previous next

[407] cutting the trees overhead and around, and, in their hurry, they made the frequent blunder of discharging their shell without opening the fuze. But, notwithstanding this, Col. McCook's position was far from comfortable. He saw that he was prodigiously outnumbered, and that if the enemy could only keep their wits for a few minutes, he must inevitably-be captured, or venture a struggle at fearful odds. He had only about 180 men, while the rebel force exceeded 2,000. Their field-pieces alone, decently managed, would have destroyed the little Ohio band in a twinkling. But the Ohio men never flinched, and this was the reward of their bravery: The rebels observing such a mere handful bearing themselves undaunted before their superior host, were at first amazed, and then startled into the conviction that powerful reinforcements must be close at hand. How else, it seemed to them, could this sprinkling of troops hold their ground. It could be nothing but the confidence of overwhelming strength that sustained them. And this is not conjecture. The information since received from Vienna proves it to have been their real belief. Disheartened by this belief, they became irresolute, their fire slackened, they wavered, and, in a few minutes, broke up their lines and slowly retired. At the same time Col. McCook, having secured his wounded, also withdrew, his two thousand assailants making no attempt or motion to oppose his retreat.

Thus, by a manly defiance, our Ohio men preserved themselves. The first indication of weakness or trepidation would have undone them. But now they can proudly and truly say that they stood before ten times their number of opponents, and saw those opponents, all men of South Carolina, glide away from their sight, while they never for an instant swerved. Their own retreat was in perfect order, and they would have carried away their dead, as well as wounded, had any been visible at the moment of their departure. But the poor fellows were all lying out of sight upon the platform cars, and were for a short time overlooked. When they were missed, their bodies were sought, and brought in. In most of the cases, death must have been instantaneous. They were frightfully mangled. One man's arm was torn and wrenched away by a round shot, and hung to the socket by a half-severed muscle. The rush of blood through the ruptured arteries must have put him beyond all suffering at once. Another's head was shot almost from the neck, and with another, the missile passed straight through his chest, beneath the shoulder. Still another was literally cut into shreds, below the waist, and his musket was bent into a curve. It was evident that all had been killed by heavy shot, and that the shell and smaller projectiles had inflicted only serious wounds, at the worst. The bodies, folded in blankets, were all brought to the 1st Ohio regiment's camp this morning. They were tenderly taken in charge by their former comrades, and in the afternoon, among the shadows of the woodland, the last offices were fulfilled, and they were buried together in the soil which their sacrifice makes truly sacred.

The rebels deserted Vienna, but their brief opposition transformed our movement into a regular and important advance. Many regiments have since changed places. The 69th New York regiment moved on to Vienna. The two Ohio regiments are encamped upon the way. The Connecticut men are near at hand. Cavalry and artillery support the 69th, so that, if an attack is made upon them, (which is not immediately apprehended,) they will be able to show the rebels, in whatever force they come, that retreating is a game of which we do not seek to share the glory. The Ohio men are fixed in their new position. Last night they slept upon the grass, without shelter, in the rain. But no one thought of the exposure. They were looking forward, and you may feel sure that when these men and the men of South Carolina meet, the reckoning will be no light one.


A rebel account.

A gentleman who arrived in Richmond, direct from the scene of action, furnishes the following account of the Vienna fight:

On Sunday morning, Col. Gregg received orders to go out on a reconnoitring expedition. He took with him 600 South Carolinians, a company of Kemper's artillery, and two companies of cavalry, including 45 of Capt. Ball's Chester company and Capt. Terry's company, of Bedford. He started at 8 o'clock A. M. They remained Sunday night at a place called Dranesville. On Monday morning, Col. Gregg, with a detachment of cavalry, went forty-five miles down to the Potomac River to make observations. They remained in the vicinity about an hour, and distinctly saw tents and men on the Maryland side. They judged they were about 300 men encamped at that point.

Col. Gregg afterwards returned to Dranesville, formed his command into column and marched down the road to a place. called Vienna. Here they remained only long enough to tear up the track of the Alexandria, Loudon and Hampshire railroad, and destroy a water tank — probably about an hour — after which they started to return to Dranesville. The troops had proceeded about half a mile when the whistle of the locomotive was heard in the distance, whereupon Col. Gregg ordered a halt, wheeled his column, and marched rapidly back to Vienna. They had scarcely time to place two cannon in position, when a train of cars, consisting of six flats and a baggage car, came slowly around the curve, pushed by a locomotive. Each flat was crowded with armed men, whose bayonets glistened in the evening sun, and gave our men an impression that a severe contest was at hand. This, however, was not realized, as the result will show.

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 Places (automatically extracted)
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.
Maxcy Gregg (4)
A. D. McCook (2)
Alfred H. Terry (1)
Kemper (1)
Ball (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: