Union Major William Russell reports on a March, 1865, scouting expedition in the Shenandoah Valley. Russell reports that refugees from Staunton gave him information concerning the locations of Confederate troops.
Brevet Maj.-Gen. TORBERT,
Chief of Cavalry.
March 29, 1865.
In compliance with your orders, I left Winchester on the morning of the 27th instant, with a detachment of 300 men, to go up the Valley as far as Woodstock, for the purpose of ascertaining the position and strength of any force of the enemy in the Valley. I arrived at Woodstock at 4 p.m., and there ascertained through citizens, and two refugees who came from Staunton on Saturday last, that there was no force of any nature between Staunton and this place. At Edenburg there is a small picket of not more than twenty men, stationed there for the purpose of preventing deserters and refugees from coming north. At New Market there is a small provost guard, left there for the purpose of collecting any men of Rosser's command and sending them to Gordonsville, where it is said that Rosser it collecting what forces he can; also, that Imboden's command has been ordered to report to him. The present whereabouts of Imboden's command I could not ascertain. The most significant information I received was that the re-enforcements sent to Lynchburg at the time Gen. Sheridan was approaching that place consisted of the Engineer Brigade from Richmond, composed of 1,800 men, who were to strengthen the works, and it was the opinion of my informant (a citizens of Woodstock) that no other troops had been sent there.
The inhabitants of the Valley being cut off from southern communication by the destruction of the Virginia Central Railroad, it is difficult to learn anything of late occurrence. Aside from some half dozen scouts at Woodstock and a party of some fifteen guerrillas, who fired into my rear guard to-day at Newton, I saw none of the enemy.
I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,
WM. RUSSELL, JR.,
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 536-537, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.