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■of Virginia militia, gathered from the lower valley mainly,
was stationed at Bath; and Meem's brigade of Virginia
'militia, from the counties of Shenandoah and Page, was
^placed at and beyond Martinsburg; while Ashby, with
the larger portion of his cavalry regiment, held the line
-of the Potomac from near Harper's Ferry westward.
Garnett's brigade was ordered to Winchester, to be in
-position to guard against any movement of the large
force under Banks that had been gathered at Frederick
City. Jackson established his own headquarters at Win-
chester on the 24th of January, having provided commu-
-nication with Loring, at Romney, by a line of telegraph.
With these dispositions of his forces, made so as to be
ready for either offensive or defensive purposes, and on
_good roads by which they could be readily concentrated.
General Jackson had a reasonable expectation that he
■could now rest and recruit his army for the coming spring
-campaign, which everything indicated would be a very
active one. Furloughs were granted freely to men and
•officers, not only for their own satisfaction, but with the
hope that by going to their respective homes they would
be the means of bringing new recruits to his army. To
his surprise and mortification, these very men, especially
the officers, were the means of adding to the discontent
already prevailing among Loring's men, and some of
them, high in favor with the government at Richmond,
were the means of inducing the secretary of war, on the
31st of January, to order Jackson to recall Loring's com-
mand, at once, to Winchester, on the pretense that a
movement was being made to cut it off, without sending
the order through his superior officer. Gen. J. E. John-
ston, and without consultation with either of these capa-
ble commanders in the field of operations. Jackson
promptly obeyed the order ; recalled Loring to Winches-
ter, and ordered the militia to fall back in the same direc-
tion if the enemy should advance. At the same time he
informed Mr. Benjamin, the secretary of war, that he
had complied with his order, and asked to be himself
^ordered to report for duty to the Virginia military insti-


tute, or, if this was not granted, that the President would
accept his resignation from the army, writing in this con-
nection, "With such interference in my command I
cannot expect to be of much service in the field. ' ' Gen-
eral Johnston detained Jackson's letter to Benjamin,
which had been sent through him as his immediate com-
mander, and urged Jackson to reconsider it. Governor
Letcher, learning of Jackson's resignation before the
receipt of a letter from Jackson telling him what he had
done and his reasons for it, immediately called on the
secretary of war and insisted that no action should be
taken. Yielding to the earnest solicitations of the gov-
ernor and others whom he esteemed, but without with-
drawing from the position he had taken in reference to
the interference of the secretary with his command,
Jackson consented to the withdrawal of his letter of

The enemy soon reoccupied the territory Jackson had
been ordered to abandon, and he found himself confined to
the lower Valley, which he had held previous to the Rom-
ney expedition. Loring was ordered to a new command,
and the Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas troops that
had been with him were gradually taken away and joined
to the other forces constituting Johnston's right wing
near Centreville and Manassas, leaving only Virginia
troops, those of Garnett's, Burks', and Taliaferro's bri-
gades in the Valley with Jackson. The militia commands,
never well organized, were now dwindling away by de-
tails and by enlistments in the volunteer regiments.

The Federals reoccupied Romney on the yth of Feb-
ruary, and a little later sent an expedition as far south as
Moorefield, bringing off captured cattle. The recon-
struction of the railroad was also begun, Carson having
fallen back to Bloomery gap, and by the 14th the Balti-
more & Ohio railroad was again opened from the west to
Hancock, on which day Lander made a bold dash with
both infantry and cavalry on the militia stationed at
Bloomery, taking them by surprise, and capturing some
75 prisoners, including 17 ofiicers. The militia rallied
and checked the Federals until they could get away their
train, when they retreated. Ashby drove Lander away
from Bloomery gap on the i6th, but the Federals contin-
ued to hold the territory they had regained. Warned by
these movements, Jackson ceased to give furloughs for


the time, and provided boats at Castleman's ferry on the
Shenandoah to make good his communications with Gen.
D. H. Hill, who was encamped at Leesburg, east of the
Blue ridge.

February, 1862, was a month of Confederate disasters;
the capture by the Federals of Fort Henry and Roanoke
island, Fort Donelson and Nashville ; the evacuation of
Lexington, Mo., Bowling Green and Columbus, Ky.,
followed one after another. In this period of gloom,
Jefferson Davis was inaugurated President of the Con-
federate States.



