120 BATTLE OF CEDAR CREEK.
Strength as at Winchester. The reports of the Ordnance offi- cers showed in the hands my troops about 8,800 muskets, in round numbers as follows : in Kershaw's division 2,700, Ram- seur's 2,100, Gordon's 1,700, Pegram's 1,200, and Wharton's 1,100. Making a moderate allowance for the men left to gnard the cjmps and the signal station on the mountain, as well as for a few sick and wounded, I went into this battle with about 8,500 mu.^kets and a little over forty pieces of artillery.
The book containing the reports of the Chief Surgeon of Sheridan's cavalry corps, which has been mentioned as cap- tured at this battle, showed that Sheridan's cavalry numbered about 8,700 men for duty a few days previous, and from infor- mation which I had received of reinforcements sent bim, in the way of recruits and returned convalescents, I am satisfied that his infantry force was fully as large as at Winchester. Sheridan was absent in the morning at the beginning of the fight, and had returned in the afternoon before the change in the fortunes of the day. Nevertheless, I saw no reason to change the estimate I had form.ed of him *
It may be asked, why with my small force I made the attack ? I can only say we had been fighting large odds during the whole war, and I knew there was no chance of lessening them. It was of the utmost consequence that Sheri- dan should be prevented from sending troops to Grant, and General Lee, in a letter received a day or two before, had expressed an earnest desire that a victory should be gained in the Valley if possible, and it could not be gained without fighting for it. I did hope to gain one by surprising the enemy in his camp, and then thought and still think 1 would have had it, if my directions had been strictly complied with, and my troops had awaited my orders to retire. f
��*The retreat of the main body of his army had been arrested, and a new line formed behind breastworks of rails, before Sheridan arrived on the field ; and he still had immense odds against me when he made the attack in the afternoon.
t A silly story was circulated and even published in the papers, that this bat- tle was planned and conducted by one of my subordinates up to a certain point, when my ai rival on the field stopped the pursuit and arrested the victory. No