Robert Underwood Johnson.

Battles and leaders of the Civil War : being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate officers : based upon The Century War series online

. (page 122 of 145)
Online LibraryRobert Underwood JohnsonBattles and leaders of the Civil War : being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate officers : based upon The Century War series → online text (page 122 of 145)
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First Brigade, Col. Edward F. Wlnslow : 3d Iowa, Col.
John W. Noble; 4th Iowa, Llent-Col. John H. Peters;
10th Mo., Lieut.-Col. Frederick W. Benteon. Second Bri-
gade, Brevet Brlg.-Gen. A. J. Alexander : 5th Iowa, Col.
J. Morris Young; 1st Ohio, Col. Beroth B. Eggleston;
7th Ohio, CoL Israel Garrard. Artillery : I, ist U. S.,
Lieut. George B. Eodney. The effective strength of the
foregoing commands was about 13,000. The loss in
action aggregated 99 killed, 698 wounded, and 28 miss-
ing =725.

partment of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.—
Lieut. -Gen. N. B. Forrest.
CHALMERS'S DIVISION, Brlg.-Gen. James E. Chalmers.

(Composed of the brigades of Brig. -Gens. Frank C.

Armstrong, Wirt Adams, and Peter B. Starke.)
JACKSON'S DIVISION, Brlg.-Gcu. William H. Jackson.

(Composed of the brigades of Brlg.-Gens. Tyree H.

Bell and Alexander W. Campbell.)
RODDEY's BRIGADE, Brlg.-Gen. Philip D. Eoddey.
OEOSSLAND's BRIGADE, Col. Ed. Crosslaud.

There were also some militia and other forces under
Major-Generals Howell Cobb and G. W. Smith, and
Brigadier-Generals Felix H. Robertson, Daniel W.
Adams, and R. 0. Tyler and others.


IN the spring of 1865 the cavalry corps com-
manded "by General James H. Wilson was
encamped at Gravelly Springs and Waterloo, Ala-
bama [see map, p. 414], on the north bank of the
Tennessee, with a base of supplies at Eastport,
Mississippi. The following condensation of Gen-
eral Wilson's report of •June 29th, 1865, sum-
marizes the final operations of his corps :

" On the 23d of February [1865] General Thomas arrived
at Eastport with instructions directing me to fit out an
expedition of five or six thousand cavalry for the pur-
pose of making a demonstration upon Tuscaloosa and
Selma in favor of General Canby's operations against
Mobile and Central Alabama. [See p. 411.] . . . The
Instructions of Lleutenant-General Grant, transmitted
to me by General Thomas, allowed me the amplest dis-
cretion as an Independent commander."

The movement was delayed nearly three weeks
by heavy rains, and on the 18th of March the
command crossed the Tennessee.

"At daylight on the 22d of March . . . the move-
ment began. The entire valley of the Tennessee, having
been devastated by two years of warfare, was quite as
destitute of army supplies as the hUl country south of
it. It was therefore necessary to scatter the troops over
a wide extent of country, and march as rapidly as cir-
cumstances would permit. This was rendered safe by
the fact that Forrest's forces were at that time near
West Point, Mississippi, 150 miles south-west of East-
port, while Roddey's occupied Montevallo, on the Ala-
bama and Tennessee Elver railroad, nearly the same
distance to the south-east. By starting on diverging
roads the enemy was left in doubt as to our real object,
and compelled to watch egually Columbus, Tuscaloosa,
and Selma."

The command moved southward in three col-
umns [see map, p. 414], General Emory Upton's di-
vision by Barton's Station, Rnssellville, and Mount
Hope to Jasper, near the Black Wan-ior River;

and Thorn Hill to the same point ; while General
Edward M. McCook's, following Long's route as
far as Bear Creek, continued southward to El-
dridge, thence moving east to Jasper. Prom Jasper
the whole command moved across the two forks
of the Black Warrior and were directed on Monte-
vallo via Blyton.

" At Elyton, on the evening of the 30th, I directed
General MoCook to detach Croxton's brigade, with
orders to move on Tuscaloosa as rapidly as possible,
burn the public stores, military school, bridges, found-
ries, and factories at that place, return toward the main
column by way of the Centreville road, and rejoin it at
or in the vicinity of Selma. Besides covering our trains
and inflicting a heavy blow upon the enemy, I hoped by
this detachment to develop any movement on his part
Intended to Intercept my main column."

While in the vicinity of Elyton, Upton's division
destroyed the Cahawba Iron Works, including roll-
ing-mills and collieries. After passing Montevallo,
March 31st, Upton met a force under General P. D.
Roddey disputing the road to Randolph. Two en-
gagements ensued, and Roddey was driven back.

