Twenty-first North Carolina soon became exposed to a destructive fire from a Federal regiment posted behind a stone wall, and after suffering severely, in both officers and men, was forced to fall back. The Twenty-first Georgia, having succeeded in driving that regiment from its shelter, re-enforced its brigade.
With the First Maryland on his left and Trimble's brigade on his right General Ewell new moved toward the eastern outskirts of the town. That advance was made about the time that Taylor's brigade was so gallantly crossing the hill and charging toward the western side of the town. This simultaneous movement on both his flanks, by which his retreat might soon have been cut off, may account for the suddenness with which the entire army gave way and for the slight resistance which it made while passing through the town. The Federal forces were now in full retreat.
As our troops, now in rapid pursuit, passed through the town they were received with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of joy by its loyal people, who for more than two months had been suffering under the hateful surveillance and rigors of military despotism.
Notwithstanding the fatiguing marches and almost sleepless nights to which the mass of our troops had been subjected they continued to press forward with alacrity.
The Federal forces, upon falling back into the town, preserved their organization remarkably well. In passing through its streets they were thrown into confusion, and shortly after, debouching into the plain and turnpike to Martinsburg and after being fired upon by our artillery, they presented the aspect of a mass of disordered fugitives. Never have I seen as opportunity when it was in the power of cavalry to reap a richer harvest of the fruits of victory. Hoping that the cavalry would soon come up, the artillery, followed by infantry, was pressed forward for about two hours, for the purpose of preventing, by artillery fire, a reforming of the enemy, but as nothing was heard of the cavalry, and as but little or nothing could be accomplished without it in the exhausted condition of our infantry, between which and the enemy the distance was continually increasing, I ordered a halt, and issued orders for going into camp and refreshing the men.
I had seen but some 50 of Ashby's cavalry since prior to the pillaging scenes of the previous evening and none since an early hour of the past night. The Second and Sixth Virginia Regiments of Cavalry were under the command of Brigadier General George H. Steuart, of Ewell's command. After the pursuit had been continued for some distance beyond the town, and seeing nothing of the cavalry, I dispatched my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Pendleton, to General Steuart, with an order "to move as rapidly as possible and join me on the Martinsburg turnpike, and carry on the pursuit of the enemy with vigor." His reply was that he was under the command of General Ewell and the order must come through him. Such conduct, and consequent delay, has induced me to require of Lieutenant (now Major) Pendleton a full statement of the case, which is forwarded herewith.
About an hour after the halt of the main body had been ordered Brigadier General George H. Steuart, with his cavalry, came up, and renewing the pursuit, pushed forward in a highly creditable manner, and succeeded in capturing a number of prisoners; but the main body of Banks' army was now beyond the reach of successful pursuit and effected its escape across the Potomac.
Before reaching Bunker Hill General Steuart was joined by General Ashby with a small portion of his cavalry. Upon my inquiring of