Doc. 36.-fight at Blooming Gap, Va.
Gen. Lander's official report.
Washington, Saturday, February 15.the following news was received here to-day:
Hancock this morning, also the telegraph. We had an important forced reconnoissance last night, which was completed to-day. We broke up the rebel nest at Blooming Gap. We ran down and captured seventeen commissioned officers, among them colonels, lieutenant-colonels, captains, etc. We engaged them with four hundred cavalry; our infantry was not near enough to support the cavalry, and the enemy's were retiring. We have in all seventy-five prisoners, and killed thirteen of the enemy, and lost two men and six. horses at their first fire. I led the charge in person, and it was a complete surprise. Col. Carroll, commanding the Fifth or Eighth Ohio, made a very daring and successful reconnoissance immediately afterward to Unger's Store. Major Frothingham is entitled to great credit, for building, under my direction, in four hours, in the dead of night, a complete bridge across the Great Cacapon, at an unfrequented mountain road. Two columns of two thousand men each, marched thirty-two miles, and one column forty-three miles since four P. M., yesterday, besides bridging the river. The papers taken, and my own reconnoissance to the south, prove the country clear, and that Jackson and Loring are in Winchester. We made a move and occupied the Blooming Gap and Point Mill, on the belief, by information obtained from deserters, that Gen. Carson's brigade was there. Gen. Dunning has just arrived at New-Creek, from Moorfield, forty miles south of Romney. He has captured two hundred and twenty-five beef-cattle, and he broke up the guerrilla haunt there. Two of his men were badly wounded, but several of the rebels were killed. The enemies have thus been driven out of this Department. I respectfully commend Col. S. S. Carroll to your notice. He is a most efficient and gallant officer. Lieuts. H. G. Armstrong, A. A.G., and Fitz-James O'Brien, Aid-de-Camp, joined me in the charge by which the rebel officers were captured, and confidence restored, after the cavalry had been checked. O'Brien was shot through the breast by a rebel whilst out scouting.F. W. Lander, Brigadier-General.
The following official recognition of the services of Gen. Lander, was made by President Lincoln.
128] a small force of braye men, unwilling to waste life in camp when the enemies of their country are within reach. Your brilliant success is a happy presage of what may be expected when the army of the Potomac shall be led to the field by their gallant general. [Signed]
Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
New-York Tribune account.
Cumberland, Md., February 15, 1862.A small portion of Gen. Lander's force being at Pawpaw Tunnels, a station on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, half-way between Hancock and Cumberland, he joined it from New-Creek with a portion of the force there, and ordered the construction of the Great Cacapon Railroad bridge. This was completed on the evening of the fourteenth instant. At four o'clock P. M. on the thirteenth instant, Gen. Lander started south with a small cavalry force. At eight o'clock the same evening, word came back for a portion of the command to move. This was the first intelligence we had of a march being intended, although the command had been turned out twice a day, with blankets of the slung, inspected, marched short distances, and ordered to keep two days cooked rations on hand. It was soon covertly whispered among officers that it was the intention of Gen. Lander to move on Blooming Gap, a strong pass in the mountains, reported to be held by Gen. Carson's brigade, four thousand strong. For this purpose he had called in all his cavalry force, numbering nearly five hundred men, and led by Col. Anastanzel of the First Virginia regiment. They had been arriving for two days previous. It appeared afterward that it had been intended to bridge the Cacapon River the next day, but the enemy having discovered the small party of scouts led by Gen. Lander, he concluded to make the march that night. Twenty wagons were placed in the river, planks were hauled, and in four hours a bridge improvised at a point about seven miles south of the railroad. This bridge, one hundred and eighty feet in length, was built between nine and one o'clock at night. It was about seven miles to Blooming Gap from where the river was bridged. Gen. Lander's intention was to charge through the Gap in the night, as the position of the enemy could not be turned, and then halt his cavalry on the east side of the town, and check their retreat toward Winchester until the infantry provided for as support arrived. It was believed that, whatever the force of the rebels, in the darkness and confusion the quarters of the officers could be surrounded, and the officers taken before their men could form. It was one of those dashing exploits for which this officer has been so justly celebrated. But the enemy had retired beyond the town, and when, led by the General and his staff, the cavalry flew through the Gap and rallied beyond it, the birds had flown. Col. Anastanzel was at once ordered to push forward on the Winchester road with the cavalry, reconnoitre, and, if possible, overtake and capture the baggage of the enemy. Gen. Lander meantime brought up Col. Carroll with the Eighth Ohio regiment, and the Seventh Virginia, Col. Evans, for a support. Col. Anastanzel encountered the enemy at the head of the pass, two miles from Blooming. He was met by a sharp fire, and halted his command, instead of pushing through it, to the front. On hearing the firing, Gen. Lander came up and ordered Anastanzel forward. The men faltered before the musketry of the enemy, when Lander saying, “Follow me,” halting at the head of the column only long enough to tell the men to remember their holy mission and follow their General to victory. His appeal was answered by one private named John Cannon, a Virginia refugee. Gen. Lander charged, followed by Major Armstrong, Assistant Adjutant-General; Fitz-James O'Brien, the well-known poet of his staff; and Major Bannister, Paymaster U. S.A., who had volunteered for the expedition. A group of rebel officers were distant about three hundred yards, encouraging their men. General Lander being mounted on his celebrated horse, outran the rest party, and cut off the retreat of the rebel officers. “Surrender, gentlemen,” he said, and coolly dismounting, extended his hand to receive the sword of Col. Baldwin, whom an instant before he had appeared, to outside observers, to be riding directly over. Five of the rebel officers surrendered to Gen. Lander, and four more, immediately afterward, to the officers of his staff, among them the Assistant Adjutant-General of Gen. Carson. By this time the rebel infantry, perceiving the small number of their adversaries, commenced a heavy fire from the woods, but the cavalry had recovered from its panic, and now poured up the hill. Gen. Lander once more ordered Anastanzel to charge up the road, and capture the baggage of the enemy. The cavalry dashed forward, the advance guard soon overtook and turned out of the road fifteen wagons and horses, but the main force of the cavalry seemed paralyzed, and would not face the fire. Two of the gallant privates in front were shot by the enemy, who had again rallied, and there was another check. Col. Evans now came up with his regiment of infantry, and captured many more of the rebels. Gen. Lander shot at one of his own cavalrymen who refused to go forward, saying: “The next time I'll hit you, and if you don't clear the road, this regiment shall deploy and fire upon you.” Col. Carroll now came up. “Go on,” said Gen. Lander to Carroll, “we need you now — clean them out, and take their baggage.” Col. Carroll cleared the road as he went, both infantry regiments be-having admirably, following and engaging the enemy to the last, until ordered back. The pursuit was continued eight miles. The result of this affair was the capture of eighteen commissioned officers, and forty-five non-commissioned officers and privates. Thirty of the rebels were killed, with a loss on our side of seven killed and wounded. Col. Carroll drove  the enemy beyond the limits of Gen. Lander's department and returned. Gen. Lander has applied to the Governor of Maryland for the promotion of John Cannon to a lieutenancy. He has also the names of several deserving men of the cavalry force. He attributes the misconduct of the cavalry to the absence of several of their officers, now ill at Cumberland. Capt. Carman is reported to have behaved well. The same force, on independent scouting parties by companies and squads, has behaved well. It was the first time they were ever marched as squadrons before the enemy. They had been accustomed to dismount and fight as infantry, and had little practice with the sabre. The following order has been issued in reference to one of the men killed, and I think more orders have been issued in relation to others. An officer obliged me with a copy of this:
It is said that Gen. Lander still maintains that cavalry is one of the most effective arms to use in this country, and believes, if he had not ordered to bring up the infantry, the men, having got over the excitement occasioned by this first fire,would have done all that he could have expected of them. He has complimented the whole command, for the manner in which they bore the hardships of a bivouac in the snow, and a march of forty-three miles without rest, and with scant subsistence. When Gen. Lander was reinforced from Ohio, no wagons were furnished with the regiments; one of his best regiments has no tents, not a murmur has been heard, and the enemy driven from Moorfield on the south, to the eastern limits of his department, by a system of hurried marches and combinations, which compelled Jackson to retire, by threatening his subsistence-trains. As much has been said about General Lander's marching on Winchester, it may be remarked that he has never been ordered east of Romney, and all he has done since his reoccupation of that point, has been done at the risk of displeasing in high quarters. I was informed, by very good authority, that Lander would fight Jackson, in force, in his own department, but could not proceed beyond it unless to support Gen. Banks, should he need his assistance. He captured four thousand bushels of corn and two hundred and twenty-five beef-cattle, from one of the rebel depots, forty miles south of Romney, a few days since. His men, on their marches, usually take rations in their haversacks, and beef-cattle are driven loose with the command. They have made some astonishing marches for raw troops, and in their numerous skirmishes, they have had no support from artillery.
Special order no. 58.S. D. Bigger, a private of Capt. Carman's company, D, First Virginia cavalry, having been killed while gallantly endeavoring to capture the baggage of the enemy, will be escorted to his former residence, and the body delivered to his family, with the regrets of the Commanding General that so brave a man should be lost to them and the country. His last words were: “I am killed; don't mind it; but go on.” Capt. Carman will detail two of his comrades, true soldiers, who were with him at the front, as an escort. The expenses and burial charges will be paid. Had the man lived, he would have received promotion. By command of