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32 Series I Volume XII-II Serial 16 - Second Manassas Part II

Page 32 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

which had been built at Sulphur Springs, and upon which the forces of the enemy which had crossed a day or two previous escaped from the advance of General Sigel, was destroyed, and General Sigel pushed forward, with the force supporting him, in the direction of Waterloo Bridge. Mean time I had dispatched Brigadier-General Buford, with a heavy cavalry force from Warrenton, on the morning of the 24th, to reconnoiter the country in the vicinity of Waterloo Bridge, and to interrupt the passage of the river at that point as far as practicable. It was then believed by General Sigel, who so reported to me, that a considerable force of the enemy was on the north side of the Rappahannock, and was retiring from his advance in the direction of Waterloo Bridge. By noon of the 24th General Buford reported to me that he had occupied Waterloo Bridge without finding any force of the enemy, and he did not believe that there was any force between that place and Sulphur Springs. I directed him to destroy the bridge at Waterloo, and to maintain his position there until the arrival of the advance of General Sigel. I at once informed General Sigel of these facts, and directed him to push forward his advance to Waterloo. Milroy's brigade, constituting the advance of his corps, reached Waterloo late in the afternoon of the 24th. On that afternoon the whole force of the enemy was stretched along the line of the river from Rappahannock Station to Waterloo Bridge, with his center, and, I think, his main body, in the vicinity of Sulphur Springs.

During the day of the 24th a large detachment of the enemy, numbering thirty-six regiments of infantry, with the usual number of batteries of artillery and a considerable cavalry force, marched rapidly toward the north in the direction of Rectortown. They could be plainly seen from our signal stations established on high points along the Rappahannock, and their movements and force were reported to me from time to time by Colonel J. S. Clark, of General Banks' staff, who, both on that day and for many preceding and succeeding days, had given me most valuable and reliable information. I am glad to express here my appreciation of the valuable services of this officer. On the night of the 24th my forces were distributed as follows: Ricketts' division, of McDowell's corps, on the road from Warrenton to Waterloo Bridge, and about 4 miles east of Waterloo; King;s division, of the same corps, between Warrenton and the Sulphur Springs; Sigel's corps near the Rappahannock, with his advance at Waterloo Bridge and his rear in the direction of the Sulphur Springs; in his rear, and immediately in contact with him, was Banks' corps, while Reno's corps was east and very near the Sulphur Springs.

I was satisfied that no force of the enemy was on the north side of the Rappahannock, but I feared that during the next day - by which time the river would have fallen sufficiently to be passed at any of the fords - the enemy would make an attempt to cross at Rappahannock Station or at the fords between that point and Sulphur Springs; yet, as were confronted at Waterloo Bridge and Sulphur Springs by the main body of the enemy, still moving toward our right, and as the heavy column mentioned previously was marching with all speed in the direction of White Plains and Salem, and from these points would be able to turn our right by the direction of Thoroughfare Gap or even north of that place, it was with the greatest reluctance, and only because I felt bound to do so under my instructions, that I took measures again to assure my communications with Fredericksburg. I append here with orders and dispatches sent and received during the 23rd and 24th of August, which will of themselves furnish a succinct account of the

Page 32 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.