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[203] in regard to its influence upon our own men and the enemy — a detailed statement of the affair, by an eye-witness, cannot be otherwise than interesting. The expedition was planned with the utmost secrecy and carried out with despatch, and in the most successful manner — reflecting credit alike upon those who planned it, the general who commanded, and the officers and men under him.

The force placed at the disposal of Gen. Stahel was well under way by four o'clock A. M., Friday, November twenty-eighth. Though there was a cold, drizzling rain falling, and the roads were not in the most desirable condition, the troops moved on with alacrity and were in good spirits at the prospect of having a brush with the enemy. Aldie--sixteen miles--was reached soon after sunrise, where a short halt was made. Leaving the command of Colonel Von Gilsa at this place, General Stahel moved on through Middlebury to Rector's Four Corners--ten miles--where the column again came to a halt.

From this point two detachments were sent out to reconnoitre--one commanded by Major Knox, of the Ninth New-York cavalry, proceeded to Upperville, where the pickets of White's rebel battalion were encountered and driven through Paris and Ashby's Gap to the Shenandoah River, notwithstanding they had a force far outnumbering the one commanded by Major Knox. The resistance offered was trifling, and as a consequence but little damage was done on either side.

Capt. Dahlgren, of Gen. Sigel's staff, who had volunteered for the expedition, was sent with a detachment to Salem--ten miles--but found no enemy. Returning in advance of his command with two men, one of our own pickets mistaking them for the enemy, fell back upon the main command. The man finally discovered his mistake and rushed back to his post.

On the road to Salem a farmer was overtaken with a load of corn. Our horses were in need of rations, and the men were directed each to take a few cars; the owner protested, and finding such a course would not save his corn, finally declared that several of his horses had the black tongue, and had been eating from the corn. “Oh!” says Dahlgren, “all of our animals have that disease — so there is no risk to run.” Mr. Secesh then became alarmed, and begged to be let off because he feared his horses might catch the distemper. But it was of no use. He was a rank secessionist, our horses were hungry, there was the corn, and a reasonable quantity of the cereal was appropriated.

The movement in this direction was undoubtedly a piece of strategy, as the sequel will show. One would have supposed that the troops had done enough for one day — but not so with their commander. He had a plan to carry out, and when Gen. Stahel once sets out to perform a task, it is completed, if within the range of possibilities. Knowing this, I was not surprised to hear, late in the afternoon, an order given to march.

The whole command took a retrograde move to a point one and a half miles east of Middleburgh, where a halt was made for the night, and this ended Friday, the first day of the reconnoissance.

Saturday morning early, the whole command proceeded rapidly, by the shortest route, to the Winchester pike, and by sunrise the advance-guard had entered Snickersville without having met an armed rebel. In place of rain, this morning we had a fall of snow. The air was cold and bracing, the men in good spirits, and riding over the Blue Ridge at Snicker's Gap, was one of the real attractions before us. No formal halt was made at Snickersville, but Gen. Stahel pushed on with rapidity over the mountain to the Shenandoah River, capturing a few stray scouts, belonging to White's battalion, on the way, without firing a shot.

Descending the mountain, the road, within one hundred rods of the river, inclines to the right. As the advance-guard turned this bend, the little village on the opposite bank--one hundred yard, distant — known as Snicker's Ferry, was brought into full view, and with it a patrolling picket of White's cavalry, numbering fifty men. It was quite evident they (lid not expect Union troops to appear to them just at that moment. They did not seem to be surprised, for only about twenty-five of our men were in sight; they had on blue overcoats — so had many of the rebels. Not expecting to see Union troops there, and at that early hour in the morning, the rebels across the river naturally concluded — as some of the prisoners subsequently stated — that it was a part of their own battalion ; it was not until after a random series of questions had been asked and answered across the river that they discovered their grave mistake, and then it was done by an injudicious new-comer, who called out: “How are you, secesh?” The query was instantly made: “Who are you, Yanks?” The truth of the matter was, we learn from prisoners, that they had heard of the advance to Ashby's Gap, and had arranged for serious opposition in that quarter; but, as their scouts in Snicker's Gap were fortunately captured, they had no intimation whatever of the force advancing from that direction. One of the scouts taken was much chopfallen, particularly because he had a good horse, two Colt's revolvers, a carbine, and sword. He came up to a squad of men, and asked if they were “confeds.” They beckoned for him to come in, and he did so, under the supposition that they belonged to White's battalion. When told that he was a prisoner, he said they had deceived him, and declared that he had been swindled.

The advance upon arriving near the ferry, was commanded by Col. Wyndham, of the First New-Jersey cavalry. Gen. Stahel directed a detail of dismounted carbineers to advance to the bank of river. Lieut. Sutherland, of the Second Pennsylvania cavalry, with a mixed detachment, numbering fifty, went forward and delivered the first fire. The enemy, concealed behind houses, fences, and trees, fired a few shots, but upon seeing a

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