previous next

Gen. Lee's Official report of his recent operations.

The following is Gen. Lee's official report of his recent operations in Northern Virginia:

Headq's Army of Northern Va.,

October 23, 1863.
Gen. S. Cooper, A. and I. General:
General: In advance of a detailed report, I have the honor to submit, for the information of the Department, the following outline of the recent operations of this army.

With the design of bringing on an engagement with the Federal army, which was encamped around Culpeper Court-House, extending thence to the Rapidan, this army crossed that river on the 9th inst., and advanced by way of Madison Court House. Our progress was necessarily slow, as the march was by circuitous and concealed roads, in order to avoid the observation of the enemy.

Gen. Fitz Lee, with his cavalry division and a detachment of infantry, remained to hold our lines south of the Rapidan; Gen. Stuart, with Hampton's division, moved on the right of the column. With a portion of his command he attacked the advance of the enemy near James City, on the 10th, and drove them back towards Culpeper. Our main body arrived near that place on the 11th inst., and discovered that the enemy had retreated towards the Rappahannock, ruing or destroying his stores. We were compelled to halt during the rest of the day to provision the troops, but the cavalry, under Gen. Stuart, continued to press the enemy's rear guard towards the Rappahannock.--A large force of Federal cavalry, in the meantime, had crossed the Rapidan after our movement be gun, but was repulsed by Gen. Fitz Lee, and pursued towards Brandy Station.

Near that place the commands of Stuart and Lee united, on the afternoon of the 11th, and after a severe engagement drove the enemy's cavalry across the Rappahannock, with heavy loss.

On the morning of the 12th, the army marched in two columns, with the design for aching the Orange and Alexandria railroad, north of the river, and interrupting the retreat of the enemy.

After a skirmish with some of the Federal cavalry at Jeffersontown, we reached the Rappahannock at Warrenton Springs, in the afternoon where the passage of the river was disputed by cavalry and artillery. The enemy was quickly driven off by a detachment of our cavalry, aided by a small force of infantry and a battery. Early next morning, 13th, the march was resumed, and the columns re-united at Warrenton in the afternoon, when another halt was made to supply the troops with provisions. The enemy fell back rapidly along the line of the railroad, and early on the 14th the pursuit was continued, a portion of the army moving by way of New Baltimore towards Bristol Station, and the rest, accompanied by the main body of the cavalry, proceeding to the same point by Auburn Mills and Greenwich. Near the former place a skirmish took place between Gen. Ewell's advance and the rear guard of the enemy, which was forced back and rapidly pursued.

The retreat of the enemy was conducted by several direct parallel roads, while our troops were compelled to march by different and circuitous routes. We were consequently unable to intercept him. General Hill arrived first at Bristol Station, where his advance, consisting of two brigades, became engaged with a force largely superior in numbers, posted behind the railroad embankment. The particulars of the action have not been officially reported, but the brigades were repulsed with some loss, and five pieces of artillery, with a number of prisoners captured. Before the rest of the troops could be brought up, and the position of the enemy ascertained, he retreated across Broad Run. The next morning he was reported to be fortifying beyond Bull Run, extending his line towards the Little River Turnpike.

The vicinity of the entrenchments around Washington and Alexandria rendered it useless to turn his new position, as it was apparent that he could readily retire to them, and would decline an engagement unless attacked in his fortifications. A further advance was therefore deemed unnecessary, and after destroying the railroad from Cub Run southwardly to the Rappahannock, the army returned on the 18th to the line of that river, leaving the cavalry in the enemy's front.

The cavalry of the latter advanced on the following day, and some skirmishing occurred at Buckland. General Stuart, with Hampton's division, retired slowly towards Warrenton, in order to draw the enemy in that direction, thus exposing his flank and rear to General Lee, who moved from Auburn and attacked him near Buckland. As soon as General Stuart heard the sound of Lee's guns he turned upon the enemy, who, after a stubborn resistance broke and fled in confusion, pursued by General Stuart nearly to Haymarket, and by General Lee to Gainesville. Here the Federal infantry was encountered, and after capturing a number of them during the night the cavalry slowly retired before their advance on the following day. When the movement of the army from the Rapidan commenced Gen. Imboden was instructed to advance down the Valley, and guard the gaps of the mountains on our left. This duty was well performed by that officer, and on the 18th inst. he marched upon Charlestown, and succeeded, by a well-concerted plan, in surrounding the place and capturing nearly the whole force stationed there, with all their stores and transportation; only a few escaped to Harper's Ferry. The enemy advanced from that place in superior numbers to attack Gen. Imboden, who retired, bringing off his prisoners and captured property, his command suffering very little loss, and inflicting some damage upon the pursuing column. In the course of these operations two thousand four hundred and thirty-six prisoners were captured, (2,436,) including forty-one commissioned officers. Of the above, four hundred and thirty-four (434) were taken by General Imboden.

