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11 Series I Volume XIX-II Serial 28 - Antietam Part II

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Page 11 Chapter XXXI. RECONNAISSANCE TO SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. VA., ETC.

Shepherdstown, and followed the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, on the Martinsburg road, so rapidly that they field, leaving one of their dead in the road. This dead body was still in the road on my return, in the evening, showing I had the possession of it the whole day. Five miles from Shepherdstown the road forks, one branch going in the direction of Bunker Hill, and it was on this road that Lee's brigade was posted; the other passes on to Martinsburg, and, in obedience to my orders, I moved on it. Two miles of travel brought me to the Opequon Creek, on the opposite bank of which, and some 3 miles down, I observed a battery of artillery in position, which won opened on me. I paid no attention to this, and the rebels themselves saw their absurdity and stopped firing. I continued my movement to Martinsburg, and easily drove several squadrons in my front into the town, my advance arriving at the edge of the town by 2 o'clock in the day. It was soon discovered that Hampton's brigade of cavalry and four pieces of artillery were drawn up in the center of the town, and that two bridges between my forces and theirs had been destroyed by these boastful soldiers, who represented they were so anxious to get at my command. With three squadrons of cavalry and one piece of artillery, Hampton's command wa soon driven from Martinsburg, and I leisurely entered the town with this force and executed all the orders I had received in regard to it. On entering the town I found bridges had been replaced, and I was informed that the ladies of the place had turned out and built them up for my ment of cross. The mention of this incident speaks for itself, as an affecting exhibition of the loyalty and devotion in the present great struggle for national existence.

I remained in Martinsburg until 5 o'clock in the afternoon, some time after I had finished my business, to see if the rebels would attack me. They did not; so, in obedience to your orders, I commenced to return toward Shepherdstown by the same road I had gone out, and, that the rebels might follow me, if they felt so inclined, I left the bridges intact that they had destroyed in the morning. After crossing the Opequon Creek, a section of artillery, with suitable, force, remained in the rear, to cover the march which was leisurely conducted at a walk. The enemy, presuming that my movement was a retreat, came at a headlong gallop toward my rear, when some six or eight well-directed shells scattered his force in confusion over the hills, and he did not rally until my rear had passed over nearly 2 miles of distance, when he brought up fresh troops from the road leading toward Bunker Hill. My command cared so little for the enemy's attacks that they moved on at a walk, and the rear section of artillery was, in consequence, quite near the rebels on the road. When apprised of this, I immediately placed a section of artillery in position and opened on the enemy, over the heads of my men, and the other sections coming up, their fire did such execution that the enemy neither troubled us nor was heard of any more that night. Several of my squadrons engaged the enemy at short distance, and always maintained position until they were directed to move.

This las affair occurred over 4 mile beyond Shepherdstown, and in it we captured 9 prisoners and 10 horses and equipment, and I have since heard, from good authority, that the rebels buried 66 dead, as the result of that fight.

My loss was only 12 men, slightly wounded (they were able to ride to camp), and 3 men taken prisoners, by the horses falling with them. Their horses were not captured.

I brought off from Marginsburg some two dozen citizens, anxious to leave, and 19 boys, belonging to Frederick, who had been impressed into the rebel service but had run away.


Page 11 Chapter XXXI. RECONNAISSANCE TO SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. VA., ETC.

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