« PreviousContinue »
been wounded up to and until after the fight
There seemed a providential interference in Jackson's removal at the critical time in which it occurred, for the position fought for by him commanded and enfiladed our whole army; and had he won it on the rout of the Eleventh corps, the disaster to us would have been irreparable.<
CAMPAIGN OF GETTYSBURG.
I was placed in command of the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac, and made a MajorGeneral of volunteers, after the battle of Chancellorsville, and the campaign of Gettysburg began by my attacking the rebel cavalry at Beverly ford on the Rappahannock river, on the ninth of June, 1863. The rebels were defeated, and very important information was obtained relative to their proposed invasion of Pennsylvania, upon which General Hooker acted immediately, and moved his army toward Maryland. On the seventeenth, the nineteenth and the twenty-first of June, 1863, I again attacked the rebels at Aldie, at Middleburg and Upperville, with such success, that General Lee abandoned his design of crossing the Potomac at Poolesville, and moved the bulk of his army to Hagerstown, by the way of Williamsport, and from thence to Chambersburg. When our army had arrived at Frederick City, General Hooker was relieved from the command and General Meade was assigned in his place. General Hooker left the army in fine condition and discipline, and well in hand, and he had the confidence of the troops in his ability to command them.
General Meade sent for me soon after his assignment, and in discussing the subject of the campaign, I mentioned that from my knowledge of the country, obtained the year before in the Antietam campaign, I considered the result of the present one depended entirely upon which of the two armies first obtained possession of Gettysburg, as that was so strong a position that either army, by holding it, could defeat the other; that General Lee knew this, and would
undoubtedly make for it. But in the disposition of the army for the march, I saw that General Meade did not attach that importance to the subject that it deserved, and that he was more impressed with the idea that Lee intended crossing the Susquehanna river, and accordingthrew the bulk of his army too far to the east of Gettysburg. Seeing this I directed General Buford, who commanded the First cavalry division, and who was ordered to Gettysburg, to hold that place at all hazards until our infantry could come up. Buford arrived at Gettysburg on the night of the thirtieth of June, 1863, in advance of the enemy, and moved out the next day very early, about four miles on the Cashtown road, when he met A. P. Hill's corps of the enemy, thirty thousand strong, moving down to occupy Gettysburg; Lee thus doing exactly what I informed General Meade he would do. Buford with his four thousand cavalry attacked Hill, and for four hours splendidly resisted his advance, until Reynolds and Howard were able to hurry to the field and give their assistance. To the intrepidity, courage and fidelity of General Buford, and his brave division, the country and the army owe the battle-field of Gettysburg.
His unequal fight of four thousand men against eight times their numbers, and his saving the field, made Buford the true hero of that battle.
While this terrible fight of the first day was raging, having been commenced by Buford in the morning, and continued by Reynolds and Howard in the evening; General Meade was seventeen miles off, at Tarrytown, leisurely planning a line of battle on some obscure creek in another direction; when he was aroused by a despatch from Buford through me, stating that Reynolds was killed, the field was becoming disordered, and if he expected to save it the army must be moved up at once. The different corps were then directed to march on Gettysburg, but some were so distant, Sedgwick's in particular, that it did not arrive on the field until sundown of the second of July, after having marched thirty-five miles. General Meade did not himself reach the field until one o'clock on the morning of the second, long after the first day's fight had been brought to a close.
On the second of July, 1863, that portion of the army that was on the field was placed in a defensive position, but General Meade had so little assurance in his own ability to maintain himself, or in the strength of his position, that when the rebels partially broke our line in the afternoon of the second, he directed me to collect what cavalry I could and prepare to cover the retreat of the army; and I was thus engaged until twelve o'clock that night. I mention this fact now, because when I was before your honorable Committee, and was asked the question, whether General Meade ever had any idea of retreating from Gettysburg, I answered that I did not remember; the above circumstance at that time being out of my mind, and it was
only afterward recalled by my staff officers on my return to camp. On the third of July, 1863, the last day of the battle of Gettysburg, and immediately after the final repulse of the rebels, I urged General Meade to advance his whole army and attack them; but he refused to do so quite angrily, and his remarks showed he did not or would not understand the events that were occurring around him. He directed me to send the cavalry and ascertain if the enemy were retreating, which was done at once, but as the cavalry was at some distance from the army, it was not until eight o'clock the next morning that the first report of the cavalry on the Cashtown road was received, showing the enemy were twenty-two miles off, and getting away as fast as they could. The cavalry was continued in pursuit, but the remainder of the army did not leave Gettysburg for several days after the rebels had left, and were then moved in such a leisurely manner as to show no great anxiety by the commander to overtake the rebels. Very unexpectedly, to the army and to the rebels, the heavy rains caused the Potomac to rise so rapidly that Lee could not cross, and he was again brought face to face with the Army of the Potomac at Falling Water. Every military reason demanded that the rebels should be immediately attacked; for after the three days heavy fighting at Gettysburg, it was a moderate conclusion to arrive at, that the rebels were short of ammunition and could not sustain a protracted fight. General Lee admitted this afterward in his official report, and expected to be attacked; when he says, our artillery having nearly expended its ammunition," and again, " the enemy in force reached our front on the twelfth. A position had been previously selected to cover the Potomac from Williamsport to Falling Water, and an attack was awaited during that and the succeeding day. This did not take place, though the two armies were in close proximity, the enemy being occupied in fortifying his own lines." The army of the Potomac having had all its wants supplied since the battle of Gettysburg, and with the prestige of that battle, was eager for the fight, and was in good condition for it. Here General Meade again refused to attack, and waited a whole day until the rebels had succeeded in crossing the river, and had again escaped.
The army thus lost the fruits of all its arduous toils, struggles and triumphs, and the country had entailed upon it a prolonged war for two years more, with its innumerable sacrifices of blood and treasure.
In reviewing the battle and campaign of Gettysburg, when we notice that General Meade was absent from the field on the first days' fight, that he was occupied with the idea of retreat ing on the second day; and that after his indomitable army had repulsed and badly beaten the rebel army on the third day, he refused to allow them to complete their victory; and still later, when fortune again unexpectedly thrust the
rebels into his power at Falling Water, he doggedly refused to fight, but waited until they could escape; we are forced to the conclusion, that General Meade was unable to fight the Army of the Potomac as it should have been fought, nor could he avail himself of the advantages which the valor of his troops at times gave him, and that the honors of that campaign are not due to any generalship that he displayed; but to the heroic bravery, patriotism and perseverance of the army.
THE RETREAT FROM CULPEPPER.
General Meade had occupied Culpepper with his army about the middle of September, 1863, General Lee's army being south of the Rapidan. The army had been at Culpepper about a month, when General Meade decided to make an offensive demonstration against Lee; for which purpose Buford's division of cavalry was ordered to cross the Rapidan at Germania ford, and then uncover Raccoon ford, where Newton's corps was to assist him.
After Buford had started, and was too far off to be recalled, General Lee put his army in motion toward our right, which so alarmed General Meade that he made his preparations to retreat from Culpepper; and so precipitate were his movements that Buford's division was very near being cut off, while the army was hastily marched to the rear. General Lee, finding he could move General Meade so easily, urged him back as far as Centreville, and when the latter took up a position near that place, Lee contented himself with destroying the railroad we had left behind, and retired on Culpepper.
CAMPAIGN OF MINE RUN.
