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and cut the column in two if possible. At four o'clock on Saturday evening, the nineteenth instant, a courier from Captain Sprague announced the approach of the enemy by that road, and that he had commenced a skirmish with Averill's advanced forces. Jackson immediately ordered an advance of the Twentieth Virginia regiment by a blind road, so as to attack the enemy obliquely. He also ordered the Nineteenth Virginia regiment toadvance on the Covington turnpike road, and to attack the enemy directly. At that point Jackson conceived the idea of taking a detachment of about fifty men, and move forward with them for the purpose of striking the enemy vigorously and cutting his column in two. In this Jackson succeeded perfectly. One half of the Yankees were thus separated from the other half, which was under the immediate command of Averill, and who rapidly passed forward toward the Island Ford bridge. Persons intrusted with the burning of the Island Ford bridge failed to do so, however, owing to the rapid advance of the enemy upon that point The advance, under Averill in person, thus managed to make their escape across the bridge; but that portion of his command which had been cut off—consisting of one regiment and an entire wagon train—were held in check by Jackson's detachment of fifty men during the entire night Soon after sunrise on Sunday, the twentieth, the heavy force which Averill had left at the bridge after he had crossed, to prevent Jackson from burning it, themselves fired it, and in a short time it fell into the river; and this produced much consternation among the Yankees who had been cut off from the bridge by the detachment under Jackson. Had Jackson's order to attack the Yankees furiously not been so tardily obeyed, the whole force which had been cut off, together with the entire wagon train, would have been captured. By failing, however, thus to attack, the Yankees had time to burn their train and to escape by swimming; in doing so, however, many of them were drowned.
The result of Jackson's operations was the complete capture of the Yankee ambulance train, about two hundred prisoners, their horses and equipments, a number of carbines and revolvers, forty or fifty negroes, (whom the Yankees were taking off,) eight of Averill's officers, including his adjutant-general, a lieutenant-colonel, Averill's horse, his servant, and a number of his maps of fifteen or twenty counties, in which nearly every house was put down, and, in numerous instances, the occupants of the houses given. Jackson also captured a number of mules and wagons. Jackson's loss was small.
To the Editor of the Richmond Examiner:
The raid is over. Averill has gone, not "up the spout," but back into his den. Cast your eye upon a map, and I'll tell you how he went and how he came. He came from New-Creek, a depot on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, in the county of Hardy, along the eastern base of
the Shenandoah Mountains, through Covington to Salem, burnt things generally, and returned over nearly the same route. Imboden seized the gap where the Parkersburgh turnpike crosses the Shenandoah, and prevented a raid on Staunton. Averill left five hundred men to hold Imboden there, and pushed on toward Salem. That General could not pursue without uncovering Staunton, the force threatening nearly equalling his own. General Lee was informed of the situation of affairs.
Here commences the reign of Major-Generals and military science. Major-General Tubal A. Early came; Major-General Fitz-Hugh Lee came; Brigadier-General Walker came; Brigadier-General Thomas came; their staffs came. They all took a drink. General Early took two. Brigadier-General Wickham came; Colonel Chambliss, commanding a brigade, came. They smiled also.
When Averill was opposite Staunton, Fitz Lee was at Fry Dep&t, on the Virginia Central Railroad, a day's march from that town—a fortunate occurrence, indeed. Every body thought Averill was "treed" now. Lee was ordered across the Blue Ridge. He passed through Brown's Gap, and struck the valley turnpike at Mount Crawford, eight miles above Harrisonburgh—a miserable mistake; one day's march lost He then marched toward Staunton; another day gone for nothing. He finally reached Staunton, where he ought to have been the first night Still, there was plenty of time to cut Averill off. Lee and Imboden marched day and night to Lexington, and then toward Covington. They had yet time enough to intercept him. Here was committed the fatal and foolish blunder. While Lee and Imboden were on the road to Covington, in striking distance of that place, word was sent that the Yankees were marching toward Buchanan instead of Covington. No man ought to have put credence in a statement so utterly absurd as that the enemy was going from Salem to that place. Such a statement presupposes Averill deliberately placing himself past escape, and, therefore, run raving mad. Such improbable rumors should never be entertained a moment, much less made the basis of important military movements. The order was obeyed. The troops turned and marched back, and at night were neither at Buchanan nor Covington.
The story is told in a few words. The Yankees passed through Covington, and, to their great amazement, escaped. The rumor about Buchanan was the tale of some frightened fool. The enemy, in terror and demoralization, fled from Salem at full speed, destroying their train and artillery. Jackson knocked some in the head; the citizens beat the brains out of others. One farmer in Alleghany killed six Some are scattered in the mountains, and are being picked up here and thera The rapid streams drowned many, but the main part have gone whence they came, wondering how they did get away. It is hardly necessary to add, the humblest private in the ranks, if he possessed sense enough to eat and drink, not only could but would hare managed better. Old Stonewall would have marched on, caught and killed the Yankees. What Lee thought, this writer don't know. They who know, say Imboden begged to go to Covington. He made it plain to the dullest mind that the Buchanan story was past belief. What's done is done.
No language can tell the suffering of our men. They were in saddle day and night, save a few hours between midnight and day. They were beat up by their officers with their swords — the only means of arousing them—numb and sleepy. Some froze to death; others were taken from their horses senseless. They forded swollen streams, and their clothes, stiff-frozen, rattled as they rode. It rained in torrents, and froze as it fell. In the mountain paths the ice was cut from the roads before they ventured to ride over. One horse slipped over the precipice. The rider was leading him; he never looked over after him. The whole matter is summed up in a couple of sentences. Averill was penned up. McCausland, Echols, and Jackson at one gate; Lee and Imboden at the other. Some ass suggested he might escape by jumping down the well and coining out in Japan, that is, go to Buchanan. Early ordered them to leave a gate open and guard the well. He did not jump in.
Meanwhile, the Yankee cavalry came up the valley through Edenburgh, New-Market, up to Harrisonburgh, within twenty-five miles of Staunton, "their headquarters." This was bearding the lion in his den. Tubal took the field, at the head of company I, and a party of substituted men. farmers and plough-boys, called "home guards." The Yankees got after him, and the "Major-General Commanding" lost his hat in the race. The last heard of him he was pursuing the enemy with part of his division — footmen after cavalry — with fine prospects of overtaking them somewhere in China, perhaps about the "great wall." The Yankees were retreating toward the " Devil Hole." Early bound for the same place! They did very little damage in the valley.
Here is the moral: The marshals under Napoleon's eye were invincible — with separate commands, blunderers. A general of division, with General Robert E. Lee to plan and put him in the right place, does well. Mosby would plan and execute a fight or strategic movement better than Longstrect at Suffolk or Knoxville, Tubal Early at Staunton. Jackson's blunt response to some parlor or bar-room strategist in Richmond, "More men, but fewer orders," was wisdom in an axiom — true then, just as true now as when the hero of the valley uttered it It is difficult to direct, especially by couriers, the movement of troops a hundred miles distant, among mountains the "ranking" general never saw, except on an inaccurate map. It is not every commander who can point out roads he never heard of, and by-paths he never dreamed of, as the proper ones to cut off an enemy. Bullets, not brains, are needed here.
Note.—Some say ten blue-bellies ran the whole
"home guard." This, I believe, is a lie; at least as far as the substitute men are concerned. They had "flanked out" to buy the "plunder and traps" of the flying farmers. This statement is due to truth. If any fell back hurriedty, it was not the substitute men. They were not there!
EXPEDITION TO CHARLES CITY COURTHOUSE.
Fortxkss Monroe, Vi., Dec. 14. General Wistar, with my approbation, sent out an expedition to Charles City Court-House on the James River, to capture the enemy's force stationed there, and I have the pleasure to forward his report of its complete success. What adds to the brilliancy of its achievement is that it has been accomplished during a terrible storm.
