could not, at that distance, in a wooded and irregular country, be brought promptly into harmony.
This state of affairs, purely accidental and unexpected as it was, reflects no blame on General Pleasonton
; but it is noteworthy how often, in war, operations from a common centre outward are better advised than by the contrary method.
Concentration of troops is often so difficult of attainment when the links of connection are once lost.
A conspicuous example of this truth has been lately brought to mind by Dr. Lambdin
's admirable narrative read at the Centennial celebration of the battle of Germantown
, and even now one can but feel sorry for General Washington
as a soldier-thinking of him in the fog before Chew's house, with Sullivan
groping in front, and no tidings as yet of Greene
on the Limekiln road, and Armstrong
at the mouth of the Wissahickon.
If he had spread his battle-fan outward from his centre on the turnpike, unfolding it as he advanced, perhaps no one would have inquired a century after why the good people of Germantown
wished to commemorate a defeat.
Be that as it may, General Pleasonton
was destined to reap some of the occasional disadvantages of a broken military chain.
The force dispatched to Kelly's ford
was composed of Gregg
's and Duffie
's cavalry, and a small brigade of infantry, perhaps fifteen hundred men, commanded by the gallant General David Russell
, who was subsequently killed in the battle of the Opequan
, in the Shenandoah Valley.
The force to cross at Beverly ford was accompanied by General Pleasonton
in person, and was composed of Buford
's cavalry and a small brigade of infantry, commanded by General Adelbert Ames
, afterward greatly distinguished in leading the successful assault on Fort Fisher
, and notorious later on as the “carpet-bag
To effect the contemplated junction near Brandy Station
, the Beverly ford
column would bear to the left, the Kelly's ford
column to the right — the Orange and Alexandria Railroad lying between them as they marched.
As an aide-de-camp to General Pleasonton
, it was my fortune to be thrown with the Beverly ford
column, and all that I saw of what occurred after the crossing of the river, on the morning of the 9th, was connected with the operations on the right.
It was not yet dawn when General Pleasonton
rode to the river bank at Beverly ford.
The atmosphere at that hour was very hazy, and the group of officers assembled near the General
were half hidden from each other by the mist.
was there, with his usual smile.
He rode a gray horse, at a slow walk generally, and smoked a pipe, no matter what was going on around him, and it