toward the Rapidan; on the north side of which, extending along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, in the direction of Culpeper Court-House, the Federal army lay in great force. It was determined, with the cavalry, to destroy the railroad bridge over the Rappahannock in rear of the enemy, while Longstreet and Jackson crossed the Rapidan and attacked his left flank. The movement so explained in the accompanying order was appointed for the eighteenth of August; but the necessary preparations not having been completed, its execution was postponed to the twentieth. In the interval, the enemy being apprised of our design, hastily retreated beyond the Rappahannock. General Longstreet crossed the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford, and preceded by Fitz-Hugh Lee's cavalry brigade, arrived early in the afternoon near Kelly's Ford, on the Rappahannock, where Lee had a sharp and successful skirmish with the rear-guard of the enemy, who held the north side of the river in strong force. Jackson passed the Rapidan at Somerville Ford, and moved toward Brandy Station. Robertson's brigade of cavalry was encountered, which was gallantly attacked and driven across the Rappahannock by Robertson's command. General Jackson halted for the night near Stevensburgh, and on the morning of the twenty-first, moved upon Beverly's Ford on the Rappahannock. The Fifth Virginia cavalry, under Colonel Rosser, was sent forward by General Stuart to seize the north bank of the river at this point, and gallantly accomplished the object, capturing a number of prisoners and arms. General Stuart subsequently arrived, and being furnished by General Jackson with a section of artillery, maintained his position for several hours, skirmishing warmly with the enemy. General Robertson, who had crossed the river above Beverly's Ford, reported that the enemy was advancing in large force upon the position held by General Stuart; and as it had been determined in the mean time not to attempt the passage of the river at that point with the army, that officer withdrew to the south side. The enemy soon afterward appeared in great strength on the opposite bank, and an animated fire was kept up during the rest of the day between his artillery and the batteries attached to Jackson's leading division, under Brigadier-General Taliaferro. As our positions on the south bank of the Rappahannock were commanded by those of the enemy, who guarded all the fords, it was determined to seek a more favorable place to cross, higher up the river, and thus gain the enemy's right. Accordingly, General Longstreet was directed to leave Kelly's Ford on the twenty-first, and take the position in front of the enemy in the vicinity of Beverly's Ford, and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad bridge, then held by Jackson, in order to mask the movement of the latter, who was instructed to ascend the river. On the twenty-second, Jackson crossed Hazel River at Welford's Mill, and proceeded up the Rappahannock, leaving Trimble's brigade near Freeman's Ford to protect his trains. In the afternoon, Longstreet sent General Hood with his own and Whiting's brigade, under Colonel Law, to relieve Trimble. Hood had just reached the position, when he and Trimble were attacked by a considerable force, which had crossed at Freeman's Ford. After a short but spirited engagement, the enemy was driven precipitately over the river with heavy loss. General Jackson arrived at the Warrenton Springs Ford in the afternoon, and immediately began to cross his troops to the north side, occupying the springs and the adjacent heights. He was interrupted by a heavy rain, which caused the river to rise so rapidly that the ford soon became impassable for infantry and artillery. Under these circumstances, it was deemed advisable to withdraw the troops who had reached the opposite side, and they recrossed during the night of the twenty-third, on a temporary bridge constructed for the purpose. General Stuart, who had been directed to cut the railroad in the rear of General Pope's army, crossed the Rappahannock on the morning of the twenty-second, about six miles above the springs, with parts of Lee's and Robertson's brigade. Passing through Warrenton, he reached Catlett's Station at night, but was prevented from destroying the railroad bridge at that point, by the same storm that had arrested Jackson's movements. He captured more than three hundred prisoners, including a number of officers. Becoming apprehensive of the effect of the rain upon the streams which separated him from the main body of the army, he retired, after firing the enemy's camp, and recrossed the Rappahannock at Warrenton Springs. On the twenty-third, General Longstreet directed Colonel Walton, with part of the Washington artillery and other batteries of his command, to drive back a force of the enemy that had crossed to the south bank of the Rappahannock, near the railroad bridge, upon the withdrawal of General Jackson on the previous day. Fire was opened about sunrise, and continued with great vigor for several hours, the enemy being compelled to withdraw with loss. Some of the batteries of Colonel S. D. Lee's battalion were ordered to aid those of Colonel Walton, and, under their united fire, the enemy was forced to abandon his position on the north side of the river, burning, in his retreat, the railroad bridge and the neighboring dwellings. The rise of the river rendering the lower fords impassable, enabled the enemy to concentrate his main body opposite General Jackson, and on the twenty-fourth, Longstreet was ordered to proceed to his support. Although retarded by the swollen condition of Hazel River and other tributaries of the Rappahannock, he reached Jeffersonton in the afternoon. General Jackson's command lay between that place and the Springs ford, and a warm cannonade was progressing between the batteries of A. P. Hill's division and those of the enemy. The enemy was massed between Warrenton and the Springs, and guarded the fords of the Rappahannock as far above as Waterloo. The army of General McClellan had left Westover,
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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