IN the spring of 1862 the Federal and Confederate
armies in northeastern Virginia held nearly the same
relative positions as in the early autumn of 1861.
The former had, February 7 th, again occupied the line
of the South branch of the Potomac, which Jackson, by
order, had abandoned, and Gen. Edward Johnson, after
his victory of December 13, 1 861, on Alleghany mountain,
had fallen back to Shenandoah mountain ; but the Con-
federate army of Northern Virginia still had its center,
in command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, on the field of
its victory at Manassas, while its right rested at Freder-
icksburg, in command of General Holmes, and Jackson
held its left in the lower Shenandoah valley. Practically
its pickets patroled the Potomac from Chesapeake bay
up to within the mountains. Not satisfied with a con-
dition of military affairs that still held north of the
Potomac the great army — on its rolls, March i, 1862,
222,000 men — ^that McClellan had, during more than half
a year, been collecting and organizing, President Lincoln
ordered that an advance of the whole army of the Poto-
mac, except such a force as was necessary to defend
Washington, should be made, on or before the 2 2d of
February, to drive back the opposing Confederates and
press on to the capture of Richmond.

This movement was actually begun. Banks marched
from Frederick City, Md., toward Harper's Ferry, to
attack and drive back Jackson. McClellan advanced his
great army, from the intrenched camps around Washing-
ton, to attack Johnston at Centreville and Manassas, but
when, after floundering through the spring mud of mid-
land Virginia, he reached his objective, he found that
Johnston, his able and wily opponent, had anticipated
his coming, and, abandoning his intrenched camps and
advanced positions at Leesburg and elsewhere, along and
near the Potomac, had put his forces behind the Rappa-
hannock. Jackson, preferring fighting to retreating,



skirmished with Banks' advance, offering him battle in
front of Winchester, but when that was not accepted,
reluctantly evacuating that historic town. Sending all
his stores up the valley, he fell back to Strasburg, con-
forming his movements to those of Johnston, but, in the
person of Ashby, his famous cavalry leader, constantly
punishing every advance of his timid pursuer.

Reaching the conclusion that he had started on the
wrong road to Richmond, McClellan, on the 13th of
March, called his corps commanders together, at Fairfax
Court House, and proposed another plan of advance on
Richmond, which they joined in recommending to Presi-
dent Lincoln and which he reluctantly accepted. The
commanding general proposed to move a grand and
splendidly-appointed army of 120,000 men, by water,
from Alexandria down the Potomac and the bay to
Fortress Monroe, at the end of the peninsula of Virginia,
and from that base of operation and supplies, to march
up the peninsula between the James and the York, flanked
by a strong naval force on each of these great tidal rivers,
by the nearest roads, to Richmond, the capital of the
Confederacy as well as of Virginia. The defenses of
Washington were to be held by some 18,000 men; some
7,000 were to occupy Manassas, that the railway thence to
Strasburg might be reopened, and 35,000 were to help
Banks look after Jackson in the Valley. The force that
had followed Gen. Ed Johnson as he fell back from
Alleghany mountain, and that in the South branch of the
Potomac valley were soon to be combined, and thus
16,000 men placed in command of Fremont, in the Mount-
ain department, to menace Jackson's left flank and rear,
while the 8,000 under Cox, on the Kanawha line, as well as
some Pennsylvania reserves, were ordered to Manassas.
A grand total of more than 200,000 troops, of all arms,
saying nothing of the large supporting naval force, thus
began converging on Richmond from a great bordering
sweep that extended northeastward along the mountain
ranges that border the valley to the Potomac, then down
that great tidal river to Chesapeake bay, Virginia's Med-
iterranean, and thence to the entrance of the grand har-
bor of Hampton Roads, the gateway to the mouth of the
James, a great circle distance of fully 400 miles.

The shipment of McClellan's army from Washington
to his new field of operations, began on the 17th of

Va 14


March, and on the 21st of that month, Gen. J. B.
Magruder, in command of the Confederate front on the
peninsula, reported the landing of large bodies of troops
at Fortress Monroe, and asked for 30,000 men to meet
the threatening invasion.

The sight of the departure of this great army alarmed
Lincoln concerning the safety of the capital, and induced
him to modify McClellan's plan of campaign by ordering,
April 3d, that McDowell's corps should remain in front
of Washington. On the 1 7th of May he was directed to
advance to Fredericksburg, but keeping himself in posi-
tion so he could be readily recalled to Washington, if
necessary, to aid in its defense. McClellan objected to
thia arrangement, but was compelled to submit to it.
McDowell appeared in front of the staunch old city on
the Rappahannock near the close of May, when the Con-
federates, under General Holmes, fell back toward Rich-
mond. Lincoln visited McDowell's camp, on the Stafford
heights, May 23d, and it was then decided that McDowell
should cross the Rappahannock on the 26th and march
toward Richmond.

Fortunately for Virginia and the Confederacy, on the
very day that McClellan was conferring at Fairfax Court
House concerning a change of base and of plan of cam-
paign, Gen. Robert E. Lee took command, under Presi-
dent Davis, of all the forces of the Confederacy, and, with
characteristic energy and foresight, at once began prepa-
rations to meet the various oncoming Federal armies that
were responding to the "on to Richmond" demand of
the North.

To meet the several Federal columns converging from
the great outer circle, along which they had been gathering
during the preceding eight months, the prospect for Lee,
although he held the inner circle and the- shorter lines
of defense, was by no means reassuring, even to such
a stout-hearted and self-reliant commander as himself.
Huger, on his extreme right, held Norfolk with some
7,000 men, guarded in front by the ram Virginia, already
famous for her 8th of March exploits and great naval
victory in Hampton Roads; across Hampton Roads,
Magruder was holding the peninsula, before Fortress
Monroe and Hampton, with 11,000 men; Holmes held
the Rappahannock, at Fredericksburg, with a brigade of
2,000; Johnston held the line of the upper Rappahannock


with about 47,000 men that had fallen back from Manas-
sas; Stonewall Jackson safeguarded the lower Shenan-
doah valley with some 5,000 in his command; while on
the extreme left of the sweep of Lee's line of defense,
Edward Johnson held the Fort Johnson pass of the Shen-
andoah mountain, on the Staunton and Parkersburg turn-
pike, with some 3,500 men, the heroes of the Alleghany
mountain battle. Lee's whole muster was only about
75,000 to meet the converging invasion of 200,000 or more
fully armed and equipped soldiery.

Aware of the gigantic preparations that had been made
for this impending campaign by both the contending
nations, for such they undoubtedly were at that time,
and of the mighty issues involved, not only all the people
of the then United States and those of the then Confed-
erate States, but those of all the living historic nations,
paused and anxiously awaited the result of the mighty
conflict that in the next half year would rage over nearly
one-half of the territory of Virginia and an important
portion of Maryland, and give to Fame's keeping and to
History's records, names and deeds the world will not
soon forget.

To the general observer, the result of this grand game
of war was in the hands of McClellan, who, for an insig-
nificant victory in the mountains of western Virginia,
over a smaller and badly-generaled force, had been, for
months, heralded as the "Yotmg Napoleon. " He had at
his command, counting sea power as well as land power,
three times as many men as his antagonist, and behind
him, in his nation's reserve, at least five times as many
men of military age, sajdng nothing of the thousands of
Europe's "soldiers of fortune" who were, for a consider-
ation, ready to add, indefinitely, to his numbers. His
people were the most ingenious, energetic and resource-
ful of any in the world, and could furnish an almost un-
limited quantity of supplies, of every kind, that could be
called for by the emergencies of war. His government,
centralized by the war spirit and backed up by a great
and determined nation, had apparently but to command
victory in the impending contest, with the odds so much
in its favor, to win it. Unfortunately for its cause, its
commanding general, while a grand organizer, an able
planner of campaigns, and the idol of the great army
that he, mainly, had created, was a timid leader, and in


the hour of conflict "took counsel of his fears" — counsel-
ors that never make a successful soldier. These, as the
sequence of events revealed, constantly in imagination,
doubled the number of his foes and helped the success of
their strategic movements. McClellan's plan of cam-
paign was to hold back Lee's widely-scattered forces by
the armies of observation that his numbers permitted
him to place before Johnson, Jackson, Johnston and
Holmes, while he landed his great army for active inva-
sion on the peninsula, and, brushing aside Magruder, and
Huger, pushed rapidly forward to capture Richmond
before Lee could there concentrate men enough to suc-
cessfully impede his progress to victory. With the sea
power at hand to supply the wants of his army, there
were abundant reasons why he should succeed.

