Page images

ments, so that Ewell's Corps was not dispatched from Richmond until its presence at Lynchburg was needed. The Union troops at this time were fifteen days' march from regular bases of supplies, and were subsisting upon the enemy's country, while the enemy, by means of the railroad from Lynchburg to Richmond, had at any time the power of concentrating against Hunter just as many troops as General Lee could spare from the Army of Northern Virginia. Hunter was not slow to perceive how critical was his position, and on the 19th comienced his march down the valley. But scarcely had he started when he found the enemy pressing him so hard that he was compelled to leave the valley, abandon part of his trains and guns, and strike across the mountains to the Kanawha, hoping to reach Long's Creek, whence by steamboat down the Kanawha and up the Ohio to Parkersburg, and thence by railroad, he could regain Martinsburg. This eccentric retreat of Hunter was forced upon him by lack of all supplies, and by the fact that the enemy had a railroad east of the Blue Ridge, from Lynchburg to Rockfish Gap or Waynesboro, only twelve miles from Staunton, by means of which the whole of Ewell's Corps, and as many other troops as Lee might think necessary, could easily have been thrown from sixty to eighty miles in Hunter's rear, while Breckinridge, with the valley troops, held him in front. And as he had but little ammunition, and was utterly out of supplies, while there would be no chance to collect in presence of a superior force of the enemy, it appeared reduced to a mathematical certainty that an attempt to return down the Shenandoah would be equivalent to the annihilation or surrender of our force. Retiring by the Kanawha Valley, he confidently expected abundant supplies of commissary and quartermaster stores at Meadow's Bluff, about five or six days' march from Lynchburg. More than a million rations, about five or six days previous, had been left there by Generals Crook and Averill, under charge of two regiments of Ohio militia. These stores the enemy had destroyed.

The enemy, in all about twenty-five thousand men, after driving Hunter over the mountains, lost no time in advancing down the valley, and on Saturday, July 2d, suddenly made his appearance at North Mountain, eight miles north of Martinsburg, thus flanking Sigel, who held command there. On the following morning Sigel was compelled to fall back upon Harper's Ferry, where he united with General Stahl, The small Union force then evacuated the town and held Maryland Heights. It now became manifest that another invasion of Pennsylvania was at hand. The enemy's main line of advance was by way of Martinsburg and North Mountain, across the Potomac to Hagerstown. Refugees, farmers, and citizens soon passed east towards Baltimore, and the roads were filled with pedestrians, with droves of cattle, and with wagons of all species of construction, carrying such goods and valuables as the frightened owners had dared to stay to pick up. The terror of the fugitives was extreme, an 1 their stories of what they had seen and heard extravagant. The panic was wide-spread and universal, and the region for miles became depopulated.

The enemy advanced steadily, and by the 4th of July the country between Winchester and Williamsport was occupied by him. On

that day a part of Mosby's Cavalry crossed at Point of Rocks, while the enemy occupied Harper's Ferry and the south bank of the Potomac, Sigel holding Maryland Heights. On the 6th, the enemy's cavalry, under McCausland, occupied Hagerstown. In view of the gravity of the sitnation, requisitions for troops were made upon the States of New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, and the Sixth Corps was ordered to embark for Washington, which had been nearly stripped of its garrison to re-enforce Grant, and against which the enemy was evidently moving, hoping possibly to capture it by a coup de main. One of the objects of Lee in planning this invasion was to induce Grant to retire from before Richmond and cover the Federal capital; and the fact that the latter general thought it necessary to detach no more than a single corps for that purpose, showed that he took the proper view of the invasion, and was not to be enticed by his wily adversary from relaxing the iron grip which he had fastened upon the approaches to the rebel capital.

Meanwhile, General Lewis Wallace, commanding the Middle Department, had gathered together such troops as were available (Hunter not having yet returned from Western Virginia), and essayed to retard the progress of the enemy. On Saturday, July 9th, having by this time been joined by Ricketts's Division of the Sixth Corps, he encountered the enemy, in superior force, on the Monocacy, near Frederick, and, after a severe fight, was pushed back with loss on the road to Baltimore. The enemy immediately sent a column of troops down the Washington and Frederick turnpike. It entered Rockville on Sunday morning, and then moved on towards Washington. Five miles from Georgetown and two miles beyond the fortifications, it drove in the Federal pickets one mile on Sunday night. At daybreak on Monday morning, skirmishing commenced within rifle-shot of Fort Pennsylvania, three miles from Georgetown.