" At Randolph General Upton captured a rebel courier
Just from Centreville, and from his person took two dis-
patches, one from Brigadier-General W. H. Jackson,
commanding one of Forrest's divisions, and the other
from Major Anderson, Forrest's chlef-ol-staff. From the
first I learned that Forrest with a part of his command
was in my front (this had also been otitained from pris-
oners) ; that Jackson with his division and all the wagons
and artillery of the rebel cavalry, marchmg from Tus-
caloosa via Trion toward Centreville, had encamped the
night before at Hill's plantation, three miles beyond
Scottsboro' ; that Croxton [Union], with the brigade de-
tached at Elyton, had struck Jackson's rear-guard at
Trion and interijosed himself between it and the train ;
that Jackson had discovered this, and intended to attack
Croxton at daylight. of April 1st. I learned from the
other dispatch that Chalmers had also arrived at Marion,
Alabama, and had been ordered to cross to the east side

General Eli Long's, by Cherokee Station, Frankfort,

The Union Cavalry in the Hood Campaign," p. 465.— Editors,

i See General James H. Wilson's article.




of tile Cahawba near tliat place for the purpose of join-
ing Forrest in my front, or in the worts at Selma. I
also learned that a force of dismounted men ■was sta-
tioned at Centreville, with orders to hold the bridge over
the Cahawba at that place as long as possible, and in no
event to let it fall into our hands."

Wilson now pushed on toward Selma, encounter-
ing several detaekments of Forrest's cavalry on the
way. At Bbenezer Church, Forrest's right wing
was found in position, covering the roads from
Randolph and Old Maplesville, with a force esti-
mated by General Wilson at five thousand. "^
Long's division advanced to the attack, and, i-een-
f orced by Alexander's brigade, of Upton's division,
carried the position, the report says, "in less than
an hour," the enemy retreating toward Selma.

"The whole corps bivouaclied at sundown about
Plantersville, nineteen miles from Selma. "With almost
constant fighting the enemy hadtbeen driven since
morning twenty-four miles. At daylight of the 2d [of
April] Long'sdivisiontoolj the advance, closely folio wed
by Upton's. Having obtained a well-drawn sketch and
complete description of the defenses of Selma, I directed
General Long, marching by the flanks of brigades, to
approach the city and cross to the SummervlUe [Sum-
merfield] road without exposing his men, and to develop
his line as soon as he should arrive in front of the works.
General Upton was directed to move on the Range Line
road, sending a squadron on the Bumsville road. Lieu-
tenant [Joseph] Eendlebrock, with a battalion of the 4th
United States Cavalry, was instructed to move down the
railroad, burning bridges, stations, and trestle-works as
far as Burnsville. By rapid marching, without opposi-
tion, the troops were all in sight of the town, and mostly
in position, by 4 p. m."

General MeCook had been detached at Randolph
to guard the right rear and, if possible, connect
with Croxton, who was still west of the Cahawba.
Long and Upton, with their men dismounted,
carried the works at a single charge.

" The fortifications assaulted and carried consistedof a
bastioned line, on a radius of nearly three miles, extend-
ing from the Alabama Elver belo w to the same above the
city. The part west of the city is covered by a miry, deep,
and almost impassable creek ; that on the east side by
a swamp extending from the river almost to the Sum-
merfield road, and entirely impracticable for mounted
men at all times. General Upton ascertained by a per-
sonal reconnoissance that dismounted men might with
great diificulty work through it on the left of the Range
Line road. The profile of that part of the line assaulted
Is as follows : Height of parapet, six to eight feet, thick-
ness eight feet, depth of ditch five feet, width from ten
to fifteen feet; height of stockade on the glacis, five
feet, sunk into the earth four feet. The ground over
which the troops advanced is an open field, generally
level, sloping slightly toward the works, but intersected
by one ravine and marshy soil, which both the right and
left of Long's line experienced some difficulty In cross-
ing. The distance which the troops charged, exposed
to the enemy's Are of artillery and musketry, was six
hundred yards. . . . General Long's report . . .
states that the number actually engaged in the charge
was 1650 officers and men. The portion of the line as-
saulted was manned by Armstrong's brigade, regarded
as the best in Forrest's corps, and reported by him at
more than 1500 men. The loss from Long's division was 40
killed, 260 woun ded, and seven missing. G en eral Long was
wounded in the head. Colonels [A. O.] Miller and [C. C]
McCormick in the leg, and [Lieutenant] Colonel [Jona-
than] Briggs in the breast. . . . The immediate fruits of
our victory were 31 field-guns and one 30-pounder Bar-
rett, which had been used against us ; 2700 prisoners,

including 150 officers ; a number of colors, and immense
quantities of stores of every kind. Generals Forrest,
Armstrong, Roddey, and Adams escaped, with a number
of men, under cover of darkness, either by the Burns-
ville and River roads, or by swimming the Alabama
River. A portion of Upton's division pursued on the
Burnsville road until long after midnight, capturing
four guns and many prisoners. I estimate the entire
garrison, including the militia of the city and surround-
ing country, at 7000 men ; the entire force under my
command, engaged and in supporting distance, was 9000
men and eight guns."

General Upton's division was dispatched from
Selma, on April 3d, to open communications with
McCook and Croxton, west of the Cahawba. Me-
Cook had found the Confederate Jackson between
him and Croxton, and had returned east of the
Cahawba. He reached Selma in company with
Upton on the 6th. Nothing was learned of Croxton.

" On the 6th of April, having ordered Major Hubbard
to lay a bridge over the Alabama with the utmost dis-
patch, I went to Cahawba to see General Forrest, who
had agreed to meet me there under a flag of truce for
the purpose of arranging an exchange of prisoners. I
was not long in discovering that I need not expect
liberality in this matter, and that Forrest hoped to re-
capture the men of his command in my possession.
During our conversation he Informed me that Croxton
had had an engagement with Wirt Adams near Brldge-
viUe, 40 miles south-west of Tuscaloosa, two days before.
Thus assured of Croxton's success and safety; I deter-
mined to lose no further time in crossing to the south side
of the Alabama, I had also satisfled myself in the mean-
time that Canby had an ample force to take Mobile and
march to central Alabama."

On the 8th and 9th the entire cavalry corps,
excepting Croxton's brigade, crossed the Alabama,
and General Wilson, believing that he had rendered
Selma valueless by his thorough destruction of
railroads and supplies, determined to march into
Georgia by way of Montgomery. The mayor of
Montgomery surrendered the city to Wilson's ad-
vance guard on the 12th of April. After destroy-
ing large quantities of stores, small-arms, and
cotton, the command moved on the 14th, Upton in
advance and striking for Columbus and West Point.

"About 2 p. M. of the 16th General Upton's advance, a
part of Alexander's brigade, struck the enemy's pickets
on the road and drove them rapidly through Girard to
the lower bridge over the Chattahoochee at Columbus.
The rebels hastily set Are to it, and thereby prevented
its capture. After securing a position on the lower
Montgomery road. General Upton detached a force to
push around to the bridge at the Factory, three miles
above the city. He then made a reconnoissance in per-
son, and found the enemy strongly posted in a line of
works covering all the bridges, with a large number of
guns in position on both sides of the river. He had
already determined to move Winslow's brigade to the
Opelika or SummervlUe road, and assault the works on
that side without waiting for the arrival of the Second
Division. Ireached the head of Winslow's brigade of the
Fourth Division at 4 o'clock, and found the troops
marching to the position assigned them by General Up-
ton. Through an accident, Winslow did not arrive at his
position till after dark ; but General Upton proposed to
make the assault in the night, and, coinciding with him
in judgment, I ordered the attack. Three hundred men
otthe 3d Iowa Cavalry, ColonelNoble commanding, were
dismounted, and after a slight skirmish moved forward
and formed across the road under a heavy fire of artil-
lery. The 4th Iowa and 10th Missouri were held in

3j General Thomas Jordan, in " Campaigns of Forrest's Cavalry," states that the Confederate force at
Ebenezer Church numbered 1500.— Editokb.



readiness to support the assaulting party. At lialf-past
eigUt P. M., just as the troops were ready, the enemy, at a
short distance, opened a heavy Are of musketry, and
-with a fourguu hattery tiegan throwing canister and
grape. Generals Upton and Winslo w, in person, directed
the movement; the troops dashed forward, opened a
•withering iire from their Spencers, pushed througli a
slashing ahatis, pressed the rebel line bade to their out-
vporlis, supposed at first to be the main line. During all
this time the rebel guns tlirew out a perfect storm of
canister and grape, but without avail. General Upton
sent two companies of the 10th Missouri, Captain [E. B.]
McGlasaou commanding, to follow up the success of the
dismounted men and get possession of the bridge. They
passed through the inner line of works, and under cover
of darltness, before the rebels knew it, had reached the
bridge leading Into Columbus. As soon as everything
could be got up to the position occupied by the dis-
mounted men. General Upton pressed forward again,
swept away all opposition, took possession of the foot
and railroad bridges, and stationed guards throughout
the city. Twelve hundred prisoners, fUty-two field-guns,
in position for use against ns, large quantities of arms
and stores, fell into our hands. . . . The splendid gal-
lantry and steadiness of General Upton, Brevet Brigadier-
General Winslow, and all the officers and men engaged
in this night attack, is worthy of the highest commenda-
tion. The rebel force was over three thousand. They
could not believe they had been dislodged from their
strong fortifications by an attack of 300 men. General
Winslow was assigned to the command of the city." |

The brigade of Colonel O. H. La Grange moved
toward West Point.

