Doc. 31.-Dahlgren's reconnoissance into Fredericksburgh, Va., Nov. 9.
headquarters Eleventh corps, army of the Potomac, Gainesville, Va., November 10.General: Agreeably to your orders, I started from Gainesville on the morning of the eighth instant, to Fredericksburgh, to ascertain the force of the enemy at that place, and then to examine the Acquia Creek and Fredericksburgh Railroad on the return. I left Gainesville with sixty men of the First Indiana cavalry--Gen. Sigel's body-guard — and went to Bristow Station to obtain an additional force of one hundred men from the Sixth Ohio cavalry; but, finding they had moved to Catlett's Station, I went to that point, where we found them. After a slight delay in preparing, we moved and travelled all night, stopping once, an hour or so, to feed and water our horses. We arrived at Fredericksburgh at half-past 7 A. M. Although our object was to be there before daylight, it was impossible to do so, the distance being too great, and the roads and weather unfavorable. At Fredericksburgh I found the river too high to ford at the regular fording-places, and not wishing to expose my men by crossing them in small detachments in a ferry-boat, I sent----, your scout, to find some place where we could cross, which he soon discovered above the bridge among the rocks, to all appearances impassable, but at which place we managed to cross--one man at a time. My intention was to send the first Indiana cavalry through the town, while the Sixth Ohio would guard the crossing-place and secure the retreat. After crossing with the Indiana cavalry, under Capt, Sharra, I could plainly see the rebels gathering together in great haste to meet us, and not wishing to give them time to collect, started after them before the Sixth Ohio were over, leaving directions for them, and supposing that they would be over by the time I would fall back, if necessary. We found the city full of soldiers, who were almost entirely surprised, and made many prisoners, whom we sent to the ford, where I supposed the Sixth Ohio to be. It being nearly a mile from Falmouth through Fredericksburgh, and not wishing to run my horses so far, I sent Lieut. Carr, with a detachment ahead, to dash through the town and see where the enemy were concentrated. Lieut. Carr gallantly drove several detachments before him until they reached the main body. Having now found where the enemy were posted, I ordered Capt. Sharra to drive them away, which he did in the most effectual and gallant manner, charging a much larger force, and driving them wherever they stood. The fighting was of the most desperate nature, our men using their sabres, and the enemy in several instances clubbing our men with their carbines. While the fight was going on, it was reported to me that the enemy had possession of the ford, the Sixth Ohio not having crossed to hold it. On hearing this, I ordered our men to fall back, and after a few moments' consultation with Capt. Sharra, decided to force a passage, but upon reaching the ford I found they had also left, not wishing to stand another charge. After seeing the command all over and on the road home, I started with twelve men for Acquia Creek to examine the railroad to that point, which we found in tolerable condition, excepting the bridge over the Potomac and Occahe Creeks, which we burned. At Occahe Creek we captured the enemy's pickets of four men, our surprise having been so effectually accomplished that not one of the pickets was aware of our entering Fredericksburgh. the enemy's loss was considerable; but it is impossible to state the exact number. I know of three being killed, several wounded, and thirty-nine prisoners. Our loss, one killed and four missing. We also captured two wagon-loads of gray cloth about to be sent South. The enemy's forces consisted of five companies of the Fifteenth Virginia, and three companies of the Ninth Virginia. I have the honor to be, with great respect, General, your most obedient servant,
Major-General F. Sigel, commanding Eleventh Army Corps:
Major-General F. Sigel, commanding Eleventh Army Corps:
Ulric Dahlgren, Captain and Aid-de-Camp.
