Doc. 10.-fight at Beverly's Ford, Va.
in bivouac at Bealeton, Va., Orange and Alexandria Railroad, Tuesday Evening, June 9, 1863.this has truly been an exciting day. An hour since I sent you the mere skeleton of the day's operations, which scarcely affords any idea of the extent or character of our achievements. I informed you by letter on Monday what might be expected to-day, and I have now the result to record. About the middle of last week, information of a pretty positive character was received at headquarters, concerning the massing and drilling of a large force of the enemy's cavalry in the vicinity of Culpeper. Numerous reports had been received before, but they were more or less conflicting, especially that portion of them which concerned the movement of the rebel infantry forces in a westerly direction. In my letter of Monday I gave in substance such information as I had concerning the strength and character of the enemy's augmented cavalry force. It was in the main correct, but in the light of to-day's operations I can give you the details as specifically as you can desire; for, beside defeating the enemy in a severe battle, we have ravaged his camp, ascertained his strength to a figure, and frustrated a bold plan, the execution of which was to have begun to-morrow morning at daylight. The bold reconnoissance across the Rappahannock on Friday last, below Fredericksburgh, which we rightly thought would startle the indifferent public, had more than one object. Its first object was to discover the exact whereabouts of the rebel army, which was accomplished Saturday morning. Its second object was to remain where it was as a diversion, while we hastily gathered together a force to feel of and if prudent to attack this threatening mass of cavalry opposite our extreme right flank. General Hooker conceived the whole plan very quickly, and caused its execution to be begun with that rapidity and secrecy for which he is noted. Saturday evening the composition of the force was determined upon, and all the cavalry that could be made immediately available was detailed for the work under command of Gen. Pleasanton, (Gen. Stoneman having been relieved,) assisted by Generals Buford and Gregg and Col. Dufie, as subordinate commanders. In addition, two small brigades of picked infantry, under General Ames, of the Eleventh corps, and Gen. Russell, of the Sixth corps, were detailed to accompany the expedition. A detail of artillery was made in the proportion of one battery to each brigade, the horse-batteries with the cavalry being in charge of Capt. Robertson, chief of artillery on General Pleasanton's staff. The infantry force selected challenged particular admiration. The regiments were small, but they were reliable — such, for instance, as the Second, Third, and Seventh Wisconsin, Second and Thirty-third Massachusetts, Sixth Maine, Eighty-sixth and One Hundred and Twenty-fourth New-York, and one or two others of like character. The force when completed did not, by several thousand, reach the reported number of the enemy, from twelve to fifteen thousand; but then as far as cavalry was concerned, we sent all that could be spared, and as far as infantry was concerned, the sequel proved that fully as much was sent as could be used to advantage. And then there was a strong supposition that the force of the enemy had been exaggerated. Gen. Pleasanton's cavalry rendezvoused during Saturday and Sunday at Catlett's Station and Warrenton Junction, getting supplies of forage and food from both places, by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. General Ames's infantry moved Saturday evening to the Spotted Tavern, and on Sunday to near Bealeton Station. Gen. Russell's brigade moved on Sunday to Hartwood Church, and on Monday to Kelly's Ford. The plan was to rendezvous the command at the two points on the Rappahannock, Beverly's Ford on the right and Kelly's Ford on the left, the two being six miles apart, and then move the column forward toward Culpeper on roads converging at Brandy Station, where a junction of the forces was to be formed, or sooner if necessary. On Monday evening, therefore, Gen. Buford's column left Warrenton Junction, and followed by General Ames from Bealeton, bivouacked for the night near the Bowen mansion, about one mile  from Beverly's Ford. General Gregg, taking his own and Colonel Dufie's command, moved to the left from the Junction, and encamped for the night in close proximity to Kelly's Ford, where Gen. Russell had already arrived. No fires were allowed, and a vigilant watch was kept to prevent disturbances or any thing which might give any indication of our presence. The orders were to arouse the commands at three A. M., and to make the passage of the river as soon as it was daylight. At dawn Gen. Buford's command was in motion. Col. Davis's brigade, led by two squadrons of the Eighth New-York, and supported by the Eighth Illinois and Third Indiana, had the