A more complete account, with a statement of our loss in killed, wounded and prisoners, will be forwarded as soon as the necessary official reports have been received.

Very respectfully, your ob't serv't,

R. E. Lee, General.
Official: John Withers, A. A. General.

Buckland, Va. Oct. 20th, 1863.
After offering some considerable resistance to the advance of the enemy at this point yesterday, in accordance with the suggestions of Major-General Lee, I retired with Hampton's division slowly before the enemy, until within two miles and a half of Warrenton, in order that Major-General Lee, coming from Auburn, might have an opportunity to attack the enemy in flank and rear. The plan proved successful. The enemy followed slowly and cautiously after Hampton's division, when, on hearing Major-General Lee's guns on their flank, I pressed upon them vigorously in front. They at first resisted my attack stubbornly; but once broken, the rout was complete. I pursued them from within three miles of Warrenton to Buckland, the horses at full speed the whole distance, the enemy retreating in great confusion.

Major-General Lee had attacked them in flank just below Buckland. We captured about 200 prisoners, 8 wagons and ambulances, arms, horses and equipments. The rout was the most complete that any cavalry has ever suffered during the war.

Crossing at Buckland, General Fitz Lee pushed down the pike towards Gainesville, while I, with the few men of Gordon's and Rosser's brigades who could be collected after our unusually long chase, moved around to our left and pressed down towards Haymarket. Here I encountered, besides a large cavalry force, the first army corps, who retired a short distance beyond Haymarket on the Carolina road. I attacked their infantry pickets by moonlight, and scattered them over the fields, capturing many. General Lee pressed down to within a short distance of Cainsville, when he encountered their infantry, and captured prisoners from the first army corps on that road also. The pursuit was continued until after dark. The cavalry force was commanded by Kilpatrick, and composed of ten regiments.

Most respectfully,

(Signed,) J F B Stuart,
Major General.
Official: John Withers, Asst. Adj Gen.

Headq'rs Valley District,
in the Fork of the Shenandoah,

Near Front Royal, Oct. 19, 1863.
Col. R. H. Chilton, Chief of Staff, A. N. V.
Colonel: Yesterday (Sunday) morning, at 2 o'clock, I moved from Berryville to surprise and capture the garrison at Charlestown. The surprise was complete, the enemy having no suspicion of our approach until I had the town entirely surrounded. I found the enemy occupying the Court-House, jail, and some contiguous buildings, in the heart of the town, all loop-holed for musketry, and the Court-House yard enclosed by a heavy wall of oak timber. To my demand for a surrender, Col. Simpson requested an hour for consideration. I offered him five minutes, to which he replied, "Take me, if you can." I immediately opened on the building with artillery at less than two hundred yards, and with half a dozen shell drove out the enemy into the streets, where he formed and fled towards Harper's Ferry. At the edge of town he was met by the 18th cavalry--Col. Imboden's and Gilmor's battalions.

One volley was exchanged, when the enemy threw down his arms and surrendered unconditionally. The Colonel, Lieut.-Colonel, and five others, who were mounted, fled at the first fire, and ran the gauntlet, and escaped towards Harper's Ferry. The force I captured was the 9th Maryland regiment and three companies of cavalry, numbering between four and five hundred men and officers. I have not had time to have them counted. In wagons, horses, and mules, arms, ammunition, medicine, and clothing, were considerable, all of which I have saved, and will have properly accounted for. As I expected, the Harper's Ferry forces, Infantry, artillery, and cavalr, appeared at Charlestown in less than two hours after I fired the first gun. Having promptly sent off the prisoners and property, I was prepared for them. I retired from the town and fell back slowly towards Berryville, fighting the enemy all the way, from 10 o'clock till near sunset. My loss, as far as ascertained, is very small--five killed, three or four mortally, and 15 or 20 wounded, more or less. Capt. Colman will lose an army and Captain Cumnel was badly shot in the hip. I think a few, 10 or 15 broken down men, who straggled behind, were captured. We killed and wounded dreadfully several of the enemy in the Court-House, including the Adjutant of the 9th Md.; and in the fight along the road the enemy's loss was considerable, as we ambuscaded them several times with good effect. I marched nearly all night, and reached the river here at daybreak. It was quite full, but I have effected a safe crossing of the north branch.

Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

J. D. Imsoden, Brig. Gen'l.
Official: John Withers, A. A. G.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Fitz Lee (10)
Stuart (7)
R. E. Lee (5)
Imboden (4)
John Withers (3)
Simpson (1)
Rosser (1)
Most Respectfully (1)
Kilpatrick (1)
J. D. Imsoden (1)
William J. Hill (1)
Gordon (1)
Gilmor (1)
Ewell (1)
Cumnel (1)
S. Cooper (1)
Colman (1)
R. H. Chilton (1)
Buckland (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
11th (2)
October 23rd, 1863 AD (1)
October 20th, 1863 AD (1)
October 19th, 1863 AD (1)
18th (1)
12th (1)
10th (1)
9th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: