DECEMBER 1, 1882.-Reconnaissance to Grove Church, near Hartwood, Va.
Report of Brigadier General William W. Averell, U. S. Army.
NEAR HARTWOOD, December 1, 1862-6 p.m.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to instructions received from the major-general commanding, this morning I proceeded with two regiments of cavalry to this place, where I arrived at 10.20.
Sending a party of 1 officer and 20 men from Hartwood Church, along the Marsh road, to the crossing of Deep Run, in order to attract the attention of the enemy to that point, I started with my main body up the Warrenton road toward Spotted Tavern. After going 3 miles, turned to the left, taking an obscure road, which led to the Marsh road near Grove Church. This by-road is about 3 1/2 miles long. When about half way across, we came upon a scouting party of 3 men, well mounted, who were pursued at full speed by the advanced guard, the column following rapidly, expecting to come upon a camp of the enemy. The Marsh road was soon reached, at a point half a mile this side [east]. One of the scouts, a very intelligent man, named Stone, was captured, and we pushed on at once to Grove Church and beyond, toward Morrisville, without hearing anything or discovering any traces of the enemy. There is no camp at Grove Church, and has not been recently. General Hampton encamped this side of there last Thursday night, but has since recrossed the Rappahannock. I was above Ellis' Ford, and one of my officers and some of my men, who had been there, described the crossing as deep and uncertain. Barnett's Ford, more commonly known, I think, as Skinner's, is also a bad crossing; but Kelly's, 9 miles above, is said to be excellent.
The prisoner states that there is nothing this side of the river, as far as Kelly's Mill Ford, except small scouting parties like his. He says that there is an impression among the rebels that our army is about to cross the Rappahannock above Ellis' Ford. He belongs to a company of confidential scouts; knows all the generals of the rebels; is a sharp fellow, of some Mexican was experience. He says he was sent out to ascertain if our infantry were in motion in that direction. It is not improbable that General Hampton will take a look at us to-morrow morning. I shall wait to give him a chance, and then return to camp if the general has not further orders for me. This prisoner says that they have a system of signals, established by men on horseback, so that information is conveyed very rapidly. I shall organize something similar to that in this vicinity.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. AVERELL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Center Grand Division.