Clement Anselm Evans.

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with Col. J. W. Geary's Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania


across the river. On the i6th a Federal detachment that
crossed the Potomac at Seneca creek was driven back by-
Stuart's cavalry pickets. On the 24th General Evans
sent a detachment to opposite the Point of Rocks, which
fired across the Potomac upon Geary's camp and then
withdrew; that officer reported, "Our enemy, if not so
savage as the Indian, purposes to emulate his vigi-
lance. ' ' He also stated that he had taken possession of
Heter's and Noland's islands and proposed to occupy all
the other islands in front of his lines, "and where Nature
has not provided shelter, to make it by art."

On September 24th Col. J. E. B. Stuart received his
promotion as brigadier-general of cavalry. His brigade,
as nearly as can be ascertained, consisted of the First
Virginia cavalry, under Col. W. E. Jones; the Sec-
ond Virginia cavalry, under Col. R. C. W. Radford ; the
Fourth Virginia cavalry, under Col. B. H. Robertson;
the Sixth Virginia cavalry, under Col. C. W. Field ; the
First North Carolina cavalry, under Col. R. Ransom,
Jr., and the Jeff Davis legion of cavalry, under Maj.
W. T. Martin. Of these, Jones and Robertson subse-
quently became brigadier-generals, and Field, Ransom
and Martin, major-generals in the Confederate army.

On September 25th, Gen. W. F. Smith, United States
army, marched from his camp, near the Chain bridge, to
Lewinsville, with 5, 100 infantry, 150 cavalry and 16 pieces
of artillery, guarding a train of 90 wagons to procure for-
age. He not only took the precaution of having advanced
guards and flankers, but left detachments of infantry
and artillery along every mile of the road as special
guards. After loading his wagons and as he was prepar-
ing to retire, about 3 p. m. , Stuart vexed him with small
bodies of cavalry and three pieces of artillery all along
the way as he withdrew. On the 28th the same officer
started two of his regiments, with two days' cooked
rations, toward Munson's hill. They marched at mid-
night, but when about halfway to their destination, in a
thick body of woods, they were fired into from ambush,
with considerable loss; in the confusion that followed
one portion of the command fired into another. This led
to a halt and the forming of a line of battle, which rested
on its arms during the night. These two regiments
returned to their camp the next day, after a loss of
4 killed and 16 wounded.


On October 3d, 300 infantry, of the Twenty-sixth
New York, were ordered to fall upon a body of Confed-
erate cavalry at Pohick church, 12 miles from Alex-
andria, and capture them. Instead of obeying orders,
this force, as soon as it got beyond the Federal pickets,
as General Slocum reported, "was converted into a band
of marauders, who plundered alike friend and foe. ' ' The
same day an expedition to Springfield Station drove away
the Confederate pickets and brought away 32 carloads of
wood and ties. On the 4th Gen. N. G. Evans tried his
artillery on the Federal battery on the Maryland shore
near Edwards' ferry, to which reply was made. On the
15th a small body of Confederate cavalry attacked and
routed the Federal picket near Padgett's tavern, on the
Little river turnpike.

On October i6th. Col. Turner Ashby, who held the
front of Harper's Ferry, determined to punish the Federal
forces that had for several days been making incursions
into Virginia, seizing wheat and committing other
depredations, their larger force enabling them to push
back his smaller one as they advanced. Ashby had in
his command some 300 militia, armed with flint-lock
muskets, and two companies of cavalry. He asked Gen-
eral Evans to co-operate with him from Leesburg by
sending a force to Loudoun heights, which could prevent
the sending of Federal reinforcements across the Poto-
mac, and could drive the enemy from the shelter of the
houses at Harper's Ferry. ' Ashby was reinforced, on the
iSth, by two more companies of McDonald's Virginia
cavalry. Captain Wingfield's, mounted and armed with
minie rifles, and Captain Miller's company, about 30
mounted and the rest on foot, armed with flint-lock guns.
He also had a rifled 4-pounder, and a badly mounted
24-pounder, which broke down during the engagement
and which he had to spike and abandon. His force, on
the morning of the i6th, was 300 militia, parts of two
regiments commanded by Colonel Albert of Shenandoah
and Major Finter of Page; 180 of McDonald's cavalry,
Captain Henderson's men, under command of Lieuten-
ant Glytm; Captain Baylor's mounted militia, about 25
men, and Captain Hess', also about 25 men. Captain
Avirett had charge of the rifle gun and Captain Comfield
of the 24-pounder.

Ashby attacked in three divisions, drove the enemy


from their breastworks on Bolivar heights, without loss
to himself, as far as lower Bolivar ; there the 24-pounder
carriage broke down, much to his detriment. Its detach-
ment was then transferred to the rifle gun, and Captain
Avirett was sent to Loudoun heights with a message to
Colonel Griffin, who commanded the detachment from
General Evans. About this time the enemy rallied in a
countercharge, but were repulsed by the militia. At
that moment Colonel Ashby ordered a cavalry charge,
led by Captain Turner, which was handsomely made,
killing five of the enemy.

After holding his position on Bolivar heights for four
hours, when the enemy was reinforced by infantry and
artillery, which had been left on guard at the ferry, and
which Griffin, from the position he had taken, had not
been able to keep back, Ashby withdrew to the position,
near Halltown, which the Federal pickets had occupied
in the morning, and which he called "Camp Evans."
That night the Federals recrossed the Potomac and
encamped on the first terrace of Maryland heights.
Ashby reported his loss as i killed and 9 wounded, and
that he had captured 10 prisoners, besides a large num-
ber of blankets, overcoats and a dozen muskets. In con-
cluding, he reported: "I cannot compliment my officers
and men too highly for their gallant bearing during the
whole fight, considering the bad arms with which they
were supplied and their inexperience."

On the 1 8th of October, Brig. -Gen. I. B. Richardson,
reconnoitered to Pohick church and Accotink village,
drove in the Confederate pickets, and on his return
advanced his own pickets to Windsor's hill, some
5 miles southeast of Alexandria. On the 20th, Major
Whipple made a reconnoissance from Dranesville; near
Hunter's mill had a skirmish with Confederate pickets,
also one near Thornton Station.



AFTER the first battle of Manassas, Col. Eppa Hun-
ton had been ordered to reoccupy Leesburg with
his regiment, the Eighth Virginia; a little later
Col. William Barksdale's Thirteenth Mississippi,
Col. W. S. Featherston's Seventeenth Mississippi, a bat-
tery, and four companies of cavalry under Col. W. H.
Jenifer, were sent to the same place, and these were organ-
ized into the Seventh brigade of the Confederate army of
the Potomac, which, early in August, was put under com-
mand of Brig. -Gen. Nathan G. Evans, who had been pro-
moted for his brave conduct July zist. General Beaure-
gard's object in locating this strong force at Leesburg
was to guard his left flank from a Federal attack by way of
several good roads that led from the fords of the upper
Potomac, near that town, directly to his Bull run encamp-
ment ; to watch the large Federal force that McClellan had
located on the opposite side of the Potomac ; to keep up
a connection with the Confederate force in the lower
Shenandoah valley by a good turnpike that led from
Leesburg across the Blue ridge, and to save for his army
the abundant supplies of the fertile county of Loudoun.
On the isth of October General Banks' division of the
Federal army was located at Damestown, Md. , about
IS miles due east from Leesburg, with detachments at
Point of Rocks, Sandy Hook, Williamsport, etc. ; while
the division of Brig. -Gen. C. P. Stone, composed of six
companies of cavalry, three of artillery, and the infantry
brigades of Gens. W. A. Gorman and F. W. Lander and
Col. E. D. Baker, was located at Poolesville, 8 miles
north of east from Leesburg. The object in this disposi-
tion of so large a force was, not only to guard the right of
the big Federal army that General McClellan was gather- 1
ing at Washington, but especially to cover the important
approaches from the northwest to Baltimore and the Fed-



eral city, particularly those from the lower Shenandoah
valley and northeastern Piedmont, Virginia.

On October 19th McCall's Federal division advanced to
Dranesville, on the road to Leesburg and about 15 miles
from that place, "in order to cover the reconnoissance
made in all directions the next day;" and later. Smith's
Federal division advanced along a parallel road to the west,
acting in concert with General McCall. and pushed for-
ward strong parties in the same direction and for the same
purpose. About 7 p.m. of the 19th, Stone's advance opened
a heavy cannonade on the Confederate positions at Fort
Evans, on the Leesburg pike, and at Edwards' Ferry; and
at the same time General Evans heard heavy firing in
the direction of Dranesville. At midnight General Evans
ordered his whole brigade to the front, along the line
of Goose creek, 3 miles southeast of Leesburg, where
he had a line of intrenchments, to there await an expected
attack from General McCall, the next morning, Sunday,
October 20th, as it had been reported that the Federal
advance was moving in force from Dranesville toward
Leesburg. Evans' scouts captured McCall's courier bear-
ing dispatches to General Meade, directing him to exam-
ine the roads leading to Leesburg. The Federal batteries
kept up a deliberate fire during the day, but no assault
was made.

