About this time, Colonel Smith's quartermaster, in charge at Martinsburg, came on to the field, and inquired of me where Colonel Smith could be found, as he wished to know what disposition should be made of the wagon train, stating that all the Government property, excepting a small quantity of forage, had been sent by cars to Harper's Ferry, and that the teams were harnessed and ready to move. As colonel Smith was not at hand, and conceiving that no time should be lost, I ordered the quartermaster to take charge of the teams, and to move as rapidly as possible toward Williamsport, and, unless he had orders to the contrary, to move from Williamsport to Pennsylvania. It will be seen by my report of June 25, that, from the time of my arrival at Martinsburg, I had looked upon a retreat as inevitable, and that the only question was when and where to make it. Before 12 o'clock I notified Colonel Smith that a retreat was inevitable, and early in the afternoon it was agreed between Colonel Smith and myself that all events the troops would retreat on Williamsport at sundown, if not forced to do so before. The attack in the morning demonstrated that the rebel forces had passed Winchester, and the information received that they had captured Bunker Hill made it probable that they were in force sufficient to whip the force at Martinsburg, and that they were only awaiting artillery, as it was evident from 10 a. m. until near sunset that it was our artillery, in the absence of any guns on the part of the rebels, which kept them in check. Milroy's dispatch, stating that he had been attacked on the 13th by Ewell's force, of from 15, 000 to 18, 000 men, and Imboden's and Jone's forces, always estimated at from 6, 000 to 8, 000, making a total of over 20, 000 men, convinced me, having only left Winchester on the evening of June 11 ; that General Milroy would be defeated on Sunday, the 14th instant, as it was apparent from Milroy would be defeated on Sunday, the attack was made by one of the most efficient army corps of Lee's Valley. The following copy of a telegram to Major-General Schenck will show the opinion I entertained of General Milroy's position:
Martinsburg, W. VA., June 11, 1863.
Major-General Schenck, Commanding Middle Department:
Left Winchester at 2 o'clock this p. m. Milroy deserves credit for his fortifications, &c. It will Take all Lee's cavalry and light artillery to whip him out . If threatened with nothing more, I think he can keep his position.
From 12 o'clock until sunset the questions was the proper time to commence the retreat. IF the retreat had commenced immediately after the departure of the baggage train toward Williamsport, the train might have confused the retreating column, and it was clear, if it could be done, that the best plan was to arrest the rebel cavalry at Martinsburg, and give the train time to secure its passage into Pennsylvania . This was done, and train escaped . The next thing (as it was impossible with the small force at Martinsburg to move forward to Bunker Hill, as suggested in Orders, No. 159), was to hold on at Martinsburg until the last moment, in order