Union General Phil Sheridan writes to Chief of Staff Henry Halleck to report on his March, 1865, expedition in the Shenandoah Valley. Sheridan details the Union entrance into Staunton, and the Confederate property destroyed in the town and its vicinity.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
March 8th, 1865. (Via Winchester, Va. Received 4.15 p.m. 8th.)
I have the honor to report the following operations of the forces under my command since leaving Winchester:
We pushed rapidly up the valley to Staunton, arriving there on the night of the 1st instant, encountering but little opposition. Parties of the enemy made their appearance on our flanks, but no attention was paid to them. At Mount Crawford, Rosser, with a portion of his command, attempted to hold the position and destroy the bridge, but was handsomely charged by a portion of Col. Capehart's brigade, and drove them on a run to Mount Sidney. Gen. Early then hastily evacuated Staunton, which was occupied by Col. Stagg's brigade, and the railroad bridge over Christian's Creek was burned. On the morning of the 2d the whole command marched into Staunton. I then directed Gen. Merritt to order Gen. Custer, with his division, to follow up the enemy, who had moved in the direction of Waynesborough, the First Division following in support of Gen. Custer. Gen. Custer found the enemy in line of battle in a strong position at Waynesborough, and at once attacked him with Pennington's and Wells' brigades, of his division, and Capehart's brigade, of the Second Division (Gen. Chapman's), with the following result: 9 pieces light artillery, 13 battle-flags, 1,165 enlisted men, 78 officers, from 125 to 150 wagons and ambulances, with teams complete, captured. The caissons and teams of the artillery were also complete. Nearly the entire force of the enemy was captured. Gen.'s Early, Wharton, Rosser, and Lilley were present on the field. Gen.'s Early and Lilley escaped to the mountain. In addition to the above captures, we destroyed between Harrisonburg and Staunton 25 wagons and ambulances, and at Staunton 100 wagons. At Swoope's Depot 1,200 uniforms and a quantity of subsistence stores, burning the Government buildings. The force that made the stand here was two brigades of Wharton's division and a portion of Rosser's cavalry.
P. H. SHERIDAN,
Bibliographic Information : Letter Reproduced from The War of The Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 46, Serial No. 96, Pages 792, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.