B. F. Butler,
Y0BXT0W5, Ti., Dec. 14,1868. Major-Oeneral Butler:
I have the satisfaction to announce the complete success of the expedition sent out under Colonel West All worked in successful combination. Our cavalry carried the enemy's camp at Charles City Court-House after sharp fighting— the enemy firing from their houses. We captured eight officers and eighty-two enlisted men, being the whole command of three companies, fifty-five horses and three mules, besides many shot, etc., left on the ground. The enemy's camp, with its equipments, arms, ammunition, and provisions, were all thoroughly destroyed.
Our loss is Captain Gregory, severely wounded; one sergeant and one corporal killed, and four men wounded. The New-York Mounted Rifles, in forty-four hours, marched seventy-six miles; the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth NewYork infantry, in fifty-four lours, marched sixtyone miles, mostly in a severe storm, moving day and night, and walking their shoes off, which should be made good by the Government. All are entitled to high commendation for gallantry and unflinching endurance, Colonel West csp«cially, for his precise execution of a difficult combination, by which alone he could have accomplished my object J. J. Wistar,
An expedition, composed of six companies of the First New-York Mounted Rifles and three companies of the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth New-York regiment, has just returned from a highly successful raid to Charles City CourtHouse, situated near the north bank of the James River, and seven miles beyond the Chickahominy. The expedition was under the direction of Colonel R. M. West, the present commander of this post; the cavalry was commanded by Colonel B. F. Onderdonk, and the infantry, which acted as a reserve this side the Chickahominy, by Colonel Roberts.
The infantry preceded tho cavalry twelve hours. The Mounted Rifles quitted Williamsburgh at six o'clock on the evening of the eleventh instant, under lowering clouds, and an atmosphere that presaged storm. We made a brief halt at Twelve-Mile Ordinary. After leaving this point, our route lay through dense forests of pine and dreary patches of cleared but uncultivated land. As night and the column advanced, the darkness became terrible, the wind fairly roared through the tall trees, and the rain, so long threatening, fell in torrents. We had two trusty white guides, but you may imagine how serviceable they were, when we could not distinguish a horseman at tho distance of three yards, unless, perhaps, he was mounted on a white steed. Still, the regiment moved forward for many miles, keeping closed files, and carefully following the sound of clanking sabres; until, finally, the road, which before had seemed to be in a highly tangled condition, formed a knot like the Gordian puzzle. Here, apparently, fate had a choice bivouac in store for us — but not so Colonel West The guides lit matches, which blazed for a moment, (just long enough to exhibit our forlorn prospects,) and were then quenched by the rain. Still, we were making a few yards, or rather "taking ground to the right." The guide covered his hands witli the phosphorus of the matches, and held them up. This did not remind one forcibly of a revolving coast-light, but we persevered. Many of the men lost their way through the woods, two or three officers were missing, but fortunately all regained the column. We pushed on in this manner until about three o'clock, when it being perfectly impossible to proceed another foot, on account of the blackness of all surrounding objects, and the awful condition of the road, (when we found it,) we were compelled to sit patiently in our saddles until daylight drenched to the skin, and ruminating upon trre beautiful moral relation which the soldier sustains toward a grateful country.
At daylight we moved on rapidly, and made up for lost time. We came up with the infantry, and halted a mile this side of the Chickahominy River. They had surprised and captured a small rebel picket. We soon came in sight of the river at Ford's Crossing, and away we went on the gallop. The first rebel picket was discovered on the west bank of the river. They were in a tranquil state of existence, having divested themselves of their superfluous clothing, and "lain down to quiet dreams." They were sound asleep. The very doorkeepers of the great and invincible city of Richmond were snoring in their slumbers. After fording the river, which is quite narrow at this place, and the water about up to our saddlebags, wo swept onward with drawn sabros, at a light gallop, capturing without resistance four pickets, and keeping a bright lookout in all directions. As we mounted a hill in view of Charles
City Court-TIouse, we caught a sight of the rebel camp, and with a loud cheer we commenced the charge. The charge was led by the field-officers of the regiment, with Colonel Onderdonk and Colonel West It was irresistible. In less than fifteen minutes we captured ninety prisoners, including eight commissioned officers, nearly one hundred and fifty stand of arms, over fifty horses, and a large quantity of forage, commissary stores, camp and garrison equipage.
The rebels were holding the usual Sunday morning inspection in their best clothes, in camp, and made slight resistance, being either entirely surprised or not wishing to injure the few good clothes in their possession.
At the Court-House tho rebels made a brief but spirited resistance. They were driven into two wooden buildings, and fired several volleys from the windows, at very short-range. We surrounded the houses, and compelled a surrender, which was formally made by tho enemy, after exhibiting a white flag. Sergeant Wood, a brave and faithful non-commissioned officer, was killed in the first assault upon the building. Captain Gregory was severely, but not dangerously, wounded in the thigh. Our entire loss during tho expedition was two killed and five wounded.
The rebel officers were, without exception, gentlemen, both in appearance and manner. Had their surprise been less complete, I have no doubt they would have made an obstinate defence. Many of the rebel soldiers were well uniformed, and were mostly armed with the Maynard rifles. The force captured was a part of the Fortysecond Virginia, commanded by Major Robinson, who was away at the time on his wedding-tour. It was considered by the rebels a crack corps, they being admiringly styled "Plugs."
After destroying their camp, all the arms, accoutrements, and munitions of war, which we could not bring away, we retired leisurely across the Chickahominy. Here the regiment rested awhile. Colonel West sent a small party to secure Diascon Creek bridge. The party arrived just in time to prevent the destruction of the bridge Dy a small squad of guerrillas, who retired after exchanging a few shots, wounding the guide severely. We arrived in Williarasburgh yesterday afternoon. The fair portion of the inhabitants behaved any thing but amiably when they beheld the result of the expedition, in so many prisoners.
The rank and file of the captured party appeared rather happy, than otherwise, with their sudden escape from rebcldom. One (a nephew of United States Senator Bowden) took the oath of allegiance, and several seemed disposed to do so. The officers, of course, are as bitter as their systematic schooling to pervert the use of the five senses will make any one. Captain Rodgers, in command, owned nearly all tho horses and equipments, and he reckons his loss heavily. Among the captured was a young woman in soldier's clothes.
We brought into our lines quite a large num
ber of contrabands. The rebel officers told them they were not compelled to come. Wo told them they were not compelled to stay. They seemed to value our word most, and came. One of them, an athletic, pure-blooded African, was relating his adventures. He said his master, in Richmond, had sold him for one thousand six hundred dollars, to be sent South. He ran away, and came to his wife, at Charles City Court-House. His master offered two hundred dollars for his capture, and ho was obliged to hide. The morning of our arrival at the Court-House, he was lying asleep in the woods, and a little boy came and woke him up, and said that the Yankees had come. He said: "Go 'way, chile; what you want to fool dis nigga for?" But just then he heard the firing, and raising up, saw the blue coats of our troops on the hill. . " I was so glad, dat I come right away, and left all my things."
The following is a list of the killed and wounded in the Mounted Rifles: Sergeant Wood, company H, killed; Corporal Smith, company H, killed; Captain L. B. Gregory, wounded severely in thigh; Sqrgeant Hendrickson, company H, wounded in three places; private Stoppelbein, company H, wounded; private Johnson, company H, wounded slightly; guide, wounded in arm.
The rebels had three men wounded.
This raid has developed some interesting facts, which I would like to impart, but forbear, on account of their military importance. C.
THE EFFICIENCY OF THE BLOCKADE.
REAR-ADMIRAL LEE'S REPOHT.
Flao-ship Minnesota, ) NcwpoRT Nkws, Va., December 21, 1868. j
Hon. Gideon WelUt, Secretary of the Navy:
Sir: In reference to the excessive running of the blockade off Wilmington, as reported in the rebel journals, and copied in our own, I beg leave to call your attention to the following extracts from private letters recently found on the prize steamer Ceres, which plainly show that all such statements are fictions:
Captain MatJit, in a letter to Mr. Lamar, dated Liverpool, October, says: "The news from blockade-runners is decidedly bad. Six of the last boats have recently been caught, among them the Advance and Eugenie. Nothing has entered Wilmington for the last month."
The firm of William P. Campbell, of Bermuda, says, in a letter to their correspondents in Charleston, dated December second, 1863: "It is very dull here. The only boats that came in from Wilmington this moon were the Flora and Gibraltar."
Captain Ridgely, senior naval officer off Wilmington, reports, under date of the tenth instant, that but one vessel has succeeded in getting in, to the knowledge of any of the block'ading vessels, and that on the night of the tenth instant She was fired at and hit several |
Vol. VIII—Doc. 19
times by the Howqua and Britannia. Also, under date of the seventeenth, Captain Ridgely says that: "The newspaper paragraph stating that seventeen vessels arrived in Wilmington in one night, is entirely destitute of truth. Such reports are, doubtless, published to encourage the shipment of crews for the large numbers of vessels recently purchased for blockade-running, as they have been very roughly handled of late. The blockade-runners change their names very often, for the same purpose."
Each vessel on the blockade off Wilmington sends to me here a carefully prepared abstract from the log for the month, in which every movement is actually recorded, and it is evident from a comparison of such abstracts, that the reports are entirely unfounded.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully yours, S. P. Lee,
A. R. Admiral Commanding N". A. B. Squadron.
EXPEDITION THROUGH PAGE VALLEY, VIRGINIA.
Hbadqcartbrs, December 29,1S68.
On Monday morning, December twenty-first, the First Maine cavalry, with the Second, Eighth, and Sixteenth Pennsylvania cavalry regiments, assembled at Bealton Station, on the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, preparatory to their departure for Page Valley, Perryvillc, and the cosy little town of Luray. It was the intention, of Colonel Charles H. Smith, of the First Maine cavalry, who commanded the expedition, to start at daylight, but owing to two of the regiments having returned to camp from a tedious campaign of three days only the preceding evening, a delay of a few hours was necessary to replenish exhausted stores of forage, ammunition, and subsistence.
At eleven o'clock A.m., every thing being in readiness, the four regiments took up their line of march for Sulphur Springs. After a short halt, the line was formed, and the bugle-notesechoed: "Advance." A march of a few hours brought the expedition to Amisville—a small, dilapidated village, whose inhabitants are all of strong rebel proclivities, many of them furnishing aid and comfort to the gangs of guerrillas infesting this vicinity. At daybreak, on the twenty-second, the expedition proceeded toward Gaines's Cross-Roads, and, just at the left of Amisville, a charge was made upon a few guerrillas, capturing one prisoner, and scattering the remainder in all directions. At Gaines's CrossRoads, a nest of Mosby's men was surprised and driven to the mountains.. Thence, the expedition marched to Sperryville, where the enemy were discovered holding Thornton's Gap, and. upon the approach of our troops they offered considerable resistance to our advancing skirmishers. A strong reserve making its appearance, the entire force fled to the numerous paths in the m oun
tains, where, far above carbine range, the discomfited guerrillas, perched among the rocks and caverns, waved their hats and shouted in defiance to our cavalrymen. On leaving Sperryville, you reach the ascending turnpike leading to Thornton's Gap. As you ascend mounted, a fine view can be had from the saddle. Thornton's Gap is immediately beneath the highest peak of the Blue Ridge, and it is no exaggeration to say that the vicinity of this mountain-pass affords one of the grandest views to be found in this country. There is one portion of the serpentine turnpike, where a carbine-shot would cross the pike six times in a direct line, so zig-zag is its course. One hundred sharp-shooters, stationed at this point, could retard the progress of a large army,,rendering the ascent an almost impossible one. Such a picturesque panorama of natural beauties one seldom witnesses as were revealed on the morning of our ascent The frost-king had touched the leaves of the forest trees with his magic wand of silver, and placed his glistening crown upon the mountain-tops, while the rays of the sun danced upon the frozen dew, coloring the valley with gaudy lines, and the crests of the mountains, till the dazzling scene reminded one of a mammoth kaleidoscope. It was a vivid and romantic picture to witness five thousand horsemen climbing the steep mountain sides, their sabres flashing in the sunlight as their warlike steeds pranced along the pass. The mountains were finally crossed, and our forces encamped for the night within four miles of Luray. Our pickets were attacked an hour after dark by a party of Gillmore's guerrillas, but, after a brief skirmish with our vigilant cavaliers, they deemed "prudence the better part of valor," and they retired, carrying off their wounded. The march was resumed at daylight on the twenty-third instant, our advance driving the weak picket force on our front before them with little difficulty. As we arrived within sight of Luray, quite a large rebel force were observed drawn up in line of battle to check our advance, and with the apparent intention of making a sufficiently strong stand to contest our entrance to the town. The order was given for one of those resistless "Yankee" cavalry charges which only "greasy mechanics" and "Northern mudsills" can execute, when lo! the F. F. V.s and the Second F. V.s Hed in the greatest disorder, utterly dismayed and thrown into the greatest confusion by the temerity of Colonel Smith, who dared thus invade their limits of the sacred soil. Owing to the fleetness of the c'livalry, but few prisoners were captured, and, their horses being in a much better condition than ours, it was fruitless to attempt further pursuit. At this point, two deserters entered our lines, and, after being relieved of their arms, they were sent to our rear-guard. Those deserters reiterated the same doleful story of the terrible condition of the "poor white trash" of the South, many of whom they represent as being on the verge of starvation. They report great disaffection throughout the ranks of the rebel army, and said the President's Amnesty
Proclamation had given considerable satisfaction to poor, oppressed and helpless people, many of whom have been mercilessly conscripted to fill up the decimated ranks of the rebel army. The wealthy spurn the Proclamation, and in Richmond the strictest surveillance is maintained over those persons suspected of sympathy with the North.
At Luray, Colonel Smith learned that Rosser's brigade had encamped there Sunday night, and had left on Monday, taking the "grade" up the Page valley, on the east side of the river, in the direction of Madison, and, as Rosser had succeeded in getting forty-eight hours' start of our fatigued forces, Colonel Smith concluded, very wisely, to run no further risks, inasmuch as the objects of the expedition were accomplished, and no infantry or artillery were at hand to lend assistance in case of an attack by superior numbers. Colonel Smith sent several officers to examine the post-office, jail, court-house, and other public buildings. A number of conscripts were taken from the jail upon hearing the news of our approach. A large three-story building, filled with harnesses and artillery and cavalry equipments, and which was used as an extensive manufactory for the supply of rebel outfits, was destroyed, together with a large quantity of raw material, rings, buckles, and a valuable lot of tools. Adjoining this manufactory was a large tannery, with numerous vats filled with stock in a half-finished state. Several wooden buildings were stored with thousands of dollars' worth of hides and finished leather; these were destroyed by fire. On the return march, five new and wellfurnished tanneries, stocked with a large amount of leather, were completely gutted, and their contents destroyed, on the road between Luray and Sperryville.
Near Sperryville, our advance-guard surprised and captured a two-horse wagon belonging to a rebel sutler. An examination of the wagon by the inquisitive "Yankees " revealed a secret bottom, in which were found a rebel mail and a quantity of medicines and dry goods en route for the rebel lines. This wagon was on its way from the Upper Potomac, a strong argument in favor of increased vigilance in that department.
At Little AVashington, our advance-guard surprised a small party of Mosby's guerrillas, killing one and capturing another. Here the expedition halted and encamped for the night to rest their horses, which were, if possible, more jaded than their gallant riders. At daylight the march was continued, and on Christmas Eve the wearied soldiers reached their comfortable winter quarters in a high state of glee, every man having provided himself with an abundant supply of poultry, in order to properly celebrate Christmas in the army. The expedition marched one hundred and twenty-five miles in four days, inflicting a serious blow to the enemy in the most vital part of their prosperity. I regret to announce that these perambulating "Yankee cavaliers'" were allowed to help themselves to several dressed hogs, which were in readiness for