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Chapter 38:

  • Recapitulation and “official” review of the “week's campaign”
  • -- loss and gain -- scenes and incidents of the struggle -- the Federal army massed round the Heights of Berkeley -- night attack by our artillery, and fearful destruction -- subsequent demonstration of McClellan -- General Pope and other Northern commanders rising in favor.

When it became known beyond all doubt that McClellan was safe, and strongly posted on the river bluffs at Berkeley, the pursuit was discontinued, his position being one that was peculiarly well adapted for defence. This had been proved during the Revolution of 1776, and in the year 1812, when British forces had occupied the same spot. Lee, therefore, did not seem at all inclined to push matters to an extremity, but disposed his divisions to prevent any advance of the enemy, and to precipitate an engagement should they endeavor to leave the position they had gained and attempt to retreat.

While our army under these circumstances was resting, to recover from its recent fatigue, business called me from camp to Richmond. I did not observe signs of any jubilation over our series of victories; business progressed as quietly as ever; there were neither speeches, dinners, balls, nor any demonstration remarkably indicative of joy or vanity. Every thing was quiet; people spoke of our successes as matters which had never been once doubted. “Southern men were sure to come off victorious if engaged with any thing like equal numbers,” etc.; but all regretted the escape of McClellan. It was the darling desire of old gentlemen that “Mac” should be made prisoner and included in the long list of generals, hundreds of regimental officers, and over seven thousand privates then in custody. The churches, however, were well attended; prayers were offered up in thanksgiving for deliverance from danger, and to avert the further effusion of human blood; and to judge from the immense congregations that assembled for divine worship, [381] it seemed that all were strongly impressed with sentiments of sincere thankfulness to God.

The various departments were as busy as usual, and particularly the War Office. It seemed certain, from the general activity, that Lee did not contemplate much idleness while summer lasted, and that active operations would recommence immediately the army had sufficiently recuperated, Where the next blow would be struck, none could imagine. Yet officers who knew, or thought they knew the secret, ominously winked and nodded, stroked their nose, and appeared very wise, or desired to be considered so. Hospitals were scattered over the entire town, and crowds of wounded men with bandaged heads or arms strolled about the streets in their patched and mud-colored clothes, while dandy clerks in departments donned fancy military gold-laced caps, elevated their eyebrows, and gazed about them with an air of infinite superiority, or, more properly speaking, of profound stupidity! Trains bound for the South conveyed hundreds of discharged and furloughed men, who, limping, bandaged, armless, or legless, seemed delighted at the idea of seeing their homes once again; while fond old couples looked with pride upon sons by their side on crutches, and never failed to answer inquiries, by telling in which battle they were wounded, and remarking upon their gallantry. In fact, every parent thought his son the hero of the campaign, and to hear patriotic old ladies talking of the war, one would be led to believe they would make excellent soldiers themselves.

As I have remarked on other occasions, there were no bounds to the volubility and enthusiasm of the ladies, young and old, and the appearance of a wounded man entering the cars was sure to bring many to their feet with a kind hand to assist them to the best seats. None were allowed to dress or pour water on wounds but the ladies, and they would hang around a poor ragged boy with as much tenderness and show him more kindness than if he were Emperor of all the Russias. The anxiety, care, kindness, and unceasing industry evinced by all classes of women for our wounded, in and out of hospital, far surpasses any conception that may be formed from words. Had our men been the sons, husbands, or brothers of those who interested themselves in their fate, they could not have received more kindness than they did from women of every rank and [382] condition. Blankets were torn from their beds, flannel skirts converted into under-clothing, the finest of linen torn up for lint, wedding and other silk dresses cut up for flags, bandages, and rosettes; every thing, in fine, betrayed the unconquerable spirit that animated them, and when all else was given away, they had kind words or tears of sympathy by the bedsides of the suffering or dying I It is almost superfluous to say that the anxiety of parents and others arriving in the city from distant parts was heart-rending. Some had been seeking sons or relatives for a week-hunting everywhere for the lost ones: some were found, but many, alas! slept upon the battle-fields; and to witness the affliction and tears of many as they searched hospital after hospital, was enough to move the heart of the most obdurate. Ministers and doctors were ever on the move, night and day; wagon-loads of captured ice were daily deposited at the hospitals; while the large amount of medicines, surgical instruments, bandages, stretchers, and ambulances, left behind by the Federals, greatly assisted the wants and comforts of our men. Lights burning all night in any dwelling was a sure sign of some wounded inmate; crape-streamers at doors, and a continual movement of hearses, told that scores were daily numbered with the dead. Long lines of open pits in suburban cemeteries were rapidly filling up, and the number of new-made graves spoke of hundreds of brave spirits slumbering beneath modest head-boards.

Strolling about one evening, after returning from a game at billiards, I heard a noise of laughter above me, proceeding from one of the rooms in the “Spottswood,” and recognizing the voice of Dobbs, walked up and entered without knocking. There were at least ten persons crowded in one of the small rooms, all with their coats off, save the old Major; they were smoking, playing cards, and making much noise over some half-dozen bottles of Cognac. After much nodding and handshaking, I entered a quiet circle at the window, and, pipes being the order of the evening, my “sham” was soon glowing with a charge of “Billy Bowlegs' double extra,” and the conversation became professional. Each had pet ideas regarding past events, and criticism ran wild and incoherent. One did not like this style of doing things, and another that; this general was [383] unmercifully berated, and that one extravagantly praised; so that, attentive as I was, it was utterly impossible to arrive at any accurate sense of the prevailing opinion.

“I tell you,” said Dobbs, after imbibing a large draught of brandy, and priming himself for a speech, “I tell you, gentlemen, that Lee's plan surpasses any thing I have ever read in military history. Just look at the entire arrangement. When our main army fell back from Fredericksburgh, the Rappahannock, and Rapidan, and went to Yorktown to meet McClellan, Fredericksburgh was threatened by a large division under McDowell: Ewell was deputed to watch him, and did it well; but in the Valley there were not less than three army corps coming up to form a grand army to advance on Richmond from the west. Jackson was at Winchester with a small force, and was ordered to attack Shields, (Banks being sick,) so as to create a diversion in our favor. Although obliged to retire after the battle of Kearnstown, Jackson called on Ewell, and, receiving reenforcements from him, suddenly pounced down on Banks at Front Royal, and chased him to Washington, capturing immense quantities of baggage and thousands of prisoners. He retired again, and, recruited, rushed down the Valley, and instead of allowing Shields and Fremont to join McDowell, beat them both in detail, and obliged McDowell to fall back. Retreating again, Jackson begged for reenforcements, and they were sent. But while the Federal commanders were planning to entrap him, should he again go to the Valley, he made pretences of doing so, and by forced marches swooped down upon McClellan's right and rear, before the Federals in the Valley could recover from their astonishment and chagrin.”

“True,” said another, “ it was a master-stroke of Lee; and when Branch at Brooke Bridge and Hill at Meadow Bridge assailed in front, the game was up with their right wing, for these, uncovering Mechanicsville Bridge, allowed Longstreet and D. H. Hill to cross likewise.

‘The attack of Ambrose Hill was a spirited affair, and beautifully conducted.1 Jackson was hovering in their [384] rear,2 and Branch fighting his way in our centre, so that before such a force they were obliged to fall back. Their defence of Mechanicsville, Ellison's Mills, and Beaver Dam Creek deserves credit, for had our men been less impetuous, we should have found every avenue to Gaines's Mills much more strongly fortified than we did. Think you the Federals dreamed of such a daring attack?

“It would seem they had notions of moving, or their stores would not have been destroyed a week beforehand. Troops from all the States did well, but I think Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama lost more than any others up to Sunday night. The Texans at Gaines's Mill immortalized themselves; rushing across that wide expanse of open ground and capturing the guns surprised all.3 General Lee is loud in praise of their [385] gallantry. Hood, who commanded them, put himself at the head of his old regiment, and with a ‘Come on, boys!’ led them on right gallantly. He is now a ‘full’ general, I believe, and his skill and valor deserve it.”

“I cannot comprehend,” said another, “how it was that we lost so few, compared with the fearful carnage of the enemy.”

“It would seem that ‘quick’ work suits us. Our lines were not so full as theirs, nor were reenforcements massed in our rear, and under fire, as with them. When the enemy fired it was wildly; our men were cooler, and understood the use of weapons better, so that their shots all told, and sometimes hit double, passing through and through, whenever we came in view of regiments drawn up behind each other; and if we did overshoot at any time, such shots told in the rear.”

“I cannot see how our men could miss them, wedged as they were in a corner of the field when retreating by that single road; if more artillery had been present, the carnage among them would have been fearful. How did it happen that our pieces were not up sooner, Robins?” addressing an artillery officer.

“We were up in time,, but not called upon. I think the artillery have reason to complain of you infantry, in taking up all the business, and not allowing us an opportunity. Did you ever hear what Featherstone said of us? At Beaver Dam Creek, there were twelve pieces playing against twice as many of the enemy, and Featherstone, commanding, anxiously watched us, to cover his infantry. We fired very accurately and deliberately, our shot and shell chipping their embrasures in beautiful style, and slicing off the parapets in large cakes, rapidly silencing their pieces. Featherstone was [386] in raptures, and exclaimed: ‘By Jupiter, that beats all! Just look at our boys tumbling the breastworks about! Who would ever believe it of raw volunteers? Why, sir, the ‘regulars’ could not beat them! Gentlemen, I must confess, I entertained poor opinions of our artillery till now, and looked upon them as fit for little else but to waste ammunition, but the manner in which they fought and defeated Porter's ‘regulars,’ convinces me that we are a superior stock altogether.’ Highly complimentary, wasn't it? The boys deserved such praise, for the constancy with which they served their pieces on all occasions was astonishing, particularly as two thirds of them were never under fire before. Had we remained stationary, our loss must have proved very heavy, for the enemy were very expert in getting the range. The first company that crossed at Meadow Bridge was fearfully cut up. When the pickets were driven from the bridge, our four pieces galloped across very gallantly, under a galling fire from great odds, and they held their ground nobly. Rushing up the road, they took up position on a knoll, and the rapidity with which those pieces were served astonished every one. By the way, you have observed Lee's system of ‘reliefs’ on the march, or in battle?”

