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[348] thousand men of the forces which had arrived at Falmouth under General Burnside, joined me. I immediately pushed forward my whole force in the direction of the Rapidan, and occupied a strong position, with my right, under Major-Gen. Sigel, resting on Robertson's River, where the road from Cedar Mountain to Orange Court-House crosses that stream; my centre, under Gen. McDowell, occupied both flanks of Cedar Mountain; and my left, under General Reno, a position near Raccoon Ford, and covering the road from that ford to Stevensburgh and Culpeper. I began again, immediately, to operate with my cavalry upon the enemy's communications with Richmond. From the twelfth to the eighteenth of August, reports were constantly reaching me of large forces of the enemy reinforcing Jackson from the direction of Richmond, and by the morning of the eighteenth, I became satisfied that nearly the whole force of the enemy from Richmond was assembling in my front, along the south side of the Rapidan, and extending from Raccoon Ford to Liberty Mills. The cavalry expedition sent out on the sixteenth in the direction of Louisa Court-House, captured the Adjutant-General of Gen. Stuart, and was very near capturing that officer himself. Among the papers taken was an autograph letter of General Robert Lee to General Stuart, dated Gordonsville, August fifteenth, which made manifest to me the disposition and force of the enemy and their determination to overwhelm the army under my command before it could be reinforced by any portion of the army of the Potomac. I held on to my position thus far to the front for the purpose of affording all time possible for the arrival of the army of the Potomac at Acquia and Alexandria, and to embarrass and delay the movements of the enemy as far as practicable. On the eighteenth of August it became apparent to me that this advanced position, with the small force under my command, was no longer tenable in the face of the overwhelming forces of the enemy. I determined, accordingly, to withdraw behind the Rappahannock with all speed, and, as I had been instructed to defend as far as practicable the line of that river, I according directed Major-General Reno to send back his trains on the morning of the eighteenth, by the way of Stevensburgh, to Kelly's or Barnett's Ford; and as soon as the trains had gotten several hours in advance, to follow them with his whole corps, and take post behind the Rappahannock, leaving all his cavalry in the neighborhood of Raccoon Ford to cover this movement. Gen. Banks's corps, which had been ordered on the twelfth to take position at Culpeper Court-House, I directed, with its trains preceding it, to cross the Rappahannock at the point where the Orange and Alexandria Railroad crosses that river; Gen. McDowell's train was ordered to pursue the same route; while the train of Gen. Sigel was directed through Jefferson to cross the Rappahannock at Warrenton, Sulphur Springs. So soon as these trains had been sufficiently advanced, McDowell's corps was directed to take the route from Culpeper to Rappahannock Ford, while General Sigel, who was on the right and front, was directed to follow the movement of his train to Sulphur Springs. These movements were executed during the day and night of the eighteenth, and the day of the nineteenth, by which time the whole army with its trains had safely recrossed the Rappahannock and was posted behind that stream, with its left at Kelly's Ford, and its right about three miles above Rappahannock station, Gen. Sigel having been directed immediately upon crossing at Sulphur Springs to march down the left bank of the Rappahannock until he connected closely with General McDowell's right.

Early on the morning of the twentieth, the enemy drove in our pickets in front of Kelly's Ford and at Rappahannock station; but, finding we had covered these fords, and that it would be impracticable to force the passage of the river without heavy loss, his advance halted, and the main body of his army was brought forward from the Rapidan. By the night of the twentieth, the bulk of his forces confronted us from Kelly's Ford to a point above our extreme right. During the whole of the days of the twenty-first and twenty-second, efforts were made by the enemy at various points to cross the river, but they were repulsed in all cases. The artillery fire was rapid and continuous during the whole of those days, and extended along the line of the river for seven or eight miles. Finding that it was not practicable to force the passage of the river in my front, the enemy began slowly to move up the river, for the purpose of turning our right. My orders required me to keep myself closely in communication with Fredericksburgh, to which point the army of the Potomac was being brought from the Peninsula, with the purpose of reinforcing me from that place by the line of the Rappahannock. My force was too small to enable me to extend my right further, without so weakening my line as to render it easy for the enemy to break through it at any point. I telegraphed again and again to Washington, representing this movement of the enemy toward my right, and the impossibility of my being able to extend my lines so as to resist it without abandoning my connections with Fredericksburgh. I was assured on the twenty-first that if I would hold the line of the river two days longer I should be so strongly reenforced as not only to be secure but to be able to resume offensive operations; but on the twenty-fifth of August the only forces that had joined me, or were in the neighborhood, were two thousand five hundred men of the Pennsylvania reserves, under Brig.-Gen. Reynolds, who had arrived at Kelly's Ford, and the division of General Kearny, four thousand five hundred strong, which had reached Warrenton Junction. The line of the Rappahannock is very weak, and scarce opposes any considerable obstacle to the advance of an army. It is but a small stream above the forks, and can be crossed by good fords every mile or two of its whole length. The movement of the enemy toward my right occasioned me much uneasiness in consequence of the instructions,

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