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THE NATIONALS READY FOR BATTLE.
Sykes's corps coming up on the morning of the 28th, Meade had his
army then all in hand along a line not much exceeding five or Nov., 1863.
six miles in length. Gregg was sent out to make observations. He skirmished with and drove back Stuart's cavalry, and ascertained the
general position of Lee's army along Mine Run. Warren, with his own and a part of Sedgwick's corps, took position on the left, near Hope Church,
with instructions to feel the foe, ascertain how far southward his fortifications extended, flank them, and turn the Confederate right, if
possible. The following Nov. 28.
day" was spent in reconnoitering; and at evening, Warren on the left, and Sedgwick on the right, reported that such was the position of the enemy, that an attack on his right and left wings would undoubtedly be successful. Meade thereupon ordered an attack to be made the next morning.
To Warren was intrusted the
task of opening the battle by the GOUVERNEUP KEMBLE WARREN. heaviest assault. He was
re-enforced by troops from French's (Second) corps (which, with a part of Sedg. wick's, occupied the center as a kind of reserve at first), which made his MEADE WITHDRAWS FROM MINE RUN.
1 Abatis, an obstruction formed of felled trees, has been frequently mentioned in this work, and described in a note. This picture is intended to show to the uninformed the appearance of such obstructions in front of fortifications, and the difficulties they present to an assailant.
. Nov. 30,
NEWTON STRESS VICK
whole number about twenty-six thousand. He was directed to begin the assault at about eight o'clock in the morning, when the batteries of the center and right were to open on the foe. Sedgwick was to strike Lee's left an hour later, when, it was hoped, Warren's attack would cause the weakening of that wing; and French, with his own broken corps and a part of the First, under Newton, who was only to menace at the beginning, was to advance and attack Lee's center when the assault on his right and left should be successful. The National cavalry was ordered to keep Lee's horsemen from Meade's communications.
At the appointed hour, Meade's batteries on left and center were opened, and the skirmishers of the latter dashed across Mine Run, and drove back those of the Confederates. But Warren's guns
POBITION OF THE ARMIES AT MINE BUN, NOV. 80. were not heard. Sedgwick was in readiness, and anxiously waiting to perform his part, but Warren's guns were yet silent. The mystery was solved at a few minutes before nine o'clock, when Meade received a message from Warren, saying he had found Lee's position much stronger than he expected, and had taken the responsibility of suspending the attack. Meade hastened to the left, and found that his foe, informed of the massing of troops on his right, had concentrated his own forces there, men and guns, in formidable array. Meade was satisfied that Warren had behaved prudently, and he ordered a general suspension of operations for the attack. French and Sedgwick fell back, and Meade that day studied well the chances for success. He found that the opening of his batteries had given Lee hints to strengthen his defenses on his left, and he was doing so with energy. Indeed Lee's position was growing stronger every hour, while Meade's strength was diminishing, for his rations were nearly exhausted, and his supply-trains were beyond the Rapid Anna. To bring these over might expose them to disaster, for winter was at hand, and rains might suddenly swell the streams and make them impassable. Considering the risks, Meade determined to sacrifice himself, if necessary, rather than his army, by abandoning the enterprise at once. This he did. He recrossed the Rapid Anna, without being followed or molested, and went into winter quarters on his old camping grounds between that stream and the Rappahannock. He desired
o Dec. 1, 2
OPERATIONS IN WEST VIRGINIA.
to advance on Fredericksburg, seize the heights, and make his winter quar ters in that more advantageous position, but General Halleck would not allow him to do so.'
So ended the campaign of the Army of the Potomac in 1863, and at about the same time co-operating military operations in West Virginia were closed, by the expulsion from that region of nearly all armed and organized opponents of the Government. But few military events, having an important bearing on the grander operations of the war, had occurred there since the close of 1861. We have already mentioned the brilliant exploit of General Lander, in the vicinity of the Baltimore and Ohio railway,' early in 1862. Little was done there after that, except watching and raiding for more than a year. In May, 1862, General Heth was in the Greenbrier region, and on the day when Kenly was attacked at Front Royal," he marched upon Lewisburg with three regiments, and attacked two Ohio regiments stationed there, under Colonel George Crooke. Heth was routed, and escaped by burning the bridge over the Greenbrier behind him, with a loss of over one hundred men (mostly prisoners), four guns, and three hundred muskets. Crooke's loss was sixty-three men.
After this there was comparative quiet in West Virginia, until the summer of 1863, when a raiding party, one thousand strong, under Colonel John Tolland, composed of Virginia Union cavalry and the Thirty-fourth Ohio infantry, left the Kanawha Valley, went southward to a point on the Coal River, and then, turning more to the eastward, crossed over the rugged Flat Top, and other mountains of the Appalachian range, and, on the 18th of July, swept down upon Wytheville, on the Virginia and Tennessee railway. They charged into the village, when they were fired upon from some of the houses. The leader was killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Powell, of the Thirtyfourth Ohio, was mortally wounded. This unexpected resistance startled the raiders, and, after firing the houses from which shots came, they hastily retired, leaving their dead and wounded behind them. After brief rest they started for the Kanawha, under Lieutenant Franklin. They suffered severely from fatigue and lack of food among the almost uninhabited mountain ranges, and at the end of a rough ride of about four hundred miles, going and returning, during eight days, they lost eighty-two men and three hundred horses.
A little later, General W. W. Averill started with his cavalry from Huttonsville, in Tygart's Valley,' and passing through several counties in the mountain region southward, to Pocahontas, drove General W. S. (called “Mudwall”) Jackson out of that shire, and over the Warm Springs Mountain, in a series of skirmishes. He destroyed the Confederate saltpeter works, and other public property in that region, and menaced Staunton. At Rock Gap, near White Sulphur Springs, he was met by a much larger force than his own, of General Sam. Jones's command, led by Colonel George S. Patten, when a severe struggle for the pass ensued, which lasted a greater portion
of the 26th and 27th of August." Averill's ammunition began
to fail at noon of the latter day, when Patten was re-enforced. Averill retreated, and made his way back to Huttonsville, weakly pursued
· See map on page 405, volume II. • See page 891, volume II.
? See page 104, volume II. * See page 867, volume II.
5 See map un page 101, volume II.
AVERILL'S RAIDS IN VIRGINIA.
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
* November 6, there," and pushed them
1863. 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 headwaters 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 busuels 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 harness, shoes, saddles, and tools, and 100 wagons.
? These were the commands of Generals Early, Fitzhugh Lee, Jones, Imboden, Jackson, Echols, and
W. W. AVERILL
AVERILL ESCAPES GREAT PERIL.
• December 21,
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. He 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 reciment that was cut off swam the stream and rejoined the command, with a
loss of only four men drowned. Averill captured, during this 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 the 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 so &bsurd, “ for it presupposed Averill had deliberately placed himself past escape."