« PreviousContinue »
in a gallop. 'Charge, colonel, charge to the left!' And I charged, got to the edge of the wood, and found a heavy body of infantry and cavalry supporting a battery on a hill six hun dred yards in front of me. But the Yankee balls came fast and thick on my flank. "The 58th are firing into us,' the leading captain said. General Ewell and myself, the only mounted officers, plunged after them, and found it was not their fire. I got back. 'Up, men, and take that hill,' pointing to my right. They went in with a cheer. In less than five seconds the first rank of the second company went down. The color-sergeant, Doyle, fell. The corporal who caught them from him fell. The next who took them fell, when Corporal Shanks, a sixfooter, seized them, raising them over his head at arm's length. Captain Robertson lay dead; Lieutenant Snowden shot to death; myself on the ground, my horse shot in three places. But still we went forward, and drove the Bucktails from the fence where they had been concealed.
It was as the brave Marylanders were pressing on in this charge that Ashby, who was on the right of the 58th Virginia exhorting them, fell by an intelligent bullet of the enemy. His death was quickly avenged. As our troops reached the fence from which the shot had been fired, the line of Yankees melted away like mist before a hurricane.
“The account I have given you," writes Colonel Johnson, " of the manner of Ashby's death, is collated from the statements of many eye-witnesses of my skirmishing companies, who were all around him when he fell. I did not see it, though not thirty yards from him, but was busy with my own men ; and I am specific in stating the source of his death, as there is a loose impression that he was killed by a shot from the 58th Virginia. I am persuaded this is not so, from the statements of two very cool officers, Captain Nicholas and Lieutenant Booth, who were talking to him the minute before he fell.
“ Ashby was my first revolutionary acquaintance in Virginia. I was with him when the first blow was struck for the canse we both had so much at heart, and was with him in his last fight, always knowing him to be beyond all modern men in chivalry, as he was equal to any one in courage. He coribined the virtues of Sir Philip Sydney with the dash of Murat. I
contribute my mite to his fame, which will live in the Valley of Virginia, outside of books, as long as its bills and mountains shall endure."
No word escaped from Ashby's lips as he fell. It was not necessary. No dying legend, spoken in death's embrace, could have added to that noble life. Itself was a beautiful poem; a sounding oration ; a sufficient legacy to the virtue of his coun trymen.
The Situation of Richmond.-Its Strategic Importance.-What the Yankees had done to secure Richmond.-THE BATTEE OF SEVEN PINES.-Miscarriage of Gen. Johnston's Plans.-THE BATTLES OF THE CHICKAHOMINY.-Storming of the Enemy's Intrenchments.-McClellan driven from his Northern Line of Defences.-The Situation on the other Side of the Chickahominy.-Magruder's Comment.-The Affair of Savage Station.-The Battle of Frazier's Farm.-A Terrible Crisis.-Battle of Malvern Hill.-The Enemy in Communication with his Gunboats.-The Failure to cut him off.-Glory and Fruits of our Victory.-Misrepresentations of the Yankees.-Safety of Richmond.-The War in other Parts of the Confederacy.-The Engagement of Secessionville.-The Campaign of the West.-The Evacuation of Corinth.-More Yankee Falsehoods.-Capture of Memphis.-The Prize of the Mississippi. Statistics of its Navigation.-Siege of Vicksburg.-Heroism of "the Queen City."-Morgan's Raid into Kentucky.-The Tennessee and Virginia Frontier.Prospects in the West.-Plan of Campaign there.
RICHMOND is the heart of the State of Virginia. It is hun dreds of miles from the sea, yet with water communication t Old Point, to Washington, and to New York. It is the stra tegic point of the greatest importance in the whole Confed eracy. If Richmond had fallen before McClellan's forces, the North expected that there would follow all of North Carolina except the mountains, part of South Carolina, and all of Tennessee that was left to us.
On the Richmond lines, two of the greatest and most splendid armies that had ever been arrayed on a single field confronted each other; every accession that could be procured from the most distant quarters to their numbers, and every thing that could be drawn from the resources of the respective countries of each, had been made to contribute to the strength and splendor of the opposing hosts.
Since the commencement of the war, the North had taxed its resources for the capture of Richmond; nothing was omitted for the accomplishment of this event; the way had to be opened to the capital by tedious and elaborate operations on the frontier of Virginia; this accomplished, the city of Rich mond was surrounded by an army whose numbers was all that could be desired; composed of picked forces; having every advantage that science and art could bestow in fortifications
and every appliance of war; assisted by gunboat flotillas in two rivers, and endowed with every thing that could assure
The Northern journals were unreserved in the statement that the commands of Fremont, Banks, and McDowell had been consolidated into one army, under Major-gen. Pope, with a view of bringing all the Federal forces in Virginia to cooperate with McClellan on the Richmond lines. A portion of this army must have reached McClellan, probably at an early stage of the engagements in the vicinity of Richmond. Indeed, it was stated at a subsequent period by Mr. Chandler, a member of the Federal Congress, that the records of the War Department at Washington showed that more than one hundred and fifty thousand men had been sent to the lines about Richmond. There is little doubt but that, in the memorable contest for the safety of the Confederate capital, we engaged an army whose superiority in numbers to us was largely increased by timely reinforcements, and with regard to the operations of which the Northern government had omitted no conditions of success.
THE BATTLE OF SEVEN PINER. Having reached the Chickahominy, McClellan threw a portion of his army across the river, and, having thus established his left, proceeded to pivot upon it, and to extend his right by the right bank of the Pamunkey, so as to get to the north of Richmond.
Before the 30th of May, Gen. Johnston had ascertained that Keyes' corps was encamped on this side of the Chickahominy, near the Williamsburg road, and the same day a strong body of the enemy was reported in front of D. H. Hill. The following disposition of forces was made for the attack the next day, the troops being ordered to move at daybreak: Gen. Hill, supported by the division of Gen. Longstreet (who had the direction of operations on the right), was to advance by the Williamsburg road to attack the enemy in front; Gen. Huger, with his division, was to move down the Charles City road, in order to attack in flank the troops who might be engaged with Hill and Longstreet, unless he found in his front force enough to occupy his division ; Gen. Smith was to march