dam just above the ford would prevent the sound of cavalry from being heard in making the passage of the river, while a dense fog on the river, extending some distance on the other side to the position occupied by the enemy's mounted pickets, would screen from observation any body of troops while crossing.
It was decided, therefore, to attack immediately, and, if possible, capture the enemy's-pickets and supports before the main body could be notified of the movement.
Accordingly, at five o'clock, Colonel Davis
gallantly led the Eighth New York Cavalry through the ford, and, charging the reserve of the pickets, took them by surprise, and, after a short resistance, they were overpowered.
Most unfortunately, at that moment the captain of the picket rode up to Colonel Davis
and shot him through the head, but was immediately killed by Davis
The death of Colonel Davis
caused a temporary delay; but, hearing of it, I crossed the river, and was soon to the front.
By this time at least three regiments were over — a sufficient force to hold the position until the entire command should cross.
On the north side I had placed three batteries in a position which commanded our flanks, and the crossing was completed.
It was at this time a trooper fired a blank cartridge from a battery in their rear, and this roused the sleeping soldiers of Stuart
's headquarters were not more than a quarter of a mile from the ford, and we pushed our advance with such vigor that we captured it, with a copy of his orders and other important papers indicating the campaign Lee
intended to make.
In obedience to his orders, Stuart
was to have crossed Beverly ford that morning to destroy the railroad to Alexandria
, for the purpose of delaying the Army of the Potomac in its movement north; while that Lee
intended to cross the Potomac
in the neighborhood of Poolesville
and the Monocacy
, from the other communications captured, was evident.
, stung at being surprised, soon had his command in action, and did some splendid fighting that day to recover his position.
The whole of my line was engaged at once, and for a time it was charge and counter-charge.
Nothing could have been finer than the gallantry displayed by the troops on both sides; but my command knew they had gained an advantage, and they were determined to keep it. The desperate attacks of Stuart
could not move them.
I had sufficient information, after the capture of Stuart
's headquarters, to have authorized the withdrawal of my command to the north side of the river, but hearing General Gregg
's guns in the direction of Brandy Station
, and knowing he would expect me to connect with him in that vicinity, I directed General Buford
to advance his right, while