my from Manassas, on the 8th of March, so skilfully was the enterprise managed, that the first intimation thereof gained by the Union forces was from the smoke of the burning huts, fired by the Confederates on their retirement!
With a view rather of giving the troops some experience on the march and bivouac than for the purpose of pursuit, General McClellan ordered a forward movement of the army towards Centreville the next day, and immediately dispatched two regiments of cavalry under Colonel Averill to Manassas.
A few days afterwards, a large body of cavalry, with some infantry, under command of General Stoneman, was sent along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to determine the position of the enemy, and, if possible, force his rear across the Rappahannock; but the roads were in such condition that, finding it impossible to subsist his men, Stoneman was forced to return after reaching Cedar Run.
It was found that the enemy had destroyed all the bridges.
This expedition was foll
From Fortress Monroe the advance was made in two columns—General Keyes with the Fourth Corps (divisions of Couch and Smith) formed the left; and General Heintzelman with the Third Corps (divisions of Fitz-John Porter and Hamilton, with Averill's cavalry) and Sedgwick's division of the Second Corps, the right.
At the very outset the roads were found nearly impracticable, the season being unusually wet. No resistance of moment was met on the march; but on the afternoon of the 5th of Apac was on the field of Malvern, the position was not one that could be held; for the army was under the imperious necessity of reaching its supplies.
During the night, accordingly, the troops were withdrawn to Harrison's Bar, on the James.
Colonel Averill, with a regiment of cavalry, a brigade of regular infantry, and a battery, covered the rear.
Lee threw forward Stuart (who with his troopers had been absent during the whole pursuit on an expedition to White House and the lower fords of the
On the 16th of March, Hooker sent out an expedition of six mounted regiments and a battery, under General Averill, to engage the Confederate cavalry on Lee's left, holding position near Kelly's Ford.
Forcing the passage of the Raannock at Kelly's Ford, on the morning of the 17th, by a spirited dash, in which twenty-four of the enemy were captured, Averill pushed forward, driving the enemy before him for four miles south of the river, when he became engaged with the Confedereatedly charging with the sabre.
Nothing decisive resulted; but the Union cavalry were much encouraged by the exploit.
Averill's loss was eighty-four; that of the Confederates one hundred and seventy.—Fitz Lee: Report of Kelleysville.
These thtime the infantry made the passage, April 29.
Hooker then divided the command into two columns, sending one, under General Averill, to move to Louisa Courthouse, threaten Gordonsville, and engage the Confederate mounted force, while the other, und
rce in the Shenandoah Valley and West Virginia was divided into two columns—one under Crook, consisting of a force of infantry and a division of cavalry under General Averill, to move by the Kanawha to operate against the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad; the other, under Sigel, to advance as far as possible up the Virginia Valching Breckinridge's division from the force in the valley to join the army confronting Grant.
The 8th of the same month, Hunter formed a junction with Crook and Averill at Staunton, from which place he moved towards Lynchburg, by way of Lexington.
Arriving before Lynchburg, it was found to be well defended; and, as Hunter learneed that great store would be found at Meadow Bridge, five or six marches from Lynchburg, where a half-million rations had been left a few days before by Crook and Averill, under guard of two Ohio regiments of hundred days men. These troops, however, were stampeded by a contemptible handful of guerrillas, and, after burning about ha
column of active operation under his command, consisting of the Sixth and Nineteenth corps and the infantry and cavalry of West Virginia, under Generals Crook and Averill, were added two divisions of cavalry from the Army of the Potomac, under Torbert and Wilson.
This gave him an effective in the field of forty thousand men, whereon's cavalry division, the Nineteenth Corps in the centre, and the Kanawha infantry on the right.
The latter flank was covered by Merritt's division of cavalry.
Averill's division of cavalry, which had pressed down on the retreating Confederates from the direction of Bunker Hill, succeeded in closing in on the Union right.
This,icketts, on the right.
The latter corps was posted somewhat in rear and in reserve.
The cavalry divisions of Custer and Merritt guarded the right flank; that of Averill (at this time under Powell) guarded the left, and picketed the whole line of the North Fork of the Shenandoah from Cedar Creek to Front Royal.
The army was, at t