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[626] if possible, a small cavalry force scouting betwixt Dranesville and the Potomac. Gen. Ord's brigade consisted of the 9th, Col. C. F. Jackson, 10th, Col. J. S. McCalmont, 12th, Col. John H. Taggart, the Bucktail Rifles, Lt.-Col. T. L. Kane, a part of the 6th, with Easton's battery and two squadrons of cavalry; in all, about 4,000 men. While halting to load forage just east of Dranesville, he was attacked by a Rebel brigade, led by Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, composed of the 11th Virginia, the 6th South Carolina, 10th Alabama, 1st Kentucky, the Sumter Flying Artillery, and detachments from two cavalry regiments — the whole force numbering, according to Rebel accounts, only 2,500. Stuart appears to have been likewise on a foraging excursion; as he had with him about 200 wagons, which probably returned empty of aught but wounded men. They came up the road leading southwardly from Dranesville to Centerville, some fifteen miles distant, and were foolishly pushed on to attack, though the advantage in numbers, in position, and even in artillery, appears to have been decidedly on our side. They were, of course, easily and badly beaten; the Pennsylvanians fighting with cool intrepidity and entire confidence of success. Our aggregate loss was but 9 killed and 60 wounded--among the latter, Lieut.-Col. Kane, who led his men with signal gallantry. The Rebels lost, by their own account, 230; among them, Col. Forney, of the 10th Alabama, wounded, and Lieut. Col. Martin, killed. They left 25 horses dead on the field, with two caissons--one of them exploded,--running off their guns by hand; the 6th South Carolina, out of 315 present, losing 65--in part, by the fire of the 1st Kentucky (Rebel), which, mistaking them for Unionists, poured a murderous volley into them at forty yards' distance. It was a foolish affair on the part of Stuart, who was palpably misled by the gas-conade of Evans, with regard to his meeting and beating more than four to one at Ball's Bluff. When he found himself overmatched, losing heavily, and in danger of being outflanked and destroyed, the Rebel General withdrew rapidly, but in tolerable order, from the field; and Gen. McCall, who came up at this moment, wisely decided not to pursue; since a Rebel force thrice his own might at any moment be interposed between him and his camp. Each party returned to its quarters that night.

The victory of Dranesville, unimportant as it may now seem, diffused an immense exhilaration throughout the Union ranks. It was a fitting and conclusive answer to every open assertion or whispered insinuation impeaching the courage or the steadiness of our raw Northern volunteers. The encounter was purely fortuitous, at least on our side; two strong foraging parties, believed by our men to be about equal in numbers, had met on fair, open ground; had fought a brief but spirited duel, which had ended in the confessed defeat and flight of the Rebels, whose loss was at least twice that they inflicted on us. Admit that they were but 2,500 to our 4,000; the Army of the Potomac, now nearly 200,0001 strong, and able to advance on the enemy

1 Gen. McClellan, in his deliberately prepared, loudly trumpeted, and widely circulated Report, states the force under his more immediate command on the 1st of December--that is, the force then in the Federal District, Maryland, Delaware, and the small patch of Eastern Virginia opposite Washington held by him — at 198,213; whereof 169,452 were “fit for duty.” This does not in. elude Gen. Wool's command at and near Fortress Monroe. On the 1st of January following, he makes his total 219,707; on the 1st of February, 222,196.

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