Letter written by Brigadier General Rufus King to Colonel George D. Ruggles, Chief of Staff of the Army of Virginia, from the division headquarters in Fredericksburg, VA. King is writing to report to the headquarters of Major General John Pope on the reconnaissance march of General John Gibbon’s troops towards Orange Court House. King writes that Gibbon has already returned to the camp, and has reported that the forces of Confederate generals Beverly H. Robertson, Richard S. Ewell, and Stonewall Jackson are located near Orange Court House and Liberty Mills. King states that the Confederates were expecting an attack from Warrenton or Madison Court House, rather than Fredericksburg.
Division Head Quarters
Fredericksburg, July 27,‘62
Col. Geo. D. Ruggles
Chief of Staff, Army of Virginia
I telegraphed yesterday to Head Quarters the result, as far as ascertained, of our expedition in the direction of Orange Court House. The column bivouacked, last night, about 18 or 20 miles from here, and, early this morning, resumed its march for camp. The advance is now within a few miles of town. They have met with no casualties. I will transmit Gen. Gibbon’s detailed report of the movement, as soon as it is rendered.
Gen. Gibbon himself has this moment
returned. He confirms substantially what I telegraphed, to wit: that Gen. Beverly H. Robertson, with two or three regiments of cavalry, is within a mile of Orange C. H. Gen. Ewell, with a force of all arms, three miles beyond; and the rest of [Stonewall] Jackson’s forces stretched along for six miles towards Liberty Mills. The whole force is estimated at 25 to 30,000 men. They were anticipating an attack from the direction of Warrenton or Madison Court House, and did not expect an advance from this direction.
Brig. Gen. Cmdg.
General Rufus King, was the Union general who organized the famous Black Hat or Iron Brigade. In July of 1862 Gen. McDowell told King to “use every effort and employ all the means in your power to obtain… reliable information of the enemy at Louisa Court House and Gordonsville [OR’s 1-12-3-498].” King chose John Gibbon, now commander of the “Black Hat” brigade, for this mission. Gibbon was told to “ascertain what Confederate forces are at Orange Court House and Gordonsville.” Gibbon’s troops consisted of a detachment from the Iron Brigade (2nd, 6th, 7th Wisconsin Inf., Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery) and several other units from King’s division (3rd Indiana Cavalry, and Co’s. A,C, 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters).