My own brigade, under the superintendence of General Ewell, who was acting under General Jackson's orders, was crossed over about a mile below the Springs, on an old dilapidated dam, formerly built for purposes of navigation, and Hays's brigade, under Colonel Forno, was ordered to follow; but as my brigade did not succeed in crossing until it was nearly dark, and the crossing was exceedingly difficult, Hays's brigade was left on the south bank for the night. My orders were to occupy a wood on the north bank of the river, immediately in front of the place at which I crossed, and to establish communications with General Lawton, the whole of whose brigade, I was informed, would cross over at the Springs. Before I was ordered to cross over, there had been quite a heavy shower of rain, which had somewhat swollen the river, and it was raining when I crossed. I moved the brigade into the woods indicated, General Ewell having re-crossed, after seeing the whole of my brigade over. In extending the left into the woods on a line parallel with the river, a road was found running from the Springs through this body of woods, toward the fords and Rappahannock Station below. My left was posted near this road, the right extending to an old field just below where I had crossed. Pickets were put out in front and on the flanks, and Major A. L. Pitzer, my volunteer Aid, was despatched to find his way to the Springs and communicate with General Lawton. It had become exceedingly dark by this time, and Major Pitzer, in endeavoring to get to the Springs, rode upon a party of six of the enemy's cavalry, who had passed up the road a few moments before we had reached it. He was made a prisoner by this party, who were endeavoring to make their way to the Springs, but, finding some difficulty in the way, had halted. After he had been compelled to surrender his arms, the party started with him back on the road they had come, and the Major, with great presence of mind, informed them that they were all his prisoners; that if they attempted to pass out in any direction, they would be fired upon by some of our pickets, as they were completely surrounded; but, if they submitted to his direction, he would take them in safe, which they concluded to do; and the Major did actually bring them in as prisoners after they had captured him. After this attempt, I did not deem it prudent to make another effort to establish communication with the Springs that night, as it was very dark and threatening rain, and there was no one in the command who had sufficient knowledge of the localities to find the way. During the night there was a very heavy rain, and in the morning I found that the river had become very much swollen, and was so high as to defy all attempts at crossing ; and a messenger sent to the Springs returned with the information that only the Thirteenth Georgia regiment, of Lawton's brigade, had crossed over the night before. As soon as I ascertained the condition of things, I despatched a note for General Ewell or General Jackson, whichever should be first met with, informing them of my condition, and that, if the enemy should come upon me with heavy force, my whole command must be captured, and suggesting the propriety of my attempting to extricate my force, with that at the Springs, by moving up the river toward Waterloo Bridge; this was sent by a messenger, with direction to swim the river with it, if possible. Before this note could be delivered, I received a verbal message from General Jackson, which had been delivered across the river, at the Springs, and was brought to me by a Sergeant of one of the batteries at that place, directing me to move up toward the Springs, and take command of all the force there, and post my command, with the left flank resting on the river and the right on a creek, to the north of the Springs, which emptied into the river below, and was past fording also, there being no enemy in the fork, and stating that he was having the bridge repaired across the river, which would soon be in a condition for infantry to pass over. In a short time afterward, I received a note from General Jackson, in response to mine, containing similar instructions, and directing me, in addition, to move up toward Waterloo Bridge if the enemy appeared in too heavy force, keeping close to the river, and informing me that he would follow along the opposite bank, with his whole force, to cover my movement. I accordingly moved up toward the Springs, posting Colonel Walker, with his regiments, the Thirteenth Virginia and the Thirty-first Virginia, on the road, so as to protect my rear. On getting near the Springs, I found that Colonel Douglas had moved his regiment and the artillery to a hill just below the Springs, which runs across from the river to the creek mentioned, and along this I posted the Twelfth Georgia regiment, the Twenty-fifth, Forty-fourth, Forty-ninth, Fifty-second, and Fifty-eighth Virginia regiments, with the Thirteenth Georgia on the left, all being so disposed as to present a front to the north-west, the rear being guarded by Colonel Walker, with the Thirteenth and Thirty-first Virginia regiments, and the right flank, which was the only one exposed, being secure for a short time on account of the condition of the creek, which is called Great Run. Companies were thrown out on this flank to prevent any attempt to cross the creek, and a bridge, which was partially flooded, was destroyed. A body of the enemy's cavalry was discovered early in the morning by Colonel Douglas on the north of the creek, and they were hovering around my right flank on the opposite side of the creek all the morning. During the morning, General Jackson sent over an officer to pilot one of my staff officers over the route to Waterloo Bridge, which it might be necessary to pass over in case of emergency; and my Adjutant-General, Major Hale, was sent with him to ascertain the route. In the mean time, the creek began to fall rapidly, and in the afternoon it was in a condition to be crossed. It also began to be evident that the enemy was moving up from below in heavy force, and that
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.