herdstown, &c. In reply, I beg leave to state that I sent a report yesterday morning of the movement to you, and that it was made to carry out your desires and in compliance with instructions received from you. There was no necessity in the shape of an enemy, but it was necessary that your orders should be complied with. I received information from you at Martinsburg that General Torbert's cavalry had been compelled to fall back to Summit Point, and directions to fall back to the north side of the Potomac if necessary, covering the crossings. I awaited the necessity, which came in the orders of the chief of cavalry to fall back from Martinsburg to Charlestown, on the way there to proceed to Smithfield and a few minutes after a repetition of your order to cover the crossings of the Potomac, crossing it if necessary, and again yesterday morning an order from you in which these words occur: "In fact, the general rather desires that the enemy should cross; all the he wants is early information of the character and number of the troops that pass over." Now, in order that the enemy might do as you desired, it was necessary that I should cross to this side, where the observations you required could be made. The instructions received from your headquarters since I was ordered to stop at Martinsburg on my way to join you have not involved a chance to fight, but their uniform tenor has been to keep my division from the front, and also to give it some opportunity to remount. The position I now occupy at Fair Play, with my pickets from Cherry Run to Antietam Furnace, satisfies the conditions of your instructions better than any other except Martinsburg, which I was directed to leave, and no other place has been designated in your orders. The reports of my own scouts to which you refer, conflicted with those received from your headquarters, that 4,000 or 5,000 of the enemy's cavalry were moving in my direction. The remounting of my division is progressing as rapidly as horses can be procured. I have yet over 600 dismounted men. I regret exceedingly that there should be any misunderstanding regarding the position of my division, as my only desire is to do with it the greatest possible good to the cause and render the most assistance to you.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. AVERELL,
HEADQUARTERS MIDDLE MILITARY DIVISION,
September 4, 1864-4.20 p.m.
Brigadier General W. W. AVERELL,
Commanding Cavalry Division:
GENERAL: General Torbert came back from the Front Royal pike last night; reports that no rebel troops have left the Valley. Last night Kershaw attacked Crook on the Berryville pike about dark, and was handsomely repulsed, some 360 killed, wounded, and prisoners. The enemy's force appear this evening to be concentrated at or about the Berryville ford of the Opequon. I want you to cover the Smithfield road from Bunker Hill, if possible and to push up the Valley so far as it is prudent. Whenever you have an opportunity attack the enemy.
P. H. SHERIDAN,