Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/71
Battle of Winchester.
army was most unfortunate for the Confederates. Notwithstanding the presence of Sheridan's immense force at Berryville, ten miles from Winchester, General Early boldly, or rashly, marched to Martinsburg, twenty-two miles from Winchester, to put a stop to the relaying of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, with one division (Gordon's), leaving another (Rodes') at Bunker Hill (twelve miles), a third (Wharton's) near Stephenson's (six miles) and only Ramseur's Division near Winchester, on the Berryville road, to watch Sheridan. This was tempting Providence, and on that very day (Sunday, September 18), Grant was holding his interview with Sheridan at Charlestown.
At last Sheridan determined to attack at daylight next morning, thinking to defeat Early's divisions in detail. This he might have done if he had moved more promptly, although Rodes had returned to Stephenson's and Gordon to Bunker Hill the night before. Ramseur, however, fought Wilson's cavalry division and Wright's leading infantry division with great persistency, retiring very slowly, and thus giving time for Gordon and Rodes to join him, Wharton having moved from Stephenson's out on the Brucetown road as far as the Opequon, to resist the advance of Merritt's Cavalry Division. At this point I may insert some extracts from a diary kept during a part of this campaign, which gives a more vivid account than reminiscences of nearly forty years' standing:
"Wednesday, September 21. 1864.