Page images
PDF
EPUB

and country, and by every means in your power compatible with honorable warfare, to drive back and expel the invaders from your land.

"I conjure you to be true and loyal to your country and her legal and constitutional authorities, and especially to be vigilant of the movements and acts of the enemy, so as to enable you to give the earliest authentic information at these head-quarters, or to the officers under this command.

“I desire to assure you that the utmost protection in my power will be given to you all "G. T. BEAUREGARD, "Brigadier-General Commanding.

"THOMAS JORDAN, Acting Ass't Adj't-General.”

This mendacious and vindictive proclamation found ready believers and hearty sympathizers in the misguided masses, who were then gathering at Manassas Junction.

The course adopted by Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee, after the President's call for troops, has been elsewhere related. In all these States the leaders of the rebellion showed a determination to hurry the people out of the Union, without regard to a fair expression of opinion at the polls. A Border States' convention was summoned at Frankfort, Kentucky, but Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas, having joined the Confederacy, did not send delegates, neither did Maryland. One appeared from Tennessee and four from Missouri, to meet those of Kentucky. The convention met on May 27th, and Senator Crittenden was chosen president. Two addresses were adopted-one to the people of the United States, and the other to the people of Kentucky. The first proposed such amendments to the Constitution as should secure the rights of slaveholders, or on the failure of that, to call a convention of all the States to devise means of peaceable adjustment. The other address defended the course of the Executive in refusing troops to the United States, professed strong attachment to the Union, but urged the necessity of neutrality. It condemned the course of the Southern States in withdrawing from the Union, and expressed the determination of Kentucky to adhere to it. Notwithstanding this "conditional loyalty," as it was called, Kentucky, thanks to her proximity to the Free States, was sound to the core, and in her election for members of Congress, held in June, returned nine Unionists to one secessionist, by a vote of 92,365 to 36,995; showing a majority of 55,370 for the Union. In Missouri, Governor Jackson and the legislature endeavored to take the State out of the Union; but the State Convention called to promote secession proved loyal, and deposed both the Governor and the legislature.

The Southern Confederacy now began to concentrate its power, and the new machinery of its Government came daily more decidedly into action in place of the Federal authority. The Congress, having made all necessary provisions, adjourned on the 20th of May, to meet at Richmond, the proposed future seat of Government, on the 20th of July. The finances and military forces had been provided for as far as possible, and the new Postmaster-General, John H. Reagan, took charge of thet ransmission of mails on June 1st, the Postmaster-General of the United States, having announced that on that day postal communication would close with the seceding States, with the exception of some counties in Western Virginia.

The action of Western Virginia forms a remarkable episode in the course of events. On the vote upon secession, the western counties gave a majority against it. In the northwestern part of the State, or pan handle," a narrow strip which runs up between Pennsylvania and Ohio, the vote was largely for the Union. A convention of these western counties, thirty-five in number, was held at Wheeling on the 13th of May, at which resolutions were passed pronouncing the ordinance of secession null and void, and a provisional convention summoned to meet June 11th. When it assembled on that day, Arthur J. Boreman was chosen permanent chairman, and a resolution, declaring a division of the State of Virginia, and the organization of the counties represented into a new State, to be a paramount object, was carried by a vote of fifty-seven to seventeen. There was subsequently passed a declaration and ordinance for reorganizing the government of the State. The declaration set forth that the Richmond Convention was unconstitutional, and its proceedings void. The ordinance provided that the delegates elected in May, which was the regular time of election of such officers in Virginia, and the senators who should appear and qualify, should constitute the legislature of the State. An oath of allegiance to the United States was prescribed, and all offices he'd by persons who failed to take that oath were declared vacant. Francis II. Pierpont was elected Governor, and Daniel Paisley Lieutenant-Governor. Governor Pierpont, on taking the oath of office, delivered a speech, in which he thus defined the position of the western counties:

"We have been driven into the position we occupy to-day by the usurpers at the South, who have inaugurated this war upon the soil of Virginia, and have made it the great Crimea of this contest. We, representing the loyal citizens of Virginia, have been bound to assume the position we have assumed to-day, for the protection of ourselves, our wives, our children, and our property. We, I repeat, have been driven to assume this position, and now we are but recurring to the great fundamental principle of our fathers, that to the loyal people of a State belongs the law-making power of that State. The loyal people are entitled to the government and governments! authority of the State. And, fellow-citizens, it is the assumption of that authority upon which we are now about to enter."

