Pennsylvania campaign — operations of the cavalry.
[from our own Correspondent.]
Army of Northern Virginia,
April 20th, 1864.
In the letters which I have heretofore contributed in regard to the Pennsylvania
campaign, no mention has been made as to the important part borne by the cavalry arm of the service.
This was not from any want of appreciation of its importance, or from any indisposition to do it full justice at the proper time.
It was my purpose rather to treat of the doings of the cavalry in a separate letter.
To-day I propose to make an effort to redeem that purpose.
After the fight at Brandy Station
, which occurred on the 9th of June, and in which our cavalry most gallantly repulsed an attack of the enemy, who, if we credit their own statements, came to reconnoitre in force, Gen Stuart
was ordered by the commanding General
to leave a sufficient force on the Rappahannock
to watch the enemy in front, and to move the main body of the cavalry parallel to the Blue Ridge
and on Longstreet
's right flank, who was instructed to move near the base of the mountains through Fauquier
On the 17th Brig Gen Fitz Lee
moved from Piedmont
, with the view of holding the gap in Bull Run mountain
as a screen against Lieut Gen Longstreet
W. H. F. Lee
's brigade was kept near the Plains
, reconnoitring towards Thoroughfare Gap, whilst Robertson
was halted at Rectort own, so as to be able to move to the support of either.
's brigade, moving on Aldie
, was halted at Dover
, and was driven back by the enemy's cavalry, which was advancing from Fairfax
Gen Fitz Lee
took up position on a hill west of Aldie
, commanding the Snickersville
Simultaneously with this attack Gen Stuart
was informed that the enemy was advancing on Middleburg
, via the road from Hopewell
At Aldie Fitz Lee
's brigade, commanded by Col. Munford
, and W. H. F. Lee
's brigade, commanded by Col (now General) john R. Chambiles
, engaged the enemy, and fought them with great success for some time, until forced to fall back by the body of the enemy which was advanced by way of Middleburg
In this fight our cavalry was quite successful, capturing 134 prisoners, several stands of colors, including horses, arms, and equipments.-- The enemy left a large number of their dead on the field, including one colonel and one captain -- At Middleburg
, on the same day, Gen. Robertson
came up with the enemy about dark, and with only two regiments drove a superior force of the enemy out of the place, and pursued them for several miles, capturing one standard and seventy prisoners. Chambliss
, in approaching on the Middleburg
road from Aldie
, during the night and next morning, captured one hundred and sixty prisoners, also horses, arms and equipments.
's loss was slight, including Major McNeill
, 5th N. C cavalry, wounded, and Lieut Col Cartwell
, 4th N. C cavalry, captured.
's loss was heavier, and his fighting more desperate.
On the 18th Gen Stuart
's and W. H. F. Lee
During this day Major Mosby
captured an aid of Gen Hooker
, who was bearing most important information.
From information found on this aid it was ascertained that the enemy were advancing on Culpeper
C. H, by way of Warrenton
, for the purpose of making a reconnaissance.
at once dispatched to Gen Hampton
to meet the enemy, and, if possible, to thwart this movement it is only necessary to say that Hampton
met them at Warrenton
and drove them back most successfully.
On the 29th the enemy in front at Middleburg
, composed of all arms of the service, showed signs of an advance, and our pickets were driven in beyond Middleburg
, on Robertson
's and Chambliss
The enemy next advanced and at tacked with dismounted men employed as infantry Brig Gen Fitz Lee
meantime engaged the enemy on the Snickersville
The fight raged for some time, with no decided result to either party, when the enemy, finally gaining possession of a hill of woodland in front of our line of battle, were enabled to bring our forces more readily under their carbine fire, and our troops being also exposed to the enemy's artillery, Gen.
L thought it prudent to retire to a better position some half a mile in the rear.
Brig Gen Junes
's brigade got up this evening, and was ordered to the left, near Union Mills
also joined the main body on the 20th, which day a heavy rain set in.
During the engagement just ended Major Von Borck
, whilst riding with Major General Stuart
, was wounded by the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, who were posted behind a stone fence.
