Today in History:

34 Series I Volume XXI- Serial 31 - Fredericksburg


I then had the city searched by a party, which captured 118 rebel soldiers, including 4 commissioned officers [for list see Appendix A], to whom I had the usual parole administered, which was given with an alacrity of manifest willingness. We also captured 7 rebel soldiers, who were brought in with us [see Appendix B]. Four Federal soldiers, who had been taken at Snickersville, and 2 who were taken at Antietam by General Lee, were recaptured. We here also appropriated to the use of our troops a quantity of flour, the property of rebels.

The illustration of the great revulsion of sentiment in favor of the Union was highly gratifying, and I beg to remark that our reception by the women and children was satisfactorily demonstrative. the outpouring of Union feeling was assisted with flags and other Union emblems. Most of the men being absent, a partial indication of the feeling prevailing was furnished by some 400 or 500 youths, whose acclamations of pleasure, beyond doubt unfeigned, were freely given. this change of feeling is similar through the country, and is strongly indicative of the growing entertainment of Union sympathies.

Another subject worthy of comment is the destruction of the Harper's Ferry and Winchester Railroad and of the property of the people, who have been bereft of nearly all the necessities of life. Devastation of a painful character is noticeable over all the section visited by the troops of Jackson and Hill. Cattle and hogs have nearly all been taken, and throughout a vast area there is not enough provender to maintain a troop of cavalry in any one neighborhood for a single week.

Having remained in Winchester until about 3 p.m., and considering that the objects of the mission with which I have had the honor of being intrusted were fully accomplished, we took up the returning line of march by the Martinsburg turnpike, and encamped about 6 miles from Winchester. At this point during the night a number of rebel cavalry fired on my pickets without effect, and rapidly retired.

On Friday we passed through Bunker Hill and Smithfield, and found the route in the same devastate condition as before mentioned. At Oakland about 75 cavalry fired upon and sought to harass my outposts; but, having placed two pieces of artillery at an eligible point, in expectancy of them, we dispersed them by a few well-directed shots.

The points of information gleaned upon the reconnaissance are summed up briefly, in effect that General D. H. Hill left with his division about November 17; Jackson, with his command, about the 26th, and A. P. Hill from the 27th to the 29th of the same month. I am also led to believe, from various sources, that the combined forces of the enemy amounted to about 35,000 effective men and about sixty pieces of artillery. General George [H.] Steuart, of Maryland, and General Jones were in command of the troops that remained at Winchester until the day preceding the surrender. A part of these fores, I learned, were known as the Maryland Line, consisting of about 2,000 infantry and artillery. The cavalry consisted of the Seventh and Twelfth and six companies of another Virginia regiment, the artillery of Chew's [four guns], and a Maryland battery, of six other guns, all of which were in the reported evacuation. No troops are now remaining in the valley, except Ashby's cavalry. The forces driven from Winchester, when last heard from, were in full retreat beyond Strasburg. The two Hills and Jackson were last reported as marching directly toward Fredericksburg, and as within 20 miles of Lee's army.

After bivouacking two nights in the woods, and enduring, without shelter, a severe snow-storm, the column reached the division encampment without a single casualty. The expedition was prosecuted under