« PreviousContinue »
SHERIDAN'S VICTORY OVER EARLY.
boys, tuin; we're going back !” and organized regiment of his army. From so powerful was his influence over the the accounts of our prisoners who have troops, and such new spirit was infused escaped and citizens, the rout was cominto them by his presence, that they plete. About 2,000 of the enemy rallied, and renewed the battle to good broke and made their way
through the mountains on the left. At ten P.M. of the same day, Sheri- Fourteen miles on the line of retreat dan sent Grant a dispatch, in which he the road and country were covered with said: “I have the honor to report, that small arms thrown away by the flying my army at Cedar Creek was attacked rebels and other debris. Forty-eight this morning before daylight, and my pieces of captured artillery are now at left was turned and driven in confusion. my headquarters. I think that not less In fact, most of the line was driven in than 300 wagons and ambulances were confusion, with a loss of twenty pieces either captured or destroyed. From of artillery. I hastened from Winches- all that I can learn, I thing that Early's ter, where I was, on my return from reinforcements were not less than 16,000 Washington, and found the armies be- men.* tween Middletown and Newtown, Thus was brought to end, as Grant having been driven back about four states in his report, “the enemy's last miles. I here took the affair in hand, attempt to invade the North by way of and quickly united the corps, formed a the Shenandoah Valley. I was now
compact line of battle just in enabled to return the 6th corps to the
time to repulse an attack of the Army of the Potomac, and to send one enemy, which was handsomely done at division from Sheridan's army to the about one P.M. At three P.M., after Army of the James, and another to some changes of the cavalry from the Savannah, Georgia, to hold Sherman's left to the right flank, I attacked with new acquisitions on the sea coast, and great vigor, driving and routing the thus enable him to move without deenemy, capturing, according to the last taching from his force for that purreport, forty-three pieces of artillery pose.” and very many prisoners. Affairs, at times, looked badly, but by the gal told his troops so, in an address. October 22 : “I had
* Early was greatly annoyed at his defeat, and he lantry of our brave officers and men, hoped to have congratulated you on the splendid victory disaster has been converted into a splen- of announcing to you that
, by your subsequent mis
won by you on the 19th, but I have the mortification did victory. Darkness again intervened conduct, all the benefits of that victory were lost
, and to shut off greater results. I now oc- fast to your duty and your colors
, the victory would
a serious disaster incurred. Had you remained steadcupy Strasburg." Two days later, Oc- have been one of the most brilliant and decisive of the tober 21st, Sheridan wrote again to war. You would have gloriously retrieved the ro
verses at Winchester and Fisher's Hill, and entitled Grant: “I pursued the routed force of yourselves to the admiration of your country. But the enemy nearly to Mount Jackson, many of you, including some commissioned officers, which point he reached during the yielding to a disgraceful propensity for plunder, de
serted your colors to appropriate to yourselves the night of the 19th and 20th, without an abandoned property of the enemy,” etc.
After the occupation by Gen. War- weakened by withdrawal of troops to ren of the Weldon Railroad below Pe. the north side. In this reconnaissance tersburg, in August, (p. 453) there was we captured and held the no active demonstration of importance enemy's works near Poplar for more than a month. Grant was Spring church. In the afternoon, troops watching the opportune moment, and moving to get to the left of the point guiding the affairs of the several armies gained, were attacked by the enemy so as to tend steadily, if not rapidly, in heavy force, and compelled to fall to the destruction of the rebels in arms. back, until supported by the forces On the night of the 28th of September, holding the captured works. Our the 10th and 18th corps, forming part cavalry, under Gregg, was also attackof Butler's army, were crossed to the ed, but repulsed the enemy with great north side of the James, and advancing, loss. On the 7th of October, an atearly the next morning, carried the very tack was made on Kautz's cavalry, strong fortifications and entrenchments north of the James, which succeeded in below Chapin's Farm, known as Fort driving back our force, with heavy loss Harrison. Fifteen pieces of artillery in killed, wounded and prisoners, and were captured, and possession was taken the loss of all the artillery, eight or of the New Market road and entrench- nine pieces. The enemy then attacked ments. Following this, an assault was the entrenched line, where Birney was made upon Fort Gillmore, immediately in command, but were repulsed with in front of Chapin Farm fortifications; great slaughter. On the 13th of Octobut it was unsuccessful and attended ber, a reconnaissance was sent out by with heavy loss.
