previous next

[346] direction of Cedar or Slaughter Mountain, to support Gen. Bayard, who was falling back in that direction, and to assist him as far as practicable in determining the movements and the forces of the enemy. I sent orders also to Gen. Banks to move forward promptly from Hazel River to Culpeper Court-House, and also to Gen. Sigel to march at once from Sperryville to the same place. To my surprise, I received, after night on the eighth, a note from Gen. Sigel, dated at Sperryville, at half-past 6 o'clock that afternoon, asking me by what road he should march to Culpeper Court-House. As there was but one road between those two points, and that a broad stone turnpike, I was at a loss to understand how Gen. Sigel could entertain any doubt as to the road by which he should march. This doubt, however, delayed the arrival of his corps at Culpeper Court-House several hours, and rendered it impracticable for that corps to be pushed to the front, as I had designed, on the afternoon of the next day.

Early on the morning of the ninth of August I directed Gen. Banks to move forward toward Cedar Mountain with his whole corps, and to join the brigade of that corps, under Gen. Crawford, which had been pushed forward on the day previous. I directed Gen. Banks to take up a strong position at or near the point occupied by that brigade, to check the advance of the enemy, and to determine his forces and the character of his movement as far as practicable. The consolidated report of Gen. Banks's corps, received some days previously, exhibited an effective force of something over fourteen thousand men. Appended to this report will be found the return in question. It appeared subsequently, however, that Gen. Banks's forces at that time did not exceed eight thousand men. But although I several times called Gen. Banks's attention to the discrepancy between this return and the force he afterward stated to me he had led to the front, that discrepancy has never been explained, and I do not yet understand how Gen. Banks could have been so greatly mistaken as to the forces under his immediate command.

I directed him when he went forward from Culpeper Court-House, that if the enemy advanced to attack him in the strong position which I had instructed him to take up, that he should push his skirmishers well to the front and notify me immediately. Three miles in his rear, and within easy supporting distance, Ricketts's division, of McDowell's corps, had been posted at the point where the road from Madison Court-House to Culpeper intersects the road from Culpeper to Cedar Mountain. This division was so posted because it was not certain whether a considerable force of the enemy was not advancing on Culpeper from the direction of Madison Court-House, Gen. Buford having reported to me very early on the morning of the ninth from Madison Court-House that the enemy was in heavy force on his right, his left, and partly on his rear, and that he was retreating in the direction of Sperryville.

Desultory artillery firing had been kept up all day on the ninth, in the direction of Gen. Banks's corps, but I continued to receive, during the whole of that day, reports from Gen. Banks that no considerable force of the enemy had come forward, and that his cavalry had been ostentatiously displayed. He did not believe that the enemy was in sufficient force to make any attack upon him. As late as five o'clock in the afternoon Gen. Banks wrote me substantially to the same effect; but before I had received this last note the artillery firing had become so rapid and continuous, that I feared a general engagement was going on, or might be brought on at any moment. I therefore instructed Gen. McDowell to move forward Ricketts's division rapidly to the field, and accompanied that division myself. At no time during the day did Gen. Banks express any apprehensions of attack in force by the enemy, nor did he ask nor intimate that he needed reenforcements.

General Sigel's corps began to march into Culpeper Court — House late in the afternoon, and just as I was leaving that place, having been delayed several hours by General Sigel's singular uncertainty as to what road he ought to pursue. I had given orders a number of days previously that all the troops belonging to the army of Virginia should be ready to march at the shortest notice, and should habitually keep two days cooked rations in their haversacks. Notwithstanding this order, General Sigel's corps arrived in Culpeper without any rations, and was unable to move forward until provisions could be procured from McDowell's train, and cooked at Culpeper Court-House.

I have received no report from General Banks of his operations at Cedar Mountain, but I had sent forward Brig--Gen. Roberts, Chief of Cavalry, of my staff, and had directed him to report to General Banks in the early part of the day of the ninth, and to advise freely with him as to the operations of his corps. General Roberts, as well as General Banks, was fully advised of my wishes, and that I desired Gen. Banks merely to keep the enemy in check, by occupying a strong position in his front, until the whole of the disposable force under my command should be concentrated in the neighborhood. General Roberts reported to me that he had conferred freely with General Banks, and urgently represented to him my purposes, but that General Banks, contrary to his suggestions and to my wishes, had left the strong position which he had taken up, and had advanced two miles to assault the enemy, believing that they were not in considerable force, and that he would be able to crush their advance before their main body could come up from the direction of the Rapidan. He accordingly threw forward his whole corps into action, against superior forces of the enemy, strongly posted, and sheltered by woods and ridges. His advance led him over the open ground, which was every where swept by the fire of the enemy, concealed in the woods and ravines beyond. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, his corps gallantly responded to his orders, and assaulted the enemy with

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
N. P. Banks (34)
F. Sigel (12)
C. W. Roberts (6)
Irwin McDowell (6)
Ricketts (4)
L. W. Crawford (2)
John Buford (2)
Bayard (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
9th (4)
August 9th (2)
8th (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: