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Doc. 134.-General Kilpatrick's expedition.


New-York times narrative.

Williamsburgh, Friday, March 4.
that Brigadier-General Kilpatrick had started on an expedition to the vicinity of Richmond [572] with a considerable cavalry force and some artillery, is generally known to the reading public. The special and most important object of that expedition is not so generally known, and I am not at liberty here to state it. It is sufficient to say, however, that in every other respect it was a complete success, resulting in the destruction of millions of dollars' worth of public property belonging to or used by the confederate government of the so-called seceded States--property, some of which cannot be replaced at all, and the whole of it valuable to the rebel government as a means of carrying on their infernal schemes against the United States. Miles of railroad-track on the two principal roads over which Lee transports his supplies for the Northern army of Virginia, have been so thoroughly destroyed, that some time must elapse before the roads can be put in running order again; depots of commissary, ordnance, and quartermaster's stores were burnt or destroyed; no less than six grist-mills and one saw-mill, principally at work for the rebel army, were burnt; six canal-boats loaded with grain, several locks on the James River Canal, and the almost invaluable coal-pits at Manikin's Bend, were destroyed. It is proper to say what every one with the expedition believes, that had it not been for the false information of a guide, the principal object in starting the expedition would have been accomplished. The man who thus dared to trifle with the welfare of his country, when it became evident that one of the most important objects would prove a failure through his wilful connivance, was immediately hanged upon the spot; thus meeting a fate he so richly deserved.

The command had moved forward to far within the enemy's lines long before any alarm was given to the authorities at Richmond or General Lee, and when it did become known in Richmond, that a force of Union cavalry had crossed the Rapidan, so secret and well-planned had been the expedition by General Pleasanton, and so well executed by General Kilpatrick, they had not the most distant idea of its whereabouts, when, in fact, the command was at that time almost within sight of Richmond, and a few hours later was hurling leaden messengers of death from a battery placed inside the defences of that city into its very suburbs.

The details of this movement, so far as it may be proper, I shall proceed to give nearly in the order in which they transpired. The command left Stevensburgh, Virginia, on Sunday night last, the twenty-eighth ultimo, and crossing Ely's Ford, on the Rapidan — thence by rapid marches to Spottsylvania, Beaver Dam Station, on the Virginia Central Railroad, to the fortifications of Richmond, crossing the Virginia Central Railroad and the Chickahominy River near the Meadows, the White-House Railroad a little east of Tunstall's Station, thence to New-Kent Court-House, and Williamsburgh Court-House, where the command arrived on Thursday last, having been in the saddle nearly all the time from Sunday night, a period of four days, and during the most of that time the men were supplied from rebel larders and their horses from rebel granaries. Nearly three hundred prisoners were captured, several hundred horses were pressed into the service, and hundreds of negroes availed themselves of this opportunity to come within our lines — thereby depleting the producing class of the rebel Confederacy of just so many ablebodied men.

