The enemy's loss at Winchester was very heavy. Doctor McGuire has received a letter from a member of his family who states that 5,800 of the enemy's wounded were brought to the hospital at Winchester, and that the total wounded was between 6,000 and 7,000; and a gentleman who passed over the field says that the number of killed was very large. Sheridan's medical director informed one of our surgeons left at Woodstock that the number of wounded in hospital at Winchester was the same as stated in the letter to Doctor McGuire, and I am satisfied from what I saw that the enemy's loss was very heavy. The enemy's infantry force was nearly, if not quite, three times as large as mine, and his cavalry was very much superior, both in numbers and equipment. This I have learned from intelligent persons who have seen the whole of both forces.
I posted my troops in line of Fisher's Hill with the hope of arresting Sheridan's progress, but my line was very thin, and having discovered that the position could be flanked, as is the case with every position in the Valley, I had determined to fall back on the night of the 22nd, but late that evening a heavy force was moved under cover of the woods on the left and drove back the cavalry there posted, and got in the rear of my left flank, and when I tried to remedy this the infantry got into a panic and gave way in confusion, and I found it impossible to rally it. The artillery behaved splendidly, both on this occasion and at Winchester. I had to order the guns to be withdrawn, but the difficulties of the ground were such that twelve guns were lost because they could not be gotten off.
The loss in the infantry and artillery was 30 killed, 210 wounded, and 995 missing; total, 1,235. I have been able to get no report of the loss in the cavalry, but it was slight. Very many of the missing in the infantry took to the mountains. A number of them have since come in and others are still out. The enemy did not capture more than 400 or 500, but I am sorry to say many men threw away their arms.
The night favored our retreat, and by next morning the commands were pretty well organized. At Mount Jackson next day I halted and drove back a force of cavalry which was pursuing, and then moved to Rude's Hill, where I halted until the enemy's infantry came up next day and was trying to flank me, when I moved off in line of battle for eight miles, occasionally halting to check the enemy. This continued until nearly sundown, when I got a position at which I checked the enemy's further progress for that day, and then moved under cover of night toward Port Republic to unite with Kernshaw. After doing this I drove a division of cavalry from my front at Port Republic, and then moved to Waynesborough, where two divisions under Torbert were destroying the bridge, and drove them away; and after remaining there one day I moved to the vicinity of Mount Crawford, where I awaited the arrival of Rosser's brigade to take the offensive, but before it arrived the enemy was discovered to be falling back on the morning of the 6th. I immediately commenced following the enemy, and arrived here on the 7th, and have been waiting to ascertain whether Sheridan intends crossing the Blue Ridge before moving farther.
J. A. EARLY,
General R. E. LEE.