After no little thought and some misgivings upon the subject, I determined to move the whole of my available force down to the river that right, and at daylight the next morning push them at all hazards for the south bank of the Rappahannock, myself, of course, seething the example, a prospect anything but cheering.
In the meantime I had received notice from General Pleasonton of his arrival at Morrisville with his division and his junction with Avarell, and I had pursed forward all the force with me but 500 men. At 4.45 p. m. I received the following order:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
February 26, 1863-12.30 p. m.
GENERAL: The major-general commanding directs that in case the enemy has recrossed the Rappahannock and are on the other side, you will return all your command to camp.
I respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General, Chief of Staff.
This was communicated to Generals Pleasonton and Averall, with instructions to carry it into effect after it had been ascertain beyond a doubt that "the enemy had crossed the river and was on the other side; " and subsequently receiving a note from General Pleasonton assuring me that there was no doubt about the enemy having crossed over that morning, I ordered the whole force to return at once to camp.
The movements of General Avarell, until I joined him near Hardwood, were made in accordance with instructions received from headquarters, and I presumed there was no delay.
The movements of Captain Cram, commanding Reserve Brigade, were extremely prompt and satisfactory. Those of General pleasonton were delayed, as he reports, by the non-arrival of the telegram directing him to push forward, through the two previous telegrams reached him with dispatch.
The number of killed, wounded, and missing; the number and description of horses and equipments of every kind lost and missing, as also of the forces engaged in the recent expedition against the enemy, being all in, and from the Second Division, are set forth in the report of General Averell, commanding that division.
The regiments of your letter of February 27 having been complied with, and this report being already sufficiently, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Corps.
Numbers 4. Itinerary of the Second Division, Cavalry Corps, command by Brigadier General William W. Averell, U. S. Army, for February, 1863.*
February 25.-The First Cavalry Brigade was organized; Co. A. N. Duffie, of the First Rhode Island Cavalry, was appointed to command. February 26.- In the evening, the pickets near Hardwood Church, in
* From "Record of Events," on return of the division.