miles cast of that place with a portion of his forces, whilst all remaining pushed forward in the direction of Charlottesville, destroying the railroad bridges and interrupting that line of communication as far as practicable.
At that time there was no force of the enemy at Gordonsville or in the vicinity, and the whole operation as ordered was not only easily practicable, but would have been attended with serious consequences to the enemy; but, to my surprise and dissatisfaction, I received, on the 17th of July, from General Banks, a report that General Hatch had taken with him infantry, artillery, and trains of wagons, and that, in consequence of bad roads, he had at that date only succeeded in going as far as Madison Court-House. Meantime, o the 16th of July, the advance of Jackson's forces under Ewell had reached Gordonsville, and the proposed movements ar ordered became impracticable. No satisfactory explanation has ever been made to me of this departure from my orders on the part of General Hatch. Finding it no longer practicable to occupy Gordonsville as I had designed, I sent orders to General Banks to direct General Hatch to select from his own cavalry and that of General McDowell, which I had sent forward, 1,500 to 2,000 of the best mounted men, and to proceed from Madison Court-House around the west side of the Blue Ridge to a point whence he could make an easy descent upon the railroad west of Gordonsville, and, if successful, to push forward to Charlottesville, and, if possible, destroy the railroad between that place and Lynchburg. In compliance with this order, General Hatch commenced to make the movement as directed, but abandoned it soon after he started, and returned by the way of Sperryville to his post. As soon as I had received the report of this second failure I relieved General Hatch from the command of the cavalry of General Banks' corps, and sent Brigadier-General Buford to report to General Banks as the chief of cavalry of his corps.
On the 29th of July I left Washington, and after reviewing Ricketts' division, of McDowell's corps, at Waterloo Bridge, repaired to the headquarters of General Banks, a few miles southeast of Little Washington. All preparations having been completed, I instructed General Banks to move forward on the 7th of August and take post at the point where the turnpike from Sperryville to Culpeper crosses Hazel River. General McDowell was ordered on the day previous to move forward with Ricketts' division from Waterloo Bridge to Culpeper, Court-House, so that on the 7th of August all the infantry and artillery forces of the Army of Virginia were assembled along the turnpike from Sperryville to Culpeper, and numbered about 28,500 men. King's division, as I have before stated, was left on the Lower Rappahannock, opposite Fredericksburg, and was not then available for active operations in the direction of Gordonsville.
The cavalry forces covering the front of the army on that day were distributed as follows: General Buford, with five regiments, was posted at Madison Court-House, with his pickets along the line of the Rapidan from Barnett's Ford as far west as the Blue Ridge. General Sigel had been directed to post a brigade of infantry and a battery of artillery at the point where the road from Madison Court-House to Sperryville crosses Robertson's River, as a support to the cavalry of General Buford in front of him. General Bayard, with four regiments of cavalry, was posted near Rapidan Station, the point where the Orange and Alexandria road crosses Rapidan River, with his pickets extended as far to the east as Raccoon Ford, and connecting with General Buford on his right at Barnett's Ford. From Raccoon Ford to the forks of the Rappahan-