« PreviousContinue »
some rifles and camp equipage. Probably five hundred or six hundred have been killed and wounded, and five hundred have deserted, making a total loss of at least fifteen hundred.
Our own killed is forty-four, wounded two hundred and two, missing fourteen, and total two hundred and sixty.
All the morale, prestige and glory belong to the patient and brave officers and men of the Federal army.
Besides these brilliant results, this command has held the masses of the enemy around Suffolk, in order that General Hooker might secure the crowning victory of the war, and it is entitled to a share of the glory that may accrue to his arms.
My thanks are due all officers and soldiers who have worked cheerfully and patriotically on these fortifications. They now see that their labors are not in vain.
The truth of history requires that I should state that a small portion of the One Hundred and Twelfth New York became home-sick and discontented, and said that they came to fight and not to dig. This feeling was seized upon by politicians, and since the adjournment of the Senate I have been advised that efforts were made to defeat my confirmation in consequence thereof.
Soldiers who love their country will cheerfully perform any duty assigned them; men who know how to build fortifications, will know how to defend or assault them. It should not be forgotten that the principal rebel successes have been behind intrenchments, as at Manassas, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Vicksburg, Charleston, &c., &c.
It is an unpleasant duty to state that most of the Ninth New York, Colonel Hawkins, left this command on the third, by expiration of their term of service, while their comrades were actively engaged with the enemy. It can be regarded only as an unfortunate termination of a hitherto brilliant career of service.
To Generals Corcoran, Terry, Dodge, Harland, Colonels Dutton and Gibbs, commanding fronts lines; Colonels Spear and Onderdonk, of the cavalry; Colonels Gurney and Waddrop, commanding reserves, and Captain Follett, Chief of Artillery, I am under very great obligations for the able, faithful, judicious, and cheerful discharge of every duty incident to their important positions.
General Getty was intrusted with the river line below Onondaga battery, the key of the position, and about eight miles in length; a very difficult line to defend against an enterprising enemy, acquainted with every by-path, and guided by owners of the soil. His responsibilities were of the highest order, and the labors of his troops were incessant. Under his vigilant supervision everything was done that could be for the security of the right flank, and the enemy was foiled in all plans for crossing.
Colonel R. S. Foster, of Indiana, commanding brigade and portion of the front, added fresh
laurels to the high reputation which he estab lished in West Virginia and the Peninsula. He was at home in grand skirmishes, and the enemy always recoiled before him.
General Gordon reported three days before the conclusion of the siege, and was assigned to the command of the reserve division. His long and varied experience rendered his judg ment of great value, and I regret that he has been called to another field.
My thanks are due General Viele, of Norfolk, for the prompt transmission of important intelligence, and for the alacrity with which my calls were responded to.
Captain Ludlow, Quartermaster at Norfolk, deserves mention for his untiring efforts in forwarding the main bulk of supplies for this army.
The Medical Department, under the able management of Dr. Hand, was in excellent working order, and equal to every emergency. The wounded were promptly cared for, and spared all unnecessary suffering.
The Commissary Department was admirably managed by the late Captain Bowdish, and since his death by Captain Felt.
Colonel Murphy commanded brigade; Colonel Drake, Fort Union; Colonel Hawkins, Fort Nansemond; Captain Sullivan, Fort Halleck; Colonel Davis, the Draw-bridge Battery; Colonel Worth, Battery Mansfield; Colonel Thorpe, the Redan, and Rosecrans; Captain Johnson, Battery Mowdey; Colonel England, Battery Montgomery; Colonel Pease, Battery Stevens; Colonel McEvilly, Fort Dix, with ability, and their troops were always ready for the enemy.
Major Stratton, Eleventh Pennsylvania cavalry, was at South Mills watching the operations of the troops from Carolina. By his discretion and energy the rebels were prevented from penetrating the Dismal Swamp.
Captain Tamblyn, Lieutenants Seabury, Young, Thayer, Strong and Murray, of the signal corps, have been indefatigable, day and night, and of the greatest service in their departments. Captain Davis shares the above commendation for the few days he was here.
The conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Nixon, Ninety-ninth New York; of Captain Morris, Lieutenants Hasbrouck, Hunt, Whitney and Beecher, of the artillery; Lieutenants James, Grant, Macardle, Soederquist, Burleson, Engineers; of Lieutenant Butts, Assistant Provost Marshal, and of Major Wetherell, was conspicuous. Major Stuart, of the Engineer corps, joined for a few days, evincing the same lively interest which characterized his valuable services on the Peninsula.
The command is mainly indebted to the Provost Marshal, Major Smith, of the One Hundred and Twelfth New York, for the good order and cleanliness which has prevailed in the town and camp.
The co-operation of the gunboats, under Lieutenants Cushing, Samson and Harris,United States Navy, sent by Admiral Lee, has been very
effective, and I take great pleasure in acknowledging the gallant services of their officers and crews. The army gunboats, Smith Briggs and West End, commanded by Captain Lee and Lieutenant Rowe, proved invaluable. The Smith Briggs was for many days the only boat above the West Branch, in consequence of the order of Admiral Lee.
My personal staff have all earned a place in this record by their zeal, fidelity, and unremitting labors, day and night, increased by injuries which I sustained from the fall of my horse. Their claims to promotion were established long before the siege of Suffolk: Major Benjamin B. Foster, A. A. G.; Captain George S. Dodge, Quartermaster; Lieutenants Charles R. Stirling and James D. Outwater, Aides-de-Camp; Lieutenant A. B. Johnson, Ordnance Officer, and Lieutenant J. D. Mahon, Judge Advocate.
Doubtless many names have been omitted, but discrimination is impossible where all have done so well.
For the conclusion is reserved the agreeable duty of testifying to the cordial and efficient support I have ever received from Major-General Dix. No request or suggestion has ever escaped his attention, and most of my requirements have been anticipated by his liberal and comprehensive policy.
Brigadier-General L. Thomas, Adjutant-General United States Army:
GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following supplementary report, as a part of my report of operations during the siege of Suffolk, in April and May last:
The name of Colonel J. R. McMahon, One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New York, should have been in the paragraph commencing with "Colonel Murphy, commanding brigade."
My right flank rested upon the upper Nansemond for some eight miles, a narrow, shallow, and tortuous stream, offering great facilities to an enterprising enemy for crossing and cutting the communication with Norfolk. Including this, the whole line extending to the Dismal Swamp was from twelve to fifteen miles in length; besides, a force in observation was requisite at South Mills, thirty miles distant-the key of the southern approaches to the Swamp. In view of these and other objections, I advised the withdrawal of the troops to a reduced short line near Portsmouth, after the reduction of the rebel and Union fortifications.
The advance of Pettigrew towards Newbern, and of Hill upon Little Washington, were only feints (our casualties being less than a dozen at both places), made by order of Longstreet some
days before the date fixed for his own advance upon Suffolk, for the purpose of inducing the authorities in North Carolina to call on Virginia for reinforcements. As designed, ten thousand men were asked for North Carolina, of which I was contributing three thousand on the tenth. The information reached Longstreet at Franklin, and he crossed the Blackwater last night.
Major-General Hooker kindly telegraphed that he had advices that General Hill would join Longstreet. The time when the North Carolina troops arrived is material; Major Stratton, of the cavalry, reported the fact on the twentieth, and I did the same on the twenty-fifth; some of them being captured. Major Stratton was correct, for Major-General Foster advised that the enemy retired from Little Washington on the evening of the fif teenth, and that the deserters said the cause was that they were ordered to "reinforce the army in Virginia."
May fourth.-While in full pursuit of the columns of Longstreet and Hill towards the Blackwater, an order was received to despatch General Gordon with a large force to West Point. Ten thousand additional were also ordered to be held in readiness to be moved at a moment's notice, leaving but the ordinary small garrison intact at Suffolk, and, of course, ending offensive operations.
On the fourth of May prisoners were taken representing forty odd regiments and independent commands, which gives some idea of the organization and masses of the enemy.
miles of earthworks thrown up by the rebels were constructed by the troops. Lest the contrabands should come into my lines, the bulk of them were left on the other side of the Blackwater.
It is proper to remark, that the forces under my command, from September to April, 1863, were rated by the public at twice and even thrice the actual numbers.
I am, very respectfully
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief,
Being about to start with a relieving force to raise the siege of Washington, North Carolina, I learned that the enemy had evacuated the batteries in front of Washington; and deserters say that the cause was that they were ordered to reinforce the army in Virginia.
I shall march myself, with my force, in pursuit, and endeavor to overtake the enemy. I have the honor to be, Very respectfully Your obedient servant, J. G. FOSTER, Major-General, commanding.
"Now they (the rebels) confronted the enemy from the Rappahannock, and hovered upon his flank, within striking distance, to the Potomac, while another portion of our forces manœuvred almost in the rear, and quite upon the flank, in Norfolk."
Longstreet had been promised sixty thousand men for his spring work, and was ready about the last of March to open the campaign for the recovery of Southern Virginia. He ordered Hill and Pettigrew to make a series of demonstrations at Newbern, Little Washington, and other points in North Carolina, with the design of causing troops to be sent from Norfolk, Fortress Monroe, and other localities. In consequence I was ordered, on the tenth of April, to despatch a considerable portion of my force to General Foster. Longstreet, advised of the order and success of his feints, crossed the Blackwater, and on the same day advanced, with about twenty-eight thousand men, upon Suffolk. On the fifteenth of April, Hill discontinued his feints upon Little Washington, and sent those troops to Suffolk. He followed soon after with the remainder of his command.
