War of the Rebellion: Serial 040 Page 0221 Chapter XXXVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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its rear is not over yet. This morning the same bed was swimming, and a squadron in attempting to cross is lost 1 officer and 2 men, swept off, and several horses drowned.

The whole corps is now on the north bank of the Rappahannock, and, as we all think, fortunately for us, as were we on the south side, we should have the Rapidan, now a swollen torrent, to cross, necessarily, in order to advance, and the Rappahannock, swollen as it is, in our rear; neither of which under the most favorable circumstances will be fordable for several days to come. Up to midnight, night before last, everything had worked as well as could have been wished, and my dispatch was based upon the expedition that we were to be favored with a continuation of fair weather. It certainly was not predicated upon the expectation of being overtaken by one of the most violent rainstorms I have ever been caught in, and that, too, in a country where streams rise as rapidly as do rivers in our front.

No command ever had higher hopes, or was more confident of success, thought ignorant of was expected to perform: but the elements seem to have conspired to prevent the accomplishment of a brilliant cavalry operation.

Our movements were known at Culpeper Court-House on the morning of the 14th, and every disposable man was brought up toward Kelly's Ford by the operations of General Buford at that point.

The general commanding is mistaken in supposing that I was "using or maneuvering my [your] whole force against the command of Fitz. Lee, numbering not over, 2,000 men; " what I did being merely to make a feint and hide my intentions from the enemy.

Instead of acting from any "base or depot," no depot has been established, and everything not absolutely necessary to promote the success of the undertaking had been sent back to Merrisville, with instructions to be to Falmouth, in advance of the infantry brigade at Kelly's Ford, when it should be ordered to return. To cross the swollen streams in our front at present, with any chance of meeting with a success, is an undertaking I consider, as a military operation, almost certain to meet with failure. The command will be held to advance the moment the streams are fordable. It may not be uninteresting to the commanding general to learn that the railroad is said to be in tolerably complete order from Alexandria to the Rappahannock railroad bridge, and that the people say they have expecting the Northerners to advance by that route. I have sent to find out.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.


April 17, 1863 p. m.

Commanding Officer, Cavalry Corps:

The major-general commanding directs that you keep your supply of provisions up six days from the time you cross the Rappahannock. We have no field return to show the amount you have with you or what you have left behind. Please send in a return giving this information, in order your moment may be facilitated and your animals not worn out by returning for supplies.

We shall start at daylight to-morrow morning a train with five days'