Clement Anselm Evans.

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and the cavalry of Lomax and Rosser.

Early established his headquarters in Staunton, placed
his artillery in a camp near Waynesboro, cantoned
Wharton's infantry near Fishersville, and widely and far
to the front distributed his cavalry — practically almost
disbanded it — on outpost duty, in Piedmont, in the Val-
ley and in Appalachia, in camps where forage could be
obtained for their horses. Wickham's brigade of cavalry
at Barboursville, held the line of Robertson river from
its head near Milam's gap, and down the Rapidan to
the vicinity of Raccoon ford. Rosser 's brigade, with
headquarters at Swoope's, eight miles west of Staunton,
had its advanced pickets at Milford, in the Page valley of
the Shenandoah, on the line of Stony creek near Eden-
burg, in the main Shenandoah valley, at Harper's Ferry,
on Lost river, and on the South Fork of the Potomac,
some miles south of Moorefield, while on the west it
occupied McDowell. Imboden's brigade, with headquar-
ters at the Upper Tract in Pendleton county, some ten
miles north of Franklin, picketed the South Branch of
the Potomac, well toward Moorefield, and the North
Fork of the Potomac, on the road leading northwest from
Franklin. William L. Jackson's brigade, with headquar-
ters at the Warm Springs, picketed the line of Jackson's
river, at Hightown and points to the south of that, Cheat
mountain, on the Staunton and Parkersburg turnpike,
near the Big Spring beyond Marlinton, and points in the
upper Greenbrier valley. McCausland's brigade, with
headquarters at Callahan's, west of Covington, had a camp
of observation near the White Sulphur Springs and pick-
eted at Lewisburg. Lomax had his headquarters at Mill-


boro, on the Virginia Central railroad, and Payne's bri-
gade was encamped near Lexington. Such was the
disposition, in widely scattered camps of a few cavalry-
men at each place, many miles from headquarters, with
numerous intervening mountains and streams to cross,
when Sheridan began his second Valley campaign, start-
ing from Winchester on the 27th of February, 1865.

Rosser's expedition to Beverly, western Virginia, was
one of the striking episodes of the early part of the year
1865. Leaving his camp, near Swoope's, on the Virginia
Central railroad, eight miles west of Staunton, on Janu-
ary 7th, he crossed the Big North, Shenandoah, Shaw's
ridge and Bull Pasture mountains, and encamped that
night at McDowell, on the Bull Pasture river. On the
8th, crossing Jackson's River mountain, passing through
Monterey and crossing the Alleghany mountain, he
encamped at Yeager's, on the Back Alleghany, near the
old encampment of Gen. Edward Johnson during the
previous winter. On the 9th, crossing Greenbrier river
and the Cheat mountains and river, he encamped at
Stipe's, near the western foot of Cheat mountain, not far
from Huttonsville. On the loth, marching through Hut-
tonsville and down Tygart's valley, he attacked the Fed-
eral camp, that night, at Beverly, having proceeded from
Huttonsville on byways east of the Tygart's Valley river,
and thus was enabled to attack the enemy's camp in the
rear, turning its fortifications, which were constructed
with reference to an attack from Parkersburg on the west
to Beverly. Just before crossing Files creek, on the
north side of which was the encampment of the Eighth
and Thirty- fourth Ohio volunteer infantry. General Ros-
ser divided his command into two portions — the Eighth
Virginia mounted infantry, commanded by Colonel Cooke
moved to the left and attacked the eastern side of the
Federal camp, interposing itself between that camp,
which was just to the north of Beverly, and its fortifica-
tions, thus preventing its occupation; while Rosser's bri-
gade, composed of the Eleventh, Twelfth and Seventh
Virginia cavalry regiments and the Eighth Virginia of
Payne's brigade, moved farther to the right and attacked
the northern side of the camp. The attack was a com-
plete surprise and success.

After caring for his prisoners, destroying the encamp-
ment and recuperating his command, on the morning of


the nth, Rosser, later in the day, started upon his return,
and on the i8th reached his old camp near Swoope's.

On the 1 8th of January, Echols' old brigade of Whar-
ton's division, left for Dublin Depot in southwest Vir-
ginia, and McCausland's came to Fishersville, en route
to its winter quarters in Alleghany and Greenbrier coun-
ties. On the 2oth, Jackson's cavalry came, from toward
Oordonsville, on its way to winter quarters in Bath and
adjacent counties. On the 2 2d the Federal cavalry cap-
tured Early's picket at Edenburg, but was repulsed and
"the picket retaken. The month of January was very cold
and stormy, with intervals of thawing which broke up
the roads and made traveling very diificult.

On the 2d of February, two battalions of artillery,
Tinder Col. Thomas L. Carter, left the vicinity of Waynes-
boro and went to Richmond. On the 7th snow fell to the
depth of eight inches, interrupting railway communica-
tion. On the 8th, Payne's brigade received orders to
cross the Blue ridge, from Lexington, where it had gone
into camp. There was sadness at headquarters on hear-
ing of the defeat of the Second corps near Petersburg, and
of the death of Gen. John Pegram, commanding one of
its divisions, who had begun his military career at Rich
mountain in the early part of July, 1861. On the 9th,
Gen. Fitz Lee left for Richmond. On the 20th a portion
of the general hospital of the army, which had so long
been located at Staunton, was removed to Richmond, and
on the 22d the Churchville company of cavalry also
marched for Petersburg.

On the 24th of February, Major-Generals Crook and
Kelley, of the Federal army, were brought as prisoners to
Staunton, by a squad of McNeill's company of partisan
rangers, having been boldly and adroitly captured from
their beds at Cumberland, Md. , in the midst of an army
of 5,000 men, and broxight out on the night of the 21st,
mounted on their own horses. General Early interviewed
these two Federal officers, and General Crook, who was
in command of the Federal army at the battle of Cedar
Creek, on the morning of September 19th, in the absence
of General Sherman, confessed to him that the Sixth
corps was as badly damaged, or nearly so, as were the
Eighth and Ninth, by Early's attack, and was, in his
opinion, in no condition to resist a third attack, if such
liad been made.


On the 27th of February, the regular monthly court
day of Augfusta county, there was a large meeting of the
citizens of the city and county, which was earnestly
addressed by Hon. John Randolph Tucker, Hon. A. H. H.
Stuart and others, in reference to supplying the wants
of Lee's army. The meeting was quite enthusiastic, and
a large subscription of supplies and money was promptly
made by those present.

On the 28th of February the enemy was reported as
again marching up the Valley with a large force, rumor
saying that it was Hancock with 20,000 men. Its ad-
vance reached Mt. Jackson the night of the 27th and
approached Harrisonburg late on the 28th. Great excite-
ment prevailed in Staunton, military stores were removed
and arrangements made for breaking up camp. Many
citizens left for places of greater safety. On the ist of
March, General Early broke camp at Staunton and the
last train left for the east at 4:30 p. m., just after
Early and his staff left Waynesboro, where the army had
been ordered to concentrate. The enemy came on rap-
idly, driving before it the small force of cavalry that
opposed its progress, capturing the wagons and cattle of
refugees that were trying to escape along the Valley
turnpike, and encamped south of Middle river, some four
miles from Staunton, some of its scouts coming into the
city during the night. It was afterward reported that
quite a number of "Jessie scouts," dressed as Confeder-
ate soldiers, had not only been in Staunton during the
day, but that they had actually assisted in loading the
railway trains. A thaw had taken place so that the roads
were badly broken up and the mud very deep, except on
the macadamized Valley turnpike. The mud was par-
ticularly deep between Staunton and Waynesboro, mak-
ing it very difficult to move trains and artillery. Whar-
ton strongly picketed the road at Fishersville and spent
the night in his old camp. The movement of the enemy
was so sudden and unexpected that it was impossible to
collect the widely scattered cavalry, and Rosser had but
about a score of men to watch the enemy's movements.
Early's wagon train encamped beyond South river at
Waynesboro, in the entrance to Rockfish gap.

On the 2d of March, Wharton's division reached Waynes-
boro at an early hour, and was put in line of battle, his
■whole force being only about 800 men, with his left on


the northwest front of the town and his right near the
Central railway. He was located on a ridge, on the
western edge of the town, with four pieces of artillery
placed on his right, near the railroad and on the River
road, and on the road leading to Staunton. His left
rested in the edge of a small body of woods. The day
was bitterly cold, with a biting wind and a steadily falling,
heavy sleet. Sheridan came on, at an early hour, and
drove in Early's pickets, having destroyed the railroad
bridge over Christian's creek as he advanced. He first
made a feint of attacking and then fell back, creating the
impression that he had retired and gone into camp.

At about 2 p. m. he again advanced in force and formed
in line of battle about a mile in front of Waynesboro,
across and at right angles to the Staunton road, with
skirmishers in front and deployed some distance to the
left. Early's artillery opened on this advance, especially
that near his left, breaking the enemy's line and compell-
ing them to fall back, seemingly, as could best be observed
through the blinding sleet for some distance ; but about
3 p. m. a heavy mass of cavalry that had been moving,
concealed, from the Federal right, came through the open
woods and turned Early's left, which made but a feeble
resistance, with its little band of benumbed men, against
the mass of well-mounted cavalry that fell on them. The
whole line at once gave way, and wild panic and stam-
pede took place. The enemy, its whole force being cav-
alry and mounted infantry, dashed furiously forward
into the swarm of fljdng men, following those that escaped
across the river and the Blue ridge at Rockfish gap, cap-
turing all the artillery and trains and about i,ooo pris-
oners, many of them citizens and convalescents who had
retreated with the army from Staunton. General Early
and most of his staff escaped to the mountain. The
discomfiture was complete, and nothing was now left to
oppose the advance of Sheridan across the Blue ridge and
along the line of the Central railroad toward Richmond,
or toward James river to cross to Lee's rear, which it did
that night and on the morning of the following day,
after sending a brigade back down the Valley, with the
prisoners and a few of the captured wagons and artillery,
but leaving many of the latter stuck in the mud between
Staunton and Waynesboro.

On the 4th, Rosser, having collected a portion of his


command, followed down the Valley, after the force con-
veying the prisoners, and encamped at Middle river. On
the 5th, William L. Jackson arrived at Buffalo gap and
sent a portion of his cavalry to aid Rosser, by way of
the War Springs turnpike to Harrisonburg, where Rosser
fell on the enemy's rear, late in the day, and pursued
them to Melrose. On the 6th, Colonel Smith's brigade
followed down the Valley to join Rosser, who pursued
the enemy to Rude's hill, where he again made a vigor-
ous attack on their rear, on the 7th, and came very near
recapturing the Confederate prisoners, McNeill having
placed his rangers in front of them, at the bridge over
the North Fork, thus bringing them between two fires,
but they escaped by a ford on a farm road leading west-
ward. Rosser made his attack at 10 a. m. This was
probably the last noteworthy engagement that took place
in the Shenandoah valley, where more than a hundred
notable conflicts had been engaged in during the Confed-
erate war.

On the 9th of March, General Rosser, who was now the
ranking officer remaining in the Valley, having collected
quite a body of his cavalry and learning that Sheridan's
cavalry had turned from Charlottesville toward Lynch-
burg, determined to intercept and turn them back. Im-
boden's brigade, from the South Branch valley, reached
Staunton on the loth, and on the nth Rosser marched,
at sunrise, with about 500 men, toward Lexington,
encamping at Bell's, beyond Midway; marching at sun-
rise of the 12th, crossing the Blue ridge at Tye River
gap, then by way of Massie's mills and Fleetwood and on
by Hubbard's to Harris', three miles beyond Lovingston,
where he went into camp at midnight. Sheridan had
been frustrated in his attempt to get to the rear of Lee's
army by finding that the bridge across the James, at Hard-
wicksville, was burned, and had turned down the river
toward Scottsville, destroying property of all kinds as he

On the 13th, Rosser took the old stage road leading
toward Charlottesville as far as Rockfish river, where
he turned, through bjrways, to\yard Scottsville on the
James, which he passed through, and marched down the
river for five miles, following Sheridan's rear, along des-
perately muddy and badly cut up roads, until 10 p. m.
On the 14th the pursuit was continued for 20 miles to


Columbia, where a rest of three hours was taken, and
then the march was continued across to the "Three-
Chop" road, some 15 miles, to Hadensville, where camp
was taken at 1 1 p. m. Evidence of destruction of prop-
erty of all kinds lined the roads that Rosser followed.

Marching again on the isth, by way of Thompson's
cross-roads, Payne's mill, Salem church, the Louisa road
and Goodall's tavern, Ashland was reached and bivouac
taken at 11 p. m., the enemy having been driven from
that place about dark, by a force from Richmond. On
the 1 6th Rosser moved toward Hanover Court House.
On the 27th of March the brigades of Jackson and Imbo-
den, returning to the lower Valley, reached Churchville,
eight miles northwest of Staunton, having turned back
from following after Sheridan at Hanover Junction. On
the 30th, Gen. L. L. Lomax was ordered to take com-
mand of the Valley district.

On April 3d rumors reached Staunton, first that Rich-
mond had been evacuated, and second that the Federals
were again coming up the Valley, and that some 300 had
reached Woodstock, but that Col. C. T. O'Ferrall had
attacked these in their camp at Hawkinstown and routed
them. Lomax at once impressed teams to haul his stores
to Lexington. On the 4th the enemy advanced to Fish-
er's Hill and on the sth to Maurertown, the Confederate
cavalry skirmishing with them as they advanced. On
the 6th, report having arrived that the enemy had again
retired down the Valley, Lomax started toward Lexing-
ton and marched ten miles. On the 7th, passing through
Lexington and by way of the mouth of BufEalo, the march
was continued to the Rope Ferry, on James river below
Balcony Falls, a distance of 46 miles. Great extitement
prevailed among the people, and wild rumors of every
kind were flying about.

On Saturday, April Sth, Lomax continued his march
down the James, by the Amherst road, to Lynchburg,
reaching there with his staff about 2 p. m., followed by
his command after dark. That city was found greatly
excited at the near approach of the enemy from the west,
. a few hundred as reported, and the citizens had determined
tq surrender the place. General Lomax soon restored
confidence, and collecting convalescents and other soldiers
that had straggled in, he took possession of the trenches
covering the front of the city ; but soon learning that the


force from the west had retired, and hearing rumors that
disaster had overtaken General Lee's army at Appomat-
tox Station, he marched toward Farmville, but returned
and encamped near Lynchburg, his command having
traveled 36 miles.

On Sunday, April 9th, General Lomax, accompanied
by Engineer Hotchkiss, made an inspection of the de-
fenses of Lynchburg, then went to his camp, three miles
down the James, where rumor after rumor came in, say-
ing that General Lee had had a battle on the 8th, losing
most of his train and artillery ; and that there was further
combat on the morning of the 9th, when he had surren-
dered. These rumors were confirmed, later in the day,
although there were some officers present who were of
the opinion that Lee had escaped, with part of his army,
toward Danville. Gloom and sadness pervaded the entire
community. Later in the day Generals Rosser and Mun-
ford arrived, with the remnants of their forces and
Lynchburg swarmed with broken and fugitive fragments
of commands.

On the loth, Lomax marched, at 6 a. m., toward Dan-
ville, by way of Rustburg, his command reaching Pan-
nill's bridge, on the Staunton, or Roanoke river. He
established his headquarters four miles further on at Mc-
Daniel's, after a ride of 30 miles. Rosser, with his staff,
rode on to Danville, expecting to meet Gen. R. E. Lee
and his army at that point. The whole country was full
of soldiers claiming to have escaped from Lee's surrender.
On the nth, Lomax's command marched, by way of Chalk
Level, to seven miles beyond Pittsylvania Court House,
toward Danville. On the 12th positive and reliable infor-
mation was received that Gen. Robert E. Lee had surren-
dered himself and the army of Northern Virginia. As
soon as the troops were reliably informed as to this mo-
mentous and opinion-changing event, a complete demor-
alization an,d disintegration of the cavalry and artillery of
Lomax's command took place; nearly all the Virginia
troops determining to go home, as the surrender of Gen-
eral Lee led them to firmly believe that there was no fur-
ther hope for the Confederacy. Large numbers of soldiers
swarmed across tlie country that had left the army of
Northern Virginia without surrendering, though but few
had brought away their arms. A portion of the cavalry
went away during the night of the nth. On the 12th


Col. William Nelson, one of the most chivalric of an army
of chivalrous men, disbanded his artillery battalion, leav-
ing his guns at Pittsylvania Court House, and distributing
the horses among his men, as he sadly bade them God-
speed to their homes. General Lomax went to Danville
to see the secretary of war ; his cavalry division melted
away during the day, and but few were left to follow
the gallant Gen. William L. Jackson, as, indulging a for-
lorn hope, he turned back toward the Valley. General
Rosser, after having conferred with the secretary of war,
John C. Breckinridge, at Danville, rode back to Lynch-
burg and disbanded his division. Nearly every house in
all the region westward from Appomattox was full of
soldiers returning to their homes, and of deserters and
skulkers that were coming out of their holes.

The cavalry from Grant's army reached Lynchburg on
the 13th. The remnants of Jackson's and Lomax's divi-
sions of cavalry, that had retired to the Valley, disbanded
at Buchanan, on the isth, until the ist of May. On the
17 th it was learned that General Hancock, in command
of the Federal forces in the lower Valley, had invited all
soldiers in that region, belonging to the army of Northern
Virginia, to come in and be paroled on the same terms as
were those that were captured at Appomattox Court
House, saying that all that did this would be permit-
ted to remain, undisturbed, at their homes. The propo-
sition of President Lincoln that Virginia should come
back to the Union, without conditions, gained circula-
tion on the 1 8th, and exercised a favorable influence upon
the entire community.

Late in the month of April, bands of marauders terror-
ized the people by gathering up what they claimed to
have been Confederate government property. In reality
they were stealing cattle, sheep and other things, wher-
ever they could find them. A conflict of citizens took
place with some of these, three miles from Staunton, on
the 20th, on which day word came to the Valley that
Lincoln had been assassinated. There was a general
expression of indignation and profound regret at this sad
and untimely event.

On the 24th of April the full bench of the justices of
the peace of Augusta county, one of the leading ones of
Virginia in all respects, met in Staunton, to take steps to
prevent the plundering and stealing that was going on


throughout the county by these bands of men pretending
to gather up public property, and issued an address to all
the people, calling on them to abide by the laws; the
sheriff was also ordered to go on with the collection of
taxes. Many men of the soldier element were still in a
state of uncertainty as to what to do.

On the 29th, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, some 800
Federal soldiers marched into Staunton and went into
camp near the city. They were very quiet and disturbed
no one. Generals Rosser and William L. Jackson, who
were in Staunton, left in the morning of that day. On
Monday, May ist, the Federal provost marshal com-
menced paroling soldiers of the Confederacy, more offer-
ing for parole than could be accommodated. Large num-
bers of negroes collected at the Federal camp. Rosser
and Jackson, with a few followers, left for the southwest
of the Valley on the morning of the 2d, and the Federal
troops left Staunton, returning toward Winchester.

On Monday, May 8th, many of the citizens of Augusta
county met in Staunton, declaring that armed resistance
had ceased in Augusta county and that the only way to
make the laws conform to those of the United States was,
from necessity, to call a convention of the State of Vir-
ginia, on the basis of the members of the house of dele-
gates, and recommending the appointment of a committee
to go to Richmond and ascertain whether the Federal
authorities would allow such a body to meet and deliber-
ate. Gen. John B. Baldwin endorsed the resolutions, in
forcible and patriotic remarks, and they were unani-
mously adopted, and the chairman was authorized to
appoint the committee. This action by this influential
county and the able committee named to represent it,
finally led to the appointment of a committee of nine,
representing the whole State, that had much to do in
securing the political rehabilitation of Virginia and her
ultimate restoration to the Union.

"Va 35



ON Sunday, April 2, 1865, the day following the de-
feat of Pickett at Five Forks, the day of the break-
ing of the Petersburg lines and the death of A. P.
Hill, General Lee sent the following dispatch to
Gen. J. C. Breckinridge, the Confederate secretary of war :
I see no prospect of doing more than holding our position here till
night. I am not certain that I can do that. If I can I shall withdraw
to-night north of the Appomattox, and, if possible, it will be better
to withdraw the whole line to-night from James river. The brigades
on Hatcher's mn are cut off from us; the enemy have broken
through our lines and intercepted between us and them', and there
is no bridge over which they can cross the Appomattox this side
of Goode's or Beaver's, which are not very far from the Danville
railroad. Our only chance, then, of concentrating our forces is to
do so near the Danville railway, which I shall endeavor to do at once.
I advise that all preparation be made for leaving Richmond to-night.
I will advise you later, according to circumstances.

This dispatch was received in Richmond at 10:40 of the
morning of Sunday, April 2, 1865, and was at once sent
to President Davis, who was at that time attending serv-
ice at St. Paul's church, not far from the war depart-
ment. He at once left the church and preparations were
begun for the immediate evacuation of Richmond; and
late in the day the officials of the Confederate States
government took a train for Danville, and those of the
State of Virginia started toward Lynchburg.

On the afternoon of the 2d, at 4:55, a dispatch from
General Lee read:, "I think the Danville road will be

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 53 of 153)