Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 1863 (Sunday): Early Drives Back Averell

Colonel William L. Jackson (

JACKSON'S RIVER, [December] 20, 1863.
Major General J. A. EARLY:
    Last night with fifty men I divided Averell's command at this bridge. He burned the bridge. In doing this I lost connection with my main command, and it did not come up this morning as soon as I desired. The two regiments I cut off burned the train and are now endeavoring to escape by the railroad track. We have captured a number of men and officers and ambulance drivers; killed and wounded considerable. My loss so far is small. I am in pursuit. They may go to Lewisburg. I have just heard that Averell is three miles above for the purpose of saving the residue of his command.


Staunton, December 20, 1863.
General LEE:
    Dispatch just in from Jackson, who is safe. He has captured a number of the enemy, whose loss in killed and wounded is considerable. His own slight. Enemy burned his trains. Two regiments are cut off from main body and Jackson in pursuit.

    J. A. EARLY,

Staunton, December 20, 1863.
General R. E. LEE:
    I am just in from Millborough. Averell with main body of his forces and his artillery escaped by way of Covington on Rich Patch route. Jackson's force captured about 200 prisoners and some ambulances; 2,700 men reported cut off from main body. Jackson himself reported captured, but hope no true. But for incorrect information from Lynchburh that Averell had returned to Salem, Fitz. Lee would have been in position to capture his whole force. I endeavor to get out by Warm Springs with infantry, but delay so great on railroad that I was too late. Enemy's force at Strasburg has advanced to Harrisonburg and I am going now to drive it back. No news from Rosser.

    J. A. EARLY,

NEAR MOUNT CRAWFORD, VA., [December] 20, 1863.
General EARLY:
     Enemy is quiet. Shows no dispostion to advance. Has been in Harrisonburg only once. His force is two regiments of infantry, two of cavalry-1,600 men. This comes from a very reliable officer who escaped from them. He says they do not intend advancing farther. Major O'Ferrall has lost about fifteen men.

      H. H. WALKER,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 805.

Early had succeeded with a single brigade of infantry and a portion of Fitz Lee's cavalry in driving Averell back to the south and west of Harrisonburg.  It was a thing done relatively easily, but it would not be so easy in the coming year as the Federal cavalry became more active, well equipped, and well trained.

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