Gordonsville,

May 4, 1863

 

Sir: As I cannot communicate with Major-General Stuart, I will ask of you to forward to him, or General Lee, this dispatch as soon as possible. I have just returned from Columbia; arrived too late to meet General Wyndham, who, hearing of our approach, left precipitately, failing to destroy the aqueduct. I followed him until day. This morning I came up with a portion of the Fifth Regular Cavalry, and completely routed them, killing 6, wounding a number, and capturing Captain Owens and Lieutenant Buford, and 31 privates. I could have captured the whole of them, but my horses being tired out by a ride of 50 miles, I would not allow them to follow.

General Wyndham burned barns and stole horses and negroes. General Stoneman had four divisions of cavalry, commanded by Generals Buford, Averell, Gregg, and Pleasonton, twenty-eight regiments. His headquarters are on the Mountain road from Louisa Court-House to Richmond. He is taking all the horses in his reach.

W. H. F. Lee,

Brigadier-General

 

General A. Elzey

[Inclosure]

[May]—, 1863

 

Sir: Wednesday (April 29), Chambliss’ Thirteenth Virginia Cavalry, with one piece of artillery, was left at Kelly’s [Ford}. [Lieut. Col. William H.] Payne, with 100 men of the Second North Carolina Cavalry, had gone to Germanna [Ford]. I, with the Ninth, went to Willis Madden’s with General Stuart. Left him that night and went to Culpeper Court-House with the Ninth Virginia Cavalry. Chambliss joined me there that night.

Thursday (30th), marched from Culpeper to Rapidan Station with Ninth and Thirteen Virginia Cavalry and one piece of artillery. Left one squadron in Culpeper, which fell back before the enemy and joined me at Rapidan; enemy appeared that evening.

Friday (May 1), engaged all day with one or two brigades of cavalry. One charge made by Colonel Beale with one squadron to draw them out took 30 prisoners, but could not bring them off; was pressed very hard; had orders from General Lee to burn the bridge and fall back to Gordonsville; burned the bridge, but held my position all day; enemy commenced moving toward night in force on my left; withdrew at night, and marched at night toward Gordonsville.

Saturday (2d), reached Gordonsville at 11 a. m.; heard on my arrival that a large body of the enemy was at Trevilian’s Depot and Louisa Court-House; sent the Ninth Virginia in that direction; their vedettes were driven in by the enemy; they charged and drove them 3 miles, killing and wounding a number and took 32 prisoners—1 lieutenant. My loss was 3 or 4 wounded. Four prisoners taken represented three different regiments. Went to their assistance with Thirteenth Virginia and two pieces of artillery; met Colonel Beale falling back; took a position and awaited their approach; they did not advance; learned that General Stoneman, with his whole corps, was at Louisa Court-House, moving toward James River; supposed his object was to tear up railroad. They not coming on, my men and horses being worried out by four days’ fighting and marching, left out my pickets and withdrew to Gordonsville.

        Sunday (3d), received information from my scouts that the enemy were leaving Louisa and moving in the direction of Columbia. Knowing their object was to destroy the aqueduct, I started after them; arrived there at night; heard they had left in a great hurry; pursued all night. At daybreak, having traveled 60 or 70 miles, and the enemy being three hours ahead of me, halted. My vedettes reported enemy about 1 mile in advance; had exchanged words, and they said they belonged to Fifth Regulars; knew the party I was pursuing was Wyndham’s.

Monday (4th) started forward, and came upon him drawn up in road; one squadron of Ninth [Virginia] was ahead a few hundred yards; charged; enemy charged at same time; fought hand-to-hand four or five minutes; routed the party; killed 6, wounded a number, took 33 prisoners, among them Captain [Wesley] Owens and Lieutenant [Temple] Buford.1 Captain Owens reported that his regiment was not all present, but that he was on picket; that General [John] Buford was only 3 miles distant. My horses and men being jaded, and having only about 800 men, I determined not to pursue; continued back to Gordonsville, having traveled 70 or 80 miles.

Tuesday (5th), rested, having sent out scouting parties; heard by telegram from Richmond that the enemy were everywhere.

Wednesday (6th), having received information that the enemy were recrossing the railroad, moved down upon his left flank; came upon his rear at North Anna River; took 17 or 18 prisoners. Their rear guard had crossed the river and torn up the bridge. It had been raining all day and river was past fording. Hearing that this was only one party, and that another column was moving lower down, went in that direction; found they had all crossed North Anna River and destroyed bridges behind them; moved that night in direction of Louisa Court-House; bivouacked within 3 miles of Court-House.

Thursday (7th), went to Trevilian’s Depot; moved at 3 p. m. for Orange Court-House; scouts reported that the enemy had crossed the Rapidan.

W. H. F. Lee,

Brigadier-General

 

General J. E. B. Stuart.]  

 

1. Wesley Owens was a member of the 5th US cavalry, who had studied with Lee at West Point in the 1850s. Temple Buford (1832-1903) was a native of Maine, who was living in Illinois when the war broke out. He was the son of General Napoleon Bonaparte Buford (1807-1883), who was the half-brother of John Buford, one of the Union heroes of Gettysburg. Burford was married to the unusually named Edward Ann Morrison Blanton Buford (1838-1904), whom he later divorced. Buford is buried in Rock Island, Illinois.

 

 

Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 25, Part 1, pp. 1097-1099

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 February 3