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CHAP. XLVIII.] OPERATIONS OF GENERAL LEE.
ever went awry on account of practical failures in its execution."
Having failed in this plan for dislodging his enemy from Cheat Mountain and relieving Northwestern Virginia, Lee determined to go into the Kanawha region, and help Floyd and Wise. He ordered back Floyd's troops to a position that had been fortified by Wise, and named Camp Defiance, strengthening the works by a breastwork four miles long. He had now under his command nearly 20,000 men. Here he lay making preparations to attack Rosecrans, who was in front of him. Rosecrans, however, suddenly retired by night, and was not pursued; and again a clamor rose in Richmond that "a second oppor tunity for a decisive battle in Virginia had been lost." Some unimportant operations now took place at New River, Romney, Alleghany Summit, Huntersville; but winter was fast approaching, and the Confederate government, greatly dis appointed at the course of events, determined to abandon the campaign. Lee was recalled, and sent to take charge of the coast defenses of South Carolina. Wise was ordered to report at Richmond. Floyd was sent to the West.
The Confederates abandon the campaign.
On the Confederate side, the failure of this campaign was attributed to the incapacity of General Lee; on the national side, the success was ascribed to the talents of General McClellan. The former officer was greatly blamed by the government at Richmond; the latter still more greatly rewarded by that at Washington. How different the judgment passed upon these soldiers a few months subsequently, at the close of the Peninsular campaign!
In view of the scale on which it was soon found that warlike operations must be carried on for the overthrow of the Confederacy, we may
Lee and McClellan.
Insignificance of these affairs.
see how insignificant were the combats of this campaign, and how unimportant the result. Yet, coming at a time when the nation was deeply depressed, the moral effect was great. Though McClellan had not in person commanded on any of these battle-fields, he gathered the entire honor.
BUTLER AT FORTRESS MONROE.
In consequence of his services at Bull Run, Stonewall Jackson had been made a major general in the Confederate service and assigned command at Winchester. On the 1st of January, 1862, he marched westward, capturing Bath and Romney, but was obliged to return. The weather was so severe and the roads so dreadful that General Lander, in command of the national troops, could not move more than a mile and a quarter an hour; he himself suffered so much from hardship and anxiety that shortly afterward he died. Nevertheless, he had succeeded in clearing his department of the Confederates.
Fortress Monroe, commanding Chesapeake Bay and James River, is the largest and most powerful military work in the republic. It was built at a cost of two and a half millions of dollars. It covers an area of nearly seventy acres.
General Butler in
General Butler, whose successful restoration of order in Baltimore had not met with the approval command. of General Scott, had been ordered to the command of this work. Soon after his arrival (May 22d), he found himself, at the head of 12,000 troops, confronted by 8000 Confederates under General Magruder. He at once caused a reconnoissance to be made in the direction of Hampton, and drove the Confederates out of that town. On the return of the expedition some negroes joined it, and having informed Butler that they had been engaged in the building of fortifications, he declared them "con
Origin of the term traband of war." The government subsequently approving of his course, fugitive slaves thereafter passed in the army under the designation of contrabands.
EXPEDITION AGAINST BETHEL.
The main body of the Confederates under
Magruder's force at
Yorktown. Magruder lay at Yorktown, but they had outposts at Big Bethel and Little Bethel. With a view of expelling them from these positions and rendering secure some works which he had constructed at Hampton and Newport News, Butler directed.(June 10th) Duryea's Zou
His outposts at
aves and Townsend's Third New York to gain the rear of Little Bethel, while a Ver mont battalion and Bendix's New York regiment were to attack it in front. The expedition was under the com mand of General Pierce, and had with it only three guns. Townsend's troops moved along the road from Hampton, Bendix's along that from Newport News. They simulta neously reached the junction of the roads before daybreak, when Bendix, mistaking Townsend for the enemy, opened fire upon him, which was instantly returned by Townsend, who supposed he had fallen into an ambush. Expedition against That portion of the expedition which had already passed beyond the junction of the roads toward Little Bethel, hearing the firing, supposed that an attack was being made on its rear. Every thing was for the moment in confusion, and the Confederates in Little Bethel, taking alarm, at once fell back on Big Bethel, where Magruder, with 1800 men, was posted.
Thither, after destroying the abandoned camp, Pierce
advanced. The position occupied by the Confederates was strong. It had in front a branch of the Back River, crossed by a bridge, the stream above and below the place of crossing widening, so as to form a difficult morass. On each side of the road from the bridge was an earthwork, and on their right, facing the stream, the Confederates had a line of intrenchments. Their works were defended by twenty guns.
The national troops advanced at once under a heavy fire, intending to rush across the stream and storm the works. In this, however, they were checked. After a pause of two hours the attempt was renewed, the troops on the left crossed the morass, the enemy was driven out of the battery nearest the bridge, but the fire became too hot, and the assailants were again repulsed. In this affair the loss of the Confederates was insignificant; that of the national troops was fifty-five, of whom sixteen were killed. Among the latter, deeply regretted, was Major Theodore Winthrop. He had already distinguished himself in literary life, and when leading his men to the attack, within thirty or forty yards of one of the batteries, was shot through the head by a North Carolina drummer-boy. Lieutenant Greble, who had been in command of the three guns, was killed in attempting to withdraw them. He was the first officer of the regu lar army who fell in the Civil War.
"This is an ill advised and badly arranged movement. I am afraid no good will come of it; and as for myself, I do not think I shall come off the field alive"-so Greble had said to one of his friends before starting. In this condemnation of the expedition the nation universally joined.
The national and Confederate forces were confronting
They fall back to
Attack by the national troops.
Its failure. Death of Winthrop and Greble.
DEFEAT OF THE NATIONAL TROOPS.
The tragedy at
each other on opposite sides of the Potomac, between Washington and Harper's Ferry. General McClellan, about the middle of October, considered it desirable to ascertain the strength of his antagonists in the vicinity of Dranesville, and accordingly caused a reconnoissance to be made by General McCall, on the 19th of that month. He likewise desired General Stone, who was at Poolesville, to keep a look-out upon Leesburg, and suggested that a "slight demonstration" on his part might have the effect of moving the enemy. He did not, however, contemplate making an attack upon them, or the crossing of the river in force by any portion of Stone's command.
Hereupon Colonel Devins was ordered by Stone to Devins's reconnois- bring two flat-boats from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal into the river opposite Harrison's Island, and ferry some troops over to it. This done, Devins sent a detachment to the Virginia shore to make an exploration toward Leesburg, which had been reported to be evacuated. They discovered, as they sup posed, a small camp about a mile from the town. Stone thereupon ordered Devins to land on Ball's Bluff, opposite the island. It is an eminence from 50 to 150 feet high. He was to surprise the discovered camp, destroy it, examine the country, and return, unless he should find a good place on which to establish himself, in which case An expedition sets re-enforcements would be sent him. He set out about midnight; the clayey bluff was very wet and slippery; he reached the top of it by daylight (October 22d). Advancing within a mile of Leesburg, he could find no enemy; the reported camp proved to be an illusion due to openings among the trees. He therefore halted and sent to Stone for further orders. At seven o'clock, perceiving that the enemy's cavalry were gathering around him, he fell back toward the bluff, and