since leaving the main body of the Cavalry Corps on the South Anna, on the morning of Sunday last:
My orders were to penetrate to the Fredericksburg Railroad, and, if possible, to the Virginia Central, and destroy communications. Should we cross the Virginia Central, I was to make for Williamsburg, said to be in the possession of our forces.
We marched before daybreak, passing down the bank of the South Anna, through a region never before occupied by our forces. We burned one bridge and dispersed a party of mounted guerrillas, who made a poor attempt to oppose us. We struck the first railway line at Ashland. Lieutenant Mitchell, with about a dozen men, was sent ahead to occupy the place. He dashed into the village, and took it without loss. There were but few of the enemy there, and they escaped us. We captured their arms, however, and destroyed them. Words cannot describe the astonishment of the inhabitants at our appearance. I assured them that no harm should be done their persons or property, and we soon became better acquainted. We cut the telegraph wire and tore up half a dozen rails, and, piling a quantity of boards in some trestle-work south of town, made an immense fire, which soon consumed the entire structure. While at this work, a train of cars approaching the town was captured and brought in for inspection. It proved to be an ambulance train of 7 cars from Fredericksburg, filled with 250 sick and wounded officers and soldiers, with a guard. Among them was an aide of Governor Letcher and several officers of considerable rank. We received their version of the late fight, and then paroled them and let them go leaving the cars for the benefit of the poor fellows who were more seriously injured. The engine and tender of the train, together with another found in the town, were rendered completely useless by a mechanic from the ranks. We found here a large stable, filled with Confederate horses and mules. Some of them we took with us, but were obliged to leave the most of them. We destroyed 20 wagons, with harness, &c.
We left Ashland at 6 p.m. A few miles from the town, word was brought us that a train of 18 wagons was encamped in the woods near by. I sent Captain Roden, with Companies B and C, to destroy them, which he did.
We struck the Central Railroad at Hanover Station about 8 p.m. Although wearied and exhausted by our day's labors, I thought it best to complete the duty assigned us, and break all the enemy's communications before resting. Not an enemy opposed us. We captured and paroled about 30 officers and men at the station. They made no resistance. Captain Shears was ordered to destroy the trestle work, which reached about 10 rods to the south of the depot. The work was effectually done by the same process as at Ashland, and by its blaze we could clearly discern the Confederate guards passively standing at the other end. We also burned a culvert and cut the telegraph wires, and burned the depot buildings, store-houses, stables, and a train of cars, all belonging to the Confederate Government, and filled with property. It would be impossible to give a precise statement of the damage here inflicted upon the enemy. It must have been great. There were more than 100 wagons burned, 1,000 sacks of flour and corn, and a large quantity of clothing and horse equipments. The buildings and cars were full of property collected for the use of the Southern Army. All private property we respected, and I believe that none whatever was damaged.
By the light of the burning buildings we left the station and marched for the Court-House, which had been previously occupied by Captain Fisher, with Companies A and G, who had placed pickets there and taken a captain and 4 men prisoners. We passed through the Court-