The plan of attack upon the enemy's line on the 22nd was, that while the Army of West Virginia, acting as a movable force, was to advance far to our right to turn the enemy's left,t he two other corps should engage him in front, and to secure the success of this movement the enemy's skirmishers and sharpshooters, which almost turned our right, were to be driven back and the artillery on his left silenced. To effect this Ricketts' division was sent to the right with orders to drive off the skirmishers already spoken of, and then to advance to a designated position in front. In this movement Ricketts was to be accompanied by the cavalry command of Averell so as to permit Crook's infantry to advance around the right and turn the enemy's left unperceived. Ricketts' movement was an entire success. The three rifle batteries of the Sixth Corps were put in position and by their effective fire aided much in the success of the whole movement, firing not only on the enemy's batteries bearing upon Ricketts, but upon a battery farther to our right which was being used with much effect on Crook's advancing column. Soon after Ricketts had gained the designated position the other two divisions of the corps were advanced to within some 700 or 800 yards of the enemy's works. Orders were sent to Ricketts to assault as soon as Crook gained his flank, which he did in the most gallant and successful manner, while almost simultaneously the Second and First Divisions were moved on the enemy's works. The result was a complete success. The enemy was driven from his almost impregnable line in perfect disorder, prisoners and artillery falling into our hands, while his forces fled in the greatest disorder. Nothing but night saved his army from utter annihilation. Some of the positions assaulted by the corps were almost unassailable, the approaches being difficult to climb, and the works covered by abatis of no mean strength. yet our men, flushed with the victory of the Opequon, disregarding all obstacles, and under a heavy fire of artillery and infantry, moved gallantly forward, carried the works, and pursued the enemy till after dark, when they were halted to adjust their lines broken up in the attack over ground almost impassable. After the deadly necessary to this formation of the lines the troops, though much exhausted, were pushed forward in pursuit, the Nineteenth Corps leading, and soon after daylight were halted beyond Woodstock for rest and refreshment.
The annals of the war present, perhaps, no more glorious victory than this. The enemy's lines, chosen in an almost impregnable position, and fortified with much care, had been most gallantly carried by assault, capturing most of his artillery, a large number of prisoners, and sending his army "on the run," in the most disorderly manner; and all this from the impetuosity of the attack, with an absurdly small loss on our part.
As at the battle of the Opequon three days before, all, both officers and men, behaved splendidly, and it is scarcely just to discriminate. As then, the division commanders, Generals Ricketts, Getty, and Wheaton, distinguished themselves for the gallantry with which they fought their commands, and are entitled to the acknowledgments of the Government, as are the commanders of brigades and regiments, with numerous individual officers, for whose conduct on that day I refer with pleasure to the reports herewith.
To my own staff I desire to express my acknowledgments, as heretofore, on many a well-fought field, they one and all did their duty gallantly and well regardless of danger.
To the noble corps of the American army which I have the honor to command I desire to express my acknowledgments for their gallant