previous next

[336] road, but in getting this position were attacked by the enemy in heavy force. The fighting lasted for several hours, resulting in considerable loss on both sides. The first object of this move having failed, by reason of the very large force thrown there by the enemy, I determined to take advantage of the diversion made by assaulting Petersburg before he could get his force back there. One division of the Second corps was withdrawn on the night of the twenty-eighth, and moved during the night to the rear of the Eighteenth corps, to relieve that corps in the line, that it might be foot-loose in the assault to be made. The other two divisions of the Second corps and Sheridan's cavalry were crossed over on the night of the twenty-ninth and moved in front of Petersburg. On the morning of the thirtieth, between four and five o'clock, the mine was sprung, blowing up a battery and most of a regiment, and the advance of the assaulting column, formed of the Ninth corps, immediately took possession of the crater made by the explosion, and the line for some distance to the right and left of it, and a detached line in front of it, but for some caused failed to advance promptly to the ridge beyond. Had they done this,I have every reason to believe that Petersburg would have fallen. Other troops were immediately pushed forward, but the time consumed in getting them up enabled the enemy to rally from his surprise (which had been complete), and get forces to this point for its defence. The captured line thus held being untenable, and of no advantage to us, the troops were withdrawn, but not without heavy loss. Thus terminated in disaster what promised to be the most successful assault of the campaign.

Immediately upon the enemy's ascertaining that General Hunter was retreating from Lynchburg by way of the Kanawha river, thus laying the Shenandoah Valley open for raids into Maryland and Pennsylvania, he returned northward and moved down that valley. As soon as this movement of the enemy was ascertained, General Hunter, who had reached the Kanawha river, was directed to move his troops without delay, by river and railroad, to Harper's Ferry; but owing to the difficulty of navigation, by reason of low water and breaks in the railroad, great delay was experienced in getting there. It became necessary, therefore, to find other troops to check this movement of the enemy. For this purpose the Sixth corps was taken from the armies operating against Richmond, to which was added the Nineteenth corps, then fortunately beginning to arrive in Hampton Roads from the Gulf Department, under orders issued immediately after the ascertainment of the result of the Red river expedition. The garrisons of Baltimore and Washington were at this time made up of heavy artillery regiments, hundred-days' men, and detachments from the Invalid Corps. One division under command of General Ricketts, of the Sixth corps, was sent to Baltimore, and the remaining two divisions of the Sixth corps, under General Wright, were subsequently sent to Washington. On the third of July the enemy approached Martinsburg; General Sigel, who was in command of our forces there, retreated across the Potomac at Sheppardstown; and General Weber, commanding at Harper's Ferry, crossed the river, and occupied Maryland Heights. On the sixth the enemy occupied Hagerstown, moving a strong column toward Frederick City. General Wallace with Ricketts' division and his own command, the latter mostly new and undisciplined troops, pushed out from Baltimore with great promptness, and met the enemy in force on the Monocacy, near the crossing of the railroad bridge. His force was not sufficient to ensure success, but he fought the enemy nevertheless, and although it resulted in a defeat to our arms, yet it detained the enemy and thereby served to enable General Wright to reach Washington with two divisions of the Sixth corps and the advance of the Nineteenth corps, before him. From Monocacy the enemy moved on Washington, his cavalry advance reaching Rockville on the evening of the tenth. On the twelfth a reconnoissance was thrown out in front of Fort Stevens, to ascertain the enemy's position and force. A severe skirmish ensued, in which we lost about two hundred and eighty in killed and wounded. The enemy's loss was probably greater, He commenced retreating during the night. Learning the exact condition of affairs at Washington, I requested by telegraph at 11:45 P. M. on the twelfth, the assignment of Major-General H. G. Wright to the command of all the troops that could be made available to operate in the field against the enemy, and directed that he should get outside of the trenches with all the force he could, and push Early to the last moment. General Wright commenced the pursuit on the thirteenth; on the eighteenth the enemy was overtaken at Snicker's ferry, on the Shenandoah, when a sharp skirmish occurred; and on the twentieth General Averell encountered and defeated a portion of the rebel army at Winchester, capturing four pieces of artillery and several hundred prisoners.

Learning that Early was retreating south toward Lynchburg or Richmond, I directed that the Sixth and Nineteenth corps be got back to the armies operating against Richmond, so that they might be used in a movement against Lee before the return of the troops sent by him into the valley; and that Hunter should remain in the Shenandoah Valley, keeping between any force of the enemy and Washington, acting on the defensive as much as possible. I felt that if the enemy had any notion of returning, the fact would be developed before the Sixth and Nineteenth corps could leave Washington. Subsequently the Nineteenth corps was excepted from the order to return to the James.

About the twenty-fifth it became evident that the enemy was again advancing upon Maryland and Pennsylvania, and the Sixth corps then at Washington, was ordered back to the vicinity of Harper's Ferry. The rebel force moved down

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.
H. G. Wright (4)
D. Hunter (3)
James B. Ricketts (2)
Jubal A. Early (2)
Weber (1)
Lew Wallace (1)
Sigel (1)
P. H. Sheridan (1)
R. E. Lee (1)
Averell (1)
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.
12th (2)
July 3rd (1)
30th (1)
28th (1)
20th (1)
13th (1)
6th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: