regarding coal depots, &c. Captain Magaw will remain in command of the Rappahannock until further orders. Please to inform me as far as you know of any recent movements of the gunboats to this date. Are they still at Port Royal or lower down? Have you received any communications from Captain Magaw? I await your answer.
The Freeborn will leave for the Rappahannock some time to-night; she is now here. Will you please send the inclosed* over to Captain Magaw, in order that he may have a vessel ready to meet the Freeborn at the mouth? She has no pilot.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. P. McCREA,
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY BRIGADE, December 7, 1862.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: My pickets captured, yesterday evening, Lieutenant [T. H. B.] Randolph, chief of artillery to General Pemberton.+ This shows the rebels have brought up troops from the southwest. Pemberton's troops must be those near Port Royal, as it was in that vicinity this officer was taken. The two deserters I sent to provost-marshal-general I hear have had passes given them to go to Westmoreland County. Westmoreland County is below us, and out of our lines, and I think this is a dangerous precedent to establish with the two armies facing each other. The river is frozen at Belle Plain this morning. No hay and very little grain.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST CAVALRY BRIGADE,
Sunday, December 7, 1862.
Lieutenant Colonel JOS. DICKINSON,
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that two scouts, sent out from this brigade on the evening of the 5th instant, returned at daylight this morning to our lines, and report as follows:
Left Hartwood Church after dark night before last, and traveled all night, all day yesterday, and last night; on account of the storm, were compelled to go slowly. Went to Grove Church by Telegraph road; thence to Ellis' Ford. Saw camp fires on the other side. We passed for Texas Rangers, and were treated by the citizens very kindly. They told us that the left of our (the rebel) army was opposite Ellis' Ford; that there was nothing above, excepting Hampton's Legion, with a battery at Kelly's Ford. We then went by a wood road, about 5 miles, to Kelly's Ford. Saw about a company on the other bank on picket; appeared to be infantry. Could see camp fires beyond in the woods. Left the ford at daylight yesterday morning; came about 10 miles, out to the Telegraph road, crossed it, and went north 5 or 6 miles, to a mill where a widow woman lives. General Hampton came over on Monday, with three regiments and a battery, and camped near this mill; went back on Tuesday. WE were told that there were some of our (the rebel) camps on this side of the Rappahannock. We came out on the ridge road, and returned. The roads are very bad.
The scouts which left here night before last, to go on the Poplar road, returned also last night, and report that they went out 10 miles toward Warrenton Junction, and thence north toward Bristoe about 10 miles,
+On Pendleton's staff.