three and four o'clock, the path having been opened by the guns of Fort Stevens
, by order of Gen. Wright
's brigade of the Second Division, in two lines, advanced on the orchard and grove by the Rives House
, and cleared out Early
's skirmishers, sweeping them back to a ridge beyond, whence, after a stout resistance on the part of the latter, they were driven back one mile. This affair was witnessed by the president and members of his cabinet.
At midnight a message from the lieutenant general
of the armies of the United States
to the chief of staff
, said, ‘Maj. Gen. Wright
should get out of the trenches with all the force he possibly can, and should push Early
to the last moment.’
To the assistant secretary of war
, he said: ‘Boldness is all that is needed to drive the enemy out of Maryland
I hope and believe Wright
is the man to assure that.’
It was in the first faint gray of dawn, July 13, that we hurried through the capital and out on the Seventh Street road. Clerks and counter-jumpers were doing guard duty in the streets, otherwise scarcely a citizen was visible.
Passing the fortifications, where we are joined by the First Division of the Nineteenth Corps, from Louisiana
, we proceed toward Poolesville
, reaching this place, twenty-six miles from Fort Stevens
, on the evening of the 14th.
The wagon train was yet stretched along the road behind us. On the morning of this day, at this place, our cavalry had overtaken that of the enemy acting as rear guard, and had fired upon it as it crossed White's Ford
after the infantry.
So there was artillery firing later from this side upon the Confederate
pickets who held the ford upon the Virginia
During the 14th, while moving along the Poolesville
road, we noticed at times the provost guard with prisoners who were under sentence of court martial, which had been imposed south of the James
, but which was still in abeyance, because the exigencies of the service had not permitted time for execution.
There was one man under sentence of death, who had a rope attached to him, the end of which would sometimes be in the hand of a guard, and sometimes trailing on the ground.
Once while it was dragging, a German, an artilleryman, picked it up, and, making a noose on the end, tossed it to the prisoner, saying,