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ject of any consequence, in the late Franco-German war, was
caused by tbe doubt whether tbe francs-tireurs were, or were
not, such a part of the organized military forces of France,
as to be entitled to tbe treatment, when captured, of prison-
ers of war. General Pope's authority on this subject was not
enlarged in tbe slightest degree by tbe opinion which be
entertained, or which bis government entertained, that the
enemy with whom be was fighting was in rebellion against
tbe United States. He was not there as a United States
marshal, acting under tbe orders of a court, and arresting
persons against whom a grand jury had found indictments
for treason ; but he was there as an officer of the army in tbe
field, against an enemy in arms and entitled to be treated in
all respects as a foreign foe.

While General Pope was in Washington, General Halleck
was called upon to decide tbe difficult question of tbe ad-
visability of removing tbe Army of tbe Potomac from the
Peninsula. The question was not a purely military one.
Had it been, it could have been more easily decided; it was,
in great measure, a personal question — that is, it turned
on the capacity of certain officers to carry out their allotted
tasks. Hence arose the chief difficulty of arriving at a de-

Let us explain this. Had the Government had the same
confidence in General McOlellan which they bad two years
later in General Grant, tbe Army of tbe Potomac would,
without much doubt, have been allowed to remain at Harri-
son's Landing, and would have been reinforced in tbe late
gummer and autumn sufficiently to. enable it to take the of-


fensive and operate, from the very advantageous position
which it occupied, on either side of the James Biver. But
such was not the case. The distrust of General McClellan
was greater than ever — and there were several reasons for

First. — His campaign had been characterized by an as-
sumption on his part that he was entitled to deal on an equal
footing with the Government, as a sort of contracting party.
Instead of doing his work as well as he could with the
means he had or could procure, he was constantly attempt-
ing to drive the Administration into a corner; to fasten
upon it the responsibility for the ill-success of his mili-
tary movements ; to threaten it, even, with the consequences
of this or that failure to do what he desired. Such a method
of procedure on the part of a general is wholly without pre-
cedent, and a government which understood its position
would not have put up with it for a moment. Let a gen-
eral, by all means, advise his superiors of all material facts,
and warn them in the strongest terms of the consequences
of such or such acts, but let him never forget that the dis-
tribution of the responsibility for military failures is not for
him to undertake ; it is the task of posterity ; it is his to do
his best, let the consequences be what they may. As an
illustration of what we mean, look at McClellan's letter to
Mr. Stanton, of June 14th, where he says, in reference to
McDowell's troops : " If I cannot fully control all his troops,
I want none of them, but would prefer to fight the battle
with what I have, and let others be responsible for the re-
sults." Such a remark as this shows his egotism to be ex-
cessive indeed. He actually says that he wants to have his
preferences gratified, whatever may be the consequences to
the country.

Second. — It was impossible not to discern in General Mo-


Clellan's attitude toward the Administration a distinct polit-
ical bias. He belonged to the Democratic party — the party
which desired to prevent the slavery question from compli-
cating the question now at issue in the field — that of the
authority of the nation. He may, or may not, have been
right as to this ; but it is very plain that, as a commander
of an army, it was none of his business. Nothing is better
settled than the desirability of the entire subordination of
the military to the civil power in a free country ; yet we find
McClellan, on July 7th, writing from Harrison's Landing a
long letter to the President, in which he gives him his views
on the way in which the war should be conducted in refer-
ence to the institution of slavery; that "military power
should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of ser-
vitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of
the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases,"
etc. These views may, or may not, have been sound — it is
not our province to pronounce on them at all ; but it is clear
that a general officer, thus going out of his way to write a
long letter on the policy of the Government in regard to
slavery, has taken sides in politics, which a military man in
the field should never do. In fact, his friends were at this
time presenting him to the country as the great Democratic
general, and in two years he was the party candidate for
the Presidency. Had Mr. Lincoln removed him from the
command immediately on the receipt of this letter, it would
have been not only justifiable, but wise in the end.

