bands, who have from time to time depredated upon small parties on the line of army communications, on safeguards left at houses, and on troops. Their real object is plunder and highway robbery. To clear the country of these parties that are bringing destruction upon the innocent, as well as their guilty supporters, by their cowardly acts, you will consume and destroy all forage and subsistence, burn all barns and mills and their contents, and drive of all stock in the region the boundaries of which are above described. this order must be literally executed, bearing in mind, however, that no dwellings are to be burned, and that no personal violence be offered the citizens. The ultimate results of the guerilla system of warfare is the total destruction of all private rights in the country occupied by such parties. This destruction may as well commence at once, and the responsibility of it must rest upon the authorities at Richmond, who have acknowledged the legitimacy of guerrilla bands. The injury done this army by them is very slight. The injury they have inflicted upon the people, and upon the rebel army, may be counted by millions. The Reserve Brigade of your division will move to Snickersville on the 29th. Snickersville should be your point of concentration and the point from which you should operate in destroying toward the Potomac. Four days' subsistence will be taken by the command. Forage can be gathered from the country through which you pass. You will return to your present camp at Snickersville on the fifth day.
By command of Major General P. H. Sheridan:
JAMES W. FORSYTH,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of Staff.
On December 19 General Torbert, with Merritt's and Powell's divisions, was pushed through Chester Gap to strike the Virginia Central Railroad at Charlottesville or Gordonsville. An engagement took place, in which two pieces of artillery were captured, but failing to gain Gordonsville or strike the railroad he returned to Winchester, via Warrenton. Custer, with his division, was at the same time pushed up the Valley to make a diversion in favor of Torbert, but encountering the enemy near Harrisonburg, who attacked his camp at daylight on the ensuing day, he was obliged, in consequence of superior force, to retire. The weather was so intensely cold during these raids that horses and men suffered most severely, and many of the latter were badly frost-bitten.
On the 5th of February Harry Gilmor, who appeared to be the last link between Maryland and the Confederacy, and whose person I desired in order that this link might be severed, was made prisoner near Moorefield, his capture being very skillfully made by Colonel Young, my chief of scouts, and a party under Lieutenant-Colonel Whitaker, First Connecticut Cavalry, sent to support him. Gilmor and Mosby carried on the same style of warfare, running trains off railways, robbing the passengers, &c.
In closing this report it gives me great pleasure to speak of the skill, energy, and gallantry displayed by my corps and division commanders, and I take this opportunity of acknowledging the assistance given me by them at all times. To the members of my staff, who so cheerfully on all occasions gave me their valuable assistance, who so industriously labored to execute every duty promptly, and who always behaved with gallantry, I return my sincere thanks. They all joined with me in the deep grief felt at the loss sustained by the army, and the friendly ties broken by the death of their fellow staff officers, Colonel Tolles, chief quartermaster, and Assistant Surgeon Ohlenschlager, medical inspector, who were killed while on their way from Martinsburg to Cedar Creek in October, 1864, and in that of the death of the gallant Lieutenant Meigs, my chief engineer, who was killed while examining and mapping the country near Bridgewater, just above Harrisonburg. This young officer was endeared to me on account of his invaluable knowledge of the country, his rapid sketching, his great intelligence, and his manly and sol-