On the morning of the 20th the Federal signal officer
on Sugar Loaf mountain, in Maryland, reported, "The
enemy have moved away from Leesburg." This Banks
wired to McClellan, whereupon the latter wired to Stone,
at Poolesville, that a heavy reconnoissance would be sent
out that day, in all directions, from Dranesville, conclud-
ing : "You will keep a good lookout upon Leesburg, to see
if this movement has the effect to drive them away.
Perhaps a slight demonstration on your part would have
the effect to move them. ' ' McClellan desired Stone to
make demonstrations from his picket line along the
Potomac, but did not intend that he should cross the
river, in force, for the purpose of fighting. Late in the
day Stone reported that he had made a feint of crossing,
and at the same time had started a reconnoissance from
Harrison's island toward Leesburg, when the enemy's
pickets retired to intrenchments. That "slight demon-
stration" brought on the battle of Ball's Bluff (or, as it
is variously called, Leesburg, Harrison's Island, or Con-


rad's Ferry), on Monday, October 21st. On the morn-
ing of the 2 1 St, McCall retired from Evans' front to his
camp at Prospect Hill, 4 miles up the river from the
Chain bridge.

From his point of observation, at the earthwork called
"Fort Evans," to the eastward of Leesburg, overlooking
the fords at Conrad's and Edwards' ferries and Ball's
bluff, Evans, at 6 a. m. on the 21st, found that the enemy
of Stone's division had effected a crossing at Edwards'
ferry and at Ball's bluff, 4 miles above. He promptly
sent four companies from his Mississippi regiments and
two companies of cavalry, under the command of Lieut. -
Col. W. H. Jenifer, to the assistance of Captain Duff, to
hold the enemy in check until his plan of attack should
be developed. Colonel Jenifer immediately engaged the
Federal advance and drove it back toward Ball's bluff.

The force that had crossed at Harrison's island, about
midnight of the 20th, was part of the command of Colonel
Baker, some 300 men under Col. Charles Devens, of
the Fifteenth Massachusetts. Its object was to capture
a Confederate camp that had been reported to be about
a mile from the river. This force advanced to an open
field surrounded by woods, where it halted until it could
be joined by a company from the Twentieth Massachu-
setts, which had been left on the bluff, on the Virginia
side, to protect the Federal return. Devens, at daybreak,
pushed forward with a few men to reconnoiter, and, in
person, went to within sight of Leesburg. Thinking he
had not been discovered, Devens determined to remain,
and sent back to his brigade commander. Colonel Baker,
for reinforcements. The latter consulted his division com-
mander. General Stone, and obtained permission to either
withdraw Devens or to send over reinforcements to him.
He promptly directed Devens to hold his position and
said that he would support him, in person, with the rest of
his brigade. The boats and flats that had been provided
for crossing the Potomac from the Maryland shore to
Harrison's island, and from the latter to the Virginia
shore, were entirely inadequate, and it was nearly noon
before Devens' regiment of 625 men was closed up on
the Virginia shore.

Convinced, at about 10 a. m., that the main Federal
attack would be at Ball's bluff, 4 miles northeast of
Leesburg, Evans ordered Colonel Hunton, with the


Eighth Virginia, to the support of Colonel Jenifer, direct-
ing him to form line of battle immediately in the rear of
Jenifer's command, and that the combined force should
then drive the enemy to the river, while he. General
Evans, supported the right of the movement with artil-
lery. This movemejnt was made soon after noon, and
the opposing forces at once became hotly engaged, the
Confederates advancing on the Federals, who held a
strong position in front of the woods. Learning, at about
this time, that an opposing force was gathering on his
left, and that he would soon be vigorously attacked by a
body of infantry that appeared in that direction, and by
a body of dismounted cavalry that had deployed in his
front, and apprehensive of being flanked, Devens retired
his regiment to an open space in the woods, in front of
the bluff, and prepared to receive an attack. To ascer-
tain about reinforcements, Devens went back to the bluff
at about z p. m., where he found Colonel Baker, who
directed him to form his regiment on the right of the
position that he proposed to occupy, while Baker placed
300 of the Twentieth Massachusetts on the left and ad-
vanced in front of these his California regiment, with two
guns, supported by two companies of the Fifteenth Mas-
sachusetts. At about the same hour General Stone fer-
ried a strong force across the river at Edwards' ferry, to
make a demonstration on Evans' right, leaving Colonel
Baker in command at Ball's bluff. Stone then telegraphed
to McClellan: "There has been sharp firing on the right
of our line, and our troops appear to be advancing there
under Baker. The left, under Gorman, has advanced its
skirmishers nearly one mile, and, if the movement contin-
ues successful, will turn the enemy's right."

At about 2:30 p. m.. General Evans, having the ad-
vantage of a concealed, shorter and inner line, seeing
that the enemy was being constantly reinforced, ordered
Colonel Burt, with the Eighteenth Mississippi, to attack
the Federal left, while Hunton and Jenifer attacked his
front, holding the attack at Edwards' ferry in check by
batteries from his intrenchments. As Colonel Burt
reached his position, the enemy, concealed in a ravine,
opened on him a furious fire, which compelled him to
divide his regiment and stop the flank movement that had
already begun. At about 3 p. m., Featherston, with the
Seventeenth Mississippi, was sent at a double-quick to


support Burt's movement. Evans reports: "He arrived
in twenty minutes and the action became general along
my whole line, and was very hot and brisk for more than
two hours, the enemy keeping up a constant fire with his
batteries on both sides of the river. At about 6 p. m. I
saw that my command had driven the enemy to near the
banks of the river. I ordered my entire force to charge
and drive him into the river. The charge was immedi-
ately made by the whole command, and the forces of the
enemy were completely routed, and cried out for quarter
along his whole line. In this charge the enemy was
driven back at the point of the bayonet, and many were
killed and wounded by this formidable weapon. In the
precipitate retreat of the enemy on the bluffs of the river,
many of his troops rushed into the water and were
drowned, while many others, in overloading the boats
sunk them and shared the same fate. The rout now,
about 7 o'clock, became complete, and the enemy com-
menced throwing his arms into the river. . . . At 8 p. m.
the enemy surrendered his forces at Ball's bluff, and the
prisoners were marched to Leesburg. "

During this action, Colonel Barksdale, with nine com-
panies of the Thirteenth Mississippi and six pieces of
artillery, was held to oppose Stone's movement from
Edward's Ferry and also as a reserve. After the engage-
ment, Evans withdrew all his brigade to Leesburg, except
Barksdale's regiment, which he left in front of Edwards'

Each of the combatants had about 1,700 men engaged
in this action. The Confederates had no artillery in the
fight, while the Federals had three light guns. Shortly
after the action became general. Colonel Baker, passing
in front of his command, was killed by a sharpshooter,
which so demoralized the Federals that the surviving
officers conferred and decided to retreat. This was
opposed by Col. Milton Cogswell, of the Forty-second
New York, who had succeeded Colonel Baker in com-
mand. He said a retreat down the bluff and across the
river was now impossible, and that they must cut their
way through the Confederate right to Edwards' ferry.
He promptly gave orders to that effect, and moved to the
front, followed by the remnants of his own two companies
and a portion of the California regiment, but not by the
others. He was quickly driven back and the whole Fed-


eral command was forced to the river bluflE in great dis-
order. Just then two companies of the Forty-second
New York landed on the Virginia shore. These Colonel
Cogswell ordered up the bluff and deployed as skirmishers
to cover the Federal retreat, while he advanced to the
left with a small party, and was almost immediately cap-
tured. Colonel Devens escaped by swimming the river.

On the morning of the sad. Colonel Barksdale informed
General Evans that the enemy was still in force at
Edwards' ferry. He was ordered to carefully reconnoiter
the Federal position, learn its strength and make attack.
This he did, at about 2 p. m., and drove a superior force,
from an intrenched position to the bank of the river,
killing and wounding quite a number of men. At about
sundown, the Federals, having been reinforced and hold-
ing rifle-pits, Barksdale with(£-ew to Fort Evans, leaving
two companies to watch his front. The enemy recrossed
the Potomac during the night. Evans reported his loss,
in the thirteen hours of fight, on the 21st, as 36 killed,
117 wounded and 2 missing, from a force of 1,709.
Among the killed was the brave Colonel Burt. The Fed-
eral losses were returned at 49 killed, 158 wounded, 694
missing. General Evans claimed the capture of 710 pris-
oners, 1,500 stand of arms, 3 cannon and i flag;

Evans called on Longstreet for reinforcements when he
reported his battle of the 21st, thinking that 20,000 Feder-
als were in his front. Colonel Jenkins, with the Eigh-
teenth South Carolina and cavalry and artillery, was dis-
patched from Centre ville, in the afternoon of the 2 2d, and
marched toward Leesburg, through mud and a driving
rain, until midnight, when the infantry went into biv-
ouac ; but Capt. C. M. Blackford's cavalry and four guns
of the Washington artillery hurried forward all night,
and came in sight of Leesburg about daylight of the 23d.
That morning, finding his men much exhausted. General
Evans ordered three of his regiments to fall back to
Carter's mill, a strong position on Goose creek, about
7 miles southwest from Leesburg, and join Jenkins,
who had been halted at that place, leaving Barksdale with
his regiment, two pieces of artillery and some cavalry,
as a rear guard near Leesburg, and Hunton, with his
Eighth Virginia and two pieces of artillery, on the south
bank of Sycolin creek, 3 miles from Leesburg, and send-
ing his cavalry well to the front toward Alexandria. The
weather was stormy and very cold.


The attention of the Federal commander was now
turned to operations on the Potomac river, below
Washington, as the Confederate batteries, located at
Freestone point, Cockpit point, Shipping point at
the mouth of the Quantico, and at the mouth of Aquia
creek, were a standing menace to the navigation of that
river to and from Washington. On October 22d a
detachment of the Seventy-second New York was sent to
construct intrenchments at Budd's ferry, opposite the
Confederate battery at Shipping point, and to report on
the Confederate batteries along the Potomac; he also
constructed earthworks for batteries opposite Evansport.
On the 28th the Confederate battery near Budd's ferry,
numbering some 14 guns, opened on a steamer attempt-
ing to pass up the river. General Hooker, learning of
this, directed his batteries on the Maryland shore to open
on the Confederate steamer Page, in case the steamer
attempting to go up the Potomac should be disabled, or
if an attempt should be made to take it as a prize.

On the 9th of November, Gen. D. E. Sickles, of Gen-
eral Hooker's command, sent an expedition of 400 men
•down the Potomac to reconnoiter Mathias point, which
was held by a small Confederate picket. On the 1 2th
Gen. S. P. Heintzelman, in charge of Fort Lyon, on the
Telegraph road, a short distance from Alexandria, sent
out two brigades of infantry to Pohick church. On
reaching the church, early the next morning, it was
ascertained that the Confederates had left the night

On the 14th of November, General Dix, commanding
the department of Pennsylvania, with headquarters at
Baltimore, ordered Gen. H. H. Lockwood, commanding
the Federal peninsula brigade, partly composed of Union
Marylanders, to proceed on an expedition through Acco-
-mac and Northampton counties, in Virginia, for the pur-
pose of "bringing these counties back to their allegiance
to the United States, and reuniting them to the Union
on the footing of West Virginia. ' ' The commander of
the expedition was directed to distribute a proclamation
liy General Dix, which made known the object of the
expedition and gave many assurances as to the good
results that would follow submission to Federal authority,
and to exercise "the utmost vigilance to preserve disci-
pline and prevent any outrage upon persons or property. "

Va 18


In the course of his instructions to Lockwood, Dix pro-
ceeded to settle grave questions of state by military
instructions. He advised that "The people, if they
return to their allegiance to the United States, should
make such temporary provision for their own govern-
ment, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United
States, as they may think best. For the time being, it
seems to me that it would be well for them to act with
western Virginia, and hold elections by proclamation of
the governor."

On November isth, the day after his expedition
started, Dix wrote to President Lincoln, enclosing a
copy of his proclamation to the people of Accomac and
Northampton, with the hope that what he had done would
meet with his approbation ; and stated that he had sent
4,Soo men on this expedition.

Reaching the borders of Virginia, November i6th. Gen-
eral Lockwood sent a flag of truce to the Confederate
troops, some lo miles below the line, but found no force
to treat with, as they had either dispersed or fallen back
to Eastville. The bearer of this flag reported, from
Temperanceville, "We have thus far had a triumphant
welcome and uninterrupted march."

Lockwood reported from Drummondtown, on the 2 2d,
that the larger portion of his command was at that place,
but he had sent two regiments, with cavalry and artil-

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 19 of 153)