Clement Anselm Evans.

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preparations Virginia had made for her defense, from
the date of her separation from the United States gov-
ernment to the date of the transfer of the military oper-
ations of the State to the Confederate government, (i)
Arrangements were made for the establishment of bat-
teries to prevent the ascent of her tidal rivers by hostile
vessels, and as soon as sites for these batteries were
selected, their construction was begun and their armament
and defense committed to the Virginia navy. (2) Prep-
arations were also begun for receiving into the serv-
ice of the State volunteer companies, and for organizing,
arming and equipping these ; establishing a rendezvous,
appointing mustering officers and providing for their
subsistence and shelter. The first estimate of the num-
ber of troops of all arms required, based upon the points
to be defended, was for 51,000 men. This estimated
quota from each portion of the State was furnished except
from the western section. (3) Arrangements were made
for calling out volunteers from the western section, at the
same time and in the same manner as from the east, but
up to the date of his writing, this had been but feebly
responded to.

Complete returns had not yet been received from the
troops in the field, but, from the best information within
his reach, General Lee believed the number of Virginia
troops in the service was about 35,000, probably more,
as the report of her ordnance officer showed that he had
issued 2,054 rifles and carbines and 41,604 muskets,
besides pistols and sabers for the cavalry. In addition
to these, 13,000 arms had been issued from the Lexington
arsenal, making a total of 56,658. From Lexington 7,000
arms had been issued to troops from other States, and also
several thousand from the arsenal at Richmond. About
5,000 men of the Virginia companies were armed and
equipped when received into the State's service, so that
the number of Virginia troops in the field was about
40,000. Virginia's adjutant-general, W. H. Richardson,


reported, April 17th, that Virginia had in her service, at
that date, of armed volunteers, 3,350 cavalry, 780 artil-
lery, 5,700 light infantry, and 2,130 riflemen; a total of
12,050. General Lee added :

When it is remembered that this body of men were called from a
state of profound peace to one of unexpected war, you will have
reason to commend the alacrity with which they left their homes and
families and prepared themselves for the defense of the State. The
assembling of men, however, was not the most difficult operation.
Provision for their instruction, subsistence, equipment, clothing,
shelter and transportation in the field required more time and labor.
Ammunition of every kind had to be manufactured. The carriages
of the guns for river, land and field service had to be made, with
the necessary implements, caissons, battery wagons, etc. One hun-
dred and fifteen guns for field service have thus been provided, from
which twenty light batteries, of four guns each, have been fur-
nished, with the requisite horses, harness, etc.

The defenses for Virginia rivers were provided for as
follows : On the James, two batteries and two steamers,
mounting 40 guns, ranging from 32-pounders to 8 and 9-
inch columbiads ; with arrangements made for mounting
60 guns in the defenses around Richmond, and for a
naval battery of 6 and 12-pound howitzers. On the York,
three batteries had been constructed, mounting 30 guns.
On the Potomac, sites for batteries had been selected
and arrangements made for their construction, but as
the command of that river was in possession of the
United States, a larger force was required for their secur-
ity than could be devoted to that purpose ; therefore, only
a battery at Aquia creek, with 1 2 guns, had been com-
pleted. On the Rappahannock, a four-gun battery of 32-
pounders and 8-inch columbiads had been erected. On
the Elizabeth, to guard the approaches to Norfolk and the
navy yard, six batteries, mounting eighty-five 32-pounders
and 8 and 9-inch columbiads, had been erected. On the
Nansemond, to prevent access to the railroad from Nor-
folk, three batteries, mounting 19 guns, had been con-
structed. In addition to the batteries described, other
works had been constructed for their land defense, exceed-
ing, in many instances, the works on the batteries them-
selves, such as an extensive line of field works for the
security of Norfolk on the sides toward the bay, and
redoubts for the same purpose at Jamestown island,
Gloucester point, Yorktown, and across the neck of land
below Williamsburg.

In the conduct of naval affairs by Virginia, the sunken


frigate United States had been raised at the navy yard
and prepared for a schoolship and for harbor defense,
with a deck battery of nineteen 32-pounders and 9-inch
columbiads; the frigate Merrimac (the famous ram Vir-
ginia of 1862) had been raised and was in the dry dock,
and arrangements had been made for raising the German-
town and the Plymouth.

