army, which it was supposed would be prevented from hostile demonstrations in my direction by the army of the Potomac. The object in occupying Winchester was to observe and hold in check the rebel forces in the valley and to secure the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad against depredations. Late in March, in pursuance of an order issued upon my own suggestion, I stationed the Third brigade of my division, consisting of the Sixth regiment Maryland volunteer infantry, Sixty-seventh regiment Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, First regiment New-York volunteer cavalry, and the Baltimore battery, at Berryville, Colonel McReynolds, of the First New-York cavalry, commanding. My instructions to Col. McReynolds were to keep open our communication with Harper's Ferry, and to watch the passes of the Blue Ridge (Snicker's and Ashby's Gaps) and the fords of the Shenandoah River known as Snicker's and Berry's. To this end he was to cause to be diligently scouted, the country between him and those localities, and as far south as Millwood. I was expressly instructed to undertake no offensive operations in force. Acting in accordance with these instructions, I kept my forces well in hand in the vicinities of Berryville and Winchester, except that during the expedition of General Jones into West-Virginia, by order from your headquarters, I sent portions of them into that State. During my occupancy of Winchester, I almost continually kept out heavy cavalry scouts on the Front Royal road as far as Front Royal, and on the Strasburgh road as far as Strasburgh. My cavalry frequently drove the enemy's pickets as far up the valley as Woodstock, and I held almost undisputed possession of the valley as far as Strasburgh until about the first of June. By means of these cavalry expeditions, and information furnished me by Union citizens, I kept continually posted as to the rebel forces in the valley under Jones and Imboden, and was at no time deceived as to their numbers or movements. About the first of June the enemy became bolder, and small detachments of his cavalry were met as far down the valley as Middletown. On Friday, the twelfth day of June, for the purpose of ascertaining whether there had been any accumulation of rebel forces in my front, I sent out two strong reconnoitring parties, one on the Strasburgh and the other on the Front Royal road. The one on the Strasburgh road consisted of the Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, Thirteenth Pennsylvania volunteer cavalry, and one section of battery L, Fifth regiment artillery, under command of Col. Shawl, of the Eighty-seventh regiment Pennsylvania volunteer infantry. This reconnoissance was conducted with energy, in pursuance of instructions, and its results were in every way satisfactory. The expedition proceeded up the valley, the cavalry in advance, but within supporting distance of the infantry and artillery, until it had arrived within two miles of Middletown, at which place a. messenger from Major Kerwin, who was in command of the cavalry, announced to Colonel Shawl that a superior force of cavalry of the enemy had been discovered in line of battle immediately north of Middletown. The infantry and artillery were immediately concealed, the former in a dense grove to the right and within one hundred yards of the road, and the latter behind a ridge. Our cavalry retired skirmishing with the enemy, until he was drawn within reach of the fire of the infantry. Upon the first fire of our infantry, the enemy retreated precipitately, followed by our cavalry, which pursued beyond Middletown. In this affair the enemy lost fifty (as has since been ascertained) in killed and wounded, and we took thirty-seven prisoners. Colonel Shawl remained on the ground an hour, during which time his cavalry scoured the country in every direction, but could detect no traces of an accumulation of rebel forces. The prisoners taken all belonged to the Maryland battalion and Fourteenth regiment Virginia cavalry, troops which had been in the valley and on picket-duty during the whole period of my occupancy of Winchester. Besides, separate examinations of the prisoners disclosed that there was no accumulation of rebel forces there. Col. Shawl made his report to me about seven o'clock in the evening, and it relieved me from all apprehensions of an attack from the Strasburgh road. It is now known that no portion of Lee's army approached Winchester from that direction. The reconnaissance of the Front Royal road was abortive. The expedition consisted of the Twelfth Pennsylvania cavalry, about four hundred strong, under command of Lieut.-Col. Moss. It returned to Winchester about three o'clock in the afternoon of Friday. Its commanding officer reported, that at Cedarville, a place twelve miles from Winchester, he had encountered a large force of the enemy, composed of cavalry, infantry, and artillery. It did not appear, however, that he had placed himself in a position to ascertain the number or character of the force which he had encountered, or exercised the usual and necessary efforts to obtain that essential information. Officers of his command and reliable scouts, who were present, gave contradictory reports. This report was discredited by myself and by Gen. Elliott my second in command. There was nothing in the report which indicated the presence of Gen. Lee's army. It was supposed that the force on the Front Royal road could not be other than the enemy which we had faced during the occupancy of Winchester, or that the anticipated cavalry raid of Gen. Stuart was in progress, against either or both of which combined I could have held my position. I deemed it impossible that Lee's army, with its immense artillery and baggage trains, could have escaped from the army of the Potomac and crossed the Blue Ridge through Ashby's, Chester, and Thornton gaps in concentric columns. The movement must have occupied five or six days, and notice of its being in progress could have been conveyed to me from General Hooker's headquarters in five
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