Lee, the acknowledged first soldier of the old Federal
army, who had been tendered by Lincoln and urged to ac-
cept the command of the Union army the very day before
he resigned his commission and offered his services to Vir-
ginia, his native State and that of his ancestors, had a
most serious and difficult problem to solve, when, on the
memorable 13th of March, before referred to, he assumed
command of the Confederate armies in the field and "sat
down to count the cost" of the imminent conflict that, in
Virginia, he must at once become the leader of on the Con-
federate side. He knew then, or soon thereafter, as he
always did, the numbers and intentions of his adversary ;
he also knew, as few men of the South did, or realized,
the great disparity of the contending nations in men and
in resources. The soldiers at his command were, compar-
atively, few in numbers ; they were also widely scattered ;
some a hundred miles or more, as the crow flies, to the
southeast from his headquarters at Richmond; others
175 miles to the northwest, and others from 75 to 100
miles to the north and northeast, and with but limited
means of transportation at his call should he desire to
concentrate them. More than this, he knew that in a few
days the period of the enlistment of most of these men,
which had been but for a year, would expire, and no man
could tell what they would do now that the stern experi-
ences of war, in camp and field, had dulled the edge of
their patriotic fervor. Even if nearly all re-enlisted, he
realized that they were poorly clad, badly equipped, ill
fed, and, to all human appearances, even leaving out the


question of numbers, in no condition to meet the splen-
didly equipped and supplied army they must soon meet
and contend with. But there entered into Lee's calcula-
tions factors and forces that are mightier than armies and
navies and more potent than resources. Fully satisfied
of the righteousness of his intentions and of the cause
which he had unhesitatingly espoused and was defending ;
knowing no line of action but that which duty pointed
out, and with a sublime faith that never distrusted an
overruling Providence, and therefore "never took counsel
of its fears," he prayerfully and courageously grappled
with the situation and prudently prepared for the impend-
ing conflict, satisfied and confident that with the army of
Northern Virginia, every man of which not only loved
but trusted in him, he would be the winner.

Apprised by McClellan's movetnents of his intentions,
Lee increased and strengthened the defenses of Richmond
and guarded the water approach to that threatened city
by obstructing the ship channel of the James and plant-
ing intrenched batteries on Drewry's bluff; at the same
time he recalled all but Ewell's division of Johnston's
army from the line of the upper Rappahannock, and with
these reinforced Magruder on the peninsula, who had
already nearly completed a strong line of defense, from
the James to the York, in front of Williamsburg and York-
town, to bar McClellan's way to Richmond.

Having thus outlined the locations and dispositions of
the combatants in the fields of action, the narrative now
proceeds to follow the fortunes of the five Federal armies
— which the compelling genius of Jackson soon made but
two — that at the opening of the Virginia campaign of
1862, near the last of March, were co-operating for the
capture of Richmond, and those of the opposing Confed-
erate forces. Stonewall Jackson was first in the field of
actual combat, and so his famous Valley campaign is the
first chapter of the story.



BEFORE the opening of active military operations
in the spring of 1862, Lincoln determined to reopen
the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. Jackson held the
portion of this road, which he had badly damaged,
between Harper's Ferry and Hancock, and he must be
forced back from the Potomac before the road could be
repaired and reopened. To effect this Banks marched,
February 2 2d, from his winter camp at Frederick, Md.,
and his advance entered Harper's Ferry the 24th, and
laid a bateau bridge across the Potomac on which two
brigades crossed on the 26th and occupied the town.
McClellan himself reached that place the same day and
ordered the establishment there of a depot of army sup-
plies, preparatory to another forward movement, while
the railroad was being opened. After going to Charles-
town, on the 28th, he instructed Banks to locate Aber-
crombie's brigade at that place and Hamilton's at Smith-
field, a few miles to the westward ; Sedgwick, to whose
division these belonged, to establish himself at Charles-
town. Shields, now in command of Lander's force
from the South Branch valley, was ordered to Martins-
burg, and Williams from Hancock to Bunker Hill ; thus
establishing a line entirely across the Valley, in front of
the Baltimore & Ohio. These camps were all connected
by fine macadam roads. All arrangements were com-
pleted by March 6th and the three brigades of Banks
were well placed, not only for guarding the Baltimore &
Ohio, but also for an advance on Winchester.

