War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0712 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.

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[CHAP. XXXIII.

kets, and, lining the whole bank, poured in a perfect shower of bullets, and at last crossed the river. While one detachment followed up our retreat, another took a straight course for our camp, and reached it just as the last wagons were leaving. Captain Sloan and Lieutenant Sloan, commanding the pickets, collected a handful of their men and checked the whole rebel column. The enemy did not pursue more than 2 miles. The pickets at the ferry succeeded in making their escape. The camp was plundered and burned; three wagons and the regiment forge shared its fate; some grain was also destroyed.

Where all have done well it may seem invidious to speak specially of any, but I cannot refrain from mention of Lieutenant Leche. He fell at the first fire, sword in hand, and even his enemies were impressed by his noble conduct. General Stuart inquired who he was, and praised him highly. He has died a soldier's death, and the comrades who mourn his loss recognize in him one of the brightest examples of true courage. We are indebted to Lieutenant Chastean for the safety of our wagon train. The rebels followed closely on the warning he received, but, with the coolness of a veteran, he remained till they actually entered the camp. Lieutenant Taylor commanded the rear guard and with less than 25 men resisted the whole opposing force. After the passage of the ford, Lieutenant Byles drew in the picket at Davis' and Mills' Fords, thus saving them from captured. Among the non-commissioned officers, I would mention as worthy special notice, Sergeant Merket, Company K, Sergeant Benedict, Company L, and Sergt. Ezra Witmer, Company D. Sergeant Merket, with great gallantry, assisted in rallying and forming the men, till his horse fell and he was captured. Sergeant Benedict commanded the pickets at the ferry, and with his small force held it till the enemy crossed the ford. A call was made for volunteers to defend the ford, and Sergt. Ezra Witmer was the first to officer. I regret to say that he was taken prisoner.

Of our loss I cannot speak with certainty. Our men were scattered in every direction, and I hope some who are among the missing may yet come in. I can learn of only 2 who were killed, but they are both officers, Lieutenant Leche, who was shot dead, and Lieutenant Snyder, who was mortally wounded and died at Chantilly, where he was carried by the rebels. Three wounded men were brought in by General Geary's ambulances, which also secured the body of Lieutenant Leche. Upward of 50 privates and non-commissioned officers have been taken. I do not think the number which I have mentioned will come much above or below the true one.

A large number of arms and horses were lost, since all the prisoners were deprived of theirs, and others were dropped during the hasty retreat through the woods, or fell and threw their riders.

From information received through Dr. Weidman, I am inclined to believe that the enemy lost as many, if not more, officers than we. As to the killed and wounded in the rank and file, he is unable to speak. They were most carefully conveyed out of sight, and the day after the fight we could not find on this side the ford a single dead or wounded man, though traces of them were visible. It is, however, probable that some of our missing have been killed.

My objects in crossing the ford was to learn something about the force of the rebels, of which we knew nothing, and also to ascertain by what roads they came and went, and whether any still remained in our neighborhood. They were informed by their scouts of our approach, and had ample time to prepare. They were drawn up in line and concealed behind the rising ground and a wood, and had drawn in their pickets so