The President having ordered General Meade to advance and attack General Lee, Culpepper was again occupied, early in November, 1863, when, shortly after, General Meade projected the campaign of Mine Run, the plan of which was based on the supposition that there was a good road from a mill several miles above Germania ford, to Robertson's tavern, on the Orange Court-house road or turnpike, when the fact was there was no road at all, and the country was extremely difficult to pass through. I knew the country well, and I told General Meade there was no road at that place, and to attempt to march troops through it would jeopardize the campaign; but my report did not appear to make any impression on him. On the evening. before the army moved, a gentleman by the name of Smith, who had resided in that neighborhood, and was a loyal man, was in our employ, and who knew the country thoroughly, came to me and said he had heard General Meade intended passing a portion of his army by that mill above the Germania ford; and that if he did so he would get his army into trouble, as there was no road at that point. I persuaded Mr. Smith to go and see General Meade, and tell him what he knew of the country; and Mr. Smith afterward told me that he had done
so, but that the General had not paid much at-Price in position on the Big Blue, drove him tention to him. Two corps-French's and Sedg- from his position toward the south, and took a wick's were put in where General Meade number of prisoners. Price then moved rapidly imagined there was a road, and they floundered in retreat. about in the woods and ravines for a day and a half, the rest of the army waiting for them; and when they did join us, and we came up to the rebels, General Meade changed his mind, again refused to attack, and marched the army back to Culpepper.
At this time Major-General S. R. Curtis, commanding Department of Kansas, joined me, and proposed, as my command had done so much hard fighting, that he should take the advance. To this I assented, when Curtis, after marching for a day in front, on finding Price had halted Shortly after this campaign I was ordered to on the Osage river, in position to give battle, the Department of the Missouri, and my connec-requested me to take the advance and attack tion with the Army of the Potomac ceased.
CAMPAIGN OF PRICE IN MISSOURI.
The rebel General Price, with twenty-five thousand men and eighteen pieces of artillery, invaded the State of Missouri, from Arkansas, in October, 1864. He attacked the field-work near Pilot Knob, in the south-eastern part of the State and, although he was repulsed, the garrison abandoned the work and fled to Rolla, some sixty miles to the south-west, where two brigades of cavalry were stationed. Price then moved up toward Franklin, and threatened Saint Louis. General A. J. Smith's command was thrown out to Franklin to cover that place, when Price turned off to Jefferson City, destroying the railroads as he went along; and, on arriving at Jefferson City, he besieged it for several days, the garrison having some six thousand troops, with ten or twelve guns, under four volunteer brigadier-generals.
On the sixth of October, 1864, General Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, fearing Jefferson City would be lost, ordered me to proceed to that place, and take command of all the forces in that vicinity. I arrived in time to see Price move off, and immediately organized a cavalry force of about four thousand men, with a battery, which was sent in pursuit, and which did good service in compelling Price to keep his command together, and so save the country from being badly pillaged. All other troops that could possibly take the field were prepared to do so, and by the sixteenth of October a cavalry force of seven thousand men and eight pieces of artillery, including the force that was sent in pursult of Price, was organized and on the march. I assumed the command of this force, and by forced marches came to Lexington on the twentieth, out of which place Price had driven General Curtis' troops, under General Blunt, that morning. I pushed on the next day to the Little Blue, engaged Price's troops, captured two pieces of cannon, and drove them back to the Big Blue, through Independence.
While this was going on, General Price with part of his force attacked Major-General Curtis, who had a force of twenty thousand men and thirty-two pieces of artillery, and drove him to Westport, in Kansas, Curtis losing one of his guns.
On the twenty-third of October I attacked
Price. I, therefore, moved immediately with my command to the front, and continued my march all night of the twenty-fourth of October, and at daylight on the morning of the twentyfifth, I surprised Price in his camp, and drove him from it, and by a series of heavy engagements throughout the day, captured eight pieces of artillery, several standards, one major-general, one brigadier-general, four colonels, and many subordinate officers, and fifteen hundred men, besides a large number of wagons, beefcattle, sheep, &c., Price's force becoming demoralized and retreating rapidly, throwing away their arms and other property that encumbered them.
I regret to add that Major-General Curtis gave me no support whatever this day, but, to the benefit of the rebels, bis troops were back, and did not participate in any of the engagements; otherwise I should have captured Price's whole force. After the fighting was over, General Curtis moved his forces up, and, with the most exemplary modesty, laid claim to the prisoners, guns, &c., that had been captured, but which I could not recognize, since he had waived his right to command at the time it was necessary to take them from the enemy.
On arriving at Fort Scott, Kansas, such of my troops whose horses were able, pursued Price, to the borders of the State, and in an engagement near Newtonia, under General Sanborn, Price was again routed and a number of prisoners were taken, which ended the campaign in Missouri.
The object of General Price, in his invasion of Missouri, as shown by intercepted despatches and his speeches at Booneville and elsewhere, was, in concert with disloyal parties in the North, to hold the States of Missouri and Kansas during the time of the Presidential election, to prevent an election, and by other action embarrass the Government of the United States.
It was this design that demanded such hard marching and extraordinary energy on the part of the small force at my command, to defeat intentions so sinister and disastrous to the country; and the efforts put forth were so successful, that the State of Missouri recognized their glorious consequences by giving at the Presidential election a vote of forty thousand majority in favor of the government. This was not the only important result of the campaign to the national cause, for the defeat and discomfiture of Price also released from service in
Missouri a large force of our troops, that were sent immediately to General Thomas at Nashville, and they arrived in time to assist in the battles before that place, against General Hood, and it is not too much to assert that this addition General Thomas received to his forces in General A. J. Smith's corps, rendered him victorious in one of the crowning achievements of the war.
The mistake of this campaign consisted in not attacking Price on his entry into the State, or as soon after as possible. The same troops were able to defeat Price in the east that afterIward did so on the borders of Kansas. All of which is respectfully submitted to your honorable Committee.
THE BATTLE OF BELMONT, MO.
At the same time I was notified that similar instructions had been sent to Brigadier-General C. F. Smith, commanding Paducah, Kentucky, and was directed to communicate with him freely as to my movemements, that his might be cooperative.
On the second of the same month, and before tion to have been made for the execution of this it was possible for any considerable preparaorder, the following telegraphic despatch was received:
ST. LOUIS, November 2, 1861.
To Brigadier-General Grant:
Jeff. Thompson is at Indian ford of the St.
By order of Major-General Fremont.
The force I determined to send from Bird's SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith Point were immediately designated, and Colonel a full and complete return of the battle of Bel-R. J. Oglesby, Eighth Illinois volunteers, asmont, Missouri, fought November seventh, 1861, signed to the command, under the following which I would respectfully ask to have sub- detailed instructions: stituted, in the place of my report of that action of date of November nineteenth, 1861, made to General S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant-General to the General-in-Chief.
Your obedient servant,
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT SOUTH-EAST MISSOURI, CAIRO, November 3, 1861. Colonel R. J. Oglesby, commanding, &c., Bird's Point, Mo.:
You will take command of an expedition consisting of your regiment, four companies of the Eleventh Illinois, all of the Eighteenth and Twenty-ninth, three companies of cavalry from Bird's Point (to be selected and notified by yourself), and a section of Schwartz's batReferred to the Adjutant-General for pub- tery artillery, and proceed by steamboats to lication, with the accompanying report.
JUNE 27, 1865.
E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS GENERAL: The following order was received from Headquarters Western Department:
CAIRO, ILL., November 17, 1861.
Commerce, Missouri. From Commerce you will strike for Sikeston, Mr. Cropper acting as guide. From there you will go in pursuit of a rebel force, understood to be three thousand strong, under Jeff. Thompson, now at Indian ford, on the St. Francis river.
An expedition has already left Ironton, Missouri, to attack this force. Should they learn that they have left that place it will not be necessary for you to go there, but pursue the enemy in any direction he may go, always being too strong for the command under you. cautious not to fall in with an unlooked-for foo
ST. LOUIS, November 1, 1861. General Grant, Commanding at Cairo: You are hereby directed to hold your whole command ready to march at an hour's notice, The object of the expedition is to destroy until further orders, and you will take particular care to be amply supplied with translargely at your discretion, believing it better portation and ammunition. You are also di- this force, and the manner of doing it is left your demonstrations with rected to make Transportation will be furnished you for fourtroops along both sides of the river toward not to trammel you with instructions. Charleston, Norfolk, and Blandville, and to keep your columns constantly moving back and for-teen days' rations and four or five days' forage. ward against these places, without, however, attacking the enemy.
