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[399] on the following day. The 7th, in obedience to orders from Washington, General Sedgwick, temporarily commanding the Army of the Potomac in the absence of General Meade, threw Kilpatrick's cavalry division across the Rapidan at Ely's Ford, and Merritt's division at Barnett's Ford, while, at a point between, two divisions of the Second Corps made the passage at Germanna Ford by wading. The Confederates held their positions, and considerable skirmishing took place during the day. The troops remained on the south bank until the time fixed for the termination of General Butler's movement, when they were withdrawn. The raiding scheme resulted in nothing. General Wistar found Bottom's Bridge blockaded, and after reconnoitring the position, he returned. He does not appear to have lost any thing; but the troops of the Army of the Potomac, that had the luck to be engaged in the ‘diversion,’ suffered a sacrifice of two hundred and fifty men.

A few weeks later a bold expedition was fitted out with the view of releasing the large body of Union prisoners held at Richmond, the accounts of whose ill-treatment had excited profound sympathy throughout the North. This enterprise was under command of General Kilpatrick, with some threat or four thousand cavalry, seconded by Colonel Dahlgren, a young officer of extraordinary dash and daring. It set out on the 28th of February, after Sedgwick's corps and Custer's cavalry had made a demonstration on Lee's left. Crossing the Rapidan at Ely's Ford, beyond the Confederate right flank, the force marched thence to Spottsylvania Courthouse. Here Colonel Dahlgren, with five hundred picked men, assuming the most daring part of the expedition, diverged from the main body and pushed forward by way of Frederickshall towards the James River. The column under General Kilpatrick at the same time moved rapidly southward, and on the following night, the 29th, struck the Virginia Central Railroad at Beaver Dam Station, whence parties were sent out to damage the road. While engaged in this work, a train of troops arrived from the direction of Richmond; but

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