Simultaneously with the appearance of this force another division of troops appeared on the Seventh Street road, four miles from the city, directly north, and immediately in front of Forts Stevens and De Russey. Here they seemed in larger force. By Monday noon the enemy had a strong skirmish line, and some sixty were killed and wounded; but fortunately by this time the remainder of the Sixth Corps, and a portion of the Nineteenth from New Orleans, began to arrive in the Potomac, and at dusk the veteran troops advanced to the front, where the fighting became severe. The enemy began to use artillery, and Forts Slocum and De Russey opened in reply with their heavy guns. Immense efforts were made to strengthen the Federal lines, and a proclamation required every able-bodied man to turn out as militia, and be mustered into service for sixty days. Citizens were seen on every hand with guns on their shoulders, while employés of Departments and Government workshops, who had been previously organized and drilled, turned out several thousand strong. Three thousand convalescent soldiers were also obtained from the hospitals, in addition to the veteran forces, increasing hourly by fresh arrivals. The telegraph lines and railroads having been cut, Washington was, for the time being, isolated, and provisions began to rise in price. On

Wednesday morning, however, the enemy had disappeared: cavalry followed in pursuit, and found him retreating towards Frederick. Á small battery had remained near Bladensburg, firing at the railroad train, long after the main line had retreated.

In the mean time, on the 10th, the enemy's cavalry approached within sixteen miles of Baltimore, and raiding parties made their appearance in various directions. One burned the dwelling of Governor Bradford; another captured a train in which was Major-General Franklin, who managed to make his escape. Other forces busied themselves in collecting large stores of forage, grain, and army supplies of all sorts, and making forced contributions in money. affair at Monocacy was the only persistent effort to oppose the raid. That ended in a defeat, and thenceforth the enemy for several days had it all his own way, and was enabled, after his demonstration upon Washington and Baltimore, to retire across the Potomac with large spoils.


The pursuit was commenced July 13th, by General Wright, with the Sixth Corps and one division of Emory's Nineteenth Corps. He crossed the Potomac at Edwards's Ferry and moved towards Leesburg, where Ricketts overtook and joined him. The cavalry under Duffie, of Crook's command, captured some of the rebel trains near Snicker's Gap, on the 17th. The remainder of Crook's force then came up, but the enemy commanded the stream they had crossed with two guns and checked the pursuit. On the succeeding day, Duffie was repulsed by Breckinridge, at Island Ford on the Shenandoah, with the loss of three hundred men. The enemy proceeded towards Winchester and Strasburg, followed closely by Averill, who, on the 20th, had a combat near Winchester with Ramseur's Division, which he defeated with the loss of four hundred men and four guns. Crook then joined Averill. On the 23d the enemy advanced in force and drove in the Union Cavalry, and on the 24th precipitated himself with so much force upon Crook as to push him back, with considerable loss, upon Martinsburg, whence, on Tuesday, the 26th, he recrossed the Potomac. Early now again held the right bank of the Potomac from Williamsport to Shepardstown. The enemy manoeuvred on the Potomac, effectively concealing their numbers and intentions, until the 30th, when McCausland, with a cavalry force, advanced upon Chambersburg and demanded a ransom of five hundred thousand dollars, which, not being paid, he fired the town, inflicting a loss estimated at one million dol lars. In the mean time, Averill, who had retreated from Hagerstown towards Carlisle, turned upon McCausland, and on Sunday, August 9th, our cavalry again occupied Hagerstown. The same day, Averill overtook the enemy at Moorfield and routed him, capturing all his artillery, consisting of four pieces, and many of his wagons and smallarms, and five hundred prisoners. Our loss was less than fifty men. The pursuit was kept up for many miles. For this exploit Averill was promoted to the rank of major-general.

On the 7th of August, Hunter was superseded by Sheridan, who was assigned to the command of the forces in the Middle Military Division, consisting of the Department of Washington, the Middle

Department, and the Departments of the Susquehanna and Southwest Virginia, which it was now determined to unite under one commander.


Dutch Gap Canal.-Movement North of the James.-Expedition of the Fifth Corps to the Weldon Road.-Attack by Hill.-Severe Fighting near Reams's Station.Losses.-Repulse of the Enemy. Subsequent Repulse of Hancock.-Renewal of Movement North of the James and Capture of Fort Harrison. Further Operations on the Weldon Railroad.

SHERIDAN having, in the beginning of August, been detached from the Army of the Potomac and sent to supersede Hunter, Gregg assumed command of the cavalry. The monotony which had crept upon the operations of either army was varied on the 5th of August by the springing of a mine by the enemy in front of the Eighteenth Corps. This had been intended to countermine what was supposed to be a new work by the Federal troops. No charge followed, however. On the 9th an ordnance boat at City Point accidentally exploded, involving great destruction of life and property. There were seventy killed and one hundred and thirty wounded.