To this speech, and the action of the western counties, the rebel Governor, Letcher, replied in a proclamation under date of June 14th, 1861, in which he urged the inherent right of the Commonwealth of Virginia to separate itself from the United States, institute a new government, and ally itself to the Confederate States. The people of Western Virginia, he contended, had united in the vote on the question of secession, and being overborne by the majority in the other counties, it was their duty to submit to the will of the majority without factious opposition. He announced his intention of maintaining the position of Virginia as a member of the Confederacy by force of arms, and then proceeded to adduce as reasons why the western counties should unite with the eastern in fighting against the Union, the intermixture of the blood of the east and the west, and the friendships hallowed by a thousand cherished recollections and memories of the past, and of the great men of other days. He ap pealed also to their pecuniary interests, reminding them that the unequal taxation from which they had so long suffered had been

modified in their favor, and that this magnanimity on the part of the eastern counties ought to awaken their gratitude and secure their attachment.

The appeals, threats, and blandishments of Governor Letcher proved alike unavailing. The western counties remained loyal, and at the extra session of Congress two senators, Messrs. Carlile and Willey, appointed by their legislature, were admitted to seats in the Senate of the United States.

CHAPTER VI.

Troops concentrated at Washington.—Popular Impatience.-Occupation of Alexandria. -Operations in Virginia.

WHILE the Southern States had been thus mustering forces and consolidating their Government, the North had displayed the most extraordinary vigor; and troops from all quarters concentrated at Washington and other designated points, where they were to be formed into separate armies, each to take a part in the extensive plan of operations projected by Lieutenant-General Scott.

The old cadets bred in the army, who had in prosperous times sought peaceful pursuits, now crowded back to organize, drill, fortify, instruct, and lead against the enemy, whose officers were also of high scientific attainments and great skill, and one of whom was now organizing rebellion, almost within sight of the Federal Capital.

The troops directed upon Washington continued to arrive in great numbers, until by the first of June upward of forty thousand men, including volunteers, militia of the District of Columbia, and regulars, had concentrated for the defence of the Capital. These troops were for the most part well armed and well provided, although the military resources of the Government at the time were of the most meagre description. The arms purchased in England by Massachusetts and New York had not arrived, and the Government was compelled to use extraordinary efforts as well to procure arms as to conceal its great weakness in that respect. Great numbers of contracts were given out for the manufacture of arms, and agents were sent to Europe to purchase. Nevertheless, the arming went on very slowly amidst impatient clamors for a forward movement. The men were confessedly the best material in the world for troops, but they were destitute of the habits or instruction of the soldier. To drill and organize them was a work of time, to say nothing of inuring them to the hardships of the camp. The public mind was, however, far too excited to make allowance for such difficulties. The desire for action, though the troops were as yet undisciplined, was intense, and the pressure exerted on the Government caused some hasty and ill-considered movements.

A sufficient force being now concentrated in Washington, it became possibleto make an advance into Virginia. The City of Alexandria, which was strongly secession, was at this time occupied by the Confederates, and with a view of driving these out, as also of occupying the heights that command the Capital, at midnight, on the 23d of May, a

small force was pushed across the long bridge which connects Washington with Virginia. Various bodies of infantry, cavalry, and artillery followed, some of which held the tête du pont on the Virginia side, while others occupied Arlington Heights, opposite the city, or marched to Alexandria, six miles distant.

Meantime the New York Fire Zouaves, under Colonel Ephraim E. Ellsworth, had left their camp, on two steamers, and landed at Alexandria at four A. M. of the 24th, at the same moment that a Michigan regiment, coming from the Long Bridge, entered the place. The town was occupied with scarcely any resistance; the dépôt of the Orange and Alexandria railroad, with the rolling stock, seized, and a company (thirty-five men) of rebel cavalry captured.

During the night, Sherman's and Ricketts's batteries of regular artillery crossed the bridge, with a working force to throw up fortifications on Arlington Heights, and by noon of the 24th the territory west of the Potomac, which had formerly formed part of the District of Columbia, but which had been retroceded to Virginia, was without loss occupied by Federal forces.

