Welcome back, readers…
Late the previous night Union pickets captured a Confederate soldier who disclosed that Leesburg was only thinly defended. General Stone sensed that this might be an opportunity to cross the Potomac into Virginia, but that it also might be a ruse de guerre, and he needed more than what he learned from his prisoner.
On October 20, 1861, Stone ordered Captain Chase Philbrick and twenty men to cross the Potomac in small boats to reconnoiter the field and any enemy positions or movement. Philbrick would return with information that he had only found a deserted Confederate camp.
Stone was satisfied that opposition would be light if opposition existed at all, and he therefore started to move his force first to Harrison’s island in the middle of the river, about one hundred yards from the western shore of the Potomac, by crossing the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal by use of four small boats.
General Stone planned an incursion into Virginia the next morning.
Tomorrow: The Battle of Ball’s Bluff