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442

THE PRESIDENT VISITS THE ARMY.

1862.

quarters at IIarrison's Landing in search of that solution. There he found

the remains of that splendid army greatly disheartened. Sadly • July 8

and wearily it had waded through the mud and been pelted by a

pitiless storm while marching from the field of its victory on Malvern Hills to its present humiliating position, during the night succeeding the contest. It had been covered from an attack on its march by a rear-guard of all arms under Colonel Averill, and menaced continually by Stuart and his cavalry, and columns of infantry pushed forward by Lee. These found the National army too strongly posted to make a repetition of the blunder before Malvern Ilills a safe experiment, and on the 8th Lee ceased pursuit and withdrew his army to Richmond, having lost, as nearly as now can be ascertained, since he took the command less than forty days before, about nineteen thousand men.

The President found the Army of the Potomac “present and fit for duty” nearly forty thousand souls stronger than its commander had reported on the 3d, and his hopes were revived to the point of belief that it might speedily march against Richmond. But he was unable then to get a reply to his question, Where are the seventy-five thousand men yet missing ? While he was there, the future movements of the Army of the Potomac was the subject of serious deliberation. It was known that the Confederates, aware of the weakness of the force left in defense of Washington, were gathering heavily in that direction; and the withdrawal of Lee's army to Richmond, on the day of the President's arrival at McClellan's head-quarters, indicated an abandoninent of the pursuit, and a probable heavy movement north waril. In view of the possible danger to the capital, and the fact that McClellan did not consider his army strong enough by one hundred thousand men more, rather than less,” to take Richmond, it was thought advisable by the President, and by several of the corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac, whose sad experience before the Confederate capital had shaken their confidence in their leader, to withdraw the army from the Peninsula and concentrate it in front of Washington. To this project McClellan was opposed, and at once took measures to defeat it.

Here we will leave the army on the Peninsula for a little while, and observe events nearer the National capital, with which its movements were intimately connected. To give more efficiency to the troops covering Wilshington, they were formed into an organization called the Army of Virginia, and placed under the command of Major-General John Pope, who was THE ARMY OF VIRGINIA.

called from the West for the purpose. The new army was arranged in three corps, to be commanded respectively by

June 26.

1 The President found about $6,000 man with McClellan, leaving 75,000 unaccounted for. This information perplexed him very much, and on the 13th, after his return to Washington, he wrote to the Chief of the Army of the Potomac, asking for an account of the inissing numbers. The General replied on the 15th, in which bo riported 89,665 " present and fit for duty;" absent by anthority, 34,472; absent withont authority, 3,778; sick, • July 20.

16,619; making a total of 143,550. A week later the Arijntant-general's oflice reported the total

of the Army of the Potomac, exclusive of General Wool's command, and a force under Burnside that had been ordered from North Carolina, 159,314, of whom 101,601 were present and fit for duty.

The Government was much disturbed by one fact in General McClellan's report of his numbers, namely, that over 34,000 men, or more than three-ofths of the entire number of the army which he had reported on thu 3d, woru absent on furloughs, granted hy permission of the commanding General, when he was continually calling for re-enforcements, and holding the Governmont responsible for the weakness of his army. Tho President said, in reference to this extraordinary fact: “If you haul these men with you, you could go into Richmond in the next three days."

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443

BAMUEL D. STURGIS.

Major-Generals Fremont, Banks, and McDowell. Pope having been Fremont's junior in Missouri, the latter was unwilling to serve under him, and he was permitted to relinquish his command, which was given to MajorGeneral Sigel. In addition to those three corps was a force in process of organization at Alexandria, under Brigadier-General Sturgis; and the troops in the forts around Washington were placed under Pope's command. His force, exclusive of the latter, numbered about fifty thousand, of which nearly forty thousand were disposable for motion. The cavalry numbered about five thousand, but were poorly mounted, and not in good condition for service. These troops were posted from Fredericksburg to Winchester and Harper's Ferry in the Shenandoah Valley; and their commander was charged with the threefold duty of covering the National capital, guarding the Valley entrance to Maryland in the rear of Washington, and threatening Richmond from the north, as a diversion in favor of McClellan.

Pope assumed command on the 28th of June, with Colonel George D. Ruggles as his efficient Chief-of-Staff. It was his intention to concentrate his troops eastward of the Blue Ridge, press on well toward Richmond, and there unite with McClellan in the operations of the siege, or strike an independent blow at the Confederate capital, as circumstances should dictate. But while he was gathering up his scattered forces, the retreat from before Richmond began, and all chances for McClellan to be re-enforced by land were thus destroyed. There was nothing better for Pope to do, then, than to place his army in front of any Confederate force whose face might be turned toward Washington, make a diversion in favor of the sorely smitten troops on the Peninsula, and enable them to withdraw from that unhealthful position without further loss. He accordingly withdrew Sigel and Banks from the Shenaniloah Valley, and placed them at the eastward of the Blue Ridge, in position to watch the region they had left, the former taking post at Sperryville, near Thornton's Gap, and the latter a few miles castward of him. General Ricketts, of McDowell's corps, was posted at Waterloo Bridge, on the Upper Rappahannock, between Warrenton and Sperryville; and General Rufus King, of the same corps, who was at Fredericksburg, was ordered to remain there, cover that city, and protect the railway between it and Aqui: Creek, where there was a National depot of supplies.

Pope wrote a letter to General McClellan, cordially offering his co-operation with him, and asking for suggestions. The answer was cold in manner and vague in terms, and satisfied Pope that there could be no useful co-working between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Virginia without a General-in-Chief, competent and authorized to control their movements. At his suggestion, it is said, a General-in-Chief was appointed. Halleck

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444

WITHDRAWAL OF THE TROOPS FROM THE PENINSULA.

1562

was called from the West' to Washington to serve in that capacity, and

entered upon the duties of that office on the 23d of July. a July 11,

Let us turn back a moment, and observe events at Richmond

and on the Peninsula, remembering that spies in the employ. ment of the conspirators, and aided by persons out of the Confederacy who were in sympathy with them, were almost hourly giving information to Davis and Lee of the aspect of affairs in the National camps and in the National councils. Immediately after his arrival at Washington, General Halleck visited

General McClellano at Ilarrison's Landing, to obtain exact inforJuly 25.

mation of the state and prospects of the army there. McClellan at first demanded of Halleck fifty thousand new troops to enable him to take Richmond, but finally agreed to make the attempt with an addition of twenty thousand. After consulting with a council of general officers, a majority of whom, upon learning the actual state of affairs, recommended the withdrawal of the army from the Peninsula, Ilalleck hastened back to Washington, and there received a dispatch from McClellan, saying that a re-enforcement of at least thirty-five thousand men must be sent.

It was now evident at the seat of Government that the Confederates were preparing to move in force northward, and that it was not safe to send any troops to the Peninsula. The only alternative was to withdraw those that were there, and unite them with Pope's in covering Washington City. Accordingly, on the 30th of July, Halleck telegraphed to McClellan to send away his sick (twelve thousand five hundred in number) as quickly as possible, preparatory to such movement; and on the third of August, when it was evident that Lee was preparing for a movement toward Washington in full force, Halleck ordered him to withdraw his army from the Peninsula immediately, and transfer it to Aquia Creek, on the Potomac. That this might be done with the expedition demanded by the exigency of the case, McClellan was authorized to assume control of all the vast fleets of war-vessels and transports on the James River and Chesapeake Bay. Already Burnside's army, which had been ordered from North Carolina, as we have • August 1.

observed, and was at Newport-Newce, had been ordered to

Aquia Creek Informed of these orders, the conspirators determined to attempt the capture of Washington before the junction of the two armies could be accomplished; and this would have been done but for the valor of the little force left for its defense, directed by energetic officers whose hearts were deeply

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See page 296.

? See page 315. 3 We have observed that when it was first proposed to withdraw the Army of the Potomic from the Peninsula General McClellan placed himself in decided opposition to the measure. With every disposition compatible with the highest public good to give him an opportunity to recover what he had lost by disastrous slowness and indecision, the Government, when on the 17th he asked for Burnside's entire army in North Carulina to be sent to him, complied with his request. He "dreaded," he said, “ the effect of any retreat on the morale of his men;" bat it was evident that their courage was not easily broken, for he had just assured the Government that his arıny was "in fine spirits," after one of the most distressing series of retreats on recorii. So Inte as the 28th of July, he urged that he should be " at once re-enforced by all available troops;" and so earnest was he in insisting upon the wisdom of his own opinion, that he paid no attention to Ilalleck's oriler of the 30th, to remove the sick. When that order was repeated, on the 2d of August, he replied that, until he was informed what was to be done with his army, he could not decide what course to pursue with his sick, and added: “If I am kept longer in ignorance of what is to be effected, I cannot be expected to accomplish the

A GRAND SCHEME OF INVASION.

445

engaged in their country's cause, for it was more than twenty days after McClellan was ordered to transfer his army to Aquia Creek before that order was executed.

Satisfied that no further movements against Richmond would be made at that time, the conspirators, as we have observed, resolved to march northward in heavy force. A show of power had been kept up in the Shenandoah Valley and eastward of the Blue Ridge, to keep Pope from re-enforcing McClellan. It was determined in the conclave of conspirators at Richmond to repeat, on a grand scale, the exploit of Jackson in driving Banks out of the Shenandoah Valley ;' and to arouse the people to action, and to swell the ranks of the Confederate Army, rumors were set atloat that efforts were about to be made, on a scale that promised entire success, to “ drive the invaders from the soil” of the slave-labor States; to penetrate the regious beyond the Ohio and the Susquehanna, and to dictate terms of peace at the point of the bayonet in the cities of Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The people of the Confederate States were made to expect a speedy vision of Jefferson Davis in the chair of Dictatorship at Washington City, and Robert E. Lee, his cordial co-worker, laureled in state at his former home in Arlington House, in sight of the National capital.

These were dreams that were almost realized before the heats of summer had departed. Fortunately for the cause of Right, there were spies in Richmond also, who informed the Government of this scheme in time for it to take countervailing measures.

It knew far better than the Commander of the Army of the Potomac, on the banks of the James, that the Army of Virginia, near the Rappa hannock, was necessary for the defense of the National capital, and acted accordingly.

At this point we may properly resume the narrative of the movements of the Army of Virginia.

General Pope did not go to the field until near the close of July, but issued his orders from Washington City. He had determined to seize Gordonsville, if possible, and cut off railway communication between Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley, so as to impede the progress of any Confederate movement northward. For this purpose he directed General Rufus King, at Fredericksburg, to send forward detachments of cavalry to operate on the line of the Virginia Central railroad. These movements resulted in breaking up that road at several places. This being accomplished, General Banks was ordered forward with an infantry brigade, and all of his cavalry, to march upon and seize the village of Culpepper Court-House, on the Orange and Alex446

object in view.” To this extraordinary dispatch Talleck simply answered, that it was expected that McClellan would have sent off bis sick according to orders, without waiting to know what were and would be the instructions of the Government respecting future movements;" and that the President expected him to carry out instructions given hin with all possible vispatch and caution."- McClellan's Report, page 155.

Halleck's orders for the transfer of the army to Aquia ('reek were met by a protest on the part of McClellan on the 4th. lle informed the General-in-Chief, at the tiine whe. Stvnewall Jackson, with a force greater than Pope's, was massing at Gordonsville, preparatory to a movement in heavy force on Washington, that Pope's army was “not necessary to maintain a strict defensive in front of Washington and Harper's Ferry." and that “the true defense of Washington" was “on the banks of the James, where the fate of the Union was to be decided." He asked his superior to rescind the order, and assured him that if he did not, he shonld obey it “ with a sad heart."— VcClellan's Report, page 154. Under the restraining influence of the kind-hearted Presi. dent, Halleck wrote n long reply, rebutting McClellan's propositions and assertions, and adhering to his order to remove his troops as quickly as possible.

See paye 391.

SUCCESSFUL RAIDS TOWARD RICHMOND.

1862

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andria railway. He did so, when he was further ordered" to send General

Hatch, with all his cavalry, to seize Gordonsville, destroy the raila July 14,

way for several miles east of it in the direction of Richmond, and

push on a detachment to Charlottesville at the same time, for the purpose of burning the bridges and breaking up the road. This movement

. was attempted, but it was so tardy that the advance of Jackson's corps, under Ewell, sent from Richmond, occupied Gordonsville the day before IIatch approached it. The latter was then ordered to go over the Blue Ridge, from Madison Court-House, with nearly two thousand picked horsemen, to a point whence he might easily fall upon and destroy the railway in the rear of Gordonsville, and, if successful there, to push on and demolish the tracks and bridges between Charlottesville and Lynchburg. This movement was also unsuccessful. Dissatisfied with Hatch, Pope relieved him of his command, and made General John Buford the chief of Banks's cavalry in his stead.:

Detachments sent out by General King from Fredericksburg made bold dashes toward Richmond. One composed of the Ira Harris Light Cavalry, under Colonel Davies, made a forced march on the 19th, and at dawn the

following morning they struck the Virginia Central railroad at July 20.

Beaver Dam Creek, thirty-five miles from Richmond, destroyed it there, with the telegraph line, for several miles, and burned the railway depot, containing a considerable amount of provisions and munitions of war. This raid produced great consternation, and a second one, two days afterward, was equally successful and alarming. The rough riders met and defeated a troop of horse near Carmel Church, burning their camp and sercral car-loads of corn, and broke the telegraph between Richmond and Gordonsville. When returning they encountered Stuart's cavalry, drove them across the South Anna, and pursued them to within sight of IIanover Junction. All this was done in the space of twenty-nine hours, without the loss of a man on the part of the Nationals. In the mean time General Pope had been making arrangements to take

the field in person. On the 14th he issued an address to his

army calculated to increase the coldness of McClellan toward him," and within a few days afterward he issued orders respecting the intended career of his army in Virginia which greatly stirred the Confederates, and caused Jefferson Davis to issue a countervailing manifesto in the form of a General Order, and in a characteristic letter he instructed Lee to communicate it to the Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the United States."3

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• July.

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1 General Pope's Report to General G. W. Cullum, January 27, 1563.

Pope told his army that he had come from the West, where they had always " seen the backs of their enemieg"- from an arıny who sought its adversary, and whose policy w'28 "attack and not defense." He prebumet he had been called to pursue the same system and vigor, anıl he said it was his purpose lo do 80. Ше wished them to forget certain phrases. He had heard constantly, he said, of " taking strong positions and holling them-of lines of retreat and bases of supplies.” The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy. he said, “ is one froin which he ein most casily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents," he added, and leave our own to take care of theinselves. Let us look before and not behind.” The disastrous retreats which General Pope was compelled to make after these declarations, gave keenness to many a sarcastic allusion to this famous address, which really reflected upo:1 McClellan and his officers, though Pope disclaimed any intention to do so.

3 In general orders on the 15th, he directed his troops to subsist npon the country in which they were operating as far as possible, the supplies to be taken by the officers in command. This was to prevent mere pillage.

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