War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0055 Chapter XXXIX. The Gettysburg Campaign.

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and watchfulness enjoined upon us. Colonel Ely, with two regiments and one section of artillery, was ordered to move out on the Berryville road, to co-operate with and support Colonel McReynolds, who had sent word that he was attacked and falling back on us. It rained very heavily during the night, and no engagement ensued. About one or two hours after midnight, Sunday morning, General Milroy ordered the removal of headquarters from the city to the main fortification. As soon as it was light, the most vigorous preparations, both offensive and defensive, were made, and forces placed in the most advantageous positions, and from daylight throughout the entire day we looked for the approach of the enemy in force; but, save skirmishing in and about the town, and the occasional appearance of small squads of cavalry on the Front Royal road, no enemy was visible. All day, under a burning sun, did General Milroy keep his position in the lookout, and with a glass anxiously scan the surrounding country for signs of the enemy, but none were manifested, and it became generally the settled belief that they had passed on up the Valley to Harper's Ferry, leaving us to be attended to upon their return, which idea was confirmed by the heavy firing heard in that direction. Wherever a body of the enemy did appear our guns were instantly turned on them, but not a single artillery response could be obtained, and we could not account for their mysterious silence, save by the theory that they had taken their guns with them and had only left sufficient force to engage us at skirmishing and long range. But about 4 p. m. they suddenly commenced an attack; without a moment's warning opened on us and the outer works, in which were placed a light battery and one regiment, with sixteen pieces of artillery, which the dense woods and undergrowth on the surrounding hills enabled them to bring forward into position without being discovered, and at the same time rapidly pushing up an infantry force of not less than 8, 000 or 10, 000 men. The guns in the fort were instantly turned on them. The battery in the outer works commenced a brisk firing. Two regiments were ordered rapidly up to support them, but all of no avail; they charged in overwhelming numbers, and took the battery and work, driving our forces at the point of the bayonet down the hill toward the fort. Our infantry forces were at once stationed in the rifle-pits that surrounded the fort, and every precaution that prudence and human ingenuity could invent used to add to the strength and safety of the position. The artillery continued to exchange shots until it was too dark to distinguish the enemy, excepting by the flash of his guns. Soon after dusk, reliable information was brought in that the rebels were advancing between the Romney and Pughtown roads with a force equally as large as the one we had first engaged, and supported by three full batteries, which would make their entire force not less than 20, 000 or 30, 000 men, and the aggregate of their artillery 30 pieces and upward. With this unexpected information so suddenly obtained, and the certainty that this vastly superior force would in the morning attack us, together with the fact that the firing had nearly exhausted our ammunition, and that the supply would in the morning attack us, together with the fact that the firing had nearly exhausted our ammunition, and that the supply would not be sufficient for a prolonged defense, General Milroy called a council of war, in which it was unanimously decided to evacuate, and, if possible, cut our way through and reach Harper's Ferry with the main body.