War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0704 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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were soon place, in position to return the fire, and General Taylor was ordered with his command to the attack. After a spirited resistance this fragment of the Federal army retreated to Strasburg, and from thence made its escape through the mountains across the Potomac. A large amount of baggage fell into our hands at this point. Entire regiments, apparently in line of battle, had laid down their knapsacks and abandoned them.

Having become satisfied that the main body of Banks' army had already passed this point on its way to Winchester, our troops, which had been halted, moved on in pursuit in that direction. The large number of wagons loaded with stores and abandoned by the enemy between Middletown and Newtown plainly indicated his hurried retreat.

From the attack upon Front Royal up to the present moment every opposition had been borne down, and there was reason to believe, if Banks reached Winchester, it would be without a train, if not without an army; but in the midst of these hopes I was pained to see, as I am now to record the fact, that so many of Ashby's command, both cavalry and infantry, forgetful of their high trust as the advance of a pursuing army, deserted their colors, and abandoned themselves to pillage to such and extent as to make it necessary for that gallant officer to discontinue farther pursuit. The artillery, which had pushed on with energy to the vicinity of Newtown, found itself, from this discreditable conduct, without a proper support from either infantry or cavalry. This relaxation in the pursuit was unfortunate, as the enemy was encouraged by it to bring up, about two hours later, four pieces of artillery, which were planted on the northern skirt of Newtown and opened upon our batteries. Their fire was replied to by Captain Poague's two rifled guns with skill and accuracy.

When I overtook the advance it was thus held in check by the enemy's artillery. We were retarded until near dark, when the Federals retreated and the pursuit was renewed. As we advanced beyond Newtown the same profusion of abandoned Federal wagons loaded with stores met the eye; but we derived no benefit from this property, as the time lost during the disorder and pillage, before referred to, and the consequent delay of our advance at Newtown, enabled the enemy to make arrangements for burning them. Shortly after leaving Newtown the advance was fired upon by a body of the concealed enemy; but they were soon driven off by the Thirty-third Virginia Regiment (Colonel Neff) and the march resumed.

On reaching Bartonsville another ambuscade from the right, left, and front was encountered, and heavy firing kept up for some time. In repelling this, the Twenty-seventh (Colonel Grigsby), Second (Colonel Allen), and Fifth Virginia Regiments (Colonel Baylor) acquitted themselves with credit. Skirmishing continued during the night, the enemy ambuscading from point to point. So important did I deem it to occupy before dawn the heights overlooking Winchester, that the advance continued to move forward until morning, notwithstanding the darkness and other obstacles to its progress. The other troops were permitted to halt for about an hour during the night.

In the mean time Major-General Ewell, with Trimble's brigade, the First Maryland Regimen,t and Steuart's cavalry, which had now joined him from Newtown, and Brockenbrough's and Courtney's batteries, was advancing to Winchester by the turnpike from Front Royal to that place, and had occupied a position about 3 miles from the town as early