“Yes, and an excellent one it is. It is neither right nor fair that one division or brigade be always kept in front; but when fatigued it should be relieved by another. Our numbers never permitted this system before, nor did it ever attract my attention until ‘ Seven Pines,’ and there I could not but admire its utility. When a regiment had been some time under fire and was exhausted, another moved up, and maintained the vigor of attack, while the first remained at supporting distance as a reserve. The same rule was adopted with brigades, so that our advance never slackened its impetuosity. This was also practised at Gaines's Mills and elsewhere, when practicable, and with marked effect. The Federals seemed to follow the same plan, but where the multitude of their regiments came from, is a mystery — there seemed to be no end of them.”

“To be candid,” remarked one, very modestly, “I always entertained an idea, until this present war, that men were drawn out in a parallel line, and had to settle the business [387] without shifting about so much as Lee seems to desire. A brigade or division is thrown forward, and after attacking until exhausted, another seems to take its place in some way incomprehensible to me; Awhile the first is allowed to rest, awhile, and than rushes forward again in some other direction, apparently as fresh as ever. Our brigade, I think, was moved about a dozen times at Gaines's Mills, but always had enough to do. It is impossible, however, for one in the ranks, or even a brigadier, to read the plans of a chief; all they know is their ‘orders.’ They are formed, and move forward or backward; fight, advance, fall back, advance again, and often find themselves at right angles with their first position. I suppose it is all right, and none of our business to inquire; but if fighting could be accomplished with fewer movements, it would please me infinitely more.”

“That's the beauty of it!” said Dobbs, delighted. “That shows the brilliancy of a general's strategic genius. As you say, during the heat of battle, few except those in charge of the wings or reserves, can conceive any true notion of what is intended or transpiring. On the open plains of Europe, the field of action could be seen at a glance — but in such a varied country as ours, where most of the fighting is done in timber, it is impossible for any but a few to form an accurate notion of what is passing. I was talking with the aeronaut who ascended in our balloon during the week, and although several thousand feet above our battle-fields, and provided with powerful glasses, he was unable to ascertain any thing with precision. All he saw was smoking woods, the flash of guns, and columns of men hurrying to and fro, along dusty roads and lanes, for the clouds of smoke and dust enveloping the scene were so dense that all seemed wrapped in mystery. He plainly discerned McClellan's line of retreat, however, and made Lee acquainted with it; but when the Federals took to the swamps, and through the woods, all was obscurity again.”

“ Nevertheless, Federal balloonists have furnished their generals and journals with accurate maps of our position, but these were taken long before fighting commenced. But do you not think we might have done something on Saturday, and pushed the enemy more vigorously when on the north bank?” [388] “True, it seems that a whole day was lost, but then their fortified camps were in commanding positions, and I know not whether they were there on that day. I incline to the belief that they retreated on Friday night, and only maintained appearances during Saturday. It is certain that Magruder and Huger on the south bank were very slow, and were reprehensible for allowing so large a force to pass across their front, when pickets discovered their retreat on Saturday night.”

“ The enemy may boastingly talk of ‘skedaddling,’ but if the rear-guard did not hasten their movements down the railroad on Sunday afternoon, I'm no judge of running I It must have been a great mortification to the valiant Sickles to let all his beautiful silverware and private papers fall into our hands at ‘Savage Station.’ ”

“Yes, and it must have delighted our railroad directors, when cavalry brought the news that they had left behind several magnificent locomotives just fresh from the maker's hands! When the railroad was cleared, a train was sent down, and two fine engines were discovered on the bridge with steam up, and the bridge on fire! They got the locomotives off, and the bridge was saved after some labor. Many cars were also found, up and down the track; all loaded, and apparently waiting for engines. Our advance had been too rapid, however, and the men were but too glad to escape with their lives.”

“ Poor old Casey got into disgrace again, I hear. He was in rear of their lines, and ordered to look after the hospitals and depots, but had not time to destroy them, so decamped, leaving many sick and wounded behind.”

“But of all the fighting I think that at Frazier's Farm was the most desperate,” said Dobbs, drinking again, and getting steam up.

“Oh! You simply think so, Major,” said some one, laughing, “because hard marched and fatigued when you arrived there.”

Tink so?” answered Dobbs indignantly. “But I know so. Just fancy, travelling over twenty-five miles along sandy, dusty roads, under a July sun, and coming up with the enemy about sundown, and they formed on a rising ground ready for business? Had I been Hill, I should have deferred matters until morning.”

“Yes, and in the morning they would have vanished.” [389]

“Well, it was as well as it was,” continued Dobbs. “We gave them a sound thrashing, but the villains fought obstinately enough, goodness knows! The position, as you know, was assailable only on one side, and as the road was an ascent, their artillery ploughed our advance unmercifully. The column was deployed without serious loss, however, but as we advanced through the timber the Federals met us at every turn, and for some time it was ‘nip and tuck’ with us, I can assure you. ‘Forward’ was the word continually ringing in our ears, and as we advanced up the ‘rise’ and through the woods towards their camps in the open fields, the enemy made several desperate attempts to turn our flanks, but without success. I never saw troops behave better than ours; nor did they yield an inch from any captured position, though assailed again and again by reenforcements. Those immediately in front, however, had much greater difficulty in advancing, for they were exposed to the full fire of batteries. How they escaped annihilation is a mystery. Wilcox, Featherstone, and Pryor did wonders, as usual, but their commands were sorely thinned by grape-shot, and many promising officers lost their lives there. The enemy's guns were not captured without a tremendous struggle; for since none of. our pieces were on the ground, the fight on our side was maintained with infantry only. Advancing through those thick-growing pines was no joke for a corpulent fellow like me; and it required some squeezing occasionally, which was not very comfortable with the enemy in line before you, firing showers of shot. Thank goodness! I escaped with a single scratch, for which I cleaved the skull of the Yankee who gave it me.”

