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HOSTILE MOVEMENTS ON THE POTOMAC.

135

As the Army of the Potomac rapidly increased in numbers and equipment in Virginia in front of Washington, it required more space than the narrow strip between the river and the advance posts of the Confederates, and early in September it was determined to acquire that space by pushing back the intruders. Already there had been several little skirmishes between the pickets and the outposts of the confronting contestants. On the 5th of August, a detachment of the Twenty-eighth New York, under Captain Brush, mostly firemen, attacked a squad of Confederate cavalry in Virginia, opposite the Point of Rocks, killing and wounding eight men, and capturing nine prisoners and twenty horses; and on the 12th a detachment of the Tenth New York, under Captain Kennedy, crossed the Potomac from Sandy Hook, and attacked and routed some Virginia cavalry at Lovettsville,

On the 12th of September,a reconnoissance was made toward Lewinsville, four or five miles from Camp Advance, at the Chain Bridge, by about two thousand men, under the command of General William F. Smith,' in charge of a brigade at that post. They had accomplished a topographical survey, for which purpose they were chiefly sent, and were returning, when they were attacked by a body of Virginians, under the command of Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, afterward the famous general leader of cavalry in the Confederate army. Stuart opened heavily with his cannon, which at first disconcerted the National troops. The latter were kept steady until Griffin's Battery was placed in position, when its guns soon silenced those of the Virginians, and scattered their cavalry. Then the National troops, having accomplished their object, returned to their post near the Chain Bridge “in perfect order and excellent spirits," with a loss of two killed and ten wounded.”

a 1861.

ment had charge; that they had provided the necessary means to accomplish the landing successfully; that no inquiry had been made of them in regard to that matter, and no notification that the troops were not to be sent. It was then agreed that the troops should be sent the next nighi. Captain Craven was again notified, and again had his flotilla in readiness for the arrival of the troops; but no troops were sent down at that time, nor were any ever sent down for that purpose. Captain Fox, in answer to the inquiry of the Counmittee, as to what reason was assigned for not sending the troops according to the second agreement, replied that the only reason, so far as he could ascertain, was that General McClellan feared that it might bring on a general engagement. The Presi. dent, who had united with the Navy Department in urging its proposition, first upon General Scott and then upon General McClellan, manifested great disappointment when he learned that the plan had failed in consequence of the troops not being sent. And Captain Craven threw ap his command on the Potomac, and applied to be sent to sea, saying that, by remaining here and doing nothing, bo was but losing his own reputation, as the blame for permitting the Potomac to be blockaded would be imputed to him and the flotilla under his command."

As the reports of the Committee may be frequently referred to in this work, it is proper to say that it was a joint committee of both Houses of Congress, appointed in December, 1961, consisting of three meinbers of the Senate and four members of the House of Representatives, with instructions to inquire into the conduct of the war. The Committee consisted of B. F. Wade, Z. Chandler, and Andrew Johnson, of the Senate, and D. W. Gooch, John Covode, G. W. Julian, and M. F. Orell, of the lIouse of Representatives. They constituted a permanent court of inquiry, with power to send for persons and papers. When Senator Johnson was appointed Military Governor of Tennessee, his place on the Committee was supplied by Joseph A. Wright, of Indiana.

1 These troops consisted of the Seventy-ninth (Highlanders) New York Militia; battalions of Vermont and Indiana Volunteers, and of the First United States Chasseurs; a Cavalry company, and Griffin's West Point Battery.

? These were the Thirteenth Virginia Volunteers, Rosser's Battery of the Washington Artillery, and a detachment of cavalry.

8 Reports of Lieutenant-Colonel Shaler and Adjutant Ireland, and dispatch of General McClellan, all dated September 11th, 1861. General McClellan joined the column at the close of the affair. Colonel Stuart (Con. federate) gave a glowing account of the confusion into which the Nationals were thrown by his first attack, and gave the affair the aspect of a great victory for himself. He reported " fearful havoc in the ranks of the enemy." * Our loss,' he said, “ was not a scratch to man or horse."-Stunrt's Report, Sept. 11, 1861.

Stuart appears to have been acensed of rashness on this occasion, in exposing his cannon to the danger of capture. In an antograph letter before me, dated at Munson's Hill, September 14th, and avidressed to General Longstreet, he repels the accusation, and declares that at no time was a piece of his cannon “ in a position that it conld not have safely retreated from before an army of 10,000 advancing at the double-quick.” Longstreet sent Stuart's letter to General Johnson, with an indorsement, testifying to the judicious disposition of the cannon in the enga sement.

136

AN INGENIOUS DECEPTION.

1861.

6 Oct. 9. cOct. 16. d Oct. 17.

d

Three days after the affair near Lewinsville, the pickets on the right of the command of Colonel John W. Geary, of the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania,

stationed three miles above Darnestown, in Maryland, were • Sept. 15,

attacked by four hundred and fifty Virginians, who had boldly

crossed the Potomac. A spirited skirmish for about two hours ensued, resulting in a loss to the assailants of eight or ten killed, and several wounded, and their utter repulse. Geary's loss was one killed; and his gain was great animation for the troops under his command, who were charged

with holding the country opposite Harper's Ferry. A little later, National troops permanently occupied Lewinsville, Vienna,' and

Fairfax Court House," the Confederates falling back to Centreville without firing a shot. They had evacuated Munson's Hill on the 28th of September, when the position was formally taken possession of by the Nationals, who had been for some time looking upon it from Bailey's Crossroads with much respect, because of its apparently formidable works and heavy armament. These had been reconnoitered with great caution, and pronounced to be alarmingly strong, when the fort was really a slight earthwork, running irregularly around about four acres on the brow of the hill, without ditch or glacis, “in every respect a squirming piece of work," as an eye-witness wrote. Its armament consisted of one stove-pipe and two logs, the latter with a black disc painted on the middle of the sawed end of each, giving them the appearance, at a distance, of the muzzles of 100-pound Par

rott guns. These “Quaker Guns,” like similar ones at Manassas a few months later, had, for six weeks, defied the Army of the Potomac. In a house near the fo:t (which was soon made into a strong regular work), Brigadier-General James Wadsworth, who was placed in command, there made his head-quarters; and on the roof he caused a signal-station to be erected, from which there was an interchange of intelligence with another station on the dome of the capitol at Washington. There the writer visited General Wadsworth, late

in November, 1861, and found that ardent and devoted patriot, who had left all the ease and enjoyments which great wealth and a charming domestic circle bestow, and for the sake of his endangered country was enduring all the privations incident to an arduous camp life. His quarters were humble, and in no respect did his arrangements for comfort differ from those of his brother officers.

On the day of the grand review of the cavalry and artillery of the Army

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QUAKER GUN AT MANASSAS.

1 This is froin a photograph by Gardner. of Washington City, and represents one of the logs in the form of a cannon, and painted black, that was found in an embrasure at Manassas, after the Confederates withdrew from that post, in the spring of 1862.

HOSTILITIES AT HARPER'S FERRY.

137

1861.

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on

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of the Potomac,' there was an important movement in the vicinity of Harper's Ferry, which led to a still more important one a week later. On that day," Major J. P. Gould, of the Thirteenth Massachusetts, was sent across the river to some mills a short distance above Harper's Ferry, to seize some wheat there belonging to the Confederates. The

a Oct. 8, movement was made known to General Evans, commanding in the vicinity, and quite a heavy force was sent to oppose them." Geary was called upon for re-enforcements. He promptly responded by crossing the river with about six hundred men and four pieces of cannon, the latter under the respective commands of Captain Tompkins of the Rhode Island Battery, and Lieutenant Martin of the Ninth New York Battery. The wheat was secured and made into flour; and Geary was about to recross the river with his booty, on the morning of the 16th, when his pickets, Bolivar Heights, two and a half miles west of Harper's Ferry, and extending from the Potomac to the Shenandoah, were attacked by Confederates in three columns, consisting of infantry and cavalry, and supported by artillery. The pickets were driven into the town of Bolivar. Geary, who, with his main body, was on Camp Heights, an eminence around the foot of which nestles the village of Harper's Ferry, rallied them, and a general fight ensued. In his front, on Bolivar Heights, were a large body of troops and three heavy guns, and suddenly there appeared on Loudon Heights on his left, across the Shenandoah River, another large body of men, with four pieces of cannon, which with plunging shot might terribly smite the little National force, and command the ferry on the Potomac.

