A Federal view of the late campaign of General Lee.
The New York Times
has a letter giving a history of the recent campaign of Gen. Lee
, and the light in which the Yankees
view it. It is more connected and intelligible than any we have yet seen published.
had ascertained to his satisfaction that Gen. Lee
was endeavoring to flank him, there commenced--
A Race between the two armies.
On Tuesday both armies were pushing forward as fast as they could, parallel to each other, and separated by but half a dozen miles or less.
The rebels passed through Warrenton
, and citizens here tell me that they occupied the whole of Tuesday in doing this, their trains being extremely long.
We passed some miles to the right, crossing Cedar Run
at a place named Auburn
, five miles dureast of Warrenton
At Warrenton Gen. Lee
formed the bold design of sending one of his corps (Hill
's) by a rapid detour to seize the heights of Centreville
, while his other (Ewell
's) should fall upon our flank and rear.
It was on Wednesday morning, when our whole army passed Cedar Run
, Gen. Warren
's corps (Second) bringing up the rear.
To this commander was assigned the duty of covering the trains of the army, which were much delayed in the crossing by the pontoons.
A critical moment.
The occasion was now an extremely critical one Ewell
had begun pressing severely on our rear and already on Wednesday morning, at Auburn
the rear guard became engaged with a portion of his force.
A double necessity was upon Gen. Meade
; first, he must move with extreme celerity to reach Centreville
in advance of Hill
, who had the start of him, and was on the shorter line; secondly, he must keep back the enemy from his trains in the rear.
's corps had reached Bristoe
about simultaneously with Warren
— in fact, had just got ahead of him sufficiently to form a line of battle, which he did perpendicular to the railroad.
The battle of Bristoe.
The position was the most perilous one in which a column can be placed — marching by the flank and met by the enemy in line of battle.
was equal to the emergency.
The troops were brought up at a run — the first division (Caldwell
's) having come up thus for a mile and a half, laden with eight days rations.
The troops which had been marching on the left of the railroad were brought quickly over to the right, and Gen. Warren
, seeing that the enemy had neglected to occupy the cut and embankment of the railroad, on the instant jumped his men unseen, into it. More prudence on the part of the rebel commander, or less sagacity on the part of the Union
commander, would have proved the destruction of that corps.
The rest of the army had all gone ahead.
The 1st corps (Newton
's) had already reached Manassas
The last one but Warren
's — namely, the 5th, (Sikes
's)--passed beyond Bristoe
simultaneously with Warren
's coming up, and just as he got engaged with the enemy he received from Sykes
the comforting intelligence that he "was moving off slowly and in good order."
had formed his troops under cover of the cut and embankment of the railroad, constituting ready made breastworks.
On the left he placed a defensive crotchet.
Down rushed the enemy, charging on this flank, when suddenly the troops under cover rose up, and at close range poured volley after volley of deadly fire into the advancing and presently retreating rebels.
After twenty minutes fight the enemy were glad to make off, leaving a thousand dead and wounded and five hundred prisoners in our hands!
It was well that night came on as it did, for just as the sun set Ewell
, who had been following in Warren
's rear, came up, but had only time to form line of battle when the darkness interrupted further operations, and the rear guard was able to pass on and join the main body of the army.
Lee's plans disconcerted.
The repulse at Bristoe
completely disconcerted Lee
's plans, so far as they embraced the view of getting on the communications of Gen. Meade
or reaching Centreville
before him. Lee
had no longer with him that unmatched executive officer, Stonewall Jackson
, unequalled at a rapid march.
proved slow and feeble, and instead of striking the head of the Union
column he struck its rear, and got badly handled in consequence.
The rebels halt.
From this moment Lee
abandoned all purpose of giving battle, and never advanced the main body of his army much beyond Bristoe
Detachments were, however, sent to follow up the Union
force and make demonstrations.
On Friday at 11 o'clock A. M., the enemy appeared in front of Blackburn's and Mitchell's fords, and made a vicious attack on our skirmishers, but were promptly driven back.
's cavalry, meanwhile, was sent by a detour round northward and westward, but, being checked and repulsed in all their efforts, they gave up the attempt.
The rebel army was now set to work to destroy the railroad, and the effectual manner in which they did their work has already been mentioned.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday seem to have been employed in this manner, and then Lee
began his retrograde movement — the rebel army passing through Greenwich
on Sunday, and Warrenton
on Monday, and thence down across the Rappahannock
, their rear covered by the cavalry.
Meade Awaits further Developments.
In the meanwhile the Union
army lay at Black burn's ford, Bull Run
, awaiting the development of the enemy's, plans.
Headquarters were on the old Bull Run
battle field itself, by the woods through which the regulars made their charge.
A forward movement.
On Monday, the 19th, the forward movement was begun, the army crossing Bull Run
The 2d corps took the road toward Auburn
, the 6th toward Warrenton
, the 3d toward Catlett
's, the 1st and 5th toward New Baltimore.
Tuesday, 20th, found the army on the line indicated — the line of Cedar Run
It had been expected and hoped that we should meet the enemy, but they were far ahead, and nothing but small cavalry parties appeared.
On Wednesday, our cavalry returning, gave the intelligence that the rebels were all across the Rappahannock
and the Rapidan
In this situation pursuit was, of course, hopeless, and has for the present been given up.
Meade's Anxiety to give battle.
As to the imputation that Gen. Meade
was, during the retrograde movement, trying to get away from Lee
, and manœuvring throughout to avoid a battle, it is utterly false.
He tried repeatedly to get battle, and would have fought the rebels at Sperryville
, at Winchester
, at Centreville
, or anywhere else in which he could have brought his army into position, had not the wily strategy of Lee
, and his own exceedingly defective information as to the position of the enemy, baulked his design and desires.
Referring last night, as we sat around the camp fire, to his disappointment at not having been able to get battle out of Lee
, he said, to report literally his own pungent expression, that it "was like pulling out his eye-teeth not to have had a fight." Whether a man of a different stamp would not have been able to compel a battle, I know no.; but Meade
was not only willing, but eager to bring such a result about, and did all he could in this view. * * * * * * *
Our losses in men during the campaign have been inconsiderable, and in material very slight; but the horses have suffered severely.
, chief of cavalry
, tells me that the number of killed, wounded, and broken down horses during this campaign will reach thirty-five hundred.
It remains to be seen what action the military authorities at Washington
will take in regard to the Army of the Potomac, in view of the pass to which affairs have been brought by the late campaign.
Every one in the army here agrees that active operations against Richmond
by this line are over for this year.
I may say, further, that everybody is persuaded that nothing can ever be done against Richmond
by this line.
The map is against our ever being able to do anything effective in this way by any such force as we now have.
Every General in the army agrees that the south side of the James river
is the only line on which to operate directly against Richmond
If, therefore, the Army of the Potomac is for the present to do nothing, we should at once abandon the barren wilderness, fortify the fords of the Potomac
, man the defences of Washington
thoroughly, and send two or three of our best corps to the decisive theatre of war in the Southwest
When the business there is once well done up, it will be no longer a question either of Richmond
or of Virginia