Third. — It was impossible, for any one who had carefully
watched the campaign, to feel any great confidence that Mc-
Clellan ever would accomplish anything. He never was
satisfied with the advantages he possessed, or with the num-
bers he commanded at any particular time. There was
always .something remaining to be done before he was ready


to move. Add to this an entire absence of that clear and
cool judgment which is essential to the accomplishment of
all difficult matters in this world. "What we refer to may-
be well illustrated by the fact that, in the course of a single
fortnight, McClellan had in one telegram told the Secre-
tary of War that his numbers were greatly inferior to those
of the enemy ; that he would, however, do all that a general
could do with his army, and if it was destroyed by over-
whelming numbers he could at least die with it and share
its fate ; in another telegram, that he (the Secretary) must
hope for the best, and he (McClellan) would not deceive the
hopes he formerly placed in him ; in another telegram, that
if he had ten thousand fresh troops he could take Eichmond,
yet, that he lost this battle because his force was too small ;
that the Secretary had done his best to sacrifice the army ;
and three days after he had taken up his position at Har-
rison's Landing, in this same fortnight, he found time to
lay before the President, in an elaborate letter, his views
on the slavery question, in the course of which he actually
said that " a declaration of radical views, especially upon
slavery, would rapidly disintegrate our present armies."
This letter winds up with this curious declaration : " I may
be on the brink of eternity, and, as I hope for forgiveness
from my Maker, I have written this letter with sincerity to-
ward you and from love for my country."

Enough has been said to show that the Administration
could not feel that in McClellan the country had a really
able, or a really single-minded servant. There might be,
and there was, evidence of ability and character in him ; but
we have shown that there were sufficient reasons to prevent
entire confidence being reposed in him by the President
and Cabinet.

At the same time, such was the political situation that the


Government did not dare to remove him. There was enough
to justify his removal, as we have seen ; but political feeling
in his favor ran high. Still, the breach between him and
the administration, had become too wide ever to be healed ;
the Government could not, it was plain, continue him in his
command, reinforce him, and rely on him as their chief gen-
eral ; and there was no one of conspicuous fitness whom they
could put in his place. What then could be done ? The
army might be removed to Northern Virginia, portions of it
might from time to time be incorporated in the army under
General Pope, and if that officer made a successful campaign,
the difficulty as to McOlellan would settle itself. In a cor-
respondence between Halleck and McOlellan on this sub-
ject, Halleck, it is true, proceeds upon the supposition that
McClellan's estimate of the numbers of the enemy, two hun-
dred thousand men, is correct ; and argues that the army could
not be kept on the Peninsula in that climate till it could
be reinforced to anything like that number. But the great
difficulty about the question of removal was one which
could not be stated ; the Government had lost confidence
in General McOlellan, and the removal of the Army of the
Potomac from the Peninsula provided them with a conveni-
ent mode of disposing of their superfluous general.

The removal of the army was determined on, General
Pope tells us, before he left Washington for the front, on
July 29th. It was probably the visit of General Halleck to
Harrison's Landing, on the 25th, which settled it. On the
30th, McOlellan was ordered to send away his sick. On
August 3d, he was told that the whole army was to be sent
to Aquia Creek. The next day he wrote an able letter to
Halleck, remonstrating against the removal ; urging his prox-
imity to Bichmond ; that the reinforcement of the army was
a far cheaper and wiser course than removing it to the neigh-


borhood of Fredericksburg ; that the army would be more or
less demoralized by the movement ; and finally, that it was
the true policy of the Government to place all the other de-
partments on the defensive, and strike their most powerful
blow against Eichmond. To this Halleck replied at length,
dwelling, as we have said before, on the impossibility of re-
inforcing the army in any reasonable space of time, to any
large extent, and pressing strongly upon General McClellan's
attention the advantage possessed by General Lee of opera-
ting against either McClellan or Pope, as he chose, and with
an army superior to that of either. Here the correspondence
closed, and the task of removing the army began.

"When General Pope left Washington, on July 29th, the
destination of the Army of the Potomac had been decided.
The task imposed on Pope was to prevent a concentration
of Lee's army upon our forces on the Peninsula, while in the
confusion incident to the removal, and while the corps com-
posing them were separated. He proceeded at once to the
execution of this task, threatening Gordonsville again, and
this time not as before, with a small body of cavalry, but
with a powerful force of more than 30,000 men. After re-
viewing and inspecting his various corps, he, on August 7th,
ordered the division of Bicketts to join Crawford's brigade
of Williams' division of Banks' corps at Culpeper Court
House. The remainder of Banks' corps he pushed south
from their position at Little Washington to where the Sper-
ryville and Culpeper turnpike crosses Hazel Eiver, a point
about half-way between these two towns. The cavalry of
Buford, supported by one brigade from Sigel's corps, ob-
served the right, with headquarters at Madison Court House.
Bayard, with four regiments, watched the left, his head-
quarters being at Eapidan Station. Both were excellent
officers. Cavalry pickets were stationed at intervals along


the Eapidan to its union with the Eappahannock, just above
Fredericksburg. A signal-station was established on Thor-
oughfare Mountain — a precaution which, as we shall after-
ward see, was of great service. These dispositions were
intended chiefly to provide against an attack by the enemy
on his right, Buf ord having reported the enemy as crossing
the Eapidan westward of the railroad, and advancing in
heavy force upon Madison Court House. But, consider-
ing also the probability of an attempt being made to turn
his left by way of Eaccoon Ford and Stevensburg, and also
to interrupt his communications with General King at Fred-
ericksburg, Pope, on the 8th, ordered Banks and Sigel to
move to Culpeper Court House. Banks obeyed promptly,
reaching that place at eleven at night. Sigel, however, in-
stead of marching at once, sent word to inquire by what road
he should march, when there was but one road, and that a
turnpike, between Sperryville and Culpeper ; and, in conse-
quence of his blunder, his corps did not arrive till the after-
noon of the next day.

Besides these corps, Pope, on the 8th, ordered Crawford's
brigade of Williams' division of Banks' corps, which, it
will be remembered, had been at Culpeper some days, for-
ward some eight miles to the neighborhood of. Cedar (or
Slaughter) Mountain, on the road to Orange Court House,
to act as a support to Buford's cavalry. Eicketts' division
of McDowell's corps was also ordered to move some three
miles south of Culpeper Court House. Early the next morn-
ing, the 9th, Banks received orders to move the remainder
of his corps to the front, where Crawford's brigade already
was— that is, near Cedar Mountain. We shall recur later to
the orders given to Banks ; it is time now to turn to see
what Jackson was doing.

" Having received information," says that officer in his


report, " that only a part of General Pope's army was at
Culpeper Court House, and hoping, through the blessing of
Providence, to be able to defeat it before reinforcements
should arrive there, Ewell's, Hill's, and Jackson's divisions
■were moved on the 7th, in the direction of the enemy, from

their respective encampments near Gordonsville "

" On the 9th, as we arrived within about eight miles of Cul-
peper Court House we found the enemy in our front, near
Cedar Run, a short distance west and north of Slaughter's
(Cedar) Mountain." The first battle of the campaign was at



Gbneraii Bases' corps, less that portion of it which was
absent on detached service, did not reach a total of 8,000
men of all arms ; of Jackson's three divisions, only two
brigades, Lawton's and Gregg's, were absent. Jackson ex-
pected doubtless to overwhelm the brigade of Crawford,
which he knew on the 7th was supporting the cavalry. But
in presence of a larger force he was not a man to hesitate,
unless in face of overwhelming odds. It may safely be as-
sumed that his intention was to press our army vigorously,
and that he hoped to defeat it in detail. General Pope,
on the other hand, was well aware of his movements. It
was his intention to offer battle, but not until he had con-
centrated his army. Sigel's folly had caused a delay of
twenty-four hours. Pope could not retire behind Culpe-
per, for that would be to sacrifice his communications with
Sigel ; nor would it be wise to give Jackson an unobstructed
march, or a march obstructed by cavalry only, to Culpeper,
for Jackson's activity and energy were well known. It was
dangerous to forego the attempt to delay him on his march ;
it was perfectly safe to make the attempt, because the troops
in the immediate front could take up a strong position and
be reinforced, first by Bicketts, and afterward by Sigel when
he should arrive. Finally, while it was wise to send a por-
tion of the troops to the front, it was necessary, on account


of keeping up the communication -with Sigel, to retain a
considerable force near Culpeper Court House.

