L. E. (Lucius Eugene) Chittenden.

Recollections of President Lincoln and his administration online

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hands. But "Wallace left fully one third of his entire
force on the field, and the thirty-three hundred and fifty
veterans lost sixteen hundred of their number. Early
reported a Confederate loss of only six or seven hundred.
But there is strong circumstantial evidence that it was
much heavier. In all the fighting the Union veterans
were protected by natural defences, while the attacking
Confederates had to advance for seven hundred yards
over the open field. More than four hundred, so se-
verely wounded that Early could not move, but left


them behind in Frederick, indicate a greater loss ; and
a Virginian, with whom Early made his headquarters
at Leesburgh, declared that the Confederate general told
him that his loss exceeded three thousand.

Perhaps no Southern leader could better judge of the
severity of a battle from personal experience than Gen-
eral Gordon. In his report, made within two weeks after
the battle, he said : " I desire to state a fact of which I
was an eye-witness, and which, for its rare occurrence
and the evidence it affords of the sanguinary character
of this struggle, I consider worthy of official mention.
One portion of the enemy's second (?) line extended along
a branch, from which he was driven, leaving many dead
and wounded in the water and upon the banks. This
position was in turn occupied by a portion of Evans's
brigade in the attack upon the enemy's third (?) line. So
profuse was the flow of blood from the killed and wound-
ed of both these forces that it reddened the stream for
more than one hundred yards below"

Although General Early had a heavy force of cavalry,
he made no attempt to pursue the retreating army of
General Wallace. His objective point was Washington.
The fighting had occupied the day. In his report from
Leesburgh, he wrote that he was " compelled to leave
about four hundred wounded men in Frederick because
they could not be transported." He had no lack of trans-
portation at this time, for he had captured horses and
wagons enough to supply his army. He left these four
hundred because they were too severely wounded to en-
dure transportation, and took with him such as could
bear the journey. There was no force now to obstruct
his march. The Washington Pike was open a good
road through a country teeming with abundance. He
compelled the small city of Frederick, under threat of


the torch, to pay him two hundred thousand dollars in
good " Northern Federal money," and " brought off over
one thousand horses." " On the morning of the 10th
[we use General Early's words], I moved towards Wash-
ington, taking the route by Rockville, and then turning
to the left, to get on the Seventh Street Pike. The day
was very hot, and the roads exceedingly dusty, but we
marched thirty miles," which must have brought him,
on the night of Sunday, the 10th of July, within sight
of the defences of the capital. " On the morning of the
llth we continued the march, but the day was so exces-
sively hot, even at a very early hour in the morning, and
the dust so dense, that many of the men fell by the way,
and it became necessary to slacken our pace ; neverthe-
less, when we reached the right of the enemy's fortifica-
tions, the men were almost completely exhausted, and
not in condition to make the attack. Skirmishers were
thrown out, and moved up to the vicinity of the fortifi-
cations." Here we leave him saying, " I determined at
first to make an assault" to observe that there were
good grounds for the general conclusion from his forced
marches, hot haste, and other indications, that General
Early was not engaged in a mere theatrical display, but
that he did seriously intend to attack Washington, and
that the men who barred his advance for forty -eight
hours performed a signal service, and earned the en-
during gratitude of their countrymen, although they
fought a losing battle on the Monocacy.



DURING Saturday and Sunday, July 9th and 10th, the
Confederate sympathizers in Washington were anxiously
listening for the sound of Early's guns. They knew his
purpose, his strength, and the weakness of the city, of
which he was expected to take possession without much
resistance. The War Office certainly had all the infor-
mation that Wallace could give them. It was a part of
that information that about 25,000 veteran Confederate
soldiers had passed the Monocacy on the pike leading
to Washington, that they were marching rapidly in the
direction of, and on Saturday evening were within thirty-
five miles of, the capital. Of all this the loyal citizens
knew nothing. The week closed on Saturday without
their imagining that the city was in any danger, or that
any thought for their personal safety was necessary.
The story of Early's further movements will be given as
its Washington aspect was presented.

It is true that for some days the summer atmosphere
had been full of rumors of Confederate invasion. Every
few hours a newspaper " extra " was announced. One
had certain information that the Confederates had en-
tered Maryland in force that Washington and Balti-
more were to be cut off from the North and captured
that the capital would be attacked within twelve hours.
The next issue declared the rumor to be an idle scare,
and that the only Confederates north of the Potomac


were a few cavalrymen on a raid. It was the general
opinion that the authorities would not expose the city
to any danger, and that any considerable portion of the
army of Northern Virginia would not be detached and
sent on an expedition northward without the knowledge
of General Grant. If he knew that such an expedition
had been undertaken, he could certainly have sent a force
to protect the capital against it. It was the third year of
the war. In 1861 such reports w T ould have disturbed us.
Now, citizens had become in a measure rumor-proof,
and went about their business as coolly as if there had
not been a Confederate within a week's march of the

I had closed my house, and my family were living with
me at Willard's for a few days before sending them to
New England to pass the season of oppressive heat.
On the morning of Monday, the llth of July, we were
taking a late breakfast. The morning papers had ac-
counts of a skirmish, two days before, on the Monocacy,
above Baltimore. They all agreed that it was only a
skirmish, with no very important consequences. But
the details appeared to indicate that several thousand
men had been engaged, and that General Wallace had
been severely handled.

Three army officers breakfasted with us ; two of them
were on their way to the front. They ridiculed the sug-
gestion that any considerable force had been detached
from Lee's army and sent northward without the knowl-
edge of General Grant. If he knew it, he had acted ac-
cordingly. The rebels had quite enough to do in the
vicinity of Richmond. Washington, they said, was in
no more danger than Boston. I was inclined to the
same opinion. So much had been said about the im-
portance of protecting Washington, so many veteran


regiments had been detained there when they were
needed in the field, that it seemed impossible that the
city should now be exposed to danger.

The third officer was the brigadier in command of the
Invalid Corps, who had taken but little part in the con-
versation, and expressed no opinion. As we were about
to separate, he observed to me that he was going to visit
the outposts, that the morning was pleasant, and if I had
nothing better to do, perhaps I would like to join his
party. If so, he would have a horse ready for me at his
quarters on Fifteenth Street opposite the Treasury at
ten o'clock, at which hour he intended to start. I cor-
dially accepted his invitation, and reported at his quar-
ters at the appointed time.

The first part of this excursion was delightful.
Mounted on spirited animals, preceded by a small es-
cort of cavalry, we took the road towards Georgetown.
The air was fresh and cool, the roses and flowering
plants loaded the reviving breeze with their perfume,
and the birds were singing in the trees which shaded
the broad avenue, which was as quiet as I had ever seen
it on the Sabbath. Bright-eyed children at play, ladies
taking their morning walk, and all the other indications
of summer life in the city, suggested thoughts of rest-
ful peace, which for the moment divested the mind of
all remembrance of the miseries and anxieties of war.

We rode over the venerable pavements of George-
town to its outskirts, now ascending a slight hill, now
going down into a wooded valley, bathing our horses
feet in the clear brooks which we forded. We passed
through Tenallytown and out a short distance on the
road beyond. On the summit of the highest ridge there-
abouts we were halted by a picket-guard of a dozen
men. The necessary words and salutes passed, the offi-


cer in command appeared and entered into conversation
with our brigadier. To the latter's question whether
this was the last picket, the officer gave an affirmative

Sweeping the northern horizon, my eyes rested on the
broad cleared hillside across the valley. It appeared to
be the camp of an army. There were army- wagons,
pieces of artillery, caissons, unharnessed horses, tethered
near by, a few shelter tents, and all the paraphernalia
of a camp in which the men were at rest. I could not
clearly make out any of the flags. Very little calcula-
tion was necessary to show that the men numbered some

" Whose corps is that, general ?" I asked, pointing in
the direction of the camp.

" "We think it is Early's, but do not certainly know.
It may be Breckinridge's," he answered.

"Great heavens!" I exclaimed. "Do you mean to
say that those are Confederates !"

" There is no possible doubt of that," he replied. " If
you doubt it, you can satisfy yourself by riding down to
their picket at the bottom of the valley. I am not sure
that you will be permitted to return. I am going to
show you another and a larger camp, if we can get with-
in sight of the Blair mansion at Silver Springs."

" Thanks," I said, " I am not at all curious. General,
I must ask you to excuse me for leaving you so uncere-
moniously. It has just occurred to me that I have a
most important engagement at Willard's at this hour.
I must keep it. I do not care to take a look at Silver
Springs. Yonder view satisfies me, fully."

" I thought it would," he observed. " I saw that you
did not comprehend the situation, and therefore invited
you to ride out here and judge for yourself. I would


like to have you make the circuit on the north side of
the city. But that will take time, and I shall very prob-
ably find some of the roads obstructed. I can guess
your appointment at Willard's. This may yet be a good
day to send your family north if they can get there ?
Yesterday would have been better."

" They would have gone three days ago if I had had
any suspicion of that," I said, indicating the Confederate
camp. " But tell me, what is your estimate of the Con-
federate force now before the city ?"

" For some reason the War Office does not care to
have that subject discussed. At daylight this morning
I had reports from three independent sources. They
agree substantially that Early has Ewell's old corps
entire, and a part of another, numbering over 20,000
infantry, and forty guns, with about 6000 cavalry.
The infantry and guns were counted by a scout before
they left Maryland Heights. "Wallace developed their
force at Monocacy. He estimated it at over 20,000, be-
sides the cavalry. One squadron under Bradley T. John-
son has gone around Baltimore to strike the railroads
on the north. McCausland's and Rosser's cavalry are
roaming over the country between this city and Baltimore.
They can take the railroad any time they choose."

" Then the city is in great danger!" I said. "What
good can come of concealing it ?"

" There is but one way that it can be saved," he re-
sponded. " Grant must have sent men by steamer. The
only question is whether they will arrive in time. I
supposed Early would have attacked this morning. He
is at Silver Springs now. We think he must have had
a hard battle with Wallace day before yesterday, and is
giving his men a rest. He will certainly attack to-night
or to-morrow morning."


It was time for me to leave ; I stood not on the order
of my going. I did not draw rein until I reached the
Treasury, whence I returned the tired horse to its quar-
ters by a messenger.

The report at the close of business on Saturday lay on
my office table. A glance at it showed me that every
note and bond in the office had been sent to its destina-
tion by the mail of Saturday evening. I closed the door
of my room again and started to leave the building. On
my way out I called at the treasurer's office, which a
man was just entering with a package of empty canvas
mail-sacks. I found General Spinner, the treasurer, Mr.
Tuttle, his cashier, and three or four of his principal
clerks, engaged in filling mail sacks with Treasury notes
and other securities. All were working with great ear-
nestness and expedition.

"You are busy, general!" I observed. "I have just
seen what convinces me that you are not wasting your
time, that you are engaged in a work of necessity."

" I have not time to be angry !" he exclaimed. " Did
the authorities give you any notice of our danger?"

"None whatever," I answered. "I have only this
moment discovered it for myself."

" Nor did they to me. I have a small steamboat no
matter where. I can take any bonds or money you may
have. I think it better to move in light-marching or-
der, and to carry nothing but money or securities if
we decide to move !"

" Thank you, I have nothing of that description. I
shall try and move my household by rail. I shall stay
myself, and take whatever comes."

At the hotel our effects were literally dumped into our
trunks by my direction, and my family prepared for in-
stant movement. At the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad


station, I learned that a train, just arrived, reported the
road uninterrupted. Another train would leave for
Philadelphia within an hour. "Within less than two
hours from my first view of the Confederate force we
were all, together with two friends to whom I oifered
the opportunity, speeding northward at the rate of forty
miles an hour. At Baltimore I left the rest of the party,
having first written a despatch in cipher, which they
were to send me if they reached Philadelphia. In due
time I received it at the Fountain Hotel and knew they
were out of harm's way.

This was the last train that passed over the railroad
northward until the burned bridges were rebuilt after
Early's retreat. The next train that left Washington
was looted by Harry Gilmor's detachment of Johnson's
cavalry. He had been a conductor on the railroad, and
knew where to strike it. Upon this train were General
Franklin, General D. W. C. Clarke, Executive Secretary
of the Senate, with his family, and other prominent per-
sons. Their trunks were rifled, and everything of value
taken or destroyed. General Franklin adroitly escaped
from the Confederates the same day of his capture.

During that evening I learned more about the fight
on the Monocacy. There were wounded men at the
station, and among them I found some Vermonters.
They said that their regiment (the Tenth Vermont) had
had some heavy fighting had been compelled to re-
treat by sheer force of numbers, and was then at the
Relay House, on the road to "Washington. They could
form no idea of the enemy's force except that it was
very large, and as they were not pursued and the princi-
pal fight was in defence of the pike to Washington, they
inferred that the Confederates were on the road to that


I called upon some acquaintances and spent the even-
ing in walking about the city. I saw no evidences of
" dismay or consternation." No one was fleeing north-
ward. The train on which my family went received no
rush of passengers, as would have been quite natural.
But I did see many evidences of preparation and stern
determination to fight and defend the city. The street
windows of stores and dwellings were barred and being
made secure. It was reported that General "Wallace had
returned to the city, that he was organizing and arm-
ing the volunteers for its defence, Who were presenting
themselves in great numbers.

Towards midnight I went to the Fountain Hotel, but
not to sleep. The danger to the capital of the nation
was too imminent ; and at dawn I arose, went to the
crowded station, and took the first train for "Washing-
ton. I was the only passenger. At the way stations
and road crossings the mounted Confederates were
numerous, but as we were running into the city, which
they regarded as already virtually in their hands, we
were not molested.

At the depot in "Washington a surprise awaited me.
From the direction of the intersection of Pennsylvania
Avenue and Seventh Street came the sound of enthu-
siastic cheering. I should not have been more surprised
by an outburst of cheers from a funeral procession.

"What does this cheering mean?" I asked of the first
colored cab driver I encountered.

" I reckon it's Gen'l Sedgwick's ole army, massa !" he
replied. " Dey'se goin' out to hab a little talk with
Gen'l Early dis mo'nin'. I reckon Gen'l Early can't
wait for 'em. He's done gone souf, I reckon."

I made my way to Seventh Street and partially
through the crowd. There was no mistake. Those


sturdy veterans were marching with furled banners, to
the beat of a single drum at the head of each regiment.
Standing on the top of my carriage, I not only recog-
nized the cross of the Sixth Corps, but also the faces of
a lot of Vermonters. It was gratifying to see the citi-
zens rushing into the ranks, as they rested on their arms,
with baskets of eatables, buckets of water, and a hearty
welcome to their deliverers. A Yermonter assured me
that a large portion of the Sixth Corps was already at the
front, and a part of the Nineteenth Corps, just returned
from New Orleans, was to follow them. They marched
with swinging stride out on Seventh Street, and with a
lighter heart I made my way to the Treasury.

The arrival of the Sixth Corps removed our anxiety
for the safety of the capital. Even the Confederates
regarded these redoubtable veterans as invincible. Still,
I hoped that Early would not retire without a battle,
which, if possible, I intended to see. Directing the clerks
in my office to make everything snug, I gave them the
rest of the day for a vacation, and ordered my horses
and light wagon to be at the Treasury promptly at one
o'clock. I sent to Secretary Stanton for a pass to the
front, which he accorded me, with, however, an earnest
warning not to use it, as a heavy battle now seemed
imminent on the north side of the city.

As I hope to give not only the first, but an accurate
account of the battle of Fort Stevens, a sketch of the
topography of the locality seems necessary. The ex-
tensions of Seventh Street and Fourteenth Street united
in a single highway about three miles north of the city
limits, which, after crossing two ranges of hills, extended
still northward, passing the residence of the elder Blair
at Silver Springs. On the crest of the first of these
ranges, about one hundred yards west of the road, was


Fort Stevens, with Fort Reno about the same distance
east of the highway. There were other forts in close
proximity. Beyond these forts the road descended into
a valley, where, about a third of a mile from the forts,
were farm-houses with their outbuildings, around which
the land was under cultivation. Passing these, the road
ascended the opposite slope for a half-mile or more, and
then crossed the second range of hills. This slope for
about a mile on either side of the highway had been
cleared, but was now covered with a thick growth of
bushes. Farther on the right and left of the road the
hillside and valley were broken by wooded ravines. The
two forts had just been connected by a trench, the earth
from which had been thrown up on the outside into a
breastwork, which crossed and effectually obstructed the

I invited Edward Jordan, Solicitor of the Treasury,
and H. C. Fahnestock, of the banking-house of Jay Cooke
& Co., to drive out to the front with me. The road
was crowded with soldiers. They had passed scores
of rum-shops, but not a man was intoxicated, and they
made way for us to pass, with some good-natured badi-
nage about " home-guards," and going into battle with
a " pair of horses and a Concord wagon." On the last
rise to the forts, the road was unobstructed, and the
horses carried our light wagon up to the trench at a
lively pace. The trench was well filled with men of the
Sixth Corps, most of them lying down and taking mat-
ters very coolly. A tall, angular captain came out as
we approached, slowly walked around and surveyed
my team, then placing one foot on the hub of the
fore wheel of the wagon, in the broadest Yankee dialect

" Got a good pair of hosses there, judge. Them's


Morgan bosses. You don't often see 'era gray. They
are most always bay."

" I do think they are a pretty good team," I said,
pleased with his commendation.

" Naow, I wouldn't wonder if them hosses might be
wuth a couple of hundred apiece that is, if they was
sound and kind, and hadn't no tricks about 'em."

" They cost more than that I consider them worth
three or four times the sum you name," I said.

" No ? Yew don't say so !" he exclaimed. " "Wall ! I
don't know but they be. Hosses that is, good hosses
well-matched and good steppers, is hard to git." He
seemed to be pondering the subject, again walked around
them, looked them over, and continued with the same
deliberation :

"Judge, if I owned a good pair of gray Morgan
hosses, sound and kind and good steppers, wuth, say,
twelve or fifteen hundred dollars, I wouldn't let 'em
stand right there, not very long ! Because a hoss was
shot plumb dead right there not a half-hour ago."

To turn the team around and move from that exposed
elevation was the work of a moment. I had not the
slightest idea that we were under fire. The captain
had been so entertaining that I had not looked over the
earthwork. Now, looking down into the valley, though
not a rebel was visible, I saw from the bushes and behind
the logs frequent little jets of white smoke spurt out in
a vicious manner ; and in spite of the opposing wind I
could now hear the crack of rifles, and the buzzing
sound over our heads, dying away in the distance, I
knew was the ping of minie bullets. The captain fol-
lowed us. He called a colored man out of the ditch,
told him to take my team to a place he indicated, and
look after them until I returned, and he, possibly, might


earn a quarter. Upon my expressing some surprise, he

" Oh, I know them hosses, judge. You bought 'em
of William Drew, at the Burlington Fair ! And I know
you too, judge. I've heerd you in the old Court House
in Middlebury, lots of times. Don't you remember the
* Cornwall Finish ' Merino Case ? I was on that jury.
I am - , of Starksboro'. That darkey is all right.
He has froze to me. He'll take good care of the team."

" But you may be called into action !" I said.

" No such luck as that !" he replied. " Early is pull-
ing foot for Virginia. These fellows are his rear guard.
He didn't count on meeting the Old Sixth. He found
we had come, and soon after he left. I wish Wright
would let us go in. We'd get a sight of his coat-tails,
if we didn't overhaul him."

I recognized the captain as an Addison County farmer.
My friends left me here, and it was hours before I saw
them again. The darkey drove my wagon into a ravine
in the rear of a building used as a hospital, and I re-
turned to the ditch. I was crawling up to look over the
earthwork, when the captain called me down. " That
won't do !" he said. " There's too much lead up there !
You'd better watch the boys, and do as they do."

He took me to a place where a large stick of square

Online LibraryL. E. (Lucius Eugene) ChittendenRecollections of President Lincoln and his administration → online text (page 29 of 35)