Magruder reported on the i6th, from Yorktown, that
he had 5,550 effective men; that he should have 4,500
more to make his line secure, and 15 heavy guns. Gen-
eral Huger reported, from Norfolk, on the 1 7th, that the
Federals were placing artillery on the Ripraps, and on
Saturday afternoon the command at Sewell's point was
surprised by having eight or ten shells from that artillery
exploded in and around their battery.

On the 1 8th, General Lee, as Magruder had requested,
directed Lieut. R. R. Carter, commanding the steam ten-
der Teazer, to co-operate with the batteries on Jamestown
island in the defense of James river. He informed Col-
onel Magruder that requisition had been made for eight
32-pounders and four 42-pounder carronades for the de-
fense of the land approaches to Yorktown, and for four
boats, for service in York river, capable of transporting
400 or 500 men each ; and that Captain Whittle was author-
ized to send to Yorktown the guns intended for Gloucester
point, if not immediately wanted at that place. To Hon.
W. C. Parks, of the Virginia convention, he wrote that
the supply of arms for Virginia volunteers was so limited
that he had suggested to the governor a method of procur-
ing some old flint-lock muskets, which, if successful, he
hoped would furnish the means of giving arms to the
men in Grayson county and others that were much in

Colonel Magruder reported on the i8th, from Bethel
church, that he then occupied that post with the Sec-
ond Louisiana, to which he had attached the York and
Warwick companies, two batteries of artillery and some
cavalry, and had placed a Georgia regiment in support ;
and next day he wrote, that threatened by an advance
of the enemy, via Warwick Court House, he had evacu-
ated Bethel and marched for Yorktown. He learned,
afterward, that the enemy had only come out to procure
horses and mules and had then returned ; and he found
his men much fatigued and dispirited by this constant
Va 10


marching and countermarching, made necessary by the
weakness of his force, but still "that must be done and
the enemy kept in his trenches and fortifications. ' '

On June 24th, a war steamer came opposite the house
of J. W. Gresham, on the Rappahannock river, below
Urbana, and sent men ashore to purchase supplies. On
being refused, and seeing a small company of Lancaster
troops approaching, the enemy fled precipitately to their
boats, fired on as they shoved ofiE . The ship then opened
and fired fifty-three shot and shell at Mr. Gresham's house,
one of the balls striking the bed in which Mrs. Gresham
was lying ill, and a shell exploding in an outhouse to
which she was removed.

General Butler about this time reported that Colonel
Allen, with a small detachment of his men, had, without
orders, burned a wheatfield of some twenty-five acres,
belonging to a widow, which he had safeguarded, his only
excuse being that they were getting the wheat. "For
this wanton destruction and waste he had the privates
punished and the colonel arrested and held for trial, as
such destruction and waste of the property of our enemies
even, will disgrace us. ' '

On June 27th, Col. Lafayette McLaws (later major-
general) was ordered to take command of all the troops
in the vicinity of Williamsburg; Colonel Ewell was
ordered to report to him; Capt. A.. L. Rives was also
assigned to duty with Colonel McLaws, and Colonel
August's station was changed to King's mill or Grove

About midnight of July 4th, Lieut. -Col. Charles D.
Dreux, of the First Louisiana battalion, led a detach-
ment of 150 infantry, i howitzer and about 15 or 20 cav-
alry, in an advance in the direction of Newport News
and took post, in ambush, near Curtis' farm. The
videttes soon announced the approach of about 100 Fed-
eral cavalry. Notwithstanding the orders that had been
given to the men not to fire until ordered, some shots
were exchanged between the videttes and some of the
men concealed on the left, and the enemy, and Colonel
Dreux was mortally wounded. Capt. S. W. Fisk, of the
Louisiana battalion, succeeding to the command, ordered
his men to wheel into line; but in the meantime the
enemy had disappeared, the horses, taking fright, had run
off down the road with the gun, and the opportunity for


a surprise having passed, and there being a large force of
the enemy near, the scouting party returned to camp.
Colonel Magruder reported that he had himself gone, the
morning before, with a larger force to the York road, as
the enemy had crossed Hampton creek, leaving Dreux in
command, who organized this expedition after he left.
He ascertained that the enemy's force which fled was
about 400, and that a war steamer came up after the skir-
mish and threw shells into the woods where it took place.
The gallant colonel died from his wounds the next morn-

On the nth, Thomas H. Wynne, chairman of the city
committee on defenses, informed the secretary of war
that the city council of Richmond was willing to bear a
fair proportion of the expenses of erecting defenses
around the city, but as that was an important point to
the Confederate government, it should take charge of this
work, as it had done elsewhere.

Brigadier-General Huger, from Norfolk, July 12th, sub-
mitted a list of the Virginia volunteer companies under
his command, as organized into regiments and battal-
ions, calling attention to the fact that all the infantry
regiments had their complement of companies, except
the Forty-first, which would soon be filled up by com-
panies ready to be mustered in. These regiments were :
The Third, Roger A. Pryor, colonel, F. H. Archer, lieu-
tenant-colonel, and Joseph Mayo, major ; the Sixth, Wil-
liam Mahone, colonel, Thomas J. Corprew, lieutenant-col-
onel, and W. P. Lundy, major; the Ninth, F. H. Smith,
colonel, J. T. L. Preston, lieutenant-colonel, and Staple-
ton Crutchfield, major (the superintendent and two
professors of the Virginia military institute) ; the
Twelfth, D. A. Weisiger, colonel, F. L. Taylor, lieuten-
ant-colonel, and Edgar L. Brockett, major; the Twenty-
sixth, R. E. Colston, colonel, H. T. Parish, lieutenant-
colonel, and John C. Page, major ; the Forty-first, John R.
Chambliss, Jr. , colonel, George Blow, Jr. , lieutenant-col-
onel, and Fred W. Smith, major. The Forty-first had but
seven companies. There was a cavalry regiment of
eight companies, without field officers, and a battalion of
field artillery of five companies, without field officers.
Of the officers named, Mahone afterward became major-
general, and Pryor, Weisiger, Colston and Chambliss,


Col. Robert Johnston, commanding the cavalry at
Cockletown, reported that a volunteer scout of four had
returned to camp that morning, bringing in Captain Jen-
kins and Lieutenant Shurtleff of the United States naval
brigade. This scout met a party of six, near New Mar-
ket bridge, killed Major Rawlings, wounded the two
officers brought in, and put the rest to flight. Soon after-
ward Colonel Johnston reported that he would occupy
Bethel, endeavor to secure the negroes from the lower
part of the peninsula, and then occupy Harrod's and
Young's mills, whence he could best operate with safety
against marauding parties.

July 24th, on account of the panic following the battle
of Bull Run, Butler was required to send a force of
about 4,000 men to Washington. He wrote to Scott:
"This reduction of my forces here leaves it impossible to
take up or hold any advanced position. Newport News,
where I have an intrenched camp, and a very important
point in my judgment, would be in great danger of
attack from Yorktown and Warwick, where the Confed-
erates are now concentrating troops across the James
river from Smithfield to Warwick."

As soon as Colonel Magruder learned the result of the
battle of Manassas, he ordered Colonel Johnston to pro-
ceed, with about 2,000 men, to reconnoiter in the imme-
diate vicinity of Hampton and Newport News. As soon
as Johnston appeared before Hampton, a large balloon
was sent up, from which his force was observed, and a
hasty evacuation took place. Magruder ordered a junc-
tion of troops from Williamsburg and Yorktown — about
4,000, including 400 cavalry and two batteries of the how-
itzers — in Warwick county, where he established a depot
of supplies at the courthouse, and then marched to
Bethel church. On August 6th he disposed his force
between the Federals at and around Fort Monroe and
those in garrison at Newport News.

On the morning of the 7th, Magruder displayed his
force within a mile and a half of Newport News, with the
hope of drawing out the enemy. Disappointed in this,
he moved his left flank to within a mile of Hampton,
where a copy of the New York Tribune, containing a
recent report from Butler to the secretary of war, was
placed in his hands, in which the former announced his
intentions with respect to Hampton, about one-third of


which had been burned by the Federals when they evac-
uated it in consequence of the withdrawal of 4,000 of
their best troops to Washington. Butler, in that report,
in substance stated :

That he intended to fortify Hampton and make it so strong as to
be easily defended by a small number of troops; that he did not
know what to do with the many negroes in his possession unless he
possessed Hampton ; that they were still coming in rapidly ; that as
their masters had deserted their homes and slaves, he should con-
sider the latter free, and would colonize them at Hampton, the home
of most of their owners, where the women could support themselves
by attending to the clothes of the soldiers, and the men by working
on the fortifications of the town.

