Today in History:

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

Page 124 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

next day to a point beyond Spotsylvania Court-House, I sent back a messenger to the commanding officer, indicating to him the point where the reserve should halt, and directing him to remain with and conduct the force to the point indicated, viz, a cross-road from 3 to 4 miles south of Spotsylvania Court-House. For some reason unknown to me they halted and remained at Spotsylvania Court-House.

At 11 o'clock p. m. I received the dispatch from General Gibbon informing me that he had met a "large force of the enemy's cavalry and some artillery," and advising me to move early and cautiously. I concluded that the only chance of success was to move at once, while the general was keeping the enemy employed. I accordingly marched at 2 o'clock a. m. on the 6th instant to reach Frederick's Hall Station, 7 miles south of the North Anna River, at 8 o'clock. Our guide made a mistake in the dark, and, taking the wrong road, led us 10 miles out of our way, so that we only reached Wallar's Tavern at 8 o'clock, 9 miles short of our destination, thus giving us 10 miles extra march, and causing us to miss a regiment of rebel infantry which left for Gordonsville at 9 o'clock.

We rested at Wallar's until 1.30 o'clock, and then moved forward to the river at Carl's Bridge. We found the river not fordable, and spanned by a bridge about 150 feet long and some 40 feet above the water. I selected about 150 men of the Sixth Wisconsin from those most affected by the heat, and left them with one company of cavalry to guard the bridge until our return, placing the whole under Captain Plummer, of the Sixth Wisconsin. I directed the balance of the men to lay aside their coats, blankets, and haversacks, and fill their canteens with water, and at 2.30 o'clock moved for the station at Frederick's Hall, 7 miles, which we reached at 4.30 o'clock. When within about 2 miles of the station I sent forward the cavalry (except the rear guard) to cut the telegraph above and below the station, to picket the road to Lousia Court-House, and commence the work of destruction. I moved up with infantry and artillery as rapidly as possible, and after placing the guns in position to command the village and cover our retreat, in case of attack, I moved the infantry forward to the station. I found the cavalry busy at work destroying the road for nearly or quite a mile each way. I immediately had details made from the infantry to destroy the public property and assist in the destruction of the road. At 6 o'clock the work was completed and we commenced our return, arriving at the bridge across the river at 9 o'clock p. m.

After getting the force across the river we destroyed the bridge and moved 2 miles to Walker's Tavern, where the men laid down from pure exhaustion, having marched 32 miles under a burning sun, and destroyed the road and bridge, the march from the river to and from being over a light sand. At 11 o'clock p. m. I received the dispatch of the general, dated at 6 p. m., advising me of a second day's skirmish, and also that a portion of the enemy had turned off in my direction. Supposing we might meet the enemy on our return, we waited until 4.30 and started for Spotsylvania Court-House. When within 2 miles of that point we met General Gibbon with his command, where we halted until 4 o'clock the next morning and then marched back to camp, arriving at 1 o'clock p. m., having marched 90 miles in three and a half days under a broiling sun.

We destroyed about 2 miles of road; burned one small bridge; destroyed the turn-table, a warehouse containing several tierces of Confederate whisky, and burned about 1,000 bushes of corn belonging to the Confederate Army, and all the buildings belonging to the railroad.

I cannot speak in too high terms of the conduct of both the officers and men on the expedition. They all suffered severely from heat and

Page 124 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.