As before stated, the command left Stevensburgh Sunday evening, and moved toward Ely's Ford. Forty men, under the immediate command of Mr. Hogan--a well-known scout — had the advance. The first of the enemy were met within one mile of the ford — a picket, to give notice should any thing like an enemy approach. This picket, composed of four men, by a little strategy, was gobbled, with their horses and accoutrements, without firing a shot or doing any thing to alarm the reserve on the other side of the river — a force consisting of thirteen men, one captain, one. lieutenant, and eleven privates. Hogan and his party gained the opposite bank, and the night being cloudy, succeeded in enveloping the reserve before they discovered his presence, and captured all but three. From these prisoners the important fact was ascertained that nothing whatever was known by the rebel authorities of the movement then on foot for their discomfiture. Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, accompanied by Major Cook, of the Second New-York cavalry, and a small party of picked men, took the advance after crossing the Rapidan, and, as they had a special mission to perform, some account of it will be given elsewhere. The main command moved along with rapidity, taking the road to Spottsylvania Court-House. The night was cloudy, and betokened rain; but the roads were good, and every one was pleasant and hopeful. “Let the storm hold off twenty-four hours, and then I don't care,” said a prominent officer of the command. Spottsylvania was reached late at night; no halt was made, however, and the corps moved rapidly forward to Beaver Dam, on the Virginia Central Railroad. Captain Estes and Lieutenant Wilson, with a party of men, dashed so suddenly upon this place that the telegraph operator was a prisoner before he had time to announce the arrival of the Yankees — much to his chagrin, for all the other telegraph lines had been cut, and Jeff Davis, in his anxiety to know what was going on, had been telegraphing that station every hour in the day for information. This place was reached at about five o'clock P. M., Monday, and the work of destruction was at once commenced. Small parties were sent up and down the railroad to tear up the track, burn the culverts and bridges, and destroy the rails by heating and bending them; this was comparatively an easy task, for there were thousands of cords of pine wood — all of which was burned — piled along the track, this being a wood station; a large new brick freight-house, one hundred by twenty-five feet, the telegraph-office, passenger-depot, engine-house, water-tank, several cars, and a number of out-buildings, were all set on fire. [573] While the command was engaged in this work of destruction, a picket reported the approach of a train loaded with troops from the direction of Richmond, and here commenced the first fighting. General Kilpatrick advanced a column to capture the train, if possible, but the enemy had seen the smoke of the burning station, and approached cautiously. They came on, however, to within two miles of the station, and a portion of the troops were disembarked. A small force was advanced to meet them, and in a charge our troops captured two officers and thirty men. The enemy then fled. Several parties were sent out from this point to destroy the railroad at other points, and bridges on important roads. Major Hall, of the Sixth New-York cavalry, with a party, went to destroy the Fredericksburgh and Richmond Railroad bridge, over the South-Anna, at Taylorville, but found the place guarded by the Maryland rebel battalion of rebel infantry, who had two pieces of artillery. This command was absent some time on important service, and did not rejoin the main column until the following day, in front of Richmond. Not returning at the time expected, a detachment under Captain Hull, of the Second New-York, was sent out on a mission, and to find out the whereabouts of Major Hall's party. Hull ran across a superior force and had a brisk skirmish, in which he lost five men, and was forced to retire. Another party under Captain Plum and Lieutenant Lord was also sent off and returned in safety. The main command, just at nightfall, Monday, moved forward and during the night crossed the South-Anna River. Here the advance had a skirmish with an infantry picket near Taylorsville, and dispersed them. The men crossed, a brief halt was made to feed, when the column at daylight moved “on to Richmond,” before which, and within the second line of defences, a position was taken at half-past 10 o'clock the same morning. On the way, Kilby Station, on the Fredericksburgh road, was destroyed, and Lieutenant Whitaker, of General Kilpatrick's staff, blew up a stone bridge near Kilby Station, and the track and culverts were destroyed all along in that vicinity. Lieutenant Boyce, of the Fifth New-York cavalry, with twelve men, cut the track and destroyed the telegraph at Guinea Station.

Tuesday, at half-past 10 o'clock A. M., found the command passing the outer earthworks on the Brook turnpike, within three and a half miles of Richmond. The arrival of Yankee troops was entirely unexpected, and the indignation of some very good-looking women, standing in front of houses at the roadside, excited much amusement. The advance captured several men on picket-duty belonging to the citizen soldiery of Richmond, without firing a shot; and while waiting for the main column to come up, citizens were stopped and questioned with the utmost freedom; they, of course, did not know who their questioners were. Here was obtained a copy of the Examiner and Dispatch fresh from the press that morning, announcing some rumors about a brigade of Yankee cavalry having crossed the Rapidan. What their astonishment must have been one hour later, to hear Kilpatrick's guns may be imagined but not described. Moving forward to Within the second line of defences going toward the city, the skirmishers encountered the first shots from near the third line, or what is known as Battery Number Nine. Guns were opened on both sides, and a strong line of skirmishers were thrown out. Captain Bacon, with others, charged the Johnnies, and drove them inside their works, and a desultory firing was kept up until between four and five o'clock in the evening, when, for some reason then unknown, the command of Colonel Dahlgren not appearing, General Kilpatrick decided to fall back. The enemy had burned the bridge across Brook Creek in rear of the command, and the column turned off upon the Meadows Road, crossing the Fredericksburgh and Richmond Railroad, and destroying every thing within reach. At night, the command went into camp at a place six miles from Richmond, and two miles from the Chickahominy; there was a slight fall of rain and sleet, and the men built fires, cooked their chickens and bacon, and had turned in for a few hours' sleep; but as all persons are doomed to disappointment at some time or other, so it was their lot on this occasion. At about half-past 10 o'clock, just as the command was fairly asleep, except those on duty, the rebels opened a two-gun battery upon the camp of General Davies's brigade, and immediately after charged the camp of the Seventh Michigan. The men, though taken entirely by surprise, seized their carbines, and under Colonel Litchfield, supported by the First Vermont, Colonel Preston, handsomely repulsed the enemy, who, owing to the camp-fires, had decidedly the advantage over our troops, owing to their occupying a position between the enemy and the camp-fires. After forcing the enemy back, the Commanding General decided to move his command again, so as to be ready for any emergency at daylight. In this affair a number of horses were killed, and a few were stampeded by the shrieking shell rushing through the midnight air. The scene, all things considered, was not a very fascinating one to a man of tender nerves. Several men were wounded, and Colonel Litchfield, who is missing, it is feared is also wounded. The enemy had the exact range of

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