Page images




with four hundred guns, and a well-equipped cavalry force thirteen thousand strong. The leader of this fine army, like his immediate predecessor, was a zealous patriot and active soldier, and gave the tone of his own emotions to those of his troops.' “ All were actuated by feelings of confidence and devotion to the cause,” he said, “and I felt that it was a living army, and one well worthy of the Republic.?

Lee, meanwhile, had been assiduous in preparing his army for the spring campaign. He first turned his attention to supplies and equipment. His appeals to the people for the former were liberally answered. The arsenals at Richmond were kept busy in the re-equipment of his troops and the arming of new recruits. Much of his field artillery, which was inferior to that of Hooker, was replaced by new and improved guns. Careful attention was bestowed upon discipline. Prompt measures were taken to prevent

tions of his division on the 13th of December, 1862. See page 492, volume II. Here for awhile, after he took command, Hooker had his head-quarters. It was the property of Major J. Horace Lacey, who had been a major in the Confederate service. His mansion is one of the finest of the older houses in that region, and was built by William Fitzhugh, the father-in-law of the late Geo. W. P. Custis, the proprietor of Arlington House.

Sea page 421, volume L. Major Lacey owned the land on which the Battle of the Wilderness was fought by Grant and Lee, in 1864.

1 At this time General Hooker introduced the badge designation into his army with excellent effect. The idea originated with General Kearney at the battle of Fair Oaks. See page 411, vol. II. The occasion was as follows: It was impossible, at that time, for the common soldiers to renew their clothing, except by drawing

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

from the quartermasters the same as that used by enlisted men. Officers and men were thus dressed alike. To distinguish them apart, Kearney issued an order that the field and staff officers of his division should wear

a red patch on the top of their caps, and the line officers the same in front When General Birney succeeded the slain Kearney in command, he ordered that the wearing of these patches should be continued in memory of their gallant old commander, and that, for the same purpose, the rank and file should wear a red patch on the side of their caps; but none were entitled to wear the badge but those who had been in action with the division. General Hooker ordered each of the seven corps of the Army of the Potomac to be distinguished by a badge, as follows: The 1st, by a disk; the 2d, by a trefoil; the 8d, by a lozenge; the 5th, by a Maltese cross; the 6th, by a plain cross; the 11th, by a crescent; and the 12th, by a star.

Each corps had three divisions, and the badges, whose forms determined the corps, also designated the divisions, by colors. The badge of the first division of each corps was made of scarlet cloth; of the second, of white; and the third, of blue. These were all placed on the top of the cap. Those who wore hats placed the badge on the left side. The flags of each division head-quarters were designated as follows: 1st division, a white flag with a scarlet disk; 2d division, a blue flag with a white disk; and 8d division, a white flag with a blue disk. These flags were square. The brigade flags, bearing the different colored disks, were triangular in shape.

Additional honors were paid to General Kearney. It was agreed that all commissioned officers who had been in action under him should wear a “Kearney Decoration," which should consist of a golden Maltese cross, suspended by a red silk ribbon on the left breast of the dress coat. After the battle of Chancellorsville, General Birney caused several hundred bronze medals, patterned somewhat after this decoration, to be struck, to be awarded, as a sort of legion of honor, to such non-commissioned officers and privates of

his division as especially distinguished themselves in that engagement. KEARNEY DECORATION.

2 Testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.

[ocr errors]



desertions, and a conscription act, now put into rigorous operation, caused a rapid growth of his army in numbers. In the space of three months “Stonewall” Jackson's corps alone increased from twenty-five thousand to thirty-three thousand men.' Lee consolidated his

-' artillery into one corps, and placed it under the command of General Pendleton, as chief. He also gave a similar organization to his cavalry. When April came,

. Lee found himself at the head of an army unsurpassed in discipline, and full of enthusiasm; yet it was divided, for, so early as February, he had sent Longstreet with two divisions to operate against General J. J. Peck in the vicinity of Suffolk, on the south side of the James River, and other troops were raiding with Imboden in West Virginia. Yet he felt strong, with only about half the number of troops in hand commanded by his antagonist, for he had extended and strengthened his fortifications in rear of Fredericksburg, and constructed a system of elaborate works along his whole front reaching from Banks's Ford to Port Royal, more than twenty-five miles. Even with his superior force 3 Hooker could not hope to take these works, so he made preparations to force Lee out of them by turning the flank of the latter and threatening his rear.

We have remarked that the cavalry of both armies had been active for some weeks. On the 10th of February“ W. H. F. Lee, with his brigade, made an unsuccessful attempt to surprise and capture the National forces at Gloucester Point, opposite Yorktown; and at a little past midnight, a month later, a small band of mounted men, led

6 March 8. by the afterward famous guerilla chief, John S. Moseby, dashed into the village of Fairfax Court-House, took from his bed and carried away the commanding officer, Colonel Stoughton, and some others, and, with many horses and other property, hurried off in the direction of Hooker's army, cutting the telegraph wires on their way. For this exploit Moseby



a 1863.

[ocr errors]

1 The Battle-fields of Virginia, volume I. : Chancellorsville, by Captain Jed. Hotchkiss and LieutenantColonel William Allan (officers of Lee's army), page 14. This work contains carefully constructed maps, illustrative of the historical narrative.

? Chancellorsville, by Hotchkiss and Allan, page 15.

3 Hooker's army was composed of seven corps, and comprised twenty-three divisions. The First Corps was commanded by General J. F. Reynolds; the Second, by General D. N. Couch; the Third, by General D. E. Sickles; the Fifth, by General G. G. Meade; the Sixth, by General J. Sedgwick; the Eleventh, by General O. 0. Howard, and the Twelfth, by General H. W. Slocum. The division commanders were Generals J. S. Wadsworth J. C. Robinson, A. Doubleday, W. S. Hancock, J. Gibbon, W. H. French, D. D. Birney, H. G. Berry, A. W. Whipple, W. T. H. Brooks, A. P. Howe, J. Newton, C. Griffin, G. Sykes, A. A. Humphreys, C. Devens, A. Von Steinwehr, C. Schurz, S. Williams, J. W. Geary, A. Pleasanton, J. Buford, and W. W. Averill. The last three were commanders of cavalry under General G. Stoneman, who was the chief of the mounted men.

Lee's army was composed of two corps, the First commanded by General Longstreet, and the Second by "Stonewall” Jackson. Of these General T. J. Jackson's entire corps, comprising the divisions of A. P. Hill, D. H. Hill, Trimble, and Early, and the divisions of Anderson and McLaws, of Longstreet's corps, were now present in front of Hooker. Also the brigades of Fitzhugh Lee, and W. H. F. Lee, of Stuart's cavalry, with 170 pieces of artillery, making a total of a little more than 60,000 men of all arms. * This shows the costume of a Confederate general

, according to the regulations of their “ War Department.” It was composed of a chapeau trimmed with gold lace, a gray coat with narrow buff collar and cuffs, clae pantaloons, and black leather sword-belt

. On the collar, within an embroidered wreath, a golden star. On he coat two rows of gilt buttons, and sleeves trimmed with gold lace.



[ocr errors]

was publicly commended by General Stuart, and he was promoted to major of cavalry.

A few days after Moseby's bold exploit, the first purely cavalry battle of the war occurred, not far from Kelly's Ford, on the Rappahannock, between

National troops, under General W. W. Averill, and Confederates under General Fitzhugh Lee. Averill was sent out to cut off Stuart and Lee, who, it was reported, were with a strong party enforcing the draft in Fauquier County. In the face of brisk opposition from a small cavalry picket, Averill crossed the Rappa

hannock, and was pusha March 17, ing on toward Culpep

per Court-IIouse," when, about a mile from the ford, he encountered the forces of Lee. A desperate battle ensued, which con

tinued until late in the evening, when Averill withdrew, and recrossed the river, followed by the Confederates to the water's edge. Averill lost about seventy-five men, and his antagonist about one hundred.

Early in April, notwithstanding the roads were yet heavy, Hooker deter




1 Moseby was a graduate of the University of Virginia, and a lawyer of some local repute. Ile had been one of Lee's most useful scouts for some time, and had proved himself to be a daring, dashing leader, who inspired his few followers with his own spirit. From the leader of a scouting party of a few men, he rose to the position of commander of a minimum regiment of adventurers, who, one of them said, Moseby himself declared, " could only be held together by the hope of plunder.” See Partisan Life with Moseby, by John Scott. One of his most trusted and representative inen seems to have been a Sergeant Ames, of the Fifth New York Cavalry, who deserted, Moseby's biographer, Marshall Crawford, says, “ because he could not fight for the eternal negro." Moseby "took Ames to his boson," and whenever any thing particularly revolting was to be done, the deserter appears to have been employed. His fitness for service with the guerrilla chief may be inferred from the fact, exultingly set forth in a history of Moseby's exploits by one of his followers (Major Scott), that when, on one occasion, the command encountered Ames's old regiment (Fifth New York), one of the latter recognized him in the hurly-burly, and pleasantly called out, “ How are yoù, Sergeant Ames ?" “ Well!" was the sergeant's reply, when, with his pistol, he shot his old friend dead. Moseby's military career, as described by his ardent friends, was more that of a highwayman, protected by the sanction of a pretended Government, under orders to harrass, pillage, and capture the enemy, than that of a soldier. Lee publicly commended him for his “activity and skill” in “killing, wounding, and capturing” during a brief period, “ about 1,200 of the enemy, taking 1,600 horses and mules, 230 beef cattle, and 85 wagons and ambulances," with the loss of little more than twenty of his own men.

According to a statement to the author, by Colonel H. S. Ganserort, whose command was Moseby's most dreaded enemy in the region of Upper Virginia, east of the Blue Ridge, during the years 1863 and 1854, a large number of Moseby's men were volunteers from the regular Confederate cavalry, whose love of adventure and lust for plunder made them so much attached to their leader, that a threat to send one of them back to bis regiment was sufficient to insure the good behavior of the recusant. The estimation in which Moseby was held by the Government is shown by the expressions of the Assistant Secretary of War, in the following account of an exploit in October, 1864:

“War DEPARTMENT, Washington,

October 17, 9:40 P. M. “ Colonel Gansevort, commanding the Thirteenth New York Cavalry, has succeeded in surprising the rebel camp of the guerrilla and freebooter, Moseby, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, capturing his artillery, consisting of four pieces, with munitions complete.