On the evening of the 20th Col Rosser
, 5th Virginia cavalry, assisted by Brig Gen Jones
, attacked the enemy and drove him across Goose creek
On the 21st, about 8 A. M, the enemy opened with artillery.
were moved rapidly forward, and took up a position of much strength, and one which had been previously collected to be occupied in case of attack.
The enemy were held in check for a long time, but having a large force of infantry and cavalry, and our cavalry having no infantry supports, were compelled to fall back, which Hampton
proceeded to do. In retiring, one of the horses attached to one of the guns of Captain Hart
's horse artillery was struck by a fragment of a shell on the ankle, thereby disabling the horse from service and causing the gun to fall into the hands of the enemy.
This was the first gun of the horse artillery ever captured by the enemy.
Whilst falling back these brigades received and repulsed an attack which was made upon them with great spirit on the west bank of Goose creek
In the meantime Jones
's and W. H. F. Lee
's brigades were busily and hotly engaged with a column of the enemy moving parallel to the one which was engaging Hampton
, and were gradually retiring on Upperville
Before reaching which place, however, it was discovered that the enemy had pressed so closely up as to render a junction at that point impracticable, or at least extremely hazardous, and making it necessary for Hampton
to move to the west side of Upperville
, on account of a number of roads converging at that point.
In passing through Upperville
the enemy began to press our boys rather heavily, whereupon they wheeled rapidly and drove them off. Gen Stuart
now withdrew to Mountain Gap
, west of Upperville
, whilst bringing up the rear guard, was attacked by the enemy, but repulsed them.
's brigade being at Snickersville
, did not participate in this engagement.
Early next morning it became evident that the enemy were retiring.--They were pressed vigorously as far as Aldie
, and a number captured.
On the 25th Robertson
's and Jones
's brigades were left to observe the enemy in front, whilst Hampton
's, W. H. F Lee
's and Fitz Lee
's brigades, having cooked three daysrations, were ordered to rendezvous at Salem depot with six pieces of artillery, caissons and ambulances.
From this point moving to the right they passed through Glasscock's Gap, en route for Haymarket, in Prince William county
As our cavalry neared Haymarket
, the discovery was made that Warren
's Yankee corps of infantry was passing through the place.
at once selected a suitable position for his artillery, and opened upon the enemy with admirable effect, compelling Warren
to advance his whole corps in line of battle, in order to force us to desist.
On the 27th Gen Stuart
having ascertained that enemy had disappeared entirely from Wolf Run
Shoals, a strongly fortified position on the Occoquan
, he marched thither, sending Fitz Lee
to cross above and form a junction near Burke's Station.
When near Fairfax Station, Hampton
had a sharp fight with, and chase after, "Scott
's Nine Hundred" cavalry, killing, wounding and capturturing the greater portion of them, among them several officers, and also, a large number of horses, besides arms and equipments.
In this engagement Major Whittaker
, of the first N. C regiment, was killed.
He was a most able and excellent officer
On reaching Annandale
, Gen Fitz Lee
ascertained that the enemy's mobilized army had crossed the Potomac
moving through Maryland
, and that the local forces had retired within the fortifications at Washington
On the night of the 27th reached Rowser's ford on the Potomac
, and finding the river not picketed, the cavalry proceeded to cross, Gen Hampton
's brigade leading the way. The night being quite dark and the river much swollen, it required great energy, perseverance and skill to carry across the artillery, but by midnight all obstacles were overcome, and our Dixie boys are again on Maryland
One of the first matters claiming attention was the Chesapeake and Ohio canal
— a lock gate was quickly broken, and very soon Col Wickham
, of the 4th Va cavalry captured several boats laden with troops, negroes and stores.
On the 28th the cavalry resumed their march Northward.
was sent by Darnestown
, and the other brigades were sent by the direct routs to the same place.
On his way thither Gen
. H encountered several small parties of the enemy and some teams, all of which he captured, and reached Rockville
in advance of the main column.
At Rockville Gen
. H encountered a large body of the Federal
cavalry but they made feeble resistance, retreating to Great Falls
was, be it remembered, on the direct route from Washington city
Soon after the rest of the cavalry had reached Rockville
, a large wagon train approached from the direction of Washington city
, and was apparently but slightly guarded.
As soon as the presence of our cavalry was discovered, an attempt was made to turn the wagons and escape.
