It is generally testified that General Milroy showed judgment and courage through this fight and during the retreat . The fact that his horse was disabled, and he was for some time dismounted, rendered it less practicable to him to keep his troops well in hand during the engagement . But it is natural, and perhaps almost inevitable, that a body of troops, making a forced retreat at night, and obliged to cut its way through a superior hostile force, should have been considerably dispersed and shattered . The entire loss on the retreat and during the attack, including the sick left behind and paroled, appears to have been rather less than 3. 000. On the retreat about 150 horses were also captured. The principal witnesses who appeared before the court were interrogated in reference to a question which has not yet been considered, to wit: Whether, if General Milroy had evacuated at an earlier day, he might not have effected his retreat in good order, taking with him all his artillery and stores . It is the general opinion of these witnesses, all for whom were in General Milroy's command, that he might have so retreated either on the 12th or 13th . The majority of them however, express the belief that the heavy artillery could not have moved off safely later than the 12th . Colonel McReynolds thinks that he should have been ordered to retreat directly from Berryville to Harper's Ferry on Saturday, when he was ordered to join the main of body at Winchester, and he believes that if at the same time General Milroy had moved from Winchester, the whole command, with its artillery and trains, could have been saved the enemy not having then occupied the roads. Colonel McReynolds presents some good reasons for this view, though at the same time it is to be noted that, had such a plan been adopted, the Third Brigade, being separated from the main force, would have been in more danger of being cut off by a rapid movement of the enemy . But the discussion on the question whether the retreat was not too long delayed is rendered much less important by the consideration that General Milroy was, during June 12, 13, and 14, under
positive instructions from his superior officer yo await further orders before retreating. So, when Brigadier-General Elliott says in his testimony that he should have left on the night of the 13th, he states at the same time that this would have been in direct disregard of existing orders. He adds, however, that as General Milroy had telegraphed for further orders; as the communication had been interrupted, so that he could not receive such orders ; as since last communication with his superior he had become aware that he was attacked by an unexpected and vastly superior force, and as he was not likely to be relieved, he (Elliott) thinks the general might properly have taken and should have taken the responsibility of retreating on the night of the 13th . Probably this would have been, under all the circumstances, the wisest course . Such sa course would indeed, have been taken in disobedience of the letter of the order, but it was known to General Milroy that the last order or instructions which he had received from his commanding officer was not given in contemplation of the situation existing after the evening of the 13th, but of an entirely different and far less threatening danger . With this order, too, General Milroy had received General Halleck's instructions of the 11th, and these, in connection with the peculiar circumstances of his new situation, would have justified him in retreating without waiting further orders . As it was, he was at last obliged to retreat without them .