Series 1, Vol. 19, pt. 2, pp. 160-62
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Hdqrs. Second Division, Twelfth Army Corps,
Bolivar Heights, Va., November 10, 1862.
Colonel: In accordance with the directions of the general commanding, of the evening of November 8, for me to make a reconnaissance with the available force of my division, I started on the following morning with 2,500 infantry from the three brigades, and two sections each from Knap’s, Hampton’s, and McGilvery’s batteries. At daylight we reached Halltown, from which vicinity we drove about 50 cavalry pickets, the first encountered. Moving actively forward, we approached a position but recently occupied by 50 or 60 others in bivouac, about mid-way between Halltown and Charlestown, from which place we routed the Twelfth Virginia Cavalry. A small force of infantry was in proximity to their rear, south of the town. They retired to each of the numerous successive belts of woods, separated by fields, from which they were compelled by our artillery and infantry to respectively fall back. Our want of cavalry was here greatly demonstrated, as, with a force of mounted men, we could have captured nearly the entire party. We pushed them under fire rapidly until they reached their place of encampment, near Rippon, 5 miles north of Berryville, at a strategic point of the road, where it is crossed by that leading from Bunker Hill. The camps gave evidence that four or five regiments of cavalry and several pieces of artillery had been quartered there, corroborative of my previous information, which announced that Chew’s and a portion of another battery had been there several days, and still occupied their position. We vigorously attacked the encampment, pouring in a heavy fire from several points, compelling them to leave precipitately toward Berryville, leaving their fires burning, bread baking, several unsaddled horses, and a number of beef cattle. With a cavalry force I could have pursued them to Berryville, but an infantry pursuit would have effected nothing, and, the object of the reconnaissance having been accomplished, and finding no inducement to prolong the time originally ordered, the column returned.
My investigations proved conclusively that there are not more than 3,000 or 4,000 men in the valley this side of Front Royal. The two Generals Hill have left the valley and gone southward, by way of Front Royal. Jackson left Bunker Hill about October 30 or 31, proceeding to Berryville; thence, on the following day, to the vicinity of Millwood and White Post, and, on the 3d or 4th, to Front Royal. I am satisfied that the force remaining consists of about five regiments of cavalry, with about eight pieces of artillery, and the infantry is covered by about three or four regiments.
The recent raid through Snicker’s Gap to Snickersville was made by portions of the troops about Berryville, and those which were routed near Rippon yesterday.
Upon this expedition I was accompanied by Colonel Huger, of the First, and Brigadier-General Jackson, of the Second Brigade, to whom I am indebted for much valuable assistance.
The officers and men exhibited, with but few exceptions, good conduct, gallantry, and an alacrity to engage the enemy. The small cavalry party, 12 in number, is deserving of much praise for the performance of the duties to which it was assigned.
We returned the same evening, after a round march of 28 miles, accomplished with much promptness.
I observed that nearly all the corn within a large circuit had been consumed by the rebels, and they are still engaged in hauling wheat and flour up the valley toward Staunton. The country wears a deplorable aspect, being devastated almost to the last degree. The inhabitants are impoverished, and most of them have not the resources to carry them through the winter, in their present condition.
The horses, cattle, and other property captured have been duly turned over to the division quartermaster and commissary. The prisoners have been delivered to the provost-marshal at Harper’s Ferry. Their names are contained in the appendix.
No casualties occurred on our side, except 1 man of the One hundred and forty-ninth New York Volunteers accidentally shot through the arm.
Hoping the results of the reconnaissance thus submitted may be sanctioned with your approbation, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Jno. W. Geary,
Lieut. Col. H. C. Rodgers,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Twelfth Army Corps.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: November 1862