Before passing to the field to which Major McClellan
has mainly confined himself, I may, for historical purposes, be allowed to say, in reply to one of his preliminary remarks, that, however it may have been on his side, the entire strength of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was not concentrated at Trevilian Station, Virginia, in June, 1864.
We had but two divisions there (Torbert
's and Gregg
's having remained with the Army of the Potomac near James river
Fair-minded troopers on our side call the fierce engagement between Sheridan
and Wade Hampton
a drawn battle.
It was fought in a densely-wooded country, very remote from our main army and from any base of supply.
The object of our expedition was to effect a junction with Hunter
; but Hunter
was not at Gordonsville
, nor near there, when we reached Trevilian Station, and no tidings could be had of him. He was over the hills and far away, marching directly from us instead of to a junction with us, and as we had no plans independent of him, we had no alternative but to rejoin the Army of the Potomac when he could not be found.
A crow could scarcely find subsistence in the country about Trevilian Station; we were encumbered, after two days hard fighting, with many wounded and prisoners; we were far from our base, with ammunition and rations nearly expended.
We voluntarily withdrew from Hampton
's front, and withdrew at night as a matter of common discretion; but we remained within easy reach of his lines the next day, and went comfortably into camp.
Day after day, through the heat and dust, camping regularly at night, we continued our long march to James river
, hampered with weary and foot-sore prisoners, and a long train of wagons and carts, mostly filled with wounded; but we went unvexed by General Hampton
until he came again close under the wing of Lee
We regard the two days fight as a drawn battle, and we think there is something rather fine in the aspect of our troopers stalking through so many miles of hostile territory directly afterward, unimpeded by the enemy's cavalry, who were close at hand, and had us somewhat at a disadvantage.
But we freely admit anything that anybody can say of the expedition, as to its futility, barrenness and general worthlessness, of which we were conscious and heartily tired long before we saw the end of it.
The battle of Beverly Ford
, as we call it, or of Fleetwood
, as General Stuart
styled it, is interesting in the first place, because it was the first occasion when the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac went into action as a body.
The cavalry had been organized by General Hooker
into a corps under Stoneman
during the winter of