Page images





[ocr errors]

by the Confederate cavalry. Averill's loss was two hundred and seven men, and a Parrott gun, which burst during the fight. The Confederate loss was one hundred and fifty-six men.

Much later in the year, Averill, still watching in West Virginia, made another aggressive movement. He left Beverly, in Tygart's Valley, early in November, with five thousand men of all arms, and, moving southward, again encountered “Mudwall” Jackson. He drove him until the latter was re-enforced by General Echols, who came up from Lewisburg, when the Confederates took a strong position on the top of Droop Mountain, in Greenbrier County. Averill stormed them there, and pushed them

· November 6, back into Monroe County, with a loss of over three hundred men, three guns, and seven hundred small-arms. Averill reported his own loss at "about one hundred, officers and men.”

West Virginia was now nearly purged of armed rebels, and not long afterward, Averill started on the important business of destroying the communication between Lee and Bragg over the Virginia and Tennessee railway. With the Second, Third, and Eighth Virginia mounted infantry, the Fourteenth Pennsylvania (Dobson's battalion) Cavalry, and Ewing's battery, he crossed the mountains over icy roads and paths, in the midst of tempests a

part of the time, and, on the 16th of December, struck the railway at Salem, on the head waters of the Roanoke River. There he destroyed the station houses and rolling stock, and a large quantity of Confederate supplies ;' cut and coiled up the telegraph wires for half a mile; and in the course of six hours tore up the track, heated and ruined the rails, burned five bridges, and destroyed several culverts in the space of about fifteen miles. This raid aroused all of the Confederates in that mountain region, and seven separate commands' were arranged


in a line extending from Staunton · He destroyed 2,000 barrels of flour, 10,000 bushels of wheat, 100,000 bushels of shelled corn, 50,000 bushels of oats, 2,000 barrels of meat, several cords of leather, 1,000 sacks of salt, 31 boxes of clothing, 20 bales of cotton, a large amount of barness, shoes, saddles, and tools, and 100 wagons.

? These were the commands of Generals Early, Fitzbugh Lee, Jones, Imboden, Jackson, Echols, and McCausland.

VOL. III.-86





to Newport, to intercept the bold raiders on their return. Fortunately for them, Averill intercepted a dispatch from Jones to Early, which revealed the position and intention of some of the watchers. By this he was satisfied that Covington, on Jackson's River, between the commands of Jones and Jackson, would be the best place to dash through the Confederate line. pushed on in that direction, and, as he approached Covington, the Eighth Virginia drove in the Confederate outposts, and secured the bridges there, which had been prepared for the flames, when the whole column, four miles in length, passed over the river, excepting one regiment, in spite of brisk opposition. Then Averill destroyed the bridges behind him, and the regiment that was cut off swam the stream and rejoined the command, with a

loss of only four men drowned. Averill captured, during this * December 21, raid, about two hundred men.

“My command," he said in his report," "has marched, climbed, slid, and swam,' three hundred and forty-five miles since the 8th instant.” He reported his entire loss at “six men drowned, one officer and four men wounded, and ninety men missing.”

A correspondent of the Richmond Examiner gave a spirited and somewhat comical account of this raid. “No language,” he said, “ can tell the sufferings of our men. They were in saddle day and night, save a few hours between midnight and day. They were beat up by the officers with their swords—the only means of arousing them-numb and sleepy. Some froze to death; others were taken from their horses, senseless. They forded swollen streams, and their clothes, stiff frozen, rattled as they rode. It rained in torrents, and froze as it fell. In the mountain-paths the ice was cut from the roads before they ventured to ride over. One horse slipped over the precipice. The rider was leading him; he never looked after him. The whole matter is summed up in a couple of sentences. Averill was penned up: McCausland, Echols, and Jackson at one gate ; Lee and Imboden at the other. Some ass suggested he might escape, by jumping down the well, and coming out in Japan--that is, go to Buchanan. Early ordered them to leave a gate open, and guard the well. He did not jump in."

Let us now return to a consideration of the military events west of the great mountain chain that separates the Atlantic States from those in the Valley of the Mississippi.

1 " I was obliged to swim my command, and drag my artillery with ropes across Craig's Creek seven times in twenty-four hours," Averill said, in his report. A participant in the march said tho creek was deep, and the current strong and filled with drifting ice.

? This allusion to Buchanan is explained by another paragraph in the writer's letter, when he relates the blunders of Early, “ Major-General commanding," who believed a story told him, that Averill was marching on Buchanan instead of Covington. He acted accordingly, and ordered Lee and Imboden to march to Buchanan. This blunder left the gate open" at Covington. The writer says no one should have believed a statement sa absurd, " for it presupposed Averill had deliberately placed himself past escape."






E left General Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland at Murfreesboro', after the Battle of Stone's River, at the beginning of 1863, where he established a fortified depot of supplies. General Bragg, his opponent, had taken a strong position north of the Duck River,' his infantry extending from Shelbyville to Wartrace, his cavalry on his

right stretched out to McMinnville, and on his left to Columbia and Spring Hill, on the railway between Nashville and Decatur. General Polk's corps was at Shelbyville. Hardee's head-quarters were at Wartrace, and his troops were holding Hoover's, Liberty, and Bellbuckle Gaps. Bragg's main base of supplies was at Chattanooga, on the Tennessee River, with a large depot at Tullahoma.

In nearly these repective positions the two armies lay for almost six months, but not in idleness. Although Rosecrans had the most men, Bragg was his superior in cavalry, and this gave the latter a vast advantage, because of the relation of that arm of the service to his adversary's supplies. These were chiefly drawn from far-distant Louisville, over a single line of railway, through a country whereof a majority of the inhabitants were hostile to the Government. For that reason, Rosecrans was compelled to keep heavy guards at bridges, trestle-work, and culverts, to prevent their destruction by raiders and resident enemies. The consequence was that at no time while the two armies fronted each other, from January to June, could Rosecrans have brought into the field to fight his foe a number of troops equal to that of his antagonist.

Rosecrans reorganized his army, and divided it into three corps, known as the Fourteenth, Twentieth, and the Twentyfirst, commanded respectively by Generals Thomas, McCook, and




Jan. 9.


· Bragg's army was in three divisions, one of which was cavalry, under the command of General J. H. 116


* 1863.

Crittenden, and a reserve and cavalry corps.' The winter floods in the Cum. berland favored him, and as rapidly as possible he collected large stores at Nashville by the river steamers, and made Murfreesboro' a depot for ample supplies. Finally, he obtained a sufficient number of horses and mules to warrant him in moving southward. Before considering that important act,

which took place late in June, let us take a brief survey of the

doings of the cavalry and mounted infantry of the two armies during the suspension of operations in full force.

At the beginning of February, General Wheeler, Bragg's chief of cavalry, with four thousand five hundred mounted men, and having General Wharton and Colonel N. B. Forrest as brigadiers, concentrated his forces at Franklin, a little below Nashville, on the road between that city and Decatur, for the purpose of attempting the recapture of Fort Donelson, which, it was known, had not been repaired since it was taken by Grant.' It had not even been occupied, for it was of little account, excepting as a defense against gun-boats coming up the river. The little village of Dover, near by, had been partially fortified; and when Wheeler approached, the garrison, under Colonel A. C. Harding, consisted of only about six hundred effective men, mostly of the Eighty-third Illinois, with a section of Flood's battery (four guns) and a 32-pound siege-gun mounted upon a turn-table, and commanded by N. Grant Abbey, then a private in the Eighty-third Illinois. 3

The chief object of the Confederates at this time was to interrupt the navigation of the Cumberland, and thus seriously interfere with the transportation of supplies for Rosecrans's army to Nashville, by way of the river. Forrest had been at Palmyra for the same purpose; and now, at a little

past noon on the 3d of February,” he demanded the surrender of

Fort Donelson and the garrison. Harding was weak in numbers, but strong in heart. He defied his foe; and when the Confederates moved up to attack, he sent out skirmishers to impede their progress as much as possible, while a horseman was hastening to Fort Henry for aid, and a little steamer was speeding down the river, to summon to his assistance some gun-boats then convoying a fleet of transports up the stream. The skirmishers fell back, and when Wheeler and his men were within cannon-range, Harding opened upon them his 32-pounder and four smaller guns with great effect. From that time until after dark, Harding maintained a gallant fight with his foe, losing forty-five of his sixty artillery

[ocr errors]

