- More than one-third of the Federal forces operating against Richmond.
-- McClellan's opinion of his army.
-- its numerical strength.
-- official statement of Confederate forces in North Virginia.
-- Lincoln's order of the 22d February.
-- McClellan's dissent.
-- when Johnston determined to change his line on the Potomac.
-- his preparations for retreat.
-- how it was accomplished.
-- McClellan's advance.
-- discovery of Johnston's evacuation of Manassas and Centreville.
-- he crosses the Rappahannock and waits for the enemy.
-- he penetrates McClellans's designs.
-- Federal council of war at Fairfax Court-house.
-- shifting of the scenes of war in Virginia.
-- the battle of Kernstown.
-- how “Stonewall” Jackson came to fight this battle.
-- great numerical superiourity of the enemy.
-- the contest at the Stone fence.
-- Jackson falls back to Cedar Creek.
-- Magruder's line on the Peninsula.
-- a fearful crisis.
-- McClellan held in check by eleven thousand Confederates.
-- outwitted again by Johnston.
-- retreat of the Confederates up the Peninsula.
-- strategic merit of the movement.
-- battle of Williamsburg.
-- Longstreet's division engaged.
-- success of the Confederates.
-- McClellan's whole army in peril.
-- his flank movement on Johnston's retreat.
-- engagement at Barhamsville.
-- the line of the Chickahominy.
Johnston's brilliant strategy.
-- evacuation of Norfolk.
-- destruction of the Virginia.
-- her last challenge to the enemy.
-- a galling spectacle.
-- Commodore Tatnall orders her destruction.
-- a Court of inquiry.
-- naval engagement at Drewry's Bluff.
-- a feeble barrier to Richmond.
-- repulse of the Federal fleet.
-- what it proved.
-- McClellan's investment of the line of the Chickahominy.
-- defences of Richmond.
-- scenes around the Federal capital.
-- alarm and excitement of its people.
-- the exodus from Richmond.
-- public meeting in the city Hall.
-- noble resolution of the Legislature of Virginia.
-- re-animation of the people and the authorities.
-- President Davis' early opinion of the effect of the fall of Richmond.
-- appeals of the Richmond press.
-- Jackson's campaign in the Valley of Virginia.
-- Jackson determines on the aggressive.
-- disposition of the Federal forces west of the Blue Ridge.
-- affair at McDowell.
-- Jackson deceives Banks
-- Surprises his rear-guard at front Royal.
-- Banks' race to Winchester.
-- scenes of retreat through Winchester.
-- Banks' quick time to the Potomac.
-- extent of Jackson's success.
-- fruits of two days operations of the Confederates.
-- Jackson passes between the columns of Fremont and Shields.
-- death of Turner Ashby.
-- Jackson's tribute to him.
-- battles of cross keys and Port Republic.
-- Ewell defeats Fremont.
-- the field of Port Republic.
-- Ewell's arrival saves the day.
-- critical and splendid action of two Virginia regiments.
-- close of the Valley campaign.
-- Jackson's almost marvellous success.
-- his halt at Weyer's Cave
In the first part of the year 1862, the Federal Government
, with plans fully matured, had under arms about six hundred thousand men; more than one-third of whom were operating in the direction of Richmond
What Gen. McClellan
himself said of the vast and brilliant army with which he designed to capture the Confederate
capital was not extravagant.
It was, indeed, “magnificent in material, admirable in discipline and instruction, excellently equipped and armed.”
On March 1, 1862, the number of Federal troops in and about Washington
had increased to 193,142, fit for duty, with a grand aggregate of 221,987.
Such was the heavy and perilous force of the enemy that, in the spring of 1862, hung on the northern frontier of Virginia
Let us see what was in front of it on the Confederate
line of defence.
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
had in the camps of Centreville
and Manassas less than thirty thousand men
. These figures are from an official source.
had been detached with eleven skeleton regiments to amuse the enemy in the Shenandoah Valley, passing rapidly between Banks
, and giving them the idea that he meditated a formidable movement.
Such was the force that in North Virginia
stood in McClellan's path, and deterred him from a blow that at that time might have been fatal to the Southern Confederacy.
It had been the idea of the Washington
authorities to despatch the Confederacy
by a combined movement in the winter.
The order of President Lincoln
for a general movement of the land and naval forces against the Confederate
positions on the 22d of February (Washington
's birthday), directed that McClellan
's army should advance for the immediate object of seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad southwest of Manassas Junction
urged a different line of operations on the Lower Rappahannock
, obtained delay, and did not advance.
In the mean time, Gen. Johnston
had not been an idle spectator of the immense and overwhelming preparations of the enemy in his front.
