Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Monday, September 19, 1864 – Part 6

The distance locally from where we crossed the Opequan to Winchester is called five miles; and to where we formed line of battle three miles, and from thence to Winchester two miles. The local distance from Winchester to Stephenson's Station by the railroad is six miles and to Summit Station twelve miles. There is no map in existence known to me giving the correct position of the enemy's infantry in the ravine in front of the Third Division, Sixth Corps; it is placed nearly a half mile too far back or west, and nearer where the second assault of the day was. The illustrations which of course must be correct herein place the enemy right in front of the Third Division and I can make oath to it, in the first assault when I was twice wounded. But I will now return a little and endeavor to describe this brilliant battle.

We were drawn up as before stated, in two lines of battle at the west entrance of the canyon facing west on an open field about midway between Abraham Creek on the south and Red Bud Creek on the north just in rear of a long narrow strip of woods which served as a great curtain to a grand, broad, slightly rolling plain several miles in extent in every direction in our front, which was to be the stage that day with the city of Winchester in the background, of one of the most dashing, picturesque battles probably ever fought in ancient or modern times at first with beautiful, silent nature about the only witness. The Third Division, Sixth Corps, was in the left and most important center of the line in two lines, the Tenth Vermont on the Berryville-Winchester pike, the most important, dangerous and stubbornly contested point in the whole line; the Nineteenth Corps was on our right in two lines; the intrepid Second Division, Sixth Corps in which was the gallant First Vermont Brigade, was on our left, one of the easiest places in the line; General Russell's valiant First Division, Sixth Corps, as reserve was stationed en masse a short distance in rear of where the right flank of the Third Division, Sixth Corps, and the left flank of the Nineteenth Corps joined, which was within a short distance and in plain sight of where I was, and our three Divisions of dashing, picturesque cavalry — including Wilson on our left along Abraham Creek running south of Winchester and Senseny Road, and Merritt and Averill on our right along the railroad and the Martinsburg pike— was massed on either flank for assault at the right moment on the enemy's flanks or as occasion might demand, while Crook's Eighth Corps was about a quarter of a mile en masse about in rear of the right flank of the Nineteenth Corps.

No. 6 – View of the ravine occupied by the enemy's infantry looking north from the pike where it crosses the ravine. Maj. Abbott was twice wounded at the top of the hill looking under the long limb of the first tree where the horizon shows so plainly. On the brow of the hill was a line of rebel rail breast-works. The ravine was alive with the enemy, to its head confronted by the Third Division, Sixth Corps. The enemy's artillery stationed on higher ground in rear of its infantry, firing over it together with its rapid firing literally swept, singed and scalped, the flat ground over which we charged: it was practically untenable. The continuation of this ravine south is shown in No. 7 illustration. 

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 160-2

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