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onel Kilpatrick, with his regiment, dashed into the little village of Louisa Court-House, terrifying the inhabitants by his unexpected visit, and obtaining some supplies. After skirmishing with some of W. H. F. Lee's troops that attacked them, the Nationals, toward evening, moved off to Thompson's Four Corners, where, at midnight, Stoneman gave orders for operations upon Lee's communications by separate parties, led respectively by General David McM. Gregg, Colonel Percy Wyndham, Colonel Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, and Colonel Hasbrouck Davis.
In the bright moonlight these expeditions started on their destructive errands. Wyndham, with the First Maine and First New Jersey, pushed southward to Columbia, on the James River, and on the morning of the 3d, destroyed canal boats, bridges, a large quantity of Confederate supplies and medical stores; tried to demolish the massive stone aqueduct there where the waters of the canal flow over the river, and then rejoined Stoneman. Kilpatrick, with the Harris Light Cavalry (Sixth New York), reached Hungary Station, on the Fredericksburg railway, on the morning of the 4th, destroyed the depots and railroad there, crossed to the Brook turnpike, and, sweeping down within two miles of Richmond, captured a lieutenant and eleven men within the fortifications of the Confederate capital. Then he struck the Virginia Central railway at Meadow Bridge, on the Chickahominy, destroyed that structure and some railway property, and, dashing across the Pamunkey and the Mattapony th
* May 5, day,' went raiding through the country without molestation, destroying Confederate property here and there, and reaching Gloucester Point, on the York, on the 7th.
Meanwhile Lieutenant-Colonel Davis, with the Twelfth Illinois, swept along the line of the South Anna to the Fredericksburg railway at Ashland, where he intercepted an ambulance train filled with wounded soldiers from Chancellorsville. These were paroled. Then the road and other railway property was destroyed there, when Davis pushed on to Hanover CourtHouse, on the Virginia Central railway, swept away the depot by fire, and tore up the track in that vicinity.
hat vicinity. He then followed the line of the road to within seven miles of Richmond, when he inclined to the left and started for Williamsburg. Near the site of the White House' he met and skirmished with Confederate cavalry, and being repulsed, he inclined still more to the left, crossed the Pamunkey and Mattapony, and reached Gloucester Point without further interruption. Gregg and Buford had, meanwhile, been raiding in the neighborhood of the South Anna, closely watched by Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee. They burnt the bridges in their march. Dashing upon Hanover Junction, they destroyed the railway property there, and damaged the road. Finally the whole of Stoneman's command, excepting the forces under Kilpatrick and Davis, was concentrated at Yanceyville, when it marched northward, crossed the Rapid Anna at the Raccoon Ford, and on Friday, the 8th of May, recrossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford. Much property had been destroyed during the raid, but the chief object of the expedition, namely, the effectual destruction of Lee's communications with Richmond, was not accomplished, and the week's work of the cavalry,
1 See page 386, voluine II.
NATIONAL TROOPS AT SUFFOLK.
as bearing upon the progress of the war, was of very little consequence.' The damages to the railways were repaired by the time the raiders had recrossed the Rappahannock. Had Stoneman's forces been concentrated, and their destructive energies been applied to the single object of Lee's direct communications, the Confederate army might, after its success at Chancellorsville, have fallen into the hands of the Nationals, for at that time its supplies came from Richmond, and it had not more than a few days' rations ahead at any time.
Let us now turn for a moment and view events of the greatest importance, which were occurring in Southeastern Virginia, at the time of the struggle at Chancellorsville.
We have observed (page 21) that Lee had sent Longstreet to command the troops operating against General John J. Peck, at Suffolk. Ever since the Confederates lost Norfolk, and with it the mouth of the James River and the region bordering on the Nansemond and the Dismal Swamp, they had been devising measures for recapturing it, and the territory they had lost. To prevent this, and to establish a base for operations against the Weldon and Petersburg railway, a strong body of National soldiers was stationed at Suffolk, at the head of the Nansemond River, and upon a railroad branching to Weldon and Petersburg. This was an important military position, and became the center of stirring scenes in 1862 and 1863.
In September, 1862, Major-General John J. Peck was placed in command of nine thousand men at Suffolk, and at the same time Generals Pettigrew and French, with about fifteen thousand Confederates, were on the line of the Blackwater, menacing that post. Peck comprehended the great importance of his position, and immediately commenced the construction of a system of defenses for its protection. The authorities at Richmond, believing he was preparing a base of operations for a grand movement against that city, in co-operation with the Army of the Potomac, caused the adoption of countervailing measures.
A series of fortifications were erected from the line of the Blackwater to Fort Powhatan, on the James River, and late in February, 1863, General Longstreet was placed in command of all the Confederate troops in that region. He had then full thirty thousand troops, including those already on the line of the Blackwater, so posted that he could concentrate them all near Suffolk in the course of twenty-four hours.
Early in April, Longstreet prepared to make a sudden descent upon Peck. . He determined to march with an overwhelming force, cross the Nansemond, capture or disperse the National garrison, and then, without further difficulty, seize Portsmouth and Norfolk, and seriously menace, if not actually
i la his report on the Battle of Chancellorsville, at page 15, Lee said: “ The damage done to the railroad was small and soon repaired, and the James River canal was saved from injury.” During the raid Stoneman and his command disabled but did not destroy Lee's communications, but they captured and paroled over 500 Confederate officers and soldiers; destroyed 22 bridges, 7 culverts, 5 ferries, 8 trains of railroad cars, and 122 wagons; burned 4 supply trains, 5 canal boats, 2 store houses, 4 telegraph stations, and 3 depots; broke canals in three places, and railways in 7 places; ent the telegraph wires in 5 places, and captured 856 horses and 104 mules. See Brackett's History of the United States Cavalry, page 311.
? See page 388, volume II.
3 The first work constructed by him was begun on the 25th of September, and was named Fort Dix, in honor of the commander of the department. The position and names of the forts, and other fortifications and localities named in the text, may be observed by reference to the map on page 42, which is a careful copy, on a small scale, of one made by General Peck's engineers, and kindly lent by that commander to the writer.
THE SIEGE OF SUFFOLK.
endanger Fortress Monroe. His first care was to conceal the facts of his own presence and his strength in numbers (then increased), and to weaken Peck's command. It was reported that he had gone to South Carolina, and D. H. Hill was sent to attack Little Washington, and menace New Berne, in North Carolina, for the purpose of drawing some of the troops at Suffolk and at Fortress Monroe in that direction, while the bulk of Longstreet's army was in readiness along the Blackwater, and on the railway between Suffolk and Petersburg, for an immediate advance.
Longstreet thougḥt his plan was working well, when spies informed him that General Foster, the successor of Burnside,' had ordered Peck to send three thousand soldiers to oppose Hill. Being in readiness, Longstreet at once crossed the Blackwater on pontoon bridges, and made a forced march on Suffolk® with about twenty-eight thousand men in three col
• April umns, under skillful commanders,' capturing the cavalry outposts of the Nationals on the way. Peck was ready for him, and Longstreet found in that officer an antagonist as vigilant and active as himself. He had watched the Confederates with sleepless scrutiny, and had penetrated their designs. He kept his superior informed of the increasing number of foes in his front, and had been re-enforced in March by a division under General Getty, making his whole force about fourteen thousand. Now he was about to comply, reluctantly, with a summons from Foster for three thousand troops to oppose Hill, when a Confederate mail, captured by General Viele, who was in command at Norfolk, informed him of Longstreet's plans, and the important fact that Hill's was only a co-operating movement.: The detachment was detained. Admiral Lee was asked, by telegraph, to send gun-boats up the Nansemond, and made a prompt and practical answer; and Longstreet quickly perceived that his attempt at a surprise was a failure. Then he determined to carry the works at Suffolk by assault.