On the same day Banks marched from Frederick to
attack him, Jackson, in obedience to Johnston's orders,
sent the Seventh and Fourteenth Tennessee regiments to
Manassas and the Third Arkansas to Strasburg, to take
the cars for Fredericksburg. He retained for further
orders the rest of Loring's men who were not Virginians.
Having been thus depleted, Jackson asked Johnston, by
letter, February 24th, whether he desired additional



fortifications at Winchester, stating that he was arrang-
ing to construct a raft bridge over the Shenandoah so that
his troops and those at Leesburg could quickly co-operate.
At that very time Johnston was sending his stores and
baggage to the rear, and on the 7th of March, Whiting
withdrew toward Fredericksburg, from his camp on the
lower Occoquan, and D. H. Hill, from his at Leesburg,
by way of Warrenton, toward the Rappahannock ; and
on the 9th, the center, tinder Johnston himself, aban-
doned Centreville and Manassas. By March nth all the
Confederate infantry and artillery from the Blue ridge
to Fredericksburg, were aligned on the south bank of the

These movements left Jackson exposed to both front
and flank attacks; but Johnston had confidence in his
ability to take care of himself, and instructed him "to
endeavor to employ the invaders in the valley, but with-
out exposing himself to the danger of defeat, by keeping
so near the enemy as to prevent him from making any
considerable detachment to reinforce McClellan, but not
so near that he might be compelled to fight. ' ' Jackson was
ready enough to obey orders as far as keeping the invaders
in the valley, and constantly employed, were concerned;
but he doubtless fully intended to fight them, notwith-
standing these instructions, if opportunity offered for so

By Jackson's field return of February 28th, he had 4,297
infantry, 369 artillery and 601 cavalry; a total of 5,267,
officers and men, present for duty. This little army of
three brigades (among them the already famous "Stone-
wall brigade") was made up of ten regiments of Vir-
ginia volunteer infantry and a battalion of Virginia
Irish regulars ; five Virginia artillery companies with 24
guns, and a cavalry regiment composed of Virginia com-
panies and Chew's horse artillery of 3 guns, under the
already renowned Ashby. Included among these men
were some fragments of militia brigades, mostly on
special duty.

By McClellan's field return of March 2d, Banks had
present for duty, of all arms, 38,484 men. After the
occupation of Winchester, Sedgwick's brigade was sent
back to guard the Potomac from the mouth of the Mo-
nocacy down to the Great Falls, still leaving Banks full
30,000 men when he followed Jackson, with about one-


sixth as many, as he retired up the Valley, after evacuat-
ing Winchester on the nth of March.

Banks' advance occupied Charlestown, 22 miles from
Winchester, February 26th; the advance of his right,
marching from Bunker Hill, appeared at Stephenson's,
four miles in front of Winchester, March 6th, when Jack-
son promptly formed line in front of his fortifications
and offered battle ; but the Federals as promptly fell back.
On the nth Banks cautiously advanced his left to Berry-
ville, 10 miles east of Winchester, by a good stone road.
Jackson again drew up his little army, in front of Win-
chester, covering the three roads by which Banks was
advancing his whole army, and all day awaited an attack
from the large force that came to within four miles of
his position. When this did not come on to combat, he,
late in the day, reluctantly followed his trains to the
vicinity of Newtown, after having called a council of war
(the first and the last he ever called), consisting of General
Gamett and his regimental commanders, in Winchester,
after dark, to which he proposed that they should make
an attack on Banks' advance, at Stephenson's, before day-
light the next morning. The council, as yet ignorant
of the manner of man that counseled, rejected his pro-
posal. He dotibtless would have carried out his plans
regardless of this conclusion if he had not then learned

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 21 of 153)