then in close proximity to the enemy, so that Hill
, who was being hard pressed, might withdraw undiscovered, was a very difficult and dangerous operation, and the bold strokes by which he retarded the advance of the enemy until Hill
's Infantry could get south of the Antietam
elicited the highest commendation,
But, perhaps, the most difficult and hazardous service in that line he ever rendered, was in relieving, after the battle of Sharpsburg
, the pickets of our army, which was withdrawn across the Potomac
under cover of night.
When day dawned on the 19th of September, 1862, Fitz Lee
's Brigade of Cavalry was the only force confronting the whole army of McClellan
It was soon in the saddle, and before McClellan
recovered from his surprise, it had safely crossed the river, after a parting salute to the enemy's advance.
One must visit that battleground to appreciate how important, from a military standpoint, this service was. The commanding general
, in his official report, says: ‘The vigilance, activity and courage of the cavalry were conspicuous, and to its assistance is due in a great measure some of the most important and delicate operations of the campaign.’
One of the hardest fought cavalry battles of the war, in proportion to the numbers engaged, was that between General Averill
's Division of nearly 3,000 men, and Fitz Lee
's Brigade of not more than 800 (many having been sent home to recruit their horses) at Kelly Ford on the 17th of March, 1863.
The Confederates were victorious, and Averill
recrossed the Rappahannock
Breathed's horse artillery covered itself with glory.
It was here that the ‘gallant Pelham
,’ as General Lee
spoke of him, in his report of Fredericksburg
, was killed, a loss deeply deplored by the whole army.
I refer again to Chancellorsville
only to say that I do not think the value of Fitz Lee
's service in screening and protecting Jackson
's great flank movement, and by his quick and close reconnoisance, ascertaining and pointing out to Jackson
where his lines could be formed to strike the enemy's rear and flank at the greatest advantage, is generally appreciated.
in the Pennsylvania
campaign he saved the day in the fierce fight at Hanover, Pa.
, by coming in on the enemy's rear and routing Kilpatrick
's Division, and did good work at Gettysburg
, and on our withdrawal into Virginia