War of the Rebellion: Serial 028 Page 0087 Chapter XXXI. RECONNAISSANCE TO SMITHFIELD, ETC.

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out a line skirmishers; then Gregory's infantry, Alexander's infantry forming the rear of the column and furnishing the rear guard of infantry. A squadron of cavalry brought up the rear of all. Two pieces of artillery were at the head of Gregory's column, and two at that of Alexander's.

A mile and a half beyond Kearneysville the enemy's cavalry, supported by artillery, appeared in very strong force in our right flank, their skirmishers exchanging shots with ours, and their artillery opening upon us. I had now been ascertained, with tolerable certainty, that their cavalry forced in that vicinity was not less than 7,000 strong (two brigades, of six regiments each-Lee's and Ashby's), with at least six pieces of artillery.

There had been ample time to bring up additional infantry from Bunker Hill, not more than 11 miles from us. The last road leading to Charlestown (8 miles distant), before reaching Leetown, branched at this place. For a time it appeared to me doubtful whether it was not better to halt my infantry at this point, and endeavor to advance my small force of cavalry, with two pieces of artillery (the gunners mounted for the occasion on cavalry horses), to Smithfield, and allow them to return by way of Charlestown and Harper's Ferry; but, upon further consideration, I determined to advance with my whole force to Leetown, if possible, since I could best learn in that way whether heavy infantry re-enforcements had been thrown forward from Bunker Hill; and should it prove to be so, the fact would be positively ascertained that the enemy's army still occupied its old position, or, at least, had not fallen back. With a small force of cavalry as skirmishers in front, followed by a line of infantry skirmishers, the regular brigade in the order of battle (two pieces of artillery in its center), the rest of the command in the order heretofore stated, and the main body of cavalry on the flank, near the column of infantry, we advanced without further opposition to Leetown, the enemy falling back as we advanced. Here, establishing the infantry and artillery in the fine position which the ground afforced, I accepter the proposition of Major Curtis to take 25 of his men and proceed rapidly to Smithfield, between 4 and 5 miles distant. I did this because I deemed it injudicious to attempt to send forward the whole body of cavalry in the face of the enemy's powerful force of that arm. Major Curtis accomplished the undertaking in a handsome manner. Avoiding the road until within 2 miles of Smithfield, he escaped the observation of the enemy's cavalry, who watched the main body of troops. He drove a party of cavalry into Smithfield, and returned within the time promised-two hours. My instructions had now been fulfilled, and the objects of the reconnaissance had been

accomplished. It had been ascertained that the enemy's cavalry, under command of General Stuart, occupy Martinsburg and the crossing of the Opequon by the roads to that town from Shepherdstown and Leetown, having strong outposts close up to Shepherdstown;that there is probably some infantry at Strider's Mill (leetown crossing of the Opequon), and that the left of the enemy's army, commanded by General Longstreet, rested on Bunker Hill.

Half an hour before the return of Curtis, I received directions to return to my camp, near Sharpsburg, the object of the reconnaissance having, it was understood, been accomplished also instructed to fall back simultaneously with General Hancock. I had

been in communication with that day, and already informed him of the hour (2 p. m.) when I should commence the return march, and soon