As a commander he was sagacious, quick to apprehend, and had that peculiar military reticence in connection with a sage manner and decisive action, that obtained the confidence of his men instead of exciting criticism, or alarming their suspicions.
In the first winter months of 1862, he had determined to change his line on the Potomac
All idea of offensive operations on it had long ago been abandoned.
It had become necessary in Gen. Johnston
's opinion that the main body of the Confederate forces in Virginia
should be in supporting distance of the Army of the Peninsula, so that, in the event of either being driven back, they might combine for final resistance before Richmond
During winter, Johnston
had been quietly transporting his immense stores towards the Rappahannock
, removing every cannon that could be
spared, and filling the empty embrasures with hollow logs painted black, which even at a few yards' distance much resembled thirty-two and sixty-four pounders.
Never were preparations for a retreat so quietly and skilfully made.
So perfectly were all things arranged that all stores, baggage, sick, material, and guns were removed far to the rear, before Johnston
's own men realized the possibility of a retreat.
It was only as the different brigades fell into line, and the main army defiled southward through Fauquier County
that the men discovered the movement to be a general and not a partial one.
On the 8th of March, the Government
issued a peremptory order to McClellan
to move for the new base of operations lie designed on the Chesapeake Bay
, and to capture the Confederate batteries on the Potomac
The change in the situation which Johnston
's skilful retreat had effected was not known in Washington
On the 9th of March McClellan
's army was in motion.
was in expectation; it was known that the second “On-to-richmond” had commenced, and that the second grand army was about to pass its grand climacteric.
At night Fairfax Court-House was reached, and the grand army encamped within a radius of two miles. At a late hour came the wonderful tidings that Manassas
had been evacuated!
There was no enemy there.
But there was a great conflagration in full flame, bridges and machine-shops just blown up, and other incendiary fires gleaming in the distance.
Nothing was left in the famous Confederate position; it was desolate, though frowning in fortified grandeur.
Thus had been accomplished in the face of the enemy the most successful and complete evacuation — the most secure and perfect retreat of which the history of the war furnishes an example.
had safely escaped with his entire right and left wings; he had securely carried off every gun and all his provisions and munitions; and he had blown up or otherwise destroyed every bridge and culvert on turnpike and railroad along his route.1
's army had crossed the Rappahannock
, it was drawn up in line, and waited a week for the enemy; but McClellan
refused the challenge, and moved down the stream near the sea-board.
his left, Johnston
fell back across the Rapidan
, and increased the strength of the right against all flanking maneuvers.
Large fleets of transports were gathered at the month of the Rappahannock
, but few knew their object or destination.
however divined it. He promptly took the idea that the Federals
, while making a show of force along the Lower Rappahannock
, would not attack; their object being to transport their force with great celerity to the Peninsula
, thinking to surprise Magruder
, and seize Richmond
before any troops could be marched to oppose them.
He was right.
On March 13, a council of war was assembled at Fairfax Court-House, by McClellan
It agreed on the following resolution: “That the enemy, having retreated from Manassas
, behind the Rappahannock
and the Rapidan
, it is the opinion of Generals
commanding army corps that the operations to be carried on will be best undertaken from Old Point
Comfort between the York
and James Rivers
: provided, 1st, That the enemy's vessel Merrimac
can be neutralized; 2d, That the means of transportation sufficient for an immediate transfer of the force to its new base can be ready at Washington
to move down the Potomac
; and, 3d, That a naval auxiliary force can be had to silence, or aid in silencing, the enemy's batteries on the York River
; 4th, That the force to be left to cover Washington
shall be such as to give an entire feeling of security for its safety from menace.”
While the scene of the most important contest in Virginia
was thus being shifted, and Gen. Banks
was transferring a heavy force from the Shenandoah Valley to take position at Centreville
, in pursuance of McClellan
's plan for the protection of Washington
, a battle unimportant but bloody took place near Winchester
Battle of Kernstown.
had been left at Winchester
with a division and some cavalry, and commanded, as he states in his official report, seven thousand men of all arms.
Ascertaining that “Stonewall
was at New Market
, he made a feint, pretended to retreat on the 20th of March, and at night placed his force in a secluded position, two miles from Winchester
on the Martinsburg
This movement, and the masked position of the enemy made an impression upon the inhabitants of Winchester
' army had left, and that nothing remained but a few regiments to garrison the place.
On the 22nd Ashby
's cavalry drove in the enemy's pickets, and discovered only a brigade.
The next day Jackson
had moved his line near Kernstown
, prepared to give battle and expecting
to find only a small force of the enemy at the point of attack.