Magruder reported, that having known for some time
that Hampton was the harbor of runaway slaves and
traitors, and that being under the guns of Fort Mon-
roe it could not be held, even if taken, he was under
the impression that it should have been destroyed before ;
and when he found, from Butler's report, its importance
to the enemy, and that the town would lend great
strength to the fortifications directly around it, he deter-
mined to burn it ; that the gentlemen of Hampton, many
of whom were in his command, seemed to concur with
him in the propriety of this course. He further hoped
that the sight of a conflagration would draw away the
troops from Newport News at night. Having reached
this conclusion, Magruder made disposition of his troops,
selecting four Virginia cavalry companies to burn the
town, three of them made up of persons from that por-
tion of the country, and many of them from Hampton.
To support this party, the Fourteenth Virginia was
posted near Hampton to guard against an attack from
any unexpected quarter ; New Market, between Hamp-
ton and Newport News, was taken possession of, and a
force disposed so as to meet any troops coming from
Newport News to the relief of Hampton. He then
described the skirmish at the Hampton bridge, which
induced the enemy to retreat, at the end of half an hour,
with some loss, and with only one of his men wounded.
"Notice was then given to the few remaining inhabitants
of the place, and those who were aged or infirm were
kindly cared for and taken to their friends, who occu-
pied detached houses. The town was then fired in many
places and burned to the ground." About daybreak of


the 8th the troops that had fired the town returned to
Bethel for rest, not having been molested by the enemy.
General Butler, in his report of this affair, said that just
before noon the Confederates attacked his gfuard at the
bridge and attempted to burn it, but were driven back,
when they proceeded to fire Hampton, in a great number
of places, and by 12 o'clock it was in flames and was
soon entirely destroyed. He wrote:

They gave but fifteen minutes' time for the inhabitants to remove
from their houses, and I have to-day brought over the old and
infirm, who by that wanton act of destruction are now left houseless
and homeless. The enemy took away with them most of the able-
bodied white men. A more wanton and unnecessary act than the
burning, as it seems to me, could not have been committed. There
was not the slightest attempt to make any resistance on our part for
the possession of the town, which we had before evacuated. There
was no attempt to interfere with them there, as we only repelled an
attempt to bum the bridge. It would have been easy to dislodge
them from the town by a few shells from the fortress, but 1 did not
choose to allow an opportunity to fasten upon the Federal troops
any portion of this heathenish outrage.

Magruder reported that there was sickness among the
troops on the peninsula, nearly all of a typhoid charac-
ter, and many deaths were occurring. The Fifth North
Carolina, over 1,000 strong, had then less than 400 for
duty. "In addition to the measles, ague and fever, bil-
ious and typhoid fever, symptoms of scurvy are apparent
throughout the command ; typhoid has been so prevalent
and fatal at Jamestown island as to make the withdrawal
of the men from that post necessary. " He added, that he
had called out a large force of negroes to complete the
fortifications, and he requested that funds be sent for the
payment of these laborers, without delay, as many of
them were free negroes. He did not wish the sanitary
condition of his men to be made known, for obvious
reasons, and said:

Those men who can take the field are in fine spirits, and so keen
for an encounter with the enemy that I believe Newport News could
be carried, though it is excessively strong, and garrisoned by troops
and supported by a naval force more than equal to my own in ntim-
bers. I do not think it can be done, however, without a loss of one-
half of our men in killed and wounded. It could not be held by us
for any length of time if it were taken, as the troops from Fort
Monroe in much larger force could place themselves in our rear, and
the position itself could be shelled by the enemy's ships both in front
and on the left flank. Its temporary position, therefore, would not
compensate for the loss necessary in taking it.


On the 17th of August, Maj.-Gen. John E. Wool super-
seded Butler in department command, and Butler was
put in command of the volunteer forces in the depart-
ment exclusive of those at Fort Monroe, practically his
own brigade.



