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oint had to pass west by way of Bedford, no information could be sent to General Couch, who was then at Chambersburg. The head of this column reached Chambersburg at three o'clock A. M., on Saturday, the thirtieth ult. The rebel brigades of Vaughn and Jackson, numbering about three thousand men, crossed the Potomac about the same time, at or near Williamsport. Part of the command advanced on Hagerstown; the main body moved on the road leading from Williamsport to Greencastle; another ren of infantry and artillery crossed the Potomac simultaneously at Sheppardstown, and moved towards Leitersburg. General Averill, who commanded a force reduced to about twenty-six hundred men, was at Hagerstown, and being threatened in front by Vaughn and Jackson, and on his right by McCausland and Johnson, who also threatened his rear, and on the left by the column which crossed at Sheppardstown, he therefore fell back upon Greencastle. General Averill, it is understood, was under the orde
der the directions of General Thomas, General Stoneman concentrated the commands of Generals Burbridge and Gillem near Bean's station, to operate against Breckinridge, and destroy or drive him into Virginia — destroy the salt works at Saltville, and the railroad into Virginia as far as he could go without endangering his command. On the twelfth of December he commenced his movement, capturing and dispersing the enemy's force wherever he met them. On the sixteenth he struck the enemy, under Vaughn, at Marion, completely routing and pursuing him to Wytheville, capturing all his artillery trains, and one hundred and ninety-eight prisoners, and destroyed Wytheville, with its stores and supplies, and the extensive lead-works near there. Returning to Marion, he met a force under Breckinridge, consisting, among other troops, of the garrison of Saltville, that had started in pursuit. He at once made arrangements to attack it the next morning; but morning found Breckinridge gone. He then m
quired. During these operations in Middle Tennessee, the enemy, under Breckinridge, Duke, and Vaughn, was operating in the eastern portion of the State against Generals Ammen and Gillem. On the thortion of the State were also very actively engaged in operating against Breckinridge, Duke, and Vaughn. Having quietly concentrated the commands of Generals Burbridge and Gillem at Bean's station, ond. General Stoneman then sent General Burbridge to Bristol, where he came upon the enemy under Vaughn, and skirmished with him until the remainder of the troops-Gillem's column-came up, when Burbridrom Lynchburg to the salt-works. Gillem also reached Abingdon on the fifteenth, the enemy under Vaughn following on a road running parallel to the one used by our forces. Having decided merely to make a demonstration against the salt-works, and to push on with the main force after Vaughn, General Gillem struck the enemy at Marion early on the sixteenth, and after completely routing him, pursued
railroad near Amherst Court-house, destroyed it to some extent, making considerable captures of men, horses, and material. He was confused and detained by the difficult and intricate character of the country. Upon examining these prisoners I was informed that Grant had received a severe repulse; that Sheridan, who was moving to cooperate with us at the head of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, had been repulsed at Louisa Court-house and turned back; that Breckinridge had reinforced Vaughn at Rockfish Gap with four or five thousand men, and that Ewell's whole corps was advancing by the way of Charlottesville. On the other hand we had news, from sources equally entitled to credit, that Lynchburg was undefended, and that its inhabitants were fleeing in panic from Sheridan's advance. Cut off from all reliable sources of information, the country filled with exaggerated and contradictory rumors, it was determined to solve the problem by a bold and decisive advance on Lychburg.
Rebellion Record: a Diary of American Events: Documents and Narratives, Volume 11. (ed. Frank Moore), Doc. 93. the burning of Chambersburg. (search)
ant young officer in the regular service, with about twenty men. His entire command numbered forty-five, and he had to detach for scouting and picket duty more than half his force. So suddenly did they dash into Mercersburg that they cut the telegraph wire before their movement could be telegraphed, and it was not until ten o'clock that night that Lieutenant McLean got a courier through to General Couch with the information. In the meantime, two other columns crossed the same morning, Generals Vaughn and Jackson, with over three thousand mounted men, at Williamsport, and moved toward Hagerstown. General Averell fell back to Greencastle during the day, and a small column of the enemy advanced five miles this side of Hagerstown, where they encamped that night. Another column crossed at Shepherdstown the same morning and appeared near Leitersburg, on General Averell's left, in the course of the evening, but advanced no further. General Averell was thus threatened in front and on bot