Mountain I received frequent and full reports of the movements of the enemy. In rear of General Buford, and at the crossing of Robertson River by the road from Madison Court-House to Sperryville, I had instructed General Sigel to post a brigade of infantry and a battery of artillery as a support to Buford's cavalry in front of him.
Matters stood thus on the 6th August. I instructed General Banks to move forward from Little Washington on the morning of 7th of August and to take post where the turnpike from Sperryville to Culpeper Court-House crosses Hazel River, so that on 7th August the infantry and artillery forces of the Army of Virginia were assembled along the stone turnpike from Sperryville to Culpeper.
On the 7th-that day I reviewed the corps of General Sigel at Sperryville, and remained at that place until 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 7th. During the whole of this day reports were coming in of movements of the enemy toward the Rapidan from the direction of Gordonsville portions of his forces having crossed the Rapidan during that day. I reached Culpeper Court-House early on the morning of the 8th of August, where I found Ricketts' division of McDowell's corps and Crawford's brigade of Banks' corps, which latter had been for some days in occupation of that place. By 10 or 11 o'clock on the morning of the 8th it became clear that the enemy had crossed the Rapidan in heavy force and was advancing both upon Culpeper and upon Madison Court-House. My whole force at that time numbered about 30,000 men, it having been considered by the authorities in Washington not judicious to remove King's division of McDowell's corps from Fredericksburg. My instructions required me also to be very careful not to allow the enemy to interpose between myself and Fredericksburg, to which point the forces from the Peninsula were to be brought.
During the 8th August or at least during the earlier part of that day, it was uncertain whether the main force of the enemy was marching upon Sperryville or upon Culpeper, but in either case I considered it proper to concentrate my forces in the direction of Culpeper, in order constantly to be interposed between the enemy and the lower fords of the Rappahannock.
I accordingly sent orders to Banks to move forward to Culpeper Court-House and to Sigel to move forward to the same place with all speed. Banks arrived at Culpeper in due season, but to my surprise I received a note from General Sigel, dated at Sperryville, about 6.30 in the evening, acknowledging the receipt of my order, and asking me by what road he should come to Culpeper. As there was but one road, and that a broad stone turnpike, that led directly from Sperryville to Culpeper, I was at a loss to know how General Sigel could entertain any doubt upon the subject. This doubt of General Sigel's delayed the arrival of his corps at Culpeper several hours.
When the reports began to come in from General Bayard that the enemy was advancing upon him, and that his cavalry was forced to retire, I advanced Crawford's brigade of Banks' corps to observe the enemy, to support Bayard in holding the enemy in check and determining his force and movements as far as possible. Ricketts' division of McDowell's corps was on same day, 8th August, moved to a point 2 1/2 or 3 miles south of Culpeper, and near to the place where the road from Madison Court-House to Culpeper comes into the road from Barnett's Ford to Culpeper.
Early on the morning of the 9th I received information from General Buford, at Madison Court-House, that the enemy was on his right, on his left, and partly in his rear, and that he was retreating toward Sperryville. On the morning of the 9th August I pushed Banks in front, with his corps, to join the brigade of that corps which had gone to the front the day previous. General Banks was instructed by me to move his corps to the position occupied by that brigade; to take up a strong position there to check the advance of the enemy. This instruction was in a personal interview with General Banks at my headquarters at Culpeper. I told General Banks that if the enemy advanced to attack him that he should push his skirmishers well to the front and notify me immediately, it being, my wish to gain all the time possible to concentrate our forces at Culpeper Court-House. General Banks' corps at that time, from his consolidated report transmitted to me a few days previous, numbered over 12,000 infantry and artillery, and this I understood to be the strength of his corps when he was pushed to the front. Three miles in rear of the position which I expected him to occupy was Ricketts' division of McDowell's corps.
Desultory artillery firing was kept up all day on the 9th, during which time I received a number of reports from General Banks, in one of which did he consider that the enemy was in any great force in front of him. In one of his notes,dated about 3 o'clock in the day, he mentioned that the enemy was displaying his cavalry ostentatiously; that he had seen no considerable force of infantry, and that he did not believe they intended to attack. The notes received I have, and can submit them to the court if they so desire it. The last note I received from General Banks was dated about 5 o'clock. He spoke then of the skirmishers approaching each other, and did not indicate that he expected any engagement or ask for any assistance. Before I received this note, however, the artillery firing had become so rapid and continuous that I feared a general engagement was going on or might be brought on at any moment. I therefore instructed General McDowell to push forward Ricketts' division as