Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 34.djvu/217

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The Battle of Greatest Lustre. 209

Chandler, which read in part : "I am directed by the Major- General commanding, to inform you that he does not understand what you are doing at Rappahannock Station." To this message, Averell replied at 7:20 A. M. next morning : "I have the honor to state in reply that I have been engaged with the cavalry of the enemy at that point, and in destroying communications." On the day following General Hooker issued an order as follows : "Briga- dier-General Pleasanton will assume command of the division now commanded by Brigadier- General Averell. Upon being relieved, Brigadier- General Averell will report for orders to the Adjutant- General of the army. ' '

In explanation and justification of the above order General Hooker on May Qth, in a report to the Adjutant-General of the army, stated : "General Averell's command numbered about 4,000 sabers and a light battery, a larger cavalry force than can be found in the rebel army between Fredericksburg and Richmond, and yet that officer seems to have contented himself between April 29th, and May 4th, with having marched through Culpeper to Rapidan, a distance of twenty-eight miles, meeting no enemy deserving the name, and from that point reporting to me for


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"I could excuse General Averell in his disobedience if I could any where discover in his operations a desire to find and engage the enemy. I have no disposition to prefer charges against him, and in detaching him from this army my object has been to prevent an active and powerful column from being paralyzed by his presence."

In a report written by General Averell, whilst stung by the order recalling him, he explained his delay at Rapidan Station on the ground that, "All the intelligence we had been able to gather from a captured mail and from various other sources, went to show that the enemy believed the Army of the Potomac, was advancing over that line, and that Jackson was at Gordonsville with 25,000 men, to resist its approach." When he penned that sentence, he must have had well in mind among the intelligence which lie had been able to gather, what young Wright had told him.

The two Wrights, named in this communication, are still living (at Oldham's, Westmoreland county, Va.,) and retain vivid recol- lections of the incidents here recorded in their lives as soldiers. It