War of the Rebellion: Serial 018 Page 0215 Chapter XXIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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WAR DEPARTMENT,

May 23, 1862-11.30 p. m.

General McDOWELL:

General Banks' dispatch informs you that the guard (First Maryland) at Front Royal has been forced back on Middletown; General Geary's, that the railroad is threatened.

Colonel McCallum has been directed to have his means of transportation ready in the morning; General Duryea to prepare a regiment to be ready to move to Thoroughfare Gap with rations if ordered; General Cix to collet transportation to re-enforce Shenandoah, via Harper's Ferry and Winchester, to hold his spare force in readiness to moves, and to report how much he can spare; General Wadsworth to be ready to move. No movement to be actually made until arrival of the Secretary of War. He gives the order.

P. H. WATSON,

Assistant Secretary of War.

RECTORTOWN, May 23, 1862.

(Received 9.50 p. m.)

Honorable P. H. WATSON, Assistant Secretary of War:

SIR: We have heard firing since 1.30 this afternoon from the direction of Strasburg, and apparently between that place and the river, as near as I can judge. Our communication by telegraph is cut off both with Strasburg and Front Royal at some point near the latter place. There are still bodies of rebel cavalry south of us, and I have no doubt they are supported by infantry. If my position be attacked, I will hold it to the last extremity.

Respectfully,

JNO. W. GEARY,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

RECTORTOWN, May 23, 1862.

(Received 10 p. m.)

Honorable P. H. WATSON, Assistant Secretary of War:

We have information that the enemy design attacking various points of this road in large bodies, and that they intend to attempt to seize Thoroughfare Gap and hold it. It is a very strong point also for the purpose of cutting off the retreat of the troops now upon this line. I think that point should be strongly re-enforced without delay. If it be found they will not be needed they can be readily withdrawn. I will keep you advised.

JNO. W. GEARY,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

WAR DEPARTMENT,

May 23, 1862-10.15.

Brigadier General JOHN W. GEARY, Rectortown, Va.:

The Secretary of War not in town. Can you make any movement in time to aid General Banks, either with or without re-enforcements?

P. H. WATSON,

Assistant Secretary of War.