HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, April 12, 1863.
Major General GEORGE STONEMAN,
GENERAL: I am directed by the major-general commanding to inform you that you will march at 7 a.m. on the 13th instant, with all your available force except one brigade, for the purpose of turning the enemy's position on his left, and of throwing your command between him and Richmond, and isolating him from his supplies, checking his retreat, and inflicting on him every possible injury which will tend to his discomfiture and defeat. To accomplish this, the general suggests that you ascend the Rappahannock by the different routes, keeping well out of the view of the enemy, throwing out well to the front and flank small parties to mask your movement and to cut off all communications with the enemy by the people, in their interests, living on this side of the river, To divert suspicion, it may not be amiss to have word given out that you are in pursuit of [W. E.] Jones' guerrillas, as they are operating extensively in the Shenandoah Valley, in the direction of Winchester.
We further suggest that you select for you place of crossing the Rappahannock some point to the west of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, which can only be determined by the circumstances as they are found on the arrival of your advance. In the vicinity of Culpeper you will be likely to come against Fitzhugh Lee's brigade of cavalry, consisting of about 2,000 men, which it is expected that you will be able to disperse and destroy without delay to your advance or detriment to any considerable number of your command.
At Gordonville the enemy had a small provost-guard of infantry, which it is expected you will destroy, if it can be done without delaying your forward movement. From there it is expected that you will be able to push forward to the Aquia and Richmond Railroad, somewhere in the vicinity of Saxton's Junction, destroying along your whole route the railroad bridges, trains, cars, depots of provisions, lines of telegraphic communications, &c. The general directs that you go prepared with all the means necessary to accomplish this work effectually. As the line of the railroad from Aquia to Richmond presents the shortest one for the enemy to retire on, it is more than probable that the enemy may avail himself of it and the usually traveled highways on each side of it for this purpose, in which event you will select the strongest positions, such as the banks of streams, commanding heights, &c., in order to check or prevent it, and, if unsuccessful, you will fall upon his flanks, attack his artillery and trains, and harass and delay him until he is exhausted and out of supplies. Moments of delay will be hours and days to the army in pursuit. If the enemy should retire by Culpeper and Gordonsville, you will endeavor to hold your force in his front, and harass him day and night on the march and in camp unceasingly. If you cannot cut off from his columns large slices, the watchword be fight, and let all your orders be fight, fight, fight, bearing in mind that time is as valuable to the general as the rebel carcasses. It is not in the power of the rebels to oppose you with more than 5,000 sabers, and those badly mounted, and, after they leave Culpeper, without forage or rations, keep them from Richmond, and, sooner or later, they must fall in our hands.
The general desires you to understand that he considers the primary object of your movement the cutting of the enemy's connections with