War of the Rebellion: Serial 070 Page 0100 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLIX.

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sequently strengthened by a brigade. Meanwhile I reconnoitered the lines, hoping to find a weak interval through which I might push with my infantry, passing between the main redoubts, which appeared too strong for a direct assault. While the guns were sounding on the two flanks, the enemy, no doubt, supposing my center weakened by too great extension of my lines, and hoping to cut us in two, suddenly advanced in great force from his works, and commenced a most determined attack on my position on the Bedford turnpike. Although his movement was so unexpected and rapid as almost to amount to a surprise, yet it was promptly and gallantly met by Sullivan's division, which held the enemy in check until Crook was enabled to get his troops up. After a fierce contest of half an hour's duration, the enemy's direct attack was repulsed, but he persistently renewed the fight, making repeated attempts to flank us on the left and to push between my main body and Duffie's division. In this effort he was completely foiled, and at the end of an hour and twenty minutes was routed and driven back into his works in disorder and with heavy loss. In the eagerness of pursuit, one regiment (One hundred and sixteenth Ohio) entered the works on the heels of the flying enemy, but being unsupported, fell back with trifling loss. Our whole loss in this action was comparatively light. The infantry behaved with the greatest steadiness, and the artillery, which materially assisted in repelling the attack, was served with remarkable rapidity and efficiency. This affair closed about 2 p. m. From prisoners captured we obtained positive information that a portion of Ewell's corps was engaged in the action, and that the whole corps, 20,000 strong, under the command of Lieutenant-General Early, was either already in Lynchburg or near as hand. The detachment sent by General Averell to operate on our right had returned, reporting that they had encountered a large body of rebel cavalry in that quarter, while Duffie, although holding his position, sent word that he was pressed by a superior force. It had now become sufficiently evident that the enemy had concentrated a force of at least double the numerical strength of mine, and what added to the gravity of the situation was the fact that my troops had scarcely enough of ammunition left to sustain another well contested battle. I immediately ordered all the baggage and supply trains to retire by the Bedford turnpike, and made preparations to withdraw the army as soon as it should become sufficiently dark to conceal the movement from the enemy. Meanwhile, as there still remained five hours of daylight, they were ordered to maintain a firm front, and with skirmishers to press the enemy's lines at all points. I have since learned that Early's whole force was up in time to have made a general attack on the same afternoon (18th)-an attack which under the circumstances would probably have been fatal to us but rendered cautious by the bloody repulse of Breckinridge, and deceived by the firm attitude of my command, he devoted the afternoon to refreshment and repose, expecting to strike a decisive blow on the following morning. As soon as it became dark I quietly withdrew my whole force, leaving a line of pickets close to the enemy, with orders to remain until 12 'clock (midnight), and then follow the main body. This was successfully accomplished without loss of men or material, excepting only a few wounded who were left in a temporary hospital by mistake.

We bivouacked that night at a point seven miles east of Liberty, and the following day, 19th, at our leisure, moved toward Buford's Gap, occupying the town of Liberty until late in the afternoon