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[599] were advantageously posted, under my immediate direction, beyond.

For some reason the army did not follow, and our small force of cavalry and this section of artillery sustained an unequal contest for a greater part of the day with artillery, infantry, and cavalry, during which a brilliant charge, as foragers, was made by Colonel Rosser's cavalry, dispersing, capturing, and killing a number of the enemy, but losing one captured, whose bravery and heroism led him too far. I refer to Captain John Ells, Fifth Virginia cavalry. The daring of Colonel Rosser's command excited the unreserved praise of the enemy.

Late in the afternoon, as it appeared that a crossing of the main body would not be attempted by us, I deemed a prolongation of this resistance objectless, which reason was rendered stronger by the fact that Brigadier-General Robertson, whose brigade had, by my direction, crossed above; and penetrated toward the immediate front, reported the enemy moving with heavy force upon my position, and close at hand. I therefore withdrew to the south bank, Brigadier-General Robertson also recrossing the Rappahannock proper above, and resting for the night in the fork of the two streams. That evening, too, Brigadier-General Lee, with the remainder of his brigade, came up, except the Third Virginia cavalry, left below on Longstreet's flank and rear. On the twenty-second of August, I moved early to Freeman's Ford, on the Rappahannock River, where I had a picket the night previous, to carry out instructions by effecting a crossing, if possible. The ford was commanded by the enemy's artillery and infantry, and four pieces of the Stuart horse artillery, under Captain Pelham, tried in vain to silence the enemy's guns. Having advantage in position, he handled the enemy severely, though suffering casualties in his own battery. While this cannonading was going on, General Jackson's column passed just in my rear, going higher up, and I received a note from the commanding General, that my proposition to strike, with cavalry, the enemy's rear, was approved, and at ten A. M. I started to the execution of the plan, with the main portion of Robertson's brigade, except the Seventh Virginia cavalry, (Jones's,) and Lee's brigade, except the Third Virginia cavalry--say about fifteen hundred men, and two pieces of artillery. Proceeding through the village of Jefferson, part of the command crossed the Rappahannock at Waterloo bridge, and the remainder at Hart's Mill, a few miles below, and took the direct road to Warrenton. Reaching that place in the afternoon, I halted to close up and obtain information. No force of the enemy had been here for days. From this point I directed my march to the rear of Cedar Creek, with the view to destroy the railroad bridge over it, near Catlett's Station, and the telegraph line, and thus cut the enemy's line of communication. I had not proceeded far before a terrific storm set in, which was a serious obstacle to the progress of artillery, and gave indications of continuing for a sufficient time to render the streams on my return impassable. Lee's brigade was in advance, and the artillery being intrusted to one of Robertson's regiments, (Twelfth Virginia cavalry,) the head of the column pushed on by the village of Auburn, reaching the immediate vicinity of Catlett's after dark. Rosser, being again in front, by his good address and consummate skill, captured the picket, and we soon found ourselves in the midst of the enemy's encampments; but the darkest night I ever knew. Fortunately, we captured, at this moment, so critical, a negro who had known me in Berkeley, and who, recognizing me, informed me of the location of General Pope's staff, baggage, horses, &c., and offered to guide me to the spot. After a brief consultation, it was determined to accept the negro's proposition, as whatever was to be done had to be done quickly; and Brigadier-General Fitz-Lee selected Colonel W. H. F. Lee's regiment for the work. The latter led his command boldly to within a few feet of the tents occupied by the convivial staff of General Pope, and charged the camp, capturing a large number of prisoners, particularly officers, securing public property to a fabulous amount. While this was going on, the First and Fifth Virginia cavalry were sent to attack another camp beyond the railroad, and obstruct the latter. This was gallantly done under the dashing lead of Colonels Rosser and Brien, over ground exceedingly difficult, crossing a heavy filling of the railroad, with ditches each side, amid darkness and a perfect torrent of rain. The lights here were extinguished at the first pistol shot, and the only light left to guide was the flash of the enemy's guns from the wagons, in which they took speedy refuge. It will readily be perceived that under such circumstances successful attack by a charge, mounted, was impossible, and its further prosecution was deferred for the accomplishment of what was the great object of the expedition — the destruction of the Cedar Run railroad bridge.

Captain Blackford, with a picket party, set about this arduous undertaking; but owing to the fact that everything was saturated with water, ignition was impossible. Axes were looked up in the darkness with great difficulty, and the energetic and thorough-going Wickham was sent, with his regiment, (Fourth Virginia cavalry,) to effect its destruction by cutting it down, and finally Brigadier-General Lee went in person to superintend it; but the difficulties were insuperable, for the enemy on the other side of the stream, where a cliff afforded excellent protection, were already firing upon our men, who, in this rain which had greatly swollen the stream, met difficulty at every step. It was formed of double trestle-work superposed, which rendered destruction difficult and repair easy. The commanding General will, I am sure, appreciate how hard it was to desist from the undertaking; but to any one on the spot there could be but one opinion — its impossibility. I gave it up. While these attempts were going on, other portions of the command were securing horses and other valuable property from the enemy's camp in our possession, and conducting the large numbers of prisoners to the rear. The enemy collected, after their first stampede, enough to fire a volley into the burning camp, but

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T. L. Rosser (4)
B. H. Robertson (4)
Fitzhugh Lee (3)
T. J. Pope (2)
W. H. F. Lee (2)
Wickham (1)
John Pelham (1)
J. Longstreet (1)
William E. Jones (1)
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