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William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, I. The Army of the Potomac in history. (search)
o less than in the movement of commerce, the volunteers were quickly conveyed to Virginia from points so distant and divergent as to strike the imagination with wonder. It is estimated that for many weeks after the first call for troops, armed men arrived in Richmond, from all parts of the South, at the rate of from fifteen hundred to two thousand daily; and the multitude poured forth from the populous North was not less, but greater. From the loyal States, the point of concentration was Washington, where for a time the gathering force held a simply defensive attitude: then bursting the barrier of the Potomac, it launched itself upon that soil which the men of Virginia fondly named sacred, and the history of the Army of the Potomac began. I design in this volume to record, as far as may now be done, what that Army did and suffered in ten campaigns and twoscore battles, in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. This history, if adequately made, must be the history also of much the
William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, chapter 2 (search)
of the frontier, within the limits of West Virginia. Finding the position of the Confederates both oppressive to the loyal inhabitants and menacing in a military point of view, General McClellan, about the end of May, without instructions from Washington, threw over a force to the Virginia side of the Ohio; and hearing of a secession camp at Phillippi, he ordered it to be broken up. The movement to this end was under way, when Porterfield, becoming aware of it, abandoned his position. McClella disorder, losing all his guns and baggage, and General Garnett himself, while gallantly striving to rally his rear-guard, was killed. This ended the brief and brilliant campaign in the mountains, and General McClellan was able to telegraph to Washington as its result the capture of a thousand prisoners, with all the enemy's stores, baggage, and artillery, and the complete disruption of the hostile force. Secession, he added, is killed in this country. The result of this miniature campaign
William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, chapter 3 (search)
mmoned to Washington the day after Bull Run, and placed in command of the disorganized forces that had returned from that untoward campaign, and of the rapidly arriving regiments which the populous North was pouring down from all directions to Washington. Out of these elements, an army was, first of all, to be fashioned. General McClellan brought to his high trust proofs of talent which, though not sufficient to show him a proper captain of a great army, were yet enough to inspire the best batteries on the York River; and that sufficient force should be left to cover Washington, to give an entire feeling of security. The proceedings of this council were submitted to the President, by whom they were approved, upon condition that Washington should be made entirely safe, and Manassas Junction occupied in sufficient force to prevent its repossession by the enemy. General McClellan immediately began his preparations in accordance with these instructions. The duty of covering the
William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, V. Pope's campaign in Northern Virginia. August, 1862. (search)
federate soldier who fell into the hands of the Union pickets, and reported that he had heard his comrades say that Jackson was retiring to unite with Longstreet. Now this statement was quite correct in the sense in which Lee's manoeuvres have already been presented—that is, as a tactical change of Jackson's position on the left to re-enforce Longstreet on the right. But Pope, who had not that day been to the front, accepted the story as indicating a real falling back, and telegraphed to Washington that the enemy was retreating to the mountains,—a dispatch which, flashed throughout the land, gave the people a few hours, at least, of unmixed pleasure. To take advantage of the supposed retreat of Lee, Pope ordered McDowell with three corps-Porter's in the advance—to follow up rapidly on the Warrenton turnpike, and press the enemy vigorously during the whole day. But no sooner were the troops put in motion to make this pursuit of a supposed flying foe, than the Confederates, hither<
William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, chapter 7 (search)
ee on the Conduct of the War makes a very frank statement of his opinion touching his own unfitness for the command of the army. After getting over my surprise, the shock, etc., I told General Buckingham [the officer who brought the order from Washington assigning him to the command] that it was a matter that required very serious thought; that I did not want the command; that it had been offered to me twice before, and I did not feel that I could take it. * * I told them [his staff] what my vind Newton, and relieving from their commands in the Army of the Potomac, Generals Franklin, W. F. Smith, Sturgis, Ferrero, and Colonel Taylor. Upon this order he resolved to make issue with the Government; and he immediately took this paper to Washington, demanding of the President its approval or the acceptance of his resignation. It was not asserted by General Burnside that the officers named had been guilty of any dereliction of duty, but simply that they lacked confidence in him as command
William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, chapter 10 (search)
y in October determined on an offensive movement that should have the effect of driving Meade back from the line of the Rapidan. With this object he resolved to move around his opponent's right flank, and endeavor to interpose between him and Washington. I learn from General Longstreet that Lee at this time frequently spoke of an operation that should swap Queens; that is, he thought of marching direct upon and capturing Washington, giving up the attempt to cover Richmond. But Mr. Davis woion across the Rapidan. The raiding column, under command of Brigadier-General Wistar, left New Kent Courthouse on the 5th of February, and reached the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge on the following day. The 7th, in obedience to orders from Washington, General Sedgwick, temporarily commanding the Army of the Potomac in the absence of General Meade, threw Kilpatrick's cavalry division across the Rapidan at Ely's Ford, and Merritt's division at Barnett's Ford, while, at a point between, two di
William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, chapter 11 (search)
ral), he was so strongly impressed with the weight of the considerations adverse to the adoption of the overland route, that he committed himself to a very decided expression of opinion against it, and, in an official communication addressed to Washington, urged a coast movement south of the James River. General Grant argued that, as there was at hand a sufficiency of troops to form two armies equal each in strength to the single force of Lee, Washington, that vexatious element, should be eliminrg), on the right bank of which he occupied a strong line of earthworks. Having meanwhile effectually destroyed the railroad, Butler designed next day crossing Swift Creek and crowding the enemy into Petersburg; but that night he received from Washington such accounts of Lee's being in full retreat to Richmond, that he resolved to turn northward, in order to aid in the investment of the Confederate capital. Two days afterwards a general advance was made in the direction of Richmond. Whateve