War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0818 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

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warned of our approach), it was impossible to capture prisoners. We therefore pushed into Jacksonville, arriving there 8.45 a. m. 21st instant, and at once commenced the passage of the river by transporting the cavalry across in one small flat after having first posted the infantry of the Ninth Vermont, 100 of which regiment having, under Captain Kelley, been sent on the 20th instant on steamer to the mouth of New River to capture pickets and occupy the ferry until my return, to guard the approaches from the Richlands on the east bank of New River, by way of the Northeast bridge. Finding the process of transporting the troops across the river would occupy more time than could be spared, the rebuilding of the bridge was commenced, under the direction of Captain Horn, and about 3 p. m. 22nd instant it was so far completed as to be able to pass cavalry over it.

On my march through the country, and particularly at Jacksonville, I learned that my movements were well known at least twenty-four hours before I arrived. I at once adopted the necessary means to learn the whereabouts and probable strength of the enemy, and at 9.45 p. m. I became aware of the presence of a strong force of cavalry and artillery on the Richlands road, on the west bank of New River, and about eleven miles on my right. I also learned that the home guards and militia were in arms to defend to approaches to the railroad, and had been at work destroying bridges, felling trees, &c., and I was fully assured from the enemy's position that the moment I moved into the country he would move on my line of advance in my rear, occupy or destroy the bridge, and at once concentrate his force and attack the Ninth Vermont, and, from what I learned of his numerical superiority, drive Ripley back on the White Oak, capture many of his men, and then turn and destroy every possible chance of my return across the New River. I also learned that a force was already at Warsaw to move and attack me wherever I should appear on the line of railroad. Taking the above into consideration, and that so many of the cavalry horses became so fatigued as to be unfit for the proposed expedition, that I could march but about 300 across the river, and that from the condition of the horses many of them would have to be left on the road-from the facts I decided that it would be poor judgment to proceed farther, as the loss of my cavalry and any portion of my infantry might secure disaster to our interests in this State. Therefore I commenced my homeward march about 6 a. m. 22nd instant, at which time I detached a squadron of cavalry, under Captain Ferguson, to communicate with Captain Kelley (whose report* please find inclosed) and direct him to return to our lines at once. This Captain Ferguson failed to do; in consequence of having been fired into by a few guerrillas he returned at 1 p. m. In consequence of this discreditable act on the part of Captain Ferguson I was compelled to send Colonel Savage to accomplish the same object, he (Colonel S.) having no officer in his command that he could recommend for said duty. (With reference to the detached operations of Colonel Savage, I would respectfully refer to his accompanying report.+)

Our losses on the expedition were light-2 men Twelfth New York Cavalry killed (1 by accident, which is fully explained in reports of Colonel S. and Captain Kelley), 1 man Twelfth New York Cavalry wounded, and 4 horses killed. We returned on Friday night and Saturday morning, followed by large numbers of contrabands. The fruits of the expedition are ample for the labor incurred. Large bodies of the enemy were kept continually watching our movements for at least four or five


*Not found.

+See p. 819.