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OR XLII P1 #343: Reports of Major J. Stannard Baker, 1st DC Cav, Aug 9 and Sept 3, 1864

No. 343. Reports of Major J. Stannard Baker, First District of Columbia Cavalry, of operations August 9 and September 3.1

Sycamore Church, Va., August 10, 1864.

COLONEL: I beg leave to make the following report in regard to the capture by the enemy of certain men and quartermaster’s stores, made on yesterday, the 9th instant, beyond my outposts:

About 8 o’clock in the morning the officer in command of the picket-line (Lieutenant Wilkins) came in and informed me that the quartermaster-sergeant of my regiment, with two teams and drivers, had been captured only a few minutes before on the stage road, from half to a third of a mile beyond his outpost on the right. I ordered Lieutenant Wilkins to take what men he happened to have with him and follow the gang that made the capture as rapidly as possible. I then took my entire available force and moved down the road leading south from Sycamore Church, leaving a strong picket guard along the road as I advanced. In two hours after the capture was made I had a strong chain of pickets extending from the point marked A (vide rough pencil map inclosed with this) to the point B, and from thence to D, connecting at D with the pickets of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry. I thus cut off their return, and partially surrounded them. I then communicated with Major Stratton, informing him of what had been done and requesting that he would co-operate with me in the attempt to capture the gang. I then took that portion of my command which was not already employed, and scoured through the country which I had surrounded. At about 10 o’clock at night, my men being much exhausted, and failing to receive any aid from the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, I drew in my pickets and returned to camp, after having captured eight of the gang. The casualties of my command were two men wounded.

I ascertained during the day the following facts: The entire gang consisted of from twenty to thirty men, some mounted and some dismounted, some of whom were soldiers, and some citizens; that they were aided and co-operated with by several of the citizens living in that neighborhood. In regard to the amount or kind of public property captured by the gang in the morning I know nothing definite. Neither myself nor my quartermaster was accountable for any of it.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major, Commanding.

[Colonel S. P. SPEAR,
Commanding Brigade.]

August 12, 1864.

Respectfully referred to the commanding general of division.

No teams pass over any road now without a proper guard. At the time of the loss of this property I was in charge of the picket-line.

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade, Kautz’s Division.

Sycamore Church, Va., September 3, 1864.

COLONEL: I have the honor to state, in reply to your communication of this date just received, that pursuant to instructions from you, through my acting adjutant, about midnight, I immediately took up line of march, and arrived at Sycamore Church some time after 6 a.m. this date, and immediately had the necessary details made for the immediate re-establishing of the picket-line here. It was during this time that an attack was made upon two Government wagons, for which that an attack was made upon two Government wagons, for which Quartermaster Baker is accountable. The drivers having positive orders to return with them immediately, I therefore sent a guard of one non-commissioned officer and six privates with them. On learning that they were attacked, I took all the available men of the regiment and started in pursuit. This occasioned some delay in establishing the picket-line as the attack was made while the guard was forming. Three of the men and six of the mules were captured, which I am sorry to say were not recovered. In my endeavors to recapture the property Captain Hamilton, in charge of a detachment, met with a large force of the enemy, and after a severe engagement had to fall back with the loss of 1 man killed and 3 men wounded. Captain Hamilton is wounded slightly.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major, Commanding.

Colonel S. P. SPEAR,
Commanding Second Brigade, Kautz’s Cavalry Division.


  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLII, Part 1 (Serial Number 87), pages 840-842
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