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south of the junction with the road leading to Charles
City cross-roads by Willis' church, along which Jack-
son would advance, and the one leading to Richmond by
way of Darbytown, along which would be the advance of
Longstreet and those under him. The flanks of this
Federal front extended to the edge of the bluffs above
the swampy branches of Turkey run. A cloud of sharp-
shooters covered the front. Couch's corps was behind
these, on the right of the road, with Heintzelman's and
Sumner's corps in his rear, but farther extended to the
east. Morrell was on the left of the Quaker road, with
Sykes in his rear, covering a cross road leading to Holmes'
position on the River road. The whole front was faced
■with protected batteries, while others occupied command-
ing positions in the rear near his flanks. This made the
approach from the Confederate side very difficult, as


these numerous Federal batteries swept the entire front.
This part of the Federal line was less than a mile long,
and nearly the whole of McClellan's great army was
placed within this mile of frontage and a half mile back
of it.

Just in the rear of this formidable battle atray, the
road to Harrison's landing, the point on the James to
which McClellan was retreating, diverged to the south-
eastward from the Quaker road and from the Malvern
ridge. At right angles to his main line and extending
southward from his left for nearly a mile to the eastward
of the Quaker road, McClellan had covered the bluffs,
looking to the westward, with his splendid train of heavy
siege guns which he had carefully saved for such an occa-
sion. These swept the whole country in his rear and also
the approaches from Richmond by the River road. At
the southern end of this projecting ridge and at right
angles to its line of heavy batteries, was a still more
formidable massing of guns, commanding the River
road under the brow of the ridge and leading to the posi-
tion at Harrison's landing, which he had already covered
with formidable earthworks. Warren's division was also
placed across this River road at the point of the ridge.
But McClellan had another strong arm of defense which
was a hitherto unknown element in his fighting. A
large number of Federal gunboats had come up James
river and were anchored in Turkey Island bend, so that
their guns not only enfiladed the whole western front of
McClellan's position, but had a range, for their huge
shells, to beyond the northern front of his line of battle,
and raked the right of the position the oncoming Confed-
erate lines of attack would be compelled to occupy. This
co-operation of the sea power of the Federals more than
doubled the strength of its local land power, great as
that was, and effectually prevented any attack upon the
left flank or the rear of the Malvern ridge.

Continuing his pursuit of McClellan on the ist of July,
Lee reached the front of the Federal position about noon-
day, and disposed a portion of the forces of Huger and
Jackson, which had approached by the converging roads
before referred to ; the former on the right and the latter
on the left. Magruder had been ordered to the same
point, by the Quaker road, but it so happened that there
were two roads in that region having the same name ; he


had taken the wrong one, and finding out his mistake
had countermarched, but did not reach the field of battle
until late in the day. A. P. Hill and Longstreet were
held in reserve, and it was useless for Holmes to attack
.the intrenched bluff before him bristling with heavy
guns and well guarded by numerous nearby gunboats.

There were but few available positions for Lee's artil-
lery, but these Jackson availed himself of; on the left
with the batteries of Balthis, Poague aind Carpenter,
while on the right those of Grimes and Moorman, first
put in, were soon driven back and their places taken by
Davidson and Pegram. None of these could long with-
stand the fury of the concentrated fire of the seventy gun&
that swept the slope in front of the Federal position. Form-
ing his men in the edge of the forest and on the borders
of the swamp, Lee ordered his front line, under Huger,
Magrtider, D. H. Hill and Whiting, to move against the
enemy. Armistead's brigade, on the right, was to take
the initiative, with a yell and a rush. The assault was-
not simultaneous. D. H. Hill alone advanced, with his
own yell, but Armistead did not. Later, Magruder
fiercely contended to reach the Federal left, but Huger
failed to support him vigorously, and although he shook
Porter's line so that that brave fighter called for rein-
forcements, Magruder was compelled to retire under the
storm of canister and musketry that swept the open slope
up which he was leading his brave men. D. H. Hill's
assault upon the Federal center was bold and brave, and
caused Couch's line to stagger; but Whiting, not hearing
Hill's signal, failed to move to his assistance, while the
near-at-hand Federal reserves swarmed to the aid of
Couch and drove Hill back with great slaughter. Lee
hurried forward reinforcements, but to no purpose, for
night put an end to the battle before they could join in
the issue, leaving him holding only his first position and
to mourn the loss of 5,000 killed and wounded of his
brave and fearless soldiery. Some of his division com-
manders had failed to comprehend his orders, and so
were late in reaching the field of action; others had
failed to advance at the appointed time, and so the attack
was irregular, and therefore not forceful. The tangled
forests and swamps through which he had to advance,
greatly hindered the tactical disposition of his troops, so
that he only succeeded in bringing fourteen brigades into


action, and these but by twos or threes at a time, making
their repulse certain from the massed Federal infantry
and the tiers of batteries in front of them.

Notwithstanding the results of the day's combats and
the almost impregnable nature of his position, McClel-
lan was unwilling to try another issue, and as soon as
dark fell, he ordered Porter to lead a retreat toward Har-
rison's landing, on the James, where he had ready for his
army an intrenched camp covered by an extended line
of gunboats. His thought may be imagined from two
lines in his retreat order to Porter: "In case you should
find it impossible to move your heavy artillery, you are
to spike the guns and destroy the carriages;" and, "Stim-
ulate your men by informing them that reinforcements,
etc., have arrived at our new base." The appearance
of the road passed over in the retreat, looked, the next
-morning, like one followed by a routed army. Aban-
doned wagons were all along the way, and thousands of
muskets were scattered along its sides. Hooker, a Fed-
-eral corps commander, writes: "It was like the retreat
■of a whipped army. We retreated like a parcel of sheep ;
■everybody on the road at the same time, and a few shots
from the rebels would have stricken the whole command
in panic."

On the 2d of July, which turned out to be a very rainy

■ 'day, Lee ordered Longstreet in pursuit on the direct road
to Harrison's landing, but that slow-moving general only

. made two miles of progress, and went into bivouac when
he reached the River road. The army was counter-
marched, on the 3d, to Willis' church, to there take the
Toad toward Charles City Court House and leading to the
right flank of McClellan's new base and position on the
James. But the guides again misled, in that country of
tangled roads involved in worse tangled forests and
swamps, and his advance, under Longstreet, was again
retarded, so that he did not appear in the vicinity of
Westover,on the fight flank and front of McClellan's for-
tified camp, until noon of July 4th, to find that the skill
of the Federal engineers, and the energy and zeal of its
Northern soldiery, had encircled the entire front of the
Pederal camp with formidable breastworks, well supplied
with artillery, the approaches to which were within the
range of the gunboats, stationed in the James all along
the rear of the Federal camp.


But three short months had passed since the superbly
organized and every way equipped army of the Potomac
had begun its "on to Richmond, " but its every move-
ment had been a failure. Jackson, with a small force in
hand, had with strategic power routed or demoralized
and then left stranded in the Valley 60,000 of its best men,
during a month and a half of this quarter of a year.
First Magruder, and then J. E. Johnston, had delayed
and badly damaged the march of the main body, under
the leadership of McClellan in person, on the Peninsula,
keeping him back with fierce blows at Williamsburg,
Yorktown and Eltham's landing, and by a bold front at
Seven Pines and Fair Oaks, held him hesitating in sight
of Richmond. Lee, taking immediate command after
the wounding of Johnston, had gathered from all direc-
tions his scattered forces, hurled them fiercely upon Mc-
Clellan 's lines and intrenchments, and after seven days
of fierce contention at Ellison's mill, Gaines' mill, Charles
City cross-roads and Malvern hill, had driven him back,
followed by dire disaster, and left him stranded on the
banks of the James with a loss of 16,000 men. The
heroic struggles had cost Lee 20,000 of his brave Confed-
erates, but had relieved his capital.

