general commanding that the enemy under Jackson had effected his escape through Strasburg the day previous, and that our forces under Fremont were in hot pursuit of him. My division was therefore ordered to take the Luray road, in order to operate against him.
The route which I thus took was parallel to that taken by the enemy, the South Fork of the Shenandoah and a range of mountains interposing between us. As the enemy had gained something like a day's march upon us, my first object was to find some mode of crossing the Shenandoah, in order to fall upon his flank while Fremont assailed him in the rear. About 5 o'clock p. m. next day my advance guard reached the Shenandoah at Honeyville, but found the White House Bridge and Columbia Bridge both turned, thus cutting off all hope of attacking his flank at New Market. I then pushed forward the advance as rapidly as possible, in hopes of finding the bridge at Conrad's Store still standing, but that bridge was also found burned. During the whole of this time, which occupied nearly three days, the rain poured down in torrents, so that the Shenandoah overflowed its banks, and the mountain streams became rivers. It became impossible to move forward; the wagons sank in the mud to the axles, and all communication was cut off for a time between the main body and the advance guard. In this condition the first question was to live, to obtain supplies, as none could reach us over such roads.
To meet this necessity we took possession of two mills, purchased wheat, and employed fatigue parties to grind flour, and were soon supplied with an abundance of that necessary article. We were not idle in other respects. It became necessary to open some kind of communication with General Fremont, and to effect this we set to work to construct a ferry across the Shenandoah at the site of the Columbia Bridge. While engaged in these operations our scouting parties discovered General Longstreet's pickets on the Luray side of Thornton Gap, and some deserters brought in gave his force at 10,000, moving from Culpeper to Thornton Gap upon Luray with the view of creating a diversion in favor of Jackson. This compelled me to post two brigades at Luray and remain there in person to make head against Longstreet, so that he might not fall on my rear.
Just at this time Colonel Carroll, commanding Fourth Brigade, then at Conrad's Store, informed me by a dispatch that the bridge at Port Republic had been burned five weeks, and that the enemy's train was on the other side waiting for the river to fall.
Communication having been now opened with General Fremont, I sent a messenger to ascertain his position and that of the enemy. The messenger found General Fremont within 5 miles of Harrisonburg, and brought back intelligence that the enemy had abandoned the turnpike to Staunton, owing to the bridges having been previously burned on that route, and had turned short in the direction of Port Republic. This corroborated the dispatch of Colonel Carroll. The enemy had an impassable river in his front; Fremont's cannon were in his rear. This river could not become fordable in less than three days. It was only necessary to place him between Fremont's artillery and mine, with an impassable river in his front, to insure his destruction, and to prevent him from effecting his escape by any by-road it was only necessary to cut the railroad at Waynesborough, 18 miles distant, to burn the bridge and depot at that place, and he would be compelled to lay down his arms.
The Fourth and Third Brigades were sent forward for this purpose; also fourteen pieces of artillery, under Colonel Daum. Their mission