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[193]

The attention of the Federal commander was now turned to operations on the Potomac river, below Washington, as the Confederate batteries, located at Freestone point, Cockpit point, Shipping point at the mouth of the Quantico, and at the mouth of Aquia creek, were a standing menace to the navigation of that river to and from Washington. On October 22d a detachment of the Seventy-second New York was sent to construct intrenchments at Budd's ferry, opposite the Confederate battery at Shipping point, and to report on the Confederate batteries along the Potomac; he also constructed earthworks for batteries opposite Evansport. On the 28th the Confederate battery near Budd's ferry, numbering some 14 guns, opened on a steamer attempting to pass up the river. General Hooker, learning of this, directed his batteries on the Maryland shore to open on the Confederate steamer Page, in case the steamer attempting to go up the Potomac should be disabled, or if an attempt should be made to take it as a prize.

On the 9th of November, Gen. D. E. Sickles, of General Hooker's command, sent an expedition of 400 men down the Potomac to reconnoiter Mathias point, which was held by a small Confederate picket. On the 12th Gen. S. P. Heintzelman, in charge of Fort Lyon, on the Telegraph road, a short distance from Alexandria, sent out two brigades of infantry to Pohick church. On reaching the church, early the next morning, it was ascertained that the Confederates had left the night before.

On the 14th of November, General Dix, commanding the department of Pennsylvania, with headquarters at Baltimore, ordered Gen. H. H. Lockwood, commanding the Federal peninsula brigade, partly composed of Union Marylanders, to proceed on an expedition through Accomac and Northampton counties, in Virginia, for the purpose of ‘bringing these counties back to their allegiance to the United States, and reuniting them to the Union on the footing of West Virginia.’ The commander of the expedition was directed to distribute a proclamation by General Dix, which made known the object of the expedition and gave many assurances as to the good results that would follow submission to Federal authority, and to exercise ‘the utmost vigilance to preserve discipline and prevent any outrage upon persons or property.’

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