He had less than twenty-five hundred men. It will amuse the Southern
reader to find it stated in Gen. Shields
' official report that Jackson
had in the engagement of Kernstown
eleven thousand men, and was, therefore, in superiour force.
The engagement between these unequal forces commenced about four o'clock in the evening of the 23d of March, and terminated when night closed upon the scene of conflict.
's left flank, commanded by Gen. Garnett
, was finally turned, and forced back upon the centre, but only after a most desperate and bloody encounter.
A long stone fence ran across an open field, which the enemy were endeavouring to reach.
Federals and Confederates were both in motion for this natural breast-work, when the 24th Virginia, (Irish
), ran rapidly forward, arrived at the fence first, and poured a volley into the enemy at ten paces distant.
But the overwhelming numbers of the enemy soon swept over the fence, and drove the Confederate
left into the woods, taking two guns and a number of prisoners.
During the night Gen. Jackson
decided to fall back to Cedar Creek
The enemy pursued as far as Harrisonburg
, but with little effect, as Ashby
's famous cavalry, the terrour of the Federals
, covered the retreat.
In his official report Gen. Shields
wrote that the retreat “became flight ;” but in a private letter to a friend in Washington
, he had previously written of the Confederates
: “Such were their gallantry, and high state of discipline that at no time during the battle or pursuit did they give way to panic.”
The Confederate loss in killed, wounded and prisoners is carefully estimated at 465. Gen. Shields
stated his loss as 103 killed, and 441 wounded. It had been a fierce and frightful engagement; for Jackson
had lost nearly twenty per cent. of his force in a very few hours of conflict.
[But the battle was without any general signification.
It drew, however, upon Jackson
a great deal of censure; “he was,” says one of his officers, “cursed by every one;” and it must be confessed, in this instance at least, the great commander had been entrapped by the enemy.
But public attention in Richmond
was speedily taken from an affair so small by daily announcements of fleets of transports arriving in Hampton Roads
, and the vast extension of the long line of tents at Newport News.
, having the advantage of water-carriage, had rapidly changed his line of operations, and was at the threshold of a new approach to Richmond
, while the great bulk of the Confederate
force was still in motion in the neighbourhood of the Rappahannock
and the Rapidan
It was a fearful crisis.
The fate of Richmond
hung upon the line held across the Peninsula
, from Yorktown
on the York River
to Mulberry Island
on James River
, by Gen. Magruder
with little more than ten thousand
had three corps d'armee
in the lines before Yorktown
, and had in the field a force of nearly 90,000 infantry, 55 batteries of artillery (making a total of 330 field guns), and about 10,000 cavalry, besides a siege train of 103 guns.
This estimate of his force did not include the garrison of Fortress Monroe
of about 10,000 men, nor Franklin
's division which arrived about the end of April.
The commander of this force hesitated before a line of eleven thousand men. His hesitation again saved Richmond
He was again deceived as to the strength of the Confederates
With admirable adroitness Gen. Magruder
extended his little force over a distance of several miles, placing a regiment in every gap open to observation, to give the appearance of numbers to the enemy.
took to the spade, and commenced the operation of a regular siege against Yorktown
While he was constructing his parallels, Gen. Johnston
moved down to reinforce the Confederate
lines of the Peninsula
, in time to save Magruder
's little force from the pressure of enveloping armies.
had been deceived twice as to the force in his front.
He was to be outwitted twice by the strategy of retreat.
decided neither to stand a siege nor to deliver a battle at Yorktown
The enemy was in largely superiour force, besides his additional strength in gunboats, and the object was to force him to more equal terms.
It was readily seen by Johnston
that in falling back to defences already prepared nearer Richmond
, and investing the line of the Chickahominy
, he would obtain the opportunity of concentrating a large force in front of the capital, besides being unexposed to operations in his rear, which threatened him at Yorktown
's corps at Fredericksburg
It was the just and sagacious view of the situation, and again the great master of Confederate strategy was to teach the enemy a lesson in the art of war.
had obtained all the delay he desired in keeping the enemy before his lines; and on the 4th day of May, when McClellan
had nearly completed all his parallels, secured communications between the different batteries, and was almost ready to open fire on the town, the news came that the Confederate army had retired.
The whole Federal army was, at once, put in motion to pursue.
The Confederate works were left intact, but excepting a few unwieldy columbiads, all ordnance had been carried off. The men made “dummies,” and put them in the embrasures, besides stuffing old clothes to represent sentinels.
