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[635] beyond description; nevertheless the men pushed boldly on, although horses and men could scarcely be recognized for the mud which covered them. General Custer found General Early, as he had promised, at Waynesboroa, in a well-chosen position, with two brigades of infantry and some cavalry under General Rosser, the infantry occupying breastworks. Custer, without waiting for the enemy to get up his courage over the delay of a careful reconnoissance, made his dispositions for attack at once, sending three regiments around the left flank of the enemy, which was somewhat exposed by being advanced from instead of resting upon the bank of the river in his immediate rear; he, with the other two brigades, partly mounted and partly dismounted, at a given signal, boldly attacked and impetuously carried the enemy's works,while the Eighth New York and the First Connecticut cavalry, who were formed in columns of fours, charged over the breast work and continued the charge through the little town of Waynesboroa, sabering a few men as they went along, and did not stop until they had crossed the south fork of the Shenandoah river, which was immediately in General Early's rear, where they formed as foragers, and with drawn sabres held the east bank of the stream. The enemy threw down their arms and surrendered with cheers at the suddenness with which they were captured. The general officers present at this engagement were Generals Early, Long, Wharton, Lilley, and Rosser, and it has always been a wonder to me how they escaped, unless they hid in obscure places in the houses of the town. Colonel Capehart, with his brigade, continued the pursuit of the enemy's train which was stretched for miles over the mountains, and the other two brigades pushed rapidly after him, with orders to encamp on the east side of the Blue Ridge. The substantial results of this brilliant fight were eleven pieces of artillery with horses and caissons complete, about two hundred wagons and teams, all loaded with subsistence, camp and garrison equipage, ammunition and officers' baggage, seventeen battle-flags, and sixteen hundred officers and enlisted men. The results in a military point of view were very great, as the crossing of the Blue Ridge, covered with snow as it was, at any other point would have been difficult. Before leaving Staunton for Waynesboroa, I obtained information of a large amount of rebel property at Swoop's depot, on the Lexington railroad, and sent a party to destroy it, which was done; a list of which property will be attached to this report. General Custer's division encamped at Brookfield, on the east side of the Blue Ridge, General Devin's division remaining at Waynesboroa. The next morning the prisoners were sent back to Winchester, under a guard of about fifteen hundred men, commanded by Colonel J. H. Thompson, First New Hampshire cavalry, who safely reached that point, notwithstanding he was harassed by General Rosser's command as far as the crossing of the north fork of the Shenandoah near Mount Jackson, at which point General Rosser made a fierce attack upon him and tried to rescue the prisoners, but he was handsomely repulsed by Colonel Thompson, who captured some of his men and finally arrived at his destination with all his own prisoners and some of Rosser's men besides. General Devin resumed his march at six A. M., leaving General Gibbs' brigade to destroy the iron bridge over the south fork of the Shenandoah, and to burn and destroy the captured wagons and their contents. General Custer moved on toward Charlottesville, destroying much government property and subsistence at Greenwood depot and Ivy station, also the railroad and the large bridge over Meacham's river, arriving at Charlottesville at four P. M., the mayor and several of the most prominent citizens meeting him in the suburbs of the city and delivering up the keys of the public buildings.

The roads from Waynesboroa to Charlottesville had, from the incessant rains and spring thaws, become so terribly cut up, and the mud was of such a depth, that it was impossible for our train to reach Charlottesville under two days. I therefore notified the command that we would remain two days at this point for the purpose of resting, refitting, and destroying the railroad; parties were sent well out toward Gordonsville to break the railroad, and also about fifteen miles toward Lynchburg for the same purpose, to prevent troops massing on me from either Richmond or Lynchburg. A thorough and systematic destruction of the railroads was then commenced, including the large iron bridges over the north and south forks of the Rivanna river, and the work was continued until the evening of the fifth instant, when General Gibbs reported with our trains; forage and subsistence was found in great abundance in the vicinity of Charlottesville. Commodore Hollins of the confederate navy was killed while trying to escape from a scouting party from General Custer's division. This necessary delay forced me to abandon the idea of capturing Lynchburg, but trusty scouts had been sent there to find out the state of affairs in that vicinity. When the time to start came I determined to separate into two columns, sending General Devin's division, under immediate command of General Merritt, to Scottsville, thence to march along the James river canal, destroying every lock as far as Newmarket, while with Custer's division I pushed on up the Lynchburg railroad through North and South Gardens, destroying it as far as Amherst Court-house, sixteen miles from Lynchburg, and then moved across the country and united with General Merritt's column at Newmarket.

General Merritt started on the morning of the sixth, first sending the First Michigan cavalry, Colonel Maxwell commanding, down the Rivanna river to Palmyra and toward Columbia, with directions to rejoin him at Scottsville. General Merritt thoroughly accomplished his orders, destroying all large flour-mills, woollen factories,

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George A. Custer (6)
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