and that Lee
should have fallen upon this command with his whole force and crushed it.
Now for the facts on our side.
, having received reports from different sources early in June, 1863, that General Lee
was quietly withdrawing his army from Fredericksburg
toward Culpepper Court-House, wanted positive information on the subject; so he directed me to make a reconnoissance in force toward Culpepper
, to attack the enemy, if necessary, and force him to display his infantry; but not to return without positive information of Lee
My command consisted at this time of two divisions of cavalry and six batteries of horse artillery, and I suggested to General Hooker
, in view of what he required, that I should be reinforced with some infantry.
The General told me to take what infantry I wanted, but not to fail, as he considered the information to be obtained of the utmost importance to the coming campaign.
I selected three thousand infantry, under Generals Ames
and D. A. Russell
On the 8th of June, I directed General Gregg
to cross the Rappahannock
at Kelly's ford
, at daylight on the morning of the 9th, with the Second Division of cavalry and Russell
's infantry, while I would cross with Buford
's Division of cavalry and Ames
' infantry, and join him at Brandy Station
The two fords were about eight miles apart, Brandy Station
being nearly in the apex of the triangle, three miles south of the river, and a good position from which to operate on Culpepper
, in case it became necessary to move in that direction.
The movement was a reconnoissance in force to gain information.
It was my duty not to seek a fight and not to avoid one--to distribute my force in such manner as to give the best opportunities for obtaining the information desired; at the same time to be within supporting distance in case of an action, and to withdraw and report to General Hooker
as soon as my task was accomplished.
The evening of the 8th of June a heavy rain laid the dust and enabled me to place the command near Beverly ford without attracting the notice of the enemy.
To my surprise, General Lee
had no pickets on the north side of the Rappahannock
I ordered my command to bivouac without fires, and be ready at four o'clock in the morning.
The next morning, with Colonel Davis
, of the Eighth New York Cavalry, who was to lead the advance, I reconnoitred the ford, and found the circumstances favorable for a surprise of the enemy on the opposite side, in case he was there in force.
The north bank of the river commanded the southern, and, with the exception of a few cavalry pickets, scattered up and down the river, nothing was to be seen.
The roaring of the water over the