advance. The morning was cool and pleasant, a thick mist hung over the river, and objects on the other side were rather indistinct. Our cavalry soon reached the river, dashed in, dashed up the bank, and were well on the opposite side before the rebels in their fortifications were aware of their presence. The suddenness of the movement completely surprised them, and they at once broke for the first friendly timber, which was about one fourth of a mile in their rear. Our cavalry followed rapidly, and in these woods the first severe skirmish occurred, in which we speedily lost one of the most valued officers of the command, Col. B. F. Davis, of the Eighth New-York cavalry, and Captain in the First regular cavalry, and the same gallant officer who led the gallant charge out of Harper's Ferry last fall, and captured Longstreet's ammunition-train. When the rebels, who were dismounted, reached the woods, they began to skirmish, and detained our force there long enough to give the alarm to Jones's brigade, they being encamped just beyond in the outer edge of the woods. Though their horses were grazing in the fields, yet they speedily fell in, and in a very short time two or three squadrons came charging down the road and through the timber. Hurling their force upon the Eighth New-York, they broke it and forced it back, and killed and wounded quite a number. Col. Davis, who was gallantly leading the advance, turned to rally them, and waving his sword to the Eighth Illinois, shouted, “Come on, boys,” when a rebel rode out in front of him, and fired three shots from his pistol at him, the last one taking effect in his forehead, and inflicting a mortal wound. Quick as thought Lieut. Parsons, acting Assistant Adjutant-General to Col. Davis, was at the side of the rebel, and rising in his stirrups, with one well-directed blow of his sabre, he laid his head open midway between eyes and chin, and the wretch fell dead in the dust at his horse's feet. Parsons is but a youth; his adversary was a strong, athletic man, yet the former, though young in years and slight in stature, nobly avenged his commander's fall. By this time the gallant Eighth Illinois, though meeting with a hot reception, in which Captain Clark and Captain Forsyth were both wounded, had charged upon the rebels, and driven them back upon the main body of the enemy, who were now engaged in deploying and forming in the rear of the woods and just beyond their camp, nearly two miles from the river. Major Whiting's command now came up to the support of the Illinois and Indiana troops. Gen. Ames also brought his infantry over, and deploy. ed them on the left of the road as skirmishers, and then pushed them out in line of battle to the edge of the woods, in front of which the enemy was drawn up by squadrons, with artillery at the intervals, which omitted no opportunity to shell every thing in sight that had motion to it. Thus far the enemy evidently had but one brigade at hand, and a few prisoners taken said they belonged to the Sixth, Seventh, and Twelfth Virginia cavalry, of General Jones's brigade. When asked if he was “Jones, the guerrilla,” they indignantly denied the imputation; nevertheless, he was. Gen. Pleasanton now directed General Buford to make preparations to charge this force in the flank, while the infantry and artillery engaged it in front. It was desirable to do this as soon as possible, as the enemy might be getting reenforcements at any moment. General Buford having driven the enemy's pickets and skirmishers in the open fields on the right of the road, sent in the Sixth Pennsylvania, supported by the Fifth and Sixth regulars, to charge this line on the flank. The Pennsylvanians came up to their work in splendid style. This is the regiment formerly known as the “Lancers,” and they had a matter of pride to settle in this charge. Steadily and gallantly, they advanced out of the woods in excellent order, and then dashed across the open field in an oblique direction toward the enemy's guns. They went up almost to their very muzzles, through a storm of canister and shell, and would have taken them, when suddenly there dashed out of the woods on their right flank, in almost the very spot from which they themselves had issued, two whole regiments of the enemy, on the full charge. Retreat was almost cut off, but the regiments, now subjected to a fire in front and on both flanks, charged back, cutting their way out with considerable loss. The Sixth regulars came to the rescue, but the fire was so severe that even these veterans could not stand it, and they fell back with some loss. In this charge we lost about the only prisoners captured by the enemy during the day. Major Morris, of the Sixth Pennsylvania, was seen to fall from his horse, and is probably wounded and a prisoner. Captain Davis, of the same regiment, was killed. Capt. Lieper was wounded, and Major Hazeltine had his horse shot under him. Capt. Dahlgren, of General Hooker's staff, a model of cool and dauntless bravery, charged with the regiments, and his horse was shot in two places. He describes the charge as one of the finest of the war. The enemy was now being reeforced very rapidly, and in a short time Gen. Pleasanton found that Buford's small division was opposed by three strong brigades of rebels, with artillery to match. After the repulse of the Sixth Pennsylvania, the rebels made two rapid attempts to gain our rear and the approaches to the ford, both on our right and on our left, but particularly on the  right. But they were handsomely foiled by Buford, and for two hours there was very sharp skirmishing, rapid shelling, and admirable manoeuvring by both sides, in the open and undulating fields on our extreme right. A brigade of the enemy's cavalry came down the road which branches off to the right from Beverly's, and made a dash for the ford, but they were too late. A couple of squadrons and a section of artillery interposed. They never got nearer than a mile to the point, and during the two hours that they remained in position they suffered severely from our shells and skirmishers. At this stage of the engagement, General Pleasanton plainly saw that the division under Gen. Buford was far outnumbered, and much anxiety was expressed to hear from General Gregg, whose column was considerably stronger than Buford's. Word had been received from him at eight o'clock, saying that he had crossed with scarce any opposition, and that he was driving the enemy before him, but his guns had not yet been heard. Matters thus remained in statu quo until twelve o'clock, nothing being done save some artillery practice, which was pretty accurate on both sides. We dismounted one gun of a section that the enemy had on the extreme right, and compelled the enemy to move the other. During this interim the skirmishers of each party would frequently become very annoying. General Ames formed his skirmish line, and they picked off the rebel officers without mercy. Although our infantry were masked by the timber, yet the enemy seemed to know what we had, and always refused to meet them, save by dismounted cavalry as skirmishers against skirmishers. They were very profuse of their shells and canister, however, and opened whenever any of our cavalry approached near enough. Many of our men were wounded by canister-shot, a thing almost heretofore unknown in cavalry fighting. At one time, on the left of General Ames's brigade, the rebel cavalry skirmishers had advanced and concealed themselves in some bushes, where they were annoying a body of the Ninth New-York. Major Martin, of that regiment, was finally ordered to take a squadron and drive them out. This he most gallantly did, though it was right in the teeth of the enemy's artillery, and he was met by a perfect storm of canister. He captured fifty prisoners, but owing to the severity of the enemy's fire, could bring but a portion of them away. The gallant Major was himself wounded in the shoulder. About one o'clock Buford again began to press the enemy, and this time he showed evident signs of uneasiness, and soon withdrew his force from our right flank as though he had a fire in the rear. About the same time we heard Gregg's guns, and some prisoners taken from Robinson's North-Carolina brigade just then reported General Russell's infantry advancing through the woods on their right flank and rear. General Gregg, from the sound of the firing, was evidently in the vicinity of Brandy Station. Pleasanton now pushed forward, but the rebels soon gave way, and fell back rapidly. They were in a bad predicament — for Gregg was almost directly in their rear, Russell was on their right flank, and Buford on their front. They therefore made a hasty retreat, abandoning their old camp entirely, part of which we had already occupied, and two regiments were very near being cut off, as Kilpatrick moved off toward the right, to make connection with Buford. They had but a narrow strip of land, not covered by our force, through which to escape. General Pleasanton's headquarters were moved forward to where the rebel commander's had been, and the lines of the two columns were soon connected. General Gregg reported that his two brigades, under Kilpatrick and Wyndham, had been hotly engaged all the morning, but had driven the enemy uniformly from the river back to brandy Station. Our troops, especially the First New-Jersey, First Maine, and Tenth New-York, fought most gallantly, and repulsed the enemy in repeated charges, though losing heavily themselves. The artillery with General Gregg also suffered considerably, and the Sixth New-York battery was almost totally disabled. It did excellent service, however. In the charges by General Gregg's column, a stand of colors and over one hundred and fifty prisoners were taken. Colonel Wyndham's brigade captured the heights commanding Brandy Station, and there discovered rebel infantry being brought up by the cars. A portion of it drew up and fired a volley at our cavalry. Another correspondent will give you further particulars about the gallant fighting of this column. Col. Wyndham was shot through the calf of the leg by a bushwhacker, but his wound is not serious, and he still keeps the saddle. While a junction was being effected with Gregg's column on the left, Buford and Ames were pushing out on the right, and, with Vincent's battery, Buford had by two o'clock carried all the crests occupied by the enemy during the forenoon, and had forced him back over three miles from the river. In these exploits the regulars, especially the Second and Fifth regiments, distinguished themselves by their intrepidity. The Third Wisconsin skirmishers also won praise by the accuracy of their fire, which was fatal to many a rebel. The fact that the enemy were now falling back upon strong infantry supports, and we being already numerically inferior to them, induced Gen. Pleasanton to consult with his subordinates, and it having been left discretionary with the former to advance or return, it was finally deemed prudent to return, and at four o'clock our forces began falling back. The enemy was not inclined to “pick a fight” on the return, and, save some slight skirmishing, we were not molested. Buford's division fell back to Beverly Ford, and Gregg's division to Rappahannock Ford, a mile and a half below. We brought off all our dead and wounded, and also some of the enemy's, while many of the latter were still remaining on  the field when we retired. By dark our forces were all over the river, and the wounded of Buford's division all loaded in the cars and on the way to Washington. The loss in his division is about one hundred and eighty, and in Gregg's about the same. The rebel prisoners report their loss as heavier than ever before, and express admiration of the gallantry of our cavalry. The total number of prisoners taken is about two hundred and twenty-five, and we lost about fifty. Though our force was not large enough to thoroughly defeat the rebels, yet they received a sound thrashing, and it will result in postponing their “grand raids” into the North for some time, if not indefinitely; for, beside chastising them, we have gained full information of their strength, character and designs. Witness the following letter captured on the battle-field, which I have copied from the original verbatim
camp near Brandreth Station, Culpeper Court-House, June 8, 1863.dear brother: We have made another change of base. We left Dayton one week ago to-day, and after five days of marching we encamped at this place. We have had two grand reviews of five brigades of cavalry, about twelve thousand in number, under General Stuart. The first took place on Saturday, when we were inspected by Stuart; and I have just now returned from the second, when we were inspected by Lieutenant-General Robert E. Lee in person. He was a fine-looking man, but very gray-haired. We are now in a battery numbering about sixteen pieces, under the command of Major Beckham. Longstreet's division passed us on Saturday. The Wise artillery was along. You can look out for some small fighting before a week. We are now about two miles from the Rappahannock, at Beverly Ford. I expect, from the preparations that is being made, that we are going to make a grand raid toward the Potomac as soon as the valley is cleared. . . . You must excuse the shortness of this letter, as I have just returned from the review, and I feel tired from riding so much. Direct your letter to Chero's battery, Jones's cavalry brigade. Please write immediately, as we may leave in a couple of days. Your affectionate brother,
J. M. D.
I leave the name blank for the sake of the writer. This confirms all the information we previously had. Fitz-Hugh Lee, W. F. Lee, G. W. Jones, Robertson of North-Carolina, and Field of Virginia, commanded the brigades. In the latter's brigade is all the mounted infantry they had-reported at eight hundred men. An order was found from General Stuart, dated June sixth, ordering the commands to be held in readiness to move at fifteen minutes notice. A captain, who was taken prisoner, said they were under orders to move on Wednesday morning at daylight. They moved a day sooner, and backward at that. The prompt manner in which these plans of the enemy have been baffled will elicit the admiration of every one. A day longer, and it would have been too late. Their plans are now known, and we can prepare accordingly. Pennsylvania and Maryland will awake to the importance of the occasion, and make all needful preparations to receive this horde of raiders. They will probably only defer, not abandon, their designs, and such a body of cavalry once loose in a defenceless State, they can take the whole of i<*> But General Hooker has unmasked them, and given time for preparation. Shortly he will be fully ready himself to take them thoroughly in hand.
Official report of Colonel Wyndham.
headquarters Second brigade, Third division cavalry corps.Captain: I have the honor to make the following report of the part my command took in the action of yesterday. After crossing the river and coming up with Colonel Duffie, I turned to the right, and, in obedience to orders from the general commanding, pushed on rapidly to Brandy Station. On arriving at that place I found the enemy strongly posted in the rear and on the right of the station, with batteries planted on the heights near the Barber House. I immediately formed my command into line of battle, and had the section of artillery attached to it placed in position, and opened on their battery in front of the Barber House. Observing the enemy breaking away on the left, I ordered a portion of the First Maryland cavalry, led by Major Russell, to charge on the station, which they did in fine style, capturing a number of the enemy, and bringing away an ambulance and four horses, captured by our advance-guard. I next ordered the section of artillery to advance, as they had completely silenced the battery they had been firing upon, and at the same time ordered the First New-Jersey to charge on a battery stationed in the rear of the Barber House, and the First Pennsylvania reserve corps and the balance of the First Maryland to charge the heights on which the house stands. The whole command moved gallantly forward and no bly accomplished the work assigned them. The First Maryland, which consisted of little more than a squadron, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Deems, charged first, but were met by fully a regiment of the enemy, posted behind the buildings and drawn up in the garden and orchard, and, after a spirited fight, were compelled to fall back. The First Pennsylvania, coming up, charged next. Col. Taylor, leading part of the regiment, struck the enemy in front, while Lieut.-Colonel Gardiner, with the balance, dashed on his flank next to the house, forcing him back at both points, cutting him off from the house, and gaining his rear, drove him from his cover into the open plain below, where he was again met by the First Maryland cavalry, which had rallied. Thus assailed on both sides, his force was completely scattered, a large number being killed, wounded or captured. The  charge of the First New-Jersey on the battery in the rear of the house I led in person, aided by Lieut.-Colonel Broderick. At the first onset the enemy were driven from their guns. The support coming up was met, and in a few minutes also driven back. Reenforced, it returned, and was again repulsed. My command being now much scattered by the charges it had made, Colonel Duffie not coming up to my support, as I expected, and seeing the enemy strongly reenforced, advancing from several points, I was compelled to withdraw. This was done by the greatest part of the command forming on the Brandy Station road, while I collected the balance at the station, and forming them into a rear-guard, remained till the field was cleared. The enemy here charged upon my line twice, but were repulsed each time by my carbineers with heavy loss. Having checked the enemy's advance on my retreating column, I then took across the field to join the head of my command, when a squad of the enemy's cavalry concealed in the woods fired, wounding me through the leg. I still retained command until five o'clock P. M., when orders were given to retreat, when, becoming very much exhausted from loss of blood, I turned over the command to Colonel Taylor, of the First Pennsylvania reserve cavalry, and left the field. He reports that shortly afterward he received orders to report to General Buford, and assisted in covering the withdrawal of his command across the river. In closing my report it affords me no small degree of pleasure to be able to say that all of my command that followed me on the field behaved nobly, standing unmoved under the enemy's artillery fire, and when ordered to charge dashing forward with a spirit and determination that swept all before them. I cannot speak too highly of the manner in which the field officers of my command acted, without exception gallantly and efficiently performing every duty assigned them; and of the line officers I can say the same. I lament to say that Lieutenant-Colonel Broderick and Major Shelmire, of the First New-Jersey cavalry, were wounded and captured, and Major W. T. McEwen, First Pennsylvania cavalry, wounded; Captain Creager, of First Maryland, killed; Captain Sawyer, of First New-Jersey, missing, and seven other officers wounded or missing, whose names are reported in the list of casualties. Two hundred and seven enlisted men are reported killed, wounded, and missing. Major January, who was doing duty as field officer of the day, and Captain H. S. Thomas, Acting Quartermaster-General; Lieutenant W. P. Lloyd, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General; Lieutenant Gremlee and Lieutenant Parry, Acting Aid-de-camp of my staff, all rendered invaluable service by the prompt and efficient manner in which they had every order executed, and the assistance they afforded in rallying and re-forming the different portions of the command. Respectfully submitted,
Captain H. C. Weir, Assistant Adjutant-General Third Division Cavalry Corps:
Captain H. C. Weir, Assistant Adjutant-General Third Division Cavalry Corps:
Percy Wyndham, Commanding Brigade.