"After mucb sharp skirmishing and hard marching,
which resulted in the capture of fourteen wagons and a
number of prisoners, La Grange's advance reached the
vicinity of West Point at 10 A. M., April 16th. With [Cap-
tain M. M.] Beck's 18th Indiana Battery, the 2d and 4th
Indiana cavalry, the enemy were kept occupied till the
arrival of the balance of the brigade. Having thor-
oughly reconnoitered the ground, detachments of the
1st Wisconsin, 2d Indiana, and 7th Kentucky cavalry
dismounted and prepared to assault Fort Tyler, cover-
ing the bridge. Colonel La Grange describes it as a re-
markably strong bastioned earth-work, 35 yards square,
surrounded by a ditch 12 feet wide and 10 feet deep, sit-
uated on a commanding eminence, protected by an im-
perfect abatis, and mounting two 32-pounders and two

The fort was taken after a desperate fight, in
which La Grange's men 'bridged the diteh, under
fire. The Confederate commander, General R. C.
Tyler, was killed. ^ After destroying the bridges,
railway equipment and stores. La Grange moved
toward Macon.

" Before leaving Columbus General [Edward F. ] Wins-
low destroyed the rebel ram Jackson, nearly ready for
sea, mounting six 7-inch guns, burned 15 locomotives,
260 cars, the railroad bridge and foot bridges, 115,000
bales of cotton, four cotton factories, the navy yard,
foundry, armory, sword and pistol factory, accouter-
ment shops, three paper mills, over 100,000 rounds of
artillery ammunition, besides immense stores of which
no account could be taken. The rebels abandoned and
burned the gun-boat Chattahoochee twelve miles below

i At Columbus the Union loss was 6 IdUed and 24
wounded; the, Confederate, 1200 captured.— Editors.

i The Union loss was 7 killed and 29 wounded ; the Con-
federate, 19 killed, 28 wounded, and2i8 missing.— Editors.
\ General Croxton says in his official report :
"During this time we marched 663 miles, most of the time
through a mountainous country so destitute of supplies tliat
the command could he subsisted aud loraged only by tlie
greatest efforts. Swimming four rivers, destroying five large

On the 18th the command was on the march
to Macon, the Second Division, under General B.
H. G. Minty, who had succeeded General Long
(wounded at Selma), having the advance. On
nearing Macon, April 20th, Wilson received a
oommunioatiou from General Beauregard, dated
April 19th, informing him of the truce between
Johnston and Sherman. [See p. 755.] The ad-
vance had already dashed into the city and re-
ceived the surrender, and Generals Gustavus W.
Smith, Howell Cobb, and W. W. Maekall, of the
garrison, were held as prisoners of war. On the
21st a communication from General Sherman
reached Wilson directing him to suspend hostili-
ties until notified of the result of the negotiations
then pending. General Croxton reported at Macon
with his brigade, on May 1st. \ His operations
since his separation from the main column, at Ely-
ton, March 30th, covered a skirmish at Trion,
Alabama, April 2d ; the capture of Tuscaloosa,
April 5th, aud the destruction of the Military
School, together with military stores and public
works, at that place. From Tuscaloosa he had
returned northward as far as Jasper, recrossed the
Black Warrior, and, after destroying the iron
works and factories along the route, reached Car-
rollton, Georgia, on the 25th of April, and soon
opened communications with Wilson.

