- The spring campaign of 1863: camp near Culpepper. -- fights on the Rappahannock. -- visit of a Prussian officer. -- rides in the neighbourhood. -- Hooker's advance and flank march. -- night-fight near Tod's Tavern.
On our arrival at Culpepper we found it greatly improved in aspect. True, the roads were still nearly impassable; but the country round, under the influence of frequent rains and the mild air of April, had clothed itself in tender verdure, interspersed here and there with blooming patches by the now blossoming peach orchards. Our headquarters were established not more than a quarter of a mile from Culpepper, on a height thickly covered with pine and cedar trees, skirted by the road leading to Orange Courthouse, and commanding a view of the village and the surrounding country, picturesquely bordered in the distance by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Only W. Lee's and Fitz Lee's brigades were with us. The former picketed the fords in the immediate vicinity of Culpepper, and the latter was stationed higher up the river. Hampton's command had been left behind for recruiting, most of its dismounted men having been furloughed to their distant homes in Mississippi and the Carolinas to supply themselves with fresh horses.  Our animals were now beginning to get into better condition, forage having become more abundant, and being valuably supplemented by the new grass and clover. Provisions for the men had also grown more plentiful, and our kind friends in the neighbourhood did their best to keep the mess-table of the General and his Staff copiously supplied. In the mean time, after the battle of Fredericksburg, the supreme command had been transferred into the hands of General Hooker, an officer who had gained a high reputation by his gallantry-he was nicknamed by his men “Fighting Joe” --and the good management of his division, but who eventually proved himself to be utterly incapable of commanding a large army. Great credit, however, was due to him for having availed himself of the interval of inaction to improve his cavalry, which was now completely recruited, men and horses, and augmented by fresh brigades; while new order and discipline had been instilled into the entire force. A large part of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, as it was still called, had been concentrated on the Upper Rappahannock, and it was this fact which had caused our rapid departure from Fredericksburg. The restless activity of our neighbours on the other side of the river, their constant marching and countermarching, indicated that some serious enterprise was impending; and the renewal of the picketfiring created the daily expectation, after so long an interval of tranquillity, of a brush with our antagonists. We had already, on the 13th, been brought into the saddle by a sudden alarm, but had found, on hastening to the front, that the gallantry and good firing of our pickets had foiled every effort of the Federals to effect a crossing over the Rappahannock. On the following morning, however, we were abruptly startled by a report that the Yankees had forced a passage at several points of the river, had driven our pickets back, and were advancing in large force upon Culpepper.  All was hurry and confusion at headquarters on the receipt of this intelligence; tents were struck, horses saddled, waggons loaded and teams harnessed, for an immediate start — the General and his Staff galloping off to throw ourselves, with W. Lee's brigade, across the enemy's path. It was on the plain near Brandy Station — that battle-ground so often mentioned already — that we once more encountered the advancing foe, and before long the action developed along all our line. The enemy fought with great obstinacy, and at first we had to yield ground to them for some distance; but in the course of the afternoon we succeeded, by a general and united movement in advance, in driving them back across the river. The fighting was only kept up during the evening by an exchange of firing between the Yankee guns mounted on an old redoubt close to the opposite shore and our batteries on two hills, about a mile apart, in the space between which Generals Stuart and Lee, with their respective Staffs, had taken up their position, carelessly stretched on the ground, chatting and laughing and watching the effect of the shells crossing each other over their heads, as unconcerned as if there were no enemy within miles. I myself was posted a little to the right, narrowly observing, by the aid of the excellent glass I had captured from General Pope's baggage, the movements of the enemy, and wondering in my mind how it was a numerous group of officers so close under the Yankee cannons had thus long escaped their attention. Suddenly I saw the officer commanding the Federal battery mount the parapet, and, after scanning the knot of officers through his glass, assist with his own hands in pointing one of the guns upon them. In spite of my warning, which was received with mockery, the joyous assembly continued their seance till, a few seconds after, the shot was heard, and a shell fell plump in their midst, burying in the earth with itself one of General Lee's gauntlets, which lay on the ground only a few feet from  the General himself, and bespattering all who were nearest to it with earth and mud. It was now my turn to laugh as I beheld my gallant comrades stampede