This, however, was quickly fooled.
W. H. F. Lee
's brigade, under Chambliss
, was sent in pursuit, and though the train was some eight miles long, and the nearest reached to within three miles of Washington city
, yet not one escaped, though many had to be burned.
About one hundred and twenty five best U. S teams were drives off, besides the mules and harness of the destroyed wagons.
The late hour at which these captures were consummated, and the fact that Gen.
S was anxious to push on to join the main body of our army, induced him to forego the idea of calling on Abraham the First.
It has heretofore been erroneously supposed that these captures were made by Gen.
S whilst on a
raid towards Washington city
, and that but for this raid he could have done better service before and at the battles of Gettysburg
In answer to this, it is sufficient to say that these captures were made on the regular line of the cavalry march, which was following closely in Hooker
's wake, observing his movements.
That night Gen
. S pushed on, and whilst at Brookeville
, as also on the next day at Cooksville
, he paroled a number of prisoners, exceeding four hundred.
a small body of Yankee cavalry was encountered, but was speedily put to flight.
At daylight on the 29th Fitz Lee
burnt the railroad bridge at Sykesville
and tore up the railroad track as far as Hood's Mill
, at which point the enemy had crossed on the day previous.
Our forces also cut the telegraph wire, thus severing the enemy's military communications in this direction.
Our cavalry remained all day in possession of the railroad, threatening Baltimore
, and at night moved on to Westminster
At this point our advance was obstinately contested for a short while, but the enemy soon retired.
During this engagement two most excellent young men and faithful officers, Lts Murray
, 4th Va Cav, were killed.
The kind women of this town asked to be permitted to pay their remains the last tokens of respect, which was granted.
At this point we captured one piece of artillery, which we spiked and left, and several battle flags.
For the first time in some four or five days our horses received full allowances of forage.
That night our troops encamped between Westminster
and Littletown, and next morning moved by a cross-route for Hanover
, Pa; Chambliss
taking the lead.
bringing up the rear, and Fitz Lee
moving on the left flank.
About 12 o'clock M the head of the column reached Hanover
, and found the enemy's cavalry passing through the town.
The enemy, discovering our presence, made a demonstration of attack, which was quickly repulsed by Chambliss
's leading regiment, driving the enemy through the town, capturing his ambulances and a large number of prisoners.
Owing to the fact that our cavalry was not well closed up, we faited to strike the enemy a decided blow.
Our column was greatly elongated by the 200 wagons and the captured mules.
was still some distance behind, and Fitz Lee
had not yet gotten up. The delay in our troops getting up enabled the enemy to regain possession of the town.
This, however, was no serious affair, as we held the heights, which completely commanded it. These were quickly crowned with our artillery and a heavy fire opened upon them.
We soon cut their column in twain and Fitz Lee
, falling upon their rear, captured an aid of Gen Kilpatrick
and a large number of prisoners.
And upon Hampton
's arrival we dislodged the enemy from the town.
Shortly thereafter, Fitz Lee
taking the lead, with Hampton
bringing up the rear, and the wagon train in the middle, our forces pushed on for York
, Pa, marching all night.
So exhausted were the men that whole regiments slept in the saddle.
on his march, Gen
S was unable to get up with the infantry, but heard at this point that Gen. Early
had gone to Shippensburg
, and so our forces (of cavalry) pushed on to Carlisle
Arriving there in the afternoon, Gen Stuart Intended to take possession of it and levy contributions of food for his hungry troops, but found the town held by militia, infantry, and artillery.
S. demanded a surrender, which was refused.
He therefore placed his artillery in position, and having ordered an investment of the place, again sent in a flag of truce demanding a surrender, which was again refused.
Our artillery then opened upon the town, and set fire by a shell to the U. S cavalry barracks, which were quickly consumed.
Owing to a want of ammunition, Gen.
S was compelled to desist, and so was unable to enforce his demand for a surrender.
The town, it will be recollected, surrendered peaceably to Gen. Ewell
a few days before.
