Boonsboro', Md., July 10, 1863.
P. T. Washburn, Adjutant General:
Sir: -- I beg leave to make the following report of engagements of the 1st Vermont Cavalry, with the enemy in Maryland and Pennsylvania, from June 30th to July 8th, 1863. At Hanover, Penn., June 30th, aided in repelling an attack by Gen. Stuart's forces. Companies "M" and "D," under Capts. Woodward and Cummings, charged through the town, repulsing the enemy and capturing many prisoners. The rest of the regiment supported a battery until the enemy were driven from the field. At Huntersville, Penn., July 2d, in an attack upon the left of Gen. Lee's army, this Regiment was deployed as skirmishers, and subjected to a severe fire from the enemy's batteries.
July 3d, in the attack made by Gen. Kilpatrick on the right flank of the enemy at Gettysburg, this cavalry led the advance. Companies "A," "D," "E," and "I," dismounted, were deployed as skirmishers, and soon drove the enemy's skirmishers back to their main lines. The contest was continued by the opposing batteries and dismounted carbineers until five o'clock, P. M. when Gen. Farnsworth, commanding the Brigade, was ordered to charge the enemy, strongly posted behind stone walls, and in the woods, and which subsequently proved to be Maj. Gen. Hood's division of infantry, with the 1st Virginia Cavalry on the left, and the 2d Battalion of the 1st Vermont under Major Wells on the right. Gen. Farnsworth dashed forward closely followed by his men.
Leaping one stone wall under a severe fire, our forces drove the enemy in all directions, over still another stone wall, and through a field swept by the rebel batteries, and succeeded in piercing the enemy's second line, where nearly all of our dead were found. I moved to the support of the 2nd Battalion, with the 1st under Capt. Parsons, and a part of the 3d, under Capt. Grover.
On the hill between the two forces, we encountered a fresh regiment of the enemy, sent in from the right to intercept the retreat of our first column and to re-establish their lines. The struggle for this hill became most desperate, but was at length carried by our boys, with severe loss, the greater part of the enemy being captured. Our loss this day, killed, wounded and missing, 75 men.
July 4th, we marched 50 miles, to the rear of the enemy, and on the morning of the 5th, at Lightersville, Md., captured one hundred prisoners, a drove of cattle, and several wagons, and marched to Hagerstown the same night, twelve hours in advance of Lee's army.
July 6th, our division attacked the retreating enemy at hagerstown, companies "D" and "L" dismounted here, drove the enemy from a strong position and occupied it. Companies "A" and "D" held a portion of the town against a superior force, until ordered to retire, in the afternoon, when a portion being cut off was secreted by the Union citizens, until our forces re-occupied it on the 12th.
In the retiring of this division at night, on the williamsport road, in the face of Lee's army, this regiment formed a part of the rear guard, and suffered severely from assaults made upon it by superior numbers. twice we were surrounded.
Capt. Beaman with the 3d Squadron, whom I ordered to hold a strong position, being cut off, was ordered to surrender. He coolly replied, "I don't see it," and leaped a fence and by a flank movement escaped with nearly his entire force. Capt. Woodward, of Company "M," a brave officer, was killed at the head of his men, while stubbornly resisting the advancing foe.
A charge was now made by Company "K," under Capt. Grover, upon the main column of the enemy, which aided materially in checking their progress. A battery was now opened upon us by the enemy, in the direction of Williamsport, and being thus attacked in the front and rear, we drew off under the cover of night to the Sharpsburg road to the left.
July 8th, Gen. Stuart with a large force attacked our cavalry at Boonsboro' early in the morning. The 1st Vermont was held in reserve, until the afternoon, then it was sent by detachments to various parts of the field to strengthen our lines. At sun-down a spirited charge was made by the 2nd Battalion, under Major Wells, upon the retreating enemy, and the sabres were freely used on both sides.
Were I to give you a list of the meritorious, it would comprise the names of every officer and enlisted man engaged.I remain your obt. serv't A. W. PRESTON, Lieut. Col., Comd'g 1st Vermont Cavalry.