balance of my forces, and had the pleasure of seeing Lieutenant-Colonel Hatch just in position to cut off the retreat of the enemy while I was ready to press him in front. Skirmishers were thrown out to the front and on either flank in our advance, and just before entering the town, when the opportunity admitted, the main body was deployed into line of battle. Unfortunately for the real test of our troops we found, to our surprise, no enemy, the great body having left, as I learned from the inhabitants, some time in October, and only the scouts and pickets who had seen in the morning having occupied it since. This fact, however, does not at all militate against the spirit and determination of my command, which was all that might be expected from the inheritors of the military fame of Jerseymen, and who only await a standing foe to show their real metal. I would be derelict did I not also report that you joined me before entering the place, and with your usual spirit and good judgment led the troops into the town, which we entered at about 5 p.m.
By your direction I immediately wrote a dispatch to General Franklin, reporting our occupation of Fairfax Court-House, and you then left me with instructions to hold possession of the town with the Fourth New Jersey. This I did till the next morning, March 10, when, the Federal troops pouring in, the advance under Colonel Averell, and receiving an order to march to the Braddock Corners to support the advance of the First Regiment by that road to Centerville, I left the town with my regiment, took position at the Corners, remained there all night, and next morning returned by your direction to the vicinity of Fairfax Court-House, where I selected the camping ground for the brigade. Here we remained till the afternoon of the 14th instant, when, receiving an order at 5 o'clock from general headquarters to return to this post, the whole brigade moved at 6, and reached our destination after midnight.
I think it proper to state that when at Fairfax Court-House, on the 13th instant, with Assistant Adjutant-General Purdy and Assistant Adjutant-General Wilson and other officers and a squadron of dragoons, I visited the battle ground at Manassas of 21st July last, and at the recent headquarters of the Confederate Army of the Potomac, a building said to belong to a Mr. Weir, I found a large number of official documents, among them the original order of General Beauregard, dated July 20, promulgating, "confidentially," to the commanders of brigades his plan of battle for the next day. Accompanying this was the order of General Joseph E. Johnston, approving the plan, and directing it to be carried into execution. I also found the original reports of Lieutenant Alexander, Engineer Corps, general staff, giving a statement of the prisoners and wounded and of the property found after the battle. The leaving of these important documents, like the other property which I saw scattered around, shows with what haste the rebels must have retreated before our forces; but what discovers the perfect panic which must have ensued is the fact, which I witnessed, of their having left four dead bodies laid out in their hospital dead-house ready for interment, but which they had forgotten of neglected to bury.
Very respectfully submitted.
J. H. SIMPSON,
Colonel Fourth New Jersey Volunteers.
Brigadier General PHILIP KEARNY,
Commanding First Brigade, Franklin's Division, Army of Potomac.
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