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58

JACKSON RETREATS

prisoner, and Geary was borne back severely wounded. Crawford and Gordon, in a piece of woods on the extreme right, contended with equal gallantry against the same hopeless odds; but were also compelled to fall back. The battle proper, lasted scarcely more than thirty minutes, and yet, in that short space of time, General Gordon lost onefourth of his entire brigade, and the One Hundred and Ninth Pennsylvania and One Hundred and Second New York regiments, left half their number behind them. Pope, hearing the cannonade at Culpepper, hurried forward with McDowell's Corps, to the rescue. Sigel was also ordered to close up with all possible despatch, and every preparation · was made for a great battle. Darkness settled over the sum. mer landscape; yet, all along that mountain side, occasional spots of flame would flash out, as a battery, now and then, sent its heavy shot and shell into the valley below - but before Pope could get his forces up, Jackson had retired across the Rapidan. He had accomplished his purpose-decoyed Banks into a trap, and shattered his corps into fragments, that could unite no more, till that campaign was ended; for nearly one-fourth of his entire force was killed, wounded, and missing, at the close of that short desperate struggle.

Pope blamed Banks for bringing on this disastrous battle, saying that his orders were to stand on the defensive, until he could move up his main body, and that his neglecting to do so, not only caused a useless slaughter, but saved Jackson from total annihilation. What the ultimate result of the campaign would have been, had Banks obeyed orders, it is impossible to say. We only know it was a sad beginning of a sad campaign. Pope, finding that it was impossible to hold his advanced position, on which the enemy was moving in overwhelming force, resolved to abandon it, and on the 18th and 19th, safely moving his entire army acrošs

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the Rappahannock, for several days succeeded in holding the fords against the repeated attempts of the enemy to

These demonstrations of Lee, however, in front, were not very determined, and evidently made to mask his grand movement, which was to turn the right wing of Pope's army. The situation was fast becoming one, that might well fill the latter with anxiety. It would not do to uncover Fredericksburg, yet to extend his lines so as to keep pace with the rebel movement to the right, rendered it so thin as to be easily forced at almost any point. A sudden freshet raising the river, so that there were but few points where it could be crossed, relieved him for a while. On the 25th only seven thousand men, the Pennsylvania reserves under Reynolds and Kearney's division, had reached him from the Army of the Potomac. But receiving word that thirty thousand more were on their way to join him, he determined to let go his hold on the lower fords of the Rappahannock, and concentrate his forces between Warrenton and Gainesville, and give the enemy battle. On the 26th le ascertained that Jackson, having passed around his right, was moving swiftly through Thorough Fare Gap, to cut off his communication with Washington. Pope had directed the approach. . ing reinforcements to take certain positions as they arrived, which, he felt confident, would enable him to checkmate any such attempt. But he was disappointed. In fact, the whole movement of Jackson was a surprise to him. So rapid and secret bad his march of nearly fifty miles, in forty-eight hours been, that his sudden appearance at Bristow Station, on the Orange and Alexandria railroad, was like an apparition. Without wagons or provisions, feeding his army on the standing corn, which the soldiers picked and roasted on the way;

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he had moved with the celerity of cavalry, and was now thundering in the rear of the puzzled American Commander, breaking up his head-quarters, and capturing his

60

PURSUIT OF JACKSON.

papers.. Burning railway trains at Bristow, the

enemy moved up to Manassas Junction, Ewell's division bringing up the rear. Destroying here, Quarter-Masters' and Commissary stores, and sutlers' depots, the ragged, famished soldiers, rioted, for a while, in luxury and drinking, and satiated themselves with the finest wines. But Jackson was now in a perilous position, being between Alexandria and Warrenton, and between Pope's army and that of McClellan. Turning night into day, by the immense conflagrations he kindled here, the enemy moved off to Centreville, and crossed the famous Bull Run, pursued by Pope. Jackson would hardly have dared to make this audacious movement, had he not entertained a thorough contempt for his adversary. Pope thought he had him in a trap, and telegraphed to Washington that he could not escape. In fact, he had him secure two or three times, yet the latter always managed to get off, but in every case, through somebody's criminal neg. lect, or almost equally criminal blunders. The misfortune at Bristow, was owing to the refusal, on the part of Porter, to obey orders, and the dilatoriness of Sigel, who commanded McDowell's advance. So too, if McDowell had “moved forward as directed, and at the time specified, they would have intercepted Jackson's retreat towards Centreville," and cut him up badly. But, after all these mishaps, Jackson was still in his toils, as he believed. Surrounded by an overwhelming force, his only way of escape was through Thorough Fare Gap, or north to Leesburgh. But McDowell, with twentyfive thousand men, was between him and the Gap, while Kearney was pressing him so closely, that the latter alternative would be impracticable. This was the state of things on the night of the 28th. From Pope's point of view, it did seem a desperate case for Jackson. Between him and the Gap, lay twenty-five thousand men-behind him, ready to fall on him in the morning, were twenty-five thousand

A BAYONET CHARGE.

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more, while the rebel leader could not have had more than twenty thousand men all told. But here again, “some one blundered.” Ricketts, according to Pope, made a false movement, causing King to withdraw his troops, leaving Thorough Fare Gap open, towards which Jackson was steadily falling back, and through which Longstreet was about to pour his division to succor him Of course, a new disposition of the forces became necessary. Sigel was directed to attack the enemy at daylight, and bring him to bay. He did so and the battle of Groveton followed. It was a bloody action, and at first, seemed doubtful, but the arrival of Hooker and Kearney soon changed the aspect of affairs. The battle raged all day, and the fields and woods were thickly strewn with the dead; but, at five o'clock, Heintzelman and Reno made a furious charge on the enemy's left, which doubled it up, and forced it back, so that, when darkness put an end to the strife, we were masters of the field, but nothing more. In the attack on the enemy's left Grover's brigade, of Hooker's division, greatly distinguished itself by a bayonet charge, which shivered the first and second lines of the enemy, and was checked only by the third.

But while Jackson was compelled to fall back, Longstreet's troops were seen pouring through Thorough Fare Gap to his relief.

Qur loss in this engagement was estimated at nearly eight thousand. Again, Pope saw his this time, Porter was to blame; for, if he had come up in season, Pope “would have crushed or captured” (he said) * the larger portion of Jackson's force.”

The next morning, Pope again gave battle, in the last desperate hope of breaking the enemy's left. The conflict was long and sanguinary, extending on into the night. As in the battle of the day before; no decisive advantage seemed

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to have been gained by the enemy, yet, at its close, Pope ordered the whole army to fall back to the fortificationg around Washington, for protection. He had ridiculed the idea of securing lines of retreat, and the country had scoffed at the veteran Scott, and afterwards at McClellan, for building those elaborate works before venturing an advance movement; but now, the former was glad to take advantage of the refuge he had affected to despise, and the latter heaved a sigh of relief, that military science had not yielded to popular ignorance and conceit. Halleck, at last, discovered the bold plan of Lee, which, the constant fighting, and even the last two days' battles, had not for a moment arrested. Steadily sweeping on towards the Shenandoah Valley, all the battles he had fought, were for the purpose of clearing his line of communications, and forcing our army back into its fortifications, exhausted, bleeding, humbled, so that he could cross the Potomac into Maryland, and threaten the national Capital from the rear.

All this time, McClellan, stripped of his command, was in camp near Alexandria, a prey to the keenest anxiety. The army that he had created, and which had become endeared to him by common perils and a common destiny, was struggling in mortal combat near him—the sound of cannon constantly borne to his ears, and the earth trembling under the heavy explosions, and yet, he was not allowed to be with it. His brave troops were being mowed down, as he believed, a sacrifice to incompetency, yet he could do nothing, but send on fresh men as fast as they arrived, till he had nothing left, but the guard around his camp, and this, at last was ordered forward also. Never was a Commander placed in a more painful position. Stripped of all command, he walked his solitary camp, borne down with grief. At last he could bear it no longer, and just before midnight, on the last day of the battle, he telegraphed to Gen. Halleck, at Washing.

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