Numbers 63. Report of Major Henry H. Withers, Tenth West Virginia Infantry, of operations July 23-26.
HDQRS. TENTH Regiment WEST VIRGINIA INFTY. VOLS.,
Camp near Sandy Hook, Md., July 27, 1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this regiment in the battle of and subsequent retreat from near Winchester, Va.:
On the morning of the 23d, while preparing for review and inspection, slight skirmishing was heard a few hundred yards in our front on the right of the Strasburg road, and my command, consisting of 7 captains, 6 first lieutenants, 4 second lieutenants, and 1 first lieutenant, acting adjutant, and 544 enlisted men, was formed in line of battle and marched a short distance to a stone fence, from which we afterward advanced across the Strasburg road, a little to the right and beyond Kernstown, to the skirt of woods in which the skirmishing seemed to be going on. Found the enemy driven back by our cavalry skirmishers, and I was then ordered back to the stone fence from which we had advanced, and remained all night.
Next morning, the 24th, skirmishing seemed to commence about the same time and place, in which two companies, B and G, of my command participated. Meantime I was again ordered to take the regiment forward in line of battle, and accordingly proceeded to a stone fence beyond the stone church, where we remained but a short time, without, however, encountering the enemy. I was then ordered back with the other battalion composing the brigade (Twenty-third Illinois) to the crest of a small elevation, with directions for the men of my command to lie down, in which position the regiment remained probably not longer than fifteen minutes, when it was ordered to fall back and from line behind a paling fence running nearly perpendicular to our line of battle. Here we received a pretty severe fire from the skirmish line of the enemy, which was posted in the woods then directly in our front and so sheltered as to prevent our seeing them. Finding 2 men of the regiment killed and some 8 or 10 wounded, I suggested to you that it was expensive to lie there, and was at once ordered to fall back to the stone fence in our rear, perpendicular then to our line, which was executed, and after remaining behind this fence half an hour or more I was ordered to advance the regiment in line of battle beyond the stone church. I gave the order to forward and the regiment at once commenced the doublequick and went whooping till the right came in contact with the paling fence, when, instead of passing on through the palings, commenced halting and forming nearly a perpendicular line on the right by file. This was without my order, but finding the enemy posted in edge of woods as before, who again opened upon us a brisk fire, and finding I should be compelled to move by the flank several hundred yards in order to reach the ground mentioned upon which to form line under a severe fire, which would have left in rear of my right flank, I ordered them to commence firing, and had it continued until I went over and saw you and obtained orders to fall back again behind the stone fence. In this movement the fire of the enemy, which seemed to be rendered harmless by our fire, was resumed with fatal effects to several of the officers and men of my command. The regiment had scarcely resumed its former position behind the stone fence when a strong skirmish line of the enemy made its appearance