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[547] Sunday night wrought a change in its condition. Three thousand confederate cavalry bivouacked there after the battle, and fed their horses in his corn-field. The next morning there were very few fence-rails and very little corn left. The men could be heard to say while building high their fires: “Pile on, boys, they are nothing but d — d old Union rails.” Botts came down Monday morning and said he would like to get a certificate of the quantity of corn used and rails burnt. He was dismissed very cavalierly, and told that we had no time to attend to such matters.

Monday our cavalry came up with the enemy at Jefferson, on the road from Culpeper Court-House to Warrenton. There an obstinate fight took place, which resulted in the enemy being driven across Hedgeman's River to Warrenton Springs, from which place the enemy were also driven after a battle. In each of these battles we took several hundred prisoners. Ewell's corps, having changed its line of march, reached Warrenton on Tuesday morning. Meade's army was at this time across the Rappahannock, and believed to have halted at Warrenton Junction, and between that point and Catlett's Station. Two thousand cavalry were sent down from Warrenton to reconnoitre in the direction of Catlett's. On arriving near the latter place, Tuesday evening, they found the enemy were moving heavy columns of infantry along the railroad toward Manassas; and they thereupon immediately turned to retrace their steps toward Warrenton; but on reaching a road which crossed their route, leading from Warrenton Junction to Manassas, they found that the enemy were also moving infantry in large masses along this road. They were thus completely hemmed in. Night came on as they reached this road. The heavy tramp of the enemy's infantry and the rumble of their artillery sounded right in front of them. General Stuart withdrew his little force into a thicket of old field pines, hoping that the enemy would pass him by unnoticed, and leave his road to Warrenton clear. The enemy were moving so near our position that every word of command, and even ordinary conversation, could be distinctly heard by us. Our situation was extremely critical; any accident, the accidental discharge of a pistol, would have disclosed our position, and then, in view of the overwhelming force of the enemy, nothing awaited us but destruction or surrender, Stuart gave his officers and men to understand that surrender was not to be thought of, but that the enemy was to be fought to the last. A council of war having been called, it was resolved, as the best thing that could be done under the circumstances, to desert the nine pieces of horse artillery, and for the cavalry in six columns to endeavor to cut their way through the enemy. But after some reflection, Stuart resolved not to abandon his artillery, and struck upon a device for informing General Lee, who was at Warrenton, of his situation. He called for three volunteers to undertake a desperate enterprise. Crockett Eddins, of this city, and two other young men, immediately stepped forth to undertake any thing their General might order. Stuart ordered them to put on infantry knapsacks, and, shouldering muskets, to advance in the darkness to the road, fall into the enemy's column, and crossing it, to make their way to Warrenton, and say to General Lee that he was surrounded, and he “must send some of his people to help him out.” Eddins and his two gallant comrades obeyed orders, and reached Warrenton in safety.

The last division of the enemy halted and bivouacked opposite Stuart and within one hundred and fifty yards of his position — so close that we could hear the Yankees pouring out oats to feed their horses. During the night two of Meade's staff straggled into our lines and were taken prisoners. One of them, a gay young fellow, said to Stuart, “All right, General, we sup with you to-night, you dine with us to-morrow,” intimating that Stuart would, by that time, be a prisoner.

At daylight Wednesday morning, Stuart was informed, by the cracking of our skirmishers' muskets, that Lee had received his message, and was sending “some of the people” to help him. As Lee's advancing columns attracted the enemy's attention, Stuart, from the rear, opened on them with grape and canister. The enemy were much disordered by the cannonade from so unexpected a quarter, and, taking advantage of the confusion, Stuart limbered up his guns, and, with with cavalry and artillery, dashed through the hostile ranks and rejoined General Lee. The enemy suffered a loss of one hundred and eighty killed in this affair.

That evening Hill's corps reached Bristoe Station just after Meade's army had passed that point. What appeared to be a small portion of the enemy was discovered behind a long embankment of the railroad, and two brigades of Heth's corps were ordered to dislodge them. Then followed the battle of Bristoe, which has already been mentioned in these columns. What appeared to be a trifling force of the enemy turned out to be two full army corps, lying in ambush to gobble up any inconsiderate brigades that might attempt to dislodge them. An hour's experiment convinced our men that a formidable force was in their front, and they withdrew. We had three or four hundred men killed and wounded in the fight. The enemy admit a severe loss, but they left but few dead upon the field. Before the main body of our army could get up, the battle was over. That night our men were drawn up in line of battle, but when the day broke on Thursday morning, the enemy was gone. Our forces followed them as far as Manassas Junction, and resting here a day, began a retrograde movement toward the Rappahannock. Our cavalry on Thursday crossed Bull Creek, near the foot of Bull Run Mountain, and made a reconnoissance as far as Centreville, where they were driven back by the enemy's infantry.

Thus ended this famous retreat and pursuit. Our army returned to the Rappahannock, having lost in the campaign about one thousaud men,

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J. E. B. Stuart (10)
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