Page:A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America.djvu/93

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89
BATTLE OF WINCHESTER.

brigades were moved in double quick time to the left and rear, and, making a gallant charge on the enemy's cavalry, with the aid of King's artillery, and some of Braxton's guns which were turned to the rear, succeeded in driving it back. The division was then thrown into line by General Breckenridge, in rear of our left and at right angles with the Martinsburg road, and another charge of the enemy's cavalry was handsomely repulsed. But many of the men on our front line, hearing the fire in the rear, and thinking they were flanked and about to be cut oft', commenced falling back, thus producing great confusion. At the same time, Crook advanced against our left, and Gordon threw Evans' brigade into line to meet him, but the disorder in the front line became so great that, after an obstinate resistance, that brigade was compelled to retire also. The whole front line had now given way, but a large portion of the men were rallied and formed behind an indifferent line of breastworks, which had been made just outside of Winchester during the first year of the war, and, with the aid of the artillery which was brought back to this position, the progress of the enemy's infantry was arrested. Wharton's division maintained its organization on the left, and Ramseur fell back in good order on the right. Wickham's brigade of cavalry had been brought from the right, and was in position on Fort Hill, just outside of Winchester on the west. Just after the advance of the enemy's infantry was checked by our artillery, it was reported to me that the enemy had got around our right flank, and as I knew this was perfectly practicable, and was expecting such a movement from the cavalry on the Front Royal road, I gave the order to retire, but instantly discovering that the supposed force of the enemy was Ramseur's division, which had merely moved back to keep in line with the other troops, I gave the order for the latter to return to the works before they had moved twenty paces. This order was obeyed by Wharton's division, but not so well by the others. The enemy's cavalry force, however, was too large for us, and having the advantage of open ground, it again succeeded in getting around our left, producing great confusion, for which there was no remedy. Nothing was now