War of the Rebellion: Serial 107 Page 0170 MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA. Chapter XLIII.

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OCTOBER 16-17, 1862.- Reconnaissance from Sharpsburg, Md., to Smithfield, Va.

Report of Major Greely S. Curtis, First Massachusetts Cavalry.


Near Hagerstown, Md., October 20, 1862.

SIR: In obedience to instructions I have the honor to report that at 11 p. m. Of the 15th instant a detachment of this brigade, 500 strong, left camp under my command. The detachment was composed of 150 men from the Fifth Regulars, commanded by Lieutenant Ash; 150 from the First Massachusetts, under Captain C. Crowninshield; 150 from the Fourth Pennsylvania, under Captain Shorts, and 50 from the Third Pennsylvania, commanded by Captain Hess.

At 3.30 a. m. of the 16th I reported for instructions to General A. A. Humphreys, near Sharpsburg, and at daybreak crossed the Potomac at Blackburn's [Blackford's] Ford. The command halted one mile beyond Shepherdstown on the Smithfield turnpike until the main body had crossed the river and then proceeded along the turnpike, driving in the enemy's cavalry pickets and acting as supports to our artillery in the skirmishers which occurred until Kearnesville was reached in the afternoon, where the entire force halted and camped for the night. During the day the Martinsburg road from Shepherdstown was held by a detachment of 150 of the First Massachusetts Cavalry, under the command of Captain C. Crowninshield, with orders to advance if possible to a cross-road connecting the Martinsburg and Smithfield turnpikes, by which they were to rejoin the main force, leaving a sufficient number to hold the cross-road at the junction. Captain Crowninshield advanced, driving in the enemy's pickets until he was checked by a heavy force of rebel cavalry, who subsequently, being re-enforced by two pieces of artillery, caused our men to retire for nearly a mile. This command rejoined the main body of the advance, by orders, early in the morning of the 17th.

At sunrise of the 17th the cavalry resumed their advance until Leetown was occupied. From that point twenty-five of the First Massachusetts Cavalry went with me to within a short distance of Smithfield, which was found to be occupied by the rebel cavalry. The exact orders of expedition having been carried out, the force returned to Shepherdstown and recrossed the river by Blackburn's [Blackford's] Ford, the cavalry aided by two pieces of artillery under the command of Lieutenant Hazlett, of the Fifth Regiment Artillery, protecting the rear. The immediate rear guard was taken from the Fifth Regular Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant Ash, and behaved with great steadiness though closely pressed by the enemy's cavalry in large numbers and annoyed by a concealed musketry fire. From the beginning of the return march to the immediate vicinity of Shepherdstown the enemy were shelling the rear with little success. The casualties of the cavalry command were 1 private of the First Massachusetts slightly wounded by shell, and 1 horse killed and 2 wounded of the Fifth Regulars.

I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,


Major, First Massachusetts Cavalry.

General A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Commanding Reconnaissance in Force from Sharpsburg, Md., of October 16 and 17, 1862.