Butler, with a view to drive the rebels Kautz's cavalry was pushed forward from some new works they were con on the right, moving along the Central structing; no advantage, however, was Road, supported by the 10th corps, to gained, and our troops met with heavy the main works, within three miles of loss. Richmond. The two corps now formed An attempt was made by Grant, on a junction on the line of works which the 27th of October, to penetrate the they had captured, where they were rebel lines, the movement being on their next day vigorously assailed by the right flank. The 2d corps, followed by enemy, who had been brought up in two divisions of the 5th corps, with the force from Petersburg to regain the lost cavalry in advance and covering our positions. In this assault the Union left flank, forced a passage of Hatcher's troops acting on the defensive had the Run, and moved up the south side of advantage, and gallantly repulsed the it toward the Southside Railroad, until impetuous assaults of the foe.
the 2d corps and part of the cavalry On the morning of the 30th of Sep- reached the Boydton Pla'ık Road where tember, Gen. Grant sent out a recon- it crosses Hatcher's Run. At this point naissance, with a view to attacking the our troops were six miles distant from enemy's line, if it was found sufficiently the Southside Rails oad, which Grant
OPERATIONS AGAINST FORT FISIER.
had hoped, by this movement, to reach ren, which resulted in the destruction and hold. But, finding that the end of of the Weldon Railroad from Jarrett's, the enemy's fortifications had not been below Stony Creek Station, to Bellfield reached, and no place presenting itself at the Meherrin River. A cold rainfor a successful assault, our troops were storm, turning to hail and snow, renordered to withdraw within our forti- dered the march, which lasted five fied lines. Late in the afternoon, the days, especially severe and trying to rebels moved out across Hatcher's Run, our men. in a gap not yet closed between Han- The successful operations of the navy, cock's and Warren's troops, and made in closing the ports of Savannah, Chara furious assault on Hancock's right leston and Mobile, had reduced the and rear. The corps was immediately rebels to a single place of entrance for faced to meet the assault, and, after a the blockade runners and such like. bloody combat, our men drove the This was the harbor of Wilmington, enemy within his works, and withdrew North Carolina. The approach to this that night to their old position. In important and valuable strategic posisupport of this movement, Butler made tion, situated on Cape Fear River, a demonstration on the north side of thirty miles from the sea, was protected the James, and attacked the enemy on by several formidable forts and batterthe Williamsburg Road, and also on ies, at the two main entrances at either the York River Railroad. In the for extremity of the island, stretching across mer he was unsuccessful; in the latter the mouth of the river. The old or he succeeded in carrying a work which western inlet was commanded by Forts was afterward abandoned, and his forces Caswell and Johnson and the coast forwithdrew to their former positions. tifications, while the new or eastern in
The subsequent movements in the let was defended on Federal Point by Army of the Potomac, during the year, Fort Fisher, a newly-erected casemated were directed against the enemy's line earthwork of great strength, mounting for receiving supplies to the south of some forty heavy guns. Other formid
Petersburg. On the 1st of De. able defences, stretched along the shore,
cember, Gen. Gregg, at the head affording a secure protection to blockof a strong cavalry force, made a suc- ade runners entering the harbor. The cessful raid upon Stony Creek Station two main entrances being forty miles on the Weldon Railroad, where there apart, intersected by numerous channels, was a store of supplies, this being the it was virtually impossible effectually depot whence they were transferred by to prevent the English vessels, specially wagoning across to the Southside Rail. constructed for the purpose, entering the road. A fort at this place, mounting river. two guns, was assaulted and taken, to- In order to gain possession of Fort gether with about 200 prisoners. This Fisher, the land north of New Inlet expedition was followed, on the 6th of was a matter of prime importance, and December, by another, led by Gen. War- as it required the co-operation of the
land force, Gen. Grant gave earnest at- papers, that the enemy were never en. tention to the furnishing it. During lightened as to the object of the exthe latter part of November and early plosion until they were informed by the in the month following, a most formid. northern press. able armada, over seventy vessels in all, Porter, on the morning of December under Admiral Porter, was gathered in 24th, gave order to engage the forts, Hampton Roads at the beginning of which was gallantly done, and in little December; and a force of 6,500 men, more than an hour after the first shot taken from Butler's troops, was added, was fired, not a shot came from the fort. Gen. Weitzel being designated as their On the 25th, all the transports had commander. Grant, having learned that arrived, and Porter and Weitzel, after Bragg had
gone to Georgia, taking with a conference, determined that, while him the larger part of the forces about the ships attacked the forts, as before, Wilmington, deemed it the opportune the troops should land and assault them, moment to urge forward the expedition. if possible, under the heavy fire. The He wrote out full and careful instruc- ships did their duty thoroughly; but tions, intending them for Weitzel hut after some 3,000 men had been landed, sending them through Butler, who ac- and a close approach made to the works, companied the expedition, and was the troops were re-embarked, by order greatly interested in a projected ex- of Butler, and, as Grant says, “in diplosion of a powder-boat. After some rect violation of the instructions given.” delays, the fleet sailed, on the 13th of This was accomplished by the morning
December, and arrived at the of December 27th. Porter was very
place of rendezvous, off New In- much mortified at the course pursued let, near Fort Fisher, on the evening of by the troops, and believed the assault the 15th. Porter was hindered, for two entirely practicable. “I don't pretend," or three days, having put in at Beau- said Porter, “to put my opinion in opfort, to get ammunition for the monitors. position to that of Gen. Weitzel, who A heavy gale set in from the south-west, is a thorough soldier and able engineer, and the sea becoming very rough, made and whose business it is to know more it difficult to land troops; the supply of assaulting than I do. But I can't also of water and coal being nearly ex- help thinking that it was worth while hausted, the transport fleet put back to to make the attempt, after arriving so Beaufort to replenish; this, with the far.
We have not commenced state of the weather, delayed the return firing rapidly yet, and could keep any to the place of rendezvous until the rebels inside from moving their head 24th of December. “The powder-boat,” until an assaulting column was within as Grant sarcastically says, “was ex- twenty yards of the works. I wish ploded on the morning of the 24th, be some more of our gallant fellows had fore the return of Gen. Butler from followed the officer who took the flag Beaufort; but, it would seem, from the from the parapet, and the brave fellow notice taken of it in the southern news- who brought the horse out from the
EXPEDITION UNDER GENERAL TERRY.
fort. I think they would have found thus far proved unsuccessful. He se. it an easier conquest than is supposed."* lected for commander of the expedition
Butler returned with his troops to Gen. A. H. Terry, an officer of some Hampton Roads, and shortly after was note, though young years,
gave superseded by Gen. E. O. C. Ord, who him the same troops that composed the took command of the department of former expedition, together with a briVirginia and North Carolina. Butler, gade of about 1,500 men, and a small whose active connection with the war siege train. Terry sailed from Fortress was now brought to a close, issued a Monroe on the 6th of January, 1865, farewell address to the “ Army of the and two days after, arrived off BeauJames,” in which, after considerable fort, N. C. A violent storm set in, and flourish as to the glory of being able for several days nothing could be done, to say, “I, too, was of the Army of the except to care for the safety of the vesJames," he bestowed a severe side. sels and wait for better weather. On thrust upon the lieutenant-general: the 12th, the fleet again got under way, “Knowing your willing obedience to and reached its destination about nightorders, witnessing your ready devotion fall, but too late to land the troops.
blood in your country's cause, Under cover of the fleet, the disembarkI have been chary of the precious charge ation took place the next morning, and confided to me. I have refused to order about 8,000 men, with rations for three useless sacrifices of the lives of such days, ammunition, tools, etc., were land. soldiers, and I am relieved from your ed, by three o'clock P.M. command. The wasted blood of my ration of a defensive line across the men does not stain my garments. For peninsula, to protect the rear, and a my action I am responsible to God and careful reconnaissance, on the 14th of my country.”+
January, it was decided by Gen. Terry Porter, who was dissatisfied with the and Admiral Porter to attempt an asresult, remained with his fleet off Fort sault the next day, provided that, in Fisher, and sent word to the secretary the meantime, the fire of the navy of the navy, expressing his conviction should so far destroy the palisades as that, under a proper leader, the fort to make one practicable. could be taken. Grant thereupon very Porter at once placed a division of gladly resumed the effort which had his vessels in a position to accomplish
* Grant was quite indignant at Butler's conduct. commander at Wilmington, wrote to Davis, in this He never expected Butler to interfere, and supposed wise: “The enemy has re-embarked under the cover that of course Weitzel received his instructions, which, of his fleet. His movement is not developed. I have it seems, never took place; and further, as Grant states, visited Fort Fisher, and find the damage slight, exin his report, “ on return of the expedition, officers and cepting the buildings not necessary for defence. Only men, Gen. Curtis being of the number, voluntarily re- two guns were disabled. The marks remaining indiported to me that when recalled, they were nearly into cate that the bombardment was very heavy. Gen. the fort, and, in their opinion, it could have been taken Whiting, commanding the defences at the mouth of the without much loss." Early in January, 1865, Butler river; Col. Lamb, commanding the fort, and the officers was relieved of his command, at Grant's request. and men comprising the garrison, deserve especial
+ The rebel leaders were disposed to claim a victory, commendation for the gallantry, efficiency, and for seeing that Fort Fisher was not taken. Bragg, the titude displayed under very trying roumstances.”