The Northern accounts continue to represent the late fight at Leesburg
as one of the most bloody contests on record.
The terrible disaster to their side is not attempted to be disguised, from which fact we are led to believe that death and destruction consigned hordes of old Abe's followers to an awful exit from this earth.
The New York Times's
special correspondent sends another interesting letter to that paper, from which we extract the following:
After the fight had progressed some time, Gen. Baker
became evidently convinced that it was a hopeless contest, and addressing Quartermaster Young
, who was acting as his Aid, asked him if there was any means to recross the river, beside the boats on which they had come over.
replied, "There is nothing." The General answered, "Then let us do all we can, and die bravely." Addressing the men, he said, "I will not ask you to go where I do not lead." Three cheers greeted the General
He stood with his right hand in the breast of his coat, and was continually in front of his command.--He said, "Fire low, boys, and fire steady, keep cool, and don't get excited."
A large force of the enemy was discovered advancing upon a double quick through an open lane at the left of the ground, when the gun was wheeled in that direction and fired.
As the smoke of the gun blew away, a wide opening was observed in the enemy's ranks.
They then made a charge from the front, and the enemy were again driven into their covert, after they had advanced to within five feet of our colors.
The firing from the right had now nearly ceased, only an occasional stray shot from persons posted in the trees to pick off the officers.
At this juncture, a person, wearing a gray jacket and blue pants appeared, riding a dark brown horse, and beckoned with his hand to the Union
forces, saying, "We are friends; come this way, boys." Firing instantly ceased for two minutes, Gen. Baker
and the Assistant Adjutant General
saying, "Cease firing; you are shooting your own men." The next moment Gen. Baker
said, "Soldiers, there is Johnston
on the left; give them a volley."
By this time the enemy had flanked us on the left.
The Adjutant General
inquired "Who are you?" addressing his inquiry to the flanking party.
He was answered, "We are Confederates, you Yankee sons of b — s."This confusion arose from the fact that Gen. Baker
had posted Company A as a skirmishing party on the left.
The order was then given to charge, and the Unionists pressed into the woods on the left, but they met an overpowering force and fell back.
A very tall man now stepped from behind a tree, and, with a revolver fired at General Baker
within five feet of his person.
Six discharges were made, and nearly all the balls entered the General
He fell on his back, partly against a tree, and died instantly.
The rebel who had shot the General
then sprang forward, and was in the act of taking his body, or stripping off his sword, when Capt. Bieral
ran forward, placed his revolver at his ear, and shot him dead.
A heavy volley of musketry followed, which drove the boys back.
Acting Adjutant Harvey
said, "Soldiers, who will volunteer to rescue the General
's body?" Capt. Bierel
answered the summons, and was followed by Sergeant James Clark
, Lieut. John Murray
, private Steehan
, and a half dozen others — They raised him up, and bore him from the field.
Three or four of the rescuing party were shot in the act and fell, but succeeded in taking the General
's body safely across the river.
No braver men ever confronted an enemy on the field.
The rebel officers themselves declared they thought we had a much superior force, and asked at one time, "Where are all your men?" On being answered that they were all engaged, he said, "Why, if we had known that, we could have eaten you up."
The presence of the two pieces of artillery caused the rebels to think that we had a large reserve.
This no doubt protracted the fight.
At a time when our men were fairly used up, Captain Bieral
took off his cap and called for cheers, crying out that reinforcements were at hand.
This fearless conduct kept the rebels in constant check, and looking to the rear.
was wounded in the left check but stood his ground cheering on his men until his right elbow was shattered.
His sword fell to the ground, but he coolly picked it up with his left hand, and was assisted to the rear.
of the Fifteenth Massachusetts was seen to come down to the river, and offer his gold watch to any one who would assist him to swim across, declaring that he would rather die than be taken prisoner.
No one was able to accept his offer, and he jumped in, and, after a brief struggle, he sank to the bottom.
Private Peter Farney
, of Company G thinks he was the last man who swam from the river bank opposite the field of battle.
He states that as near as he could judge, from eighty to a hundred soldiers lay wounded and helpless on the bank.
Corporal Fred'k Piper
, of Company P, First California Regiment, was wounded in the right hand, and when he reached the river, he plunged in with his clothes on.--Five or six men sank beside him; their outcries were terrible.
‘"My God!"’ ‘"Oh, oh!"’ ‘"Help!"’ were heard from all parts of the river.
He swam with one hand for fifty yards, and struggled on, he hardly knew how, until he reached the opposite bank.
To go back: Mr. Piper
remained concealed behind a rock, a clump of bushes protecting him from view, until 12 midnight. During this time he saw the enemy's pickets, and heard them challenging our men who struggled, one after another, into their lines.
In response to the question ‘"Who goes there?"’ he often hears the answer, ‘"a friend in distress."’ These, he supposes, were our men who went in to deliver themselves up. At midnight the enemy rallied some two or three hundred men, and discharged a deadly volley among the bushes where our men were conceited.
Eighteen or twenty men fell killed or wounded.
A few moments of quiet followed, and the demand from fifty voices was heard, ‘"Surrender."’ They answered, ‘"Don't fire, we surrender."’ ‘"Fetch that regiment here,"’ was then demanded by a rebel officer, at the same time he commanded our men to ‘"lay down their arms and come out."’ At this a large number rushed to the river bank and plunged in. ‘"Come back, come back, you Yankee sons of b — s,"’ was the next exclamation, followed by another volley and straggling shots at the men in the water.
A large number were heard to give one outcry of distress and sink.
The dead and wounded, in large numbers, lay scattered along the shore, and remained there through the night.
The Federals not Satisfied with the Excuse given for their defeat.
correspondent of the New York Times
Of course the talk of the hour here is of our repulse at Leesburg
The people have naturally been surprised that so little reliable information could be obtained respecting it.--The truth is the whole affair is mystified on purpose.
You will have various accounts and explanations, all, however, ending with the stereotyped one, "we were overwhelmed by numbers." This last was made to me by an officer whose position of importance gave his remark great significance.--I wished to reply that the explanation partook of the nature of a confession.
But cover it up as you will, the simple truth is, "some one has blundered." The movement was deliberately planned and carried out, and to tell us that it failed because we were taken by surprise is, to say the least, not satisfactory.
A single flat-boat and a skiff, one would think, were insufficient means of transport with which to convey reinforcements, in case of urgent need across a river whose current at that point rushed along at the rate of six miles an hour.
An officer, who was present at the battle, informs me that this cumbersome flat-boat brought back every trip about as many dead and wounded as it carried ever well soldiers.
That in the hurry and rush of defeat such a crazy concern should get upset, as it did, carrying men and howitzer to the bottom, is not strange.
It is idle to ask why a temporary bridge was not thrown across before the movement was attempted, or at least boat-collected.
The blunder has been committed, and defeat encountered, and it only remains to retrieve it as soon as possible.
The loss of the enemy.
The New York Times
, referring to the account from its special correspondent, says:
The letter of our special correspondent with Gen. Banks
's Division will furnish a definite idea of the disaster which befell the National
forces on the Upper Potomac Monday
All the main incidents of the battle are effectively portrayed together with the terrible even in which followed it. Out of only nineteen hundred men was around the river and were engaged in the battle, there are killed and missing seven hundred, and wounded in the National hospitals