During this evening Gen Stuart
received a message from Gen. Lee
that the army was at Gettysburg
, and had been engaged in battle all day. Our cavalry at once took up the line of march, reaching Gettysburg
on the second day, just in time to thwart a move of the enemy's cavalry upon the rear of our infantry by way of Hunter's Town, after a very fierce engagement, in which Hampton
's brigade performed most gallant service, compelling the enemy to leave the field and abandon his purpose.
On the 31 of July the cavalry, by order of Gen Lee
, took up their position on the extreme left of the line of battle, and on the left of Lieut General Ewell
's command, upon a commanding ridge, which completely controlled a wide plain of cultivated fields stretching towards Hanover
on the left, and reaching to the base of the mountain spurs, among which the enemy held position.
The command was now reinforced by the addition of Jenkins
The brigades of Jenkins
and W. H. F. Lee
had scarcely gotten into position when the enemy deployed a line of skirmishers and advanced upon our position, which was very strong.
's brigade chiefly engaged them, and fought dismounted with considerable success until their ammunition gave out, and then retreated under circumstances of difficulty and exposure.
On the left Hampton
's men became engaged as dismounted skirmishers, and here the enemy came very near capturing a portion of our dismounted sharp shooters.
To prevent this Gen Stuart
ordered forward one of Chambliss
's regiments, which quickly charged the enemy, who began to give back rapidly.
At the same time a portion of Fitz Lee
's command charged on the left.
In this charge the 1st Virginia acted with conspicuous gallantry, and won the praise of Gen Stuart
on the field.
This charge was too rapid to be checked by any order that could be transmitted through couriers.
The enemy having procured fresh horses, turned upon our men and were beating them back; seeing which, Gen Stuart
sent the 1st North Carolina cavalry and the Jeff Davis
legion to their support.
A hand to hand fight now ensued, which gradually increased and involved the greater portion of both commands, until the enemy was forced to retire on account of a raking fire from their own artillery, about three quarters of a mile distant, to which they were exposed.
Our own artillery also commanded the same ground.
In this engagement both officers and men behaved throughout with signal gallantry.
No more hand to hand fighting occurred during this day, and the prisoners, of which we captured a number, were sent to the rear.
The enemy's loss in this engagement was quite heavy.
A number of their killed and wounded fell into our own hands.
, a gallant and efficient officer of the Jeff Davis
legion, was killed.
Brig Gen Hampton
was wounded twice during this fight.
On the 4th Fitz Lee
was sent to Cashtown
to protect the trains.
On the same day our army began to fall back towards the Potomac
's brigade moved to Cashtown
, guarding the flanks and bringing up the rear on the road via Greenwood
, which was the route designated by which the main portion of the wagon trains and the ambulances, under the special charge of Brig Gen Imboden
, were to move, he having for this purpose a special command, made up of artillery, infantry, and his own cavalry.
were sent to hold Jack Mountain
Passes.--It may not be improper here to mention that in falling back Hill
moved in front; the baggage, guarded by Longstreet
, came next, and Ewell
brought up the rear.
The cavalry, in their retreat, fell in with some hospital stores, en route for the Yankee
army, which were captured, together with some seventy prisoners. At the Catoctin Mountain
another engagement occurred with the enemy holding the west pass of the mountain.
dismounted the largest portion of Chambliss
's brigade and fought the enemy from crag to crag, and finally dislodged them.
Just as our troops debouched from the mountain pass, the artillery posted on the left, on the road to Boonsboro
', opened upon them.
Our artillery, however, soon got into position and drove the enemy's artillery off.
Our cavalry saw no more of the enemy until they approached Hagerstown
On nearing this place Gen Jenkins
found the enemy in possession, and attempted to flank him by the Boonesboro' road Jones
at this moment came in upon the left and opened with a few shots of artillery.
Brig Gen Iverson
at the same time held the north edge of the town, aided by Robertson
's men, by some mistake, fired into Robertson
's and Chambliss
's, thereby much embarrassing operations for a while.
The mistake was soon corrected.
The enemy's dismounted sharpshooters fought well, but were rapidly driven from street to street, and finally left via the Williamsport
One column of the cavalry under Chambliss
pushed rapidly down the road after them, whilst Robertson
kept the left of the road on which Chambliss
was passing, and moved parallel to him Just before reaching Williamsport Chambliss
's brigade, now numbering only a few hundred men, charged the enemy, in gallant style.
