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[404] us of the service of a most valuable officer, and Lieutenant-Colonel Cantwell, Fifty-ninth North Carolina troops, captured. Major Heros Von Borcke, of my staff, being sent by me with the attacking column, behaved with his usual fine judgment and distinguished gallantry.

Our loss in Fitz. Lee's brigade was heavier, as the fighting was more desperate and continued. His report, which I hope to forward with this, will state the casualties.

We occupied Middleburg that night, and on the 18th took position around the place with Robertson's and W. H. F. Lee's brigades, and directed Fitz. Lee's brigade to take position at Union, on my left, while Jones' brigade was expected to arrive that day. The enemy soon made such encroachments on our left that I deemed it requisite to leave Middleburg out of my line of battle, keeping pickets, however, close to the enemy. Slight skirmishing continued. A general engagement of cavalry was not sought by me, because I preferred waiting for the arrival of the cavalry still in rear (Jones' and Hampton's brigades), and I confined my attention to procuring, through scouts and reconnoitring parties, information of the enemy's movements. In one of these, Major Mosby, with his usual daring, penetrated the enemy's lines and caught a staff officer of General Hooker, bearer of dispatches to General Pleasanton, commanding United States cavalry near Aldie. These dispatches disclosed the fact that Hooker was looking to Aldie with solicitude, and that General Pleasanton, with infantry and cavalry, occupied the place, and that a reconnoissance in force of cavalry was meditated towards Warrenton and Culpeper. I immediately dispatched to General Hampton, who was coming by way of Warrenton from the direction of Beverly's ford, this intelligence, and directed him to meet this advance at Warrenton. The captured dispatches also gave the entire number of divisions, from which we could estimate the approximate strength of the enemy's army. I therefore concluded in no event to attack with cavalry alone the enemy at Aldie. As long as he kept within supporting distance of his infantry, at that point my operations became necessarily defensive, but masking thereby the movement of our main body by checking the enemy's reconnoissance and by continually threatening attack. Hampton met the enemy's advance towards Culpeper at Warrenton, and drove him back without difficulty, a heavy storm and night intervening to aid the enemy's retreat. On the 19th the enemy showed signs of an advance, and our pickets

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