Zzzwashington, July 10, 1864.
While the alarm-bells were ringing in Baltimore
that Sunday morning, July 10th, Harry Gilmor
struck the Philadelphia
and Wilmington railroad at Magnolia
, and captured Major-General Franklin
, while Bradley Johnson
, with his brigade, occupied Towsontown
and Reistertown, and tore up the Northern Central railroad at Cockeysville
, and Early
pushed on to Rockville
At 11 o'clock, July 11th, Early's head of column, the Sixty-second Virginia (mounted infantry), under Colonel George Smith
, and McClenahan
's Battery, appeared in front of Fort Stevens
, on the edge of Washington
, the National Capitol
looming up in full view.
At half-past 1 Rhodes
's skirmishers were deployed and the big guns of Fort Stevens
sent them a loud reception.
While the sturdy infantry that had trudged from Cold Harbor came struggling forward on the dusty, sun-baked roads, Generals Early
rode upon the field.
Very different scenes were transpiring in the Federal
Down at the wharf President Lincoln
was receiving the Sixth Corps and a part of the Nineteenth Corps, which was arriving by transports coming up the Potomac river
As Generals Early
, on horseback, surveyed the situation, a cloud of dust beyond the earthworks denoted the coming lines.
Presently a line leaped over the works, and as their skirmishers deployed in the open field, General Rodes
exclaimed, ‘They are no hundred-days' men, General.’
A council of war was held that night between
, and it was resolved to storm the lines at daybreak, unless the revelations of the night should lead to a change of conclusion.
Before dawn a message came from that enterprising officer, General Bradley T. Johnson
, who had pushed on to the suburbs of Baltimore
, that two corps of Grant
's army had arrived at Washington
, and, reluctantly, Early
determined to withdraw.
As he retreated, a portion of the Sixth Corps advanced to attack, while President Lincoln
and some members of his Cabinet looked on from Fort Stevens
This affair lost to General Bidwell
, the United States
officer in command, 280 men, with a slight loss to Early
, who now turned towards Virginia
General A. L. Long
, the chief of artillery
of the expedition, the gallant officer, who, notwithstanding the loss of his eyesight, spent his declining years in writing a history of this operation, in which he took a worthy part, says in his memoir of General R. E. Lee
: ‘This campaign of General Early
's is remarkable for accomplishing more in proportion to the force employed and for having given less public satisfaction than any other campaign of the war. This is entirely due to the erroneous opinion that the city of Washington
should have been taken, and this may be passed over as one of the absurdities of public sentiment on the conduct of the war.’
The popular impression that Early
could have captured Washington
is only a case in which the wish was father to the thought.
The city was defended by 700 siege guns, abatis of trees had been placed before the earthworks, the high banks of Rock creek
formed a natural fortification, and a series of forts mounted with heavy guns covered all the approaches, and were so arranged that if one were taken the others commanded it. There was a superabundance of field batteries, for Grant
had sent back in the spring a hundred guns which encumbered his army.
Early had but 8,000 muskets, while there were over 20,400 men in the defences of Washington
—enough to defeat him before Wright
's Corps and Emory
's Division arrived.
And here was the Sixth and part of the Nineteenth Corps on hand.
If he had taken Washington
with so small a force it would have been futile and short-lived success.
On the 13th of July, carrying along with him all the prisoners of Monocacy
marched to the Potomac
, and on the 14th, crossing near Leesburg
, was again in old Virginia