Doc. 149.-skirmish at the Rapidan River.
The First Maryland cavalry scouting.
camp near Culpeper Courthouse, Va., July 17, 1862.we left Camp Goodrich, near Middletown, on Saturday, the fifth instant, late in the evening, and arrived, after a very tedious night march, near Front Royal, where we encamped on the identical spot which was occupied by the gallant First Maryland infantry when Jackson attacked them. The camp was called after Brig.-General Slough. Wednesday, the ninth instant, we left Camp Slough for Washington, Rappahannock County, by a circuitous road, the First and Second brigades marching directly on to Flint Hill, and from thence to Washington, twelve miles above which place the sentinels of the Second brigade were fired upon by the enemy. For various reasons, the troops were ordered back to Gaines's Cross-Roads, near Flint Hill, where they encamped for the night, and from thence they marched on Friday, the eleventh instant, six miles in an easterly direction towards Warrenton, when they encamped on Elias Corder's place, which was formerly the headquarters of General Banks's division. Here the First Maryland, First Vermont, First Michigan, First Virginia, and Fifth New-York regiments of cavalry were consolidated into one brigade of cavalry, under the command of Brig.-General J. P. Hatch. Accompanied by one battery of six pieces and one regiment of infantry, the brigade advanced on Saturday, the twelfth instant, to Culpeper Court-House. They met the enemy in various places, dispersed about the neighborhood of Jefferson and other small towns and villages. During the various skirmishes on this advance several of our men were wounded, and one of the First Vermont cavalry killed. In all, eleven secesh soldiers were taken prisoners, and sent to Warrenton. On the arrival at Culpeper Court-House it was found that the cars had left a short time before with two hundred secesh soldiers. Scouting parties were immediately despatched in different directions to find the enemy. Major James M. Deems was sent with three companies eight miles towards Sperryville, as far as Devil's Run, but no enemy in force was found. A few bushwhackers were seen, and three of them taken prisoners. The Major returned to town at sundown, when he was again ordered, and with six companies, namely, company L, Capt. Thistleton; company I, Captain Charles Russell; company H, Captain Grafflin; company B, Capt. John Hancock; company D, Lieut. Marsdorf, and company E, Lieut. Joseph Cook. The order was to proceed at once to Rapidan station, and burn the large railroad bridge over the Rapidan River. Six miles from Fairfax the command was fired upon by the enemy, when a brisk skirmish for ten miles in succession took place, the enemy being driven rapidly before us. On the arrival at the railroad bridge, where the enemy's guards were stationed, a sharp encounter took place, in which a secesh Lieutenant by the name of Maxwell was killed. Lieut. Maxwell was from the District of Columbia, and well known to some of our men. Col. Taliafero, whose dwelling is near the bridge, escaped, in company with a physician and a telegraph operator, through the back-door. It being very dark, the troops had no opportunity to take more than three prisoners and three horses. Preparations were now made to burn the bridge, which, on account of the absence of tar, rosin, and other material usually applied for that purpose,  was at first very slow. The men were obliged to carry sheaves of wheat, fence-rails, etc., to the bridge before the torch could be applied; but the work was so thoroughly done that not a single timber remained. The telegraph wire was then cut and the battery destroyed, when the command returned to camp, where it arrived next (Sunday) morning at ten o'clock.