Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/189
Cavalry Operations in May, 1863.
done till the enemy advanced about eleven at night and compelled them to retire. Dispatches captured showed that trains of wagons and beef cattle accompanied the expedition, and the men were already supplied with five days' rations in haversacks. These items placed it beyond doubt that the enemy were making a real movement to turn Fredericksburg.
Crossing the Rapidan that night, the main body of cavalry was halted for rest a few hours, having marched more than half the night; and one regiment (Colonel Owen's) was sent on to get between the enemy and Fredericksburg and impede his progress. Early next day (Thursday, 30th), Owen, having reached the Germana road on the Fredericksburg side, kept in the enemy's front, while the remainder kept on the enemy's right flank, and opened on his column en route at Wilderness tavern, delaying his march till 12 M., and pausing several regiments of infantry to deploy in line of battle to meet us. Hearing that the enemy had already reached Chancellorsville by the Eley's Ford road, I directed my march by Todd's tavern for Spotsylvania Courthouse. Night overtook us at Todd's tavern, and being anxious to know what the Commanding General desired me to do further, I left the command to bivouac here, and proceeded with my staff towards his headquarters near Fredericksburg; but had not proceeded a mile before we found ourselves confronted by a party of the enemy double our own, directly in our path. I sent back hastily for a regiment, which, coming up (Fifth Virginia cavalry, Colonel Tyler), attacked and routed the party. But in the meantime another body of the enemy's cavalry came in rear of the Fifth. Receiving notice of this, I gave orders to withdraw the Fifth from the road, and sent for the brigade to push on at once. This was done, and by the bright moonlight a series of charges routed and scattered this expedition, which had penetrated to within a mile or two of Spotsylvania.It has been since ascertained that this expedition was by no means an insignificant affair, and, but for the timely arrival of this cavalry on the spot and its prompt and vigorous action, might have resulted disastrously. Artillery as well as trains were passing Spotsylvania, unprotected, at the time. With very little rest, and without waiting for rations or forage, this noble little brigade, under its incomparable leader, was in the saddle early next morning, and moving on Jackson's left flank during the entire day (May 1st), swinging around to the left to threaten the enemy's rear. On