War of the Rebellion: Serial 069 Page 0148 Chapter XLVIII. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND M. C.

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My 24, 1864.-5 a. m.

[General WILLIAMS?:]

GENERAL: The enemy appear to hold the bands of the river with a strong skirmish force of sharpshooters. It may be a matter of considerable time and labor to get this across the river, as it is a serious obstante, from the depth of the stream, the nature of its banks, and the wooded character of the country. General Crawford might perhaps clear the bank of the river (as he is on the same side) by moving along the bank with his skirmishers line. A close examination of the river shows the enemy's line of battle to our right as far as we have extended in that direction. I shall continue to extend to the right until I find, if practicable, where their left is.

If I cross it will probably [be] toward old Court-House. I will communicate further with you as soon as I have completed the examination to the right. I think it doubtful if the crossing by the road can be forced, as the road runs parallel and close to the river for some hundred yards.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.


May 24, 1864-6.30 a. m.

[General S. WILLIAMS?:]

GENERAL: I send you a statement of two negroes who crossed the river on a log at the railroad bridge at 11 p. m. yesterday. I send the negroes to your headquarters, as they appear to be willing to give information. I do not know the value of it. The railroad bridge was set on fire yesterday evening. They had prepared for burning before we arrived here. It was burned, although we held this and of it. I had deemed it totally impracticable to cross at the railroad bridge yesterday evening, as the artillery and infantry of the enemy protected it completely. Although the enemy have two guns this morning firing from my right at my line on the island, I do not believe they are in strong force. I will soon ascertain> They have some infantry, however, and their sharpshooters are at work.




Negro says: Left other side of river at 11 p. m. last night. The enemy-Gordon's division-were encamped about 1 1\2 miles from the railroad bridge and were entrenching, but received marching orders about 10 p. m. and ceased working at their rifle-pits and marched off in the direction of Hanover Junction. Does not know whether the enemy have left redoubts opposite General Birney's front or not. It is 2 1\2 miles from the railroad bridge to Hanover Junction. Says that his master, Major Doswell, has gone to Richmond, by the advice of General Gordon, who told Major Doswell that the Union army would cross to-day, and that he (Gordon) was going to march to Richmond at once. Says that the enemy have long wagon trains around Hanover Junction, and that they are fighting to protect them.