"With these views, General Pope sent to General Banks a
verbal order through Colonel Marshall, of his staff, which,
when at Banks' request it was reduced to writing by Major
Pelouze, of Banks' staff, read as follows : *

"Culpepeb, 9.45 A.M., AngustS), '62.
" From Colonel Lewis Marshall :

" General Banks to move to the front immediately, assume command
of all forces in the front, deploy his skirmishers if the enemy advances,
and attack him immediately as he approaches, and be reinforced from

"Whatever may have been the order as given by General
Pope to Colonel Marshall, and whatever may have been the
order which Colonel Marshall intended to give to General
Banks, the above is, without question, the order which Gen-
eral Banks received. If there was any mistake about it, the
blame must rest, without any dispute, upon the superior
officer, who might have put it in writing and did not.

"Whatever may have been the interpretation of this order,
however, it was not the only one which Banks received.
He tells us himself, in his testimony before the Committee
on the Conduct of the "War, in 1864, f that after he had, in
compliance with this order, put his troops in motion, he left
the head of his column to see General Pope, and asked him
if he had any other orders. General Pope told him that he
had sent an officer, acquainted with the country, who would
designate the ground he was to hold.% That officer — General

* From a letter from Major Pelouze to General G. H. Gordon, in Gordon's
" Second Massachusetts and Stonewall Jackson," printed but not published, p.
218. See also Rep. 0. W., 1865, vol. iii., p. 45, at the end of the volume, where
the same text is given by Banks, with a few unimportant variations.

t Bep. C. W., 1865, vol. iii., p. 45, at the end of the volume.

X The italics are ours.


Boberts, as is claimed by Banks, urged him to take the of-
fensive. This Boberts denies, but it seems probable that he
did indulge in remarks of a kind likely to provoke a high-
spirited man to hazard an engagement. But, even if this
were so, the language of the written despatch — "Deploy your
skirmishers * if the enemy advances, and attack him imme-
diately as he approaches,* and be reinforced from here" —
though certainly far from explicit, does not, on examination,
sustain the interpretation which General Banks put upon
it. The taking up of a position by our forces is implied in
the reference to the advance of the enemy. The enemy are
contemplated as advancing upon our troops in position ; when
they advance, skirmishers are to be thrown out ; when the
enemy approaches, he is to be attacked with the skirmishers,
and delayed as much as possible, and reinforcements are to
be at once sent for to Culpeper. The reason of the thing,
also, is all one way. To suppose that Pope would .send
Banks' corps out alone to attack Jackson is absurd of itself,
and, taken in connection with the careful and judicious hand-
ling of his troops thus far in the campaign, and with the
strategic needs of the moment, of which we have spoken at
length above, there should have been no doubt whatever in
General Banks' mind as to his duty that day. He should
have taken up a strong position, pushed his pickets well out,
and ascertained the strength, positions, and intentions of the
enemy, maintained a firm countenance, and replied at once
to their guns. If they advanced, he should have deployed a
strong skirmish-line, and given it to the charge of some
alert and courageous officer, and have immediately notified
General Pope. Had he done this, there might have been no
serious engagement on that day ; but if Jackson had brushed

* The italics are ours.


away the skirmishers and pushed his way to the main line,
he ought to have been, and would probably have been re-
pulsed. Still, General Pope, who might have put his in-
structions in writing, and did not, must share the blame.
And it is a fair criticism on the instructions sent by CoL
Marshall that they say not one word of taking up, or of hold-
ing a position. The instructions, besides, do order Banks in a
certain emergency to attack. True, he is to attack with
skirmishers ; still, he is to attack. The order breathes the
spirit of an active, aggressive course. If General Banks
was to take up a strong position, and defend himself, why
not say so, in so many words, and why not put it in black
and white ?

The road down which General Banks' corps marched from
Culpeper Court House, runs to Bobertson's Ford on the
Bapidan, passing to the westward of Cedar Mountain.
About eight miles south of Culpeper, the road crosses a little
stream called Cedar Bun. At this point it diverges to the
right, around the northerly and westerly slopes of the moun-
tain. General Boberts directed that all the troops, with the
exception of Gordon's brigade, should cross the run, which
was an insignificant stream, and take up a strong position on
a plateau just beyond it. This was done and the little army
was ranged in order of battle. It consisted of two divisions
of infantry, those of "Williams and Augur, one brigade of
cavalry under Bayard, and a full complement of artillery, and
numbered in all about 7,500 men. The brigade of Gordon,
belonging to Williams' division, was placed in a very strong
position behind the creek, on the extreme right ; the other
brigade of this division, Crawford's, was placed on the right of
the road, and was the right brigade of the line of battle.
On the left of the road Augur arranged his brigades from
right to left, Geary being on the road and connecting with



Crawford, then Prince on Geary's left, and then, somewhat
refused, the small brigade of Greene. He had no troops in

The artillery were ranged on the plateau in front of the
infantry. The cavalry were on the flanks and skirmished
with the enemy.

Jackson's army consisted of three divisions, his own, so-
called, now commanded by General Charles S. Winder,

Confederate Troop* I"*~1

Battle of Cedar Mountain at the beginning of the Action.

Ewell's, and A. P. Hill's, and numbered, as has been stated,
between 20,000 and 25,000 men ; the latter number is proba-
bly nearer the truth. He pushed Ewell forward on his
right (our left) along the northerly slope of Cedar Mountain,


■with two of his brigades, those of Trimble and Hayes, the
latter commanded by Colonel Forno. The remaining bri-
gade, that of Early, was kept much nearer the road, so that
a considerable interval existed between it and the two bri-
gades first mentioned. Jackson's division was directed to
advance along the road, with one brigade, Campbell's, com-
manded by Lieutenant-Colonel Garnett on the left (our
right) of the road, the brigade of General W. B. Taliaferro
on their right (our left) of the road, and the famous " Stone-
wall Brigade," then commanded by Colonel Bonald, in re-
serve. Behind all these troops was the powerful division of
A. P. Hill, comprising the brigades of Thomas, Branch,
Archer, Pender, Stafford, and Field.

Prom noon to about three o'clock in the afternoon there
had been constant artillery firing. The Confederate General
Winder was killed by a shell about half-past three, while
directing the fire of some batteries, and his division was
taken by General W. B. Taliaferro — the brigade of the latter
being taken by Colonel A. G. Taliaferro. The enemy were
pushing on in the general direction indicated above, but
they moved cautiously. In time our cavalry were forced
back. Our infantry were then discerned supporting the bat-
teries. Then was the time for Banks to have pushed out his
skirmishers, and notified Pope that an attack by the enemy
could not be far off. Had he done this, he could probably
have been reinforced before the attack became general by
Bicketts' division of some 8,000 men, a force quite sufficient
to have enabled him to hold his own. Unfortunately he de-
cided on a very different course. He entirely under-esti-
mated the strength of the enemy. He determined to attack
himself, with his whole corps. At four o'clock he advanced
his whole line forward to the further edge of the plateau.
At half -past five he gave the signal of attack.


The general plan was for Crawford to turn the enemy's
left by assaulting the left flank of Campbell's brigade, while
Geary's and Prince's brigades of Augur's division should at-
tack Taliaferro's and Early's brigades on our left of the

The enemy suspected nothing of the sort. They had not
yet fairly formed their line of battle. They were in fact cau-
tiously feeling their way, preparatory to making an attack
themselves. On their right, there was a great gap between
Early's right and the troops of Trimble and Hayes ; on their
left, Campbell's brigade was drawn up on the edge of the
woods and facing a wheat-field, but its left flank was covered
by thick woods, and Jackson himself told its commanding
officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Garnett, to look well to his left
flank, and to send at once to General Taliaferro, who com-

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Online LibraryWayne WhippleThe army in the civil war.. → online text (page 2 of 17)