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[571] Gregg's divisions, and were well mounted. When they marched up the steep banks of the Rivanna River their coming was unknown, and altogether unexpected. Before us, the correspondent says, was a large cavalry camp, the huts arranged with mathematical precision and soldierly regularity.

On one side the horses were quietly standing; on the other six pieces of artillery were parked, with all the appurtenances neatly arranged, and in close proximity to the caissons. The Fifth regular regiment of General Merritt's old brigade led the van. Captain Ash, with one squadron, dashed among the comfortable-looking huts with reckless precipitancy, and scattered the inmates in all directions.

He ordered the men to destroy all they could, and they obeyed the instructions to the very letter. As neither axes nor rat-tailed files could be found in his command, it was impossible to spike the guns or chop the gun-carriages to pieces, so they contented themselves with blowing up the caissons and destroying the camp. In the mean time the enemy were rallying with the rapidity and zeal of Gauls, at the call of their chief.

Several pieces of artillery were belching forth their destructive notes at the audacious invaders, and the main body of Custer's command coming up, the enemy were driven a short distance, to give us a foothold on the crest of the same hill with themselves. Between our troops and the town the enemy were gathering in great force. Every thing warned us to get away as speedily as possible, lest it might be our lot to get surrounded.

They had telegraphed from Charlottesville to Orange Court-House that uninvited visitors were there, and aid was needed to expel them from the neighborhood. The answer to these despatches came toward evening, in the shape of five car-loads of infantry. There was nothing left us now but speedy retreat. Our horses were wheeled about, and toward sunset the Rivanna was crossed, the bridge burned, and all the mills that could be found in the neighborhood destroyed. In returning, the advance was given to Colonel Stedman, who commands a battalion of five hundred men chosen from General Gregg's division.

The night was dark and the rain, that continued to fall, was mingled with sleet.

Custer, who followed with a thousand men, composing the remnant of his command, got lost in thick gloom. For some time they endeavored to blunder through a deep and muddy ravine, into which they had strayed, but when they thought of two pieces of artillery, all hope of getting through with them was given up. Stedman with his five hundred men continued on their course, which, luckily for them, was correct, and about four o'clock on Tuesday morning they reached our infantry pickets, inside of Madison Court-House. Custer finding it impossible to proceed further, bivouacked that night in the woods, while he baited his horses and refreshed his men.

General Stuart, with two thousand cavalrymen of Wickham's and Fitz-Hugh Lee's brigades, was marching toward his rear. The next morning about nine o'clock General Custer marched toward the right road, and having found it and marched upon it a short distance, discovered that Stuart, with his ragged but indefatigable followers, had succeeded in getting into his rear. As they neared Stannardsville, about fifteen miles from the picturesque little village of Madison, the rebel cavalry were seen drawn in line across the road.

This meant hostility, and for some time the officers of our little command were at a loss what to do. The object of their wearisome and dangerous raid was to draw the rebel cavalry away from the Central road to Richmond, and they had no intention of drawing him so far to their rear. All that bothered our troops was the section of Ransom's battery, and that slightly impeded their progress. In general council it was proposed to throw these two Parrott guns into the nearest and deepest ditch; but Ouster protesting, declared he would fight his way through. Indeed a charge was led by himself in person. The rebels stood their ground manfully, but our two guns now opened on them, and completed their discomfiture, that was fast causing their lines to waver. They fled hastily, and our men pursued them hotly till they reached another road, which afforded no means of egress.

Three rebels were killed in this charge, and a considerable number wounded. Many prisoners fell into our hands, some of whom succeeded in making their escape.

Colonel Stedman hearing the firing in the direction of Stannardsville, and knowing it must arise from an engagement between Custer and the enemy, started back with his wearied men to the relief of the beleaguered party. They proceeded till the enemy was met and Custer discovered to be safe, when they also returned without damage.

This expedition was highly successful. The diversion created in favor of Kilpatrick could not have been greater. The Third and Sixth corps remained on the open field, exposed to all the inclemency of the weather.

At one time General Sedgwick was at a loss how to proceed. No intelligence had been received from Custer.

His troops had consumed their scanty store of supplies, while the clouds assumed a more gloomy aspect. At last every thing was discovered to be progressing favorably, and the infantry are by this time on the homeward march.

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