THE unsatisfactory condition of military operations
on the line from Staunton to Parkersburg, as well ♦
as on that from Staunton to the Kanawha, during
the month of July, was the cause of great anxiety ,
both to the Virginia government and to that of the Con-
federacy. Reinforcements were hurried forward on both
lines, especially to northwestern Virginia on the Staunton
and Parkersburg line, where the larger Federal force had
been concentrated. After the death of Gen. R. S. Gar-
nett and the retreat of his forces, the command of the
army of the Northwest was, on the 14th of July, assumed
by Brig. -Gen. H. R. Jackson, of Georgia, who estab-
lished his headquarters at Monterey, 47 miles west of
Staunton, and pushed his advance across Alleghany
mountain to the Greenbrier river. Another column hav-
ing been ordered to the Huntersville and Huttonsville -
road, mainly the brigade of Brig. -Gen. W. W. Loring, ■
that officer was, as the ranking one, assigned on the 20th
of July to the command of the army of the Northwest,
which included the forces on both the Monterey and the
Huntersville lines which had a common objective in the
Federal force on Cheat mountain and near Huttonsville.
General Loring reached Monterey on the 2 2d day of July
and assumed command.

When Loring reached Monterey he found the army of .
the Northwest thus distributed : Col. Edward Johnson, ,
with the Twelfth Georgia and Anderson's Virginia Lee
battery, were on Alleghany mountain, with pickets ,
at Greenbrier river ; Col. Albert Rust's Third Arkansas
and Col. John B. Baldwin's Pifty-second Virginia were
in supporting distance between Alleghany mountain and
Monterey; Col. S. V. Fulkerson's Thirty-seventh Vir-
ginia, Col. William B. Taliaferro's Twenty-third Vir-
ginia, and Col, W. C. Scott's Forty-fourth Virginia were



at Monterey, as also were Shumaker's Virginia battery
and Maj. George Jackson's Fourteenth Virginia cavalry.
Col. J. N. Ramsey's First Georgia and the remnant of
the Twenty-fifth Virginia, under Maj. A. G. Reger, were
placed at McDowell for reorganization ; Col. Charles C.
Lee's Thirty-seventh North Carolina and Col. William
Gilham's Thirty -first Virginia, with some 2,000 men,
were on the road between Huntersville and Valley
mountain, with their advance at the latter place, holding
the road into the head of Tygart's valley. After consul-
tation with Gen. H. R. Jackson, it was decided that other
troops which had been ordered to the Monterey line
should be sent to Millboro, on the Virginia Central rail-
road, and thence by waj' of the Warm Springs to the
Huntersville line.

After spending a few days at Monterey inspecting the
troops and gathering information. General Loring, on
the I St of August, rode to the front, accompanied by his
staff. Col. Carter Stevenson, assistant adjutant-general;
Maj. A. L. Long, chief of artillery ; Capt. James L. Cor-
ley, chief quartermaster; Capt. R. G. Cole, chief com-
missary; Lieut. H. M. Matthews, aide-de-camp, and Col.
W. M. Starke, volunteer aide-de-camp. Most of these
oificers subsequently became distinguished; Colonel Stev-
enson as major-general in command of Hood's corps;
Major Long as chief of artillery and brigadier-general in
the Second Corps of the army of Northern Virginia; Cap-
tains Corley and Cole as the chief quartermaster and the
chief commissary on the staff of General Lee, and Lieu-
tenant Matthews as governor of West Virginia. Most of
these had been officers in the United States army.

After crossing Alleghany mountain. General Loring
« reconnoitered the enemy's position on Cheat mountain
and concluded that a direct attack on that, by way of the
Parkersburg road, was impracticable. He then decided
to take immediate command of the force which had been
ordered to rendezvous at Huntersville, and attempt to
turn Cheat mountain by way of the Valley mountain pass,
which Colonels Gilham and Lee had been ordered to
occupy. He directed Gen. H. R. Jackson to advance his
whole force of some 6,000 men to the Greenbrier river,
and hold himself ' in readiness to co-operate when the
advance should be made from Huntersville toward Bev-
erly. General Loring then rode down the valley of the


Greenbrier to Huntersville, where he established his
headquarters, about the last of July, and began to make
arrangements for the proposed forward movements on
the Federal forces at Huttonsville and on Cheat mountain.
Loring found at Huttonsville Col. George Maney's First
Tennessee, Col. Robert Hatton's Seventh Tennessee,
Col. John H. Savage's Sixteenth Tennessee, Col. John
A. Campbell's Forty-eighth Virginia, Maj. John D.
Munford's First Virginia battalion of regulars, Maj. W.
H. F. Lee's squadron of Virginia cavalry, and Marye's

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 15 of 153)