NEW MARKET, October 21.1864.
GENERAL: The telegraph has already informed you of the disaster of the 19th; I now write to give you a fuller account of the matter.
Having received information that the enemy was continuing to repair the Manassas road, and that he had moved back from Fisher's Hill, I moved on the 12th toward Strasburg for the purpose of endeavoring to thwart his purposes if he should contemplated moving across the Ridge or sending troops to Grant.
On the 13th I made a reconnaissance in force beyond Strasburg, and found the enemy on the north bank of Cedar Creek and on both sides of the pike. This was too strong a position to attack in front. I therefore encamped my force at Fisher's Hill and waited to see whether the enemy would move, but he commenced fortifying.
On the night of the 16th Rosser, with two brigades of cavalry and a brigade of infantry mounted behind his men, was sent around the left to surprise what was reported by his scouts to be the camp of a division of cavalry. He found, however, that the camp had been moved, and he only found a picket, which he captured. As I could not remain at Fisher's Hill, for want of forage, I then determined to try and get around one of the enemy's flanks and surprise him in camp. After ascertaining the location of the enemy's camps from observation from a signal station on Massanutten Mountain, I determined to move around the left flank of the enemy. I selected this flank from information furnished by General Gordon and Captain Hotchkiss, who had gone to the signal station, and because the greater part of the enemy's cavalry was on picketed. To get around the enemy's left was a very difficult undertaking, however, as the river had to be crossed twice, and between the mountain and river, where the troops had to pass, to the lower ford there was only a rugged pathway. I thought, however, the chances of success would be greater from the fact the fact that the enemy would not expect a move in that direction on account of the difficulties attending it and the great strength of their position on that flank. The movement was accordingly begun on the night of the 18th just after dark, Gordon's, Ramseur's, and Pegram's divisions being sent across the river and around the foot at night I moved with Kershaw's division through Strasburg toward a ford on Cedar Creek just above its mouth, and Wharton was moved on the pike toward the enemy's front, in which road the artillery in the rear, for Kershaw to attack the left flank, and for Gordon [Wharton?] to advance in front, supporting the artillery, which was to open on the enemy when he should turn on Gordon or Kershaw, and the attack was to begin at 5 a.m. on the 19th. Rosser was sent to the left to occupy the enemy's cavalry, and Lomax, who had been sent down the Luray Valley, was ordered to pass Front Royal, cross the river, and move across toward the Valley pike. Punctually at 5 Kershaw reached the enemy's left work and attacked and carried it without the least difficulty, and very shortly afterward Gordon attacked in the rear, and they swept everything before them, routing the Eighth and Nineteenth Corps completely, getting possession of their camp and capturing 18 pieces of artillery and about 1,300 prisoners. They moved across the pike toward the camp of the Sixth Corps, and Wharton was crossed over, the artillery following him, but the Sixth Corps, which was on the enemy' extreme right of his infantry,
36 R R-VOL XLIII, PT I