Washington City, D.C.
Nov. 4, 1861
My dear Sisters,
Ellie's letter from the Hermitage was rec'd in the midst of muster, our busiest time with papers and I have had no leisure until the present time to answer it.
The day of the affair at Leesburg I was with my Brigade in advance at Drainsville, 11 or 12 miles from the former. We know nothing of Stone's movement, in that any was contemplated, and from all I can learn, it seems that the crossing was effected by inadequate means and the small force first thrown over rashly advanced towards Leesburg instead of taking up a position to protect the crossing of the remaining troops. I do not know who is to blame in the matter but certainly Gen'l McClellan never considered the error of crossing the River in force or he would not have withdrawn us from Drainsville as he did. I was there until 11 or a.m. on the 21 and heard nothing of the firing in that direction. It seems they only moved from their position in [Aquia?] Creek in force after they learned that we had fallen back, which they did in a few hours and this action took place after 2 P.M.
It was a very unfortunate affair but not as disastrous as it might have been considering the means by which the crossing of the River was attempted.
Your kind note took for much better writing in the papers for our Division for I am happy to say we are not favored with any newspaper correspondents. They do more harm than good and are not at all reliable I learn for the first time by the N.Y. papers that the pickets of McCall's division were driven in the other night as Meade and I have charge of the whole line of Pickets in front of the Div. I think he should have known it if such had been the case.
Mrs. Meade and Mrs. McCall were here the other day last "Sunday" and I put the Div. through a Review the form of which I arranged according to the idea of the proper formation and dispositions of large bodies of troops for Reserve. It was a decided success! And we are going to have a Review of 3 Divs. soon in the same manner which will put about 30,000 troops in 100,000 sq. yds. and allow them to remain, and pass in Review, in proper order. I doubt whether this is very plain to you.
I have had my photograph taken in uniform & [vignette?] and will send you same tomorrow, by mail, they are the best I have ever had taken I think. I send you by mail a package of Will's and Becky's letters which I found in my writing desk it being no use to carry them through the wars.
With much love to all,
Believe me your affectionate Brother,
John F. Reynolds
I have bought another horse making 3 and will send Harry my pay also & ask him to pay for him ($225). He's blooded and I think the finest horse I have ever had. I bought him from John W. Duncan of Pittsburg. He was a Major in one of my Regts but has gone home and if he does not return I will ask Harry to attend to this matter for me.