The pursuing army toiled on through rain falling in torrents, over roads deep in mud, the men straggling, falling out and halting without orders, and artillery, cavalry, infantry and baggage intermingled in apparently inextricable confusion.
The scene had much more the appearance of the retreat of a defeated army than the advance of a successful one.
Battle of Williamsburg.
It may be well imagined that McClellan
, sorely disappointed, and knowing very well that the people of the North
, who were already clamouring for a change of commanders, would not be satisfied with the barren occupation of the deserted works of Yorktown
, was anxious to snatch some sort of victory from the rear-guard of the Confederate
retreat, which he might magnify in official dispatches and Northern newspapers.
01 the morning of the 5th May, Gen. Hooker
's division of Heintzelman
's corps came up near Williamsburg
with the Confederate
rear-guard, commanded by Gen. Longstreet
The Federals were in a forest in front of Williamsburg
; but as Hooker
came into the open ground, he was vigorously attacked, driven back with the loss of five guns, and with difficulty held the belt of wood which sheltered and concealed his men from the Confederate
Other forces of the enemy were moved up, until Gen. Longstreet
was engaging nine brigades of the Federal
During the whole of the day, from sunrise to sunset, he held McClellan
's army in check, drove the enemy from two redoubts he had occupied, and secured Johnston
's retreat so effectually, that the next morning when the rear guard moved off, it did so as undisturbed as if the enemy were a thousand miles distant.
But Gen. Longstreet
not only accomplished the important object of securing the retreat.
He won a brilliant victory.
himself confessed a loss of 455 killed, 1,400 wounded, and 372 missing, making a total of 2,228.
carried off with him nine pieces of captured artillery.
Yet so anxious was McClellan
for the colour of victory that he dispatched to Washington
news of a success, and represented as the process of “driving rebels to the wall,” the leisurely retreat of Johnston
to works around Richmond
, prepared ten months ago under the prudent and skilful direction of Gen. Robert E. Lee
, and already the amplest and strongest at any point in the Confederacy
The fact was that McClellan
's army had received a serious check at Williamsburg
, which, if Gen. Longstreet
had been able to take advantage of it, might have been converted into a disastrous defeat.
had also planned a flank movement upon Johnston
This performance, too, proved a miserable failure, although the idea did credit to his genius.
The design was that Franklin
should move to West Point
, the head of the York River
, and disembark a large force there to assail Johnston
on the flank.
On the 7th of May, Franklin
attempted a landing under cover of his gunboats, at Barhamsville
near West Point
The attempt was gallantly repulsed by Whiting
's division of Texas
The fight was
wild and confused.
hurriedly fell back before an inferiour force, and did not halt until under the guns of his flotilla.
The incidents of Williamsburg
had been Confederate successes; and Johnston
's movement to the line of the Chickahominy
turned out a most brilliant piece of strategy.
He had secured the safe retreat of his army, together with his baggage and supply train, and, although forced by the configuration of the land, and the superiourity of the enemy on the water, to abandon the peninsula of Yorktown
, he had done so in a manner which illustrated his genius, and insured the safety and efficiency of his army.
Evacuation of Norfolk-destruction of the Virginia.
The retreat front Yorktown
involved the surrender of Norfolk
with all the advantages of its contiguous navy-yard and dock and the abandonment of the strong Confederate positions at Sewell's Point
and Craney Island
Here was the old story of disaster consequent upon haste and imperfect preparations.
The evacuation was badly managed by Gen. Huger
; much property was abandoned, and the great dry-dock only partially blown up.2
But the evacuation was attended by an incident, which was a painful surprise to the Confederate
people, an occasion of grief and rage, and a
topic of violent comment in the Richmond
The famous ironclad Virginia
, popularly said to be worth fifty thousand troops in the field, was destroyed by the orders of Commodore Tatnall
, her commander.
“The iron diadem of the South
,” exclaimed the Richmond Examiner
, “had been shattered by a wanton blow.”
The Virginia had been unable to bring on a fight with the enemy's fleet.
was encamped before Yorktown
, she appeared in Hampton Roads
, when the whole Federal fleet declined the combat, and with the vaunted Monitor took shelter beneath the guns of Fortress Monroe
On this occasion the Virginia
, in sight of the enemy's fleet, carried off three schooners lying in the Roads
almost within range of the guns of the fleet, and yet there was no movement to engage her; and this spectacle, so galling to the esprit du corps
of the Federal
navy, was witnessed by the French
ships-of-war lying off Norfolk
After the enemy's occupation of Norfolk
, both shores of the James River
came into possession of the Federal
troops, who were therefore enabled to cut off the Virginia
from her necessary supplies.
resolved to take the vessel up the river above the lines occupied by the enemy.
According to his statement, he had been assured by her pilots that if the ship was lightened they would take her with a draught of eighteen feet of water within forty miles of Richmond
The ship was being lightened; Commodore Tatnall
had retired to bed, when another message was brought him that the ship had been so far lightened that her wooden hull below the plating was exposed, and that the pilots (whom Commodore Tatnall
charged with cowardice and an unwillingness to engage in action) now declared that the westerly wind had so lowered the water in the river that it would be impossible to take the vessel above the Jamestown Flats
, up to which point the shore on both sides was occupied by the enemy.
The commander, aroused from his slumbers, and acquainted with the decision of the pilots, ordered the vessel to be destroyed.
Her decks and roof were saturated with oil, her crew were disembarked in small boats, trains of powder were laid from each port-hole to different parts of the vessel, and these were lighted at a given signal.
Simultaneously the ship was on fire in many parts, and after burning several hours the flames reached the magazine, about four o'clock in the morning of the 11th of May, when the Virginia
was blown up with an explosion heard many miles distant.
Not a fragment was ever afterwards found of the only naval structure that guarded the water approach to Richmond
“ The Virginia,” reported Commander Tatnall
, “no longer exists.
I presume that a court of inquiry will be ordered to examine into all the circumstances, and I earnestly solicit it. Public opinion will never be put right without it.”
The court was ordered, and public opinion was “put right” by its decision that the destruction of the Virginia
that she might have been taken up the James
to a point of safety, where she could still have barred the ascent of the river; and that then and there, if the worst ensued, was the time to decide upon the disposition to he made of the vessel.
The destruction of the Virginia
left the James River
open for the enemy's operations.
, the Aroostook
, the Monitor, Port Royal
, and Naugatuck, steamed up the river on the 15th of May, under the command of Commodore Rodgers
, and without opposition advanced within twelve miles of Richmond
Here was a half-finished fort at what was called Drewry's Bluff
, mounting four guns.
The river at this point was also obstructed by a double line of piles and sunken vessels, and the banks were lined with sharpshooters.
It was a feeble barrier to Richmond
; the protection of the river had been entrusted to the Virginia
; and yet the fort proved a success, owing to the defect of the enemy's gunboats.
and Monitor approached within six hundred yards of the batteries, but the guns of the latter proved useless, as they could not be elevated sufficiently to reach the work constructed on the bluff.
The armour of the Galena
was badly injured, and this river monster lost thirty of her crew in killed and wounded.
Notwithstanding, the engagement continued for upwards of four hours, when the gunboats were repulsed.
The Confederate loss was five killed and seven wounded. This action was considered as proving that earthworks could not be reduced by gunboats, and decided the question for the enemy that the capture of Drewry's Bluff
, and the water approach to Richmond
were impracticable without the aid of a land force.
The possession of the James River
below Drewry's Bluff
was of but little present advantage to McClellan
, as his base of supplies was on the Pamunkey
, from which point there was rail communication to Richmond
He had advanced within sight of the spires of the Confederate
The investment of the line of the Chickahominy
brought the two armies face to face within a few miles of Richmond
, and opened one of the grandest scenes of the war, exhibiting the strength and splendour of the opposing hosts, and appealing to the eye with every variety of picturesque effect.
For nearly a year an immense labour had been expended upon the fortifications of Richmond
Earthworks of magnitude arose on every side.
They were constructed in different shapes, to suit the conformation of the ground; they swept all the roads, crowned every hillock, and mounds of red earth could be seen in striking contrast with the rich green of the landscape.
Redoubts, rifle-pits, casemate batteries, horn works, and enfilading
batteries were visible in great number, in and out of the woods, in all directions.
Beyond, through the open and cultivated country in the neighbourhood of Richmond
stretched the camp of the enemy.
Wooded heights overlooked them, and the numerous tents of the army, the vast trains of wagons, the powerful park of artillery, together with the fleet of steamers and transports, presented a striking contrast to the usually quiet country.
The mere circumstance of McClellan
's proximity to Richmond
was, to the vulgar mind of the North
, an indication of his success.
The fact that his army had marched unopposed to within a few miles of the city excited the hopes of the ignorant masses.
Rumour each day in New York announced the fall of Richmond
Nor was there any great feeling of security in the Confederate
There were alarm and excitement in the mixed and restless population of Richmond
; and the popular feeling found but little assurance in the visible tremour of the authorities.
The Confederate Congress had adjourned in such haste as to show that the members were anxious to provide for their own personal safety.
sent his family to North Carolina
, and a part of the Government
archives were packed ready for transportation.