“It would not have proved so desperate and unequal had Huger cooperated.”

“Oh! yes, had he done so! but who ever expects fast movements from him? Had any of our divisions been within supporting distance we should have suffered less, but Magruder was at least five miles behind, and to attempt ‘ double-quick’ movements along such roads, and through the timber at such a time of night, was impossible, for his men had been travelling all day also, and were perfectly exhausted. They did not arrive upon the ground until all was over; and had it not been for the [390] invincible spirit of Hill, the field and booty would never have been ours. When we had driven the enemy from the ground, about eight P. M., after over two hours of severe fighting, all supposed the affair was over, but as we continued to advance, about half-past 9 P. M., such a terrific fire opened upon us that I thought the world was coming to an end. It was a fresh army corps sent against us! Such an apparition would have disheartened any one but Hill. He, seeing how matters stood, and that they were determined to attempt a capture of the field and spoils of war, gradually gave ground — no hurry, no confusion-and as his men deployed, sent to the rear for succor. That was a trying moment, my boys! Tired, perfectly exhausted, and ready to faint from fatigue and long fighting, there we were, a few shattered regiments of the advance, assailed at ten P. M. by an entire corps On the enemy came, cheering, and making night hideous with their noises; they fired, but we lay low, and, discovering their. position, poured into them such accurate volleys that they slackened pace. Bidding us hold the ground a little while, Hill went to the rear, but no reenforcements had arrived; so, cheering on the remnants of some few brigades, he moved them up at the ‘double-quick,’ and they advanced with such loud shouts, and with so much apparent freshness, that the enemy, imagining reenforcements had reached us, declined to prolong the engagement, and left us masters of this second field.”

“ Yes, it was a brilliant affair,” said Robins. “I was present, but our guns could not be brought into position. Considering the strong position of the enemy and the failure of Huger to arrive in time, it seems wonderful that Hill should have shown so much hardihood in attacking, and displayed such brilliant tact under adverse circumstances. It is evident McClellan felt sore about his defeat by a single weak division of ours, or he would not have hurried forward fresh masses to recover the ground. I know not how many guns fell into our hands, but counted six in one field, together with well-filled caissons, many prisoners, and small arms. It is a pity the advance did not fall on Hill when we attacked Malvern Hill, for I am sure our loss would not have proved so great.”

“Yes,” said Dobbs, “I am glad our brigade was not called [391] upon, for we were too much weakened to have accomplished much; but from general report I should judge it was a very much mismanaged affair. Those who were engaged are furious against Magruder, and it is currently said in camp that responsible men have reported him to Headquarters for drunkenness and total incapacity upon the field. I know not the truth of falsehood of the rumor, but it seems to be generally agreed that, although he commanded the finest troops in the service, he has accomplished less than any other general. The scene around Malvern Hill was awful. Battle-fields are sickening spectacles; but that one was terrible. All the woods for miles around are disfigured by the enemy's shot and shell; and as for iron bolts, thrown by the gunboats, I saw several to-day, each of them being about four inches in diameter and eighteen inches long. Those are fearful things to throw at the heads of respectable men of family like myself. If Yankee compliments are to be judged of by their length and weight, our enemies are the most villainously polite race of hypocrites on the globe; and glad am I we have solemnly foresworn for ever all fellowship or communion with them.”

“I am sorry, Robins, the artillery had not fitting opportunities, for I am enthusiastic in their favor,” said Frank, “and think them more than a match for the Federals at any time.”

“Thanks for the compliment. I am glad we find favor in some quarters; for since the late fights every body has been cursing the artillery for not getting up in time to participate in the engagement, when in fact, it was an impossibility.”

“Of course it was,” chimed in Dobbs. “No artillery in the world could pretend to keep pace with infantry over such a rough country. Why, sir, the roughest lanes in Europe far surpass our best roads here; for, ever since the war began, I have seen but one macadamized road in Virginia; and that was only thirty miles long; all the rest are common dirt or sand roads, over which it is almost impossible to travel. What artillery in the world could have advanced the morning after Malvern Hill? Rain poured in torrents, and cavalrymen could scarcely force their horses into a fast walk through the immense quantities of mud; as for the infantry, they manfully trudged along, knee-deep in mire. In Europe warfare is carried on differently. It usually happens there that the combatants meet [392] in large plains, like Marengo, Austerlitz, Waterloo, and other places I have visited; and had it so chanced that our engagements were fought in such places, the war would have been long since decided. Our artillery are certainly not to blame for being behind time; the infantry marched too fast, and were hurried forward at the rate of thirty miles a day. Our youth seem predisposed in favor of artillery service; at one time nothing else was thought of in the whole South but artillery! artillery!”