" On the 13th of April I received notice of the final
capitulation of the rebel forces east of the Chattahoo-
chee, and the next day, by the hands of Colonel [P. B.]
Woodall,the order of the Secretary of War annulllngthe
first armistice, directing a resumption of hostilities and
the capture of the rebel chiefs. I had been previously
advised of [Jefferson] Davis's movements, and had given
the necessary instructions to secure a clue to the route
he intended following, with the hope of finally effecting
his capture. I directed General Upton to proceed in
person to Augusta, and ordered General Winslow, with
the Fourth Division, to march to Atlanta tor the purpose
of carrying out the terms of the convention, as well as
to make such a disposition of bis forces, covering the
country northward from Forsyth to Marietta, so as to
secure the arrest of Jefferson Davis and party. I di-
rected General Croxton, [then] commanding the First
Division, to distribute it along the line of the Ocmulgee,
connecting with the Fourth Division and extending
southward to this place. Colonel Minty, commanding
the Second Division, was directed to extend his troops
along the line of the Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers as
far as Jacksonville. General McCook, with about five
hundred men of his division, was sent to Tallahassee,
Florida, with orders to receive the surrender of the
rebels in that State and to watch the coimtry to the
north and eastward. In addition to this, troops from
the First and Second divisions were directed to watch
the Flint Eiver crossings, and small parties were sta-
tioned at the principal railroad stations from Atlanta to
Eufala, as well as at Columbus and West Point and Tal-
ladega. By these means I confidently expected to arrest
all large parties of fugitives and soldiers, and by a thor-
ough system of scouts hoped to obtain timely informa-
tion of the movements of important personages." -5^

iron works,— the last in the cotton States,— three factories, nu-
merous mills, immense quantities of supplies, capturing four
pieces of artillery and several hundred small-arms, near 300
prisoners rejoining the corps ; the men in fine spirits and the
animals in good condition, having lost in all hut four oflBcers
and 168 men, half of the latter having been captured at vari-
ous points, while straggling from foraging parties and not in
line of duty."

•jJ^For an account of the movements of Jefferson
Davis and his cabinet, see notes pp. 763 and 766.

VOL. IV. 49



"TTr"rHBN General Lee began his retreat from Eieh-
VV mond and Petersburg Brigadier'General
John Echols was in command of the Department
of South-western Virginia, ij Under him were
General Wharton's division and the brigades of
Colonels Trigg and Preston, between 4000 and
5000 infantry, and four brigades of cavalry, about
2200 men, commanded by Brigadier-Generals
Vaughn and Cosby, Colonel Giltner, and myself.
There was also attached to the departmental
command Major Page's unusually well-equipped
battalion of artillery. On the 2d day of April
General Echols issued orders looking to a junction
of his forces with those of General Lee. Marching
almost constantly, by day and night, General
Echols reached Christiansburg on the 10th, and
concentrated his entire command there, He was
confident that he would be able, within a few days,
"to join Lee somewhere to the south-west of Rich-
mond, most probably in the vicinity of Danville.
The command had halted for the night ; Genera]
Echols and I were dismounted and standing upon
the turnpike surrounded by the soldiers. Just then
Lieutenant James B. Clay, who had been sent
ahead three days before to gain information, gal-
loped up and handed General Echols a dispatch.
The latter's face flushed, and then grew deadly
pale. The dispatch was from General Lomax, and
in these words: "General Lee surrendered this
morning at or near Appomattox Com-t House. I am
trying with my own division and the remnants of
Eitz Lee's and Rosser's divisions to arrange to
make a junction with you."

After a brief conference we agreed that the news
should be concealed from the men until the next
day, if possible, and communicated that night only
to the brigade and regimental commanders. We
hoped that some plan might be devised which
would enable us to hold the troops together until
we could learn what policy would be pursued by
Mr. Davis, and whether it would be our duty to
endeavor to join General Johnston. But to conceal
such a fact when even one man was aware of it
was impossible. Before we had concluded our
brief conversation, we knew from the hum and stir
in the anxious, dark-browed crowds nearest us,
from excitement which soon grew almost to tumult,
that the terrible tidings had gotten abroad. That
night no man slept. Strange as the declaration
may sound now, there was not one of the six or
seven thousand then gathered at Christiansburg
who had, entertained the slightest thought that
such an event could happen, and doubtless that
feeling pervaded the ranks of the Confederacy.
We knew that the heroic army which had so long
defended Richmond was in retreat. We knew that
its operations could no longer be conducted upon
the methods which support regular warfare, and
that everything necessary to maintain its efficiency
was lost. We could hazard no conjecture as to

what would be done ; yet, that the Army of North-
ern Virginia, with Lee at its head, would ever sur-
render had never entered our minds. Therefore,
the indescribable consternation and amazement
which spread like a, conflagration through the
ranks when the thing was told can only be im-
agined by one who has had a similar experience.

During all that night officers and men were con-
gregated in groups and crowds discussing the news,
and it was curious to observe how the training and
discipline of veteran soldiers were manifested even
amid all this deep feeling and wild excitement.
There was not one act of violence, not a harsh or

Online LibraryRobert Underwood JohnsonBattles and leaders of the Civil War : being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate officers : based upon The Century War series → online text (page 122 of 145)