right and left from the fatal spot, chasing their frightened horses, followed by a rapid, though happily less well-directed, succession of shots from the enemy's guns. With this little incident closed the fight for that day. A heavy shower now descended, lasting many hours, which, in the absence of the shelter of our tents, left unpitched in the hurry and excitement of the events of the day, caused us to spend a night of wretched discomfort. General Stuart was led to believe that, the river being much swollen by the rain, the Yankees would leave us undisturbed; but at the very earliest gleam of day, this supposition was dispelled by the intelligence that the enemy, strongly reinforced, had succeeded again in forcing a passage to our side; and once more, wet through and shivering, we were summoned to the front. The conflict, as on so many previous occasions, commenced near Brandy Station; but, notwithstanding their vastly superior numbers, our adversaries did not make a very obstinate stand, probably owing to the rapid rising of the Rappahannock, which in a few hours more might be rendered impassable. Stuart, desirous on this very account to draw the enemy into a battle, vigorously pushed his troops forward after the retreating foe, but was unable to prevent the safe crossing of the entire cavalry force of the enemy, with the exception of their rear-guard, composed of two squadrons of the 3d Indiana regiment. These we brought to a stand a few hundred yards from a mill-creek which intersects the road at a distance of about half a mile from the river, and generally presents scarcely a foot's depth of water, but which was now swollen to a wide and rapid stream not to be crossed, even at the shallowest points, save with the greatest difficulty. As soon as the head of our column approached this spot, a number of dismounted sharpshooters,  posted here to protect the Yankees' rear, opened a severe fire, killing and wounding several of our men. Stuart at once ordered a squadron of our 9th Virginia regiment, who were leading the advance, to charge. Having been refused the General's permission to join in the attack, I galloped, on my own account, about a hundred yards to the right of the road in the direction of the hostile sharpshooters, whose particular attention I at once engaged, a number of bullets flying round my head unpleasantly quick and near. Having got within about forty yards of their position, I shouted out to them to surrender; but in the fancied security offered by the broad foaming stream, which flowed between them and their assailants, they treated my summons with defiance, and answered it only by a brace of bullets, one of which nearly cut off a lock of my hair. Exasperated out of all patience at this, I spurred my horse and dashed with a tremendous leap into the middle of the creek, and for a moment its waters seemed to close over my head; but quickly surmounting the torrent, my brave horse gallantry swam to the opposite shore, and, by a strenuous effort of every sinew, succeeded in scrambling up the steep bank to the high ground above. The boldness and rapidity of this feat seemed to perfectly paralyse the objects of my wrath — a corporal and a private of the 3d Indiana Cavalry, who, as I pounced upon them with uplifted sword, threw away their arms and begged for mercy on their knees. In the first excitement, I felt but little inclined to heed their prayers, seeing that but a few minutes before they had shot down one of our men, and had spent their last cartridge in the attempt to do the like for me; but the poor wretches were so terror-stricken, and begged so hard for their lives, that I was content to commute the penalty of death to treating them with just such a cold bath as I had had; and so I sent them through the water to the other side, where one of our couriers, who had hastened up to my assistance, took  them in charge. In the mean time, the fight had ended in our favour. The enemy, after a short but severe combat, had broken in utter confusion, and had been chased by our men across the creek to the river, where a heavy fire from the opposite bank put an end to the pursuit. Some thirty prisoners and horses fell into our hands, and the enemy lost severely besides in killed and wounded — a good number of their men having been unhorsed in the hurried passage of the creek, and whelmed in the angry waves. Stuart, who had witnessed the whole course of my little exploit, was much amused at the plight in which I returned, soaked through, and beplastered with mud. He had never, he said, expected to see me emerge after my plunge; and added, that as I climbed up the bank I looked like a terrapin crawling out of the mud. For some little time longer the firing was kept up by the artillery on both sides; but as the enemy soon entirely disappeared from the opposite side of the Rappahannock, we returned to our camping ground, pitched our tents, and established once more, in regular order, our cavalry headquarters. As the continued rains rendered the crossing of the Rappahannock impracticable, an interval of tranquillity succeeded these few days of conflict and excitement. It speeded away, however, rapidly enough, amidst visits in the neighbourhood and pleasant horseback excursions in the company of our lady acquaintances. On the 21st I had an agreeable surprise in a visit from a fellow-countryman, Captain Scheibert, of the Prussian engineers. He had been sent on a mission by his Government to take note as an eyewitness of the operations of the war, and derive what profit he could from its experiences. I had already seen him at General R. E. Lee's headquarters, where he was a guest of the General's, for he had been several weeks with our army, and was now about, at my urgent prayer, to make a further stay with us. My tent  and its comforts, sadly curtailed however by the results of the heavy rains, which on several occasions had completely deluged it, were gladly shared with my visitor. Just as at our old headquarters, near Fredericksburg, we had been annoyed by the aggressions of straying sheep, we now suffered from the daily irruptions upon our camp of pigs exploring and devouring everything that fell under their snouts. Not seldom, indeed, these intruders had the impudence to break into my tent in the middle of the night, having set their fancy on a pair of large cavalry boots of mine, which once or twice they succeeded in dragging off far into the woods, giving my negro Henry and myself infinite trouble before we could recover these precious parts of my accoutrement. Our evenings were mostly passed in the village, in the company of our lady acquaintances, whom Scheibert delighted by his excellent pianoforte-playing, to say nothing of the amusement they derived from his original practice with the idiom and pronunciation of the English language. On the 28th, Stuart and the members of his Staff, including our visitor, dined by invitation under the roof of an old widow lady, a very particular friend of mine, who resided on a pretty little plantation close to Culpepper. Mrs S. was a poetess, and had exercised her talents to the glorification of Lee and Jackson, so that when, after dinner, she asked permission to read a new poem, we all naturally expected that it was now Stuart's turn. What was my astonishment, however, and embarrassment to find myself the theme of her eloquent and touching verses, wherein my praises were most flatteringly sounded! Blushing, and transfixed to my chair with stupefaction, as I heard the loud applause which greeted the conclusion of the piece, for a moment I was at a loss how to behave; then suddenly rousing myself, I advanced towards Mrs S., and in the fashion of the knights of old, I knelt on one knee, and with a kiss mutely impressed my thanks on the  hand from which I received my poetical diploma of merit. “That won't do, Von,” cried out Stuart, and, stepping forward, he printed a hearty kiss on the old lady's cheek-a liberty which she received with a very good grace, saying, “General, I have always known you to be a very gallant soldier, but from this moment I believe you to be the bravest of the brave.” Music, dance, and merriment chased away the remaining hours of the day, and it was late in the night ere we reached our headquarters, and retired to rest, little divining how soon we should be roused up again. It was about three in the morning when I was awakened by the General himself, who informed me he had just received intelligence that the enemy were approaching the river at several points with a strong force composed of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and that we must hasten to the front without delay. The words were no sooner spoken than the bugle sounded to horse, and a few minutes after we galloped away from the camp, where all were busy with preparations for moving at a moment's notice. We reached the famous plateau near Brandy Station a little after daybreak, and found there W. Lee's brigade in line of battle, and two batteries of artillery in position. Fitz Lee's command arrived soon afterwards; and on this spot, so favourable for defence, Stuart decided to await the enemy's advance, making all preparations for a desperate resistance. A dense fog, which clung to the plain, precluded all observation of the hostile movements; but our pickets, which by this time had been forced back from the river and were receding towards us before vastly superior numbers, reported that a large body of troops of all arms had passed over to our side of the Rappahannock, and, to judge from the sounds which reached them, still more were crossing on several pontoon-bridges. In the midst of the anxious suspense in which the morning passed away a prisoner was brought in, who, misled by the fog, had ridden  straight into our lines, and as he was led up to us by two of our men, he was vainly trying to make himself understood. Addressing this excited gentleman in French, I found that he was a Belgian artillery officer who, anxious to have the best opportunity possible of witnessing the operations in the field, had attached himself to the Staff of some Yankee General, temporarily adopting the Federal uniform. My new acquaintance very naturally declined to afford us any information as to the enemy's strength and their intentions; but, observing how small comparatively were our numbers, he said, with a shrug of his shoulders, “Gentlemen, I can only give you one piece of advice — that is, to try and make your escape as quickly as possible; if not, your capture by the large army in front of you is a certainty.” I replied, laughing, “That we preferred to wait a little while yet, and that it was our habit always to fight before retreating.” Our brave Belge, with great earnestness, claimed his neutral privileges, and exhibited a profound disinclination to be sent as a captive to Richmond; but, being taken in full Yankee uniform, no exception could be made in his case, and accordingly he was eventually sent, with other prisoners, to that objectionable locality, there to await his regular exchange. Hour after hour passed away in this trying state of uncertainty, until at last, towards mid-day, the fog cleared away, and we were enabled to discover that our antagonists had for once completely deceived us. The advance in front had only been made by some cavalry to occupy our attention while the main body had marched in the direction of the Rapidan river. With his accustomed quickness, Stuart divined at once the intentions of the Federal commander, and, leaving one regiment behind to watch the movements of the hostile cavalry, we directed our march with all rapidity towards Stevensburg and Germana Ford on the Rapidan, trusting to be able to throw ourselves in the way of the enemy before he could  reach the latter important point, where our engineers had just been completing a bridge. Unfortunately we were too late; and on reaching the intersection of the road, near the free negro Madden's house, previously mentioned, we found the greater part of the Federal troops had passed already, and could see, at a distance of not more than three hundred yards, the dense masses of their rear-guard marching steadily along. To give the Yankees an idea how close we were on their track, Stuart ordered the attack at once, and our dismounted sharpshooters, advancing through the undergrowth, opened fire simultaneously with our artillery, advantage being taken by the latter of several openings in the forest to throw a shower of shell and canister into their closely serried ranks. The confusion and consternation caused amongst them by this unexpected attack passes all description. In utter helpless stampede they pressed forward in double-quick, completely heedless of the efforts of their officers to make them stand and fight, and animated by the one sole object of escaping from the deadly fire, which again and again plunged into the hostile columns until the last man had disappeared. The road was covered with their dead and wounded, and sixty who had straggled off into the woods were taken prisoners. We learned from these prisoners that the force consisted of three corps d'armee-the 5th, 11th, and 12th; that their destination was Germana Ford and Chancellorsville; and that their cavalry, under General Stoneman's command, was to march towards Culpepper Court-house. In accordance with this information General Stuart resolved to leave William Lee's brigade behind to impede as much as possible Stoneman's advance, and with Fitz Lee's command to fall again upon the enemy's flank. By the time we reached Racoon's Ford it was already dark, and after crossing the river we dismounted here for an hour to feed our horses. The night was wet and chilly, a fine sleet drizzling down incessantly;  and we felt cold, hungry, and uncomfortable, when, after a short rest, we rode on again through the darkness. We were marching along the plank-road, which, coming from Orange Court-house, strikes across that leading from Germana to Chancellorsville, at a small village called the Wilderness, when at that point the Federal army, already in motion, came in sight. The day being just breaking we attacked without delay; but found this time the Federals better prepared, several of their infantry regiments forming at once into line of battle, and their artillery most effectively answering the fire of our battery. After a short but severe contest we had to retire; but, striking into a road parallel with the enemy's line of march, we renewed the conflict, whenever a favourable opportunity seemed to present itself, until late in the evening, when General Stuart gave the order to turn off in the direction of Spotsylvania Court-house and go into bivouac about eight miles hence, at a place called Tod's Tavern. We reached this point about nightfall, and here General Stuart decided to leave the regiment behind, and, accompanied only by myself, some members of the Staff, whom Captain Scheibert volunteered to join, and a few couriers, to ride across through the woods to General R. E. Lee's headquarters, which, as the crow flies, were about twelve miles distant. Knowing we should have to pass quite close to the enemy's lines, I endeavoured to persuade the General to take one of our squadrons along with him as an escort, but the General refused, believing the road to be quite clear; so, by way of precaution, I sent a courier on ahead to serve as a kind of advanced-guard. We had been riding for some time silently through the forest, whose darkness was only relieved by occasional glimpses of the new moon, when suddenly a pistol-shot was heard a few hundred yards ahead of us, and presently the courier hurried back to us, reporting, in the most excited manner, that he had been fired at by a Yankee  cavalry picket stationed only a short distance from us in the road. Stuart, perfectly convinced that the courier was deceived, and had taken some of our own men for the enemy, requested me to ride ahead and investigate the matter. Accompanied by Major Terril of our Staff, I pricked forward and soon discovered a body of thirty horsemen before us, who in their light-blue overcoats, just discernible by the feeble light of the moon, looked most decidedly like Federals. To make quite sure, however, we approached to within about fifty yards, and I then called out and asked them to what regiment they belonged. “You shall see that soon enough, you d-d rebels,” was the answer, and at the same moment the whole party came full gallop towards us. Firing our revolvers at the charging foe, we quickly turned our horses' heads and rode as fast as our steeds would carry us to the rear, followed by our pursuers shouting and firing after us to their hearts' content. Resistance when so completely out-numbered would have been folly; and accordingly I had the pleasure of seeing our General, who had now lost all doubts as to the real character of these cavalrymen, for once run from the enemy. The Yankees soon slackened their pace, however, and at last gave up the chase altogether, when we halted, and General Stuart despatched Captain White of our Staff to Fitz Lee, with the order to send on one of his regiments as quickly as possible, and to follow slowly himself with the remainder of his brigade. After an anxious half-hour the regiment came up, and we had the satisfaction of turning the tables on our pursuers and driving them before us as rapidly as we had fled before them. The feeble light of the moon was now nearly extinguished by the clouds scudding rapidly across the sky. General Stuart and his Staff were trotting along at the head of the column, when, at the moment of emerging out of the dark forest, we suddenly discovered in the open field before us, and at a distance of not  more than 160 yards, the long lines of several regiments of hostile cavalry, who received us with a severe fire, which, concentrated on the narrow road, in a few moments killed and wounded a large number of our men and horses, causing considerable confusion in our ranks, and speedily checking our onward movement. Fully conscious of our critical position, Stuart drew his sword, and, raising his clear ringing voice, gave the order to attack, taking the lead himself. For once our horsemen refused to follow their gallant commander; they wavered under the thick storm of bullets; soon all discipline ceased, and in a few minutes the greater part of this splendid regiment, which had distinguished itself in so many battle-fields, broke to the rear in utter confusion. In vain did the General, myself, and the other members of the Staff, do our utmost to restore order; we only succeeded in rallying about thirty men round us. At this moment the enemy's bugle sounded the charge; and a few seconds after we brunted the shock of the attack, which broke upon us like a thunder-cloud, and bore our little band along with its vehement rush as driven by a mighty wave, sweeping us along with it into the darkness of the forest. And now ensued a wild, exciting chase, in which friend and foe, unable to recognise each other, mingled helter-skelter in one furious ride. I cannot describe the sensation that came over me, as, feeling assured that everything was now lost, I tightly grasped the hilt of my sword, resolved to sell my life as dearly as possible. Relying merely on the instinct of their horses, most of the men followed the straight road by which we had come, but I and a number of others turned off into a small by-road to the left. Here I discovered by the gleams of the moonlight, which now broke out more brightly, that those immediately round me were friends, but every effort to stop and rally them was in vain. “The Yankees are close behind; we must run for our lives,” was all the answer I received to  my appeals; and on went the hopeless stampede more furiously than before. A tremendous fence standing across our path, too high for a leap, and only to be pulled down at the risk of dismounting, seemed likely to bring our wild retreat to a stop; but by dint of rider pressing on rider, and horse plunging against horse, it at last yielded to the accumulated weight of the impetuous horsemen, and broke down with a loud crash, leaving the way open to the disorderly flight. Just as, at the end of a rapid ride of more than an hour through dense forest, I reached an open field, a rider, who had been close at my side for some time, startled me with the exclamation, “Von, is that you?” in tones which, to my intense delight and relief, I recognised to be Stuart's, who had followed the same route as myself. We were soon joined by some other members of our Staff, all of whom had had wonderful escapes; and by our united efforts we at last succeeded in rallying some sixty of our men, whom we put in charge of one of their officers, with orders to wait for further instructions. Meanwhile we set off with the project of rejoining the rest of the brigade, which, in a dark night and through an unknown and forest-covered country, was a task of some difficulty. On our road we fell in with several of our former pursuers, who, being bewildered in the vast forest, now surrendered to us with little hesitation; two of these were captured by Stuart himself. At the end of an hour's tedious ride we came upon Fitz Lee's column trotting onward to the field of action, whither the 2d Virginia had already preceded them. On reaching the scene of our recent defeat, we found that our brave fellows of the 2d, led by their gallant colonel, Munford, had come up just in time to protect their flying comrades, and had thrown themselves with such ardour on the Federals as to