Wheeler. The First Corps was commanded by Lieutenant-General Leonidas Polk, with Generals B, F. Cheatham, J. M. Withers, and S. B. Backner as division commanders; and the Second by Lieutenant-General W. J. Hardee, whose division commanders were Generals P. R. Cleburne and A. P. Stewart. The cavalry division commanders were Generals J. A. W barton and W. Martin.

| The division commanders were as follows:- Fourteenth Army Corps-First Division, General J. C. Starkweather; Second Division, General J. S. Negley, Third Division, General J. M. Brannon; Fourth Divi. sion, General J. J. Reynolds. Twentieth Army Corps-First Division, General J. C. Davis; Second Division, General R. W. Johnson; Third Division, General P. H. Sheridan. Twenty-first Army Corps-First Division, General T. J. Wood; Second Division, General C. Cruft; Third Division, General H. P. Van Cleve. There was a reserve corps under General Gordon Granger, with General W. C. Whittaker commanding the First Division, General G. W. Morgan the Second, and General R. S. Granger the Third. The cavalry corps was commanded by General D. S. Stanley. The First Division was led by General R. B. Mitchell and the Second by General J. B. Turchin.

? See page 220, volume II. 3 This brave soldier was highly complimented by Colonel Harding for his skill and bravery on that occasion, 1:nd he made him a present of a very fine revolver. He was promoted to sergeant. In May, 1865, he was more tally wounded in an encounter with guerrillas in Kentucky.



Jan. 31, 1863.

horses in the struggle. Finally, at eight o'clock in the evening, the gun-boat Fair Play, Lieutenant-commanding Fitch, came up, and gave the astonished Confederates a raking fire that dismayed them. They fled precipitately, and well for them they did, for other gun-boats were soon there. In this engagement Harding lost one hundred and twenty-six men, of whom fifty were made prisoners. Wheeler's loss was estimated at nearly six hundred. He left one hundred and fifty men dead on the field, and an equal number as prisoners. He withdrew to Franklin, and did not again attempt to capture Fort Donelson.

While Wheeler was upon the Cumberland, General J. C. Davis, with two brigades of cavalry under Colonel Minty, and a division of infantry, was operating in his rear. Davis went westward from Murfreesboro', “ and in the course of thirteen days his force swept over a considerable space, in detachments, and returned to camp without having engaged in any serious encounter. The fruit of the expedition was the capture of one hundred and forty-one of Wheeler's men, including two colonels and several officers of lower rank.

Both armies were now quiet for awhile. At length it was ascertained that General Van Dorn, with a considerable force of cavalry and mounted infantry, was hovering in the vicinity of Franklin; and Colonel John Colburn, of the Thirty-third Indiana, stationed at the latter place, and General Sheridan at Murfreesboro', were ordered to move in the direction of this menacing force. They marched simultaneously. Colburn's command consisted of nearly twenty-seven hundred men, of whom six hundred were cavalry. He was directed to move on Spring Hill, twelve miles south of Franklin. He had marched but a little way when he fell in with a party of Confederates, with whom he skirmished. They were repulsed, and he moved on; but toward cvening they again appeared, with an additional force, and boldly confronted him. Colburn halted and encamped for the night, and soon after moving forward the next morning," he was attacked by a greatly superior number of men, under Van Dorn and Forrest. After fighting until his ammunition was exhausted, Colburn was compelled to surrender about thirteen hundred of his infantry. The remainder of his infantry, and the cavalry and artillery not engaged in the fight, escaped. Van Dorn's force consisted of six brigades of mounted men. Sheridan, with his division, and about eighteen hundred cavalry, under Colonel Minty, first swept down toward Shelbyville, and then around toward Franklin, skirmishing in several places with detachments of Van Dorn's and Forrest's men. In a sharp fight at Thompson's Station, he captured some of the force which encountered Colburn. He finally drove Van Dorn beyond the Duck River, and then returneda to Murfreesboro', with a loss during his ten days' ride and skirmishing of only five men killed and five wounded. His gain was nearly one hundred prisoners.

On the 18th of March, Colonel A. S. Hall, with a little over fourteen

March 4.

• March 5.

March 14.

" A part of the Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth Indiana Twenty-second Wisconsin, Nineteenth Michigan, and One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio. The cavalry consisted of detachments from thc Second Michigan, Ninth Pennsylvania, and Fourth Kentucky, under Colonel Jordan. A battery of six guns composed the artillery.

« PreviousContinue »