pahanock, who directed Lieutenant-Colonel Doster, Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, with 290 men, to start from Mouth Holly Church at 4 a. m. on the 17th instant, and drive the enemy's pickets toward Rappahannock Station; to go thence to Bealeton, and, finally, to station himself at Morgansburg and communicate with a picket with would be established at Elk Run with Curtis' force at Morrisville. These orders were excepted, and the enemy driven out of that section.
At 4 a. m. I set out from Morrisville with a command of about 2,100 men, made up as follows: From the First Brigade, Second Division, Colonel Duffie, 775; from the Second Brigade, Second Division, Colonel McIntosh, 565; from the Reserve Brigade, Captain Reno, 760, and the Sixth Independent New York Battery, Lieutenant Browne commanding. Kelly's Ford was selected for the crossing, because the opposite country was better known to me than that beyond any other ford, and it afforded the shortest route to the enemy's camp.
The head of my column arrived at the ford at 8 a. m. The crossing was found abstracted by fallen trees, forming an abatis upon both banks, which, defended by 80 sharpshooters, covered by rifle-pits and houses on the opposite bank, rendered the crossing difficult. Two squadrons were dismounted and advanced under shelter of an empty mill-range or canal, which runs near the bank of the river, whence a brisk fire was at once opened, under which an attempt was made to cross by the advance, which failed. Two subsequent attempts of the pioneers met with the same fate. During this time a crossing was attempted one-fourth of a mile below, but it was found impracticable, owing to the depth of the stream and the precipitous character of the banks. After half an hour had passed in endeavors to cross, my chief of staff, Major S. E. Chamberlain, who had immediate charge of the operations at the crossing, selected a party of 20 men, and placed them under the command of Lieutenant Brown, First Rhode Island Cavalry, with orders to cross the river and return. Lieutenant Brown obeyed his orders; the abatis was passed, and 25 of the enemy were captured.
Two pieces of the battery had been unlimbered, but I hesitated to open then until all other means should fail, as I did not care to give the enemy sufficient warning of my advance to brig him to attack me while astride the stream.
The First Brigade was immediately crossed and placed in position,
followed by two pieces; then the Second Brigade, the remainder of the battery, and the reserve. The stream has a very rapid current at the ford, and was about 4 feet 5 inches deep. The ammunition was taken out of the limbers and carried over in nose-bags by the cavalry.
The crossing was not effected without loss. My chief of stall, Major Chamberlain, fell with a dangerous wound in the head; Lieutenant [John P.] Domingo, Fourth New York Cavalry, was seriously wounded, and Lieutenant [Henry L.] Nicolai, First Island Cavalry, killed; 2 men killed, and 5 wounded; 15 horses killed an wounded.
My command was drawn up so as to meet the enemy in every direction as fast as it crossed, and pickets packets pushed out on the roads running from the ford.
From what I had learned of Lee's position, and from what I knew personally of his character, I expected him to meet me on the road to his camp, and I could not object to such a proceeding, as it would not make it necessary for me to march so far to a fight. My horses would be fresher and the chances of battle be more nearly equalized.
The horses of my command were watered by squadrons, and at 12 m. I moved on, with the First Brigade in advance. Looking toward