Page:A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America.djvu/90

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86
BATTLE OF WINCHESTER.

Berryville road, moving to attack Ramseur on his left flank, while another force pressed him in front. It was a moment of imminent and thrilling danger, as it was impossible for Ramseur's division, which numbered only about 1,700 muskets, to withstand the immense force advancing against it. The only chance for us was to hurl Rodes and Gordon upon the flank of the advancing columns, and they were ordered forward at once to the attack. They advanced in most gallant style through the woods into the open ground, and attacked with great vigor, while Nelson's artillery on the right, and Braxton's on the left, opened a destructive tire. But Evans' brigade of Gordon's division, which was on the extreme left of our infantry, received a check from a column of the enemy, and was forced back through the woods from behind which it bad advanced, the enemy following to the very rear of the woods, and to within musket range of seven pieces of Braxton's artillery which were without support. This caused a pause in our advance, and the position was most critical, for it was apparent that unless this force was driven back the day was lost. Braxton's guns, in which now was our only hope, resolutely stood their ground, and, under the personal superintendence of Lieutenant Colonel Braxton and Colonel T. H. Carter, my then Chief of Artillery, opened with canister on the enemy. This fire was so rapid and well-directed that the enemy staggered, halted, and commenced falling back, leaving a battle-flag on the ground, whose bearer was cut down by a canister shot. Just then, Battle's brigade of Rodes' division, which had arrived and been formed in line for the purpose of advancing to the support of the rest of the division, moved forward and swept through the woods, driving the enemy before it, while Evans' brigade was rallied and brought back to the charge. Our advance, which had been suspended for a moment, was resumed, and the enemy's attacking columns were thrown into great confusion and driven from the field. This attacking force of the enemy proved to be the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, and it was a grand sight to see this immense body hurled back in utter disorder before my two divisions, numbering a very little over 5000 muskets. Ramseur's division