Today in History:

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

Page 120 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

ceeding thence across to the Telegraph road, and following it down as far as the Ny River, but heavy rain prevented the further prosecution of the expedition, and I returned, leaving a regiment to occupy the front between Verdon and Fredericksburg for observation. There was no point on the North Anna below Verdon at which I could cross my command until August 4, when the long-expected bridge near Hanover Court-House was completed and my command present, consisting of Lee's brigade and the Stuart Horse Artillery, marched directly for Bowling Green, taking care to camp to the eastward a few miles, so as to resume the march next day directly for Port Royal, on the Rappahannock, with the twofold view of getting in rear of the enemy's forces on the Telegraph road and attacking any transport I might find on that stream. One squadron was sent to Bowling Green to obtain information and picket; but nothing was heard of the enemy. None of his marauding parties had visited that place since my former expedition on the Telegraph road.

The march was continued on the 5th to Port Royal, near which point 10 or 12 of the enemy's cavalry were surprised and captured. No transport or boats were on the river, and I proceeded toward Fredericksburg, turning to the left after passing Moss Neck Creek, and bivouacking just before dark near Grace, or Round Oaks Church, having made a very long march, with weather incessantly hot and dusty. During the night Colonel Drake, First Virginia Cavalry, near Verdon, was notified of our whereabouts, and directed to join us next morning, if practicable, on the Telegraph road, with a view to advance on Fredericksburg.

Early next morning I directed my march across toward the Telegraph road, upon nearing which I learned that a large force of the enemy had encamped on Massaponax Creek, and were then moving up the Telegraph road. Here, then, was another move upon the railroad. We proceeded directly for Massaponax Church, situated on Telegraph road, and when in sight we discovered straggling infantry and wagons on the road. The leading squadron, under the orders of General Fitzhugh Lee, dashed gallantly forward, commanded by the veteran Captain Berkeley, whose clear, ringing command "charge" brought the squadron like a thunderbolt upon the fleeing enemy in the direction of Fredericksburg, pursuing for miles and intercepting all wagons and fugitives but one courier, whose fright baffled pursuit. Lieutenant-Colonel Thornton, with the remainder of the squadron, was sent in pursuit up the road, it having been ascertained from the prisoners that Brigadier-Generals Gibbon and Hatch, of the enemy's forces, had passed up with their respective brigades toward Hanover Junction. Lieutenant-Colonel Thornton captured wagons and prisoners at every step until he came up with their rear guard at the Po River. Colonel Lee, Fourth Virginia Cavalry, and the artillery following close after, the rear guard was attacked and put to flight, the Fifth Virginia Cavalry (Colonel W. H. F. Lee) acting in reserve. It was not long before the march of the main body was arrested, and the clouds of dust approaching evidenced a retrograde movement. As his regiments of infantry, taking advantage of the wooded cover, neared us, a brisk skirmish and artillery fire ensued, my force gradually retiring, exchanging shots of artillery from position to position, until reaching the high ridge north of the Ny River. My Blakely gun being disabled, I turned by the road to Bowling Green, having previously sent the wagons and prisoners in that direction. The enemy were content with reopening their communication to

Page 120 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.