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[255] as we have stated above, decided McClellan to occupy Coggin's Point.

So long, however, as Burnside and the fleet of transports, which lay in readiness to ship his troops, remained at the mouth of the James, whence they could proceed either to Harrison's Landing or to Aquia Creek, it was evident to Lee that the movement of the Federals had not yet been determined upon. Accordingly, he sought with particular care for every item of intelligence calculated to enlighten him as to the design of his adversaries. Finally, one evening, either on the 4th or 5th of August, a small steamer bearing a flag of truce was seen coming up the James, passing the Confederate outposts and approaching Aiken's Landing, a place designated for the exchange of prisoners. In the midst of the soldiers, whose gray coats were worn out by long confinement, the sick and wounded, to whom the thought of freedom restored both strength and health, an officer was making himself conspicuous by his extreme anxiety to land. His face was well known to every Virginian, and his name to all his companions in arms; it was the celebrated partisan Colonel John Mosby. His eagerness, which everybody attributed to his ardent temperament, was very natural, for he had news of the greatest importance to communicate to Lee. A few hours later he was at the headquarters of his chief, to whom he made known the fact that at the very moment he was leaving Hampton Roads, that same morning, the whole of Burnside's corps was being embarked, and that its destination, as he knew positively, was Aquia Creek.

Lee lost no time in availing himself of this information, which chance had so opportunely thrown into his hands. He had nothing more to fear on the side of the James, and he was extremely anxious to strike Pope before Burnside could join him. Jackson, having been promptly apprised of this fact, started on the 7th of August to attack Pope at Culpepper with his three divisions, Ewell first, followed by Winder and A. P. Hill, forming altogether an army from twenty-five to thirty thousand strong. On the morning of the 8th, his cavalry encountered the enemy on the borders of the Rapidan, and the same evening he crossed this river at Burnett's Ford, on the Orange and Culpepper road. General Bayard, who led the Federal cavalry with great ability,

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