Longstreet's first care was to drive away the half-dozen armed tug and ferry boats (commanded by Captains Lee and Rowe) which lay in the way of his crossing the Nansemond, there narrow and sinuous. For this purpose batteries were erected under cover of darkness, and opened upon them in broad daylight, which seriously wounded the little warriors afloat, but did not drive them far from the scene of conflict. And right gallantly did that little detachment of the National navy perform its part, and most usefully assist the land troops in a siege which continued twenty-four days. Longstreet recalled Hill from North Carolina, and the besiegers numbered about forty thousand. Gallant achievements were almost daily performed by both parties, and the Confederates, with overwhelming numbers, tried in vain
1 See page 315, volume II.
2 The Confederates were in four divisions, commanded respectively by Generals Hood, French, Pickett, and Anderson.
3 Viele had ascertained that Longstreet was in possession of complete drawings of all of Peck's works, and had determined to get in his rear and surprise him.
* To General Getty was intrusted the river line below Onondaga battery (see map on page 42), the key of the position, extending about eight miles in length. During the siege General Getty stormed and carried, with the Eighth Connecticut and Eighty-ninth New York, aided by Lieutenant Lamson and the gun-boats, a Confederate battery on the west branch of the Nansemond. He captured 6 guns and 200 prisoners. General Peck mentioned with commendation Generals Corcoran, Terry, Dodge, and Harland, and Colonels Dutton and Gibbs, commanding front lines; Colonels Gurney and Waddrop, commanding reserves ; Colonels Spear and Onderdonk, of the cavalry, and Captain Follet. chief of artillery. The forts were in charge of the following officers: Port Union, Colonel Drake; Nansemond, Colonel Hawkins; Halleck, Colonel Sullivan; Draw-bridge Buttery, Colonel Davis; Buttery Mansfield, Colonel Worth; the Redan and Battery Rosecrans, Colonel Thorpe; Battery Massachusetts, Captain Johnson; Battery Montgomery, Colonel England; Battery Stevens, Colonel Pease ; Fort Dir, Colonel McEvilly.
SERVICES OF THE ARMY OF SUFFOLK.
every skill and strategy of modern warfare to accomplish their object. Finally, on the day when Hooker and Lee had their severe battle at Chancel.
lorsville, Longstreet, foiled and disheartened, turned his back on . May 3,
Peck and retreated, pursued as far as the Blackwater by National
troops under Generals Corcoran and Dodge, and Colonel Foster. Thus ended the remarkable SIEGE OF SUFFOLK, “ which had for its object the recovery of the whole country south of the James River, extending to Albemarle Sound, in North Carolina ; the ports of Norfolk and Portsmouth; eighty miles of new railroad iron; the equipment of two roads, and the capture of all the United States forces and property, with some thousands of contrabands.” 1
The importance of the services of "the Army of Suffolk," as its commanding officer styled it, seems not to have had due consideration hitherto. As an act of war, the holding of that position by the garrison against more than double its own number of assailants led by one of the best of the Confederate officers, entitles the commanding general and his troops to the highest praise, and which he received from those most competent to judge." But when we consider the grand object of the Confederates and the price at stake, and the fact that the holding of Longstreet south of the James, so that he could not re-enforce Lee, probably saved the Army of the Potomac, then one hundred and twenty-five thousand strong, from far greater disaster -possibly annihilation—at Chancellorsville, the value of the services of the gallant Peck and his brave soldiers may be appreciated, and should be fully recognized by the historian and the student.
1 General J. J. Peck's Report, May 5, 1863.
? On the 15th of February, 1865, General Meade wrote to General Peck, saying: “That with the united force under your command, you should have held in check and defeated the designs of such superior numbers, is a fact of which you may well be proud, as the most practical proof of your own skill and the gallantry of your troops."
On the 1st of January, 1865, General Slocum wrote: “I think the gratitude of the nation is due to you and your gallant little army for the important services performed at Suffolk.”
Ön the 30th of January, 1865, General Stoneman wrote: “ I have always looked upon it as a most fortunato thing for us that you were enabled to hold Longstreet at Suffolk."
It has been asserted that Longstreet joined Lee at the battle of Chancellorsville. Lee, in his report of that battle, page 5, says: "General Longstreet, with two divisions of his corps, was detailed for service south w James River in February, and did not rejoin the army until after the battle of Chancellorsville."