path known as the road to Shepherd's Ferry. I halted the command to put everything in the best order lest we should be attacked while in the path.
The following was the disposition of my command at the time: Lieutenant Jones was missing front he night before; Lieutenant Nesmith, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, had been seriously wounded the preceding night; Captain D. K. Duff, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and myself were the only officers present for duty. I had placed Captain Duff in charge of the rear guard, which consisted of forty men. The advance and main portion of the command consisted of fifty men. The prisoners and led horses, under guard of twenty-five men, were in advance of Captain Duff's portion of the command and in rear of the main body. I made the rear guard so strong in proportion to the size of my command owing to the enemy's repeated and vigorous attacks on it. I was at the head of the column. I turned around in order to observe the condition of the column, and looking to the rear, which had not entered the new direction, I observed several men hold up their hands and make gestures which I supposed were intended to inform me that the rear was attacked. I immediately ordered the command "right into line," ordered the prisoners and led horses to be moved forward quickly into the path and to follow the extreme advance, which I did not recall.
No sooner had I issued these commands than I saw Captain Duff and his party at the rear of the small party who marched in rear of the led horses. Captain Duff's command was coming at a run. I saw rebels among and in rear of his party charging. I ordered the command forward, fired a volley, and ordered a charge, which the men did not complete. Captain Duff in the meantime was trying to rally his men in rear of my line. Before his command had reloaded their pieces I had fired another volley and ordered a second charge. All the prisoners and led horses had not yet entered the path. The charge was met by one from the enemy and the command was broken. The men had no weapons but their carbines, and these were extremely difficult to road and inefficient in the melee that ensued. I made every effort, as did Captain Duff and Captain Martindale and Lieutenant Baker, of the corps staff, to reform the men, but our efforts were fruitless. The rebels had very few sabers but were well supplied with revolvers, and rode up to our men and shot them down without meeting more resistance than men could make with carbines. There was a small ridge overlooking both parties through which the path led. I rode up the side of this and formed the advance guard, which had returned to aid me. The enemy were amidst the men, and both parties were so mixed up that it was impossible to get the men in line. As fast as men could force their horses into the path, where many of the men were crowded together, they broke for the river. I waited until I was surrounded, and only half a dozen men left around; the balance had retreated toward the river, or were killed, wounded, or captured. Captain Martindale, as he left, said to me "It is useless to attempt to rally the men here; we'll try it farther on." I tried to ride to the front. The prisoners had placed the horses they were on and leading across in the path so as to prevent the escape of the men. Men were crowded into the path by twos and threes where there was really only room for one to ride. Men were being thrown and being crushed as they lay on the ground by others; they were falling from their horses from the enemy's fire in front and rear of me. I rode past about twenty of the men and again tried to rally the men, but all my efforts were fruitless.
30 R R - VOL XLVI, PT I