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“ [306] rear of the whole. Before even the first brigade of the leading division was brought into line, I saw a cloud of dust from the direction of Washington, showing that troops were moving up, and a portion of them having filed into the trenches, a large body of skirmishers was sent to the front, which drove back my cavalry skirmishers, about two hundred strong, and burned a number of houses in front of the works. This affair is thus given by General Barnard:” Upon the arrival of dismounted men of the second division cavalry corps, Army of the Potomac, 600 of them, under command of Major G. Briggs, advanced at half-past 1 P. M., and drove the enemy's skirmishers back about a thousand yards, and thus restored in some degree confidence to the defenders. “I witnessed this affair, and at that time the leading brigade of my command had not come up, but soon after came up, formed line, and sent forward skirmishers,who drove those of the enemy back to the cover of his works. It took some time to get the remainder of the leading division into line, and it was much later when the rest of my command was brought up. The whole command had then marched fully fifteen miles in very hot, dry weather and over exceedingly dusty roads, and was, of course, very much exhausted, many of the men having fallen by the way from heat and sheer exhaustion. I may here remark, in reference to alleged statements by my men as to my strength and purposes; that it was a very poor Confederate soldier who would acknowledge to citizens of the enemy's country through which he was marching the weakness of the army to which he belonged or any doubt of the success of the expedition. I recollect very well an incident which occurred with myself on that morning. As I was riding in rear of my cavalry advance I got some distance ahead of my column, and, seeing a shady grove by the roadside, with a neat house in it, I halted to rest under the shade of the trees while waiting for my infantry. The gentleman of the house came out to speak to me, and I soon found a sympathizer with our cause in him. Finding this, I asked him about the the character and strength of the works around Washington, and he said that they were not very strong, as they were nothing but” earth-works. “I then asked him about the strength of the troops inside of those works, and he stated that there was not a large force in them — not more, he thought, than 20,000 men. Knowing that earthworks in the then state of the science of war were regarded as the strongest that could be made, and that such works, defended by 20,000 men, would be impregnable as against my force, and not feeling very much encouraged by the information given me, I nevertheless replied to my informant that if that was all they had to oppose us we would ”

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G. Briggs (1)
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