Summer. At the same moment I was in receipt of instructions from yourself, dated March 30, to proceed with the repairing of the railroad. Accompanying the orders from General McClellan was a communication from General Abercrombie from his headquarters, 5 miles from Warrenton Junction, expressing his expectations to see me at the junction, in consonance with General McClellan's orders, as soon as I could get through. The same day Adjutant Phelps, First Michigan Cavalry, was shot and killed by the accidental discharge of his revolver. A party of 10 cavalry and 1 citizen, who went to obtain a coffin for deceased, was surrounded by a superior number of enemy's cavalry. Seven were captured; the citizen (John Downey), a guide from Lovettsville, was mortally wounded, 1 man only escaping. Three of the enemy were afterwards taken prisoners by a reconnoitering party in a skirmish with the same body.
At night the command marched to Thoroughfare Gap, 5 miles distant, over very rough roads, for the purpose of effectually avoiding a large force the enemy who were endeavoring to surround and capture the command. This force was supposed to have been re-enforcements sent to Jackson, and who had not been able to cross the river at Front Royal, and turned their attention towards my command.
We took up a strong position in the gap and prepared for attack, but during the day were informed that the enemy, baffled, had retired across the Rappahannock, and on April 3 we marched to Greenwich, a distance of 13 miles, and encamped, resuming our march on the following morning towards Warrenton Junction, and arriving at Catlett's Station, where we encamped, about noon.
Late on the 5th I received a telegram from you to join the column by the shortest and safest road, and at sunrise on the 6th left Catlett's Station in obedience thereto, and at noon reached Warrenton, compelling a force of about 800 rebel infantry to retreat across the Rappahannock, a similar force having retired early the same morning. We took formal possession of the town and encamped near it. We captured here the flag of the Forty-ninth Virginia Regiment, formerly commanded by ExGovernor William Smith. We were joined by Companies H and I, First Michigan Cavalry, ordered to report to me.
On the morning of the 7th we took up the line of march, but being overtaken by a violent snow-storm, we pitched tents about 6 miles from Warrenton. The storm continued with unabated violence for four days, compelling us to remain where we were encamped.
On the 10th your body guard, Zouaves d'Afrique, joined our command.
On the 11th I received orders from you to move to White Plains and report to Colonel McCallum to assist in repairing the road. We immediately marched to that place and encamped on the same day. We here learned that a large force of the enemy was concentrated near Waterloo, threatening to attack us. We put the road in good running order to Rectortown, and had men actively engaged on a bridge of 120 feet span over Goose Creek. I dispatched a train to Alexandria for the requisite timbers, which were furnished promtply, together with materials and force of workmen sent by Colonel McCallum. In order to push the work actively forward the building of the bridge over Cedar Run was temporarily delayed.
On the 14th we marched to Rectortown, Va., where we encamped in an elevated position, and a reconnoitering party was attacked by and had a skirmish with rebel cavalry near Piedmont, in which 2 of our advance guard were killed. We immediately repaired the telegraph line