“ C. A DANA, Assistant Secretary of War." 2 On the 28th of February, General Stuart asked Governor Letcher's leave to " collect together the militis of portions of Fairfax and Loudon (preparatory the draft), which lay beyond the outposts."— Autograph Letter of General Stuart. Permission was given.

[blocks in formation]



mined to march at once upon his foe, for the terms of enlistment of a majority of his men would soon expire. He directed" General Stoneman to proceed cautiously with his cavalry up the eastern side of the April 12, Rappahannock; cross above the Orange and Alexandria railway; strike and disperse Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry at Culpepper Court-House, estimated at two thousand men ; push on to Gordonsville, and, turning to the left, strike the Fredericksburg and Richmond railway at Saxton's Junction, and destroy it, its bridges, stations, and rolling stock, with the telegraph wires along its line, so as to sever Lee's communication with Richmond. Hooker charged Stoneman to move with celerity, and to make his watchword and order, “Fight, fight, FIGHT !” He was instructed to harrass the retreating columns of the foe, for Hooker did not doubt that Lee would find it necessary to abandon Fredericksburg and fly toward Richmond. But his efforts were foiled, and his plans were modified by heavy rains, which so filled the Rappahannock that a division which had already crossed was recalled, and, on swimming horses, passed back to the left bank of the river.

Hooker paused for a fortnight, when he put his whole army in motion for the purpose of flanking Lee, drawing him from his defenses, and fighting him out of shelter. Ten thousand horsemen were prepared for a raid on the railways in Lee's rear, and on Monday, the 27th of April, the

6 1863. turning column, composed of the corps of Meade (Fifth), Howard (Eleventh), and Slocum (Twelfth), was put in motion. Its destination was Chancellorsville, a point ten miles southwest of Fredericksburg, in Lee's rear. Stealthily the column moved up the Rappahannock, and crossed

• April 28, 29. it on a pontoon bridge at Kelly's Ford, twenty-seven miles above Fredericksburg, the march well masked by the passage of a heavy force below and near that city. The turning column pushed rapidly forward, and wading the Rapid Anna, armpit deep (the Fifth corps at Elly's Ford, and the Eleventh and Twelfth at Germania Ford), that night, in the light of huge bontires, reached Chancellorsville on the afternoon of the 30th in excellent spirits, to find that the Confederate General, R. H. Anderson, had retired with his troops toward Fredericksburg that morning. It had been a most extraordinary march of thirty-seven miles in two days, with artillery and baggage, over heavy roads and across two rivers, with a loss of not more than half a dozen men. Meanwhile portions of Couch's corps (Second) had been waiting in concealment near Banks's and United States Fords, leaving the remainder, under General Gibbon, at Falmouth, in full view of the Confederates, so as to conceal the movement. So soon as the other three corps were making their way toward the Rapid Anna, the detachment of the Second crossed on a pontoon bridge, and marched rapidly on Chancellors





[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ville, where the reunited forces, about thirty-six thousand in number, exclusive of the artillery, and some detachments which had not arrived, bivouacked that night. General Pleasanton accompanied the infantry with one brigade of cavalry, and the remainder of the horsemen, under General Stoneman, pushed on toward Rapid Anna Station and Louisa Court-House. From his head-quarters, near Falmouth, Hooker issued an exultant

order,“ such as the circumstances seemed to justify,' and, crossa April 80, ing the Rappahannock, he pushed on to Chancellorsville, where,

in the spacious brick mansion of Mr. Chancellor, he made his head-quarters that night. Pleasanton's cavalry was thrown out upon the

roads leading to Fredericksburg and Spottsylvania Court-House. A part of these that night had an encounter with some of Stuart's cavalry, near Todd's tavern, on the road between Chancellorsville and Spottsylvania Court - House. From that old inn, around


acked Fitzhugh Lee's brigade to watch the Nationals, Stuart set out with his staff for General Lee's head-quarters, when he encountered a regiment of Pleasanton's cavalry. He sent back to Todd's tavern for a regiment, and at the head of his staff gallantly attacked his foe. Ample assistance came, and after a sharp encounter in the bright moonlight the National force was broken and scattered.

While the movements Hooker's right were so fully performed, his left wing, under Sedgwick, composed of his own corps (Sixth), and those of Reynolds (First), and Sickles (Third), had as successfully masked the movement, for Lee, while watching the visible enemy in front of him, was not aware of the passage of the Rappahannock by the turning column, until the three corps were on their way toward the Rapid Anna. Taking position a little below Fred





i The following is a copy of the order: “It is with heartfelt satisfaction that the commanding general announces to the army that the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his defenses and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him. The operations of the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth corps, have been a succession of splendid achievements."

2 This is a view of Todd's tavern, as it appeared when the writer sketched it, in June, 1866. It was also the head-quarters of General Warren, and other officers, when the army under Grant was in that vicinity, in the spring of 1864.

« PreviousContinue »