At the railroad depots were piles of baggage awaiting transportation, and the trains were crowded with women and children going to distant points in the country, and escaping from the alarm and distress in Richmond
But the panic, like all excitements of this sort, was soon subdued on reflection, and shamed by the counsels of the brave and intelligent.
The newspapers rebuked it in severe terms.
The shop-windows were filled with caricatures of the fugitives.
Much of the alarm was turned into ridicule.
A meeting of citizens, assembled on the 15th of May, in the City Hall, were addressed by Gov. Letcher
and Mayor Mayo
, and applauded the sentiment that Richmond
should be reduced to ashes before it should become a Yankee conquest.
The Legislature of Virginia acted with singular spirit, and led in the work of the restoration of public confidence.
On the 14th of May it adopted the following resolution, which, indeed, deserves to be committed to history as an example of heroic fortitude and patriotic sacrifice:
, by the General Assembly of Virginia
, That the General Assembly hereby expresses its desire that the capital of the State
be defended to the last extremity
, if such defence is in accordance with the views of the President
of the Confederate States
, and that the President
be assured that whatever destruction and loss of property of the State
or individuals shall thereby result, will be cheerfully submitted to.”
To this exhibition of the spirit of Virginia
, President Davis
responded in lively terms.
He stated to a committee of the Legislature, which called upon him to ascertain his views, that he had never entertained the thought
of withdrawing the army from Virginia
and abandoning the State
But to some extent he spoiled the assurance by suggesting, in swollen words, that even if Richmond
should fall, “the war could still be successfully maintained on Virginia
soil for twenty years
The tardy battle for Richmond
Public confidence and public courage rose each day of the delay.
The eloquent press of Richmond
was stirring the Southern
The Richmond Despatch
wrote: “If there is blood to be shed, let it be shed here; no soil of the Confederacy
could drink it up more acceptably and none would hold it more gratefully.
Wife, family, and friends are nothing.
Leave them all for one glorious hour to be devoted to the Republic
Life, death, and wounds are nothing, if we only be saved from the fate of a captured capital and a humiliated Confederacy.
Let the Government
act; let the people act. There is time yet
But while thus fluctuated the sentiment of Richmond
there came an especial occasion to reanimate the cause of the Confederacy
, to erect again the reputation of its arms, and to fill with gratitude and hope the hearts which had so long throbbed with anxiety in its besieged capital.
That occasion was the splendid diversion of “Stonewall
in the Valley of Virginia
Public attention turned to the eccentric career of that commander to find a new hero, and an unexpected train of brilliant victories.
Jackson's campaign in the Valley of Virginia.
When the principal scene of the war in Virginia
was shifted from the lines of the Potomac
, Gen. Jackson
remained in the Shenandoah Valley.
's division was sent to operate with him in that part of the State
The object of the combined force was to divert the army of McDowell
from uniting with that of McClellan
; and beyond this design the authorities at Richmond
had no expectations from Jackson
's small command.
It was an idea originating with the adventurous commander himself to act on the aggressive, and to essay the extraordinary task of driving the Federal
forces from the Valley
, then there under the three commands of Banks
, and Shields
In order to understand the disposition of all the opposing forces at this time west of the Blue Ridge
, it will be necessary to make a brief and rapid resume
of operations and movements in that quarter for some weeks previous, so as to put before the reader a comprehensive scene and an intelligent situation.
The disposition of the enemy's forces west of the Blue Ridge
was designed to co-operate with McDowell
the troops of Banks
in the Shenandoah Valley, and those of Milroy
, and Fremont
in Western Virginia
As soon as Jackson
had been reinforced by Ewell
's division, which crossed the Blue Ridge
at McGackeysville, the commander proceeded in person to the position of Gen. Edward Johnson
's little force, which was drawn up in a narrow valley, at a village called McDowell
, with the heavy brigades of Milroy
in line of battle before them.
The enemy was driven here after a brief engagement.
Learning that his success at McDowell
had so frightened Milroy
that they had called upon Fremont
, who was a few marches behind, Jackson
determined to deceive them and fall back.
Moving at a fast rate down the Valley Pike
, he proceeded to Newmarket
, and was there joined by Ewells
force, which had been awaiting him at Swift Run Gap.
The whole force now amounted to about fourteen thousand men; and after a little rest, proceeded across the Shenandoah Mountains
Let us see how now stood the forces of the enemy.
, who had followed Jackson
since the battle of Kernstown
, found him strongly posted at McGackeysville, he declined to advance against him and, withdrawing his forces from between Woodstock
, he regained the Valley
, determined to push on towards McDowell
had his force scattered up and down the Valley
, the rear being at Front Royal
were similarly bound through Western Virginia
, but their defeat had diverted Fremont
from his proper route, who immediately went to their assistance.
