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Doc. 89.-fight at Dumfries, Va.

Philadelphia Inquirer account.

Washington, January 1.
Generals Stuart and Fitz-Hugh Lee's cavalry, with a battery of artillery, in all about three thousand five hundred men, crossed the Rappahannock, above Burnside's army, on Saturday, the twenty-seventh ult., and advancing between Brentsville and Stafford Court-House, were joined by Hampton's Legion, when they made a combined attack on Dumfries, on the Lower Potomac, at two o'clock the same afternoon.

Dumfries was garrisoned by a portion of Gen. Geary's division, consisting of the Fifth, Seventh, and Sixty-sixth Ohio regiments, (of the General's old brigade of veterans,) a section of the Sixth Maine battery and the Twelfth Illinois cavalry, all under command of Colonel Charles Candy. The enemy surprised the outpost pickets and captured about fifty of the First Maryland and Twelfth Illinois cavalry, a portion of which was a patrol.

The rebels opened with artillery, shelling our troops in the town, and made repeated charges upon them, each of which was met and repelled with the fire and steadiness which distinguished these troops at Winchester, Cross Keys, Cross Lanes, Port Republic, Cedar Mountain, and Antietam. The fight was vigorously continued on both sides, without intermission, all the afternoon and until a late hour in the evening. At four o'clock the whole force of the enemy was concentrated in an attack upon our flank, but the movement was promptly met and the rebels repulsed. At eight o'clock they retired discomfited and beaten by this force — so inferior to their own, but who have never yet turned tail to the enemy — to the Neobsco River, about four miles above Dumfries, where they encamped for the night.

Our loss, officially reported, was only three killed, (one commissioned officer,) and eight wounded. As far as could be ascertained from the prisoners taken by our side, and from the citizens, the loss of the enemy was between twenty-five and thirty killed, and about forty wounded.

The attack was promptly telegraphed to General Slocum, commanding Twelfth army corps, at Fairfax Court-House, and Gen. Geary put his division under arms, on Saturday evening, advancing as far as Wolf Run Shoals, and taking both sides of the river, where he awaited daylight, the enemy having possession of the roads in advance, and the work of opening communication to Dumfries was to be effected by dispersing the rebels. The fight, which had already occurred, was necessarily desperate, for Stuart had cut off communication both ways, and the river was behind.

At the gray of dawn Gen. Geary crossed his whole command over the Occoquan and advanced, General Williams's division following several miles behind, by order of General Slocum. It evidently had been the intention of Stuart and Lee to attack the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania and other regiments at Wolf Run, for during the night our advance drove in a scouting-party of the whole force.

The enemy left their camp on the Neobsco on the same morning, and moved on the road from Brentsville to Occoquan to near Occoquan City, and, turning to the left, surprised the Second and Seventeenth Pennsylvania cavalry, routing them by superior force and advantage of position, capturing nearly one hundred, and killing and wounding over twenty. Some of them took refuge in General Geary's lines, who, ten minutes later, hastily took position in line of battle near the Brentsville road, where it crosses the road from Wolf Run Shoals to Dumfries.

General Geary threw out a company of cavalry (the First Maine, Captain Brown) to draw them under his fire. The bait was a good one. In a few minutes, about five hundred of Hampton's Legion charged down the hill upon them, discharging their carbines and yelling like Demons. Our infantry opened and admitted our cavalry, and again closing and presenting a solid front, met the advancing foe with volleys of musketry, and Knapp's Pennsylvania battery greeted them with a storm of shell at the same moment. With the rapidity of lightning they turned and fled in confusion, leaving horses dead upon the road, which was strewn with their caps, sabres, and haversacks. As near as could be ascertained twenty of them were wounded, three of whom died. General Geary encouraged his men to the utmost, and himself and staff were assiduously laboring for vanquishing the force before them.

The charging rebels came within about forty yards of General Slocum, who was constantly with the advance, and ever manifesting his proverbial coolness and tact.

The enemy retired to a thick wood, from which they were quickly dislodged by our advancing forces. They then attempted a movement to our right, under shelter, but were speedily driven [306] back by our artillery. General Geary pressed vigorously upon them, and they finally retired to the Occoquan, which they crossed at Selectman's Ford, two miles above Occoquan City.

The object now was to communicate with our band at Dumfries. The enemy was driven northward, and their return south cut off by Geary's division. Messages were sent back, and all the troops from Fairfax to Alexandria apprised of a probable raid of Stuart. Gen. Williams's division was ordered back to protect Fairfax Court-House and Fairfax Station.

Should the troops to the northward do their duty, Stuart would be completely hemmed in, and these impudent raids suppressed. Geary was awaiting their being driven back for him to take care of, but a screw was loose on the other side of the river somewhere. Making a forced march, our troops bivouacked within a few miles of Dumfries, and troops were sent by the General to strengthen the post to such an extent that they are safe against an immense body of the enemy.

Meanwhile, Stuart and Fitz-Hugh Lee, conversant with all the neighboring country, from a long residence — Lee having lived on Arlington Heights — drove in a battalion of the First Michigan cavalry, near Wolf Run Shoals, and would have advanced to that point but found the Twenty-eighth and other Pennsylvania regiments in line of battle, having been prepared by the information sent back. They then approached the encampment of Geary's division, but found his reserves ready for them. Similar disappointments met them at Fairfax Station, Fairfax Court-House and Chantilly.

They took the road to Annandale and Berks Station, at which latter place they cut the telegraph wire, tore up the railroad track, captured about fifty teams and empty wagons, and a few citizens. From thence they proceeded on the road from near Annandale to Vienna, and from there towards Gum Springs, between Fairfax Court-House and Drainesville, passing between the forces in front of Washington and Fairfax Court-House. Rumors afterward reported them as going to Leesburgh.

On Monday night, Gen. Geary's division, with the exception. of the reenforcements left at Dumfries, returned to Wolf Run Shoals, and at Tuesday noon reached camp, noar Fairfax.

Dumfries was almost battered down by the immense number of shells thrown into it. This has been the most unsuccessful raid of Stuart, who, flushed with victory, came forward, but found his match. The only regret is, that all were not taken. None of our men were hurt, except at Dumfries.

Urbana “citizen” account.

friend Saxton: In the absence of your regular correspondent, I will attempt to furnish one of the series of letters from the Sixty-sixth Ohio, in order that those who have friends here with us may know how we are faring.

Since we have been here we have had a plentiful supply of rations, and we have succeeded in making our quarters reasonably comfortable. Every thing passed off very smoothly up to the twenty-seventh instant, but on that day Major-Gen. Stuart, of “rebel raid” notoriety, with two thousand five hundred cavalry and four pieces of artillery, disturbed the quiet of this unprepossessing locality, and attempted to displace us. About half-past 12 of Saturday we were ordered under arms. The rebels made a vigorous attack upon the south side of the town, with the idea of frightening and chasing us right out, but it happened that we were not in a driving humor. Col. Candy who commands at this point, ordered the two pieces of artillery that we had into position on a hill in the town, to reply to the rebel guns, and ordered the Fifth and Seventh Ohio regiments to support the artillery. Our regiment was ordered out on the Brentsville road to guard against an attack on the right wing, and to prevent a movement on our rear. A detachment of cavalry from the Twelfth Illinois, and also a detachment from the First Maryland, numbering in all three or four hundred, were distributed along the line as skirmishers. During the first hour they brought three pieces of artillery to bear upon us, (twelve-pounders,) and it became evident that they had a strong force of cavalry. They were very daring and persistent in their efforts to effect their purpose, but the promptness of the Fifth and Seventh, the gallantry of our little band of cavalry, and the superior skill of our artillerists were more than an equivalent for their superior force. After a couple of hours' ineffectual effort to turn our left and break our front, during which time several charges were made by the enemy, which were repulsed and resented by a charge by our cavalry, backed by infantry, and during which time our artillerists dismounted one of their guns by exploding a shell under it, they shifted around to the right.

During the engagement on the left and front, the Sixty-sixth was not idle by any means. We were on the move most of the time, from point to point, so as to be ready to cooperate with the other regiments, or to be ready to check any demonstration that might be made on our end of the line. About four o'clock P. M. the enemy opened upon a company of cavalry on our right, and in a few minutes they raised their yell and came dashing down for a charge. Just at that moment we were moving toward them, left in front, and the advance of our regiment emerged to their-view, when they were about three hundred yards from the cavalry they thought of driving so fast. Company B was deployed as skirmishers, and the regiment was brought into line ready to receive them. Company B poured a volley into them, and at the same time our cavalry let them have a round which sent them back as fast as they had come, our cavalry folowing up the advantage by a charge on them. We manoeuvred for a short time in that locality, to prevent a threatened advance of the enemy, and then the left wing and company C of the [307] ring wing, were ordered about half a mile to the right to support a piece of artillery, and the remaining four companies were posted on a ridge near the town. As soon as we got into position our gun opened upon the enemy, making some fine shots, which were replied to by a twelve-pounder. The enemy's shell all passed over our heads without doing any damage. A squadron of cavalry dismounted and engaged them, and the picket-guard, which had been drawn in and posted advantageously, also poured into them a heavy fire. The conflict was kept up until dark, and our men maintained every inch of the ground they held at the onset. So far as we can ascertain, we punished them severely for their temerity. At any rate, they became satisfied that we would neither scare nor drive worth a cent, and so they gave it up as a bad job, and put off under the cover of the darkness. They not only filled their ambulances with their wounded, but also a number of sutlers' wagons that they had captured on the road to Fredericksburgh. Some of their men were so badly injured that they were obliged to leave them behind, in care of one of their surgeons.

Colonel Candy maoeuvred his forces with great skill and tact, meeting and repulsing the enemy at every point. He out-generalled and defeated one of the most brilliant officers in the confederate service, Major-Gen. Stuart, who was backed by Brig.-Gen. Fitz-Hugh Lee, and Col. Lee, two of the most promising of the rebel notorieties, and this too with only about eight hundred infantry, three hundred cavalry, and two pieces of artillery. All the officers and men are highly elated with the success, and well they may be.

On our side there were three killed and nine wounded, and about thirty taken prisoners. Not a man of our regiment was either killed or wounded, but nine were taken prisoners while on picket. Their names are as follows: Corporal G. B. Light; privates L. W. Bryan, Chidister, and Stokes, company A; privates Blair, Hendershot and Kesocker, company D; privates — Beightler and Constant, company F.

Gen. Slocum, commanding Twelfth army corps, came in last evening. He had heard of the attack, and feared that we had been taken prisoners, and so started with a strong force for our relief. He reviewed us this morning. He said that he could not leave without thanking us for our gallant conduct; that he was ordered to leave his best troops here, when we first occupied the place, and he believed he had done so.

A want of time forbids my writing more, so I will close by assuring the friends of the regiment that the boys are in fine health and spirits, ready and willing to do their duty.

W. A. S.

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