The bearing of the 9th and 13th regiments.
Va cavalry on this occasion called forth especial praise.
The column on the flank of the enemy was rapidly hurried up in order to attack the enemy on flank, but the obstacles to a rapid movement, such as post and rail fences, delayed our cavalry so long that the enemy had time to rally along a crest of rocks and fences, when they opened with artillery, raking the road Jenkins
's brigade having been ordered, dismounted and deployed as skirmishers over the difficult ground with marked boldness and effect, and at length charged the enemy most successfully.
The enemy made an effort at a counter charge, but were met and most gallantly repulsed by Col. J. B. Gordon
, of the 5th N. C cavalry.
This repulse was soon after converted into a rout by the 11th Va regiment under Col Lomax
, who, with drawn sabres, drove the enemy down the turnpike road under a fearful fire from their artillery.
The enemy finally retreated on the Downsville
came in on the Greencastle
road in time to give a good account of himself During all this time, Imboden
had been holding Williamsport
, and guarding the wagon train, which was in great danger of being captured until Gen
S came to his assistance; for though he fought well, but for Gen
S's timely arrival he would have been overpowered.
our forces — infantry, cavalry and artillery — made their first stand after leaving Gettysburg
On the8th of July the cavalry was thrown forward to make a demonstration by advancing on different roads to threaten a general advance on the enemy in order to cover up a retrograde movement.
The advance, under Gen Jones
, encountered the enemy at Beaver creek
, on the Boonsboro' road.
From this point to Boonsboro
' an animated fight ensued.
, Fitz Lee
, and Baker
's old brigade also participating in it, and the horse artillery rendered as usual most efficient service Jenkins
coming in on the enemy's flank as he neared Boonsboro
' drove him back to the mountain pass.
The enemy now became heavily reinforced, and as our ammunition was running short Gen Stuart
believing he had accomplished
his object fell back to Funkstown
The enemy pressed us in retiring but obtained no advantage.
On the 10th our cavalry was engaged dismounted all day. The enemy during the day made a slight advance of their skirmishers, but were driven back by the cavalry and infantry.
On the night of the 13th Gen. Lee
, finding that Meade
would not attack him, but was throwing up entrenchments in his front, determined to recross the Potomac
.-- Accordingly, just before night, Fitz Lee
was ordered to relieve Longstreet
in the trenches; Baker
the corps of Hill
and the rest of the cavalry of Ewell
During the night the whole army recrossed.
By a mistake the disaster of Falling Waters
occurred, by which we lost the gallant Pettigrew
Of this we shall have more to say in another place.
On the 14th Col Harmon
, of the 14th Va cavalry, had an engagement with the enemy near Harper's Ferry
, and was successful, though he himself was taken prisoner.
On the 16th Fitz Lee
encountered the Yankee
cavalry near Shepherdstown
, and was gaining decided success when night ended the fight.
Next morning the enemy had disappeared.
Between the 16th and 22d, whilst our forces were engaged in tearing up the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, near Martinsburg
, the cavalry kept up desultory skirmishing with the enemy.
Before concluding, I must not forget to mention that Jones
's brigade, especially the 6th and 7th regiments Va cavalry, rendered most efficient service in engagements with the enemy near Fairfield
, Pa, and on the Cavetown
road, near Hagerstown
; and it is with regret that I am not possessed of fuller information.
On the 22d Gen. Lee
began to fall back from Bunker's Hill
, a point twelve miles above Winchester
, to the east of the mountains.
came back with Longstreet
, who was in the advance, through Chester Gap
, and Baker
brought up Ewell
's rear, which was the last of the infantry corps.
On reaching the east side of the mountains, whilst Jones
was left to do picket duty on the Lower Shenandoah
, the brigades of W. H. F. Lee
, Fitz Lee
, and Jenkins
endeavored by forced marches from Leesburg
, through Millwood
, to reach Manassas Gap in advance of the enemy, but failed to do so, and crossed at Chester Gap
I have thus hastily recapitulated the operations of the cavalry during this ever memorable campaign.
It is a record that speaks for itself and its gallant commander, and no word of praise is needed to show the fidelity of the one or the efficiency of the other.