Numbers 5. Report of Brigadier General John J. Abercrombie, U. S. Army, commanding division.
HEADQUARTERS, Arlington, Va., December 30, 1862.
GENERAL: In obedience to instructions from your headquarters, I detached six regiments of my command and two light batteries to occupy the position, viz: Three regiments and a battery of six pieces, under the immediate command of Colonel Gurney, to Annandale, and three regiments and a battery of four pieces from Minor's Hill, under the immediate command of General Cowdin, to a point half way between Falls Church and Fairfax Court-House. These commands arrived at their points of destination, respectively, about two hours before day.
I proceeded with five companies of Colonel Swain's cavalry, under Major Wilkeson, from Arlington, and arrived about the same hour with the troops. I found a small detachment of cavalry under Captain Urquhart, and intelligent officer, who occupied Annandale as a picket station, and from whom I received important information and assistance in the way of guides, &c. Having made the best disposition I could to guard against surprise or an attack early in the morning, I prepared mounted detachments to proceed at dawn of day in every direction where it would be practicable for the enemy to move, with a view of ascertaining, with some degree of certainty, the movements and position of the rebels. Previous to my arrival, Captain Urquhart sent a small party, at about 11 p.m., up the Little River turnpike, which came in contact with a heavy force of General Stuart's cavalry rapidly moving along a wooded road in the direction of Vienna. The officer commanding the party was, no doubt, taken prisoner, as his horse returned without him. Owing to the darkness, the men escaped, some without their horses, and from this party I learned the enemy were moving rapidly in the direction of Vienna. As soon as the intelligence was received I dispatched a squadron of cavalry, under Captain Mix, of Scott's Nine Hundred, to follow up in the direction the rebels were pursuing, with a view of gaining further information. A part of the squadron returned in a few hours with guns, sabers, and 5 of the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, picked up in the woods by a part of Captain Urquhart's party. Between 3 and 4 p.m. the squadron had all got back, having followed the enemy up to within half a mile of Vienna, where it was ascertained they arrived about 2 a.m., and from 800 to 1,000 strong. During the day the other parties came in, one from Burke's Station, and another from Pohican, reporting no enemy or the slightest evidence of one to be seen.
At 4 p.m., in obedience to orders, Defenses of Washington, I dispatched all my cavalry in pursuit of the rebels toward Hunter's Mills. At about 6 o'clock Major Taggart joined me with three companies of cavalry. He had been stationed at Dranesville, and, in attempting to reach Annandale, had met Stuart's cavalry at Frying Pan. I ordered him to join Major Wilkeson, with Swain's cavalry, at Vienna, whither they had gone in pursuit of the enemy. No report has been received from them as yet, and I suppose they are still in pursuit of the enemy.
During the evening I returned with my infantry and artillery to their positions at Minor's and Upton's Hills. If, as reported 6,000 men with cavalry crossed at Wolf Run Shoals, I do not think they all retired by way of Vienna. That party appeared to be about 1,000 strong.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. J. ABERCROMBIE,
General HEINTZELMAN, Headquarters Defenses of Washington.