while the remainder kept on the enemy's right flank, opened on his column at Wilderness Tavern, delaying his march until 12 m., causing several regiments of infantry to deploy in line of battle to meet us. Hearing that the enemy had already reached Chancellorsville by the Ely's Ford road, I directed my march by Todd's Tavern for Spotsylvania Court-House. Night overtook us at Todd's Tavern, and, anxious to know what the commanding general desired me to do further, I left the command to bivouac here, and proceeded with my staff toward his headquarters, near Fredericksburg, but had not proceeded a mile before we found ourselves confronted by a party of the enemy, double our own, directly in our path. I sent back hastily for a regiment, which, coming up (Fifth Virginia Cavalry, Colonel [T. L.] Rosser), attacked and routed the party, but in the meantime another body of the enemy's cavalry came in rear of the Fifth. Receiving notice of this, I gave orders to withdraw the Fifth from the road, and sent for the brigade to push on at once. This was done, and by the bright moonlight a series of charges routed and scattered this expedition, which had penetrated to within a mile or two of Spotsylvania Court-House. It has been since ascertained that this expedition was by no means an insignificant affair, and but for the timely arrival of this cavalry on the spot, and its prompt and vigorous action, might have resulted disastrously. Artillery as well as trains were passing Spotsylvania unprotected at the time. With very little rest, without waiting for rations or forage, this noble little brigade, under its incomparable leader, were in the saddle early the next morning, and moving on Jackson's left flank during the entire day (May 1), swinging around to the left to threaten the enemy's rear.
On the morning of May 2, the cavalry of this brigade was disposed so as to clear Jackson's way in turning the enemy's right flank, and to cover the movement of this corps, masking it on its right flank. This was done most successfully, driving off the enemy's cavalry whenever it appeared, and enabled Jackson to surprise the enemy. In the subsequent operations attending the battle and the glorious victory the cavalry did most essential service in watching our flanks and holding the Ely's Ford road in the enemy's rear, Wickham and Owen being on the extreme right. The Horse Artillery kept pace with the infantry in the battle of the Wilderness, leading the attack of artillery.
Too much praise cannot be awarded the brave men who thus bore fatigue, hunger, loss of sleep, and danger without a murmur.
The operations of Brigadier General W. H. F. Lee, with his handful of men, are embraced in the memoranda furnished by him. His report is not only satisfactory, but gives evidence of sagacity and good conduct throughout, and of great efficiency on the part of his command. The result shows that the disposition made of these two commands was absolutely necessary. Jones' brigade was entirely out of reach, and Hampton was south of James River, recruiting. That Stoneman, with a large cavalry force, was allowed to penetrate into the heart of the State, though comparatively harmless in results, is due to the entire inadequacy in numbers of the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. The enemy has confronted us with at least three divisions of cavalry, more or less concentrated, which we oppose with one division, spread from the Chesapeake to the Alleghany; yet had not the approach of a battle below made it necessary to divide the force of the two Lees, I feel very confident that Stoneman's advance would have been prevented, though with great sacrifice of life, owing to disparity of numbers.
In this report I have endeavored to describe the various operations of the cavalry without detailing the results of the various contests.