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Rebel reports and Narratives

General Lee's despatches and orders.

The cavalry expedition to Pennsylvania has returned safe. They passed through Mercersburgh, Chambersburgh, Emmitsburgh, Liberty, New-Market, Hyattstown, and Barnesville. The expedition crossed the Potomac above Williamsport, and recrossed at White's Ford, making the entire circuit, cutting the enemy's communication, destroying arms, etc., and obtaining many recruits.

R. E. Lee, General.

headquarters Department of Northern Virginia, October 18, 1862.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General:
General: In forwarding the report of Major-Gen. Stuart of his expedition into Pennsylvania, I take occasion to express to the Department my sense of the boldness, judgment, and prudence he displayed in its execution, and cordially join with him in his commendations of the conduct and endurance of the brave men he commanded. To his skill and their fortitude, under the guidance of an overruling providence, is their success due.

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

headquarters army of Northern Virginia, camp near Winchester, Va., October 8, 1862.
Major-General J. E. B. Stuart, Commanding Cavalry, etc.:
General: An expedition into Maryland with a detachment of cavalry, if it can be successfully executed, is at this time desirable. You will, therefore, form a detachment of from twelve to fifteen hundred well-mounted men, suitable for such an expedition, and should the information from your scouts lead you to suppose that your movement can be concealed from bodies of the enemy that would be able to resist it, you are desired to cross the Potomac above Williamsport, leave Hagerstown and Greencastle on your right, and proceed to the rear of Chambersburgh, and endeavor to destroy the railroad bridge over the branch of the Concoheague.

Any other damage that you can inflict upon the enemy or his means of transportation you will also execute. You are desired to gain all information of the position, force, and probable intention of the enemy which you can; and in your progress into Pennsylvania you will take measures to inform yourself of the various routes that you may take on your return to Virginia.

To keep your movement secret, it will be necessary for you to arrest all citizens that may give information to the enemy, and should you meet with citizens of Pennsylvania holding State or Government offices, it will be desirable, if convenient, to bring them with you, that they may be used as hostages, or the means of exchanges for our own citizens that have been carried off by the enemy. Such persons will, of course, be treated with all the respect and consideration that circumstances will admit.

Should it be in your power to supply yourself with horses, or other necessary articles on the list of legal captured, you are authorized to do so.

Having accomplished your errand, you will rejoin the army as soon as practicable. Reliance is placed upon your skill and judgment in the successful execution of this plan, and it is not intended or desired that you should jeopardize [6] the safety of your command, or go farther than your good judgment or prudence may dictate.

Col. Imboden has been desired to attract the attention of the enemy toward Cumberland, so that the river between that point and where you may recross may be less guarded. You will, of course, keep out your scouts, to give you information, and take every other precaution to secure the success and safety of the expedition.

Should you be led so far east as to make it better, in your opinion, to continue around to the Potomac, you will have to cross the river in the vicinity of Leesburgh.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General. Official--R. H. Chilton, A. A. General.

headquarters cavalry division, October 9, 1862.
soldiers: You are about to engage in an enterprise which, to insure success, imperatively demands at your hands, coolness, decision, and bravery — implicit obedience to orders, without question or cavil, and the strictest order and sobriety on the march and in biveuac.

The destination and extent of this expedition had better be kept to myself than known to you. Suffice it to say, that with the hearty cooperation of officers and men, I have not a doubt of its success — a success which will reflect credit in the highest degree upon your arms.

The orders which are herewith published for your government are absolutely necessary, and must be rigidly enforced.

J. E. B. Stuart, Major-General Commanding.

headquarters cavalry division, October 9, 1862.
orders no. 13:

During the expedition into the enemy's country, on which this command is about to engage, brigade commanders will make arrangements for seizing horses, the property of citizens of the United States, and all other property subject to legal capture, provided that in no case will any species of property be taken except by authority given in person or in writing of the commander of brigade, regiment, or captain of a company in the absence of his superior officers. In all cases, a simple receipt will be given to the effect that the article is seized for the use of the confederate States, giving place, date, and name of owners, in order to enable the individual to have recourse upon his Government for damages.

Individual plunder for private use is positively forbidden, and every instance must be punished in the severest manner, for an army of plunderers consummates its own destruction. The capture of any thing will not give the captor any individual claim, and all horses and equipments will be kept to be apportioned upon the return of the expedition, through the entire division. Brigade commanders will arrange to have one third of their respective commands engaged in leading horses, provided enough can be procured, each man linking so as to lead three horses, the led horses being habitually in the centre of the brigade, and the remaining two thirds will keep, at all times, prepared for action.

