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TI E BALL'S BLUFF DISASTER.
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between that and Goose | vorable than the first, and
enemy were posted in that with Leesburg. Captain vicinity, ascertain as near as possible their Candy, Assistant Adjutant-General, and Gen. number and disposition, examine the country eral Lander, accompanied the cavalry to serve with reference to the passage of troops to the with it. Leesburg and Georgetown turnpike, and re
The battalion under Colonel Ward was deturn rapidly to cover behind the skirmishers tained on the bluff in the rear of Colonel of the First Minnesota.
Devens, instead of being directed to the right. This reconnoissance was most gallantly Stone said in his official report: “For some made by all in the party, which proceeded reason, never explained to me, neither of along the Leesburg road nearly three miles these orders were ever carried out. The cavfrom the ferry, and when near the position alry were transferred to the Virginia shore, of a hidden battery, came suddenly on a Mis- but were sent back without having left the sissippi regiment about thirty-five yards dis- shore to go inland, and thus Colonel Devens tant, received its fire and returned it with was deprived of the means of obtaining their pistols. The fire of the enemy killed warning of any approach of the enemy." one horse, but Lieutenant Gouraud, the gal. The report then went on to state the orders lant Adjutant of the cavalry battalion, seized given to Colonel Baker, under which le the dismounted man, and drawing him on acted, viz.: his horse behind him, carried him safely from “ Colonel Baker having arrived at Conrad's Fer. the field. One private of the Fourth Vir- ry, with the First California regiment at an early ginia cavalry was brought off by the party, hour, proceeded to Edwards' Ferry, and reported and as he was well mounted and armed, his
to me in person, stating that his regiment was at the
former place, and the three other regiments of his mount replaced the one lost by the fire of the
brigade ready to march. I directed him to Harrienemy.
son's Island to assume command, and in a full conMeantime Colonel Devens on the right, versation explained to him the position as it then having in pursuance of his orders arrived at stood. I told him that General McCall had advancthe position indicated by the scouts as the ed his troops to Drainesville, and that I was ex• site of the enemy's camp, found that they had tremely desirous of ascertaining the exact position been deceived by the uncertain light, and and force of the enemy in our front, and exploring, had mistaken the opening in the trees for a as far as it was safe, on the right towards Leesburg, row of tents. He found however, wood, in and on the left towards the Leesburg and Gum which he concealed his force from view, and Spring road. I also informed Colonel Baker that
General Gorman, opposite Edwards' Ferry, should proceeded to examine the between that
be reenforced, and that I would make every effort and Leesburg, sending back word to General
to push Gorman's troops carefully forward, to dis. Stone, that thus far he could see no enemy.
cover the best line from that Ferry to the Leesburg Immediately on receipt of this intelligence, and Gum Spring road, already mentioned, and the which was carried by Lieutenant Howe, position of the breastworks and hidden batteries, General Stone ordered a non-commissioned which prevented the movement of troops directly officer and ten cavalry to join Colonel Devens, from left to right, were also pointed out to him. for the purpose of scouring the country near " The means of transportation across, of the sufhim, while he continued his reconnoissance, ficiency of which he (Baker) was to be the judge, anıl give him due notice of the approach of
was detailed, and anthority given him to make use any enemy, and that Lieutenant-Colonel of the guns of a section each of Vaughan's and Wird, with his battalion of the Fifteenth Bunting's batteries, together with French's moun. Massachueetts, should move on to Smart's
tain howitzers (of Ricketts' battery), all the troops
of his brigade and the Tammany regiment, beside Mill, half-a-mile to the right of the crossing the Nineteenth and part of the Twentieth regiments place of Colonels Devens and Lee, where, in of Massachusetts volunteers. I left it to his discrestrong position, he could watch and protect tion, after viewing the ground, to retire from the the flank of Colonel Devens on his return, Virginia shore under the cover of his guns and the and secure a second crossing-place more fa- fire of the large infantry force, or to pass our reen
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forcements in case he found it | tional flat-boat to be lifted
on the other side favorable. I river, and had provided a stated that I wished no advance inade unless the line, by which to cross the boats more rapidly. enemy were of inferior force, and under no circum
During the morning a sharp skirmish took stances to pass beyond Leesburg, or a strong posi- place between two of the advance companies tion between it and Goose Creek, on the Gum Spring, l of the Fifteenth Massachusetts and a body of i. e., the Manassas road. Colonel Baker was cau
about one hundred strong of Mississippi tioned in reference to passing artillery across the river, and I begged, if he did so, to see it well sup- riflemen, during which a body of the enemy's ported by good infantry. The General pointed out cavalry appeared, causing Colonel Devens to to him the position of some bluffs on this side of the fall back in good order on Colonel Lee's poriver, from which artillery could act with effect on sition, after which he again advanced, his the other, and, leaving the matter of crossing more officers and men behaving admirably, figlittroops or retiring what were already over, to his ing, retiring, and advancing in perfect order, discretion, gave him entire control of operations on and exhibiting every proof of high courage the right. This gallant and energetic officer left me and good discipline. Had he, at this time, abont nine A. m. or half-past nine, and galloped off
had the cavalry scouting party which was quickly to his command."
sent him in the morning, but which, most This statement is precise, and if Colonel unfortunately, had been turned back without Baker was caught without transports for a his knowledge, he could, doubtless, have had retreat, was surprised by an overwhelming timely warning of the approach of the supeforce which cut off his retreat, in part, it was rior force, that afterwards overwhelmed not General Stone's fault, if the orders ex- his regiment and their brave commander plicitly detailed above were given and were and comrades. To that surprise was owing understood. Baker's friends as explicitly the disaster. state that he undertook the enterprize, con- General Stone, evidently thinking that scious that he should be overwhelmed, and Colonel Baker might be able to use more arthat he so expressed himself to General Stone, tillery, dispatched to him two additional urging the practical impossibility, with the pieces of Vaughan's battery, supported by transports at his disposal, of throwing over two companies of infantry, with directions the river the force which he deemed safe to its officer to come into position below the but was ordered forward. From an exami- place of crossing, and report to Colonel Bisnation of all the evidence produced, we credit ker. Later in the day, and but a short time the General's statement, and feel that the prior to the arrival of the guns, Colonel Bacensures heaped upon him really were un- ker suggested this same movement to Genermerited.
al Stone. Reenforcements were rapidly thrown to the It was about one o'clock P. M., when the Virginia side by General Gorman, at Edwards' enemy appeared in force, in front of Colonel Ferry, and his skirmishers and cavalry scouts Devens. A second skirmish then ensued. advanced cautiously and steadily to the front The field was maintained for some time by and right, while the infantry lines were the Massachusetts Fifteenth, when, tinding formed in such position as to act rapidly and himself unsupported and about to be outin concert, in case of an advance of the enemy, flanked, Colonel Devens retired his men to 8 and shells were thrown by Lieutenant Wood-position in the edge of the wood, about half ruff's Parrott guns, especial care being taken a mile in front of Colonel Lee's position, to annoy the enemy by the battery on the where he remained until two P. M., when he right.
again retired with the approach of Colonel Messengers from Harrison's Island inform- Baker, and took his place in line with those ed General Stone, soon after the arrival of portions of the Twentieth Massachusetts and Colonel Baker opposite the island, that he First California regiments which had arrived. was crossing his whole ce as rapidly as Colonel Baker at once formed his line, possible, and that he had caused an addi- | awaiting the attack of the enemy, who canno
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upon him with great vigor | New York city, command-
met with admirable spirit regiment, seeing the assasby our troops. Though evidently struggling sination of Colonel Baker, rushed upon the against largely superior numbers, (nearly if ruffian, seized him by the throat, and shot not quite three to one,) they maintained their him dead on the spot with his revolver, ground and a most destructive fire upon the Colonel Lee then took command, and preenemy. Colonel Cogswell, with a small por- pared to commence throwing all his forces to tion of his (Tanımany) regiment, succeeded the rear, but Colonel Cogswell, of the Tamin reaching the field in the midst of the many regiment, being found to be senior in heaviest fire. His men rushed into the con- rank, assumed command, and ordered dispoflict with a wild shout.
sitions to be made immediately for marching Lieutenant Bramlıall, of Bunting's battery, to the left, and cutting a way through to Edsucceeded, after great exertions, in bringing wards' Ferry. up a piece of the Rhode Island battery, and Unfortunately, just as the first dispositions Lieutenant French, First artillery, his two were being made, an officer of the rebels rode mountain howitzers; but, while, for a short rapidly to the front of the Tammany regitime, these maintained a well-directed fire, ment and beckoned them towards the enemy. both officers and nearly all the men were soon Whether the Tammany understood this as an borne away wounded, and the pieces were order from one of its officers, or an invitapassed to the rear to prevent their falling tion to close work, is not known; but the into the hands of the enemy.
men responded to the gesture with a yell, About four o'clock P. M., Colonel Baker, and charged forward, carrying with them in pierced by a number of balls, fell, at the head their advance the rest of the line, which soon of his command, while cheering on his men, received a murderous fire from the enemy at and by his own example maintaining the ob- close distance. The officers rapidly recalled stinate resistance they were making. In full their men, but in the position they had now uniform, with a "regulation" hat and feather, placed themselves, it was impracticable to and mounted on his horse, he was a conspic- make the movement designed, and Colonel
mark for the sharpshooters. En-Cogswell reluctantly gave the order to retire. tirely regardless of personal safety, he led The enemy pursued to the edge of the bluff and cheered on his men. He remarked to over the landing place, and thence poured in those around him, “A rascal up in that tree a heavy fire on the men who were endeavorhas fired at me five or six times;" and the ing to cross to the island. rascal in the tree was speedily brought down Rapid as the retreat necessarily was, there by a well-directed ball. Soon after this was no neglect of orders. The men formed Colonel Baker was surrounded by a body of near the river, deploying as skirmishers, and rebel cavalry and taken prisoner; but the maintained for twenty minutes or more the right wing of the battalion charged with the unequal and hopeless contest rather than surbayonet, routed the cavalry, killed numbers render. of them, and recaptured their Colonel.
The smaller boats had disappeared, no one But a few minutes Irad elapsed, however, knew whither. The largest boat, rapidly when a tall, ferocious Virginian, with eyes and too heavily laden, swamped some tifteen fairly ablaze, came rushing from behind feet from the shore, and nothing was left to a tree, with a huge revolver in his hand, and, the gallant soldiers but to swim, surrender placing the weapon almost against the Colo- or die. nel's head, inflicted a mortal wound. Not With a devotion worthy of the cause they satisfied with his deadly work, he fired the were serving, officers and men, while quarter second ball, while simultaneously the body was being offered to such as would lay down was pierced with four bullets from the tops their arms, stripped themselves of their of trees. The brave Culonel fell lifeless swords and muskets, hurled them into from his horse. Captain Louis Berial, of the river to prevent their falling into
The Ball's Bluff Dis
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the hands of the foe, and ordered the wounded there
could by swimming, float- a patrol on the tow path ing on logs, or by concealing themselves in opposite the island to the line of pickets near bushes and forests to make their way up and Monocacy; then returned to the left, to sedown the river, back to a place of crossing. cure the troops there from disaster, preparing A correspondent present who appears to
means of removing them as rapidly as pos have been in General Stone's confidence,
Orders arrived from headquarters of the " While these scenes were being enacted on the army of the Potomac to hold the island and right, General Stone was preparing for a rapid push Virginia shore at Edwards' Ferry at all bazforward to the road by which the enemy would re-ards, and promising reenforcements. Stone treat if driven, and entirely unsuspicious of the per. forwarded additional intrenching tools to ilous condition of the troops on the right. The ad. General Gorman, with instructions to intrench ditional artillery had already been sent in anticipa- and hold out against any force that might ticn, and General Stone was told by a messenger appear. That evening General Stone learned from Baker's position, that the Colonel could, with by telegraph that General Banks was on the out doubt, hold his own in case he did not advance.
way to reenforce him, and at about three A. H., Half an hour later-say at half-past three P. M.-a
that officer arrived and assumed command, similar statement was made by another messenger from Colonel Baker, and it was the expectation of
One on the ground wrote; “After Colonel General Stone that an advance on the right would Devens' second advance, Colonel Baker seems be made, so that he could push forward General to have gone to the field in person, but he Gorman. It was, as had been explained to Colonel has left no record of what officers and men Baker, impracticable to throw Gorman's brigade he charged with the care of the boats, and directly to the right, by reason of the battery in the insuring the regular passage of the troops. wood, between which we had never been able to If any one was charged with this duty, it was reconnoitre."
not performed, for it appears that the reenThis confidence in Baker's success is con- forcements, as they arrived, found no system firmed by the collateral evidence of Stone enforced, and the boats were delayed most having telegraphed to General Banks a re- unnecessarily in transporting back, a few at quest for a brigade with which to occupy the a time, the wounded that happened to arrive Virginia side of the river, opposite Harrison's with attendants. Had an efficient officer Island.
been in charge at each landing, with one It was not, it would appear from official company guarding the boats, their full castatements, until five P. M., that a messengerpacity would have been made serviceable, arrived from the field announcing to Stone and sufficient men would have passed on to the news of Colonel Baker's death. The mes- secure the success of his operation. The forsenger (Captain Canby) did not even then warding of artillery (necessarily a slow proreport a reverse, but complained that reen- cess) before its supporting force of infantry, forcements were slow. Stone telegraphed also impeded the rapid assembling of an imword of Baker's loss to General Banks, and posing force on the Virginia shore. The inthen hastened to the right to assume com- fantry which was waiting with impatience mand. Before he reached the point opposite should have been first transported, and this the island, evidences of disaster began to be alone would have made a difference in the met, in men who had crossed the river by infantry line at the time of attack of at least sivimming. Reaching the landing, the fact one thousand men---enough to have turned was asserted in a manner leaving no possible the scale in our favor.” doubt. It was reported to the General that The losses of the Federals, in this affair, the enemy's force was ten thousand, that they never were accurately ascertained. About were carrying all before them and would seventy were killed; as many were drowned doubtless secure the island. His efforts were and shot in the water; over one hundred at once directed to the island's safety. He and fifty were wounded; and about four hun
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dred were taken prisoners.* Very respectfully, Colonel, your most obedient The rebel General in com
CHARLES P. STONE, mand, Evans, in his report
"Brigadier-General Commanding." of the conflict. stated his forces to have been
The second order, which twenty-five hundred, and his loss to have follows, was delivered on been three hundred killed and wounded. the battle-field by Colonel The Federal force, all told, was nineteen Cogswell, who said to Colonel Baker, in reply hundred, as follows: California, 570; Tam-to a question what it meant, “ All right, go many, 360; Massachusetts Fifteenth, 653;
ahead.” Thereupon, Colonel Baker put it in
his hat without reading. Massachusetts Twentieth, 318.
An hour afterward
he fell : It is painful to contemplate the full extent
“ HEADQUARTERS CORPS OF OBSERVATION, of this disaster. It was a defeat, but that
EDWARDS' FERRY, Oct. 22d--11:50. was not the worst result: the slaughter “ E. D. Baker, Commanding Brigade : which followed the defeat—the bravery and “ Colonel : I am informed that the force of the devotion which drove men into the swollen enemy is about four thousand, all told. If you can torrent, to perish by drowning and by being push them, you may do so as far as to have a strong shot in the water—the swamping in mid position near Leesburg, if you can keep them before stream of the flat-boat heavily ladened with you, avoiding their batteries. If they pass Leeg. the wounded, by which the agonies of two burg and take the Gum Spring road, you will not deaths were meted out to the doomed heroes follow far, but sieze the first good position to cover
that road. --the dispersion of the army into small
“ Their desire is to draw us on, if they are obliged squads up and down the stream to be hunted
to retreat, as far as Goose Creek, where they can like wild beasts—all form a picture over
be reenforced from Manassas, and have a strong which men may be excused for weeping. It
position. was one of the most distressing events of a
“Report frequently, so that, when they are pushdistressing war.
ed, Gorman can come up on their flank. As to the responsibility of the movement
“Yours, respectfully and truly, made, and of the surprise, the following or
“ CHARLES P. STONE, ders will afford due light; they were found
“ Brigadier-General Commanding," in the Colonel's hat, underneath the lining.
The surprise was owing principally to the Both were deeply stained with his blood. unusual sagacity exercised by the rebel GenOne of the bullets, which went through his eral. His secresy of movement and of dispohead, carried away a corner of the first :
sition-his effective arrangements for luring “ EDWARDS' FERRY, Oct. 21st, 1861.
the Federal forces into danger—were such as “ Colonel E. D. Baker, Commander of Brigade : to accomplish his ends despite the very care
“ Colonel : In case of heavy firing in front of Har- ful and suspicious advances of his adversary. rison's Island, you will advance the California regi. It was owing, secondarily, to Baker's neglect ment of your brigade, or retire the regiments under to read the second dispatch. The answer of Colonels Lee and Devens, now on the (almost ren- Colonel Cogswell: “All right-go ahead !" dered illegible by blood) Virginia side of the river, served to reassure the commanding Colonel, at your discretion-assuming command on arrival.
and induced him to advance where advance * The N. Y. Herald stated the losses as follows: was ruin. But, that does not relieve him Killed.
223 from the responsibility incurred : it was his Wounded
duty to have read the dispatch of his supeWounded among prisoners. Prisoners not wounded
rior and directing officer, even in the midst
of battle. Total......
The movement, itself, over the river, is “ To the above must be added the killed and wound. ed of the Third Rhode Island battery, the First open for stricture; but, the care shown by United States artillery, and the United States caval. General Stone to guarantee a success the ry, which will probably swell the number to nine orders ubove recorded-prove the falsity and hundred and thirty, or nearly fifty per cent. of the abşurdity of the charges of “disloyalty," whole force engaged.'.
reckless disregard of life," &c., &c., freely