One melancholy catastrophe marred the complete success of these operations. Colonel Ellsworth, with a rashness characteristic of a brave and enthusiastic, but inexperienced officer, ascertaining that a rebel flag was flying conspicuously from the Marshall House, a hotel kept by one Jackson, a violent secessionist, proceeded with the chaplain of his regiment and a single private, to the roof of the house, hauled down the flag, and while descending the stairs to regain the street, was shot dead by Jackson. The latter was instantly killed by the private accompanying Ellsworth. The event caused much regret, Ellsworth being considered a young officer of unusual promise, and of approved loyalty. Had he remained by his regiment, as he should have done, and deputed another to perform what was, after all, a duty too trivial to devolve upon an officer of rank, he might have lived to render important services to his country.

The Federal troops being in possession of the western bank of the Potomac, it was erected into a department, and Major-General Sandford, of the New York Militia, was placed in command. His head-quarters were the elegant mansion of General Lee, on Arlington Heights. On the 28th he was succeeded by General McDowell* of the regular army, recently appointed a brigadier, while General Mansfieldt was placed in command of the troops at Washington.

The strengthening of the positions in Virginia, and the organization

Irvin McDowell was born in Ohio, in 1818, graduated at West Point, 1838, and brevetted captain for gallant conduct at the battle of Buena Vista, 1847; major, 1856, and brigadier-general in the regular army, May 14th, 1861; commanded at the first battle of Bull Run; major-general of volunteers, March, 1562, and appointed to command of Second Army Corps, Department of the Rappahannock; took part in second Bull Run campaign; tried by Court of Inquiry for his conduct and acquitted, 1968; president of retiring board 1863-64; commander of Department of Pacific, 1864-65,

Joseph King Fenno Mansfield was born in New

Haven, Conn., in 1808, graduated at West Point in 1822, second in his class, and was for several years actively engaged in engineer duties; cap tain, 1888; brevetted major, lieutenant-colonel and colonel for distinguished services in the Mexican war, 1846; Inspector-General, with rank of colonel, 1853; brigadier-general of the regular army, May 14th, 1861, and commander of Department of Washington; subsequently stationed at Newport News and Suffolk, Va.; commanded Banks's corps at Antietam, and mortally wounded, September,

1862

of the troops as they continued daily to arrive, were prosecuted with great vigor by General McDowell. The enemy in front were not very enterprising, although the threats and evident desire to capture Washington by no means abated. On June 1st, the Federal steamers Freeborn and Anacostia engaged the rebel batteries at Acquia Creek, emptying into the Potomac fifty-five miles below Washington, and the terminus of the Richmond and Potomac Railroad. After two hours' firing the batteries were silenced, with the loss of one man. On the same night Company B, Second Cavalry, seventy-five men, under Lieutenant Tompkins, made a dash into the village of Fairfax Court-House, where they encountered a large cavalry force of the enemy. After a sharp skirmish, in which the Union loss was one killed and four wounded, the Federal cavalry retired. A number of the enemy were killed, and five taken prisoners. On the following day detachments of Ellsworth's Zouaves and Wilcox's Michigan Regiment skirmished with the enemy in the vicinity of Alexandria.

On the 17th of June, General McDowell, learning that a force of the enemy from Centreville were at Vienna, a few miles from Washington, ordered Brigadier-General R. C. Schenck, a newly appointed officer, to dislodge them. He took the First Ohio Volunteers, Colonel McCook, and proceeded by the Alexandria Railroad slowly towards Vienna. When within a quarter of a mile of the place, on turning the curve, in a deep cut, the train received a discharge of shells and grape from a battery of three guns, which killed and wounded several men. The party then left the cars and retired into the woods right and left. The enemy's force appeared to be about fifteen hundred South Carolinian troops. General Schenck withdrew his men slowly along the track, about four miles, until they met the First and Second Connecticut Regiments coming to their support. The engineer had meantime gone back with all speed to Alexandria. The loss was five killed and six wounded.

CHAPTER VII.

Occupation of Fortress Monroe.-Engagement at Big Bethel.-Increase of Army. -Army Organization.—Want of Arms.-Advance to Centreville.-Bull Run.

THE Occupation of Fortress Monroe was rendered complete by the arrival of the Massachusetts Fourth, on the 20th of April, and subsequently the force was gradually increased, without attracting much attention. On the 22d of May, General Butler, who had been appointed major-general of volunteers on the 16th, took command of the Department of the South, with head-quarters at Fortress Monroe, and proceeded to organize the troops there.

The question of what to do with the slaves in this department was becoming every day one of more serious magnitude. Considerable numbers of blacks, escaping from or abandoned by their masters,

« PreviousContinue »