Monday, December 2, 2013

November 30, 1863 (Monday): Custer Reports

General George A. Custer

Morton's Ford, November 30, 1863-2 p. m.
[Colonel C. ROSS SMITH,
Chief of Staff, Cavalry Corps:]
    Two contrabands, who crossed the river near Rapidan Station last night, report that the enemy is moving all his trains toward Gordonsville. One contraband stated that he had counted over 500 wagons moving from Orange Court-House to Gordonsville. There was scarcely any guards with the train. A man belonging to my command who was taken prisoner two weeks ago at Raccoon Ford, made his escape from the enemy and has just come in. He reports that he has been at Orange Court-House for one week; that now there are but very few troops at that point, all having been marched toward Fredericksburg. He confirms the report which states that the trains of the enemy are moving to Gordonsville. He was dressed in the rebel uniform, and associated freely with the rebel soldiers after making his escape.
    They are all aware of Bragg's disaster and expect that Lee's army will be forced back. The enemy have withdrawn all infantry from the fords above this point, and do not show as large a force of cavalry as usual. I can cross Morton's Ford at my pleasure. A few minutes ago I received through General Merritt's headquarters a dispatch from you, stating that our batteries would open at 8 a. m.     The dispatch was dated 7 a. m.

     G. A. CUSTER,
     Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 930.

Custer's fame, for better and worse, was made mainly on the western plains.  But he had an active career leading cavalry forces during the Civil War.  Here he relates information obtained from a spy (or deserter, it is not clear).  It is interesting to note how quickly word of Bragg's loss at Chattanooga made its way to the eastern armies.

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