ONE MILE IN ADVANCE OF SNICKER'S GAP,
November 3, 1862-1.45 p. m.
I send the inclosed dispatches from signal officers and General Sykes, the only information I have.* The only force on this side of the river is a small party of cavalry, and the reconnoitering party of Sykes is engaged with it. Firing is frequent. I can see that a large force must be in the valley from the quantity of smoke oozing from top of woods, and this smoke comes from every clump. An officer (aide to General Sykes) says a very large camp is visible beyond Berryville; with a glass he can distinguish between tents ansd shelter-tents. This is from the mountain at Warren's station. I am going up there, and will send you a report this evening. It is generally believed that Jackson and Hill are here. Have sent a party to see if ridge road extends south. Infantry, I learn, can cross the mountain anywhere, but cavalry in places; artillery not. Several fords between this and Ashby's Gap.
F. J. PORTER,
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
November 3, 1862-6 p. m.
General R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: A reconnaissance of cavalry and infantry was made, under the charge of Lieutenant-Colonel S argent, Massachusetts cavalry, to Snicker's Ferry, to ascertain the strength of the enemy on this side of the river and the character of the country between. Anxious to cath the cavalry force of the enemy (about fifty men) before crossing the river, into which they were pressed and plunging, the cavalry and a portion of the infantry rushed within range of a battery of eight guns posted on the opposite bank and of a mass of sharpshooters posted in a house. In addition to t he loss of several excellent men, we mourn the loss of a brave solider and elegant gentleman in Captain Pratt, First Massachusetts Cavalry, and the wounding of an excellent and promising young officer of the Twelfth [Fourteenth] U. S. Infantry, Lieutenant Perry. The enemy displayed on the opposite bank of t he river one regiment and a half of infantry, a mass of sharpshooters in ahouse, and fifty cavalry, independent of the eight pieces of artillery. After the party was withdrawn I saw from the mountain top five large regiments, with more in rear, coming to the support of the first-mentioned commad. I also saw ambulances approaching to carry off their wounded. From the mountain top I saw one large camp near Berryville and immense smokes toward Winchester. At Ashby's Gap, very heavy and extensvie smokes, and in the gap opposite Trap, extensive smokes and increasing rapidly. From reports, a part of which I forwarded and the remainder I inclose, I learn that numerous wagons have been seen during the day moving toward Ashby's Gap and Front Royal and from Bunker Hill toward Winchester, and fires have been springing up along the roads running south, as if from parties in motion southward. The same was noticed last night. The inclosed dispatches are of some interest.
I examined the ridge road for some two miles and a half, and now have a party examining, with directions to ascertain the extent of the
*Signal dispatches not found. For Sykes to Porter, see VOL. XIX, Part II, p. 540.