Gainesville, November 11, 1862.The charge of Zagonyi at Springfield has been made a theme for an article in the Atlantic Monthly. It was a desperate exploit, an exhibition of courage, bravery, rashness unparalleled, because it was an emergency requiring an exhibition of such qualities. But that affair, although so brilliant, is hardly equal to the charge made on Sunday last at Fredericksburgh by a squadron of the First Indiana cavalry, commanded by Capt. Dahlgren. I am sitting in Col. Asboth's tent, at General Sigel's headquarters, listening to a plain statement of what occurred, narrated by a modest, unassuming sergeant. I will give it briefly. Gen. Burnside requested Gen. Sigel to make a cavalry reconnoissance of Fredericksburgh. General Sigel selected his body-guard, commanded by Captain Dahlgren, with sixty men of the First Indiana cavalry and a portion of the Sixth Ohio. It was no light task to ride forty miles, keep the movement concealed from the enemy, cross the river and dash through the town, especially as it was known the rebels occupied it in force; it was an enterprise calculated to dampen the ardor of most men, but which was hailed almost as a holiday excursion by the Indianians. They left Gainesville Saturday morning, took a circuitous route, rode till night, rested awhile, and then under the light of the full moon rode rapidly over the worn-out fields of the Old Dominion, through by-roads, intending to dash into the town at day-break. They arrived opposite the place at dawn, and found to their chagrin that one clement in their calculation had been omitted — the tide. The bridge had been burned when we evacuated the place last summer, and they had nothing to do but wait till the water ebbed. Concealing themselves in the woods they waited impatiently. Meanwhile two of the Indianians rode along the river-bank below the town to the ferry. They hailed the ferryman, who was on the opposite shore, representing themselves to be rebel officers. The ferryman pulled to the northern bank and was detained till he gave information of the rebel force, which he said numbered eight companies--five or six hundred men all told. The tide ebbed and Captain Dahlgren left his hiding-place with the Indianians--sixty--leaving the Ohioans on the northern shore. They crossed the river in single file at a slow walk, the bottom being exceedingly rocky. Reaching the opposite shore, he started at a slow trot toward the town, hoping to take the enemy by surprise. But his advance had been discovered. The enemy was partly in saddle. There was a hurrying to and fro — mounting of steeds — confusion and fright among the people. The rebel cavalry were in every street. Captain Dahlgren resolved to fall upon them like a thunderbolt. Increasing his trot to a gallop, the sixty dauntless men dashed into town, cheering, with sabres glittering in the sun — riding recklessly upon the enemy, who waited but a moment in the main street, then ignominiously fled. Having cleared the main thoroughfare, Captain Dahlgren swept through a cross-street upon another squadron with the same success. There was a trampling of hoofs, a clattering of scabbards, and the sharp ringing cut of the sabres, the pistol-flash — the going down of horsemen and rider — the gory gashes of the sabre-stroke — a cheering and hurrahing, and screaming of frightened women and children — a short, sharp, decisive contest, and the town was in the possession of the gallant men. Once the rebels attempted to recover what they had lost, but a second impetuous charge drove them back again, and Captain Dahlgren gathered the fruits of the victory, thirty-one prisoners, horses, accoutrements, sabres — held possession of the town for three hours, and retired, losing but one of his glorious band killed and two wounded, leaving a dozen of the enemy killed and wounded. I would like to give the names of these heroes if I had them. The one brave fellow who lost his life had fought through all the conflict, but seeing a large rebel flag waving from a building, he secured it, wrapped it around his body, and was returning to his command, when a fatal shot was fired from a window, probably by a citizen. He was brought to the northern shore and there buried by his fellow-soldiers beneath the forest pines. Captain Carr, of company B, encountered a rebel officer and ran his sabre through the body of his enemy. Orderly Fitter had a hand-to-hand struggle with a rebel soldier, and by a dexterous blow, struck him from his horse, inflicting a severe wound upon the head. He seized the fellow's horse — a splendid animal — his carbine and sabre. His own sabre still bears the blood-stains — not a pleasant sight — but yet in keeping with war. It thrills one to look at it — to hear the story — to picture the encounter — the wild dash, the sweep like a whirlwind — the cheers — the rout of the enemy, their confusion — the victory! Victory, not for personal glory, nor for ambition, but for a beloved country — for that which is dearer than life, the thanks of the living, the gratitude of numbered millions yet to be Brave sons of the West, this is your glory; this your reward! No exploit of the war equals it. It will go down to history as one of the bravest achievements on record. Gen. Sigel is in ecstasies to-night. He is writing an order of thanks. The prisoners were brought in an hour ago by a squad, and here come the remainder of the troop, welcomed with wild hurrahs. The South will learn by and by that there are bold riders and brave men who were born in the cold regions of the North as well as in the sunny South--men who have not been gentlemen all their lives, brought up to the chase; but who have tilled the soil, wielded the hammer, held the plough, the spade — free men, who believe in free labor. The fabulous glory of the Black Horse cavalry is fading. Stuart has his compeers — Pleasanton and Dahlgren. We are beginning to learn war. We have had Southern dash and valor against inexperience, in horsemanship;  but the cool intrepidity, determination and bravery of the Northern soldier is beginning to be felt. We shall hear more from Captain Dahlgren and his men.
To the Editor of the Boston Journal:
To the Editor of the Boston Journal: