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Doc. 9.-General Stahel's reconnoissance.

Report of Lieutenant-Colonel Sackett.

headquarters Ninth New-York cavalry, Centreville, Va., October 19, 1862.
Brigadier-General Stahel, Commanding First Division Eleventh Army Corps:
sir: In accordance with orders received from headquarters First division at ten o'clock A. M., October fifteenth, I marched to Chantilly, and sent a patrol under Capt. Ayres through Frying Pan toward Leesburgh. I then advanced with my main force on Little River turnpike to Green Springs Cross-Roads, and sent Captain Hanley to Aldie to join the picket who had sent for reenforcements. As per order, I remained here in command of the Ninth New-York and First New-Jersey cavalry until the morning of the sixteenth instant. At one o'clock A. M., Captain Ayres returned with his detachment, having patrolled the country thoroughly to within three miles of Leesburgh, but found nothing of the enemy. About nine o'clock on the morning of the sixteenth instant, I proceeded toward Aldie, and when near there I threw out patrols and pickets in the different roads, and a detachment, under Lieutenant Burrows, to Middleburgh, and a detachment, under Capt. Hanley, five miles out on the Winchester turnpike, where they remained until the morning of the seventeenth instant, while I staid with the main force at Aldie. During the night Captain Hanley came upon a small party of the enemy and captured one of them — his horse having been shot under him.

On the morning of the seventeenth instant, in accordance with orders received from yourself, I sent a detachment of the Sixth Ohio cavalry, which had joined me the night before, with orders to go to Gainesville, push on to New-Baltimore, patrol to Thoroughfare Gap, keep up communication with the (White) Plains, where you would be with your command; and having sent out Capt. Hanley on an expedition, I then proceeded through Middleburgh toward Paris, having thrown a detachment, under Lieutenant Dickson, forward through Upperville toward Paris, who succeeded in driving in the enemy's pickets and capturing one trooper, with his horse, etc. At Rector's Cross-Roads I turned to the left, and marched to Rector; on the road, captured and paroled two confederate soldiers. I then marched to Salem; on the road, overtook a funeral procession, with three of Stuart's cavalry in full uniform as mourners. Upon their word of honor not to try to escape, I allowed them to pass unmolested to Salem, where part of my command would be. I charged the town of Salem, and captured four rebel cavalrymen, horses, etc.; threw my patrols out on all the roads, and paroled about sixty of the enemy's sick and stragglers.

I here sent a detachment under Sergeant Strong to the Plains, with orders to send a patrol on to and through Thoroughfare Gap. The funeral procession, which I overtook on the road, being [25] now on their way home, I took prisoners the cavalrymen who were with it. Staid here until nine or ten o'clock P. M., when, upon the passage of yourself and main body through the town toward White Plains, I withdrew my pickets and followed as a rear-guard. Having arrived at White Plains about one o'clock A. M., could find or hear nothing of the detachment of Sixth Ohio cavalry who were ordered to keep up communication with this place. I encamped for the night with the rest of the force.

On the morning of the eighteenth, I received information that our train, with an escort of thirty men from my regiment, had been captured, and that our pickets at Thoroughfare Gap were driven in, and one of my men shot. Our whole force marching through Thoroughfare Gap, Haymarket, and Gainesville, toward Warrenton, I followed as rear-guard, patrolling all the roads thoroughly. A detachment under Lieut. Burrows ran into the enemy's pickets on the New-Baltimore road, running from the west side of Thoroughfare Gap. Arriving at Gainesville, I was ordered to hold that place while the main force advanced toward Warrenton, which I did. The force that went toward Warrenton having returned about eight or nine o'clock P. M., I withdrew my pickets, and again followed as rear-guard, and arrived at Centreville about midnight. Having arrived at Centreville, I found that Lieutenant Baldwin, of my regiment, with a detachment of thirty-two men ordered from headquarters Sixth Ohio cavalry (Col. Loyd) to escort a train to Haymarket, or from there to the detachment under Gen. Stahel--that they reached Haymarket — that while there, about daylight, one of his videttes, posted in his rear toward Centreville, reported a large body of cavalry coming; the Lieutenant replied, “It is probably our own troops,” but ordered his men to mount, and sent a sergeant to investigate. The sergeant proceeded, and as he arrived at the top of a hill but a short distance from the camp, saw the enemy before him six or seven hundred strong. The enemy immediately charged after him and down through the camp. The Lieutenant ordered his men to retreat toward White Plains, where Gen. Stahel then was, but through the superiority of the enemy's numbers and horses but nine men, that I know of, escaped, two of them badly wounded.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Wm. Sackett, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding Ninth New-York Cavalry.

New-York Tribune account.

Fairfax Court-House, October 19, 1862.
When it became known that Gen. Stuart with his rebel cavalry had crossed the Potomac, near Leesburgh, the reconnaissance, of which particulars have been telegraphed, was sent out to ascertain his whereabouts and the condition of his troops. The report was that he had left Leesburgh Monday afternoon, proceeding toward Winchester, that his troops were broken down and his horses worn out, and his progress must naturally be slow. It was therefore determined to attempt the capture of the whole or a part of his forces. For this purpose a force of cavalry under Col. Wyndham of the New-Jersey cavalry, was sent out by General Bayard at the request of General Sigel, to be joined to our cavalry, which had been advanced to Chantilly. The force under Colonel Wyndham reached Fairfax Wednesday night, and immediately proceeded to Chantilly, where they were to await orders from General Stahel. Encamping at this place, they were joined in the morning by Gen. Stahel, and the order was at once given to march. The force comprised cavalry and a battery of light artillery. Reaching the cross-roads near Gum Springs, they waited awhile to call in the pickets which had been stationed along the roads, and then proceeded toward Aldie, which place they entered about five o'clock Thursday afternoon. Passing through the town they took position on a hill beyond, and then sent scouts in every direction to ascertain the whereabouts of Mr. Stuart, who was supposed to be between the mountains. The scouts visited Snickersville, Middleburgh, Philomont, Salem, Paris, and other places in the valley, and brought back tidings that, learning of our advance, Gen. Stuart had accelerated his movements and passed out of the valley by the way of Snickersville, a portion of his force going through Ashby's Gap. A body of rebels had been sent to his support, thus indicating that the rebels were fearful of his being cut off. The bird having flown, and Gen. Stahel being unwilling to come home without effecting something, he concluded to go round by way of Warrenton, where it was known the enemy had something of a force, and ascertain their strength. Sending home four of his six pieces of artillery, and dividing his troops into two parties, he sent one, under Lieut.-Col. Sackett, to Snickersville, with instructions to proceed to Leesburgh, and thence return to Chantilly. This portion of the expedition followed the plan laid out for it, and made the route as described without meeting any adventures of note. The rebel pickets were driven in at all points, but no more serious fighting occurred. Taking the remainder of the force, Gen. Stahel proceeded to Upperville and Paris, where it was understood there was a body of rebels awaiting an attack. There they learned that Capt. Gibson, with a company of secesh cavalry, was posted in the mountain with one piece of artillery, which they fired upon the approach of our forces, and retreated through Ashby's Gap. They also ascertained that at Millwood, on the other side of the mountains, there was a park of artillery encamped.

From prisons captured they obtained the information that in consequence of this advance it was supposed that Sigel's corps was on the march to attack them in the flank, and, therefore, Gen. Hill's division was moved down to meet them. Being again balked in his attempts to indulge in a fight, Gen. Stahel marched back to White Plains by way of Salem. At this place one or two curious incidents occurred. One was the capture of three of the Virginia cavalry at a funeral. The sudden entrance of our troopers into [26] town surprised a funeral procession on its way to the grave. Conspicuous among the mourners were three rebel cavalrymen belonging to the Virginia cavalry. A guard was placed alongside the funeral train, doing double duty as escort and guard. After the rite of sepulture had been performed, the Virginia gentlemen were invited to accompany their escort, which they did. At this place Gen. Stahel came very near being captured by — a garrulous old lady, whose intentions (the obtaining of a pass) prompted attentions (a profusion of compliments classically (?) known as “soft soap” ) which on ordinary occasions would have excited the well-known gallantry of the General, but under the pressure of the business then in hand were allowed to pass unheeded by him, and fell anong his staff, to whom they afforded rare amusement. On reaching White Plains, Gen. Stahel at once sent a force of fifty men to hold Thoroughfare Gap, and an additional fifty to proceed to Haymarket, at which place they were to meet a small wagon-train bearing supplies and forage, which had been sent out from Fairfax that evening. The latter body proceeded to Haymarket, and there found the train. The officer in charge said they did not need any more escort, as his force was amply sufficient. Therefore the fifty returned to Thoroughfare Gap, at which place they were to remain in reserve, sending word back to White Plains of the safety of the train. The troops bivouacked at White Plains, and soon another messenger came in, bringing tidings that the wagon-train and its escort had been captured, and that the enemy, four hundred strong, with two pieces of artillery, were advancing on Thoroughfare Gap. Tired as his men and horses were, delay was more than dangerous, and the possession of the Gap all-important. An immediate advance was ordered, the General heading the column in person.

In relation to the capture of the train, it turned out that the wagons reached Haymarket in safety about daylight, where the officer in command left them standing in the street while he and his men went into the houses to obtain breakfast. While engaged at their repast, intelligence was brought in by the pickets that the rebels were advancing. The officer laughed at the man, and said it was our own cavalry. But shortly after the officer's meal was interrupted by the intrusion of uninvited guests in the garb of rebel cavairy, and thus he lost his train, escort, and liberty. There was ample time between the alarm and the arrival of the rebels, to have sent to Thoroughfare Gap and obtained the assistance of the force there. There was time to have started the wagons toward that place, and with the aid at hand they could have been saved. But nothing of the kind was done, and the expedition was subsequently obliged to return in consequence of the culpable neglect of this officer.

Before reaching the Gap, intelligence was brought to General Stahel that the force left there to defend it had withdrawn, and the enemy were in possession of the Gap, having with them two pieces of artillery. Instructing Captain Dahlgren of Gen. Sigel's staff, whose presence as a volunteer should have been noticed, to hurry forward the artillery, Gen. Stahel dashed on for the Gap. True enough, our men had retired, and there were the rebels posted at the Gap, their gun-barrels glistening in the narrow pass. Without hesitation, the General ordered a charge. The cavalry wavered — their “horses had given out,” they said. Calling them cowards — as they were — the General drew his sabre, struck spurs to his horse, and, dashing forward into the Gap, bade them “follow” him. Even cowards could not refuse to follow one brave man ; the charge was made, and the pass won. The rebels tired two volleys, wounding several and killing one man, and then retreated. Without a moment's delay, the General and his men followed them, driving then down the mountain and back upon their artillery, which, fortunately, had not reached the Gap. Meanwhile Captain Dahlgren had been hastening on with the artillery. As they entered the rough road through the gap at a full gallop, one of the caissons was broken in halves. Fortunately they found a caisson, which had been left by the rebels, near at hand and filled with ammunition. To destroy the old one and attach the other was but the work of a minute, and then commenced a close pursuit. The enemy retreated, firing upon us at every chance, while our advance kept close upon them. Thus they were driven from the Gap to Haymarket, thence to Gainesville, thence to New-Baltimore , from which place they retreated to Warrenton. As there are two roads from New-Baltimore to Warrenton, and there was danger of the enemy leading us on by one, and then coming out of the town upon the other, attacking the rear, Gen. Stahel posted his artillery upon one road, and, leaving sufficient force to support it, rode into Warrenton. Reaching the outskirts of the town at about five o'clock, it was found that there was a considerable force stationed there — a brigade of cavalry, (Mumford's North-Carolina brigade,) a regiment of infant<*>y, and a battery. The camp was the other side of the town, and toward that the retreating four hundred made. Their guns opened upon our advance, and under their cover the infantry was sent forward as skirmishers. Major Knox was ordered to hold the road and check any advance. Presently a company of cavalry came dashing down the hill on the full charge. Major Knox wheeled his dozen men into line across the road, and as the cavalry came in short-range gave them a volley from the carbines. This checked the ardor of secesh, and they retired. Finding it to be an impossibility to dislodge the rebel infantry with the force at his disposal, and as his men and horses were both tired and hungry, the General continued the skirmishing until darkness settled down, and then withdrew his troops to Centreville, the enemy's cavalry following for some distance.

While at Aldie, a noted bushwacker, named Edward Hutchinson, was captured just beyond that town and brought in. This man brags of how many Yankees he has killed, and is so much of a brute that even the secesh inhabitants of [27] Aldie hoped he would be hung. He has been the terror of the neighborhood, driving in conscripts, beating his wife, and indulging in other disagreeable pleasantries. It is to be hoped he will meet with the punishment he deserves. At Aldie, headquarters were established at the house of Doctor Boyle. The Doctor unfortunately forgot his duty as host, and abused good Union people who were “mean enough to give information as to the whereabouts of General Stuart,” adding the pious wish that they might “all be hung.” It was deemed proper that the Doctor should try a change of climate for his malady, and he was therefore prescribed for by General Stahel.

While approaching Thoroughfare Gap, one of the men strayed off in search of breakfast. As he approached a house a man came out and shot him dead, then took his horse and put him in the barn. Some of his comrades passing that way, discovered the horse, and were told by a negro that the man had been shot. They started to obtain possession of the horse, when the murderer and a negro endeavored to fasten them in the barn. They succeeded in making their escape. Why they did not kill both the man and the negro this narrator saith not. Information of this affair was not given in season to allow of the house being razed to the ground and summary justice meted out to the offenders.

The whole country between the mountains is literally packed with forage and supplies, and it is from this region that the rebels derive their support. Thus far they have kept our troops out of it by keeping away themselves. One of their business transactions may be stated thus: They purchased all the hogs that could be found, giving in payment therefor scraps of paper authorizing the holder to come within their lines and receive his pay. After securing the hogs, an order was issued prohibiting any person from entering their lines. The farmers are naturally disgusted at such conduct, but not sufficiently so to become good Union men.

Taken in connection with the reconnaissance made by General Hancock at the same time from the other side, this expedition proved unusually harassing to the enemy. That it did not attain its original object is no fault of the Commanding General, but the failure in that respect can probably be attributed to the Union inhabitants with Southern sympathies who still reside in our midst.

Great credit is due to General Stahel, who has proved that he possesses two of the most prominent attributes of a great commander — caution where necessary, dash when required. He has also evinced coolness and promptness; skill in handling his troops and choosing his positions; energy in not allowing any rest to his opponents; unquestioned courage in leading wherever danger threatened. General Stahel was ably seconded by Capt. Dahlgren, Col. Wyndham, and Lieut.-Colonel Sackett, and generally by his soldiers. The expedition lost not more than twelve in killed and wounded. They captured nearly one hundred prisoners-among others a Mr. Ball, well known as a spy in the vicinity of Washington, and father of the rebel captain of the same name.

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