War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0194 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

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in the pinion of the large majority of the witnesses, not a feasible on for the retreat . V. Retreat . The march from the forts was commenced and continued in good order until the head of the column arrived at a point about 4 miles from Winchester . Here were met the enemy's pickets, and an engagement with a force afterward ascertained to be Johnson's, and perhaps a part of Rode's division of Ewell's corps) immediately commenced . In the testimony, this force as variously estimated at from 6. 000 to 12. 000 men, with eight to twelve guns . The enemy was charged suddenly, and successfully by two regiments of Elliott's (First) brigade, which however, were in turn compelled to fall back . Then followed a confused contest for about an hour, when, by turning or driving back the right of the enemy's position, our forces were enable to continue their retreat . They had, however, become much separated during the engagement, fought, as it was, before daylight . About 1. 200 men reached Harper's Ferry with General Milroy in the afternoon or evening of the 15th, after a reserve march of over 30 miles . A part of Colonel Ely's command (the Second Brigade), being surrounded, were surrounded by that officer or were captured . A considerable portion of the troops broke off from the main body to the left, and came through by way of Hancock ; a smaller portion by taking a road or roads to the right of the Martinsburg road . It is testified that during the retreat and the engagement the conduct of General Milroy's officers was generally good . Colonel McReynolds, however, is referred to by a number of witnesses an exception to this rule, and the opinion is a quite generally expressed that had this officer brought up his brigade more promptly at the time of the action, the forces of General Milroy would have been much less shattered by this engagement . His brigade was not at all in the action, although for a time under artillery fire . General Milroy sent two of his aides to order Colonel McReynolds to the front, but neither of them cloud find him . The commanding officer of one of his regiments also testifies that he sent twice for the colonel, but was unable to find him, and that he received no orders whatever from him during the fight . The colonel appears to have been separated from his regiments, and his four regiments to have been separated from each other, and to have lost considerable number by capture, and this too, though taking no part in the engagement . It is, in fine, the general opinion of the witnesses that the retreat would have been much more successful if Colonel McReynolds had obeyed orders, and come up promptly and gone into the engagement at the proper time, or even if he had kept his command together, so as to have retreated with the main body . Indeed, General Milroy sent an aide to the rear at the close of the fight to inform the colonel that the continued fighting only to allow him (McReynolds) to come up with his brigade and pass through on the road . On the other hand, the colonel, in his testimony, insists that two of his regiments (the First New York Cavalry and the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry) deserted him ; left the ground without his knowledge ; and his testimony is somewhat corroborated by that of Lieutenant Spooner . It is further alleged that the fact that the horses ridden in the rear by teamsters and others were, as well as their riders, struck with a panic by the first shelling of the enemy, and dashed in among the regiments of the Third Brigade, which preceded them in column, had something to do with the dispersion of the latter .