War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0142 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

Search Civil War Official Records

Lieutenant Colonel A. W. Adams, First New York Cavalry, a witness called by the court, being duly sworn answers:

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you in command of the First New York Cavalry during the retreat from Winchester, in June last?

Answer. I was .

Question. What orders or instructions did you receive when the retreat was determined upon, and who gave them?

Answer. I received orders from Colonel McReynolds, I think about 12 o'clock Sunday night, that I was assigned to command the rear of the retreating forces. The orders, he stated to me, where that we should get Harper's ferry, if possible . He informed me that we might expect an attack in our rear, and said that I was selected in the council of war for that position . My recollection of the order was that we were to go to by Bunker Hill, but in that I may be mistaken . At all events, I was to follow the column . I asked him if he had any specific orders to give me in case of an attack . He said he had not ; that I must be governed by circumstances, and use my discretion .

Question. Give an account of the part taken your own regiment in the retreat from Winchester, stating what route you took, how many men you lost, &c.

Answer. When the rear of the column had reached a point some 3 miles from Winchester, I heard firing of artillery and musketry in front. The column was immediately halted in front of me . Soon after this, the enemy's shells passed over us, and some exploded immediately over us. I saw infantry belonging, I believe, to Colonel McReynolds' brigade, forming on the right of the road diagonally in front of me . I waited for some time, ten or fifteen minutes, under this fire without receiving orders from Colonel McReynolds, though I sent an orderly to report to him for orders . The orderly returned, saying he could not find Colonel McReynolds. The enemy were getting a raking fire on my men, and I though it was imprudent to remain there in column. Not receiving any orders, and having heard for some officer, I don't know who, who inquired for Colonel McReynolds, saying that this brigade was ordered to the front. I moved my regiment forward at a trot until we reached a point from a quarter to a half mile in advance of my former position on the road, and, as I believe, within 500 yards of the enemy, where I found and open field to the left of the road, and where I formed a line of battle, and waited for orders. The enemy got my range again, and I changed my position some 50 or 100 yards to the left. I formed three several lines of battle, changing front as they seemed to change in order to prevent getting a raking fire on my flank. I should have said that, after forming my first line of battle, I sent out another messenger to ask my brigade commander for orders . This messenger never returned, nor did I get any orders from Colonel McReynolds . Immediately after I had formed the third line of battle, Major McGee, chief of General Milroy's staff, rode up to me, and, I think, his first question was, " Where is Colonel McReynolds?" My impression is though I am not quite clear on that subject, that he said that he had been looking for him some time, to give him orders . I replied that I, to, had sent messenger to find him and get orders, and not being to able to get any, I asked him for orders . He ordered me to follow in the rear, and protect the rear of the One hundred and sixteenth Ohio and Twelfth Virginia Infantry, who were near me in line of battle. I did so. We went in the direction of Hancock, Md., reaching that place about 10 o'clock at night, I think . I think Colonel Washburn commanded in our column. I marched immediately in rear of the infantry until we reached a point some 20 miles from Hancock, where it was reported that the enemy had cut off our retreat, and held the fords opposite Hancock and other places along the line in that neighborhood. Colonel Washburn sent me in advance to ascertain the facts, with directions to reach Hancock that night, if possible, and to communicate that facts as soon as possible to him, stating that we would stay at that point all night ; the infantry was very much exhausted, and could not have gone farther that evening. There was also a part of the Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania Infantry with us. With my regiment, in obedience to Colonel Washburn's orders, I proceeded to Hancock, and when we reached a point some 12 or 15 miles from Hancock, we overtook a part of the Twelfth Pennsylvania Cavalry, from 200 to 300, under the command of Major Titus. They were halted in the road. I sent for Major Titus, and asked him what the difficulty was, and what he was doing there . He said that he had information, that he