Today in History:

1068 Series I Volume XXV-I Serial 39 - Chancellorsville Part I

Page 1068 N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Army of Potomac, with an additional supply of three days' subsistence and three days' short forage for the whole command. These wagons, as well as the regular supply trains, were unloaded at Bealeton on the evening of the 14th, and were immediately sent back to Falmouth. The whole command being encamped in the vicinity, all the supplies were immediately issued, and preparations made to cross the Rappahannock River during the same night.

The main object of the expedition was to cross the Rappahannock at or above the railroad bridges at Rappahannock Station, and, avoiding any large infantry commands, make its way to some point near Saxton's Junction, on the Pamunkey River, to cut off all communication between the rebel Army of Northern Virginia and Richmond, by destroying telegraphs, railroad bridges, and culverts, and tearing up the track at different points on the Fredericksburg and Richmond, and the Gordonsville and Richmond Railroads, and at the same time to inflict all other possible damage upon the enemy, by destroying supplies, store houses, turnpike bridges, &c., and, in the event of the rebel army being driven by the Army of the Potomac, to fall upon his flank and rear, capture stragglers, and otherwise harass him.

During the night of the 14th, a severe rain commenced and commenced and continued without cessation for thirty-six hours, which prevented the command from crossing the river. Colonel Davis' brigade, which had crossed during the night at Freeman's Ford, was recalled, and, in recrossing, so rapidly had the river risen, a portion of his column were obliged to swim their horses. The rain continued, with short intervals of fair weather, and the river remained impassable for cavalry until the 28th of April, during which time the whole command remained in the vicinity of Warrenton Junction, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.

On the 23rd, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad was opened, and from this time until the evening of the 28th, full rations of forage, both hay and grain, were obtained from Alexandria. During this period the scouting and picket duty of the command was very severe, which, together with the bad roads, used up many of the horses. All the weak and disabled animals of the command, and ten pieces of artillery, were sent back to Falmouth on the 28th, and during the night of the 28th the whole command marched to Kelly's Ford, where it crossed the Rappahannock on the ensuing day [the 29th], the cavalry fording the stream, the artillery and pack-train crossing on the pontoon bridges, constructed for the passage of the infantry.

At the time of starting from Warrenton Junction, the command was provided with the following supplies, viz: Three days' rations of subsistence, and three days' short rations of short forage [10 pounds to the ration] were taken on the horses of the troopers; three days' subsistence and two days' short forage were taken upon the pack-mules.

Immediately after crossing the river, the command was divided, General Averell being sent with one division, one brigade, and six pieces of artillery to the right. General Averell's command, being recalled by orders from headquarters Army of the Potomac, did not again join us.

Major-General Stoneman, with one division, one brigade, and six pieces of horse artillery, numbering in all 4,329 men an 4,832 horses, marched in the direction of Raccoon Ford, on the Rapidan River; crossed Mountain Run, and bivouacked for the night at Madden's Cross-Roads.

At daylight on the morning of the 30th, all the pack-mules were sent

Page 1068 N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.