so as to prevent the escape of the rebels within these limits. General Burnside was ordered to send two brigade to the Monocacy Crossing, there to remain in cars with steam up, ready to move to any point on the railroad to which Stuart might be aiming, while Colonel Rush, at Frederick, was directed to keep his Lancers scouting on the approaches from Chambersburg, so as to give timely notice to the commander of the two brigades at the Monocacy Crossing. General Stoneman, whose headquarters were then at Poolesville, occupying with his division the different fords on the river below the mouth of the Monocacy, was directed to keep his cavalry well out on the approaches from the direction of Frederick, so as to give him time to mass his troops at any point where the enemy might attempt to cross the Potomac in his vicinity. He was informed of General Pleasonton's movements.
After the orders were given for covering all the fords upon the river, I did not think it possible for Stuart to recross, and I believed that the capture or destruction of his entire force was perfectly certain; but, owing to the fact that my orders were not in all cases carried out as I expected, he expected his escape into Virginia without much loss.
The troops sent by General Burnside to the Monocacy, owing to some neglect in not giving the necessary orders to the commander, instead of remaining at the railroad crossing, as I directed, marched 4 miles into Frederick, and there remained until after Stuart had passed the railroad, only 6 miles below, near which point it was said he halted for breakfast.
General Pleasonton ascertained, after his arrival at Mechanicstown, that the enemy were only about an hour ahead of him, beating a hasty retreat toward the mouth of the Monocacy. He pushed on vigorously, and near its mouth overtook them with a part of his force, having marched 78 miles in twenty-four hours, and having left many of his horses broken down upon the road. He at once attacked with his artillery, and the firing continued for several hours, during which time he states that he received the support of a small portion of General Stoneman's command, not sufficient to inflict any material damage upon the enemy.
General Stoneman reports that, in accordance with his instructions, he gave all necessary orders for intercepting the return of the rebels, and Colonel Staples, commanding one of his brigades, states that he sent two regiments of infantry to the mouth of the Monocacy and one regiment to White's Ford; that on the morning of the 12th, about 10 o'clock, he, by General Stoneman's order, marched the remaining three regiments of his command from Poolesville toward the mouth of the Monocacy; that before getting into action he was relieved by General Ward who states that he reported to General Pleasonton with his command while the enemy was crossing the river, and was informed by him (General Pleasonton) that he was too late, and that nothing could be done then.
General Pleasonton, in his report of this affair, says:
It was at this time that Colonel Ward reported to me from General Stoneman's division, with a brigade of infantry, a regiment of cavalry, and a section of artillery. I told him that his command could be of no use, as the enemy had then crossed the river. These are the only troops that I knew of that were in that vicinity, and this was the first intimation I received that any troops were endeavoring to assist me in capturing the rebels. I succeeded in preventing the enemy from crossing at the mouth of the Monocacy, and drove him to White's Ford, 3 miles below. Had White's Ford been occupied by any force of ours previous to the time of the occupation by the enemy, the capture of Stuart's whole force would have been certain and inevitable. But with my small force, which did not exceed one-fourth of the enemy's, it was not practicable for me to occupy that ford while the enemy was in front.