HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK,
May 23, 1862.
It is indispensable that very large shipments of forage be sent here immediately. I want six days' forage for 15,000 animals here as soon as it is possible for it to be sent. For reasons the Secretary will tell you, I want also 100 stevedores to discharge freight and load cars.
May 23, 1862.
Commanding at Washington:
I have had a conversation with the President about the force which should be sent here under General Doubleday and about your taking it from the Maryland side of the Potomac. I think he is inclined to adopt my view to have six regiments of infantry - one in front of Fredericksburg, three together this side, one at the depot, and one guarding the railroad. See if this cannot be effected.
RECTORTOWN, May 23, 1862.
(Received 9.40 p. m.)
Honorable P. H. WATSON,
Assistant Secretary of War:
Since the previous dispatch* I have reliable information that a battle has been going on since 1 p. m. on the river, close to the railroad bridge near Front Royal. It is reported by persons from that direction that 3,000 rebel infantry and four guns were engaged against us, we having two guns. Captain Acker, of the First Michigan Cavalry, reports that when he left a view point above Markham at 6 o'clock the smoke from small-arms arose from the same position they had occupied at 1 o'clock. Nothing later has been reported. General Banks relieved my right flank yesterday at Front Royal with the First Maryland, Colonel Kenly, who is in command there. We have no telegraphic communication with Front Royal yet.
John W. GEARY,
(Same to Brigadier-General Wadworth, Military Governor.)
STRASBURG, May 23, 1862-10.30 p. m.
Colonel D. S. MILES:
Our troops at Front Royal have been compelled to retire toward Middletown before a very heavy force of the enemy. It is necessary that you should immediately put all your available force in motion toward Winchester as the best protection of the railway. This movement indicates a combined operation of the enemy on both lines, in
*See VOL. XII, Part III, p. 215.