I therefore ordered my command to fall back and establish a new line of resistance. Near the house of Doctor Shipley I directed Taft's Fifth New York Battery and Chase's First Rhode Island Battery* into position, and formed a line of battle, with the left extending toward Middletown, but the continued lack of support ont he left soon forced me to retire from this point to another, about 1,000 yards in rear of it. My command was now pretty well in line, the First Division on the right and the Second Division on the left, and able to hold the enemy's left in check. I was myself on my own left attempting to establish a connection with the Sixth corps, when I saw my whole line moving to the rear, orders to that effect having been communicated directly to my two division commanders. About 1,500 yards behind the position thus quitted was a commanding crest which overlooked the whole open country in its front. Here I found General Sheridan's staff collecting stragglers, and here I ordered the Nineteenth Corps to halt and form in two lines of battle. My first line was already in position, when I was directed to retire, inclining to the left and connecting with the Sixth Corps. I, however, ordered my skirmishers to hold the crest until they should receive instructions from me to abandon it. Losing sight of the Sixth Corps shortly afterward, in consequence of a sudden change of direction in the line of march, I ordered the Nineteenth back to the vicinity of the crest, and sent aides-de-camp to find the right of the Sixth. I also extended my line over a portion of the unoccupied interval on my left in order to check a turning movement of the enemy, who were deploying in that direction. While thus engaged I received a message from General Sheridan directing me to close up to the Sixth Corps, and adding that my right would be covered by General Custer's cavalry. Immediately afterward General Custer came up with the head of his column, enabling me to make the flank movement without anxiety. Pushing to the left about three-quarters of a mile I joined the Sixth Corps, and formed my line within the cover of a dense wood. About 1 o'clock I received information from the general commanding that the enemy were advancing on me in force. Within an hour they charged my line, striking it near the center of the Second Division, but were promptly driven back, this being, as I believe, the first permanent repulse which they received during the day. About 3.30 in the afternoon our whole force was ordered to advance. My night, consisting of the First Division, was instructed to flank the enemy by inclining to the left, thus doubling up his line and driving him upon the pike. Both division, regardless of the fatigue and losses of this already prolonged struggle, charged with conspicuous gallantry, forcing their antagonists from two naturally strong positions supported by dense thickets and hastily constructed rifle-pits, following them with such rapidity that they had no time to form another line of resistance, and chasing them in confusion through our recovered camps up to Cedar Creek. After about two hours' rest the First Division, Nineteenth Army Corps, was ordered to Strasburg to relieve the cavalry and cover the removal of the immense amount of public property which the enemy had abandoned in his flight.
I have to lament the number of brave officers and men killed or wounded in this day's battle. Their names will be forwarded in the subordinate reports, excepting those of my staff, whom it is my especial duty to mention. Major Sizer, my acting inspector-general, and
*Battery D, First Rhode Island Artillery.