active operations on the James were no longer contemplated, and that the most effectual way to relieve Richmond from any danger of attack from that quarter would be to re-enforce General Jackson and advance upon General Pope.
Accordingly, on August 13 Major-General Longstreet, with his division and the two brigades under General Hood, were ordered to proceed to Gordonsville. At the same time General Stuart was directed to move with the main body of his cavalry to that point, leaving a sufficient force to observe the enemy still remaining in Fredericksburg and to guard the railroad. General R. H Anderson was also directed to leave his position on James River and follow Longstreet.
On the 16th the troops began to move from the vicinity of Gordonsville toward the Rapidan, on the north side of which, extending along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in the direction of Culpeper Court-House, the Federal Army lay in great force. It was determined with the cavalry to destroy the railroad bridge over the Rappahannock in rear of the enemy, while Longstreet and Jackson crossed the Rapidan and attacked his left flank. The movement, as explained in the accompanying order, was appointed for August 18, but the necessary preparations not having been completed, its execution was postponed to the 20th. In the interval the enemy, being apprised of our design, hastily retired beyond the Rappahannock. General Longstreet crossed the Rapidan at Raccon Ford and, preceded by Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry brigade, arrived early in the afternoon near Kelly's Ford, on the Rappahannock, where Lee had a sharp and successful skirmish with the rear guard of the enemy, who held the north side of the river in strong force. Jackson passed the Rapidan at Somerville Ford and moved toward Brandy Station, Robertson's brigade of cavalry, accompanied by General Stuart in person, leading the advance. Near Brandy Station a large body of the enemy's cavalry was encountered, which was gallantly attacked and driven across the Rappahannock by Robertson' command.
General Jackson halted for the night near Stevensburg, and on the morning of the 21st moved upon Beverly Ford, on the Rappahannock. The Fifth Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel Rosser, was sent forward by General Stuart to seize the north bank of the river at this point and gallantly accomplished the object, capturing a number of prisoners and arms. General Stuart subsequently arrived, and being furnished by General Jackson with a section of artillery, maintained his position for several hours, skirmishing warmly with the enemy. General Robertson, who had crossed the river above Beverly Ford, reported that the enemy was advancing in large force upon the position held by General Stuart, and as it had been determined in the mean time not to attempt the passage of the river at that point with the army, that officer withdrew to the south side. The enemy soon afterward appeared in great strength upon the opposite bank, and an animated fire was kept up during the rest of the day between his artillery and the batteries attached to Jackson's leading division, under Brigadier-General Taliaferro.
As our positions on the south bank of the Rappahannock were commanded by those of the enemy, who guarded all the fords, it was determined to seek a more favorable place to cross higher up the river, and thus gain the enemy's right. Accordingly, General Longstreet was directed to leave Kelly's Ford on the 21st and take the position in front of the enemy in the vicinity of Beverly Ford and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad bridge, then held by Jackson, in order to mask the movement of the latter, who was instructed to ascend the river.
On the 22nd Jackson crossed Hazel River at Welford's Mill and proceeded