The rebel force in North Carolina was estimated by General Foster as very large, and in my judgment far above the real numbers. If his estimate was correct, there must have been with Longstreet, after the concentration, more than fifty thousand men. Probably forty thousand is a safe estimate; and he had associated with him such able West Pointers as LieutenantGenerals Hill, Hood and Anderson, and MajorGenerals Picket, French and Garnett, &c. The Petersburg Express of the fifteenth of April reflected the Confederate expectations in regard to Longstreet's army, in the following:
ought to be. We have in that direction as gallant an army as was ever mustered under any sun, and commanded by an officer who has won laurels in every engagement, from the first Manassas to that at Fredericksburg. Such an army, commanded by such an officer as Longstreet, may be defeated; but such an event is scarcely within the range of possibility."
In spite of the high hopes of the South, the siege was raised during the night of the third tion of from eight to ten miles of covered ways, of May (twenty-four days), after the construcrifle-pits, field works, and the loss of the cele brated Fauquier battery and some two thousand
The rebel press, with few exceptions, admitted the failure, and censured Longstreet. The Richmond Examiner, of November twentyseventh, 1863, pronounced his Knoxville and Suffolk campaigns as parallel failures, and said:
"It was during the parallel campaign of Longstreet against Suffolk that Hooker made his coup at Chancellorsville; but he found there Jackson, while Grant had to do with Bragg alone."
The effective Federal force at the outset was nearly fourteen thousand, with three small wooden gunboats. This was distributed on lines of about twelve miles in extent. No defeat was experienced by our arms.
During the presence of Longstreet's wing at Suffolk, Lee, with Jackson's wing, was confronted by the army of Hooker. Hooker was advised of every change in my front, and assured that I would hold Longstreet as long as possible in order that he might destroy Lee. He was urged to strike before aid could be sent to the Rapidan.
Perhaps a division, or a portion of one, joined Lee, in spite of the interruption of the communications by Stoneman. Longstreet did not; for his horses and servants fell into our hands near Suffolk, on the fourth of May. No mention of his presence is made in any accounts of Chancellorsville, nor in the Southern History." Jackson contended with Hooker on the first and second of May, while Early fought Sedgwick, near Fredericksburg. On the third, Stewart succeeded Jackson.
Hooker's and Lee's Forces.
Up to the meeting of Congress, Hooker had made no report to General Halleck, and official data is out of the question. But information is at hand from which an approximation can be
New York Tribune, May 18, 1863, estimates......
New York Times gives..
"Our people are buoyant and hopeful, as they New York Tribune, March 26, 1864, gives..
100,000 to 150,000 123,300
The editor of the Times had the very best opportunity for getting reliable data, and there are many reasons for accepting his figures as nearest the true ones.
This paper explodes the idea that any material portion of Longstreet's army was transferred to the fields of Chancellorsville. No such theory is entertained in any quarter now; but in the smoke of that disaster it was mooted.
These figures show where the rebel pressure really was, and attest the good conduct of the soldiers and sailors at Suffolk, under the weightiest responsibilities. The army should no longer be deprived of its honors and rewards because of the unexpected reverse on the Rapidan.
Further details cannot be given without trenching upon the official documents. The allusions to Hooker's operations are made solely to shed proper light upon the campaign, and not for the purpose of criticism. JOHN J. PECK, Major-General.
My object was to ventilate the spring campaign of 1863, and secure a proper recognition of the services of the army of Suffolk, without criticising the operations of General Hooker.
More than seven months having elapsed without any adverse reply from any quarter, the government and people are warranted in accepting my theory of the campaign as conclusive, and based upon facts and principles of the military art.
Besides the demonstrations made early in April, in North Carolina, by Hill and Pettigrew, Wise made a bold one on Williamsburgh, to favor Longstreet. All were regarded as real. Ten thousand men were asked for North Carolina, and it was thought I would have to contribute for Williamsburgh also.
bands, placed the force that crossed, tenth April, at thirty thousand and over.
Governor Wise had five thousand (Hooker's figures) or more. After his demonstration upon Williamsburgh, he withdrew, and beyond doubt sent a portion of his force to Longstreet.
The troops from North Carolina commenced arriving about the eighteenth or nineteenth of April, having left Little Washington on the fifteenth, under orders. Not less than twelve thousand came under Hill, French, and others. General Foster's estimates were very high, and I have not adopted them in consequence.
