departure of General Wright, General Hunter had force enough to hold the enemy, should he return upon us? It was answered that if the enemy should return in full force, we had not troops enough to hold him: but our best information indicated that he was falling back under orders; and that Averell's cavalry had reconnoitred as far south as Strasburg without discovering any force. A telegram from General Halleck indicated General Grant's views in regard to the valley. He desired that the line of the Potomac should be held with a view to the protection of Washington, in case of necessity. The line of the Manassas Gap railroad and Cedar creek was suggested; it was considered more judicious to establish a line near the base of supplies, and that of Aldie, Snicker's Gap, Berryville, and Winchester was decided upon. It was the decided opinion of officers who had had experience in the valley of the Shenandoah, and were well acquainted with its topography, that there was no line of defence which could be advantageously maintained against an army marching from the south, and that the idea of holding it by fortified posts was equally futile; they were liable to be penetrated and evaded with but little risk, even by an inferior enemy, and liable to be cut off, isolated, and entrapped by a superior force. The difficulty of maintaining communication was almost insurmountable. It was urged that the only mode of holding the line of the Potomac and the valley of the Shenandoah securely, was to confront the enemy with a predominating force, and drive him out or destroy him. In obedience to orders, General Crook (now Major-General by brevet), took command of the forces in the field, and occupied Winchester with fourteen thousand men. On Sunday, twenty-fourth, General Early suddenly returned in heavy force, and falling upon Crook, near Kernstown, defeated him, putting about a thousand men hors de combat. General Crook fell back behind the Potomac, saving all his guns and material. On the twenty-seventh his command moved down on the Maryland side of the Potomac, and took position in Pleasant Valley, nearly opposite Harper's Ferry; Averell reported the enemy crossing the Potomac at Williamsport, destroying the railroad and canal, and menacing both Cumberland and Chambersburg; General Wright at Monocacy, with the Sixth corps, and General Emory coming up with the nineteenth. On the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth the whole force crossed the Potomac at Harper's Ferry and took position in Halltown and vicinity. The combined force amounted to about thirty thousand men, and eighty or ninety guns. It was reported that the enemy was crossing with all arms at Williamsport, and driving Averell back on Chambersburg. This was believed to be only a cavalry force, and Early was supposed to be lying along the turnpike, between Martinsburg and Winchester; his main force at Bunker Hill. It was proposed to attack him between Martinsburg and Bunker Hill, thus cuting his army in two. On Saturday, July thirty, it was intensely hot; the trains of the Sixth corps still passing through toward Halltown. About mid-day we received news from Washington that the enemy had entered Chambersburg, and that the remaining divisions of the Nineteenth corps were en route to reinforce us. Immediately afterward orders were issued directing the whole force to fall back to Middletown valley, in Maryland; these orders, I understood, came from Washington. A retrograde movement was immediately commenced, and by the following day the whole army was in Maryland, with headquarters in Frederick City, leaving, however, a strong garrison at Harper's Ferry, under the command of General Howe. I have never been able to understand the motive of this movement, and have always considered it a most unfortunate one. The position of our troops at Halltown and Bolivar Heights was unassailable by such a force as Early commanded. It was most convenient for active operations against the enemy in any direction, and was believed to interpose an effectual check on any movement of his main body toward the invasion of Maryland or toward Washington by way of Snicker's ferry, as was apprehended in some quarters. An attempt on his part to move in either direction would have exposed his flank and rear to advantageous attack by our superior force, and have left his communications entirely at our mercy. Our retrograde movement left the whole country open to him. August first we received information that McCausland had entered Chambersburg at the head of two thousand cavalry, and after burning and sacking the town, moved westward, followed by Averell, with an inferior force. Duffie was ordered to unite with Averell in the pursuit. August second information was received by telegraph from Washington that a heavy column of the enemy was moving on that city, via Rockville. Marching orders were promptly issued, and subsequently countermanded, when it was ascertained that the alarm had originated from the appearance of a squad of United States cavalry scouting near Rockville. Headquarters were moved to the Thomas farm, on the east side of the Monocacy. News received that General Kelly had handsomely repulsed McCausland's attack on Cumberland ; Early's main body still lying between Martinsburg and Winchester; small foraging parties of rebels crossing occasionally at Antietam ford, Shepherdstown, and Williamsport. August fourth General Howe telegraphs that the enemy are menacing Harper's Ferry; General Emory, with the Nineteenth corps, ten thousand strong, was sent there during the night. August fifth, in the afternoon, General Grant in person visited headquarters, and had a conference
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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