Calmly reviewing these stirring events, Lee deliber-
ately and honestly wrote: "Under ordinary circum-
stances, the Federal army should have been destroyed."
Seeking reasons why that result had not been accom-
plished, he found them in the "want of correct and timely
information. ' ' This, attributable chiefly to the character
of the country, but largely chargeable to the lack of
trained staff organization, "enabled General McClellan
to skillfully conceal his retreat, and to add much to the
obstructions with which Nature had beset the way of our
pursuing columns ; but regret that more was not accom-
plished gives way to gratitude to the Sovereign Ruler of
the universe for the results achieved. ' '

Lee recalled these results to his army in a general
order of July 7th, in which he said:

The immediate fruits of oiir success are the relief of Richmond
from a state of siege ; the rout of the great armj; that so long men-
aced its safety ; many thousand prisoners, including officers of h"gh
rank; the capture or destruction of stores to the value of millions;
the acquisition of thousands of arms and forty pieces of artillery.
The service rendered to the country in this short but eventful period
can scarcely be estimated, and the general commanding cannot ade-


quately express his admiration of the courage, endurance and sol-
dierly conduct of the ofBcers and men engaged. These brilliant
restilts have cost us the loss of many brave men, but while we
mourn the loss of our gallant dead, let us not forget that they died
nobly in defense of their country's freedom, and have linked their
memory with an event that will live forever in the hearts of a gprate-
ful people. Soldiers, your country will thank you for the heroic
conduct you have displayed, conduct worthy of men engaged in a
cause so just and sacred, and deserving a nation's gratitude and

The cheers of the army of Northern Virginia, as the
victorious chieftain rode along their columns returning
to resting and recruiting camps in the vicinity of Rich-
mond, were their reciprocating general order. In lead-
ing them to conquer their foes, he had conquered their
lasting admiration and devotion, and henceforward,
whether in victory or defeat, their confidence in Lee
continued unchanged, as it will continue among their
descendants and their people "to the last syllable of
recorded time."



n^HE conditions and the scene of conflict in Virginia
now changed. McClellan, whining like a well-
whipped schoolboy, and in so doing damaging his
military reputation, begged for reinforcements
and for permission, when reinforced, to make another
attempt on Richmond. But the Federal government,
alarmed at the result of its gigantic effort to capture
Richmond, now feared, and justly, that Lee's victorious
,army might take up the line of march to menace its own
-capital ; so, instead of reinforcing McClellan and permit-
ting him to try again an "on to Richmond," it ordered
him back to the line of the Potomac and to the front of

When it was learned that the ubiquitous Jackson was
really engaged in the contest with McClellan at Rich-
mond, the army that had been waiting for him in the
valley, finding none to oppose it, ventured to cross the
Blue ridge at Chester gap, and encamp in the lovely
-coves of Piedmont Virginia, just under and amid the
spurs of the grand mountains in the vicinity of Sperry-
ville ; where, on the 26th day of June, with the roar of
booming cannon, the echoes of which were heard as far
away as Gordonsville, was organized from the armies of
Fremont, Banks and McDowell, the "army of Virginia,"
under Maj.-Gen. John Pope. Its three corps, of now
well-rested veterans, were prepared for another cam-
paign — to essay another "on to Richmond" from another
direction. The 13,000 men under Bumside, in North
•Carolina, were hastened to the Potomac end of the Rich-
mond, Potomac & Fredericksburg railroad at Aquia
creek, to guard the left of the new movement ; and prepa-
rations were hastened to bring back the great host still
on the James with McClellan, and add that to the new
army of Virginia.

Excellent highways led from the Rappahannock region,
where Pope was encamped, to Gordonsville and Culpeper,



and the inarch was not a long one to either of these
places. A blow at Gordonsville would break Lee's line
of railway communication with his best base of supplies
in the Great Valley, and it was rightly concluded that if
that blow were struck, Lee would meet it with a portion
of his army, and thus give McClellan, opportunity to

Full of ambition to accomplish what his predecessors
had failed to do, and equally full of himself, and hoping
to infuse some of the same spirit into the men whom
Jackson had so lately roughly handled and discomfited.
Pope joined his army near Sperryville, and on the 14th of
July issued a very remarkable address, in which he said,
among other things :

I have come to join you from the West, where we have always
seen the backs of our enemies ; from an army whose business it has
been to seek the adversary and beat him when found; whose policy
has been attack, not defense. ... I desire you to dismiss from
your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find in vogue
amongst you, of lines of retreat and bases of supplies. Let us dis-
miss such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to
occupy is one from which he can most easily advance toward the
enemy. Let us study the possible lines of retreat of our opponents,
and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before
us and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance. Disaster
and shame lurk in the rear.

After this bombastic fulmination. Pope immediately
proceeded to wage unsoldierly war upon the peaceable
citizens of the surrounding country, and "disaster" to
these citizens followed every movement of his army.
Under pain of expulsion from their homes, he ordered
that every male citizen of the region dominated by him
should take the oath of allegiance to the United States,
and thus old men and boys, women and children became
the suffering victims of this braggart, who expressed
himself so anxious to meet and fight the Confederate

McClellan was still lingering on the banks of the
James, and Lee was as yet uncertain what his discom-
fited opponent might be ordered to do; but, watching
the whole military chess-board in Virginia, he saw that it
would not do to let Pope enter the field of contention
without having him met by one competent to manage
him, so, on the 13th of July, just as Pope was riding in
from Washington to take command of his army of Vir-
ginia, Lee ordered Jackson to Gordonsville with Robert-
Va 20


son's cavalry brigade and the two infantry divisions of
Ewell and Winder, only about 12,000 men, but all hardy
and well-tested veterans; and on the 27th another 12,000
under A. P. Hill were added to Stonewall's command.
Pope's unheard-of orders came to Lee's hands during
these preparations. That gentle-mannered man and
model soldier characterized such threatenings against
"defenseless citizens" as "atrocious," and by direction of
his government sent a note to Halleck, the general com-
manding the Federal forces, protesting that such orders
were in violation of the recent cartel entered into for the
exchange of prisoners, and characterizing them as begin-
ning "a savage war in which no quarter is to be given. "
Halleck did not reply to the protest; but it was noticed
that Pope, for some reason, changed his behavior.

Lee still had 50,000 men in front of Richmond, watch-
ing for any opportunity to strike his enemy that might
offer itself. A reconnoissance, on the south side of the
James, revealed the fact that Coggin's point, opposite
McClellan's camp across the James, and projecting
toward its rear, commanded that camp from its bluffs
and was within range of field artillery. Taking advan-
tage of this, Lee sent D. H. Hill, secretly, to this point
on July 31st, and he, under cover of darkness, startled
the Federals in their camp and shipping by pouring into
them the fire of forty- three pieces of artillery, doing consid-
erable damage but suffering none, as he retired before an
attack could be planned against him. This stung Mc-
Clellan to seek retaliation, and on August sth he moved
out to Malvern hill, in battle array. Lee promptly
advanced to Charles City cross-roads, ordering his left to
threaten McClellan's rear, while with the brigades of
Cobb and Evans, on the right, he drove the Federals behind
the guns on the Malvern ridge and waited for the morn-
ing, designing to try again for the capture of that for-
midable position; but when morning came there was
nothing there to meet him, as McClellan's courage failed
when he found Lee ready to fight him.

Jackson's advance reached Gordonsville on the 19th of
July, and he at once inarched his veterans to the charm-
ing Piedmont region west of the coast range (the "little
mountains of Orange," as Light Horse Harry Lee called
them), where they luxuriated amid the open groves and
in the grassy fields of that charming region, and recu-


perated from the effects of the miasmatic swamps of the
low country in the great wild blackberry patches loaded
with ripened fruit. Jackson himself pitched his camp
far up on the western slope of the mountain range,
whence he overlooked the terrace occupied by Pope, and
could study from afar its peculiar topography, at the
same time urging to tense activity in the study of the
country and in the preparation of campaign maps his
topographical engineers, who had again joined him.
His cavalry held the line of the Rapidan up to the
mouth of the Robertson, and then along that river
toward the Blue ridge, communicating with the Confed-
erate cavalry beyond, that still guarded the upper Shen-
andoah valley. The Federal cavalry picketed to these
rivers on their northern sides. Lee had no misgivings
about intrusting the care of Pope to Jackson. Writing
to him, after sending Hill to his aid, he says: "Relying
upon your judgment, courage and discretion, and trust-
ing to the continued blessing of an ever-kind Providence,
I hope for victory" — words and sentiments that found
a responsive echo in the soul of his twin brother in the
art of war.