The James River a short distance below Fort Darling makes a great bend, forming a peninsula called Farrar's Island; the neck of which is only half a mile across, while the river winds six miles around the bend. This part of the stream was filled with torpedoes and swept by batteries. General Butler proposed to cut a canal across this neck, and thus cause the enemy to prolong his works, while it would bring the Federal troops in close proximity to Fort Darling. From the very outset the work upon the canal was obstructed by the fire of the enemy from Howlett House Battery, and, to relieve the working parties, it was determined to create a diversion. Accordingly, a fleet of transports was collected at City Point, and on August 12th the Second Corps was embarked upon them, apparently to go down the river. The Tenth Corps at the same time crossed the river on pontoons and joined Foster's Division on the right. On Saturday night, August 13th, the Second Corps landed from the transports near Deep Bottom, and moved into position along the Newmarket road on the east side of Four Mile Creek, while the Tenth Corps was on the west side of that stream. The gunboats at the same time engaged the enemy's works. Early on Sunday, the 14th, Foster moved out upon Strawberry Plains and encountered the enemy's skirmishers, who fell back beyond his rifle-pits. The enemy had, however, re-enforced from his right, and the Federal troops had before them D. H. Hill and Longstreet's Corps. The cavalry of Gregg covered the right flank, where was the Second Corps, with its left on Four Mile Creek, while the Tenth Corps, resting with its right on the other bank of the creek, had its left on the intrenched bluff at Deep Bottom. These dispositions consumed most of the day, Generals Grant, Butler, Hancock, and Birney being pres

ent, and it was not until towards evening that the whole line advanced. The Tenth Corps drove in the picket line of the enemy and captured four guns and a number of prisoners; but the Second Corps, encountering a very severe artillery fire, gained comparatively little ground.

On Monday, August 15th, amidst severe skirmishing, the line was extended to the right, and Malvern Hill threatened. As the right was extended, the enemy made corresponding movements, and the day was spent in manoeuvring. On the 16th, the cavalry of Gregg moved on the Charles City road, where, being joined by Miles's Division of the Second Corps, it encountered the enemy under Chambliss, who, after a sharp. fight, were routed, with the loss of their leader. The column then pushed on to White's Tavern, in the immediate vicinity of Richmond, but, finding the enemy in strong force, withdrew. Meanwhile, in the centre, the Tenth Corps carried a line of works and captured two hundred prisoners, but, everywhere encountering strongly-manned works, it also withdrew, and the reconnoissance ended. The attack was not intended to be serious at this point, and it remained to be seen what effect it would have on operations on the left.

At four o'clock on the morning of Thursday, the 18th, the Fifth Corps started from its camp, with four days' rations, for the Weldon Railroad. The column marched towards Reams's Station, driving in easily the enemy's skirmishers, of whom a part were captured. The first division, Griffin's, reached the railroad, and began to destroy it five or six miles from Petersburg; while the second, Ayres's, the third, Crawford's, and the fourth, Cutler's Marylanders, proceeded along the road towards Petersburg At Yellow Tavern they encountered the enemy's cavalry under Dearing, who fell back to Davis Farm, two and a half miles from Petersburg. Here General A. P. Hill was encountered, with the divisions of Mahone and Heth, Mahone, with his own brigades and those of Clingman and Colquitt, being east of the railroad, and Hill, with the brigades of Davis, Walker, and Archer, west of it. The Federal line was halted in an open field. Crawford's Division, comprising the brigades of Lyle, Wheeler, and Hartshorn, were east of the railroad, confronting Mahone, and Ayres on the west of the road, opposite Heth, who came forward with great vehemence, driving back Ayres about one mile upon his intrenchments, the first line of which was lost, the enemy pouring in pell-mell with the retreating troops. These, supported by Cutler's Division, gained the main line, that had been greatly strengthened over night, and against which the advancing tide of rebels beat in vain.

The Union troops, on Friday, August 19th, occupied an intrenched line, the left being on the Boydtown plank road, while across the railroad the right held the Jerusalem road, which it was necessary to connect with the main line at Petersburg. The line was formed as follows, from right to left: Wilcox's Division of the Ninth Corps, Crawford's, Ayres's, and Griffin's Divisions of the Fifth Corps. Between Ayres and Crawford ran the railroad, and between the right of the Fifth Corps and the Jerusalem road was a dangerous gap. At four o'clock in the afternoon, in the midst of a heavy rain-storm, Hill burst upon

« PreviousContinue »