The two herds joined at Dumfiers, but, before they met, one herd of 1, 100 stampeded into a salt-marsh, and 185 horses were lost, having been drowned or killed by the others in their struggles to extricate themselves.
After the herds met the army at Dumfries, it was impossible to keep the animals together, the country being destitute of fences. Large bodies of troops and immense wagon trains were passing, the animals mixing in with these. Officers, soldiers, and teamsters seized the animals, and, instead of benefiting, rather increased the labor of driving them. Every exertion that human endurance would permit was employed; the greatest care and diligence used in driving, to the utter prostration of men and animals.
On arrival of main herd at Alexandria, men were sent out in every direction within limits of the army lines where it was probable the animals had strayed, and many were recovered. A party was sent to Aquia Creek with boats, but the naval commander refused to let them land, reporting that the Confederates had been seen driving off from 40 to 60 animals.
Before Aquia wa abandoned, parties were sent out on the old herding grounds, and recovered many animals. There are missing some 900 horses and 100 mules, but estray are brought in every day.
Large numbers of animals were seized at the Washington bridges, which Captain Peirce says should be credited to him, and many are yet in the army, being used by officers to supply deficiencies, and will probably appear on their papers.
In view of all the difficulty encountered in driving the animals, the surprise(says Captain Peirce) should be, not at the loss, but that such a large number were brought in safely. Had not so many been received during the last few days at Aquia, most of the animals would have been safely shipped away. He cannot think that want of care, or wanton waste of public property, can be charged to him, when the number of men employed and the means taken, for the preservation of the animals are considered. Al the animals lost were unserviceable and in very poor condition.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, September 28, 1863.
Lieutenant Co. Southard Hoffman,
Assistant Adjutant-general, Dept. of Va. and N. C.:
Colonel: I would respectfully submit the following report:
In obedience to the orders of Major-general Foster, I assumed command of the Department of Virginia, Seventh Corps, on the 25th day of July last.
On the 28th of July, I addressed the communication marked A, hereunto attached, to the most prominent citizens of Princess Anne, Norfolk, Carotic, and Camden Counties, which was promptly responded to by letters marked B and C, and at the same time in person by deputations composed of Union and disunion men, non-combatants from within our lines, and it was determined that so long as they should take no active part against the Government, they should be protected, and be permitted to trade, under certain restrictions, with the merchants of Norfolk.