These, independent of the forces about Richmond, which could always be drawn upon temporarily for any great operation, since Longstreet had two railways.
Among the division commanders were Lieutenant-Generals Hill and Hood, French, Picket, &c. Major-General Anderson was not present, although so reported often-troops claimed to be under some General Anderson, and hence the error.
LONGSTREET NOT AT CHANCELLORSVILLE.
On the twenty-ninth of April I was informed by a member of the Cabinet that the army of hundred and sixty thousand men. Being wholly the Potomac, in round numbers, reached one ignorant of the plans and movements of Generals Hooker and Stoneman, I deemed it probable that at the crisis Lee would call for Longstreet, and that the latter might, perhaps, get through with a division.
Had I been advised of General Stoneman's movements on the communications near Richmond, as I should have been, the idea of Longstreet's leaving would not have been entertained.
General Stoneman's report, doubtless, will show that no part of Longstreet's army passed General William Hays, United States Army, to Lee until some time after Chancellorsville. was taken prisoner at Chancellorsville, third His reports not being accessible, I addressed May, and passed through Lee's army to Rich-him upon the subject; also Generals Meade and mond. He thinks Longstreet took four divi- Slocum. A brief extract will suffice:
sions, of eight thousand each, in January or February, to Suffolk-thirty-two thousand men. General Hooker telegraphed, April thirteen: "All of Longstreet's forces that have gone from here, left in January and February."
May second, he telegraphed: Longstreet has three divisions at Suffolk. When they left Lee they were each eight thousand strong. D. H. Hill is ordered from Washington to reinforce Longstreet's corps."
May second, General Hill reported by letter to Longstreet, the arrival of an "entire division." This arrival was in addition to the forces from Washington, North Carolina.
Spies sent into his camp reported the forces on the Blackwater from thirty thousand to thirty-two thousand.
Union men, deserters, prisoners, and contra
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, February 15, 1865.
Major-General J. J. Peck:
DEAR GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the eighth instant, with the documents enclosed, relating to the defence of Suffolk, in 1863.
The testimony and evidence which you have accumulated, prove most conclusively the importance and value of the services rendered on that occasion by yourself and the gallant army under your command, for which I doubt not full credit will hereafter be awarded you.
Lee's army at Gettysburgh was from forty to fifty thousand stronger than at Chancellorsville, and it is only reasonable to infer that this difference was in front of you at Suffolk.
That with the limited force under your command you should have held in check and defeated the designs of such superior numbers, is a fact of which you may well be proud, and is the most practical proof of your own skill and the gallantry of your troops.
Very respectfully yours,
ARMY OF GEORGIA, HEADQUARTERS LEFT WING,
My Dear General:
I believe that the force of the enemy in your front, at Suffolk, far exceeded your own; and I think the gratitude of the nation is due to you and your gallant army for the important services performed at that point.
I am, General, Very truly your friend And obedient servant, H. W. SLOCUM, Major-General. Major-General J. J. PECK, New York.
My theory is proved by these witnesses from General Hooker's army. No higher evidence can be produced. General Stoneman had all the railways in his hands, just outside of Richmond. General Slocum had the confidence of his commander, and was thanked by him in orders. The President made General Meade the successor of General Hooker, with the concurrence of all his leading officers.
This evidence is in harmony with all that of the army of Suffolk. In my possession is a communication from General Hill to LieutenantGeneral Longstreet, commanding department of Virginia and North Carolina, in which he reports the arrival of a 'division," and asks for orders. It bears date second May, 1863, and
fell into our hands on the fourth, as also did Longstreet's servants and horses, a few miles from Suffolk.
This division came by the Weldon railway to Franklin, and marched twenty miles, being engaged, on the third, at Suffolk. Had Longstreet wished to send troops to Chancellorsville (third), why did not this division keep the rail? By coming to Suffolk it lost more than two full days.
Longstreet's army did not pass through Richmond until after the tenth of May. The rear guard left the Blackwater on the eleventh, and was met by our exchanged officers, near the city, on the thirteenth or fourteenth of May.
GENERAL LEE'S TESTIMONY.
Lee, in his report of Chancellorsville transmitted to the rebel Congress by Jefferson Davis, December thirty-first, 1863, says of Longstreet, that he "was detached for service south of the James River in February, and did not rejoin the army until after the battle of Chancellorsville."
The commanding General visited Suffolk during the investment, and in his annual report, says, viz.: "The rebel General Hill marched towards the Nansemond to reinforce Longstreet, who was investing Suffolk. Failing in his direct assault upon this place, the enemy proceeded to establish batteries for its reduction. General Peck made every preparation for defence of which the place was capable, and retarded the construction of his works, till finally the attempt was abandoned.