and cover the return of Chamberlain. Lieutenant Walker returned to the pickets during last night with all his men, having had a brisk skirmish with about 40 rebels near Grove Church, doing them some damage, and afterward went to Ellis' Ford and toward Kelly's. I have not yet received his report, excepting that which he made to the officer commanding the pickets.
Major Chamberlain returned about 2 o'clock this morning, having accomplished the object of his reconnaissance with the exception of destroying the bridge, which he deemed would jeopardize his command. He, with a small portion of his command, put the rebels to flight near Elk Run and recaptured Lieutenant Maxwell, First Michigan Cavalry, and 2 men, who had been taken at Brentsville yesterday morning. The determination which the major evinced in this reconnaissance I consider very creditable. Lieutenant Maxwell was sent from Wolf Run Shoals on the 8th.
Colonel Sargent left Hartwood at 5 o'clock this morning, with orders to hunt up the rebel force which Major Chamberlain met at Elk Run, and bring them in if they are on this side of the river, or any rebels he could find.
There are scattered over the country between the right flank of the army and the railroad many young rebels, who assemble, mount, and form scouting parties at the shortest notice. Upon the approach of any superior force they are as suddenly transformed into idle, loitering citizens, without arms, and professing great ignorance of the country. If the major-general commanding approve, I will cause the arrest of all such that can be found between Brentsville and the Rappahannock. If I had 1,000 more cavalry I could keep a column constantly in motion beyond our right flank, which would have a tendency, together with the arrests referred to above, to render rebel raids less certain of success. I have now 600 men on picket duty and 500 scouting.
I inclose the report of Major Chamberlain. Reports from the pickets just received report all quiet.
The enemy, or some of the citizen (rebel) scouts, picked off two of my vedettes on the evening of the 8th, 10 p.m., near Hartwood.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. AVERELL,
Lieutenant Colonel JOS. DICKINSON,
Numbers 2. Report of Major Samuel E. Chamberlain, First Massachusetts Cavalry.
HDQRS. FIRST REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS CAVALRY,
Potomac Creek, Va., January 10, 1863.
By order of Brigadier General W. W. Averel, I left the camp of the First Cavalry Brigade at 8 a.m. on January 9 with a detachment of 100 men, 50 of the First Massachusetts Cavalry, under Lieuts. George Blagden and Edward A. Flint, and 50 of the Fifth Regiment of U. S. Regulars, under Lieutenants Mason and Montgomery, and proceeded to Hartwood Church. From there I took trails through the woods, which I followed until I arrived at Elk Run, where my advance guard encount-