Thinking, therefore, that Jackson
was busily engaged in that distant quarter, and not likely to trouble them in the Valley
were commencing a movement towards Fredericksburg
, unconscious of danger, when, on the morning of May 22d, Jackson
, with fourteen thousand men, were meditating an attack on their rear at Front Royal
The rear-guard, consisting of the First Maryland Regiment, may be said to have been almost annihilated.
Every man was killed, wounded, or captured, save fifteen; nine hundred prisoners were taken on the retreat towards Strasburg
; and a vast quantity of the enemy's stores was destroyed.
At the first shock of the action, Banks
had his army in motion from Strasburg
; he feared that Jackson
, moving from Front Royal
on the converging road to Winchester
, might cut him off from that supposed place of safety.
His fears were nearly realized; for at Middletown Jackson
pierced his main column, took a number of prisoners, demoralized the retreat, and having driven a part of his rear towards Strasburg
, turned on hot pursuit to Winchester
On the 24th of May, Banks
' army, in frantic retreat, entered the streets of Winchester
The citizens received them with shouts of derision.
Many of the fugitives were on the run ; sore shots were fired from the windows
of houses; ordnance exploded; cavalry rode down stragglers; bands of plunderers hastily entered houses, bayonetted their occupants, and in one wild scene of unrestrained disorder, fury, and cowardice, Banks
' army passed out of the ancient town, where the enemy had so long ruled ill the insolence cf power.
' army had stood but a few moments before Winchester
, and had broken under a distant fire of artillery.
He had evidently no disposition to test the substance and strength of the foe by actual collision, and was only desirous to place the Potomac
between himself and the danger of action.
Never was there such a shameful retreat; such a deliberate abandonment by a commander of everything but the desire for safety.
In forty-eight hours after he had got the first news of the attack on Front Royal
was on the shore of the Potomac
, having performed thirty-five miles of the distance on the last day of the retreat.
The fruits of Jackson
's two days operations were immense.
had escaped with the loss of all the material and paraphernalia that constitute an army.
He had abandoned at Winchester
all his commissary and ordnance stores.
He had resigned that town and Front Royal
to the undisputed possession of the Confederates
He had left in their hands four thousand prisoners, and stores amounting to millions of dollars.
It was a rapid stroke and a splendid success which Jackson
Tidings of his victory were communicated to the Confederate army around Richmond
in general orders.
“The Federal army,” wrote Gen. Johnston
, “has been dispersed and ignominiously driven from the Valley of the Shenandoah
, and those who have freed the loyal citizens of that district by their patriotic valour, have again earned, as they will receive, the thanks of a grateful country.
In making this glorious announcement, on the eve of the memorable struggle about to ensue, the Commanding General
does not deem it necessary to invoke the troops of this army to emulate the deeds of their noble comrades in the Valley
In falling back from Winchester
, Gen. Jackson
had to run the danger of being enveloped by the converging columns of Fremont
He succeeded ( “through the blessing of an ever kind Providence
” ) in reaching Strasburg
, before the two Federal armies could effect their contemplated junction in his rear.
On the 5th of June he reached Harrisonburg
, and, passing beyond that town, turned towards the east in the direction of Port Republic
On the movement from Harrisonburg
occurred the melancholy incident
of the death of the famous cavalry commander of the Valley
, Turner Ashby
, whose name was connected with much of the romance of the war, and whose gentle enthusiastic courage, simple Christian faith, and royal passion for danger, constituted him one of the noblest and most beautiful types of modern chivalry.
On the road from Harrisonburg
to Port Republic
, the 58th Virginia became engaged with the Pennsylvania Bucktails
came up with the Maryland
regiment, and by a dashing charge in flank drove the enemy off with heavy loss.
was on the right of the 58th Virginia, and had just commanded a charge of bayonets upon the enemy, concealed in a piece of woods, when he fell dead not many yards from a fence where a concealed marksman had sped the fatal bullet.
's tribute to the fallen officer, whose active and daring cavalry had so often co-operated with his arms, was an extraordinary one, considering the habitual measure of this great man's words.
He wrote of Ashby
: “As a partisan officer I never knew his superiour.
His daring was proverbial; his powers of endurance almost incredible; his tone of character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy.”
Battles of cross-keys and Port Republic.
