War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0050 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LV.

Search Civil War Official Records

to attack with the main force, which was at Harrisonburg, and could be rapidly moved to Cross Keys. The enemy, however, advanced with his main force only to Port Republic, after which fell back. Torbert this day took possession of Waynesborough, and partially destroyed the railroad bridge, but about dark on the 28th was attacked by infantry and cavalry, returned to Staunton, and from thence to Bridgewater, via Spring Hill, executing the order for the destruction of subsistence, forage, &c. On the morning of the 28th Merritt was ordered to Port Republic to open communication with General Torbert, but on the same night was directed to leave small forces at Port Republic and Swift Run Gap, and proceed with the balance of his command (his own and Custer's divisions) to Piedmond, swing around from that point to near Staunton, burning forage, mils,and such other property as might be serviceable to the rebel army or Confederacy, and on his return to go into camp on the left of the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps, which were ordered to proceed on the 29th to Mount Crawford in support of this and Torbert's movements. September 29 Torbert reached Bridgewater and Merritt Mount Crawford. On the 1st of October Merritt reoccupied Port Republic, and the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps were moved back to Harrisonburg. The movement on Gordonsville I was opposed to for many reasons, the most important of which was that it would necessitate the opening of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad from Alexandria, and to protect this road against the numerous guerrilla bands would have required a corps of infantry; besides, I would have been obliged to leave a small force in the Valley to give security to the line of the Potomac. This would probably occupy the whole of Crook's command, leaving me but a small number of fighting men. Then there was the additional reason of the uncertainty as to whether the army in front of Petersburg could hold the entire fort of General Lee there, and in case it could not, a sufficient number might be detached and moved rapidly by rail and overwhelm me, quickly returning; I was also confident that my transportation could not supply me farther than Harrisonburg, and therefore advised that the Valley campaign should terminate at Harrisonburg, and that I return, carrying out my original instructions for the destruction of forage, grain, &c., give up the majority of the army I commanded, and order it to the Petersburg line, a line which I thought the lieutenant-general believed, if a successful movement could be made on, would involve the capture of the Army of October, commenced moving back, stretching the cavalry across the Valley from the Blue Ridge to the eastern slope of the Alleghanies, with directions to burn all forage and drive off all stock, &c., as they move to the rear, fully coinciding in the views and instructions of the lieutenant-general, that the Valley should be made a barren waste. The most positive orders were given, however, not to burn dwellings. In this movement the enemy's cavalry followed at a respectful distance until in the vicinity of Woodstock, when they attacked Custer's division and harassed it as far as Tom's Brook, a short distance south of Fisher's Hill. On the night of the 8th I ordered General Torbert to engage the enemy's cavalry at daylight, and notified him that I would half the army until he had defeated it. In compliance with these instructions Torbert advanced at daylight on the 9th of October, with Custer's division on the Back road and Merritt's division