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[333] started, accompanied by McNeil's company of partisan rangers and Gilmor's Maryland battalion, crossing the mountain over a rugged road near Orkney Springs. I started McClanahan's battery of artillery of Imboden's command with him and some wagons, but it was now the 1st of January and the weather had become excessively cold, the thermometer being near zero, and when the artillery got to the top of the mountain, it was found that the roads on the other side, which were very steep, were sheeted with ice, rendering it impracticable to get the artillery down in safety. The cavalry succeeded in getting down, by the men being dismounted to lead their horses, but the artillery and wagons had to be sent back.

To attract attention from this expedition I moved at the same time down the Valley pike to Fisher's Hill with Thomas' brigade, preceded by Imboden's cavalry under Colonel Smith, and remained there until Fitz. Lee's return, Smith being sent beyond Strasburg to demonstrate towards Winchester. Walker's brigade had been left at Mount Jackson. While we were at Fisher's Hill, there were two heavy snows, and there was very hard freezing weather all the time. The men had no tents and their only shelter consisted of rude open sheds made of split wood, yet, though Thomas' was a Georgia brigade, they stood the weather remarkably well and seemed to take a pleasure in the expedition, regretting when the time came to fall back.

In the meantime Fitz. Lee had reached Hardy, attacked a guarded train moving from New Creek to Petersburg for the supply of that post, captured more than twenty wagons and some prisoners, invested the post at Petersburg, which he found strongly fortified, but having no artillery he abandoned the attempt to dislodge the enemy without making an attack. He then moved down to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, destroyed the bridge over Patterson's Creek and that over the South Branch partially, collected a large number of cattle, and came off with the captured wagons, and prisoners, and

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