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Doc. 168.-fight at Orange Court-House, Va.

General Pope's despatch.

headquarters of the army of Virginia, August 3, 1862--A. M.
Major-General Halleck:
the reconnoitring columns under Gen. Crawford crossed the Rapidan and pushed forward to Orange Court-House, yesterday, and took possession of the town, which was occupied by two regiments of the enemy's cavalry, under General Robertson. Eleven of the enemy were killed and fifty-two taken prisoners. Among the latter are one major, two captains, and two lieutenants. Our loss was two killed and three wounded. The enemy retired in such haste as to leave their wounded in our hands. The railroad and telegraph-line between Orange Court-House and Gordonsville were destroyed.

John Pope, Major-General.

A National account.

Culpeper Court-House, August 5, 1862.
Early on Friday morning it was noised abroad that we were on the move. Orderlies galloped here and there, and yet no one knew how soon or where we were to go. But the bugle soon undeceived us, and by noon we were on the move. Bayard, with two regiments, had gone early towards Madison, and soon after two other regiments were on the move, their long line filing away towards the fords of the Rapidan.

A single glance at headquarters showed that the body-guard of Gen. Crawford were standing in silence, waiting for the movement of the chief, and it soon became known that the expedition, whatever its destination, was to be guided and directed by him.

Silently we wound our way through the woods towards the river, and just as it became dark we halted at the Raccoon Ford. Here the Maryland cavalry were posted, and here they were to remain, holding the pass of the ford until our return. Just as we approached, some rebel pickets were seen at the high bluffs beyond the river, who, saying a hearty farewell to some sympathizing friends, galloped rapidly away.

Our scouts were soon across, and our main body withdrawn into the cover of the woods, and making a speedy bivouac, our tired fellows were soon asleep. Our horses were left saddled, to meet any emergency that might arise. A little church close by was respected by all, and it was not long before “nothing was heard” but the solitary tramp of the sentinel.

Before daybreak we were up. Our General was in the saddle before any of us, and leading the way. The advanced guard soon reached Summerville's Ford, where we crossed the river. It was a fine sight, that bright and cool summer's morning, to see that long line of brave fellows filing regularly and rapidly across the shallow stream.

Every one was in the best of spirits. We were advancing, and ahead of us was a leader who we knew would not lead us on towards the enemy and stop before he reached him. Many of us had come but recently from a long and tedious trip, under our late Gen. Hatch. We were going to revisit the scene of our former scout, and our hopes were high that this time something would be done that would reflect credit upon our regiments.

No wonder that the rebels stopped at this stream, with the intention to make it the last ditch. No better position could be found. A narrow, bold, dashing stream waters a fruitful and lovely country, teeming with the heaviest crops. Along the southern bank a long and broken range of hills, wooded and cleared, stretches through Orange and Madison, and south-west through Albemarle.

A perfect line of little hills along the river afford so complete defence against an approaching force as to need nothing but resolute men on their crests to drive back superior forces and hold the river completely. Positions for artillery are everywhere, and the fords commanded at every step.

But on we pressed. Suddenly the enemy's pickets showed themselves; but a short dash, and away they fled. A signal-station, from which all our movements had been watched, was next broken up, and off they scampered, flags and all. On we went, our advance coming up with the retreating pickets, and an occasional shot being fired.

Along the mountains, into the plain, through the woods, and the white spires of the village churches break upon the view. Orange Court-House was before us. Our skirmishers were on our flank and before us, dashing along towards the town, as the main body came steadily after. Again a rapid firing, as we drove a body of about one hundred before us into the town, and closing up, we prepared to enter Orange.

Steadily we moved onward until our advance passed into the town, followed by the main body. Gen. Crawford, with an admirable foresight, had ordered a strong flanking party to go around to our left towards the Gordonsville road, and a fine squadron of the Fifth New-York, under their gallant leader, Capt. Hammond, led the column and dashed off to their destination. The sequel will show the value of this movement.

Steadily we moved onward through the town, when the advance reached the Gordonsville road, and prepared to turn the column in that direction. The windows were all carefully shut up, doors closed, and the almost deserted streets made one think he was passing through some [570] deserted village, whose inhabitants had suddenly been struck with death.

But the stillness was soon broken by volley after volley poured into our column, and with a yell that sounded above the din, the enemy in solid column dashed upon us. They were bravely met, our gallant fellows returning cheer for cheer; and although one regiment had no carbines, but their sabres and pistols only, they dashed furiously upon the enemy. Fierce, yes, furious, was the fight in those narrow streets, as horse after horse and rider after rider fell to the earth.

But a few rods apart, the contending forces fired shot after shot. Again the enemy charged upon us, and so rapidly did they pour in their fire that for a moment there was confusion, and some of the companies fell to the rear. It was but for a moment. No sooner had the enemy appeared in the main street of the town than our troops were upon them, driving them back with the sabre. They were hastily retreating, when Capt. Hammond, with his squadron of the New-York cavalry, came furiously charging into the town up the Gordonsville road. Already he had fought the enemy at the depot, and again his brave men were upon them. On, too, came Captains Flint and Wells, of Vermont, and the enemy turning, fled in the utmost confusion.

During the fight, which was hand to hand, in a narrow street, several of our men were killed and wounded, and the enemy lost a large number. Twenty dead bodies were counted lying in the streets, and as the rebels fell wounded from their horses, the people rushed from their houses and carried them in. The balls flew everywhere.

Our General and his body-guard were with the advance, and as the terrific fire was poured in upon us, and our whole line was checked by the furious charge, you could hear his voice urging his men to be steady, and his repeated orders to them to charge upon the enemy. One of his body-guard was shot through the body, and two of the others had their horses shot under them.

So close was the enemy, and so determined was the resistance and the fighting, that instances occurred in which our men were taken prisoners and again recaptured. A sergeant of the body-guard had his horse shot and was taken prisoner. He was recaptured by Captain Hammond in his charge, and in his turn captured one of the enemy, whom he brought into camp.

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J. H. Hammond (3)
L. W. Crawford (3)
John Pope (2)
Oliver Wells (1)
J. B. Robertson (1)
Madison (1)
Francis Hatch (1)
Henry W. Halleck (1)
Flint (1)
Doc (1)
Bayard (1)
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August 3rd, 1862 AD (1)
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