Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 08.djvu/454
442 Southern Historical Society Papers.
tigation that the enemy is moving to his right, or is so strongly posted as to make your expedition inopportune, as its success in my opinion depends upon its secrecy, you will, after gaining all the information you can, resume your former position.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
[Signed] R. E. LEE, Gen I.
In carrying out these instructions Stuart moved on the 13th directly northward, to create, if possible, the impression that he was destined to reinforce Jackson. His command consisted of 1200 men, selected from the 1st, 4th and 9th Virginia cavalry, and from the Jeff Davis legion ; and commanded by Colonels Fitz Lee, W. H. F. Lee and W. T. Martin. He was accompanied by one section of artillery under charge of Lieu- tenant James Breathed. He bivouacked the first night opposite Han- over Court-house, but early the next morning turned his course directly to the right. Up to this time no one beside himself had any true idea of the destination of the expedition ; but now the commandants of regiments were informed of the general objects to be attained, in order that their more intelligent co-operation might thereby be secured, Hanover Court-house was found to be in the possession of the enemy's cavalry; but while Stuart was making preparation to attack in rear as well as in front, the enemy withdrew towards Mechanicsville, and was allowed to pursue his way unmolested. At the Old Church occurred the only serious conflict during the expedition. Here Captain Royall, commanding two squadrons of the 5th Regular cavalry, attempted to dispute the way ; but he was completely routed and himself danger- ously wounded by Captain Latane's squadron of the 9th Viriginia cav- alry. In this charge the gallant Latane lost his life. This was the only casualty among the Southern cavalry.
Stuart had now penetrated to the rear of the Federal army, and was directly upon its line of communication with the York river. The information he had gained definitely accomplished the prime object of his expedition. He had located the camps of the enemy, and had ascertained that the Federal right flank was not extended as General Lee feared was the case, and that the way was clear for Jackson to fol- low in his footsteps. But now the question must be decided how he could with safety return from his dangerous situation. To retrace his steps he must of necessity pass through Hanover Court-house, with the South Anna river on his right, now swollen and impassable from heavy rains. The Federal cavalry encountered there in the morning had doubtless conveyed information of his movements to their main body,