Horace Greeley.

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

. (page 86 of 113)
Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 86 of 113)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

The old, fatally vicious system of
a concentric advance from opposite
points on a common focus was
still adhered to. Hunter, somewhat
strengthened, at once resume^ the
offensive; the pressure on Lee by
Grant's persistent hammering hav-
ing constrained Breckinridge's with-
drawal, with the better part of his
force, to Ihe defenses of Eichmond;
W. £. Jones, with, most of the Eebel
forces in the western part of old Vir-
ginia, including McCausland's, hav-
ing been hurried forward to confront
the new danger. The two armies
met* at PiBDM<»rr, near Staunton —
Hunter's being somewhat more nu-
merous* — and a spirited and weUr
fought action resulted in the defeat
of Jones, who was diot through the
head, and fell dead on the fidd.
Among the fruits <^ this victory
were 1,600 prisoners, 8 guns, and
8,000 small arms. It was, in fact, a
rout ; leaving the Eebel army inca-
pable of further resistance.

Hunter advanced to Staunton,
where Crook and Averill — no con-
siderable force having been left by
Jones to <^pose them—joined" him;

'June 6.

• CoL 0. a Halpine, chief of Btaif to Hunter,
•ays of this conflict:

*'The forces actually engaged were about
•qual: Gen. Hunter having some 9,000 men ac-
tually in action, while the enemy had about ttie
same— strongly posted, howeyer, on a range of
hiHs, horse-shoe fdiaped and heavily timbered,
and Airther protected by rifle-pits and raU-fence
barricades, hastUy thrown up the night before.
The Rebel morning report of the day previous,
^mmd on the dead body of Qea. Jones that aftei^
noon, showed that he had then under him 6,800
regular Confederate soldiers; while we knew l^t
he was joined on the morning of the epgegement
by Vaughan'a brigade from East Tennessee, and
also by about 1,600 miHtia-— old men and youn^
boys, not worth the powder required to Idfi
them — hurried forward from ^tauntoa and
Lyndiburg on news of our advance.

"The flght, though not large in numbers, was
emgularly obstinate and fluctuating; the enemy

beating back repeated charges pf our infantry and
cavalry, under Qena. Sullivan and Stahl — for
neither the divisions of Crook nor Averill had
then joined us ; and it was quite late in the af-
ternoon, aAar a long and sweltering day of bat*
tie, when the movement of the gallant Col Tba-
bume's division across the aarrow valley, and
its charge up hill upon the enemy's right flank,
decided the contest in our &vor. G^n. Wm. £.
Jones, their conunander, was killed, as also four
Cdonels; and we had about 1,800 prisonen^
including the worthless reserve militia, seventy
regular officers, and 2,800 stand of arms, as the
spoils attesting our success. But for the com-
ing on of night, and the broken, heavily-tim-
bered nature of the country, the famous feat of
' bagging* that army — so popular with Coogrea*
sional orators and enthusiafltlc ^tors — mi|^
have been easily accomplished; for a woraa
wbii^>ed or mose utterly demormlized crowd d
beaten men never fled firom any field."

"June 8.

Digitized by




and moyed thence directly to Lex-
ington; disappointing Grant, wlio
had expected him at Gordonsville,
and had sent his cavahy under Sheri-
dan to meet him there. His fiulnre
to do so subjected Sheridan to like
&ilure in his approach to Gordons-
Tille, as we have seen.

Hunter's force was now increased
to about 20,000 men ; and he hast-
ened, via Lexington, to Lynchburg
— ^the chief city of western (old) Vir-
ginia — intuit on its speedy reduc-
tion. But Lyndiburg, the focus of a
rich, populous region, and of exten-
sive manufactures, lies on the James
river and canal, in unbroken railroad
communication with Richmond and
Petersburg on the one side, and with
the farther south on the other. Lee —
who might as well have lost Eich-
mond — dispatched a very considera-
ble force to its relief; part of which
arrived the day before Hunter at-
tacked " the ci^ from the «outh, and
still more during the following night,
wherein several trains arrived from
the east filled with men.

Hunter found his ammuniti<m run-
ning low, a strong dty before him,
and the whole Confederacy virtually
rallying to overwhelm him. He had
no choi^ but to retreat, sharply pur-
sued; following the railroad west-
ward to Salem^ — ^where the pursuit
ended — and th^Qce striking, via New-
castle," for Meadow bluff," in West
Virginia; his provisi<His long since
exhausted, and very little to be
gleaned in midsummer from that
poor, thinly-peopled, war-exhausted
region. No rations were obtained till
the 27th ; and the sufferings of men
and loss of hoites w^:« deplorable.

