town surprised a funeral procession on its way to the grave. Conspicuous among the mourners were three rebel cavalrymen belonging to the Virginia cavalry. A guard was placed alongside the funeral train, doing double duty as escort and guard. After the rite of sepulture had been performed, the Virginia gentlemen were invited to accompany their escort, which they did. At this place Gen. Stahel came very near being captured by — a garrulous old lady, whose intentions (the obtaining of a pass) prompted attentions (a profusion of compliments classically (?) known as “soft soap” ) which on ordinary occasions would have excited the well-known gallantry of the General, but under the pressure of the business then in hand were allowed to pass unheeded by him, and fell anong his staff, to whom they afforded rare amusement. On reaching White Plains, Gen. Stahel at once sent a force of fifty men to hold Thoroughfare Gap, and an additional fifty to proceed to Haymarket, at which place they were to meet a small wagon-train bearing supplies and forage, which had been sent out from Fairfax that evening. The latter body proceeded to Haymarket, and there found the train. The officer in charge said they did not need any more escort, as his force was amply sufficient. Therefore the fifty returned to Thoroughfare Gap, at which place they were to remain in reserve, sending word back to White Plains of the safety of the train. The troops bivouacked at White Plains, and soon another messenger came in, bringing tidings that the wagon-train and its escort had been captured, and that the enemy, four hundred strong, with two pieces of artillery, were advancing on Thoroughfare Gap. Tired as his men and horses were, delay was more than dangerous, and the possession of the Gap all-important. An immediate advance was ordered, the General heading the column in person. In relation to the capture of the train, it turned out that the wagons reached Haymarket in safety about daylight, where the officer in command left them standing in the street while he and his men went into the houses to obtain breakfast. While engaged at their repast, intelligence was brought in by the pickets that the rebels were advancing. The officer laughed at the man, and said it was our own cavalry. But shortly after the officer's meal was interrupted by the intrusion of uninvited guests in the garb of rebel cavairy, and thus he lost his train, escort, and liberty. There was ample time between the alarm and the arrival of the rebels, to have sent to Thoroughfare Gap and obtained the assistance of the force there. There was time to have started the wagons toward that place, and with the aid at hand they could have been saved. But nothing of the kind was done, and the expedition was subsequently obliged to return in consequence of the culpable neglect of this officer. Before reaching the Gap, intelligence was brought to General Stahel that the force left there to defend it had withdrawn, and the enemy were in possession of the Gap, having with them two pieces of artillery. Instructing Captain Dahlgren of Gen. Sigel's staff, whose presence as a volunteer should have been noticed, to hurry forward the artillery, Gen. Stahel dashed on for the Gap. True enough, our men had retired, and there were the rebels posted at the Gap, their gun-barrels glistening in the narrow pass. Without hesitation, the General ordered a charge. The cavalry wavered — their “horses had given out,” they said. Calling them cowards — as they were — the General drew his sabre, struck spurs to his horse, and, dashing forward into the Gap, bade them “follow” him. Even cowards could not refuse to follow one brave man ; the charge was made, and the pass won. The rebels tired two volleys, wounding several and killing one man, and then retreated. Without a moment's delay, the General and his men followed them, driving then down the mountain and back upon their artillery, which, fortunately, had not reached the Gap. Meanwhile Captain Dahlgren had been hastening on with the artillery. As they entered the rough road through the gap at a full gallop, one of the caissons was broken in halves. Fortunately they found a caisson, which had been left by the rebels, near at hand and filled with ammunition. To destroy the old one and attach the other was but the work of a minute, and then commenced a close pursuit. The enemy retreated, firing upon us at every chance, while our advance kept close upon them. Thus they were driven from the Gap to Haymarket, thence to Gainesville, thence to New-Baltimore , from which place they retreated to Warrenton. As there are two roads from New-Baltimore to Warrenton, and there was danger of the enemy leading us on by one, and then coming out of the town upon the other, attacking the rear, Gen. Stahel posted his artillery upon one road, and, leaving sufficient force to support it, rode into Warrenton. Reaching the outskirts of the town at about five o'clock, it was found that there was a considerable force stationed there — a brigade of cavalry, (Mumford's North-Carolina brigade,) a regiment of infant<*>y, and a battery. The camp was the other side of the town, and toward that the retreating four hundred made. Their guns opened upon our advance, and under their cover the infantry was sent forward as skirmishers. Major Knox was ordered to hold the road and check any advance. Presently a company of cavalry came dashing down the hill on the full charge. Major Knox wheeled his dozen men into line across the road, and as the cavalry came in short-range gave them a volley from the carbines. This checked the ardor of secesh, and they retired. Finding it to be an impossibility to dislodge the rebel infantry with the force at his disposal, and as his men and horses were both tired and hungry, the General continued the skirmishing until darkness settled down, and then withdrew his troops to Centreville, the enemy's cavalry following for some distance. While at Aldie, a noted bushwacker, named Edward Hutchinson, was captured just beyond that town and brought in. This man brags of how many Yankees he has killed, and is so much of a brute that even the secesh inhabitants of
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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.