Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

. (page 18 of 113)
Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 18 of 113)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

seen, to Gen. McClellan, that the
President made no objection to his
plan of operaticms, provided he
would —

'^ 1st. Leave such force at Manassas Jnno-
tion as shall make it entirely certain that
the enemy shall not repossess himself of
that position and line of commanication.

^*2d. Leave Washington entirely secnre.

"8d. Move the remainder of the force
down the Potomao— choosing a new base
at Fortress Monroe, or anywhere between
here and there ; or, at all events, move snch;
remainder of the army at once in pursuit olr*
the enemy by eome route."

Just before starting for the Penitio
sula. Gen. McOlellan received, ^' with
surprise," the following note, involy-
ing a subtraction, he estimates, of
10,000 troops from the force which
he expected to have transferred. tO/
the Peninsula:

^ EzBourrfK MAimioir, WAStrnxmromj I
''March 81, 1862. i

^'Migor-C^neral MoClkllak:

'' Mt Deab Bib : This morning I felt oon<^
strained to order Blenker^s division to Fre^
mont; and I write this to assure yon that I
did so with great pain, understanding that:
you would wish it otherwise. If you could
know the full pressure of the case, I am
confident that you would justify it, even

*Dec 1, 19S,213; Jan. 1, S19,707; JM. 1,
»S»19€; March 1, S21,987.

tol.il— ^

^Letter to the Secretary of War.
«* Beport to MoOleUao, Mardi 8.

Digitized by




beyond the mere acknowledgment that the
Oommander-in-Chief may order what he
pleases. Ypura, very truly,

^ "A. Lincoln."

Stonewall Jackson's advance to
and fight at Winchester, indicating
farther pugnacity in that quarter,
were soon fonnd to interfere with
Gen. McClellan's order** to Gen.
Banks to move his division down to
Manassas, leaving only two regi-
ments of cavalry to " occupy Win-
chester, and thoroughly scour the
country south of the railway and up
the Shenandoah Yalley."

Gen. McGlellan, on embarking,
calculated that he left behind, in-
cluding Blenker's division, ordered
to Fremont, and not including
McDowell's corps, which he intended
should follow him, no less than
75,000 men. But, as Blenker's divi-
sion was known to be ordered to
Fremont, in West Virginia, they are
improperly included. Even exclud-
ing these, he computes the whole
number available fot the defense of
Washington, including 36,467 under
Banks in the Yalley of the Shenan-
doah, at 67,428 men, with 85 pieces
of light artillery. Yet he had barely
departed when Gens. Hitchcock and
L. Thomas, who had been instructed
to investigate the matter, reported,*'
" that the requirement of the Presi-
dent, that this city [Washington]
shall be left entirely secure, has not
been fully complied with." Gen.
Wadsworth, Military Governor of
Washington, and aa brave a man as
ever Jived, submitted to the War De-
partment a statement that the entire
force left under his command for the
defense of Washington amounted to
20,477, of whom 19,022 were present
tor duty 4 nearly all of them new and

imperfectly disciplined, several <^ the
regiments in a very disorganized con-
dition ; 2 heavy artillery and 1 in&n-
try regiment, which had been drillod
for some months for artillery service,
had been withdrawn from the forts
on the south side of the Potomac;
while he was at this time under
orders from McClellan to detail 8
regiments to join divisions on their
way to the Peninsula, and another
for service at Budd's Ferry ; while a
frirthar order directed him to send
4,000 men to Manassas and Wanran-
ton to relieve Qea. Sunmer, so as to
enable him to embark for Yorktown.
Upon the report of Gtens. Hitchcock
and Thomas, the President gave
orders •• that either McDowdl's (X
Sumner's corps should remain in
front of Washington until otherwise

Gen. McClellan, from his camp in
fit)nt of Yorktown, remonstrated;"

*' I am now of the opinion that I shaU
have to fight all the available force of the
Rebels not far from here. Do not force me
to do 80 with diminished numbers: bok
whatever your decision may be, I will
leave nothing undone to obtain success. If
you cannot leave me the whole of the 1st
corpS) I urgently ask that I may not lose
Franklin and his division."

Two days later, he telegraphed to
the War Department that :

^* It seems clear that I shall have the
whole force of the enemy on my hands-*
probably not less than 100,000 men, and
possibly more. In consequence of the loss
of Blenker's division and the 1st corps, my
force is possibly less than that of the
enemy, while they have all the advantage
of position.'*

In a dispatch of even date to the

President, he says:

"Tour telegram of yesterday received.
In reply, I have the honor to state that my


•April 2


« April 5.

Digitized by




fnthre force for dntj amonnts to only abont
^6,000) ei^tj-five thonsand men. Gen.
Wool's command, as you will observe from
the accompanying order, has been taken
out of my control, although he has most
cheerftdly cooperated with me. The only
use that can be made of his command is to
protect my commnnicationp in rear of this
point At this time, only 58,000 men have
ioined me; but they are coming np as rap-
idly as my means of transportation will
permit. Please refer to my oispatoh to the
Secretary of War to-night, for the details of
oar present situation.''

The' President responded by this

"Washikgton, April 9, 1862.
**lU-<^n. MoOlbllah:

*^Mt Dbab Sib: Tour dispatches, com-
plaining that you are not properly sustained,
while they do not offend me, do pain me
very mnc^. Blenker's division was with-
drawn fh>m you before you left here; and
you know the pressure under which I did
it, and, as I thought, acquiesced in it— cer-
tunly, not without reluctance. After you
left| I ascertained that less than 20,000 un-
oi^nized men, without a single field-bat-
tenr, were all you designed to be left for the
defense of Washington and Manassas Junc-
tion ; and part of this, even, was to go to
Gen. Hooker's old position. Gen. Banks's
corps, once derigned for Manassas Junction,
was diverted, and tied up on the line of
Winchester and Strasburg, and could not
leave it without again exposing the Upper
Potomac uid the Baltimore and Ohio Kail-
road. This presented (or would present,
when McDowell and Sumner should be
gone) a great temptation to the enemy to
turn back from the Rappahannock and sack
Washington. My explicit order that Wash-
ington should, by the Judgment of all the
commanders of army corps, be left entirely
secure, had been neglected. It was precise-
ly this that drove me to detain McDowell.

**I do not forget that I was satisfied with
your arrangement to leave Banks at Manas-
■as Junction ; but^ when that arrangement
was broken up, and nothing was substi-
tuted for it, of course I was constnuned to
mbstitnte something for it myself; and al-
low me to ask : Bo you really think I should
permit the line from Richmond via Manas-
sas Junction to this city to be entirely open,
except what resistance could be presented
by less than 20,000 unorganized troops f
lliis is a question which Uie country will
not allow me to evade.

"There is a curious mystery about the
number of troops now with you. When I
telegraphed you on the 6th, saying you had
over a hundred thousand wiUi you, I had

just obtained ftom the Secretary of War a
statement taken, as he said, front your own
returns, making 108,000 then with you and
en route to you. You now say you will
have but 85,000 when all eri route to you
shall have reached you. How can the dis-
crepancy of 23,000 be accounted for? "

** As to Gen. Wool's command, I under-
stand it is doing for you precisely what a
like number of your pwn would have to do
if that command was away.

"I suppose the whole force which has
gone forward for you, is with you by this
time ; and, if so, I think it is the precise time
for you to strike a blow. By delay, the ene-
my will relatively gain upcm you ; that is^
he will gain faster by fortifications and re*
enforcements than you can by r&enforce-
ments alone. And once more let me tell
you, it is indispensable to you that you
strike a blow. / am powerless to help this.
You will do me the justice to remember I
always insbted that going down the Bay in
seardi of a field, instead of fighting at or
near Manassas, was only shifting, and not
surmounting, a difficulty; that we would
find the same enemy, and the same or equal
intrenchments, at either place. The coun-
try will not fail to note — is now noting —
that the present hesitation to move upon
an intrenched enemy is but the story of
Manassas repeated.

" I beg to assure you that I have never
written you, or spoken to you, in greater
kindness of feeling than now, nor with a
fuller purpose to sustain you, so far as in my
most anxious judgment I consistently can.
But you must act.

" Yours, very truly, A. LnrooLW."

The President's question as to the
grave discrepancy between the 85,000
men, admitted to be with or on their
way to him by Gen. M., and the
108,000 asserted by Secretary Stan-
ton, was never answered, and proba-
bly could not be ; since an official re-
turn of the number of his army April
30th, while it was still before York-
town, makes its aggregate 130,378,
whereof 112,392 were present and
fit for duty; Franklin's division of
12,448 men having in the mean time
been sent to him.

But, on another point, military men
are not likely to agree with the Presi-
dent. Gten. Wool's command may
very probably have been doing just

Digitized by




what an equal number of MeOlel^
lan's troiTpB must have done '^ if that
command was away;'* but it is by
no means the same thing to a com-
mander in the field to have 10^000
m»i holding an important post in
his rear, but wholly independent of
his authority, and having them sub-
ject implicitly to his orders. Gen.
McClellan was therefore manifestly
right in not regarding Gen. Wool's
10,000 as equivalent to a reenforce-
ment of his army by that number ;
and the order which detached this
division from his command has not
been justified. True, he had more
men than he needed, had he pos-
sessed the ability and the nerve to
use them." But a General, in such
a position as his then was, should
either be fully trusted or superseded.

Stonewall Jackson, after his de-
feat ** by Shields at Eemstown, had
retreated up the Valley, pursued by
Gen. Banks, to the vicinity of Harri-
sonburg. Jackson, after holding some

days a strong position near Ifoant
Jackson, crossed ^ the South Fork of
the Shenandoah and took position in
£lk Bun Yalley ; but he was soon
startled by tidings that Gen. Milroy,
with the advance of Gen. Schenck's
division of Fremont's West Virginia
force, was threatening Staunton from
the direction of Monterey. As a
junction of Fremont's and Banks^s
commands would have involved the
fall of Staunton, and the complete
possession of the Valley by our troopB,
Jackson resolved to prevent it by
striking a swift and hard blow at
Fremont's advance. Leaving Ewell,
whose division had recently jomed
him from Gtordonsville, to Observe
and check Banks, Jackson moved
rapidly to Staunton, being reenforced
by the division of Gen. Edward
Johnson, which he dispatched^ in
advance of his own, against Mihroy;
who, being decidedly overmatched,
retreated westwardly across Shenan-
doah Mountain, concentrating Mb
command at MoBowbll, and sending

" When he bad fairly set down before York-
iowiif be tdegrapbed to Washingtoa as follows :

» Hbadquabtebs Abmt or trb Potomao, )
"April 10. f
"Hem. Edwut M. Staktoit, Secretarj of War:

''The reoonnoissance to-day proves that it is
neoessary to invest and attack Gloucester Point.
Give me Franklin's and MoCall's divisions, un-
der command of Franklin, and I will at once
undertake it If drcumstances of which I am
not aware make it impossible for you to send
me two divisions to carry out this final plan of
campaign, I will run the risk, and bold myself
responsible for the result^ if you will give me
Franklin's division. If you still confide in my
Judgment, I entreat that you will grant this re-
iueet The fate of our cause depends upon it
Alihough willing, under the pressure of neces-
sity, to carry this through with FnoJdin alone,
I wish it to be distinctly understood that I think
two divisions necessary. Franklin and his di-
vision are indispensable to me. Qen. Banuurd
ooncurs in this view. I have determined on the

rnt of attadc, and am at this moment engaged
fixing the position of the batteries.

" G. B. MoCLBXAir, Mij.-GeneraL"
The prompt letpoBse mm as follows:

"War DsPASTifsirT, April 11, 1861
"ICi^-Gen. G. B. MoClbllan, Oommtmdmg At*
my o/PotomaCf Ibrtresi Monroe, Vwgima:
"By direction of the President, FrankUn's di«
vision has been ordered to march bade to Alex-
andria and immediately embark for FortlConroSi
"li. Thomas, A4jutant-QeDeraL'*

Which McClellan thua admowledged:


" Near ToHOown, April 13—12 IL )
"Hon. E. M. STAMTOir, Secretary of War:

"Your dispatch received. I thank you moil
sincerely for the reenforoements sent to me.
Franklin will attack on the other side. The
moment I hear from him, I will state point of
rendezvous. I am confident as to results now.
"G. B. MoGlkllak, Mi4.-GeneraL"

All this promise ended in no performanoai
Gloucester was not atUfdnd. Franklin's divi*
sion was not even debarked, but lay idle moM
than a fortnight in die transports iftuich brooi^
it to the Peninsula, until lOgruder saw fit to
evacuate Torktown.

•"March 83. ••AprfllS.

Digitized by




to Schenck tor aaaistaiiee. Scbend:
was at Franklin, 34 miles north,
which distance he traversed, with his
brigade, in 33 honrs, joining Milroj
at 10 A. H. of the 8th; but he
brought only three regiments, reduced
bj details to less than 2,000 men;
while Milroy's force was but very
Httle stronger. Jackson's column
was consid«;«bly the larger, though
it is stated that but six r^ments were
actually engaged in the %ht.

The Bebels advanced to and posted
themselves on the top of a ridge in
the Bull Pasture Mountain, where it
is traversed by the Staunton turn-
pike, a mile or two west of McDow-
dL Schenck saw that Milroy's posi-
tion was untenable, being command-
ed by hights in several directions;
bat he could not safely abandon it in
broad daylight, and so decided to re-
main. Some desultory skirmishing
and cannonading followed ; until, at
8 p. H., upon information that the
Bebels were trying to plant a bat-
tery on the mountain, where it would
oonunand our whole encampment,
Schenck directed Milroy, with the
8d Virginia, 35th, 33d, and 83d
Ohio, numbering a little over 3,000
men, to advance and feel of the ene-
my. Led by Col. N. C. McLean, of
the 75th Ohio, they charged up the
mountain with great gallantry, defy-
ing the fire of a superior force, whose
heads only were visible, and were
engaged at close range for an hour
and a half, during which an attempt
was made to turn the Bebel right,
but repulsed. The fight did not
wholly cease till 8 p. il, when our
men were withdrawn by order,
bringing in their dead and wounded,
taking 4 prisoners and reporting but

3 missing. Our total loss in this well
contested action was 356, includii^
145 slightly wounded* Gen. Jack-
son's report admits a loss on his part
of 461— n kiUed, including 8 Co-
lonels and 3 Majors, and 390 wound-
ed, among whom was Gen. Johnson.
Our troops retreated to Franklin
during the night, carrying off their
wounded, but burning a part of thel^

Jackson pursued next day toward
Franklin, but did not see fit to at-
tack. Betuming to McDowell,** he
recrossed the Shenandoah Mountain
to Lebanon White Sulphur Springs ;
where he gave his troops a brief rest,
and then resumed'^ his march to
Harrisonburg, having ascertained
that Banks had fallen back to Stras-
burg. Being joined near Newmarket
by Ewell's division, he moved via
Luray upon Front Koyal, keeping
his advance carefully masked by
Ashby's cavalry, so that he swooped
down" almost unannounced on our
small force holding that position,
under OoL John K. Kenly, who
nevertheless made a spirited resist-
ance, but was soon driven out with
loss by the enemy's overwhelming
numbers. Kenly, after abandoning
the town, attempted to make a stand
on a ridge scarcely a mile in its rear ;
but, his force being hardly a tenth of
that assailing him, he was soon comr
polled to retreat i^ross the river, after
destroying his camp and stores. He
tried to bum the bridge over the
North Fork of the Shenandoah, but
the Bebels were upon him and extin-
guished the flames. A few miles
farther on, he was overtaken by the
Bebel cavalry under Ashby and
Floumoy, and a fight ensued, in



■Ma7 23.

Digitized by




whicli CoL K. was severely wounded,
his^rain captured, and his command
nearly destroyed. Fully 700 prison-
ers, a section of rifled 10-pounders,
and a large amount of stores, were
among the trophies of this Bebel
triumph. Our men fought nobly;
but they ^ere 900 against 8,000.

Gen. Banks remained quiet and
unsuspecting at Strasburg, with no
enemy in his front, and no sign of
danger, until the evening of the 23d,
when he was astounded by tidings of
Kenly's disaster, and assurances that
the Rebels, 16,000 to 20,000 strong,
were pressing forward to Winchester,
directly in his rear. Shields's divi-
sion having been sent, by order from
Washington, to the Rappahannock,
he had hardly 5,000 men at hand,
with perhaps 2,000 or 3,000 more
scattered through the Valley in his
rear. Jackson's force must have ex-
ceeded 20,000 men." Banks had,
on the first tidings of trouble at
Front Royal, dispatched a small
force to the aid of Kenly ; but this
was now recalled, and our trains sent
forward on the road to Winchester,
escorted by Gen. Hatch, with our
cavalry, and 6 pieces of artillery.
At 9 A. M." our column was in mo-
tion, and had hardly proceeded three
miles when it was apprised that the
train had been attacked, and that
the Rebels held the road at Middle-

town — ^a report soon confirmed by a
disorderly rush of fugitives and
wagons to the rear. The column
was thereupon reorganized, with the
train in the rear ; and, on reaching
Middletown, CoL D. Donnelly, com-
manding the vanguard, encountered
a small force of Rebels, who were
easily repulsed and driven back on
the road to Front Royal. Col. Brod-
head, 1st Michigan cavalry, now took
the advance, and soon reported the
road clear to Winchester. Before all
our army had passed, tlie Rebels ad-
vanced on the Front Royal road in
such force as to occupy Middletown,
compelling our rear-guard to fall back
to Strasburg, making a circuit thence
to the north, whereby the Ist Ver-
mont, CoL Tompkins, was enabled
to rejoin Banks at Winchester in
season for the fight of next morning;
while the 5th New York, CoL De
Forrest, made its way through the
mountains to the* Potomac, bringing
in a train of 32 wagons and many
stragglers. There was some fighting
with our rear-guard at Strasburg,
and again at Newtown, eight miles
from Winchester; but our men re-
treated with moderate loss, and our
infantry and artillery were again
concentrated at Winchester by mid-
night. Here they were allowed a
rest of two or three hours, broken at
brief intervals by the rattle of mus-

** Lt-GeiL JacksoDf in his official report, sajs :

" My commaad at this time embraced Ashbj's
Oftvahy; the Ist brigade, under Gen. Winder;
the 2d brigade, Got Campbell commanding; 3d
brigade, Ck>L Fulkerson commanding; the troops
recently- under command of Brlg.-Oen. Edwtud
J(^nson ; and the division of G^n. Ewell, com-
Mising the brigades of Grens. Elzey, Taylor,
Trimble, and the Maryland Line, consisting of
the 1st Maryland regiment and Brockenbrough's
battery, under Brig.-6en. G^. H. Stewart, and
tlie 3d and Sth Virginia cavalry, under €!oL

On our side, Brig. -Gen. Gk>rdon, in his official
report, says:

*^From the testimony of our signal officers,
and from a fair estimate of the number in Rebel
lines drawn up on the higbts, from fbgHires
aud deserters, the number of regiments in the
Rebel army opposite Winchester was 28, being
Ewell*s diyision, Jackson*s and Johnson's forces ;
the whole being commanded by Gen. Jackson.
These regiments were fbll, and could not have
numbered less than 22,000 men, with a corre-
sponding proportion of artiUery."


Digitized by




he/ttjj 88 the Bebels dosed around
them, thdr artillery opening at day-

Banks had now less than 7,000
men,** opposed to more than 20,000,
flushed with yictory, and confident
that the day would witness the cap-
tore or destruction of our little army.
OoL Gteo. H. Gordon commanded
our right ; CoL Dudley Donnelly our
left. Glen. Hatch, who had bee^ cut
off at Middletown, had just rejoined
with his cayalry. Facing the enemy
Ixddly, our men held their ground for
fiye hours, inflicting and sufiering
considerable loss; until, Jackson's
entire army having by this time been
brought up, it was manifest that
farther resistance was madness, and
oould only result in our destruction.
Our trains being by this time well on
the road, the order to retreat was
given, and our line of battle, under a
withering fire of musketry from left,
right, and center, broke into column
of march and moved rapidly through
Winchester, amid the deafening yells
of their exulting pursuers, which were
edioed with delirious frenzy by the
Winchester Eebels.- The2dMas8a.
chusetts, Lt.-Col. Andrews, which,
with the 8d Wisconsin, CoL Ruger,
formed our rear-guard, halted, undis-
mayed by the hideous din, in a street
of the town, to re-form its line, and
then resumed its rapid but steady
march, sharply followed, but not
seriously annoyed, by the eager foe.
Our troops moved in three parallel

columns, each protected by an effi-
cient rear-guard, and reached Mar-
tinsburg, 23 miles distant, in the
course of the afternoon. Here a halt
of two and a half hours was taken, to
rest and refresh ; our rear-guard leav-
ing that town at 7 p. m., and reaching
the Potomac, opposite Williamsport,
12 miles farther, in the course.of the

Gen. Geo. H. Stewart, with the
Eebel cavalry, pursued so far as
Martinsburg ; but Jackson halted his
infentry not far beyond Winchester;
though he sent a brigade, three days
later,** to Oharlestown, driving out a
small Union force which held that
place, and pursuing it to Halltown,
which was occupied next day by the
main body of his army.

Gen. Banks admits a loss, in his
hurried retreat for 53 miles, of 88
killed, 155 wounded, and 711 miss-
ing ; total, 904 ; with 55 out of 500
wagons, and no guns. This of course
does not include the losses by CoL
Kenly's rout at Front Eoyal, nor the
sick and wounded left in hospitals at
Strasburg and Winchester. We lost
also a large amount of quartermaster
and commissary stores, most of which
were destroyed. Jackson admits a
total loss, including that at Front
Royal, of 68 killed and 329 wounded ;
and claims to have captured 2 guns,
9,354 small arms, and about 3,050
prisoners, including 750 sick and.
wounded, whom he paroled and left
in the hospitals when he retreated,

" Mty 25.

" Gen. Banks's official report sajs:
. " Mj own command consisted of 3 brigades of
Itm than 4,000 men, all told, with 900 caralrj,
10 PuTott guns, and one battery of O-poonders,
mooUi-bore cannon. To this should be added
the 10th ICaine regiment of infantrj, and 5 com-
paolea of Uarjland cavalry, stationed at Win-
diB8t«r, which were engaged m the aotioa.'*

** Gen. Gordon, in his official report, says:
"ICy retreating column suffered serious loss
in the streets of Windiester : males and females
vied with each other in increasing the number of
their yictims by firing firom the houses, throwixup
hand-grenades, hot water, and missiles of erei^

Yet Winchester was not burned when we r»«
took it ••May 28.

Digitized by




fending some 2,800 np the Yalley.
He attributes his failure to cmah
Banks entirely to the misconduct of
Ashby's cavaky, who stopped to pil-

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 18 of 113)