No. 156. Report of Brigadier General James H. Wilson, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division, of operations July 31-September 30.
GRAVELLY SPRINGS, ALA., February 118, 1865.*
From the 31st of July till the 4th of August the division picketed from the left of the infantry line to Lee's Mill, connecting at that place with the Second Division. On the 4th of August I received orders to move my division, via Washington City, to the Shenandoah Valley and report to Major-General Sheridan. At daylight the next day the division broke camp and marched to City Point, where it arrived the same day and made preparations to embark upon steam transports for Giesborough Point, near Washington. On the night of August 12, the whole division having arrived at Giesborough, it began the march to the Shenandoah Valley, via Leesburg and Snicker's Gap. While near Washington the First Brigade had been armed with Spencer carbines. On the 17th of August, about noon, the command arrived at Winchester, having marched from Berryville by the way of White Post. The army had fallen back from Cedar Creek and was just retiring from Winchester. I was ordered to report to General Torbert, chief of cavalry and hold Winchester as long as possible. I posted my command so as to cover all the roads into the place from the south, particularly the Millwood, Front Royal, and Valley pikes. About 2 p.m. Lowell's brigade of cavalry and Penrose's brigade of infantry arrived; the latter were deployed as skirmishers between the Valley and Front Royal pikes. At 4 p.m. the enemy advanced to the attack with infantry skirmishers, but were repulsed, but at 6 p.m. returned with Breckinridge's entire corps, and after a sharp fight compelled us to withdraw from the place. This was done under cover of night, Colonel Chapman's brigade, with Pennington's battery, having been previously sent back to occupy a strong position on the Martinsburg road, just north of Winchester. The command then marched to the east side of the Opequon and bivouacked at Summit Point just before daylight. The army having halted at Charlestown my division was kept employed in picketing and patrolling the Opequon from Middleway to the Berryville and Winchester pike. On the 21st of August the rebels crossed the Opequon in force at Middleway, drove in our pickets at that place, and threatened to interpose themselves between us and Charlestown. After a sharp fight, in which both Chapman and McIntosh gave the enemy a severe check, I received orders from General Sheridan to communicate with General Merritt's division the operating in the direction of Berryville, and, in conjunction with it, to lose no time in joining the army at Charlestown. I therefore called in everything except a light skirmish line, withdrew by the right and left flank of brigades at the same time, and marched directly for the Charlestown and Berryville pike. After hearing that General Merritt was unmolested, I retired slowly to Charlestown and went into position on the Leetown road, covering the right of the infantry. General Merritt
was unmolested, I retired slowly to Charlestown and went into position on the Leetown road, covering the right of the infantry. General Sheridan having determined to withdraw to the strong position at Halltown during the night, I was directed to cover the rear with my division. I was ordered to be ready to move at dawn, and had my command under arms accordingly. Merritt's division and Duffie's brigade were late in
*For portions of this report here omitted, see Vol. XXXVI, Part I, p. 875, and Vol. XL, Part I, p. 620.