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Doc. 101. reconnoissance from Edwards' Ferry, Va.

Major Mix's report.

Headquarters Van Alen Cavalry, camp Bates, near Poolesville, Md., Nov. 4, 1861.
Capt. Chas. Stewart, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Corps of Observation:
sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of my reconnoissance on the 21st ultimo:

In compliance with the instructions of Brigadier-General Stone, I crossed the Potomac at Edwards' Ferry, about seven o'clock A. M., with a party of three officers and thirty-one rank and file, Capt. Charles Stewart, Assistant Adjutant-General, accompanying the party. A line of skirmishers, consisting of two companies of the First Minnesota, commanded the line of the hill to the right and front. After carefully examining our arms and equipments, we moved quickly forward on the Leesburg road; the house to the right, about two miles from the landing, known as Monroe's, was found vacant, and appeared to have been left in great haste, most probably during the cannonading of the 20th.

At this passing the road enters a thick wood, with a great growth of underbrush, impenetrable to our flanking at the gait we were moving. They were, consequently, drawn up the road and ordered to proceed at a slow gallop. The road was here so narrow and crooked that they could not keep over forty paces in the front. Three hundred yards from the house a road crosses the one we were upon, running to the bridge over Goose Creek on the left, and to Leesburgh on the right. I, however, kept straight on, as the road presented little opportunities for observation, and would sooner reach the high and open country around the enemy's breastworks to the left and front. Soon after reaching this point we drove in a vidette of the enemy, who took the alarm too soon to allow a reasonable chance of our capturing him, and I did not wish to fatigue our horses by useless pursuit. A negro, whom we had met, reported that a regiment of infantry and a body of cavalry had left the immediate neighborhood that morning at daylight, and taken the Leesburg road. With this intelligence we proceeded on our way, and when about twelve hundred yards further in the woods, our advance suddenly halted and signalized “the enemy in sight.” Pushing rapidly forward, we soon saw the bayonets glistening above the brush; but for the thick undergrowth, but few of the enemy could be seen. In an instant the head of the columns, “by fours” came upon the road, within thirty-five yards of us, and five yards of one of our men, (Sergeant Brown.) who held his position when he discovered them. At the same moment, a rise in the ground disclosed to me a long line of bayonets pushing rapidly forward, with the evident intention of flanking the road on our left. I immediately directed a fire on them from our revolvers, which took effect on at least two of them, one an officer, who was leading the column, probably a lieutenant; we wheeled quickly about, when instantly their first platoon opened fire upon us from a distance of not over thirty yards; we retired at a smart gallop about one hundred yards, when a turn in the road protected us from their fire, which was now very rapid, but ineffective. Within thirty yards of their column a horse was shot, another stumbled and fell, leaving two men almost in the ranks of the enemy. These men were rescued and brought back in a most gallant manner by Captain Charles Stewart and Lieutenant George E. Gour, and were quickly mounted, when we formed for a charge, but the enemy had deployed to the right and left of the road and again compelled us to retire, which we did leisurely, examining the ground to the right and left, and leaving videttes at the most commanding positions. The enemy did not follow us beyond the edge of the woods in the front of Monroe's house. Lieutenant Pierce and Sergeant Chesbrough were left here to observe his movements, while the remainder of the party proceeded to the left. A scout belonging to the Fourth Virginia Cavalry, “Ball's Company,” was then captured. He had been reconnoitring, and had fallen in with our party unexpectedly. [226] Having examined the country to the left and front without discovering any thing of further importance, we fell back on our line of skirmishers, leaving the open country and the Monroe house occupied by our videttes. Thus closed our movements as a reconnoitring party; but, at their own request, Captain Murphy, Lieutenant Pierce, and Sergeant Chesbrough remained and gathered much important information during the day, and chased several parties who ventured out of the woods back into them. Upon one of these occasions they captured a wooden canteen and saddle-bag, which a scout dropped in his hurried retreat. In conclusion, sir, I cannot but commend in the highest terms the conduct of both officers and men under my command; their coolness and prompt obedience speaks well for their future reputation. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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Charles Stewart (3)
Franklin Pierce (2)
J. Mix (2)
Chesbrough (2)
C. P. Stone (1)
Thomas Murphy (1)
George E. Gour (1)
Doc (1)
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J. W. Brown (1)
Ball (1)
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November 4th, 1861 AD (1)
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