Very respectfully, &c.,
furnished by the country through which you All you may require outside of this must be pass. In taking supplies you will be careful to select a proper officer to press them, and require a receipt to be given, and the articles pressed
Colonel J. B. Plummer, Eleventh Missouri volunteers, commanding Cape Girardeau, was directed to send one regiment in the direction of Bloomfield, with a view of attracting the attention of the enemy.
The forces under Colonel Oglesby were all got off on the evening of the third.
On the fifth, a telegram was received from headquarters, St. Louis, stating that the enemy was reinforcing Price's army from Columbus by way of White river, and directing that the demonstration that had been ordered against Columbus be immediately made. Orders were accordingly at once given to the troops under my command that remained at Cairo, Bird's Point, and Fort Holt. A letter was also sent to Brigadier-General C. F. Smith, commanding at Paducah, requesting him to make a demonstration at the same time against Columbus.
To more effectually attain the object of the demonstration against the enemy at Belmont and Columbus, I determined on the morning of the fifth to temporarily change the direction of Colonel Oglesby's column toward New Madrid, and also to send a small force under Colonel W. H. L. Wallace, Eleventh Illinois volunteers, to Charleston, Missouri, to ultimately join Colonel Oglesby. In accordance with this determination, I addressed Colonel Oglesby the following communication:
CAIRO, November 6, 1861.
of an equal amount from Colonel Marsh's. The
On the evening of the sixth I left this place in steamers, with McClernand's brigade, consisting of: Twenty-seventh regiment Ïllinois volunteers, Colonel Ñ. B. Buford; Thirtieth regiment Illinois volunteers, Colonel Phillip B. Fouke; Thirty-first regiment Illinois volunteers, Colonel John A. Logan; Dollins' company independent Illinois cavalry, Captain J. J. Dollins; Delano's company Adams county (Illinois) cavalry, Lieutenant J. R. Cattlin; Dougherty's brigade, consisting of: Twenty-second regiment Illinois volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel H. E. Hart; Seventh regiment Iowa volunteers, Colonel J. G. Lauman; amounting to three thousand one hundred and fourteen men of all arms, to make the demonstration against Columbus. I proceeded down the river to a point nine miles below here, where we lay until next morning, on the Kentucky shore, which served to distract the enemy, and lead him to suppose that he was to be attacked in his strongly-fortified position at Columbus.
About two o'clock on the morning of the seventh I received information from Colonel W. H. L. Wallace at Charleston (sent by a messenger on steamer W. H. B.) that he had learned from a reliable Union man that the enemy had been crossing troops from Columbus to Belmont the day before, for the purpose of following after, and cutting off the forces under Colonel Oglesby. Such a move on his part seemed to me more than probable, and gave at once a two-fold importance to my demonstration against the enemy, namely, the prevention of reinforcements to General Price, and the cutting off of Which was sent to Colonel Wallace with the the two small columns that I had sent, in pursufollowing letter:
Colonel R. J. Oglesby, commanding expedition: On receipt of this turn your column toward New Madrid. When you arrive at the nearest point to Columbus from which there is a road to that place, communicate with me at Belmont.
U. S. GRANT,
CAIRO, November 6, 1861. Colonel W. H. Wallace, Bird's Point, Mo.: Herewith I send you an order to Colonel Oglesby to change the direction of his column toward New Madrid, halting to communicate with me at Belmont from the nearest point on his road.
I desire you to get up the Charleston expedition ordered for to-morrow, to start to-night, taking two days' rations with them. You will accompany them to Charleston and get Colonel Oglesby's instructions to him by a messenger, if practicable, and when he is near enough you may join him. For this purpose you may substitute the remainder of your regiment in place
ance of directions, from this place and Cape Girardeau in pursuit of Jeff. Thompson. This information determined me to attack vigorously his forces at Belmont, knowing that, should we be repulsed, we could re-embark without difficulty under protection of the gunboats. The following order was given: