« PreviousContinue »
BUFORD'S DASH ON STUART.
service elsewhere. These were placed under the command of General Hooker, and sent to re-enforce the Army of the Cumberland in Southeastern Tennessee and Northern Georgia. Meade was now, in turn, placed in a
defensive position for awhile, but, finally, when new recruits came in, and troops, which had been taken
from his army and MI
sent to New York, to prevent interference with the draft, returned, at about the middle of October, he resolved to make an offensive movement.
meanwhile, had not been idle. On the 1st of August, Buford, with his division, crossed the Rappahannock River at Rappahannock Station, and with great gallantry pushed Stuart's cavalry back almost to Culpepper Court-House. So sudden and unexpected to Stuart was this dash of his foe across the river, and so vigorous was the assault and pursuit, that he and his staff came very near being captured at his headquarters, on an eminence a short distance from Brandy Station. They were about to dine at a table sumptuously furnished by the family of Henry Miller, the owner of the house, when the near presence of their foe was announced. The daring leader and his followers instantly decamped, and left the dinner to be enjoyed by the Union officers. Buford pursued
STUART'S HEAD-QUARTERS NEAR BRANDY STATION," to the vicinity of Auburn, the residence of John Minor Botts, where he was confronted by Stuart's strong infantry supports, and compelled to retreat, fighting as he fell back, when he, in turn, was re-enforced by the First Corps, and the pursuing foe halted. In that engagement Buford lost one hundred and forty men, of whom sixteen were killed.
1 This picture is given to illustrate the method of construction of those temporary bridges which the armies were continually erecting over small streams. This is a view of one over the Mattapony River.
? This is a view of the place, from the shaded lane in front, as it appeared when the writer visited and sketched it in October, 1866, when it was occupied by W. A. Stewart. The house was in a shattered condition, and bore marks of the battle near it. The porch had been torn away by a shell, and at the dark spot seen between the two windows in the sketch, was the fracture made by a round shot that passed through the house.
3 Mr. Botts's beautiful seat, called Auburn, was about a mile from Brandy Station, on a very slight elevation,
LEE PROPOSES TO MARCH ON WASHINGTON.
A month later General Kilpatrick crossed the Rappahannock at Port Conway, below Fredericksburg, drove the Confederates, and
Sept. 1, burned two gun-boats which they had captured on the Potomac and placed on the Rappahannock for future use. A little more than a fortnight afterward, General Pleasanton, with the "Sept. 16. greater part of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, crossed the Rappahannock at the fords above Fredericksburg in three columns, commanded respectively by Buford, Kilpatrick, and Gregg, supported by the Second Corps, under General Warren. Stuart's cavalry were pressed back to the Rapid Anna with a loss, on his part, of two guns. It was this reconnoissance which revealed the fact of Longstreet's departure, when Meade was emboldened to cross the Rappahannock with his whole army.
General Meade, as we have observed, contemplated a forward movement early in October. On the 10th he sent Buford, with his cavalry division, to uncover the upper fords of the Rapid Anna, preparatory to advancing the First and Sixth Corps. Lee, having heard of the reduction of Meade's army by the sending away of two corps, was preparing for an offensive movement at the same time. He felt himself competent to cope with his antagonist, and proposed, it is said, the audacious measure of a direct march on Washington in full force, with a willingness to leave Richmond uncovered, if necessary, and exchange capitals.' Davis would not allow it, and Lee con. tented himself with an attempt to turn Meade's right flank, and get between him and the National capital. His chief object was to cripple Meade, and
with a little depression between his house and gentle cultivated ridges at a little distance. The writer and his friends already mentioned (Messrs. Buckinghain and Young), visited this stanch Virginia Unionist, when on our way houneward from Staunton, inentioned on page 401, volume II. We had passed the preceding night and part of the day before at Culpepper Court-House and in visiting the battle-ground at Cedar Mountain. See page 448, volume II. At Culpepper CourtHouse we hired a carriage to convey us to Brandy Station, and our route lay across Mr. Botts's estate. We found himn at home, and were very cordially received. The region just about him was a sort of Deutral ground for some time, detachments from each army frequently meeting upon it and skirmishing. He told us that he had seer no less than nine of these engagements from his piazza. On one occasion his house was placed in great peril, between large bodies of the contending armies, who were about to fight. In front of his house General Rodes drew up fifteen thousand men in battle order, evidently with the design of bringing the mansion in range of the guns of the combatants, and thus effecting its destruction without its being done in evident wantonness. Botts went out to Rodes, told him that his house was filled with the women and children of the neighborhood (and his own family), who had sought shelter there, and warned him that, if these were all destroyed, the crime would rest forever as a stain on the Confederate general's name. Rodes was unwilling to incur the odium, and, changing his position, the mansion was saved.
The reader is referred to page 94, volume I., for an extract of a letter from Mr. Botts, to “H. B. M.," of Staunton. At the time of our visit, he showed us another letter to him from the same writer, in which he denounced the rebellion as a crime, and declared that the traitors should be punished. He went into the war and had his skull fractured, and lost a little portion of his brain, that protruded, in one of the battles before Richmond. In his reply, Mr. Botts told him he believed his was the first case on record of a man being brought to his senses by having his brains knocked out.
i Statement of Genernl Longstreet to the author of Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, cited in note on page 377.
LEE TURNS MEADE'S FLANKS.
• Oct. 9,
3 Oct. 10.
e Oct. 11.
keep him, till winter, near Washington, so that more troops might be sent
Informed, on the morning of the 12th, that Lee had halted at Culpepper, Meade felt that his retreat might have been premature. Acting upon such presumption, he pushed the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps, with Buford's cavalry, back across the Rappahannock to the vicinity of Brandy Station. The mounted men pressed on toward Culpepper, where Meade intended to offer battle to Lee, but the latter had not waited for his antagonist. On that morning he had commenced another flanking movement to gain Meade's rear, and the two armies, for several hours, presented the appearance of a friendly countermarch on nearly parallel roads.
Meade was first advised of this new and dangerous movement of his foe by General Gregg, who had been watching the fords of the Upper Rappahannock with the Third Corps (French’s) below him. Lee's van assailed Gregg and drove him back, and then the main column of the Confederates crossed the Rappahannock at Warrenton, Sulphur Springs, and Waterloo, where Jackson passed over the previous year when flanking Pope.' Meade at once fell back, crossed the river, and continued his retreat to Catlett's Station. Fortunately Lee was ignorant of the real condition of Meade's army at that time, or he might, by turning aside, have demolished the Third Corps with his overwhelming force. Gregg was surrounded, attacked, and routed, at Jeffersonton, north of Hazel River, after a gallant fight," with a loss of about five hundred men, most of whom were made prisoners.
Now" the veteran armies of the Potomac and of Northern Virginia commenced a third race northward, over nearly the same course
Oct. 13. pursued on former like occasions, Lee aiming to strike Meade's line of retreat along the Orange and Alexandria railway, and the latter using every energy to prevent him. Lee pressed on to Warrenton on the afternoon of the 13th, and prepared to advance from that point in two columns, his left under A. P. Hill, by the Warrenton turnpike to New Baltimore, and so on to Bristow Station, and his right, under Ewell, by way of Auburn Mills and Greenwich, for the same destination. This movement was begun on the morning of the 14th. Meanwhile there had been collisions.
1 See page 453, volume II.
2 lis command was composed of the Fourth and Thirteenth Pennsylvania, and First New York Cavalry, and Tenth New York Infantry.
STUART AND HIS STAFF IN PERIL.
HUGH JUDSON KILPATRICK.
Stuart, with about two thousand cavalry, was hanging closely upon the rear flank of Meade's army, picking up many stragglers. While eagerly pressing on, toward the evening of the 13th, he encountered the head of French's column, and was pushed toward Catlett's Station, near which he found himself, that night, in a perilous situation. The Second Corps, under General Warren, with Kilpatrick's cavalry, was at that time covering the National
rear, and when Lee reached Warrenton, this rear-guard was at Auburn, only a few miles eastward, with Caldwell's division and three batteries on the heights of Cedar Run, between them. Stuart had inadvertently got ahead of this covering force, and found himself hemmed in between the two National corps, with small chance to escape. His first impulse was to abandon his guns and all impediments to a speedy flight, and attempt to escape under cover of darkness, but he finally resolved to
try another plan. So he hid his men in one of those dense thickets of small pine saplings which cover old fields in Virginia, and sent messengers through the Union lines to Lee, to ask for help. For this purpose, three men, dressed like Union soldiers, fell into the National line as it was moving, marched awhile, and then, dropping out, hurried to Lee. Relief for Stuart was immediately sent, and when the musketry of the skirmishers of the approaching re-enforcements were heard at dawn, the bold cavalry leader opened a cannonade from his concealment upon the rear of Caldwell's forces, who had bivouacked a little in front of this thicket. Caldwell, unexpectedly assailed, moved to cover on the opposite side of the hills, when he was attacked in like manner from the Warrenton road. This assault produced sufficient confusion in the Union ranks to allow Stuart to break through and escape. For a moment Warren's corps appeared to be in a very critical situation, surrounded and cut off, but it was soon found that the attacking party on the Warrenton turnpike was only the van of Ewell's column. These were repulsed by two regiments' thrown out by General Hayes from the north side of Cedar Run, and the way was cleared for the advance of the
Ewell was held in check until Warren's troops had crossed the Run and resumed their line of march (Caldwell covering the rear, and skirmishing almost continually) for the heights of Centreville, behind Bull's Run, the now prescribed destination of the Army of the Potomac, where Meade determined to offer battle.
Now the race for Bristow Station became hot, Lee pushing Hill and Ewell forward to gain that point before Meade should pass it. They failed. When Hill approached it, the entire Army of the Potomac had passed it,
1 These were the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New York and Twelfth New Jersey volunteers. In this encounter, Colonel Thomas Ruffin, the leader of Confederate Iry, which charged furt sly, was killed.