this perilous position, which he finally succeeded in doing, rejoining the command as the rear was crossing at Selectman's Ford.
The manner in which Colonel Butler brought his command out safe from this critical situation reflects great credit upon his coolness and presence of mind. His loss was 2 men wounded and several horses shot. The command he encountered proved to be Geary's division, moving from Fairfax to the support of the troops at Dumfries. General Hampton went with a portion of his brigade down toward Accotink, while the main body moved across toward Burke's Station. He encountered the enemy and put them to flight, but did not pursue far on account of the darkness, returning and bringing up the rear of the column. The head of the column reached Burke's Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, after dark. A party was sent noiselessly to the telegraph office, and took possession without the operators having a chance to give the alarm. Having an operator of my own, I was enabled to detect what preparations had been made for my reception, the alarm of my approach having already reached Washington, and dispatches were passing over the wires between General [S. P.] Heintzelman and the commanding officer at Fairfax Station. I sent some messages to General [M. C.] Meigs, Quartermaster-[General] U. S. Army, in reference, to the bad quality of the mulse lately furnished, which interfered seriously with our moving the captured wagons. I also detached Brigadier General Fitz. Lee, with Surgeon [J. B.] Fontaine, Lieutenant John Lee, and 10 men, to move down the railroad and set fire to the large bridge over the Accotink and rejoin us on the Little River turnpike. This was successfully accomplished, and, striking across toward the Little River turnpike to overtake his command, Brigadier General Fitz. Lee and his party captured a picket, consisting of a lieutenant and 3 men. I had proceeded from Burke's Station toward the Little River turnpike, where, halting the rest of the command, I advanced with Fitz. Lee's brigade toward Fairfax Court-House, with the view, if practicable, of surprising and capturing the place. On approaching, we were saluted with a heavy volley from the enemy's infantry, posted in their breastwork and in the woods near the road. Keeping up the appearance of attack, the rear of the column, turning to the right, continued its march by way of Vienna toward Frying Pan, near which latter point I halted about dawn and fed and rested some hours. Nothing further having occurred, the command proceeded from Frying Pan to Middleburg, from which point Colonel [T. L.] Rosser, with a detachment of 15 men, proceeded by way of Snicker's Gap into the valley, and, capturing the enemy's picket near Leetown, penetrated within their lines and ascertained the strength and positions of the forces in that region, returning by way of Ashby's Gap, without losing a man. From Middleburg the command returned by easy marches via Warrenton to Culpeper Court-House, which place was reached on December 31, and I returned to my headquarters, near Fredericksburg, on January 1, the different brigades resuming their former position.
About December 30, a portion of Sigel's corps crossed the Rappahannock at Ellis' Ford, and returned by the same route to Stafford on the next day without accomplishing any damage to us.
In this expedition my loss was slight in point of numbers. Brigadier General W. H. F. Lee's loss has been stated. General Hampton lost 3 men wounded. Brigadier General Fitz. Lee's was heavier. Captain [J. W.] Bullock was killed and Lieutenant-Colonel Watts and 8 men wounded. I have already spoken of the deep regret I experienced, in common with the whole command, at the loss of Captain Bullock.