In conformity thereto, I moved on the afternoon of Tuesday, the 30th ultimo, with the three brigades of the division, under command of Colonel Johnson, of the Twenty-fifth New York; Colonel Sweitzer, of the Sixty-second Pennsylvania, and Lieutenant-Colonel Weeks, of the Fourth Michigan Regiment, and First Regiment U. S. Sharpshooters, under the command of Colonel Berdan,and a battery of the Fifth U. S. Artillery, under the command of Lieutenant Rittenhouse. Upon arriving at Hartwood, a detachment of 100 cavalry from the Third Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the command of Lieutenant Boughman, was added to the force by orders of Brigadier-General Averell.
I immediately detached the Second Brigade, Colonel Sweitzer, and the battery to proceed on the road to Morrisville, to encamp at Deep Creek, and to proceed early on the following morning to take position at Morrisville, and to await there further orders from myself or from General Averell.
The First and Third Brigades, with the sharpshooters and the cavalry detachment, continued on the road leading to Richards' Ford, over the northern branch of the Rappahannock River, and bivouacked for the night about three-fourths of a mile from the ford.
After reconnoitering the approached of the ford, I directed that the sharpshooters should take position at daybreak upon the high bank of the river at that place, overlooking the ford and commanding completely the crossing and the approaches on the opposite side of the river, where the enemy's pickets were stationed, their reserve occupying a house near the river. I had been led to expect an infantry picket, with probably a piece of artillery; but satisfying myself that there was no other force there than some 8 or 10 mounted pickets, I directed a detachment of 50 of the cavalry and three companies of the sharpshooters and the First Brigade, under Colonel Johnson, to cross the ford, which was promptly done. The enemy's pickets commenced to fire upon the head of the column, but were immediately driven from their position by the fire of the sharpshooters, who had been previously well posted for that purpose. The cavalry pushed rapidly over, but not in season to capture the pickets, who had fled before they had half crossed the river. They were pursued for some distance, and escaped into the woods about a mile distant.
I regret to state, in this connection, that one of the females living in the house occupied by the pickets, and from which they commenced to fire upon our advance, was wounded by the returning fire of the sharpshooters. I directed the medical director of the division to attend her, who applied all the assistance that the case required or admitted. The remaining force soon passed the ford, was drawn up in order on the opposite shore, and, preceded by a detachment of 10 of the cavalry as vedettes, and sharpshooters as skirmishers, and as rear guard from the Second Maine Regiment, and skirmishers on the flanks of the column, the column commenced moving toward Ellis' Ford, a distance supposed to have been 3 1/2 miles, but which proved to be between 6 and 7 miles.
Mounted pickets belonging to the First South Carolina Cavalry were stationed along the road, who retired as the column advanced, occasionally turning and firing, but the prompt charges of the cavalry in advance of the column dispersed them without difficulty, although their numbers were three or four times our own. In this way the column proceeded to Ellis' Ford without any other conflict than that which was constantly occupying the advanced cavalry. In these skirmishes we succeeded in capturing two of the enemy's pickets, with their horses; but one of the horses, being wounded, was left behind.