Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19, 1861 (Saturday): Looking For Rebels

General Israel B. Richardson
Report of Brigadier General Israel B. Richardson, U. S. Army.

October 19, 1861.

SIR: In obedience to your instructions, I left this camp yesterday at 3.30 p. m. to make a reconnaissance in the direction of occoquan, my force consisting of two regiment of infantry, of half battery of artillery, and one company of cavalry. The command proceeded as far as Accotink Creek, taking the Telegraph road. On reaching this stream I came to a halt, and sent half a company of cavalry to Pohick Church, the other half to the Accotink Village, and posted a company of infantry to our right on the road leading up the creek. This company on morning up the road fell in with enemy's pickets, who immediately ran into their camp across the creek and gave the alarm. The long roll beat some 20 minutes from three different camps on our right, showing that they were there in some force. After resting the command half an hour I sent to order in both detachments of cavalry, who soon came in, finding no enemy at the village or at the church. The enemy occupy the valley on the right of the road leading from the crossing to the church. from what I could learn, the road from Pohick Church to Occoquan is clear, and but few troops are at the latter place. Having finished the object of the expedition, I moved the command back to camp, where it arrived at 12 o'clock, having marched some 20 miles. I took this opportunity of moving forward our pickets, who occupy a direct line from Windsor Hill to the mouth of Dogue Creek. 
    I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier General S. P. HEINTSELMAN, U. S. Army.

Series I., Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 249

Israel Richardson was known as "Fighting Dick" Richardson for his tenacity in combat.  Although a poor student at West Point (38th in a class of 52), he showed ability in the field in Mexico and during the war before his death at Antietam in 1862.  The reconnaissance described here was one of the probes ordered by McClellan after General Stone mistakenly reported the Confederates had left Leesburg.   

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