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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 12, Part 2 (Second Manassas)
Page 731 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Bridge and the remainder at Hart's Mill, a few miles below, and took the direct road to Warrenton. Reaching that place in the afternoon I halted to close up and obtain information. No force of the enemy had been here for days. From this point I directed my march to the rear of Cedar Creek with the view to destroy the railroad bridge over it near Catlett's Station, the telegraph line, and thus cut the enemy's line of communication. I had not proceeded far before a terrific storm set in, which was a serious obstacle to the progress of artillery, and gave indications of continuing for a sufficient time to render the streams on my return impassable. Lee's brigade was in advance, and the artillery being intrusted to one of Robertson's regiments (Twelfth Virginia Cavalry), the head of the column pushed on by the village of Auburn, reaching the immediate vicinity of Catlett's Station after dark. Rosser being again in front, by his good address and consummate skill captured the picket, and we soon found ourselves in the midst of the enemy's encampments, but the darkest night I ever knew.

Fortunately we captured at this moment, so critical, a negro who had known me in Berkeley, and who, recognizing me, informed me of the location of General Pope's staff, baggage, horses, & c., and offered to guide to the spot. After a brief consultation it was determined to accept the negro's proposition, as whatever was to be done had to be done quickly, and Brigadier General Fitz. Lee selected Colonel W. H. F. Lee's regiment for the work. The latter led his command boldly to within a few feet of the tents occupied by the convivial staff of General Pope and charged the camp, capturing a large number of prisoners, particularly officers, and securing public property to a fabulous amount. while this was going on the First and Fifth Virginia Cavalry were sent to attack another camp beyond the railroad and obstruct the latter. This was gallantly done, under the dashing lead of Colonels Rosser and [L. T.] Brien, over ground exceedingly difficult, crossing a heavy filling of the railroad, with ditches each side, amid darkness and a perfect torrent of rain. The lights here were extinguished at the first pistol-shot, and the only light left to guide was the flash of the enemy's guns from the wagons, in which they took speedy refuge. It will readily be perceived that under such circumstances successful attack by a charge, mounted, was impossible, and its further prosecution was deferred for the accomplishment of what was the great object of the expedition - the destruction of the Cedar Run railroad bridge. Captain Blackford, with a picked party, set about this arduous undertaking, but owing to the fact that everything was saturated with water, ignition was impossible. Axes were looked up in the darkness with great difficulty, and the energetic and thorough-going [W. C.] Wickham was sent with his regiment (Fourth Virginia Cavalry) to effect its destruction by cutting it down, and finally Brigadier-General Lee went in person to superintend it; but the difficulties were insuperable, for the enemy on the other side of the stream, where a cliff afforded excellent protection, were already firing upon our men, who, in this rain, which had greatly swollen the stream, met difficulty at every step. It was formed of double trestle work, superposed, which rendered destruction difficult and repair easy. The commanding general will, I am sure, appreciate how hard it was to desist from the undertaking, but to any one on the spot there could be but one opinion - its impossibility. I gave it up.

While these attempts were going on other portions of the command were securing horses and other valuable property from the enemy's camp in our possession and conducting the large numbers of prisoners


Page 731 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 12, Part 2 (Second Manassas)
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