Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/114

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Southern Historical Society Papers.

This line, composed of barely more than a battalion, with some Rockingham reserves, rested its left on the Valley pike, where Captain Patterson's house now stands, and extended eastward to the crest of the hill.

A regiment of dismounted men is soon thrown out in front of this line; a staff of officers, with glasses, is seen observing us from the old Methodist church hill; some firing ensues; our cavalry becomes hotly engaged with theirs on the hill at our right, driving the enemy back along the crest, and being in turn driven back. But the whole encounter is but a skirmish, one or two being wounded, a single piece of artillery a half mile to our rear sending only a shot or two into the enemy as we fall back. Our men retired sullenly towards Mount Crawford and Hunter's whole force went into camp at Harrisonburg.


It was now night. What was worse, none knew what to think of the fate of the Valley. We felt we were about to be driven out of it. Loving dearly our old hills, and wishing to be among the very last to leave them, four comrades crossed over to Dayton, and finding the road open, rode on northward, passing Dale Enterprise. On approaching New Erection church., about midnight, we observed the blaze of a smith's forge a half mile away, and upon investigating, found two of McNeill's men having their horses shod.

McNeill's Company of Rangers lay that night asleep and snug in a small strip of timber, which then stood in the fields a little east of New Erection church. Before sunrise next morning (Saturday) Hunter was stirring. Lloyd C, a young Marylander, the picket on the hilltop east of us, rode rapidly into the little hidden bivouac and shook the old war horse, Captain John H. McNeill, wrapped in his buffalo, fast asleep in the leaves in a fence corner.

In an instant he mounted and led his men to the crest of the wooded ridge, near and a little south of the Eversole place. From this point, the hill being cleared to its crest on its east side, the enemy was plainly seen with his glass.

McNeill was puzzled. Moving towards Staunton out of the