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Doc. 110. Major-General Sheridan's report.

Headquarters military division of the South-West, New Orleans, Louisiana, July 16, 1865.
General — I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my command in the campaign from Winchester, in the Shenandoah valley, to the armies in front of Petersburg, beginning February twenty-seventh, and ending March twenty-eighth.

The command consisted of the First and Third divisions of cavalry, of the Army of the Shenandoah, under the immediate command of Brevet Major-General Wesley Merritt, Brevet Major-General George A. Custer commanding the Third division, and Brigadier-General T. C. Devin, the first. The following was the effective force:

Effective Force First and Third Cavalry Divisions, Army of the Shenandoah, February Twenty-eighth, 1865--Major-General Wesley Merritt, Chief of Cavalry.

  commissioned officers. enlisted men.
First cavalry division, Brigadier-General T. C. Devin, commanding 260 4,787
One section (companies C and E) Fourth United States artillery 2 52
Third cavalry division, Brevet Major-General George A. Custer commanding 240 4,600
One section (Company M) Second United States artillery 1 45
Total 503 9,484

On the morning of February twenty-seventh, 1865, we marched from Winchester up the valley pike with five days rations in haversacks, and fifteen days rations of coffee, sugar and salt in wagons, thirty pounds of forage on each horse, one wagon for division headquarters, eight ambulances and our ammunition train. No other wagons, except a pontoon train of eight boats, were permitted to accompany the command.

My orders were to destroy the Virginia Central railroad, the James river canal, capture Lynchburg, if practicable, and then join Major-General Sherman wherever he might be found in North Carolina, or return to Winchester, but in joining General Sherman I must be governed by the position of affairs after the capture of Lynchburg.

The command was in fine condition, but the weather was very bad, as the spring thaw, with heavy rains, had already come on.

The valley and surrounding mountains were covered with snow which was fast disappearing, putting all the streams nearly past fording. On our first day's march we crossed Cedar creek, Tumbling river, and Tom's brook, and went into camp at Woodstock, having marched thirty miles. At six o'clock in the morning of the twenty-eighth instant the march was resumed through Edinburg and across the north fork of the Shenandoah river, and through Newmarket, going into camp at Lacey's spring, nine miles north of Harrisonburg; the crossing of the north fork of the Shenandoah was by a pontoon bridge. Small bands of guerrillas hovered on our flanks during the day, but no effort was made to drive them off, and no damage was done by them; distance marched, twenty-nine miles. The march was resumed at six o'clock on the morning of the twenty-ninth, through Harrisonburg and Mount Crawford, and camp pitched on Middle river at Kline's mills. Guerrillas hovered around us during the march, and at Mount Crawford General Rosser, with two or three hundred cavalry, attempted to burn the bridge over the middle fork of the Shenandoah, but did not succeed; two of Capehart's regiments swam the river above the bridge, charged Rosser and routed him, driving him rapidly to Kline's mills, the advance pushing almost to Staunton; but few of the enemy were killed, thirty taken prisoners, and twenty ambulances and wagons with their contents were captured and destroyed; our loss was five men wounded. Kline's mills are seven miles from Staunton, where the headquarters of General Early were said to be. Not knowing but that he would fight at Staunton, Colonel Stagg's brigade of General Devin's division was ordered to destroy the railroad bridge over Christian's creek, between Staunton and Waynesboro, to prevent his getting reinforcements by rail, or in case he would not stand, to prevent him carrying off supplies and ordnance stores; the bridge was burned, but General Early, learning of our approach, made hasty retreat to Waynesboro, leaving word in Staunton that he intended to fight at that place. The next morning we entered Staunton. The question then arose in my mind whether I should pursue my course on to Lynchburg, leaving General Early in my rear, or go out and fight him with my cavalry against his infantry and what cavalry he could collect, defeat him, and open a way through Rock Fish Gap, and have everything in my own hands for the accomplishment of that portion of my instructions which directed the destruction of the Central railroad and James river canal. I decided upon the latter course, and General Custer's division (Third), composed of Colonels Wells', Pennington's, and Capehart's brigades, was directed to take up the pursuit, followed closely by General Devin's division, composed of General Gibbs' and Colonels Fitzhugh's and Stagg's brigades. The rain had been pouring in torrents for two-days and the roads were bad

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T. C. Devin (4)
Jubal A. Early (3)
George A. Custer (3)
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W. T. Sherman (2)
Wesley Merritt (2)
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L. C. Wells (1)
P. H. Sheridan (1)
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