break their lines and scatter them in every direction, many killed and wounded being left on the  field, and some eighty prisoners and horses falling into our hands. As all seemed now over, Stuart ordered the troops to march on to Spotsylvania Court-house, and there encamp, the 2d Virginia taking the lead, and the prisoners and remaining regiments following. We were quietly marching along with the advanced-guard, chatting over the incidents of the evening, when several shots suddenly sounded on our left, followed by brisk firing in our rear. Immediately cries of “The Yankees are on us!” “The Yankees are charging!” broke out from our column; sabres flew out of their scabbards, revolvers from their holsters, and everybody seemed on fire to oppose the enemy, without exactly knowing in what direction to look for him. The scene of confusion which ensued is not to be described; firearms exploded in all directions, bullets traversed the air from all quarters; and, for want of a visible foe, friend seemed likely to come into collision with friend. General Stuart and several others, including myself, did our utmost to quell the disorder, but our voices were drowned in the general hubbub. Suddenly a fresh cry of “Here are the Yankees; here they come,” broke out from the men around me as they fired off their revolvers into the bushes to the right. Calling on them to follow, I spurred my horse forward in the same direction, when, at the same moment, I was met by a rider galloping towards me, who levelled a shot at me so close, the bullet passing through my hat, that I was completely blinded. Before I had quite recovered and could deliver my thrust, my adversary lost no time in firing his second shot, which entered the head of my brave bay, and stretched us both on the ground, myself under the horse. Luckily, however, I was able to disengage myself from the super-incumbent weight of the dying animal; and, jumping up to look after my assailant, found that, fortunately for me,  he had disappeared, without waiting to take advantage of my prostrate condition. Nevertheless my position was a ticklish one still; the firing continued in all directions round me, and our men were galloping about in wild excitement, some calling on me to save myself, as the woods were full of Federals. As I did not much fancy leaving my saddle and bridle a spoil to the enemy, I had managed to detach the precious articles from my dead steed, when one of our couriers rode up to me, leading a Yankee horse which he had caught for me as it was running about riderless. It was an odd-looking, stumpy-legged little pony; and when mounted on it, my legs dangling nearly to the ground, my large English hunting-saddle covering the pony's neck, and leaving his ears only sticking out, I must have presented a remarkable figure, especially as the little beast was in such a state of excitement, plunging and snorting wildly, that I had some trouble in keeping my seat. At last, with no little difficulty, I succeeded in finding Stuart again, who, in the midst of his ill-humour and dissatisfaction at the behaviour of his men, was unable to resist the ludicrous effect of my appearance. He now told me that discipline and order had at last been re-established, and that the whole rout had been caused by less than a hundred of the enemy's cavalry dispersed in the woods by the charge of the 2d Virginia, and who, in the darkness, had been taken for a much larger force. He added that our men had mistaken each other for enemies; and that two of our regiments, the 1st and 3d Virginia, under this mutual delusion, had charged through each other in a splendid attack before they discovered their error, which was fortunately attended with no worse consequences than a few sabre-cuts. All this was a lesson how dangerous night-attacks always are, and taught me that, whenever possible, they should be avoided. Our regiments having been collected, and our prisoners  brought together again, we continued our march to Spotsylvania, which we reached without further interruption at about two in the morning, and our brigade went into bivouac. I here exchanged my pony for another of the captured horses, and rode on, with the untiring Stuart, eight miles further in the direction of Fredericksburg, to General R. E. Lee's headquarters, where we arrived just at day-break, and I was enabled to snatch an hour's rest and tranquillity after all the excitement and fatigue of the night. Our accidental encounter with the enemy turned out of the utmost importance in its consequences, as the cavalry force with which we came into collision was, in fact, the advancedguard of a much larger force sent by the Federals to destroy our railway communications — an enterprise which, after this partial defeat, they abandoned altogether. The main body of the Federal army, numbering about 100,000 men, had in the meanwhile centred in the neighbourhood of Chancellorsville, the three corps coming from the Rapidan having united with those which had crossed the Rappahannock at United States and Banks Ford. A strong force still remained opposite Fredericksburg, watched on our side by Early's division. The bulk of our army confronted the enemy in line of battle, almost perpendicularly to the Rappahannock-Anderson's and McLaws's divisions of Longstreet's corps forming the right, Jackson's corps the left wing, our whole numbers amounting to about 50,000 men.1