Clement Anselm Evans.

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deployed in force and advanced upon the scouting party,
but these, in the meantime, retired, and reaching Camp
Alleghany about dark, reported the Federal advance and
thus gave Colonel Johnson opportunity to make prepara-
tion to meet it.

Colonel Johnson's command of about 1,200 men at
Camp Alleghany consisted of his own regiment, the
Twelfth Georgia under Lieut. -Col. Z. T. Conner, the
Thirty-first Virginia under Maj. P. M. Boykin, Jr., two
companies of the Fifty-second Virginia under Maj. J. D.
H. Ross, the Ninth Virginia battalion under Lieut. -Col.
G. W. Hansbrough, the Twenty-fifth Virginia battalion
under Maj. A. J. Reger, and eight 6-pounders of the
Lee battery under Capt. P. B. Anderson and the Rock-
bridge battery under Capt. John Miller. After the close
■of the engagement the Forty-fourth Virginia arrived, but
did not become engaged. The Federal force was made
Tip of the Ninth and Thirteenth Indiana, the Twenty-
fifth and Thirty-second Ohio, the Second West Virginia


and a squadron of cavalry, in so far as can be ascertained,
as there are no published reports but from one colonel.
About 4 o'clock 'on the morning of the 13th the Con-
federate pickets fired on the Federals coming up the
mountain. Aroused by this. Colonel Johnson at once
turned out the whole of his command and placed it in
position to meet an attack. The Ninth and Twenty-fifth
Virginia battalions and the Thirty-first Virginia were
ordered to the crest of the mountain on the right, to guard
against approach from that quarter. No defenses had been
thrown up on that ridge. Some fields, with stumps and
felled timber beyond, reached this crest of the mountain.
A portion of the enemy, led by a Union man from west-
em Virginia who was familiar with the locality, turned
to the left about a mile down the turnpike and reached
the field in front of Johnson's right by a trail which led
into a road coming into a field near his rear. Hans-
borough's pickets discovered this approach and reported
the enemy coming in strong force. They advanced, some
2,000 men, in line of battle at about 7:15 a. m. and
promptly opened a terrific musketry fire, which was
bravely responded to by the 300 Confederates on the
crest of the ridge. As soon as this firing began, Johnson
ordered two companies of the Twelfth Georgia, that had
been posted about a quarter of a mile down the turnpike,
to move to the support of the right; he also sent three
other companies, from the same indomitable regiment,
to join in holding this important position against such
great odds. The Georgians gallantly moved up and
lengthened the line on its left, receiving a hot fire from
the enemy from behind the fallen trees and the standing
stumps on the opposite side of the field in front. The
Federals had, in the meantime, forced back the extreme
Confederate right, but when the Georgians came up with
a shout, those who had so well held the field rallied and
moved upon the enemy at the same time. This brave
dash was, for a time, checked by the Federals from the
strong positions which they held behind the stumps and
the fallen timber, but it was not driven back. It steadily
advanced, cheered by its officers, who fought side by side
with their men and led them on to the conflict. General
Johnson reports : " I never witnessed harder fighting ; the
enemy, behind trees, with their long range arms, at first
had decidedly the advantage, but our men soon came up


to them and drove them from their cover. I cannot
speak in terms too exaggerated of the unflinching cour-
age and dashing gallantry of those 500 men who con-
tended, from 7:15 a. m. until 1:45 P- ™-. against an
immensely superior force of the enemy, and finally drove
them from their positions and pursued them a mile or
more down the mountain. " The losses on this wing were
severe in killed and wounded, among both officers and
men ; it could not be otherwise where such brave fighting
was done.

The left of General Johnson's position had been
intrenched and there were posted Anderson's and Mil-
ler's eight guns and the troops that were first turned out
in the morning — the Twelfth Georgia, the Fifty-second
Virginia, and Dabney's Pittsylvania cavalry, dismounted,
with carbines. About a half hour after the attack on
Johnson's right, a heavy column of the enemy, led by a
traitor well acquainted with the locality, approached this
position by a road running along a leading ridge and
toward the left of the trenches. The enemy were evi-
dently surprised to find an intrenchment in their front,
as they hesitated in approaching. Captain Anderson, as
they came in sight, mistook them for Confederate pickets
coming in, and rode forward telling his comrades not to
fire. The Federals instantly fired a volley in which this
brave soldier of three wars and many battles fell mortally
wounded. The Confederates quickly responded, and their
galling fire soon drove the enemy back into the brush and
fallen timber, from which they kept up a constant fire
which was returned with spirit, by both infantry and
artillery, especially by the latter, which, stung by the
death of their loved leader, poured shot and shell among
them, making their position untenable and driving them
from the combat, in which they were assisted by the
force on the right which General Johnson drew to the
left after the enemy had been repulsed from that portion
of the field. The enemy fled from this combined assault
and retreated down the mountain in great confusion,
leaving their dead and wounded and the debacle of their
retreat behind them.

Colonel Johnson concluded his official report of this
engagement, dated December 19th, by saying: "Although
we have reason to be thankful to God for the victory
achieved over our enemies on this occasion, we can but


lament the loss of many valuable lives. Our casualties
amounted to 20 killed, 96 wounded and 28 missing.
Many of the missing have returned since the day of bat-
tle. " In a report of December iSth, he wrote: "The
enemy were totally routed and acknowledged they had
been badly whipped. They were heard to accuse their
officers of deceiving them, insisting that our numbers
were largely superior to their own. They were much
demoralized, and I hope they have received a good

The Official Records contain no report from General
Milroy concerning this engagement, but the official
return of Federal casualties gives 20 killed, 107 wounded
and 10 missing; total, 137.

Any account of the battle of Alleghany Mountain that
fails to make mention of the grandly heroic leadership of
Col. Edward Johnson in that memorable engagement,
fails to give prominence to the most important factor in
the winning of such a decided victory over so large an
attacking enemy. The men in Johnson's command were
the very pick and flower of Southern soldiery. Those in
the Twelfth Georgia were the best that "Empire State"
of the South could furnish. The Virginia regiments
were made up of the picked men from northwestern
Virginia and from the Great Valley. With such men
and a brave and dashing commander, success in a contest
was almost certain against a large disparity of numbers ;
but without a leader of such character, even such soldiers
would fail to win in almost any field. Colonel Johnson,
in the rough dress of a mountaineer, had scouted the
whole surrounding country on horseback and on foot.
His men were encamped so as to be ready for action, and
he was among the first to hear the firing of the pickets
on the morning of the 13th, and in the same dress he, in
person, promptly ordered the call to arms. When the
fight began, armed with a musket, he went from one
portion of the field to another, on foot, encouraging and
directing his men, and when these were hard pressed,
with clubbed musket in his left hand and a long club (a
"grub" gathered from a farmyard) in his right, which
he brandished over his head, while in thunder tones he
encouraged his men to attack, he joined them in rushing
upon the foe and driving them, with the bayonet and
with severe loss, down the mountain side in full retreat.


His heroic and inspiring presence everywhere increased
the valorous ardor of his men. His conduct on that day
won for him, for all time, the name of "Alleghany John-

Secretary Benjamin wrote to Brig. -Gen. Edward John-
son, on the 23d of December:

The report of the engagement of the 13th inst., in which your gal-
lant command met and repulsed a vastly superior force with a steady
valor worthy of the highest admiration, has been communicated by
me to the President, and I rejoice to be made the medium of com-
municating to you and to your officers and men the expression of his
thanks and of the great gratification he had experienced at your
success. I am happy to add that the President readily and cheer-
fully assented to my suggestion that you should be promoted to the
rank of brigadier-general as a mark of his approval of your conduct,
and your nomination will accordingly this day be sent in to the
Congress, and take date from the day of the battle.

On the 3d of January, 1862, Secretary Benjamin, in a
letter to the President, wrote:

I have the honor to submit herewith for communication to Con-
gress the official reports of the battle of Alleghany Mountain, in
which our troops, 1,200 in number, successfully stood the assault of
more than fourfold their number, and drove the enemy from the
field after a combat as obstinate and as hard fought as any that has
occurred during the war. ... I doubt not that Congress on the
reading of this report, will cordially concur with the Executive in
the opinion that in this brilliant combat officers and men alike
deserve well of their country and merit its thanks.

In consequence of this battle, which revealed the inten-
tion of Milroy to gain possession of the pass in the Alle-
ghany mountain and form a junction with Kelley at
Moorefield or Romney, if he should succeed in his
attempt, General Johnson was ordered to remain at Camp
Alleghany while Loring with the rest of his command
was sent down the Shenandoah valley to join Stonewall
Jackson at Winchester, in an expedition against Romney
that would successfully checkmate Milroy's plans and

Va 12



SOON after the retreat of McDowell from Bull run
to Washington, Longstreet's brigade, with artil-
lery and Stuart's cavalry, was advanced, first to
Centreville, then to Fairfax, and later to Falls
Church and Mason's, Munson's and Upton's hills, com-
manding positions in full view of Washington, but with
orders, writes Longstreet, "not to attempt to advance
even to Alexandria." The Federal authorities soon
threw a cordon of well-located, formidable and well-
manned fortifications around the front of Washington
and Alexandria, and heavy artillery guarded all
approaches to the national capital. The Confederate
cavalry was constantly at the front, but the infantry and
artillery supports were frequently relieved. A single
battery was allowed to Longstreet, and as that had to
respond to calls in all directions, General Longstreet
writes that he supplied the want of located batteries by
collecting "a number of old wagon wheels and mounting
on them stove-pipes of different caliber, till we had for-
midable looking batteries, some large enough of caliber
to threaten Alexandria, and even the national capital
and the executive mansion."

During this period of three months there was, practic-
ally, a suspension of active hostilities between the Con-
federate army of the Potomac and the Federal army of
the Potomac, but the opposing governments were collect-
ing recruits, organizing armies, and making prepara-
tions for the renewal of the mighty struggle between the
two nations for the mastery within the boundaries of

To guard the approaches to Washington from the west,
a division of the Federal army was sent, under Banks, to
occupy, in Maryland, the line of the Potomac from above
that city to opposite Harper's Ferry ; while the line of that
river from Harper's Ferry westward was guarded by



forces under Kelley. The Confederate outposts, when
again advanced, practically held the line of the Potomac,
except in the immediate front of Washington and Alex-
andria. Especially was this the case at Leesburg, the
county town of the fertile county of Loudoun, in the
vicinity of which were several fords by which the Poto-
mac could be crossed and from which a number of high-
ways led to the front and to the left flank of the Confed-
erate army at Manassas. A Confederate brigade, under
the command of Brig. -Gen. N. G. Evans, who had won
such distinction in the battle of Bull Run, was sent to that
point, where, under the direction of competent engineers,
fortifications were constructed covering the nearby fords
of the Potomac and adding to the defensive strength of
the position. Banks' Federal division was distributed
along the opposite- side of the river from near the Point
of Rocks, where the Baltimore & Ohio railroad reaches
the banks of the Potomac, to the mouth of Seneca creek.
The pickets of the two armies were placed on the oppo-
site banks of the Potomac almost to Washington, and
thence southward they confronted each other about half-
way between Washington and Manassas. This proximity
of opposing forces necessarily led to frequent skirmishes
and minor engagements, as the commanders of either
army sought to gain information in reference to the
movements of the other by pushing forward reconnoiter-
ing detachments. A mere enumeration of these encount-
ers gives an idea of the activity of the outposts during
this period.

*■ On the 29th of July a skirmish took place with Evans'
pickets at Edward's Ferry, when a Federal force
attempted to cross and ascertain what was going on at
Leesburg; on the sth of August another took place
opposite Point of Rocks, some miles from Leesburg,
when a Federal force attempted to cross ; and again, on
the Sth, at Lovettsville, northeast of Leesburg, to which
a Federal force had advanced from near Point of Rocks
with the same object in view.

On the X 7th of August the Federal "department of the
Potomac," generally called the "army of the Potomac,"
was created, to include Washington and vicinity, north-
eastern Virginia and the Shenandoah valley ; and on the
3oth General McClellan assumed command of this depart-
ment with his headquarters at Washington. On the 24th


this department was still further enlarged by taking in
the department of Pennsylvania.

Once in full command of the twelve brigades, the five
unattached regiments of infantry, and the numerous
bodies of cavalry and artillery in his division, on the 5th
of August McClellan called upon his outposts for infor-
mation concerning the Confederate forces in his front.
On the 25 th of August a scout was sent into Virginia
^ from the Great Falls, some 15 miles above Washing-
ton, with which Stuart had combat; on the 27th and 28th
skirmishes took place at Bailey's and Ball's cross roads
with the scouting parties of that vigilant "eyes-and-ears"
of Johnston's command, in the immediate vicinity of
Washington; and again on the 31st at Munson's hill, on
the Leesburg turnpike, and along the Little river, or
Fairfax turnpike, short distances froin Alexandria. On
the 2d of September a skirmish with Evans' cavalry
occurred near Harper's Ferry ; on the 4th, Stuart, with five
field guns, shelled McCall's brigade at the Great Falls of
the Potomac; on the loth there was skirmishing at Lew-
insville, a short distance beyond the northwestern forti-
fications of Washington. On September 3d General
Beauregard, in person, reconnoitered McClellan's front
from Munson's and Mason's hills, from which the Fed-
eral camps, earthworks and outposts, and the cities of
Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria were plainly

On the nth of September, Brig. -Gen. W. F. Smith,
whose brigade was encamped at Chain bridge, just within
the District of Columbia, sent Col. 1. 1. Stevens, with some
2,000 Federal troops of all arms, to make a reconnois-
sance to Lewinsville, about 4 miles to the northwest,
for the purpose of examining that important road center
for a permanent Federal outpost, as it was not only held
by the Confederates but was uncomfortably near to
Washiiigton. That village was reached about 10 a. m. ;
scouts were sent out on the five roads there converging,
and infantry and artillery were properly disposed to
guard against an attack while the engineers examined
the locality to determine upon the location of works of
defense. This done, at about 2 p. m. , orders were given
to return to camp, and the pickets were called in and the
return march b^gun.

At noon of the same day. Col. J. E. B. Stuart, of the


First Virginia cavalry, who was in command of the Con-
federate line of picket posts, informed of this movement,
started from his camp at Munson's hill, near Falls
church, for Lewinsville, which was one of his picket
posts, some 6 miles to the northwest, accompanied by
Maj. James B. Terrill with 305 of the Thirteenth Vir-
ginia infantry, two pieces of Walton's Washington (La.)
artillery under Capt. Thomas L. Rosser, and two com-
panies of the First Virginia cavalry under Capt. William
Patrick. Nearing Lewinsville and learning that the
enemy was in the act of retiring, Stuart promptly made
a skillful disposition of his small force in the surrounding
woods, and, deploying his infantry as skirmishers,
attacked the flank and rear of the retiring Federals, who
were taken by surprise and at once beat a hasty retreat.
A battery near the village stood firm and opened on the
Confederates, but Terrill's riflemen picked off the gun-
ners and that also retired. Rosser's battery secured a
good position and raked the flank of the retreating foe.
Stuart prudently withheld pursuit and the Federals ral-
lied, for a time, about a mile and a half from Lewins-
ville, and Griffin's regular battery fired back up the road
by which they expected to be pursued, and then retired
to the Potomac, having lost 2 killed, 13 wounded and 3
missing. Stuart reported: "Our loss was not a scratch
to man or horse, ' ' and that, after re-establishing his line
of pickets through Lewinsville, he returned to his camp
at Munson's hill. The Federal brigadier, informed of
the engagement, hastened to it with reinforcements in
time to take command of its retreat and claim the expe-
dition a success.

This small affair was, at the time, greatly magnified
in importance. General McClellan, in person, met the
returning detachment at its camp, and, anxious to score
a victory in his new command, sent this dispatch to Gen-
eral Scott: "General Smith made reconnoissance with
2,000 men to Lewinsville; remained several hours, and
completed examination of the ground. When work was
completed and the command had started back, the enemy
opened fire with his shell, killing two and wounding
three. We shall have no more Bull run affairs."
Three days later, the Seventy-ninth New York regiment,
which had borne a prominent part in this affair, was
reported by its brigade commander as "in a state of open


mutiny," and its colors were taken from it; but they
were returned the next day because of "their conduct in
the reconnoissance of the nth."

