Frank Moore, ed. Vol. 4. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1862, pp. 622-623
General Pleasanton’s Reconnoissance.
General Pleasanton’s Report.
Army of the Potomac, October 8, 1862.
I crossed the Potomac on the morning of the first instant, with seven hundred men, consisting of the Eighth Illinois cavalry, three squadrons from each of the Eighth Pennsylvania and Third Indiana cavalry and Pennington’s battery of artillery. I drove the enemy’s pickets out of Shepherdstown, and followed the Ninth Virginia cavalry on the Martinsburgh road so rapidly that they fled, leaving one of their dead in the road. This dead body was still in the road on my return in the evening, showing that I had possession of it the whole day.
Five miles from Shepherdstown the road forks, one branch going in the direction of Bunker’s Hill, and it was on this road that Lee’s brigade was posted; the other passed on to Martinsburgh, and in obedience to my orders I moved on it. Two miles of travel brought me to the Opequon Creek, on the opposite bank of which, and some three miles down, I observed a battery of artillery in position, which soon opened on me. I paid no attention to this, and the rebels themselves saw their absurdity, and stopped firing. I continued my movement to Martinsburgh, and easily drove several squadrons in my front into the town, my advance arriving at the edge of the town by two o’clock in the day.
It was soon discovered that Hampton’s brigade of cavalry, and four pieces of artillery were drawn up in the centre of the town, and that two bridges between my forces and theirs had been destroyed by these boastful soldiers, who represented they were so anxious to get at my command. With three squadrons of cavalry and one piece of artillery, Hampton’s command was soon driven from Martinsburgh, and I leisurely entered the town with this force, and executed all the orders I had received in regard to it. On entering the town I found the bridges had been replaced, and I was informed that the ladies of the place had turned out and built them up for my men to cross. The mention of this incident speaks for itself, as an affecting exhibition of loyalty and devotion in the present great struggle for national existence.
I remained at Martinsburgh until five o’clock in the afternoon, some time after I had finished my business, to see if the rebels would attack me. They did not, so in obedience to my orders, I commenced to return toward Shepherdstown, by the same road I had gone out, and that the rebels might follow me if they felt so inclined. I left the bridges intact that they had destroyed in the morning. After crossing the Opequon Creek a section of artillery, with suitable force, remained in rear, to cover the march, which was leisurely conducted at a walk. The enemy perceiving that my movement was a retreat, came at a headlong gallop toward my rear, when some six or eight well-directed shells scattered his force in confusion over the hills, and he did not rally until my rear had passed over nearly two miles of the distance, when he brought up fresh troops from the road leading toward Bunker Hill. My command cared so little for the enemy’s attacks that they moved on at a walk, and the rear section of artillery was, in consequence, quite near the rebels on the road. When apprised of this, I immediately placed a section of artillery in position, and opened on the enemy, over the heads of my men, and the other section coming up, their fire did such execution that the enemy neither troubled us nor was heard of any more that night. Several of my squadrons engaged the enemy at short-range, and always maintained their position until they were directed to move.
The last affair occurred over four miles beyond Shepherdstown, and in it we captured nine prisoners and ten horses and equipments; and I have since heard, from good authority, that the rebels buried sixty-six dead, as the result of that fight.
My loss was only twelve men slightly wounded, they being able to ride to camp, and three men taken prisoners by their horses falling with them. Their horses were not captured.
I brought off from Martinsburgh twenty-four citizens anxious to leave, and nine boys belonging to Frederick, who had been impressed into the rebel service, but had run away.
REBEL REPORTS AND NARRATIVES.
General Lee’s Despatch.
Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,
Camp on Washington’s Run, October 2, 1862.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General, C.S.A., Richmond, Va.:
General: The enemy’s cavalry, under General Pleasanton, with six pieces of artillery, drove back our pickets yesterday in front of Shepherdstown. The Ninth Virginia cavalry, which was on picket, repulsed the enemy several times by vigorous charges, disputing the ground step by step, back to the main body. By the time his artillery reached him, Col. W. F. H. Lee, who was in command of the brigade, was obliged to place it on the west bank of the Opequon, on the flank of the enemy, as he approached Martinsburgh.
Gen. Hampton’s brigade had retired through Martinsburgh, on the Tuscarora road, when Gen. Stuart arrived and made dispositions to attack. Lee’s brigade was advanced immediately, and Hampton’s ordered forward. The enemy retired at the approach of Lee along the Shepherdstown road, and was driven across the Potomac by the cavalry, with a severe loss, and darkness alone prevented it from being a signal victory. His rear was overtaken and put to flight, our cavalry charging in gallant style under a severe fire of artillery, driving squadron after squadron, killing a number, wounding more, and capturing several. He was driven through Shepherdstown, and crossed the river after dark, in no case standing a hand-to-hand conflict, but relying upon his artillery and carbines at long-range for protection.
I regret to add that we lost one lieutenant and several privates. I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee,
Major and A.D.C.
October 2, 1862
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF POTOMAC,
Gen. Pleasanton crossed the Potomac this morning at Shepherdstown, with a force of cavalry and artillery, for the purpose of making a reconnoisance in the enemy’s rear, information having been received that their army had fallen back from the line of the river. He came up with them near Shepherdstown and drove them to Martinsburg, from which place they were soon shelled out by the artillery.
His loss was two men wounded. The rebels had one man killed and two wounded. A rebel lieutenant and two men were taken prisoners. A number of wounded were paroled. Very few rebel troops are believed to be at Winchester, the greater portion of them being encamped between that place and Martinsburg.
The work of reconstructing the railroad bridge at Harper’s Ferry is rapidly progressing, it will be completed by tomorrow.
Gen. McClellan, Gen. Marcy and staff paid a visit to Harper’s Ferry, Bolivar and Sandy Hook to-day.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: October 1862