The direction <rf his retreat may

have been misjudged; but Hunter,
lacking many things, never lacked
courage ; and he believed that an at-
tempt to regain the Shenandoah di-
rectly from Lynchburg would have
seriously imperiled his army. But
his withdrawal into "West Virginia
rendered him no longer formidable
to the enemy, and involved a circuit-
ous, harasffing movement by the Ka-.
nawha, the Ohio, Parkersburg, and
Grafton, before he could again be of
any service.

The Sebels, aware of this, promptly
resolved to make the most of their
opportunity. Early, who had headed
the corps sent from Kichmond to the
relief of Lynchburg, collecting all the
fcHTces he could muster, moved rap-
idly northward, and very soon ap^
peared" on the Potomac: Sigel, com-
manding at Martinsburg, retreating
precipitately by Harper's Ferry, with
a heavy loss of stores, and taking post
on Maryland Heights, where the ene-
my did not see fit to assail him, but
once more destroyed the Baltimore
and Ohio railroad for a considera-
ble distance, levied a contribution
of $20,000 on Hagerstown, burned
some buildings at Williamq)ort, and,
raiding up into the border of Penn-
sylvania, scoured the country far and
wide for horses, cattle, provisions, and
money. The movement was so well
masked by cavalry that the strength
of the invading force — ^probably never
so much as 20^000 — ^was enormously
exaggerated, spreading general panic,
and causing the Government to call
urgently on Pennsylvania, New York,
and Massachusetts, for militia to meet
the emergency.

Geo. Oouch was commanding in
Pennsylvania; Gen. Lew. WaUace


"June 22.



Digitized by




in Maryland: the demonstrations
against the former were only intend-
ed to distract attention from a blow
aimed at the latter. Wallace, soon
satisfied of this, drew ont his scanty
forces — for the East had, ere this, been
swept nearly bare of troops to fill the
chasms made by constant fighting in
the armies operating against Bich-
mond — and resolved to confront the
invaders on the Monocacy, which af-
forded a tolerable defensive position.
Tet, when his forces were concen-
trated at Frederick," they numbered
barely 3,000; and these mainly
Home Guards and 100-day volun-
teers, who had never been in action.

Col. Clendenin, with his cavalry —
some 400 in all — ^was sent out to
Middletown to find the enemy ; but
was soon driven back'* by Gen.
Bradley T. Johnson, with 1,000 Eebel
horsemen. Clendenin retreated on
Frederick, and was there supported
by Lt.-Col. Griffin's infantry, raising
his force to 1,000 ; and a brief artil-
lery duel ensued, which resulted in
Johnson's falling back.

Wallace now reached Frederick —
his forces having hitherto been im-
mediately directed by Gen. Tyler —
but could gain no reliable account
of the enemy's strength or purposes
— the wildest and most conflicting
reports being in circulation. He
soon learned by telegram from Sigel,
on Maryland Heights, that the ene-
my lately beleaguering him had lefk,
marching northward, as if making
for Pennsylvania ; while he had as-
surances from Washington that a
corps of veterans were hurrying to his
assistance. General Eicketts, with a
brigade of good soldiers, belonging
to tiie 19th corps, actually came up.

Finding the enemy in his front rapidly
growing formidable, and threatening
to turn his left, Wallace now with-
drew by night " from Frederick across
the Monocacy, and took up the posi-
tion on its left bank, already held
by Gen. Eicketts, which he resolved
to hold so long as he could — since, if
the Eebels were in strong force, and
intent on a dash at Washington, it
was important at least to check them,
by compelling them to concentrate
and fight ; thus gaining time for the
arrival of help from Grant.

Early in the morning," Wallace's
dispositions for battle were completed.
His right, under Gen. Tyler, cover-
ed the Baltimore pike ; his left, un-
der Gen. Eicketts, held the high
road to Washington. Each had three
guns. The bridges were held ; Bki^
mishers being thrown out beyond
them. Col. Clendenin's cavahy
watched the lower fords. Only part
of Eicketts's division was on hand;
but the residue was expected by rail-
road at 1 p. M. At 8 A. ic, the enemy
advanced in force from Frederick,
throwing out skirmishers and plant-
ing behind them his guns, which soon
opened the battle. Having not less
than 16 Kapoleons to our 6 smaUer
pieces, the superiority of his fire was
very decided. The skirmishing grew
gradually warmer and more general,
and soon there was serious fighting
at the stone bridge on the Baltimore
pike. A considerable body of Eebd
infantry, moving by their right just
out of range of our guns, flanked oar
left, forcing a passage of the Monoc-
acy at a ford nearly two miles below
the wooden bridge on the Washing-
ton road. And now, at 10^ am.,
the enemy advanced in battle array


•July .7.



Digitized by




upon Bickettfl, who had changed
firont to the left, to meet their ad-
yance on hk flank, his right resting
on the river ; and, though he had
been obliged to form in a single line
without reserves, so great was the
disparity of numbers that his front
was considerably overlapped by theirs.
Wallace, perceiving the inequality,
sent two of TyWs guns to Bicketts ;
and soon — burning the wooden bridge
and the block-house across it, so as to
preclude an easy advance of the ene-
my thereby — sent to Kicketts every
man who could be spared.

The enemy's first line charged, and
was quickly repelled ; his second line
next advanced, and was likewise re-
pulsed; but after a fiercer, more pro-
tracted struggle. And now Wallace
might have retreated with honor,
having achieved the main purpose of
his stand ; but 1 o'clock was at hand,
when Bicketts's three absent r^-
ments of veterans were promised; and,
with their help, he felt able to hold
his ground against the enemy's far
superior numbers. But 1 p. ic. ar-
rived and no regiments; nor could
anything be heard of them — ^both
telegrapher and railroad agent hav-
ing decamped. He waited an hour
longer ; but there were no reenforce-
ments ; while the enemy, in two strong
lines, again issued from the woods on
our left and advanced deliberately to
the charge; and he reluctantly or-
dered Bicketts to prepare for a
retreat by the Baltimore pike, which
commenced at 4 p. m.

The stone bridge on that road was
held by Col. Brown ; and it was of
vital importance that it should still
be held firmly. Qen^ Tyler had al-
ready sent his reserve to Brown; he
now galloped thither Mmsel^ and

took command; Wallace soon ar-
riving to reiterate the order that it
must be held at whatever cost until
Bicketts should have crossed to the
Baltimore pike and commenced his
retreat thereon. Tyler held on, fight-
ing, till 5 p. M. ; by which time his
remaining force was nearly enveloped
by the overwhelming numbers of the
enemy ; so that he, with his stafi^^ was
compelled to dash into the woods on
the right, and thus barely escaped
capture. Brown had just retreated
down the pike ; losing some of his
men, but holding the most of them
steadily in their ranks. The enemy
made no efiective pursuit; Bradley
T. Johnson's cavalry being absent,
marching on Baltimore by the Liber-
ty road. Bicketts's three missing
r^^ents had been halted at Monro-
via, 8 miles distant ; whence they had
ample time to reach the field in time
to save the day. They joined Wallace
at Newmarket, and thence covered
the retreat : which terminated twelve
miles fix>m the Monocacy.

Our loss in this action was 98
killed, 679 woimded, 1,283 inissing :
total, 1,959. Many of the missing
probably only straggled in the re-
treat, as the enemy took but 700
prisoners. They admitted only a
total loss of 600 ; but 400 of their se-
verely wounded were found in hospi-
tal at Frederick, when we reoccupied
that city two or three days i^r-

Johnson's cavalry next day ap-
proached Baltimore, when that city
was filled with reports that Wallace's
little army had been annihilated at
the Monocacy. The Baltimore Seces-
sionists, less numerous than in April
or July, 1861, were no whit less bit-
ter; and they reasonably hoped, for

Digitized by





1. Fort BninnM*.












De Rnaaf .





Banker HUL



U PortLlDcolii.

81. FortO'Roaike.

4a FtortCraUt

17. *» Mahan.

81 •*


47. •


la «* GhapUn.

sa "

4a ••


19. •* Melgi.

WL ••


4a •


9a ** Dnp;>iit

8a -

ca "


9t - DaTlt.

8a ••


Ct "


99. •" Baker.

87. •*


ea ••


9i. » EicCttk

8a •


ea *


80. •


51 •

9& •* Btsnton.

4a "


ea ••


9a •* Bnjder.

41. »


M. •


97. « Carroll.
2a ** Grebltt.

41 •

4a •*



90. - Foote.

44. •»


eo. «•


80. *• WilUrd.

4a •


oa ••


Digitized by




gome hours, to welcome a ^ liberating'
armj; Bnt Early, after a brief halt
on the battle-field, was now march-
ing on Washington ; and Baltimore,
though weakly held, was not to be
taken on a gallop. Brig.-Gens. Lock-
wood and Morrig were there; and
they soon rallied thonsands of loyal
citizens, by whom every approach
was guarded, and earthworks thrown
np in the suburbs which could not be
carried without difficulty and delay.
Johnson declined the attempt ; but a
detachment of his horsemen, under
Harry Gilmor, made a dash at the
Philadelphia railroad near Magnolia
station, next morning ; burning the
long trestle over the inlet ^own as
Gunpowder, stopping there the morn-
ing train northward, and robbing pas-
sengers and mails.

Early's cavalry advance reached
Bockville on the evening of the 10th ;
his infantry was next day within 6
or 7 miles of Washington; which
they actually menaced on the 12th.
Gen. Augur, commanding the de-
fenses, pushed out, toward evening,
a strong reconnoissance to develop
their strength ; and a smart skirmish
ensued, wherein we had 380 killed
and wounded, and the enemy at least
as many. If Early had rushed upon
Washington by forced marches from
the Monocacy, and at once assaulted
with desperate energy, he might have
taken the city, and might have lost
half his army : he must have lost all
his army if he had carried the city
and attempted to hold it

Whatev^ his purpose, it was now
too late to do any thing but what
he did — retreat across the Poto-
mac, with his cavalry, batteries and
trains freshly horsed, 2,500 spare

horses, and 5,000 catde. For the
19th corps (Emory's), ordered from
New Orleans by sea, had reached
Fortress Monroe a few days previous,
and had been sent by Grant to Wash-
ington; as had the 6th (Wright's)
from before Petersburg, with direc-
tions that G^n. Wright should aSi-
sume command. Had Early waited,
his force, now reduced to 15,000,
would have been confronted and
crushed by one of at least 40,000.

Wright's pursuit was not made in
such force as he should have had, and
was timid and feeble. Crossing the
Potomac at Edwards's f«rry , he moved
through Leesburg and Snicker's gap
to the Shenandoah ; which he had
partially crossed when Early turned **
upon him sudd^y and fiercely, driv-
ing back his advance with a loss of
ftdly 500. Wright recrossed after the
enemy had moved ofi*, but soon re*
turned to Leesburg, and, turning over
the command to Crook, repaired to

Averill, moving from Martinsburg
on Winchester, was fought** near
that city, f<^ three hours, by a Bebel
force, which he finally worsted; tak*
ing 200 prisoners and 4 guns; with
a loss of 150 or 200 killed and wound-
ed on either side. The approach of
Early fix>m Snicker's gap now com-
pelled him to draw o£

Grant, deceived by advices that
Early was returning to Lynchburg
Mid Eichmond, ordered the 6th and
19th corps by water to Petersburg,
intending to strike a blow with his
thus augmented forces before Earlj
could arrive. Hunter was still on
his weary way from his miscarriage
at Lyncliburg — dry rivers, broken
railroads, &c., impeding his progress.



Digitized by

y Google



Crook, left in command of the deple-
ted force on the Potomac, now moved
np to Harper's Ferry, and thence
poshed out once more to Winchester,
supposing that there was nothing
there that could stop his progress.

He was grievously mistaken. Early
had not gone south, but was close at
hand ; aud soon our advance was an-
noyed" by smart skirmishing, which
pushed back our cavahy on our in-
fantry, and next day routed them,
driving Crook's entire command
pell-mell to Martinsburg with a loss
of 1,200, including Gren. Mulligan"
killed. Early's loss was trifling.
There was an artillery duel next
day at Martinsburg ; but Crook, hav-
ing gained time to save his trains,
crossed over into Maryland, leaving
Early undisturbed master of the south
side of the Potomac from Shepherds-
town to Williamsport.

He made an unwise use of his
advantage. Maryland and southern
Pennsylvania being in utter panic —
many running off their stock to places
of safety, while thousands openly ex-
ulted at the brightened prospects of
the Eebellion — ^he sent B. T. John-
son, McCausland, and others, with
perhaps 3,000 cavalry, on a sweep-
ing raid northward. McCausland
took a considerable circuit, threaten-
ing some points in order to distract
attention from others; dispersing a
small body of recruits at Carlisle
barracks, and finally striking Cham-
bersburg," then totally defenseless and
in good part deserted, and demand-
ing $100,000 in gold or $600,000 m
currency, under penalty of conflagra-
tion. The money not being instantly
produced, the place was fired, and
about two-thirds of it destroyed.

The excuse alleged for this act
of Vandalism was the burning of ex-
Gov. Letcher's house at Lexington
by Hunter, six weeks before. That
was held to be justified — and, at all
events, was solely incited — ^by find-
ing in a Lexington printing-oflioe
the type and proof of a handbill is-
sued and signed by Letcher, calling
on the people of that region to ^ bush-
whack' Hunter's men — ^that is, fire
at them from every covOTt, while not
embodied as a military force and
seeming to be peacefril farmers or
artisans. If this burning violated
the laws of war, it had already been
twice avenged by burning Gov. Brad-
ford's country residence near Balti-
more, and ex-P. M. General Blair's,
near Washington. It was not in ac-
cordance with Lee's orders nor his
practice in either of his invasions ;
for, though he burned Thaddens Ste-
vens's iron-works near Gettysburg (as
toe burned manufactories of warlike
material, clothing, <&c., throughout
the South), he sternly forbad wanton
devastation ; and he was obeyed*

Averill, with 2,600 cavalry, per-
plexed by the enemy's bewildering
demonstrations, had fallen back from
Hagerstown to Greencastle, and was
but 9 miles from Chambersburg while
Johnson and McCausland, with but
part of the Bebel cavalry north of
the Potomac, sacked and burned that
town. He arrived that day, but they
had left; moving westward to Mc-
Connellstown, wlither he followed ;
arriving in time to save it fi*om a
similar fate. He promptly charged ;
but there was not much of a fight ;
the enemy hurrying southward to
Hancock, and thence across the Po-

• July 23.

* The CoL Mulligan who defended Lexhigton, Ha, in 1861.

* Jul/ 30.

Digitized by




The panic throngbout Bontbem
Pennsjlvania had ere this become
intensified. Gen. Couch, command-
ing there, was assured that a great
Bebel army of invasion was march-
ing on Pittsburg ; and that city re-
newed the defensive efforts of the
year before. The guerrilla John S.
Moseby, with 50 men, dashed across
the Potomac at Cheat ferry, surpri-
sing and capturing at Adamstown
nearly his own number of horsemen,
and robbed a few stores ; and, though
he ran back instantly, his trifling raid
was magnified into a vagua and
gloomy significance.

Neither the 6th nor the 19th corps
had proceeded farther than George-
town, D. C, when Crook's defeat and
its consequences impelled them in
quite another direction than that of
Petersburg. Moving** by Eockville
and Frederick, they had reached
Harper's Ferry, and there met Crook,
with part of Hunter's long expected
infantry, on the day Chambersburg
was burned ; and now, with an im-
mense train, the whole force was
started on a wild-goose-chase after
Early, who was supposed to be laying
waste southern Pennsylvania.

Gen. Kelley, commanding at Cumr
berland, had undertaken to stop John-
son's raiders as they passed him on
their retreat, and had a smart skir-
mish with them at Falck's miU, in
which he claimed the advantage; but
Col. Stough, with 500 men, sent to
Oldtown to intercept them, had there
been routed, after a short skirmish;
himself and 90 men being captured.
The enemy retreated up the south

branch of the Potomac, pursued by
Averill, who struck" them near
Moorefield, routing them, with a loss
of but 6,0 on our side ; Averill cap-
turing their gims, wagons, and 500

Gen. Grant had abeady sent**
Sheridan to Washington, with intent
to have him placed in charge of our
distracted operations on the Potomac
and Shenandoah ; and he now came
up" himself, to obtain, if possible, a
better understanding of what was
going on. In his conference with
Hunter, that officer expressed a will-
ingness to be relieved, if that were
deemed desirable ; and Grant at once
telegraphed to Washington to have
Sheridan sent up to Harper's Ferry ;
himself awaiting there that officer's
arrival An order soon appeared"
appointing Maj.-Gen. Philip H. Sher-
idan commander of the new ^ Middle
Department,' composed of the late
Departmentsof West Virginia, Wash-
ington, and Susquehanna ; and two
divisions of cavalry (Torbert's and
Wilson's) were soon sent him by
Grant; raising his force to nearly
30,000 men ; while Early's, confiront-
ing him, can hardly have exceeded

It was no fault of Sheridan's that his
accession to command was not immedi-
ately followed by a vigorous offensive.
Doubtless, his motley forces needed
to be better compacted and fitted to-
gether ; but, under skillful and capa-
ble leadership, they would attain this
most rapidly in the field. Yet there
had been so much failure and disap-
pointment in this quarter, while the

■• July 26. * Aug. 4. " Aug. 2.

"Aug. 4. "Aug. 7.

• There waa, in 1865, a spicy newspaper oon-
troFerey between these Generals touching their
respectiye strength in their Yalley campaign.

Early made his force scarcely half so numerous
as Sheridan's. Sheridan rejoined that the priaanf^
en taken by him from Early exceeded the num-
ber to which that General limited his entire

Digitized b^




OonsequenoeB of a defeat^ opezung the
Korth to a firesh invaaion, and perhaps
compelling — ^what Lee moet desired

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 86 of 113)