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[410] Fairfax station had been evacuated the previous day, but near this point General Hampton's advance regiment had a spirited encounter with and chase after a detachment of Federal cavalry, denominated “Scott's nine hundred,” killing, wounding and capturing the greater portion, among them several officers; also horses, arms and equipments. The First North Carolina cavalry lost its Major in the first onset--Major Whittaker--an officer of distinction and great value to us.

Reaching Fairfax Courthouse, a communication was received from Brigadier-General Fitz. Lee at Annandale. At these two points there were evidences of very recent occupation; but the information was conclusive that the enemy had left this front entirely, the mobilized army having the day previous moved over towards Leesburg, while the local had retired to the fortications near Washington. I had not heard yet from Major Mosby, but the indications favored my successful passage in rear of the enemy's army. After a halt of a few hours to rest and refresh the command, which regaled itself on the stores left by the enemy in the place, the march was resumed for Dranesville, which point was reached late in the afternoon. The camp fires of Sedgwick's (Sixth) corps, just west of the town, were still burning, it having left that morning, and several of his stragglers were caught. General Hampton's brigade was still in advance, and was ordered to move directly for Rowser's ford of the PotomacChambliss' brigade being held at Dranesville till Brigadier-General Fitz. Lee could close up. As General Hampton approached the river, he fortunately met a citizen who had just forded the river, who informed us there were no pickets on the other side and that the river was fordable, though two feet higher than usual. Hampton's brigade crossed early in the night, but reported to me that it would be utterly impossible to cross the artillery at that ford. In this the residents were also very positive — that vehicles could not cross. A ford lower down was examined and found quite as impracticable from quicksands, rocks and rugged banks. I, however, determined not to give it up without trial; and before twelve o'clock that night, in spite of the difficulties to all appearances insuperable, indomitable energy and resolute determination triumphed, every piece was brought safely over and the entire command in bivouac on Maryland soil.

In this success the horse artillery displayed the same untiring zeal in their laborious toil through mud and water, which has distinguished its members in battle. The canal, which was now the

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Wade Hampton (3)
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