The attack, when made, must be vigorous and overwhelming, giving the enemy no time to reconnoitre or consider any thing, except his best means of flight. All persons found in transit must be detained, subject to the orders of division provost-marshal, to prevent information reaching the enemy. As a measure of justice to our many good citizens, who, without crime, have been taken from their homes and kept by the enemy in prison, all public functionaries, such as magistrates, postmasters, sheriffs, etc., will be seized as prisoners. They will be kindly treated, and kept as hostages for our own. No straggling from the route of march or bivouac for the purpose of obtaining provisions, etc., will be permitted in any case, the commissaries and quartermasters being required to obtain and furnish all such supplies in bulk as may be necessary.

So much of this order as authorizes seizures of persons and property, will not take effect until the command crosses the Pennsylvania line.

The utmost activity is enjoined upon the detachments procuring horses, and unceasing vigilance upon the entire command.

Major J. P. W. Hairston is hereby appointed Division Provost-Marshal.

By command of Major-General

J. E. B. Stuart. R. Channing Price, First Lieutenant and A. D. C.

General Stuart's report.

headquarters cavalry division, October 14, 1862.
Col. R. H. Chilton, A. A. General Army Northern Virginia:
Colonel: I have the honor to report that on the ninth instant, in compliance with instructions from the commanding general army of Northern Virginia, I proceeded on an expedition into Pennsylvania, with a cavalry force of one thousand eight hundred men and four pieces of horse-artillery, under command of Brig.-Gen. Hampton and Colonels W. H. F. Lee and Jones. This force rendezvoused at Darksville at twelve M., and marched thence to the vicinity of Hedgesville, where it camped for the night. At daylight next morning (October tenth) I crossed the Potomac at McCoy's (between Williamsport and Hancock) with some little opposition, capturing some two or three horses of the enemy's pickets. We were told here by citizens that a large force had been camped the night before at Clearspring, and were supposed to be en route to Cumberland. We proceeded northward until we had reached the turnpike leading from Hagerstown to Hancock, (known as the National Road.) Here a signal station on the mountain, and most of the party, with their flags and apparatus, were surprised and captured, and also eight or ten prisoners of war, from whom, as well as from citizens, I found that the large force alluded to had crossed but an hour ahead of me toward Cumberland, and consisted [7] of six regiments of Ohio troops and two batteries, under Gen. Cox, and were en route via Cumberland for the Kanawha. I sent back this intelligence at once to the Commanding General. Striking directly across the National road, I proceeded in the direction of Mercersburgh, Pennsylvania, which point was reached about twelve M. I was extremely anxious to reach Hagerstown, where large supplies were stored; but was satisfied from reliable information that the notice the enemy had of my approach and the proximity of his forces, would enable him to prevent my capturing it. I therefore turned toward Chambersburgh. I did not reach this point till after dark, in a rain. I did not deem it safe to defer the attack till morning, nor was it proper to attack a place full of women and children without summoning it first to surrender.

I accordingly sent in a flag of truce, and found no military or civil authority in the place; but some prominent citizens who met the officer were notified that the place would be occupied, and if any resistance were made the place would be shelled in three minutes. Brig.-General Wade Hampton's command being in advance, took possession of the place, and I appointed him military governor of the city. No incidents occurred during the night, during which it rained continuously. The officials all fled the town on our approach, and no one could be found who would admit that he held office in the place. About two hundred and seventy-five sick and wounded in hospital were paroled. During the day a large number of horses of citizens were seized and brought along. The wires were cut, and railroads were obstructed. Next morning it was ascertained that a large number of small arms and munitions of war were stored about the railroad buildings, all of which that could not be easily brought away were destroyed — consisting of about five thousand new muskets, pistols, sabres, ammunition, also a large assortment of army clothing. The extensive machine-shops and depot buildings of the railroad and several trains of loaded cars were entirely destroyed.