Watching, through his cavalry, his scouts and his spies,
for a coveted opportunity to meet his arrogant adversary,
whom he constantly deceived by his own marchings and
countermarchings (one of them lo miles to the rear of
Gordonsville to cover the coming of A. P. Hill to his
army), Jackson soon found it when Pope moved forward
to Culpeper Court House, and sent a portion of his com-
mand on the road leading to Orange Court House, but
leaving parts of it strung all along the way, back for
many miles, to Sperryville, at the foot of the Blue ridge,
where a whole division under Sigel still tarried in camp.
Pope's strategic force on the 7th of August was 36,500
men ; but his tactic force, within easy reach of Jackson,
was but a part of this number, and Jackson knew it.
This partial force was the 8,000 men under Banks, an old
Valley acquaintance of Jackson's army, in an advanced
camp across the Rapidan. Ricketts' division, of about
10,000, was nearer to Culpeper Court House, but Sigel
was far away at Sperryville.

Late in the day of the 7th of August, Jackson moved his
men, by concealed roads, to the vicinity of the Rapidan,
where they slept on their arms and were ready to


march in the early morning of the 8th, drive in the Fed-
eral cavalry, and occupy a favorable position where the
road to Culpeper crosses the low watershed between
the Rapidan and Cedar run. The day was intensely
hot. the roads dusty, and both animals and men suf-
fered fearfully. A misunderstanding of orders by one
of his division commanders, which led to an interfer-
ence of marching columns, added to the delay caused by
the heat and the dust. On the morning of the 9th, Jack-
son moved forward and drew up his line of battle in the
edge of the forest that crowned the Cedar run water-
shed, at right angles to the road and to the range of low
hills known as the Cedar Run or Slaughter's mountain,
that, covered with forest, extended parallel to the road
and at right angles to his line on his right. A road ran
along the top of this broken ridge, which Jackson pro-
ceeded to occupy with artillery and a portion of Ewell's
division. The basin of Cedar run, crossed by that
stream about a mile in his front, lay spread out before
him, the larger portion of it divided into the fields of cul-
tivated plantations, but with patches of forest, especially
on its western side, along which ran the highway to- Cul-
peper, on the west of which was a low ridge, mostly cov-
ered by forest but gashed with fields extending from the
road to its crest.

Jackson, by a glance over the field of contest, discov-
ered that he had secured an advantageous position for
disposing of his troops for either attack or defense. He
turned Ewell's division, which was in advance, to the
eastern side of the Culpeper road, and Ewell himself,
leading his right, advanced it to Cedar mountain, accom-
panied by a number of guns, for which he found good
positions on the slope and crest of Slaughter's mountain.
Early's brigade was formed on the left, followed by
Hays' and Trimble's. Winder's division was ordered to
support Early, but in echelon, extending his line to the
left of the Culpeper road. Several batteries followed, on
Early's right, through the open fields, while those of
Winder followed the highway. Early's skirmishers soon
advanced and drove back the Federal cavalry across
Cedar run. Numerous Federal batteries, from the slopes
beyond the run, opened on him as he advanced, but these
were promptly answered by those on Jackson's left,
center and right, and an active artillery duel was kept up
for nearly two hours.


At about 10 o'clock, Pope, from Culpeper, six miles in
the rear, ordered Banks to the front to make an immedi-
ate attack on Jackson. Ricketts' division was held some
four miles in front of Culpeper, where the Madison road
enters the Orange road, as Pope was in doubt as to
whether Jackson was advancing in force over the Orange
road; Sigel was ordered forward from Sperryville, 20
miles away at the foot of the Blue ridge, but became no
factor in the impending conflict, because, after receiving
his orders, he sent back to know which road he should
take, although a graded one led directly from his camp
to Pope's headquarters at Culpeper, and so arrived too
late to join in the combat. It was about noon when Banks'
advance reached the vicinity of Cedar run, the line of
which was being held by Bayard with his cavalry and
artillery. Crawford's brigade was formed on the right
of the road, extending up through the woods to near the

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 30 of 153)