On the 7th of June the main body of Gen. Jackson
's command had reached the vicinity of Port Republic
The village is situated in the angle formed by the junction of the North and South Rivers, tributaries of the south fork of the Shenandoah
The larger portion of Jackson
's command was encamped on the high ground north of the village, about a mile from the river.
was some four miles distant, near the road leading from Harrisonburg
to Port Republic
. Gen. Fremont
had arrived with his forces in the vicinity of Harrisonburg
, and Gen. Shields
was moving up the east side of the south fork of the Shenandoah
, and was then some fifteen miles below Port Republic
. Gen. Jackson
's position was about equi-distant from both hostile armies.
To prevent a junction of the two Federal armies, he had caused the bridge over the south fork of the Shenandoah
's store to be destroyed.
had seven brigades of infantry besides numerous cavalry.
had three small brigades during the greater part of the action that was to ensue, and no cavalry at any time.
His force was short of five thousand men. About ten o'clock the enemy felt along his front, posted his artillery, and, with two brigades, made an attack on Trimble
's brigade on the right.
repulsed this force, and, advancing, drove the enemy more than a mile, and remained on his flank ready to make the final attack.
At a late hour of the afternoon, Gen. Ewell
his wings, drove in the enemy's skirmishers, and, when night closed, was in possession of all the ground previously held by the enemy.
The victory-known as that of Cross-Keys-had been purchased by a small Confederate loss: 42 killed and 287 wounded. Gen. Ewell
officially estimated the enemy's loss at 2,000. Gen. Fremont
officially gives it at 625-exhibiting rather more than the usual difference between Federal and Confederate figures.
Meanwhile Gen. Jackson
was preparing to give the final blow to Shields
on the other side of the river; and on the morning after their victory, Ewell
's forces were recalled to join in the attack at Port Republic
As day broke they commenced their march to the other field of battle seven miles distant.
The enemy had judiciously selected his position for defence.
Upon a rising ground near the Lewis House
, he had planted six guns, which commanded the road from Port Republic
, and swept the plateau for a considerable distance in front.
As Gen. Winder
moved forward his brigade, a rapid and severe fire of shell was opened upon it. The artillery fire was well sustained by our batteries, which, however, proved unequal to that of the enemy.
In the meantime, Winder
, being now reinforced by a Louisiana regiment, seeing no mode of silencing the Federal
battery, or escaping its destructive missiles but by a rapid charge, and the capture of it, advanced with great boldness for some distance, but encountered such a heavy fire of artillery and small arms as greatly to disorganize his command, which fell back in disorder.
The enemy advanced across the field, and, by a heavy musketry fire, forced back our infantry supports, in consequence of which our guns had to retire.
It was just at this crisis, when the day seemed lost, that Ewell
's forces appeared upon the scene.
Two regiments — the 58th and 44th Virginia-rushed with a shout upon the enemy, took him in flank and drove him back, for the first time that day in disorder.
Meanwhile Gen. Taylor
was employed on the Federal
left and rear, and, his attack diverting attention from the front, led to a concentration of the enemy's force upon him. Here the battle raged furiously.
Although assailed by a superiour force in front and flank, with their guns in position within point blank range, the charge ordered by Taylor
was gallantly made, and the enemy's battery, consisting of six guns, fell into our hands.
Three times was this battery lost and won in the desperate and determined efforts to capture and recover it. At last, attacked in front and on flank, Taylor
fell back to a skirt of woods.
, having rallied his command, moved to his support, and again opened upon the enemy, who were moving upon Taylor
's left flank, apparently to surround him in the wood.
The final attack was made.
, with the reinforcement, pushed forward; he was assisted by the well-directed fire of our artillery; the enemy fell back; a few
moments more, and he was in precipitate retreat.
Four hundred and fifty prisoners were taken in the pursuit, and what remained of the enemy's artillery.
While the forces of Shields
were in full retreat, Fremont
appeared on the opposite bank of the south fork of the Shenandoah
, with his army, and opened his artillery with but little effect.
The next day withdrawing his forces, he retreated down the Valley
The battle of Port Republic
closed the campaign of the Valley
It had been fiercely contested by the enemy, and the Confederate
loss was quite one thousand in killed and wounded.
But the termination of the campaign found Jackson
crowned with an almost marvellous success.
In little more than two weeks, he had defeated three Federal armies; swept the Valley of Virginia
of hostile forces; thrilled Washington
with alarm; and thwarted whatever plan the enemy might have entertained, in other circumstances, of environing Richmond
by large converging armies.
On the 12th of June Jackson
encamped near Weyer
Here the pious commander paused, to hold divine service in his army in commemoration of his victories.
He was to be here but a few days before receiving orders to move towards Richmond
, and to join in the impending contest for the capital.