraw my infantry, moving them carefully by the flank toward the left until I could uncover the enemy's line sufficiently to enable my battery to throw shot and shell into the woods. This done, I returned the Thirty-second to the support of the battery and commenced drawing off the whole of my force to the left along the same lines in which I had advanced them. Here, again, however, I was met by a messenger from the general commanding, informing me that if I thought I could my ground I might remain, but stating that Milroy's brigade, my supporting force on the left, had also been directed to retire, I stopped and threw the artillery again into battery at a point a few rods in the rear of the place which it had a first occupied and ordered a number of rounds of quick, sharp firing into the woods occupied by the rebels. The severe effect of this firing was discovered the next day by the number of rebels found lying on that part of the battle-field; but while thus engaged Captain Piatt, my assistant adjutant-general, ascertained for me that General Milroy, under the order he had received, was rapidly withdrawing his brigade, passing toward the left, and so I had to follow him or be left separated from all the rest of the forces. I returned, however, only to the ridge (half a mile to the left) which I had at first occupied, and there remained, in pursuance of orders, encamped for the night. My other battery (Rigby's) which I understood had been very effectively engaged during the action on the left, was here returned home. It was now perhaps 5.30 or 6 o'clock.