HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF VIRGINIA,
Washington, July 24, 1862-1.15 p.m.
General KING, Fredericksburg:
Your dispatches in relation to your cavalry expeditions are highly gratifying and satisfactory, and the officers and men engaged are entitled to and will receive from the country high commendation.
Endeavor to ascertain if the Virginia Central Railroad has been yet repaired where you broke it the other day, and particularly whether more troops have gone over it either from or to Richmond.
Fredericksburg, July 24, 1862-2.10 p.m.
Major-General POPE, Washington:
Your dispatch is just received. Lieutenant-Colonel Kilkpatrick, who commanded the expedition, reports that no trains had passed over the Virginia Central Railroad since we broke up the track at Beaver Dam, and that two trains loaded with troops, which came up nearly to Beaver Dam on Sunday, were obliged to return to Richmond.
Fredericksburg, July 24, 1862.
GENERAL: The general commanding the Army of Virginia is exceedingly desirous of obtaining information as to the strength and position of the enemy's forces in the neighborhood of Orange Court-House and Gordonsville.
The reports received from there by contrabands and others are so contradictory and seemingly unreliable that other means must be employed to obtain the intelligence sought for. I have therefore decided to send a light column up the plank road in the direction of Orange Court-House and Gordonsville, in the hope of thereby procuring the desired information. You will take charge of the expedition, and while carefully against surprise and running no unnecessary risk, will use diligent efforts to ascertain what Confederate forces are at Orange Court-House and Gordonsville.
The light column will be composed of a regiment of infantry, a company of sharpshooters, two companies of cavalry, and a section of artillery. A supporting column of three regiments of infantry, two sections of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry will be stationed along the road at such as you may deem most advisable. The men will take two days' cooked rations with them, and you will direct the several regimental quartermasters to send to-morrow afternoon by train sufficient supplies for two days additional. It is desirable that you reach Orange Court-House or its immediate vicinity some time to-morrow night or early the following morning; that the march he rapid and quietly conducted, and that the expedition return as soon as possible after the work is accomplished.