Page images
PDF
EPUB

ized by interference with your slaves, understand one thing clearly-not only will we abstain from all such interference, þut we will

, on the contrary, with an iron hand, crush any attempt at insurrection on their part.

The first engagement in Western Virginia was fought at Phil. ippa, on the 2d of June, Gen. Thomas A. Morris, of Indiana, being the officer in actual command of the forces now concentrated at and near Grafton, with headquarters at that place. The arduous and successful expedition thence to Philippa, surprising and breaking up an important camp of Rebels, was under the immediate direction of Col. Dumont, of Indiana.

On the 3d of June, Gen. Patterson issued an ress from his headquarters, now at Chambersburg, Pa., to the troops of his Department, promising that they should "soon meet the insurgents.” He added: “You must bear in mind you are going for the good of the whole country, and that, while it is your duty to punish sedition, you must protect the loyal, and, should the occasion offer, at once suppress servile insurrection."

It is worthy of note here that Mr. Lincoln, with that magnanimity which would see only an endangered country, had put at the head of three important Military Departments three of the most decided of his political opponents-Patterson, Butler and McClellan. These appointments were made under the earnest conviction-how well justified by the result will presently appear—that these officers possessed the military capacity and skill suited to the wants of the occasion, and that they would heartily sustain the Government in its work of self-preservation. Patterson and McClellan had cach been selected by the Republican Executives of their own States. Both had served in Mexico, under the eye of Gen. Scott, and their selection had his approval.

To the voluntary promises made by Patterson and McClellan, that slavery should be upheld by force of arms, if need be, it must be added that a like assurance was given by Butler to the people of Maryland, soon after his occupation of Annapolis.

A few days after the victory at Philippa, Gen. Thomas A. Morris, the General in actual command, on whom, with Gen. W. S. Rosecrans, the direction of the campaign now inaugu

[ocr errors]

rated in West Virginia mainly depended, issued his proclamation from headquarters at Grafton, calling on the people to arm for their own protection against the enemies of their "freedom and peace,” and to rally in arms to the support of the Constitutional Government. The Convention of loyal Virginia Delegates, held at Wheeling, proclaimed, on the 17th of June, their repudiation of the pretended ordinance of secession by which Virginia was called on “ to separate from and wage war against the Government of the United States," and in the name of the people, declared that “the offices of all who adhere to " the Richmond Convention and Gov. Letcher (in the enumerated acts of treason and usurpation perpetrated by them), whether legislative, executive or judicial, are vacated. A new State Government was promptly organized, with Francis H. Pierpont for Governor. In due time a State Legislature was chosen, and Senators and Representatives in Congress were elected. Thus, with the full approbation of President Lincoln, and with his substantial support, was the first step inaugurated toward a restoration of a loyal local Government in the insurgent States. The State Government thus organized was for Virginia in its integrity, and it was sustained by the people, wherever our armies held in check the armed forces of the Rebels.

On the 23d of June, three weeks after the battle of Philippa, Gen. McClellan, having just arrived, issued another proclamation to the people from headquarters at Grafton, announcing that the Army of the Ohio, "headed by Virginia troops, is rapidly occupying all Western Virginia.” He reaffirmed the promises of his former proclamation, adding: “Your houses, families, property and all your rights will be religiously respected.” He denounced upon guerrillas and marauders the severest penalties of military law. To the sol. diers of his Army he issued an order enjoining good conduct, and inspiriting them for the work before them. “We have come here,” he said, “ to save, not to upturn."

Nearly three weeks later, July 12th (after a skirmish at Laurel Hill, on the 10th), an engagement was had with the Rebels under Col. Pegram, commonly known as the battle of Rich Mountain, resulting in the currender of that officer and a

[ocr errors]

number of men, officially estimated as “nine hundred or one thousand," as well as in the rout and close pursuit of Gen. Garnett and the forces he was bringing to the support of Pe. gram, and in the death of Garnett at Carrickford, on the 14th. Without discussing the merits of this brief campaign, in which the number of men engaged on either side may be estimated at rather more than 10,000, it will suffice to quote the final summing up, by the Commanding General, in his dispatch to the War Department, of July 14th, as follows:

one gan

HUTTONSVILLE, VA., July 14, 1861. Col. E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant General :

Gen. Garnett and his forces have been routed and his baggage

and taken. His army are completely demoralized. Gen. Garnett was killed while attempting to rally his forces at Carrickford, near St. George.

We have completely annihilated the enemy in Western Virginia.

Our loss is but thirteen killed and not more than forty wounded, while the enemy's loss is not far from two hundred killed, and the number of prisoners we have taken will amount to at least one thousand. We have captured seven of the enemy's guns in all.

A portion of Garnett's forces retreated, but I look for their capture by General Hill, who is in hot pursuit.

The troops that Garnett had under his command are said to be the_crack regiments of Eastern Virginia, aided by Georgians, Tennesseeans and Carolinians.

Our success is complete, and I firmly believe that secession is killed in this section of the country.

GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, Maj.-Gen. U.S.A. A similar work was simultaneously going on in Missouri, under the earnest and skillful guidance of Gen. Nathaniel Lyon. Missouri was nearly betrayed by its Secessionist Governor and his subordinates, without the aid of a conspiring Convention, yet she was drifting, under unscrupulous management, in the same direction which Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee had gone. Gov. Claiborne F. Jackson had defied the popular repudiation of Secession, issued his proclamation, on the 12th, calling out 50,000 militia, to repel "invasion," etc., and immediately organized a further Rebel force at the State Capital, after the breaking up of Camp Jackson, at St. Louis, as already narrated. Gen. Lyon approaching Jefferson City with a moderate force, Jackson evacuated the place on the 14th of June, and the Union forces occupied it on the following day. On the 17th, Gen. Lyon, finding that the Rebel Governor was fortifying at Boonville, forty miles distant (his forces being commanded by Gen. Sterling Price), advanced to that point and gained a complete victory, dispersing the insurgents, who lost heavily in killed, wounded and prisoners. These energetic movements at once secured the possession of a large portion of the State from Rebel interference.

The defeat of the conspirators, first at St. Louis and afterward at Boonville, had been so complete that it was several weeks before any considerable force was rallied to disturb the quiet into which the State was settling down, under the new government of loyal rulers, which was meanwhile forming. On the 31st of July, Hamilton R. Gamble was elected Provisional Governor by the Missouri State Convention, and duly inaugurated, with other loyal officers, chosen at the same time. The future of that State was thus assured.

In Gen. Butler's Department a movement, preparatory to opening the way to Yorktown, was made by a small force, on the 10th of June, resulting in a repulse at Big Bethel. Coming a week after the cheering success at Philippa, under Gen. Morris, the effect of this reverse, unimportant as it may seem, was sadly felt by the country, and placed the Commanding General under a cloud, from which he unfortunately did little to redeem himself, during the time he retained this command.

The fight at Falling Waters, on the 2d of July, was the chief event, which had thus far relieved the general quietude, not to say dullness, prevailing in the Department of Gen. Pat

This skirmish occurred near Hainesville, Md., in the tardy execution of a long-deferred movement of Patterson's force from Chambersburg, by Williamsport, to Harper's Ferry. The loss was small on either side, yet, as an indication of some approaching activity, it was not without its effect on an already impatient people. With further delays and hesitations, the force of Patterson was at length thrown across the Potomac.

At this time, a considerable Rebel force was believed to have accumulated at Manassas Junction and at Winchester. The popular demand was almost universal that our troops, now so long in arms, the brief term of a large portion of whom was about to expire, should be led against the enemy. Gen. Scott at length decided on a movement upon Manassas—resulting in the battle of Bull Run, with which this first period of the war may be said to have closed.

Gen. Irvin McDowell took command of the troops on the Virginia side of the Potomac, May 27th, three days after they had crossed over. His headquarters were at the Arlington House. On the 31st of May, a company of cavalry, under Lieut. Tompkins, dashed into the village of Fairfax Court House, where several hundred Rebel cavalry were stationed, killing a number of the enemy and capturing five prisoners. His own loss was one killed and five wounded or missing. This may be called the first cavalry raid. As a reconnoissance, this otherwise unimportant affair was of service, the officer in command reporting the presence of Rebel troops at that point to the number of 1,500 men.

After the manifestations, here as well as in the Shenandoah Valley, of a gradual aggressive movement of the insurgents, threatening alike Alexandria, Washington and the upper part of Maryland, the impatience of the people—ignorant as they were of the difficulties in the way of properly equipping a force, even then so much out of proportion to any organized in this country during the last forty years—was natural, when, with only skirmishing along the Potomac, no general movement to thrust back these aggressors had been commenced until the middle of July. That the causes of this delay were beyond the control of the Executive, and that even when commenced the experienced military leaders in command had failed to put their forces in full readiness, is now apparent. The Rebels themselves anticipated an earlier attack, and had prepared for it, awaiting the onset on their chosen ground. Meanwhile batteries began to be erected along the Potomac, at Acquia Creek and elsewhere, threatening a complete blockade of the river. On the 27th of June, Capt. James H. Ward, of the Navy, had

« PreviousContinue »