Colonel Horatio B. Reed reports on an April, 1865, march through the Valley to parole surrendering Confederates. He discusses the situation in Staunton, where Confederate General Thomas Rosser, against the sentiment of the people, attempted to organize a force to retreat south. Reed also discusses attempts to capture cavalry in the Staunton vicinity.
Maj. WILLIAM RUSSELL,
May 5, 1865.
In obedience to orders from the major-general commanding, I moved on the 26th of April, 1865, from the Provisional Brigade with a force consisting of the Twenty-second New York and Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and camped for the night at Cedar Creek. On the following day I marched to Mount Jackson, camping there for the night. At the last-named place, as I was about going into camp, I sent forward a small force. When within carbine range they fired on my advance, and immediately retired over the hills and into the woods, out of my sight. I deployed a company to ascertain if these men were connected with a larger force, but soon satisfied myself that they were a small party of guerrillas, having no connection with troops.
On Friday, April 28, I marched to Harrisonburg, and while there in camp, agreeable to orders, I sent forward a force with one of the scouts from army headquarters to arrest a man named Richerbuker, at whose house the detective from Washington was said to have been last seen. The force arrested three men, who were brought to my headquarters. They all proved satisfactorily to me that neither of them was the person in question and that no such man lived in the country.
On Saturday, April 29, I marched to Staunton. Learned at his place that Gen. Rosser had left there the same morning, but without any force. He had been for several days, in connection with a Gen. Lilley, endeavoring to raise a force for the purpose of going south, but without success, the men refusing to join him, and in justice to the citizens it should be stated that they were opposed to his operations.
On Sunday, April 30, I received a flag of truce from Col. Thompson, commanding the force known as Jackson's cavalry brigade, asking upon what terms he could surrender his command to the United States. I informed them that he could surrender his command to the United States. I informed him that he could surrender upon the same terms as the Army of Northern Virginia, to which he properly belonged. On Monday, May 1, the force not appearing to accept my terms, I sent out a scout to ascertain their whereabouts. He returned with the information that the force consisted of about 100 men, perhaps a few more, and they were widely scattered in the mountains. I did not think it proper to attempt to capture them, as it would occupy more time and labor than was justifiable under the circumstances (as I was under orders to return within ten days and was then very short of forage). The correspondence between Col. Thompson and myself you will please find inclosed.
On Tuesday, May 2, I left Staunton, and arrived at my camp in this place this morning.
During my journey up the Valley upward of 900 soldiers belonging to the Army of Northern Virginia were paroled at different points by Capt. Snyder, acting assistant provost-marshal-general.
I remain, major, very respectfully, you obedient servant,
H. B. REED,
Col., Cmdg. Twenty-second New York Cavalry.
Bibliographic Information : Letter Reproduced from The War of The Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 46, Serial No. 95, Pages 1322-1323, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.