JANUARY 8-10, 1863.-Expedition from Suffolk toward the Blackwater, Va.
Report of Colonel Samuel P. Spear, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry.*
HDQRS. ELEVENTH PENNSYLVANIA, VOL. CAVALRY, Camp Suffolk, Va., January 12, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit the following report of the reconnaissance made by me, in obedience to instructions dated Headquarters, Suffolk, Va., January 7, 1863:
I left Suffolk on the morning of the 8th instant in command of the following force, viz: Howard's battery, six pieces; the One hundred and fifty-fifth, One hundred and twelfth, and One hundred and thirtieth New York Volunteers; the One hundred and sixty-fifth Pennsylvania Militia, and 600 of my own regiment (Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry), ambulances, &c., for the purpose of protecting General Ferry's embarkation on the river Chowan, some 37 miles from Suffolk. I encamped on the night of the 8th near Holland's Corners.
Next morning I started toward Carrsville, as the spirit of my instructions was such as to "leave much to my discretion," relative to the approach of the enemy from any quarter. At Carrsville I received valuable information from Mr. Whitehead, which afterwards proved to be correct, that Pryor was down in the vicinity of Barber's Cross-Roads with a large force. I at once got into position, supposing that my presence toward Somerton would no longer toward Somerton would no longer be necessary. After remaining here for about an hour a dispatch war received ordering me at once to Somerton (as per original instructions). I obeyed the order, countermarched, and had proceeded to the Quaker Church, on the Somerton road, when another dispatch was received directing re-enforcements to report to me, and Major Samuel Wetherill, with three companies of cavalry and the One hundred and sixty-fourth New York Volunteers, reported.
I encamped at the Quaker Church, and the next morning the Thirteenth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Dobbs, reported, when, according to the dispatch, I proceeded with the entire force to Blanchard's Corners; thence to McClenna's Station; thence, via Deserted House, Western Branch Church, &c., to Windsor. At Windsor my advance, commanded by Lieutenant John L. Roper, captured a dispatch, directed to General R. A. Pryor, in the hands of two Confederate cavalry. These prisoners, with their horses, were immediately sent to headquarters, and I will here remark that great credit is due to Lieutenant Roper for his prompt, energetic, and faithful performance of the important duty of leading the advance of such a large body of troops.
At this point (Windsor) I sent out detachments of cavalry in every direction to ascertain the direction of the enemy, and in about one hour discovered that he had retired on the road direct to Carrsville, passing over the same ground I occupied the previous day, and crossed the river at Franklin with his wagons, stores, troops, &c. I found Mr. Whitehead's information, relative to the strength and location of the enemy, to be correct, and was of the following strength, viz: Fourteen pieces of artillery, 1,500 to 2,000 cavalry, and about 6,000 infantry. I have put this at the lowest estimate; some have estimated his strength at 12,000 men, consisting of all arms.
At Windsor I encamped on the same ground occupied by Pryor the day previous, and sent a dispatch to headquarters for rations, forage,
*See also Perk to Dix, January 10, in "Correspondence, etc."