War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0141 Chapter XXXVII. OPERATIONS IN SHENANDOAH VALLEY, VA.

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the entire party, which did not number more than 40 or 50 men. But, much to my disappointment, when they found all avenues of escape closed against them, they made direct for the river and swam their horses over. When I was informed of their crossing, I dashed to the river, but found all had crossed except 1, whom we captured.

In making this report, I would respectfully call your attention to the character of those men calling themselves "guides." In making the dispositions of the command in the above instance, I was guided wholly by the knowledge of the country obtained from the guides, and my whole object was to place the rebels between me and the river, which they told me was impassable, except at the fording points. I was informed also that their only means of escape was by the road which runs inland. In this, as well as many other instances, I discovered their ignorance of the country, and found that they were guided in a great measure by the information obtained from inhabitants of the place. The dictatorial manner they assume, and the responsibilities they take upon themselves, regardless of all orders, might very often defeat the objects of the commanding officer.

With some few worthy exceptions, I consider them a very irresponsible class of men.

I have the honor to remain, your obedient servant,

M. KERWIN,

Major Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Captain J. E. JACOBS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, First Brigade, Second Division.

Numbers 4. Report of Colonel Andrew T. McReynolds, First New York Cavalry, of skirmish at Berry's Ferry, Va.

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES, Berryville, Va., May 19, 1863.

CAPTAIN: The affair of the 16th, by the advance guard of the First New York, was more disastrous to the rebel party of Berry's Ferry than was at first realized. Out of the 22 rebels, 2 were killed, 5 wounded, and 10 captured; this, too, by 16 men of the First New York Cavalry. One of the killed was Captain W. W. Mead; he was shot from his horse and drowned in the river. I forward a document taken from his pocket, being the authority from the rebel Secretary of War to organize his company in White's battalion. Among the prisoners was a surgeon (First Virginia) and a lieutenant (Morgan).

If this gallant act had been performed by the men of General Stahel's command, or in Tennessee or Missouri, it would have been blazoned forth to the world in large capitals. Nothing more inspires soldiers than a knowledge that such conduct is appreciated. Lieutenant Vermilyea, who commanded the party, is entitled to all praise. The rebels lay in ambush, and permitted the party to pass them. The first introduction they had of their presence was a volley and the immediate formation in the rear on the road. Vermilyea's men instantly wheeled about, fired, and charged, with the results already reported.

I have the honor to be, captain, your obedient servant,

A. T. McREYNOLDS,

Colonel First New York Cavalry, Commanding.

Captain JOHN O. CRAVENS,

A. A. G., Second Div., Eighth Army Corps, Winchester, Va.