JULY 14, 1861.- Reconnaissances from Alexandria, Va.
Report of Colonel Thomas A. Davies, Sixteenth New York Infantry.
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, FIFTH DIVISION,
Alexandria, Va., July 14, 1861.
SIR: In pursuance of your verbal order of yesterday, I made a reconnaissance on the Fairfax road, seven miles out, and on the Richmond road about ten miles, and on the Mount Vernon road as far as Mount Vernon. The pickets on the Fairfax road captured a newly-painted ambulance, containing a set of harness and two bags of buckwheat. On the curtain on the inside was distinctly written in pencil, "John Hughes, Fairfax."
The picket on the Richmond road saw three horsemen, who by a dexterous turn, evaded a shot from the picket. The picket on the Mount Vernon road, in its diligence, discovered on the premises of one John A. Washington, formerly a resident and still an occupant of a large estate near Mount Vernon, what was supposed to amount to eight thousand pounds of bacon and seventy-five barrels of fish. The officer in charge of the picket was informed that these provisions were to be sent for to-night (July 14) by some person who was to convey them and the negroes on the plantation to the Southern Army. On this representation he took into possession three horses, and the negroes harnessed up one four-mule team to a wagon and one two-mule team to a wagon, and got in to the number of ten, of their own accord, and drove to my camp. Deeming the transaction of sufficient consequence to merit my individual attention, and supposing that I might capture the force sent to convey these provisions away, I immediately ordered out three companies of the Sixteenth Regiment, and, taking the two teams referred to an two others, proceeded to capture the provisions was really upon the place. I could not find anything like the quantity of bacon-not more than sufficient, in my judgment, to carry on the operations of the plantation, whatever might have been there in the morning; but I found twenty-five barrels more fish (one hundred in all) than were at first represented. On looking the whole matter over, whatever may be my individual views as to the confiscation of the property of rebels, who are using it and its income to overthrow the Government, I consider that the case was not sufficiently plain to authorized me to retain the mule-teams, or seize upon the fish and bacon, although their owner is well known to be an officer high in rank in the rebel army and now in active command.
As to the negroes, there being no law or ordered directing me either to cause them to remain at home or to present them from volunteering to do team duty in my brigade, I shall sallow them to remain until otherwise directed. I, however, have placed a guard over the provisions, the mules, and the wagons on the estate, and shall await your orders for their disposition.
THOS. A. DAVIES,
Colonel, Commanding 2nd Brigadier, 5th Div., Troops N. E. Army Virginia.
To Colonel MILES,
Commanding 5th Div. Troops, Dep's of Northeastern Virginia.
Colonel Davies has been instructed to immediately withdraw his pickets to within a proper distance in front of his brigade, to respect