“That spirit,” said Robins, “was infused by the early exploits of the Washington Artillery Corps, Kemper's battery, and other organizations; and I must confess the efficiency of volunteers in that arm is surprising. Kemper's battery and the New-Orleans Artillery never fired other than blank cartridges before Bull Run and Manassas; yet such was their precision that the enemy frequently withdrew disabled and humbled — I mean the Federal ‘regulars.’ I cannot help thinking that the enthusiasm and ‘pluck’ of our boys have much to do with it. Being accustomed to arms from infancy, they are excellent judges of distance, and will travel all day to witness fine shooting. The first shots fired by Kemper at Bull Run completely smashed up Porter's artillery, and threw their reserves into utter confusion. Besides, those in artillery service are young, active, wiry fellows, and jump about the pieces with the suppleness of cats, dragging their guns about by hand as if they were playthings. It is my opinion that the artillery branch of our ‘regular’ service will surpass the world in efficiency.”

“ Did you observe how gaily Major Walton brought six of his pieces into action towards the close of Malvern Hill? The trumpets sounded, and off they went to the front as nimbly as if they had not marched many miles that day.”

“Yes,” said Robins. “ I was then about a mile to the rear, and it being nearly dark, could not well distinguish the features of those about me. Standing. against the side of a deserted farm-house, converted into a field hospital, I saw an oldish-looking man, dressed in a long overcoat and black felt hat drawn over his eyes, who was condoling with a grey-haired citizen about the loss of his son, but spoke in low tones; and I heard [393] him say, with evident emotion: ‘Yes, my friend, such is the fortune of this cruel, unnatural war, forced upon us by Northern fanatics; yet all will be brighter soon. Yes, yes, our poor, poor boys have suffered much within these few days, but, thank God! all is progressing favorably.’ He was about to mount when I addressed him, and inquired if there was any news from the field? He answered politely that ‘nothing new had transpired; we were progressing slowly ’ It was President Davis He ‘had been on the field all day, and was ordered from the front by Lee; nor would the guards permit him, as a citizen, to cross the lines again without a pass! ’ It seems' the President and two attendants had been close up to the front, and occupied an old deserted house, when Lee, being informed, requested him to go to the rear. He had not vacated the house more than five minutes ere four or five shells exploded and tore it down!

One of the most gallant deeds I have heard was performed by a young Texan named Dickey at Gaines's Mills. When his brigade charged the batteries, they were met, among others, by two New-Jersey regiments. The shock did not last more than five minutes, for the Texans are remarkably good shots, so that after firing a volley they gallantly charged, and Dickey was fortunate enough to capture both standards! I saw them brought into Richmond by a cavalry escort, not less than two hundred prisoners following behind. It must have been a great mortification to them. That was ‘On to Richmond’ with a vengeance!

Wilcox, at Gaines's Mills,” said another, “ was in a terrible rage with his brigade, although as a temporary divisional general he commanded both Featherstone and Pryor. Finding that his men baulked a little at the brook, in face of obstruction and a heavy fire in front, he rushed forward, sword in hand, and threatened to cut off the head of the first Alabamian who hesitated to advance! All the generals were on foot, you know, so that it required much running about to keep the brigade in order; but, although Featherstone's men were supposed to be a reserve of the division in that action, they became so restive that he advanced up the centre, and arrived at the top of the hill sooner than the rest. Had he moved out of the woods alone his destruction was inevitable-for the artillery of [394] the enemy was numerous and powerful. It is said that the sight of Wilcox, Featherstone, Pryor, Whiting, Archer, Hood, and others advancing afoot, sword in hand, cheering on their commands through the woods and up the hill, was most inspiriting: the men cheered vociferously, and would have followed such commanders anywhere.

‘Come on, boys!’ said little Whiting, who, though commanding a division, would lead his old brigade to the charge- ‘Come on, boys!’ said he in front, waving his cap and sword- ‘quick, is the word! Here they are before us; you cannot miss them! Steady! Forward, guide centre, march ’ and off they went up the hill, yelling and firing like madmen.4

Ambrose Hill, at Mechanicsville, was ever in the front, regardless of danger, and, although, his coat was torn in several places, miraculously escaped. I wish I could add the same of poor Featherstone, at Frazier's Farm, for he was desperately wounded towards the close of that fight; Colonel Taylor, of the Second Mississippi, was killed during the last volley at the same place. I single him out from among many other officers, for he was generally considered to be one of the most promising young men in the service. His praise was on every lip, and he must have risen rapidly: he was nephew to old Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican war; and President of the United States. [395]

Young Taylor was highly educated in military matters, and could do more with raw troops than any officer I ever knew. President Taylor's son is a brigadier, you know, and common report speaks of him as a highly scientific officer, and likely to eclipse his father's fame, should opportunities present themselves.

There were several regiments of conscripts who participated in the late battles, and fought excellently; in fact, I could not perceive any difference between them and the volunteers, for they never flinched, but carried every position assigned them. Conscripts or volunteers, native talent will be sure to come out in times like these-blood will tell. I saw a youth marching out of action with the remnants of a Federal flag wound round a wound in his arm. ‘Where did you get it?’ I inquired. ‘I got both of them yonder — the wound and flag both. I shot down the color-bearer; but there was a big fight over it, and before I got clear some of our own men claimed it, and there was a general fight. Whether one of the Yanks shot me or not, I can't tell; but if the colonel hadn't come up and restored order, I should have been crushed to.death, for there were at least half a dozen dead men on top of me; but having grasped the colors, they were torn from me, and this piece is all I've got. The rest is distributed among all the boys by this time. It wasn't good for much, so I bound up my arm with it! Darn 'em, I'm sorry I can't use this hand, or I'd go back, and make some of 'em howl, sure!’

