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[83] the troops of the Department of Northern Virginia was forty-seven thousand two hundred, of whom four thousand eight hundred belonged to the Acquia district, and three. thousand seven hundred to that of the Valley.1 Brigadier-General D. H. Hill had succeeded Brigadier-General Evans in the command of the troops near Leesburg, the latter being transferred to South Carolina.

Early in December, Major Blair, the chief commissary of the army, was compelled by ill health to leave that position. He was succeeded in it by Major R. G. Cole, who assumed its duties about the 20th of the month, and continued to perform them until the end of the war. He was desired to have the stock of provision for the army increased to a supply for fifteen days, and to have that quantity kept on hand; and also to establish a reserve-depot at Culpepper Court-House. This measure was a preparation for the contingency of our finding it necessary or expedient to fall back from Centreville to the line of the Rappahannock.

On the 20th, Brigadier-General Stuart was sent to forage in the southeastern part of the county of Loudon, with an escort of sixteen hundred infantry and Cutts's battery. To protect the party gathering forage, he placed his escort at Drainsville, between that party and the Federal army. In taking that position, he encountered the escort of a Federal foraging-party. Finding this body of troops much stronger than his own, he thought it necessary to draw off his foraging-party, and, to cover its withdrawal, attacked the enemy, and kept them engaged

1 The figures are taken from the return in my possession.

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