War of the Rebellion: Serial 070 Page 0287 Chapter XLIX. OPERATIONS IN SHENANDOAH VALLEY, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA,

Near Cedar Creek, Va., October 12, 1864.

MAJOR: I have the honor to report that in accordance with paragraph 6, Special Orders, Numbers 126, current series, headquarters Department of West Virginia, I proceeded on the 16th day of July, 1864, to Hillsborough, Va., and assumed command of our forces there, under Brigadier General J. C. Sullivan, U. S. Volunteers. Upon my arrival there, between the hours of 11 and 12 a. m., I ascertained that our forces had no scouting parties out, and that nothing definite was known of the whereabouts of the enemy. I at once sent scouting parties out from the cavalry in different directions, and directed one party of 1,500 men to move to my right toward Aldie and ascertain if the enemy were retreating in that direction. This party encountered the rear of the enemy's column retreating toward Snicker's Gap, attacked their train and captured part of it and some prisoners. Before I could get my infantry over on the Snicker's Gap road the rear of their column had passed some time, and I lost this opportunity of attacking them in flank. I struck this road at Purcellville, Colonel Wells, with his brigade, moving by way of Waterford, and reported to Major-General Wright, in accordance with orders received from Major General D. Hunter, commanding Department of West Virginia.

Next morning I was ordered by General Wright to send a cavalry force to Snickersville, supported by infantry, to push the rear of the enemy's column, and ascertain if possible what route they had taken. I accordingly sent General Duffie with his cavalry, and Colonel Mulligan's brigade of infantry. They found the enemy had crossed the Shenandoah River at Snicker's Ferry, and was holding the ford.

The following morning, agreeably to orders, I proceeded with the remainder of my command to Snicker's Ford. On arriving at this point I found the enemy still holding the ford. I ordered General Duffie with his cavalry to pass through Ashby's Gap and attack the enemy's train in flank, but the enemy were also holding that gap, and he could not effect the passage. Believing that only the enemy's cavalry were holding Snicker's Ford, I ordered three brigades, under Colonel J. Thoburn, some mile and a half below to cross the river and compel the enemy to evacuate the ford. Colonel Thoburn in crossing the river captured some prisoners, who stated that General Early's entire forces were encamped in the vicinity. Upon this information being communicated to the major-general commanding, the Sixth Army Corps was ordered up to support my men. Previous to the Sixth Corps reaching the river, the enemy made assaults on my lines, being repulsed with heavy slaughter each time, notwithstanding that the greater portion of the "odds and ends" of dismounted cavalry, &c., that composed a part of my command, fled ingloriously across the river at the first assault of the enemy. The head of the column of the Sixth Corps had reached the crossing of the river by this time, and as General Ricketts, commanding the corps, did not think it prudent under the circumstances to cross his men, and as the enemy were preparing for another attack on my lines, I gave the order to fall back, which was done in good order by the remaining troops. As an evidence of the punishment the enemy received, they did not follow my men down the river until after dark. For the behavior of my troops I respectfully refer you to