“A warlike friend of mine,” said Dobbs, “ who always had more to say about military matters than any half-dozen generals, was always talking of what he would do the first fight in which he participated. At Frazier's Farm, one of the first men I met walking to the rear was Robinson, with his hand bound up. ‘Hallo! Rob,’ said I; ‘ what's the matter? Hurt?’ ‘ Hurt? I guess I am-slightly! I hadn't fairly got into it, Dobbs,’ said he, ‘‘fore some villain wounded me, and here am I laid up for a couple of months, and never had the pleasure of killing one of them yet!’ While talking to Rob, I saw a youth binding up his leg behind a tree, fifty paces to the right of me, and had even spoken to him kindly, when a shot came, tore down the tree, and whiped his head off clean to the shoulders!

The Yankees use their cavalry to force the infantry [396] forward, I understand, and it would seem that the number of stragglers in very great with them; but in all my observations during the week's campaign, I never counted more than two dozen men straggling in our rear at any time; but owing to the incessant marching and consequent fatigue, I reasonably expected to encounter many more. It seems a sense of honor animates our troops, and they will not give up while strength lasts to keep them going. I have frequently seen slightly wounded men, just from the doctor's hands, moving to the front again; and remember an instance of coolness in one middle-aged man which I can never forget. While riding to the front I met an Irishman of the Fourteenth Louisiana, retiring to the rear, his rifle slung by his side, and a towel held to his face. ‘ Hurt, comrade?’ I inquired. ‘Yes, sir,’ was the answer, in a rich brogue; ‘the villains have hit me in the face,’ said he, showing his cheek half shot away; ‘but if it didn't bleed so much I should feel ashamed to go to the doctor's with such a bit of a scratch, for our boys are whipping the devils in elegant style, and I should like to be lending them a hand!’ I told him to bathe his face in the brook, over which our men had just clambered, and giving him about a pint of spirits from my canteen, left him with his face well bandaged, sitting comfortably under a tree, smoking his pipe; while, not more than half a mile in front the battle raged with great fury, and shell fell thick and fast in all directions.

The greatest fortitude and patience were evinced by our men under suffering, and I never saw but one instance where any loudly complained. I have frequently seen men smoking when under the surgeon's knife, and heard the wounded salute each other wittily about their hurts. ‘Hallo, colonel,’ said one fellow, lying on a door, going through the process of having balls extracted, to his colonel, who was led forward for treatment; ‘sorry to see you hurt, colonel — it will be a long time ere either of us can dance in the Assembly Rooms, New. Orleans, again.’ ‘Why, captain, is that you? you don't mean to say they have ”pinked“ you at last, eh? The Yankees seem to be distributing their favors impartially to-day. Cheer up, old fellow, we are whipping them like the devil at all points, so I hear. Come along, doe — my turn next!’ ‘Just fill my pipe, doe,’ another would say, ‘before you commence [397] cutting, and if you've got such a thing handy as a drink of whiskey to give a fellow, it would considerably assist things, I think; sharpen that knife a little, it looks blunt. There, now blaze away, and get through in the biggest hurry you can-let it be short and sweet’ etc.

“ Well, now that all is over, what is your notion of the comparative loss, Major?” Frank inquired of Dobbs.

“From the amount of carnage 5 it would be difficult to form a correct opinion. I do not know the loss on the several fields, but learn that the Adjutant-General says our loss amounts to about fifteen thousand killed, wounded, and missing; the number of the latter is comparatively small, so that we might say that in all the engagements of that eventful week we lost a grand total of fifteen thousand killed and wounded. Those figures are considered the maximum estimate.”

“As to the number of guns and small arms captured, it would be difficult to say,” remarked Robins, being referred to on that point. “From the Brooke Turnpike to Meadow Bridge I saw one; from the last-named place to and including Mechanicsville, I counted six--not reckoning siege-pieces taken in reverse; at Ellison's Mills, Beaver Dam Creek, and Gaines's Mills, I saw twenty; at Frazier's Farm half-a-dozen, and at Malvern Hill as many more. Lee estimates the captured field-guns at forty or more, not including many siege-pieces, several dozen caissons and ammunition wagons, together with thirty thousand stand of arms, fit for use, and half-a-dozen or more stand of colors. There was a very large banner captured by Major Bloomfield, of Magruder's staff, when his division pushed down the railroad on Sunday afternoon. Prisoners state that this memorable flag was made by ladies in New-England, and given to McClellan, to be raised. [398] on the dome of the Capitol when the Federal forces entered Richmond!”

“As for their dead,” a competent authority remarks, “from personal inspection of the various fields, I should judge they lost three times as many as ourselves, nor shall I be far wrong in estimating their casualties at forty thousand killed and wounded, not including more than seven thousand rank and file, a long list of officers, and a dozen generals, now prisoners in our tobacco warehouses. I see it stated in Northern journals that it is supposed McClellan has not more than sixty-five thousand effective men, at Berkley, out of a force of over one hundred and ten thousand with which he commenced the week's campaign.”

