The ambuscade at Vienna
A correspondent of the N. Y. Tribune
, writing from the federal camp near Vienna
, the day after the surprise, says: In the case of our surprise near Vienna
, yesterday afternoon, there is another reason why a minute narrative should be received with interest.
The general plan and intention of the rebels, for the present, seem to have been indicated here, and it will be our own fault if, understanding thus early their indisposition to meet >us in an open way — until they shall have united their forces in some desperate stronghold — and their fondness for lurking slaughter and precipitate retreat, we do not take thorough precautions against such fatal consequences in future as those which yesterday unhappily befell us
It is probably known that no important movement in advance was intended by the Ohio
The railway from Alexandria
had just been restored, and the day before a number of troops had passed over the line, and returned, though not without molestation.
The shot which wounded the Connecticut
soldier should have served us as a warning that treachery flourished in all this region.
It was evident that the road would not remain safe without a proper protection, and the duty upon which the First Ohio regiment started was that of stationing efficient guards at all the bridges and other dangerous positions.
camp was situated about three miles outside of Alexandria
, in the direction of Vienna
, which is some thirteen miles distant. The expedition — if an affair with so comparatively peaceful a purpose requires to be called so — was under the direction of Brigadier-General Schenck
, who, I believe, arranged the details.
The immediate command of the regiment was in the hands of Col. McCook
The troops were embarked, and on their way early in the afternoon.
They proceeded leisurely, pausing at intervals, and detailing guards.
By this process, the regiment naturally grew thinner at every mile, until, when at the outskirts of Vienna
, only four companies were left.
However wise or necessary this plan of dropping squads behind might be in an ordinary advance, it certainly was of doubtful expediency in this case.
There were no villages or groups of houses along the route, among which the enemy's men could have established themselves in force, and the only point from which an attack could be seriously apprehended was Vienna
Had the entire regiment — and a larger body would have been better — been pushed rapidly down to Vienna
, we should have been more fully prepared to encounter and act against an ambush; and, had all proved quiet, nothing would have been lost, since we had the advantage of railroad speed, by stationing the guards on the return, instead of the advance.
It ia true that the entire course of the road is through a valley, and that the hills on either side, and the heavy thickets which screen them, appear to offer excellent situations for ambuscade; but the roads in the neighborhood are few, and those which exist are quite impracticable for the ready transportation of troops, not to speak of artillery.
Decidedly the suspicious spot was Vienna
and its vicinity.
A certain disposition to tardy caution was frustrated by the careless.
ness of the engine-driver.
le had been directed to stop at the distance of a mile from the town, whence skirmishers were to be thrown out, and proper reconnoissances to be made.
Instead of doing so, he shot ahead until within half a mile or less, so that this single chance of averting the impending danger was wasted.
The train was rounding a gentle curve, and the men were laughing, quite unconscious of peril, when the first round of shot fell among them, tearing five of them to pieces, and wounding many others.
The rebels' guns had been carefully planted in the curve, and were hidden until the worst part of their work was accomplished.
The first discharge was the most.
fatal. The four companies were disposed upon open platform cars, and were first of all exposed to the enemy's fire.
The engine was at the rear of the train.
It was fortunate that most of the men were sitting, for the shot flew high, and only those who stood erect were struck.
was among the foremost, but was unharmed.
and Col. McCook
were in a covered car behind the troops.
The Col. instantly sprang out, and gathered the best part of his men together.
The enemy's field-pieces had been stationed to command the line of the railroad and nothing else.
They were at the termination of the curve, to the left of the track, and elevated a few feet above the grade.
With the exception of that company which was the most exposed, and which suffered the most, the men promptly assembled near Col. McCook
, who proceeded to form them in line of battle, and to lead them into the protection of a little wood, or thicket, at the right of the track, apart from the range of the battery.
Meanwhile shot and shell continued to assail the train, and those who lingered near it. The engine-driver, in a panic, detached his locomotive and a single car, and dashed off at full speed.
The rebel artillerists then directed their range, so as to menace Col. McCook
's three companies, upon which the Col. quietly marched them over to the left of the track, into another clump of trees, where he collected all his little force, and arrayed them boldly in line.
The shot from the rebels now flew very wild,