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[164] evening of this day, Gen. Wright received Gen. Halleck's orders to continue the pursuit, ‘but with caution.’

There were now 15,000 men before White's Ferry, near Poolesville, and several thousand approaching that place from Washington, with 9,000 men sent by Gen. Hunter, moving on a route that would enable them to strike Early's flank, as he marched from Leesburg to the gap in the Blue Ridge. It would seem that if Gen. Wright had been unhampered by conflicting and doubtful orders, having had a definite understanding with the commander of the force which Hunter had sent east, Early might have found great difficulty in reaching the valley. That the directions of General Grant at this time, and until Sheridan's arrival on the scene, seem always to have been filtered through the office of the chief of staff at Washington, before reaching the commander of the forces on the upper Potomac, appears to have continually prevented that commander, whoever he might be, from acting with anything like decision.


Early on the 16th, the Sixth Corps and its associate troops began to cross the Potomac at White's Ferry. Meanwhile, Gen. Crook, who had assumed command of the forces of Mulligan and Duffie on the Virginia side, had reached Purcellsville, midway between Leesburg and Snicker's Gap; a small brigade under Tibbets, falling upon Early's train, captured 117 mules and horses, and 82 wagons. We do not know if there were pontoons with the Sixth on that day, but we are sure that we plunged into the Potomac without ceremony, the water reaching to the armpits as we gained the middle of the river, and splashed through the shallower depth on the other side to the steep Virginia bank; so came artillery carriages and wagons, grinding the bed and tossing the water to the right and left. The weather being warm and a bath quite grateful, horses and men were supple enough as they emerged from the river, and climbed the heights with alacrity. We moved rapidly through Loudon Valley, passing through the village of Leesburg, after giving our horses a fodder of green aftermath which we remember had been cut in the little burial-ground of that village. The pursuit was steadily continued toward the base of the Blue Ridge, over the ridge by Snicker's Gap, to the Shenandoah.

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