“In round numbers, then,” said one, “it can be stated that our losses may be put at no higher figure than fifteen thousand killed, wounded, and prisoners, without loss in generals; and that the loss of the enemy is not less than forty-seven thousand killed, wounded, and prisoners, besides several general officers killed and prisoners. In addition they have lost forty field-pieces, six or more siege-pieces, thirty thousand stand of improved small-arms, half-a-dozen flags, drums, full sets of brass instruments, thousands of tons of stores and ammunition; hundreds of wagons, caissons, horses, mules, tents; several fine locomotives, carriages, and freight cars; immense supplies of medicines, clothing, and shoes; important private and public papers, harness, fodder, and a thousand other things too numerous to mention.”

“ All these things we know,” added Dobbs, “from ocular proof! How much more fell into our hands can only be learned from Stuart and other cavalry leaders, who have been scouring the whole country for weeks, and adding to the list every day. But what were the total of both armies prior to the week's operations-can any one tell?”

“ I may form a correct idea,” said Frank. “During the battle of Gaines's Mills, I was sent across the Chickahominy to Magruder's quarters at Garnett's Farm-almost in a direct line with the battle-field. President Davis, and many others, sat on the portico, observing the progress of the fight through their field-glasses, at a distance of not more than two miles in a direct line. Some one remarked to Magruder that Lee was [399] pushing the enemy closely on the north bank, and that night would close upon another great victory. ‘Yes,’ Magruder answered, in his usual lisp, ‘they ought to accomplish something, since they have Jackson, Longstreet, the Hills, Whiting, and others, over there.’ I heard President Davis remark, subsequently, to a senator, that our force then over the river was fifty thousand men. Our force on the south bank, at that moment, did not muster more than fifty thousand, so that our whole effective strength did not reach to more than one hundred thousand fighting men.6 From observations I heard dropped by those high in command, it was generally believed, from the large number of Valley troops found with him, that McClellan's whole effective force amounted to more than one hundred and ten thousand men, but at a rough guess it was that number, at the lowest estimate!”

“Well,” said Dobbs, seizing the bottle, and half filling a tumbler, “the best and most accurate total is, that we have thoroughly whipped and routed them! So ‘here's to Lee and our gallant boys!’ ”

The toast was responded to enthusiastically, and not until late in the. night did the speech-making, patriotic, and song-singing company depart, leaving empty bottles, pipes, cigars, chairs, and tables strewn around the room in artistic confusion, besides several of the “glorious” company stretched at full length on the beds and floor!

The Northern army, swept from our front, had massed round the heights of Berkeley, strongly fortified and reenforced, while a very large fleet of transports and gunboats was but a few hundred yards distant in the river, unloading supplies, and protecting the position from any sudden attack by the Confederates. The rebels, in the form of a semicircle, were intently watching and preparing for the further movements of McClellan, certain that should he dare come forth, the remains of his once proud and numerous army would be annihilated. McClellan, however, was far too weak and wise to attempt any advance, and retreat he dared not; had he stirred from his position to fall back down the peninsula, he would most surely [400] have been overtaken and routed, but by remaining where he then was, the fleet was his protection and main hope. All this time the Federals under Pope were concentrating round Fredericksburgh, and preparing to advance from the north and east, in which case McClellan, being reenforced, was, if possible, to cooperate on the peninsula. Pope took command of his army with a grand flourish of trumpets, and his bombastic promises highly delighted Northern leaders and newspaper writers, who, as usual, endeavored to hide McClellan's inglorious defeats by claiming them as victories. They argued that, although the latter had now but seventy thousand out of more than one hundred and twenty thousand men, “he was considerably nearer Richmond than ever,” and that “his change of base would culminate in the speedy reduction of the rebel capital!”

From early indications, Lee was satisfied that McClellan would not again operate on the peninsula, but had concluded to transport most of his forces to the Rappahannock, and form a junction with Pope. For this purpose,. although maintaining daily picket-fights with our forces, immense numbers of transports assembled in the James River, and it was determined to try our rifled artillery upon them at some unsuspected moment. As a division of our troops, well concealed, were on the south side of the James, General Pendleton was ordered there with a hundred guns, and he concealed his movements under cover of thick timber., Every thing being prepared and his own position admirably screened, Pendleton gave the signal, and all our guns opened with a deafening roar, shortly after midnight. Every shot told with fearful effect, for the guns had been sighted at sunset, and after a few discharges the vessels were rocking, and rolling, and crashing beneath our weight of metal, while to swell the uproar the gunboats instantly extinguished their lights, and commenced shelling us furiously. The enemy's missiles, however, passed overhead without disabling one of our guns, or killing tore than three men in Dabney's heavy battery, and wounding some half-dozen others. The loss among the shipping, on the other hand, was fearful, for as their transports numbered many score, and were all clustered together [401] round Harrison's Landing, the crash of timber, the shrieks, the mingling of voices, and the general commotion were fearful.

