« PreviousContinue »
tinued through the night, the enemy retiring beyond Mount Jackson, the terminus of the railroad. On the 25th, Sheridan's forces were at Harrisonburg, a portion of them having marched fifty miles in two days. The remnant of Early's army retired by Cross Keys and Port Republic, toward Charlottesville, going through Brown's Gap, on the 26th, where the Rebel rear-guard arrested the pursuit made by Gen. Merritt's cavalry.
General Wilson's division of cavalry advanced to Staunton on the 27th, destroying the railroad depot at that place, with a large amount of supplies; and on the 28th visited Waynesboro, destroying an important railroad bridge and other property. A cavalry force, supported by the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps, was at the same time advanced from Harrisonburg to Mount Crawford, ten miles distant, destroying mills, granarics and other Rebel stores and sources of supply. Wilson retired to the same point from Waynesboro, and all returned to Harrisonburg on the 29th. As a military necessity, the country was "desolated" for a circuit of several miles around.
Having driven the enemy from the Valley and deprived him, to a great degree, of the fruits of his late harvestings in that region, as well as of the means of support in any future advance, Sheridan leisurely returned down the valley, reaching New Market on the 6th of October, and Strasburg on the 8th. The main army went into camp on the north-east side of Cedar Creek, in the vicinity of Middletown, on the 10th, and there intrenched.
On the 8th of October, the cavalry under Merritt and Custer gained a decisive victory over the Rebel cavalry divisions of Rosser and Lomax, in the battle of Thom's Brook, driving the enemy twenty miles, and capturing a number of prisoners, as well as several pieces of artillery.
The enemy, anxious to retrieve the misfortunes he had suffered under the vigorous hand of Sheridan, had promptly dispatched large reenforcements of infantry and cavalry, the former from Longstreet's corps, the latter under a new commander, Rosser, to operate in the valley. This was done with all the stealth which strategic skill and the peculiar charac
ter of the country, favorable to secrecy of movement, could command. Rosser was fallen in with at an early day, however, as already seen, and severely chastised. The presence of Longstreet's men was more carefully concealed until the moment arrived for the intended decisive blow. This was struck during the temporary absence of Sheridan in Washington. On the morning of the 19th of October, just as the army, in its position at Cedar Creek, was preparing breakfast, the Rebels suddenly attacked the Eighth Corps, on the left of the line, completely surprising the men, and driving them in great confusion from their camp. Pursuit was continued for nearly four miles, flanking the position of the main army, and communicating the panic to other parts of the line. The Sixth and Nineteenth Corps were almost hopelessly endeavoring to stem the tide of defeat, when Sheridan, who had hastened to the front, arrived in time to throw the inspiring influence of his presence into the scale, and to save the day by his guidance. He speedily made new dispositions of his forces, and by vigorous flank attacks, succeeded in repulsing the cnemy and driving him back in utter rout. The victory was even more signal than that gained a month before at Winchester. The enemy lost about fifty guns, a large number of killed and wounded, and thousands of prisoners. The pursuit was continued that night to Fisher's Hill, and on the following day, the cavalry pursued the flying battalions as far as Mount Jackson. Returning, the army re-occupied its old camp between Middleton and Cedar Creek. Among the deeply lamented losses in this famous battle, was that of Col. Lowell, a gallant officer of the cavalry.
These important victories in the Shenandoah Valley gave unbounded joy to loyal hearts throughout the nation. They gratified the popular thirst for military success, and awakened a true enthusiasm for the heroic commander who had redeemed the history of the Valley. General Sheridan was promoted, by the President, to be a Major-General of the Regular Army, in place of Gen. George B. McClellan, immediately after the latter had tendered his resignation, taking effect on the 8th of November.
On the day following the memorable victory at Cedar Creek, the President issued the following proclamation, for a day of national thanksgiving:
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with his guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad, and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to
favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps, and our sailors on the rivers and seas, with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth, and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday of November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that, on that occasion, they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land. which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and our posterity throughout all generations.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington this twentieth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred [L. S.] and sixty-four, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
Gen. Sherman s Campaign in Georgia.-From Marietta to Atlanta.Passage of the Chattahoochee.-Rousseau's Raid.-Battles before Atlanta.-Heavy losses of the Rebels after Hood succeeds Johnston.-Cavalry expeditions under Stoneman and McCook.-Their Failure. Operations around Atlanta.-Kilpatrick's Raid.-Sherman's Army on the Macon Railroad.- Battle of Jonesboro.Capture of Atlanta.-Rebel Raids.-Hood's operations in Sherman's rear.-Price's Invasion of Missouri.-General Results of the South-western Campaigns.
ON retiring from Kenesaw Mountain, the Rebel commander in Georgia had taken up a strong position on the further bank of the Chattahoochee, having succeeded in effecting the crossing without interruption. He had previously provided a strong tele de pont covering his communication across the stream, and an advanced line of intrenchments on the hither side, crossing the railroad at Smyrna, five miles south of Marietta. These works had secured his safe retreat. The river is one of such depth and rapidity of current as not to be fordable, except at one or two points. A reconnoissance made on the 5th of July showed that Johnston's position could not be turned except by crossing this stream. General Sherman accordingly made his dispositions to effect this object with the least possible delay.
General Schofield was ordered up to Smyrna, from his position on the right, and directed to throw a force across the river, near the mouth of Soap's Creek. This he satisfactorily effected on the 7th of July, surprising the guard, and laying secure bridges. The place he occupied was on advantageous ground, commanding roads leading eastward. Gen. Garrard's cavalry division, operating with the Army of the Tennessee, was hastening forward to Roswell, where there were factories which had long been engaged in manufacturing cloth for the Rebel armies. After destroying these factories, Garrard took
possession of the ford across the Chattahoocheo, near by, and McPherson's army was speedily transferred from the right, to this position on the extreme left. In the mean time General Howard had succeeded in throwing a bridge across the river at Powers' Ferry, two miles below where the Army of the Ohio had crossed, and had taken position on the right of the latter. These important advantages having been gained by Gen. Sherman, Johnston destroyed his bridge on the 10th of July, and left the right bank of the Chattahoochee to the Union armies without further contest.
During the next six days, the main army rested in camp, while supplics were accumulated at Marietta and Vining's Station (near the Chattahoochee), and the garrisons and guards along the railroad were strengthened. It was now, too, that the word was given for the setting out of an important cavalry expedition, under Gen. Rousseau, to break Johnston's " railroad communications, in Alabama, on the main thoroughfare between Atlanta and the South-west, running from Opelika Junction to Montgomery. The force intended for this purpose had been for some time past gathering at Decatur, in Northern Alabama, and numbered, at the time of starting, but little more than two thousand men. The movement began on the 10th of July, and continued, with only occasional interruptions, to destroy stores accumulated by impressment for the Rebel army, or to chastise a guerrilla party, until the river Coosa was reached, near Ashville, on the evening of the 13th. The First Brigade crossed the river, while the Second remained on the north bank, and on the next day the forces began their march down the stream, a brigade on cach side, until the ford was reached where Jackson crossed in 1814, and defeated the Creek Indians. Here, as the Second Brigade began to pass over, they were fired upon from the shelter of rocks and thickets by a considerable Rebel force under Clanton, mostly dismounted cavalry. The Second Brigade speedily found a favorable position from which the fire was returned with effect. The First Brigade charged upon Clanton's men, completely routing them. Gen. Rousseau then resumed his march, reaching Talladega late the same evening, and driving in the