To the Confederates this engagement was an impor-
tant one because such a large force of the enemy had been
discomfited by a much smaller one in consequence of the
skill and daring of its leader. It gave additional confi-
dence to the Confederate outposts which Stuart's bold-
ness and restless activity had been keeping in sight of
the dome of the capitol, and had a dispiriting effect upon
those of the Federals. Gen. J. E. Johnston, the next
day, issued congratulatory orders, from the headquarters
of the army of the Potomac, in which he expressed
"great satisfaction in making known the excellent con-
duct of Col. J. E. B. Stuart, and of the officers and men
of his command, in the affair of Lewinsville, " ... in
which "they attacked and drove from that position, in
confusion, three regiments of infantry, eight pieces of
artillery, and a large body of cavalry, inflicting severe
loss, but incurring none;" and in a report, from near
Fairfax cross-roads, on September T4th, to Adjutant-
General Cooper, he wrote: "I am much gratified at hav-
ing this opportunity of putting before the department of
war and the President this new instance of the boldness
and skill of Colonel Stuart and the courage and efficiency
of our troops. ' ' He then called attention to a communi-
cation from Generals Longstreet, Beauregard and him-
self, recommending the "forming a cavalry brigade and
putting Colonel Stuart at its head. A new organization
of the cavalry arm of our service is greatly needed, and
greater strength as well as an effective organization.
Our numbers in cavalry are by no means in due propor-
tion to our infantry and artillery, yet without cavalry in
proper proportion, victory is comparatively barren of
results; defeat is less prejudicial; retreat is usually
safe. ' ' After proposing other arrangements concerning
the First Virginia cavalry, if Stuart were promoted, Gen-
neral Johnston continues:

The regiment so far is exclusively Virginian. By all means keep
it so, where it can be done without prejudice in other respects.
State pride excites a generous emulation in the army, which is of
inappreciable value in its effect on the spirits of tiie troops. I there-
fore recommend that Capt. William E. Jones, who now commands
the strongest troop in the regiment and one which is not surpassed
in discipline and spirit by any in the army, be made colonel. He is


a graduate of West Point, served for several years in the Mounted
Rifles, and is skillful, brave and zealous in a very high degree. It
is enough to say that he is worthy to succeed J. E. B. Stuart. For
the lieutenant-colonelcy I repeat my recommendation of Capt. Fitz-
hugh Lee. He belongs to a family in which military genius seems
to be an heirloom. He is an officer of rare merit, capacity and cour-
age. Both of these officers have the invaluable advantage at this
moment of knowledge of the ground which is now the scene of

Stuart soon became brigadier-general of cavalry, later
major-general, and then lieutenant-general, and the
famous commander of the cavalry corps of the army of
Northern Virginia until he fell in action. Fitz Lee soon
became colonel, then brigadier-general, and finally the
distinguished leader, as major-general, of a cavalry divi-
sion in the same army, and in 1898 a famous consul-gen-
eral of the United States and a major-general in its army
in the Cuban war. Jones became colonel, later briga-
dier-general of cavalry, and fell on the battlefield.

General Longstreet, who was in command of the
"advanced Confederate forces," reported that he had
arranged to move a heavy force during the night to cut
off the enemy at Lewinsville, but Stuart did not receive
his instructions, and himself "drove the enemy back to
his trenches at once. " He added:

The affair of yesterday was handsomely conducted and well exe-
cuted. ... It is quite evident that the officers and men deserve
much credit for their handsome conduct, one and all. It is difficult
to say whether the handsome use of bis light infantry by Major
Terrill or the destructive fire of the Washington artillery by Cap-
tain Rosser and Lieutenant Slocomb, is the most brilliant part of tbe
affair. Colonel Stuart has, I think, fairly won his claim to brig-

Captain Rosser became the colonel of the Fifth Vir-
ginia cavalry, a brigadier in Fitz Lee's division of cav-
alry of the army of Northern Virginia, and a major-gen-
eral in command of a cavalry division in the same army;
Major Terrill became colonel of the Thirteenth Virginia
infantry; Captain Patrick became major of- the Seven-
teenth battalion of Virginia cavalry and fell, in the brave
discharge of duty, in the second battle of Manassas.

On the isth of September a Confederate force of cav-
alry and artillery scouted the south bank of the Potomac
from Harper's Ferry up to the mouth of the Antietam,
and had skirmishing at various points during the day

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 18 of 153)