previous next

[7] of six regiments of Ohio troops and two batteries, under Gen. Cox, and were en route via Cumberland for the Kanawha. I sent back this intelligence at once to the Commanding General. Striking directly across the National road, I proceeded in the direction of Mercersburgh, Pennsylvania, which point was reached about twelve M. I was extremely anxious to reach Hagerstown, where large supplies were stored; but was satisfied from reliable information that the notice the enemy had of my approach and the proximity of his forces, would enable him to prevent my capturing it. I therefore turned toward Chambersburgh. I did not reach this point till after dark, in a rain. I did not deem it safe to defer the attack till morning, nor was it proper to attack a place full of women and children without summoning it first to surrender.

I accordingly sent in a flag of truce, and found no military or civil authority in the place; but some prominent citizens who met the officer were notified that the place would be occupied, and if any resistance were made the place would be shelled in three minutes. Brig.-General Wade Hampton's command being in advance, took possession of the place, and I appointed him military governor of the city. No incidents occurred during the night, during which it rained continuously. The officials all fled the town on our approach, and no one could be found who would admit that he held office in the place. About two hundred and seventy-five sick and wounded in hospital were paroled. During the day a large number of horses of citizens were seized and brought along. The wires were cut, and railroads were obstructed. Next morning it was ascertained that a large number of small arms and munitions of war were stored about the railroad buildings, all of which that could not be easily brought away were destroyed — consisting of about five thousand new muskets, pistols, sabres, ammunition, also a large assortment of army clothing. The extensive machine-shops and depot buildings of the railroad and several trains of loaded cars were entirely destroyed.

From Chambersbugh I decided, after mature consideration, to strike for the vicinity of Leesburgh as the best route of return, particularly as Cox's command would have rendered the direction of Cumberland, full of mountain gorges, particularly hazardous. The route selected was through an open country. Of course I left nothing undone to prevent the inhabitants from detecting my real route and object. I started directly towards Gettysburgh, but having passed the Blue Ridge, turned back towards Hagerstown for six or eight miles, and then crossed to Maryland by Emmettsburgh, when, as we passed, we were hailed by the inhabitants with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of joy. A scouting-party of one hundred and fifty lancers had just passed toward Gettysburgh, and I regret exceedingly that my march did not admit of the delay necessary to catch them. Taking the road toward Frederick, we intercepted despatches from Col. Rush (Lancers) to the commander of the scout, which satisfied me that our whereabouts was still a problem to the enemy.

Before reaching Frederick I crossed the Monocacy, continued the march through the night, via Liberty, New-Market, Monrovia, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where we cut the telegraph-wires and obstructed the railroad. We reached at daylight Hyattstown, on McClellan's line of wagon communication with Washington, but we found only a few wagons to capture, and we pushed on to Barnsville, which we found just vacated by a company of the enemy's cavalry. We had here corroborated what we had heard before, that Stoneman had between four and five thousand troops about Poolesville and guarding the river fords. I started directly for Poolesville, but instead of marching upon that point avoided it by a march through the woods, leaving it two or three miles to my left, and getting into the road from Poolesville to the mouth of the Monocacy. Guarding well my flanks and rear, I pushed boldly forward, meeting the head of the enemy's column going toward Poolesville.

I ordered the charge, which was responded to in handsome style by the advance squadron (Irving's) of Lee's brigade, which drove back the enemy's cavalry upon the column of infantry advancing to occupy the crest from which the cavalry were driven. Quick as thought Lee's sharp-shooters sprang to the ground, and, engaging the infantry skirmishers, held them in check till the artillery in advance came up, which, under the gallant Pelham, drove back the enemy's force to his batteries beyond the Monocacy, between which and our solitary gun quite a spirited fire continued for some time. This answered, in connection with the high crest occupied by our piece, to screen entirely my real movement quickly to the left, making a bold and rapid strike for White's Ford, to make my way across before the enemy at Poolesville and Monocacy could be aware of my design. Although delayed somewhat by about two hundred infantry, strongly posted in the cliffs over the ford, yet they yielded to the moral effect of a few shells before engaging our sharp-shooters and the crossing of the canal (now dry) and river was effected with all the precision of passing a defile on drill.

A section of artillery being sent with the advance and placed in position on the Loudon side, another piece on the Maryland height, while Pelham continued to occupy the attention of the enemy with the other, withdrawing from position to position until his piece was ordered to cross. The enemy was marching from Poolesville in the mean time, but came up in line of battle on the Maryland bank only to receive a thundering salutation, with evident effect from our guns on this side. I lost not a man killed on the expedition, and only a few slight wounds. The enemy's loss is not known, but Pelham's one gun compelled the enemy's battery to change its position three times. The remainder of the march was destitute of interest. The conduct of the command and their

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.
John Pelham (2)
W. H. F. Lee (2)
George C. Cox (2)
Stoneman (1)
Rush (1)
Irving (1)
Wade Hampton (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: