south bank in force. This had been ascertained from previous reconnaissances, and at the time of making such report the pickets were visible. I then expressed the opinion that a line of pickets established on the south bank of the Aestham River, in the very front of the enemy (there being but two points of crossing, Oak Shade Ford and Welford's, and this stream readily made unfordable by a heavy rain), would be greatly in danger of capture.
It not having been indicated to me at what point the left of my new line would connect with General Buford's right, I made application that such point be established. Beverly Ford was the point indicated. To Colonel J. B. McIntosh, commanding First Brigade of this division, I sent an order to cross as directed from headquarters Cavalry Corps, and to employ his whole force for the purpose. * The order reached Colonel McIntosh at the river, where he had 250 men. In acknowledging the receipt of this order, Colonel McIntosh, commanding First Brigade of this division, I sent an order to cross as directed from headquarters Cavalry Corps, and to employ his whole force for the purpose. * The order reached Colonel McIntosh at the river, where he had 250 men. In acknowledging the receipt of this order, Colonel McIntosh reported that it was impracticable to cross as directed, but that he had ordered a force to cross at Welford's Ford, to communicate with General Buford, and establish the left of the line as far as Welford's Ford. Having been officially informed that General Buford's pickets would be at Beverly Ford, and that General Sykes had put down a bridge and had infantry in front of Beverly Ford, a force of 40 men was sent across at Welford's Ford. The crossing was easily effect, and it was ten minutes after the departure of the lieutenant and 16 men before the enemy approached in superior force. Welford's Ford is 2 1/2 miles from Beverly Ford.
It will be seen that the report made by me as to the enemy occupying and picketing the south bank of the river was made with reference to the point at which I was ordered to cross, viz, at Rixeyville Ford. Having been informed that General Buford's division was 1 1/2 miles from Rappahannock Station, it was inferred that the enemy would not be so near the junction of the two rivers as at Welford's Ford. I did not direct the crossing of any portion of the command at Welford's Ford nor did I know of it until it had been done but when it was reported to me by Colonel McIntosh I fully approved of it. The force deployed by the enemy was but 18 men, and these fled at the approach of the force sent across. A personal examination of the fords at Rixeyville and Stark's Ford confirms me more fully as to the impracticability of crossing any ordinary force for picketing at either of these places, and also that a line of pickets established on the south bank of the Aestham River could not be maintained there without the support of the entire force at present under my command, stationed on the same side with the pickets. I must again refer to the report sent by me that the enemy picketed the south bank in force, and call attention to the fact that this report was made because of an order to cross at Rixeyville and referred to the south side of the river in that vicinity.
I would add that the lieutenant and 16 men returned yesterday, having communicated with General Buford's command, but could not return by the route they had taken.
This, the explanation of the acts of myself and subordinates in our attempts to execute an order so as to promote the best interests of the service, is respectfully submitted.
D. McM. GREGG,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Second Division.
*For McIntosh's report, see p. 67, Part I.