thence to Raccoon Ford, which, to our great joy, we found fordable, and were all over safe by daylight on the morning of the 7th.
Added to the severe duty performed by the command previous to its return, the men had been almost constantly in the saddle for two nights and a day, and we were all wet, cold, tired, and hungry.
The horses were unsaddled and fed with what little forage we had on hand; the men permitted to build fires and cook whatever meat and meal they might still possess, and to rest until 10 a.m., when we again started for Kelly's Ford, where the head of the column arrived about 9 p.m., but to find the Rappahannock swollen and swimming, and to learn for a certainty that the Army of the Potomac was in its old camp.
The command all came up during the night, and daylight of the 8th disclosed to us the cheering fact that we could cross the river by swimming not over 20 yards. We immediately began the crossing, which was completed before dark, and, with great care, succeeded in getting everybody over except 1 man and 5 or 6 horses lost-drowned. Many men were washed off, but all except 1 reached the bank and were saved.
That night we moved to Bealeton Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, where we found supplies for man and beast.
On the 9th, we lay by to rest and receive our supplies from Alexandria.
On the 10th, leaving one squadron to picket the railroad from Rappahannock Station to Cedar Run, as directed, we marched to Deep Run, and on the 11th, leaving Buford's reserve brigade to guard the Rappahannock River from the railroad to Falmouth, in accordance with orders to that effect from headquarters Army of the Potomac, corps headquarters and what remained of Gregg's division reached this point, where we are now encamped.
Six pieces of artillery, under the command of that very able artillery officer, Captain J. M. Robertson, accompanied the expedition, and for a history of its operations I must refer to the report of the captain, herewith annexed, merely adding that I believe it has accomplished on this trip what no other battery in the world could have performed, and for which the officers and men of the battery deserve the highest praise and have my most heartfelt thanks.
To sum up the results of our operations, we moved in the direction of Raccoon Ford and Louisa Court-House, and instead of finding a small provost-guard at Gordonsville, we found there a strong force of all arms. We destroyed along the railroad [Virginia Central], from Gordonsville eastward, all the railroad bridges, trains, cars, depots of provisions, lines of telegraphic communication, &c, for 18 miles, and from there we moved by forced marches to strike and destroy the line of the Aquia and Richmond Railroad, which, as the accompanying reports will show, was effectually done, and which destruction, according to the Richmond papers, was not repaired and communication opened six days afterward.
The desire of the commanding general that I should "understand that he considers the primary object of our [my] movement the cutting of the enemy's communications with Richmond by the Fredericksburg route, checking his retreat over those lines, and he wishes to make everything subservient to that object," was fully complied with and carried out, as not only the railroad bridges on the two railroads leading out from Richmond northward were destroyed, but all the road bridges across the South Anna and several across the North Anna were completely destroyed, placing a ditch, fordable only in a very few places, between the enemy and Richmond. Had not my force been divided, and had I been permitted to take with me the whole command with which