accept the order and act on it. This he declined to do; but at that moment I caught sight of a group of officers on a bare hill to the left and in front of Major Whiting
's position, and galloping there, found General Buford
with his staff.
I informed him of General Pleasonton
's order, and as he proceeded to carry it into effect, I remained with him long enough to see that he had no difficulty in withdrawing, and that as his troops fell back they were permitted to go in peace.
On returning to General Pleasonton
, who was en route to Beverly ford with the troops from St. James' Church, and no enemy in pursuit, I was ordered to post a regiment of Ames
' infantry on the skirt of the woods below the red brick house, in case of need for Buford
's support; but Buford
came along serenely at a moderate walk, and this infantry regiment had no occasion to fire a shot, the pursuit of Buford
by the enemy being a mere following, as if for observation.
The greater part of the troops from St. James' Church were by this time safely recrossed at Beverly ford to the north bank of the Rappahannock
, and the head of Buford
's column had nearly reached the river; a few moments later, when the First Regulars, who had been absent all day from the fight on some detached duty, came plunging through the ford from the northern side to offer their services if needed.
ordered Captain Lord
, commanding the regiment, to cover the ford until Buford
's column and the last of the infantry had passed the river; and in obedience to this order, Captain Lord
deployed his whole regiment as mounted skirmishers on a long line, which had for its centre the knoll where our artillery had been posted in the morning.
The sun had now set, but there was a mellow light on the fields, and the figures of Lord
's troopers stood boldly out against the background of yellow sky above the horizon.
Occasionally the dust would fly from the ground between the horses where a bullet struck, and there was a scattering fire kept up by Lord
's regiment, but he did not lose a man. Meantime our guns were unlimbered on the bluff on the north bank of the river, awaiting the enemy's appearance, and at this commanding point a large group of officers was gathered, including General Pleasonton
and all his staff, who watched with interest the closing scene of the long day's action of Beverly ford.
There could not be a prettier sight, and it was often recalled among us. The river flowed beneath us; as far as we could see to right and left on the southern bank no living object was visible; the plain and woods in front of us were growing misty, but the burnished and glowing horizon threw everything on high ground into wonderful relief.
Where the skirmishers of Lord