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The Second Battle of Winchester
June 13-15, 1863

Extracted from The Reminiscences of Lorenzo D. Barnhart
Company B, 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Everything was Quiet [at Winchester] until Saturday the 13th of June 1863. The weather was fine and balmy. We wished we were at home to help the farmers plant corn; something else turned up. Our videtts were fired on, [and] also our pickets; by the confederates. We did not know what force was coming against us out on the Winchester and Strawberry Pike. We were ready for them. Our pickets engaged them. I was on the picket line myself. It was the first engagement we ever were in, and we seen how they fought. We matched them at their own game. They kept hid behind Cedar and Pine bushes and Field rock and stumps. They were called the Mississippi and Louisiana Tigers. We did not know until afterwards what force we were fighting; there were only 7 thousand of us and about 70 or 80 Thousand of them against us-but we fought them all the same. Although our force there only made a skirmish line, but we held them outside on the 12th.

On Sunday the 13th [actually the 14th] they pushed us in [to] our last resort; at first we met them out about 1 mile from our center. We fought [there] and [then] retreated towards our center. We held them stubbornly and disputed every inch of ground. They were fighting us with a heavy skirmish line. At once they charged onto us with a whole Regiment on our light skirmish line. We gave them a volley from our skirmish line, then retreated toward our center. They pressed on. They now used cannons on us, and shot something at us: we thought it was pieces of railroad iron. It screamed and whizzed over our heads, and made a deathly noise. Some of these missiles went over our heads, and some lit on the ground. We could hear them thump.

Now on Sunday the 14th in the afternoon my company B of the 110th was sent to guard a battery of canons. They were behind earth works. Company B was also behind rifle pits for [Company] B to fight behind and keep the enemy from capturing our guns. Everything was quiet on Sunday the 14th. The boys were laying on the parapets in the sun. We came to the conclusion the confederates had all went to Church to get Religion, but they were only fixing to kill all of us. There was a pine mountain off about a quarter of a mile [to the west]. All at once ,Oh! here came a shower of shot and shell. The boys tumbled off the parapets like turtles drop off a log into the water. The pine mountain fairly blazed with canon. They sent showers of shot and shells at us. We could not reach them with our small rifles. It seemed they let loose about 50 or 60 canons. [We] could do nothing to them. They shot our little guns wheels off, and upset them. Then they ceased firing off the pine mountain, and our officers gave us orders to fix bayonets and [get] our guns loaded, and watch over the fields in front of us. We would see the confederate infantry come out of the brush, out of a ravine. We would get to shoot only one shot, then use our bayonets and club with our guns. They came in desperate order. We gave them a volley low down in their legs. They dropped out of ranks. We made large gaps in their lines, but they did not stop for they closed the gaps shoulder to shoulder. They had been in such scraps before. They gave us a volley, then came onto us with bayonets and a yell like Indians. We used our gun stocks to them the front and to the rear [?]. We clubbed them a while but to no use. Oh, we hurt some of them, but what could 80 soldiers do to 70 or 80 thousand. They overcrowded us but we made it hot for them for a moment. {We] were clubbing with the butts of guns, and thrusting the bayonet at and through each other. For a moment it looked like Hell. What could Co. B do to them, I thought? [We could] all get killed if we do not surrender. We did not surrender, we just quit and every man for himself. I seen my chance to get in a ravine close by and follow it. I did and then had to cross a level piece of ground to get our last resort and Fort [Winchester]. While crossing this, I was in plain view of them. They seen me get away. They sent the shot after me, but I would not halt. I went ahead towards the Fort with their bullets plowing the ground around my feet. I looked to be hit any moment, but I ran the Gauntlet all safe. My clothes were pierced with bullets, but my skin was not cut. I did not want to serve my time in a confederate prison. That is way I undertook to run the gauntlet as I did. The howitzers and canon in the last Fort shot over my head to keep them back so they could not come across to our last Fort.

That evening [still Sunday June 14th] I laid down on the ground close to the last Fort. Night came and they were afraid to advance any further. That night [Major] General [Robert H.] Milroy called a council of his colonels [this meeting consisted of Brigadier General Washington L. Elliot commanding the First Brigade; Colonel Ely, Second Brigade; and Colonel McReynolds, Third Brigade; all of the Second Division, Eighth Army Corps] and told them we had ___ chance for escape: either surrender in the morning, or fight till the last man was killed, or cut their lines and make our escape. The colonels all voted to cut our way out that night. I was awakened about one or two o'clock that night to go down to the Martinsburg Pike and fall in line, and not speak above a whisper. I went and there was a battalion representative of all the Regiments around Winchester. I went in line with them and expected there would something be done now. The command was given in a whisper, "forward march". We went east on the pike, then north through a brushy new ground, then east again into a woods. In there were the confederate guards. We choked them off so they could not give the alarm. We went through their lines. When we got out, we turned to the right outside of their lines, [and] marched across the Martinsburg Pike toward Harpers Ferry. [We continued] outside of their lines towards a place called Stevensons station. There we halted, and Colonel J. Warren Keifer of the 110th OVI asked permission of General Milroy if he might charge in[to] those woods on the confederates.

Milroy said "Yes, you may Colonel. it will keep the gap open for more of the boys to get out."

Colonel Keifer gave the command "Attention 110th, 122nd, 116th, and 123rd OVI, prepare for a charge." He pointed in the woods. Forward we went in with a double quick. When we got close enough we gave them a volley of minnie balls for their breakfast. They were dumbfounded for a while. They did not know what it meant from the outside of their lines. Directly they leveled their Artillery and musketry onto us. Then the limbs of the trees of the trees came down on us, and our ammunition was exhausted. We then retreated out of woods in[to] an open field where General Milroy was waiting to give us the last command.

He pointed towards Harpers Ferry and said, "Every man fight your way through to Harpers Ferry. Do not go on the pike, it is patrolled by the enemy, and you will be captured." About 3000 got out through the gap, the balance [approximately 4,000] were captured with our hospitals and Sibley tents with all of our things except our guns and cartridge boxes and belt. What got out represented all the Regiments who were at Winchester. I took the course pointed out by General Milroy, but about one-half of the boys did not go the way they were shown. They went straight east ahead of the confederate army, and did not get to Harpers Ferry, but went to Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They missed the Battle of Gettysburg.

The batallion I was in helped to evacuate Harpers Ferry. We loaded all the government property on canal boats, and took them down to Georgetown, Washington DC. There we left them, and went aboard [railroad] cars and was sent to Baltimore, and from there to Gettysburg. There we represented our Regiment in that battle. There we went into the Third Army Corps of the Potomac, commanded by General Mead.

We did not get the credit we should have [for] fighting the confederate army so hard at Winchester, and detaining them so long. We saved the people of Pennsylvania and New York many millions of dollars by holding them 3 days at Winchester Va. Because Joe Hooker had command of the Army of the Potomac and it had been fighting at Fredericksburg and at Marye's Heights near Fredericksburg [actually this battle is now known as the Battle of Chancellorsville, even though a component of it was fought at Frederickberg]. Here General R. E. Lee's confederate army sneaked away from the front of Joe Hooker and came down the Shenandoah Valley, and surrounded our 7 thousand at Winchester. Now look at the map where Fredericksburg and Winchester are, and General Joe Hooker did not know what R.E. Lee's intention was until he had us surrounded at Winchester, and we did not know what number of force was against us there. But, we fought and fought out. It was the whole Confederate Army of Northern Virginia about 70 or 80 thousand strong, against 7 thousand [Union forces]. But we held them 3 days, and made it pretty hot for them until Joe Hooker came up and met them at Gettysburg. Here Hooker was relieved from command, and General Mead put in command. He fought the Battle of Gettysburg, and commanded the Army of the Potomac until the surrender at Appomattox C.H. on the 9th day of April, 1865.

Lorenzo D. Barnhart

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