War of the Rebellion: Serial 070 Page 0291 Chapter XLIX. OPERATIONS IN SHENANDOAH VALLEY, ETC.

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trees and brushes, behind which the enemy were posted. I ordered two companies as skirmishers to engage the attention of the enemy at the ford, while the command moved a few hundred yards down the river under cover of the woods to a place where the water was shallow, although the banks were steep and difficult for the men to go up or down. Colonel Wells' brigade, which was in advance, was rapidly pushed across the river at this point and attacked and drove the enemy from his position, capturing a captain and 15 men. The Thirty-fourth Massachusetts, commanded by Captain Thompson, and a battalion of the Fifth New York Heavy Artillery had the advance and performed their duty admirably. Their loss in crossing was 1 man killed and 1 wounded. From the prisoners I learned that there had been two regiments of rebel infantry guarding the ford, and also that the divisions of the rebel Generals Gordon and Rodes were within a mile or two of the ford, and that General Early was present. I at once sent an aide to General Crook with this information, and asked for further instructions. I continued the crossing of the command, and sent out skirmishers to the front and flanks. My aide returned with orders from General Crook not to move up to Snicker's Ferry as at first directed, but to take as strong a position as possible near the ford and await the arrival of a division of the Sixth Corps, which had been ordered to cross the river to my support. I posted my command in two lines near the river-bank, the Second Brigade, then commanded by myself, on the right, the First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Wells, on the left, and the Third Brigade, commanded by Colonel Frost, in the center.

The first line was placed immediately behind and under cover of a bluff that ran parallel to and about seventy-five yards distant from the river. The second line was posted in an old road on the river-bank and behind a low stone fence, which afforded excellent protection for the men. The ground in front of the first line rose irregularly through cleared fields for the distance of about one-third of a mile. After lying in this position about one hour, the enemy advanced a heavy skirmish line upon my front and flanks, at the same time a heavy force was moved forward upon my right flank, moving in two lines of battle at nearly right angles to our lines; the Second Brigade was ordered to change its front to the right to meet this attack, which was gallantly done, but the sharp enfilading fire from skirmishers and sharpshooters upon the high ground in front caused some unsteadiness, and finally the first line gave way and fell back to the second line, which was on the right principally composed of dismounted cavalry, about 1,000 strong, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Young, of the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, which in spite of the energetic efforts of Colonel Young to prevent it broke and ran into and across the river, causing something of a panic to spread into the force falling back from the first line, many of whom also followed them across the river. As the first line of the Second Brigade began to give way, Colonel Frost, of the Eleventh West Virginia, commanding the Third Brigade, was directed to oblique his first line to the right and present a front to the advancing foe. But while bravely performing this duty he fell mortally wounded, and his command was thrown into some confusion and followed the first line of the Second Brigade in its retreat, taking with it a battalion of the Fifth New York Heavy Artillery, on the right of the first line of the First Brigade, the latter losing heavily in killed and wounded, and leaving its commanding officer, Lieutenant-