Geary sent a company of the Thirteenth Massachusetts, under Captain Schriber, to guard the fords of the Shenandoah, and prevent troops crossing there and joining those on Bolivar Heights. He then had only four hundred and fifty men left to fight his foe on his front. With these he repelled three

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GEARY'S HEAD-QUARTERS ON CAMP HEIGHTS.

1 See page 182.

2 His force consisted of three companies of the Third Wisconsin, and a section of Captain Tompkins's Rhode Island Battery.

3 This was Colonel Evans, who commanded the extreme left of the Confederates at the stone bridge, at the opening of the battle of Bull's Run, on the morning of the 21st July, 1861. See page 590, volume I.

* This force consisted of the Thirteenth and Nineteenth Mississippi, Eighth Virginia, Ashby's Virginia Regiment of cavalry, and Rogers's Richmond Battery of six pieces, the whole commanded by General Evans in person.

6 The remainder of Geary's force consisted of four companies of the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania and three of the Third Wisconsin.

• Geary's quarters were at the large Government house on Camp. Heights, delineated in the engraving, in which Generals Kenley, Banks, and Miles were afterward quartered. It was in a terribly dilapidated condition when the writer visited and sketched it, early in October, 1866, its outer walls scarred by shot and shell, and its interior almost a ruin. On the left of the picture is seen the western slope of Loudon Heights, across the Shenandoah.

138

NATIONAL VICTORY AT HARPER'S FERRY.

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fierce charges of Ashby's cavalry, and withstood the storm of bullets from a long line of infantry on Bolivar Heights, until joined, at eleven o'clock, by Lieutenant Martin, with one rifled cannon, with which he had crossed the Potomac Ferry under a galling fire of riflemen on Loudon Heights. These two companies of the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania turned the Confederate left near the Potomac, and gained a portion of the Heights. At the same time, Martin opened a telling fire on the Confederate cannon in front, and Tompkins silenced two guns on Loudon Heights. The main body moved forward at this crisis, charged the foe, and in a few minutes were in possession of Bolivar Heights from river to river. It was now half-past one o'clock in the afternoon. The Confederates fled, and were driven up the valley in the direction of Halltown. They did not cease their flight until they reached Charlestown, on the line of the railway between Harper's Ferry and Winchester, a distance of six miles.

Major Tyndale arrived from Point of Rocks with five companies of Geary's regiment immediately after the capture of the Heights. He brought with him the standard of the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania. It was immediately unfurled, “and under its folds," wrote the victor, “ we directed the fire of our artillery against the batteries and forces on Loudon Heights, and soon succeeded in silencing every gun and driving away every rebel that could be seen. The victory was now complete." Geary's troops rested until evening, when, there being no military necessity for holding Bolivar Heights at that time, he crossed the Ferry with his whole command and resumed his position in Maryland. IIis loss was four killed, seven wounded, and two taken prisoners. The loss fell chiefly on the Wisconsin troops. The loss of the Confederates is unknown.

Still more important movements were made on the line of the Potomac River as the beautiful month of October was passing away. At that time Major-General Banks was in command of troops holding the Maryland side of the river from Darnestown to Williamsport. Brigadier-General Charles P. Stone (who had been assigned to the command of a special corps of observation on the right flank of the Army of the Potomac), with a considerable body of troops, then had his head-quarters at Poolesville, a short distance from Conrad's and Edwards's Ferries, on the Potomac River. These ferries were not far from Leesburg, the capital of Loudon County, Virginia, where it was reported that the Confederate left, under General N. G. Evans, was strong in numbers. The troops under Stone confronted this left wing, and commanded the approaches to Leesburg, a village at the terminus of the Alexandria, Loudon, and Hampshire railway, and which was the key to the upper interior communication with the Valley of the Shenandoah. Between the two ferries just named (which were four or five miles apart) was Harrison's Island, three miles in length and very narrow and nearly equally dividing the river.

2

1 Report of Colonel John W. Geary, October 15th, 1861. In that report Colonel Geary mentioned the fact that the Honorable Daniel McCook (father of the soveral McCooks who served the Union cause as general officers so well throughout the war) was in the engagement, gun in hand, as an "ainateur soldier."

2 In his report General Geary said: “The four men who were killed were afterwaril charged upon by the cavalry and stabbed through the body, stripped of all their clothing, not excepting shoes anıl stockings, and left in perfect nudity. One was laid out in the form of crucifixion, with his hands spread and cut through the palms with a dull knife. This inhuman treatment incensed our troops exceedingly, and I fear its consequences may be shown in retaliating hereafter."

MOVEMENTS ON THE UPPER POTOMAC.

139

a Oct. 19,

1861.

Oct. 20.

cOct. 20.

а

On the 17th of October it was reported (erroneously) that the Confederates had evacuated Leesburg. General McClellan then determined to make a thorough reconnoissance of the Confederate left, to ascertain their strength, and to cover the operations of his topographical engineers in making a map of that region. He accordingly ordered General McCall, who held the advanced command in Virginia on the right of the National line, to move forward and occupy Drainsville, about half way between the Chain Bridge and Leesburg. He did so, and pushed his scouts forward to Goose Creek, within four miles of the latter place.

On the following morning, General Banks telegraphed to General McClellan from Darnestown, saying, “The signal station at Sugar Loaf telegraphs that the enemy have moved away from Leesburg." McCall had also reported to McClellan the previous evening that he had not encountered any opposition, and that it was reported that the Confederates had abandoned the town. On the strength of Banks's dispatch, and without waiting for later information from Drainsville, McClellan notified General Stone of the movement of McCall. He assured him that “heavy reconnoissances” would be sent out that day “in all directions” from Drainsville, and desired him to keep “a good lookout on Leesburg," to see if it had the effect to drive the Confederates away, adding, “Perhaps a slight demonstration your part would have the effect to move them.” This dispatch reached Stone before noon. He acted promptly, and at evening he telegraphed to the Chief that he had made a feint of crossing the river, during the afternoon, at two places, and had sent out a reconnoitering party toward Leesburg, from Harrison's Island, adding, “I have means of crossing one hundred and twenty-five men once in ten minutes at each of two points.” To this dispatch he received no reply.

The feint had been made at the ferries of Edwards and Conrad, already mentioned. The brigade of General Gorman, Seventh Michigan, two troops of the Van Alen cavalry, and the Putnam Rangers were sent to the former, where a section of Bunting's New York Battery was on duty. To the latter Stone sent a battalion of the Twentieth Massachusetts, under its commander, Colonel Lee, a section of Vaughan's Rhode Island Battery, and Colonel Cogswell's New York (Tammany) Regiment. The ferry was at that time defended by a section of Ricketts's Battery. Colonel Devens was sent to Harrison's Island in two flat-boats from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, bearing four companies of his Massachusetts Fifteenth. One company of the same regiment was already there. A reserve, numbering about three thousand men, was held in readiness to co-operate, should a battle ensue. With this reserve was the fine body of Pennsylvanians known as the First California regiment, commanded by Colonel E. D. Baker, then a representative of the State of Oregon in the National Senate. These movements, at first designed as a feint, resulted in a battle.

McCall had made a reconnoissance on Sunday, the 20th,' which had evidently caused an opposing movement on the part of the Confederates. An infantry regiment of these had been observed marching from Leesburg and taking shelter behind a hill, about a mile and a half from the position of the Nationals at Edwards's Ferry. In order to disperse or intimidate these, General Gorman was ordered to deploy his forces in their

d

d October.

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