Today in History:

1072 Series I Volume XXV-I Serial 39 - Chancellorsville Part I

Page 1072 N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

work on which we were engaged. The command marched two days and nights, after having passed through the same hardships on the preceding days as the rest of the expedition, without any sleep save what they got in their saddles, and little if any food. The distance marched was over 100 miles, and during the halts the men, without exception, were all hard at work destroying bridges, felling trees, and rolling logs, to render the fords impracticable. The same remarks apply to the pioneer party of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry. These men worked and endured beyond my preconceived notions of human capacity without a murmur.

Captain Wier, of General Gregg's staff, who accompanied the detachment from Ground Squirrel Bridge, was especially zealous in accomplishing the objects of the expedition, and to his exertions and timely suggestions the work of destruction at the depot near Ashland owes much for its completeness. All the work done by the detachment I commanded during my absence was well done, nor was any time lost in consummating the objects for which we were sent out.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain Second Cav., Ordnance and Mustering Officer, Cav. Corps.

Lieutenant Colonel A. J. ALEXANDER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Cavalry Corps.

No. 4. Reports of Brigadier General William W. Averell, U. S. Army, commanding Second Cavalry Division.


GENERAL: I inclose herewith a copy of an order relieving Brigadier-General Averell from duty with this army, and directing him to report in person to you.* My reasons for adopting this course toward this officer will be found in the accompanying papers, as follows:

My instructions to Major-General Stoneman, dated April 12 and 28,+ copies of which were furnished Brigadier-General Averell, and the report of the operations of the Second Division of Cavalry, under Brigadier-General Averell, dated May 4.

From these it will appear that my instructions were entirely disregarded by that officer, and, in consequence thereof, the service of nearly 4,000 cavalry were lost, or nearly lost, to the country during an eventful period, when it was his plain duty to have rendered services of incalculable value. It is no excuse or justification of his course that he received instructions from General Stoneman in conflict with my own, and it was his duty to know that neither of them afforded an excuse for his culpable indifference and inactivity. If he disregarded all instructions, it was his duty to do something. If the enemy did not come to him, he should have gone to the enemy.

General Averell's command numbered about 4,000 sabers and a light battery, a larger cavalry force than can be found in the rebel army between Fredericksburg and Richmond, and yet that officer seems to have contented himself between April 29 and May 4 with having


*See Inclosure F to Averell's report of May 7, p.1080.

+See report of Major General George Stoneman, pp.1065, 1066.


Page 1072 N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.