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John Esten Cooke, Wearing of the Gray: Being Personal Portraits, Scenes, and Adventures of War., Stuart's ride around McClellan in June, 1862. (search)
artillery had been rapidly moved in that direction to intercept the daring raider. Capture stared him in the face, on both of these routes-across the Pamunkey, or back as he came; he must find some other loophole of escape. Such was the dangerous posture of affairs, and such was the important problem which Stuart decided in five minutes. He determined to make the complete circuit of McClellan's army; and crossing the Chickahominy below Long Bridge, re-enter the Confederate lines from Charles City. If on his way he encountered cavalry he intended to fight it; if a heavy force of infantry barred his way he would elude, or cut a path through it; if driven to the wall and debarred from escape he did not mean to surrender. A few days afterward I said to him: That was a tight place at the river, General. If the enemy had come down on us, you would have been compelled to have surrendered. No, was his reply; one other course was left. What was that? To die game. A
I don't think the Mynheers found the gray people very fierce and bloody. The horses were appropriated; but beyond that nothing — the very necks of the chickens went unwrung. The column was in high glee thus far, and the men were rapidly receiving remounts. No enemy approached-your old soldier never very bitterly laments that circumstance; but all at once as we approached Hanovertown, we stirred up the hornets. Chambliss — that brave soul who afterwards fell heroically fighting in Charles City-at the head of the Ninth Virginia drove in their pickets; and he had just swept on down the heights toward the town, whose steeples shone before us nestling beneath the mountain, when Stuart in person rode up rapidly. Well, General, I said, Chambliss has driven them, and is going right on. Good! was Stuart's reply. Tell him to push on and occupy the town, but not to pursue them too far. These words were impressed upon my memory by the sequel, which laughably but very disagreea
n Hill, and was treated once more to that symphony — an old tune now — the roar of cannon. The swamp air had made him deadly sick-him, the mountain born-and, he says, he could scarcely stand up, and was about to get into an ambulance. But well men were doing so, and the soul of Bumpo revolted from the deed. He gripped his musket with obstinate clutch, and stayed where he was-shooting as often as possible. We chatted about the battle when I rode to see him, in front of the gunboats, in Charles City; and, though poorly, the Corporal was gay and smiling. He had got something to eat, and his spirits had consequently risen. Fall in! came as we were talking, and Bumpo marched. Soon thereafter, I met the Corporal in the city of Richmond, whither he had come on leave. I was passing through the Capitol Square, when a friendly voice hailed me, and behold! up hastened Bumpo! He was jacketless, but gay; possessor of a single shirt, but superior to all the weaknesses of an absurd c
John Esten Cooke, Wearing of the Gray: Being Personal Portraits, Scenes, and Adventures of War., Roslyn and the White house: before and after. (search)
scene at the White House on that June day of 1862; in this black cloud went down the star of the enemy's greatest soldier, McClellan. A great triumph for the Confederates followed that furious clash of arms on the Chickahominy; but alas! when the smoke rolled away, the whole extent of the waste and desolation which had come upon the land was revealed; where peace, and joy, and plenty had once been, all was now ruin. The enemy were lighted on their way, as they retreated through the marshes of Charles City, by the burning houses to which they had applied the torch. Of two of these houses I have spoken, because they chanced to attract my attention; and I have tried to convey the emotions which the spectacle excited. It was useless and barbarous to burn these private dwelling-houses; the wanton indulgence of spite and hatred on the part of a defeated enemy, who destroys in order to destroy. But let that pass. Since that time I have never revisited Roslyn or the White House.
John Esten Cooke, Wearing of the Gray: Being Personal Portraits, Scenes, and Adventures of War., On the road to Petersburg: notes of an officer of the C. S. A. (search)
pegging away with unusual regularity! There is another roar; but the artillery fire has slackened. Now the sound is heard only at intervals. The desultory woodchopping of the sharpshooters comes from the woods and gradually recedes. Grant is moving. Ii. We strike tents, shoulder arms — I do not, I only buckle on a sabre — cross the Chickahominy, and take up the line of march for the James river-hungry. A tedious march down the right bank of the Swamp, into the low grounds of Charles City, everywhere facing Grant; line of battle; fighting on the long bridge road; men throwing up earthworks with their bayonets in twenty minutes, whenever they stop; sun rising and setting; wind blowing; woods reverberating with shots; column still moving toward James river. Then the question is settled; General Grant is going to try the Petersburg line of advance on Richmond, with his base at City Point. Judicious! General Lee said a year ago, I am told, that this was the quarter from