From Chambersbugh I decided, after mature consideration, to strike for the vicinity of Leesburgh as the best route of return, particularly as Cox's command would have rendered the direction of Cumberland, full of mountain gorges, particularly hazardous. The route selected was through an open country. Of course I left nothing undone to prevent the inhabitants from detecting my real route and object. I started directly towards Gettysburgh, but having passed the Blue Ridge, turned back towards Hagerstown for six or eight miles, and then crossed to Maryland by Emmettsburgh, when, as we passed, we were hailed by the inhabitants with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of joy. A scouting-party of one hundred and fifty lancers had just passed toward Gettysburgh, and I regret exceedingly that my march did not admit of the delay necessary to catch them. Taking the road toward Frederick, we intercepted despatches from Col. Rush (Lancers) to the commander of the scout, which satisfied me that our whereabouts was still a problem to the enemy.

Before reaching Frederick I crossed the Monocacy, continued the march through the night, via Liberty, New-Market, Monrovia, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where we cut the telegraph-wires and obstructed the railroad. We reached at daylight Hyattstown, on McClellan's line of wagon communication with Washington, but we found only a few wagons to capture, and we pushed on to Barnsville, which we found just vacated by a company of the enemy's cavalry. We had here corroborated what we had heard before, that Stoneman had between four and five thousand troops about Poolesville and guarding the river fords. I started directly for Poolesville, but instead of marching upon that point avoided it by a march through the woods, leaving it two or three miles to my left, and getting into the road from Poolesville to the mouth of the Monocacy. Guarding well my flanks and rear, I pushed boldly forward, meeting the head of the enemy's column going toward Poolesville.

I ordered the charge, which was responded to in handsome style by the advance squadron (Irving's) of Lee's brigade, which drove back the enemy's cavalry upon the column of infantry advancing to occupy the crest from which the cavalry were driven. Quick as thought Lee's sharp-shooters sprang to the ground, and, engaging the infantry skirmishers, held them in check till the artillery in advance came up, which, under the gallant Pelham, drove back the enemy's force to his batteries beyond the Monocacy, between which and our solitary gun quite a spirited fire continued for some time. This answered, in connection with the high crest occupied by our piece, to screen entirely my real movement quickly to the left, making a bold and rapid strike for White's Ford, to make my way across before the enemy at Poolesville and Monocacy could be aware of my design. Although delayed somewhat by about two hundred infantry, strongly posted in the cliffs over the ford, yet they yielded to the moral effect of a few shells before engaging our sharp-shooters and the crossing of the canal (now dry) and river was effected with all the precision of passing a defile on drill.

A section of artillery being sent with the advance and placed in position on the Loudon side, another piece on the Maryland height, while Pelham continued to occupy the attention of the enemy with the other, withdrawing from position to position until his piece was ordered to cross. The enemy was marching from Poolesville in the mean time, but came up in line of battle on the Maryland bank only to receive a thundering salutation, with evident effect from our guns on this side. I lost not a man killed on the expedition, and only a few slight wounds. The enemy's loss is not known, but Pelham's one gun compelled the enemy's battery to change its position three times. The remainder of the march was destitute of interest. The conduct of the command and their [8] behavior toward the inhabitants is worthy of the highest praise; a few individual cases only were exceptions in this particular.

Brig.-Gen. Hampton and Colonels Lee, Jones, Wickham, and Butler, and the officers and men under their command, are entitled to my lasting gratitude for their coolness in danger and cheerful obedience to orders. Unoffending persons were treated with civility, and the inhabitants were generous in proffers of provisions on the march. We seized and brought over a large number of horses, the property of citizens of the United States.

The valuable information obtained in this reconnoissance as to the distribution of the enemy's force was communicated orally to the Commanding General, and need not here be repeated. A number of public functionaries and prominent citizens were taken captives and brought over as hostages for our own unoffending citizens whom the enemy has torn from their homes and confined in dungeons in the North. One or two of my men lost their way, and are probably in the hands of the enemy.

The results of this expedition in a moral and political point of view can hardly be estimated, and the consternation among property-holders in Pennsylvania beggars description.

I am especially indebted to Capt. B. S. White, South-Carolina cavalry, and to Mr.----, and Mr.----, whose skilful guidance was of immense service to me. My staff are entitled to my thanks for untiring energy in the discharge of their duties.

I enclose a map of the expedition, drawn by Captain W. W. Blackford, to accompany this report. Also, a copy of orders enforced during the narch.

Believing that the hand of God was clearly manifested in the signal deliverance of my command from danger, and the crowning success attending it, I ascribe to Him the praise, the honor, and the glory.

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. B. Stuart, Major-General Commanding Cavalry.

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