War of the Rebellion: Serial 018 Page 0262 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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ahead on the two roads leading from here to Winchester and Martinsburg, each to be followed by a stronger party, and that in turn by a still stronger party, supported by two light guns. If the first party meets an enemy too strong to encounter it will fall back to the second, and both if need be to the third. By means of such a scouting party as this we can ascertain the force and position of the enemy if there be one within a day's march. I shall further direct the Martinsburg branch of the scout to establish a communication with Banks in case no enemy is met, and they will take out with them an operator on the telegraph line to re-establish communication with places westward in case the enemy is not there, so that the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad may at once be reopened. After these things are arranged I shall leave for Washington, unless otherwise ordered by you. Owing to an interruption in the telegraph circuit, an hour has elapsed since I began this dispatch. It is now 3 o'clock in the morning.

P. H. WATSON,

Assistant Secretary of War.

HARPER'S FERRY, VA.,

May 27, 1862.

Honorable E. M. STANTON:

Colonel Strother and Colonel Clark, from Banks' command at Williamsport, state that the infantry and transportation horses are so badly fatigued that it will be a day or two before they can move again; that his cavalry, 1,500 strong, is in good condition. It ought to scout the country toward Martinsburg and take possession of that place at once, and General Banks ought to return to that point immediately. In this neighborhood there is no force of the enemy, but a few squads of the enemy's light horse, whose families live here, have taken advantage of the general panic to revisit their homes. The forces sent here seem to be very deficient in officers. The one hundred and second New York, which arrived this morning, had its colonel - Hayward - but neither lieutenant-colonel, major, quartermaster, nor commissary, these officers being on furlough. It would add greatly to the efficiency of our forces of every officer was at once ordered to join his regiment, unless unable to bear arms by reason of physical disability. The forces here have no intrenching tools, neither have they shelter or other tents sufficient for their protection from the dews, which are heavy, and exposures to which generate miasmatic diseases of a very obstinate and malignant type. If these forces should move up the valley to join Banks they will want transportation. I leave in an hour for Washington.

P. H. WATSON,

Assistant Secretary of War.

HARPER'S FERRY, May 27, 1862.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

From all information received think the enemy east side of Blue Ridge via Front Royal, leaving small bodies of cavalry to retire on our approach. They certainly left Winchester on Sunday, by different routes, after the battle, their cavalry and artillery to