But our artillery did not pay exclusive attention to the vessels, for as the camps and fires of McClellan's army were clearly in view on the opposite hills, and not more than half a mile distant, showers of shell were thrown amongst them. Very soon barns and outhouses were in flames; the greatest confusion was apparent among the troops, soldiers in all sorts of attire rushing wildly to and fro. At length morning dawned, and where shipping had been in unsuspecting quiet the night before, nothing was now to be seen but floating wrecks or masts above water, stores, timber, bales, boxes, and boats thrown, upon the beach; as for the enemy, not a tent or soldier could be seen for miles on their old camping-grounds; all had disappeared as if by magic. The destruction visible on every hand verified the fearful havoc which the night attack of Pendleton's artillery corps had occasioned among the dispirited but snugly provided — for enemy of the day before. The attack was so unexpected and violent that the enemy were paralyzed in the dead of night, and although neither their press nor generals ever mentioned the circumstance, except in ambiguous terms, we had other evidence that the disaster was appreciated by those who were the witnesses and sufferers by it. Prisoners of the better class subsequently confirmed our convictions that the loss was so great, and followed so quickly after their disastrous handling in the “Week's campaign,” that they dared not inform the North of the destruction of transports and supplies, or of the sudden change of camps during that fearful cannonade.

Some of Cobb's legion on picket-duty next day picked up many stragglers, who naively said that “the assault was so sudden, fearful, and accompanied with such havoc and disorder, it seemed as if the Last Day had arrived ;” for regiments were hurriedly formed and marched away in the darkness, many having no other covering but their drawers. Many thought the occasion presented a fine opportunity for a night attack on the land side, but McClellan's favorite style of planting cannon on high grounds and throwing up strong intrenchments, had taught our men much respect for that branch of the service, although for the infantry they entertained an habitual and [402] profound contempt, and were as ready to attack them by night as by day.

A few days subsequent to this success, McClellan made demonstrations as if intending to cross part of his force from Berkeley and operate on the south side of the James River. Our infantry were withdrawn a few miles inland to Petersburgh, to watch this new combination. It was known that heavy reenforcements had reached McClellan, and he seemed inclined to advance up both banks and attempt to destroy our water-batteries at Fort Darling, so as to allow the gunboats to proceed up the river to Richmond. He was closely watched by Lee, who had also been intently studying the programme of General Pope, now industriously engaged in gathering a large army north of the Rappahannock at Culpeper, with a strong advance-guard south of it near Gordonsville. It was well known to us that great expectations were entertained of Pope's movement towards Richmond, and that he had made extravagant boasts of his intentions to turn the tide of fortune, and sack Richmond in an incredibly brief time.

But as this new army was preparing to move round our left, while watching McClellan with our centre and right more than a hundred miles away from it, divisions and bickerings seemed to exist in those two grand wings of the Federal army. McClellan, thoroughly defeated in his own attempt, looked upon Pope as an upstart and braggadocio, who, by dint of trickery and politics, had become chief favorite of the Cabinet, from which he could obtain any amount of support and unlimited supplies, which had been denied to the late Grand Army of the Potomac. More than this, it was known that one or more generals of division (General Kearny in evidence) had asked relief from duty under McClellan, looking upon him as an arrant humbug, and had been assigned to Pope's army. General McDowell also — who for many months before had been stationed at Fredericksburgh, and was promised chief command of this movement when joined by Banks, Blenker, Milroy, Shields, and Fremont from the Shenandoah Valley and Western Virginia, but whose hopes had been destroyed by the rapid marches and victories of Jackson over those generals at various places-now felt extremely humiliated to find his plans and chief command intrusted to one incompetent, and himself [403] rated as a third-class subordinate in the same enterprise; General N. P. Banks, of Massachusetts, being second to Pope.

Politics had much to do with these appointments. McClellan was a Democrat, and though opposed to abolitionism, never allowed party feeling to influence him, always taxing his capacity to the utmost to gain success. He had been defeated many times, and still was looked upon as an able man, particularly in the South, where military critics reviewed his course impartially, and awarded that praise which ability and bravery deserved. Pope and Banks were both uncompromising negro-worshippers, and as military men were laughed at by the whole South. McDowell, also, was known to be a Democrat, and, though too good a soldier to allow politics to interfere with duty, was discarded, and assigned an unimportant command, while striplings of the East, from political influence, were placed above him. All these things were fully known to us, and no movement occurred in either army of which we were not cognizant. Our lines before the enemy were so well kept that few were aware of any movement preparing; but as the foe were becoming very active on the line of the Rappahannock, and daily glorifying themselves in the newspapers about some trifling cavalry skirmish with our scouts, it was evident their advance under Banks was about to move into an eligible position. As soon as this was ascertained, his old friend, the inevitable “Stonewall,” received marching orders with his division to proceed from the main army and creep upon him, which he did in his usual brilliant style, and with his wonted success.

1 Ambrose P. Hill is a Virginian; graduated at West-Point, and was brevet Second Lieutenant, First United States Artillery, first July, 1847, that being the time of his entering the service. We find him placed First Lieutenant, First Artillery, fourth September, 1851. He was among the first officers who left the old army and offered their services to the South, and was always looked upon as a “promising” officer; the part he has played in the present struggle for independence stamps him as a young man of real genius. He greatly distinguished himself at “Manassas,” twenty-first July, “Mechanicsville,” “Gaines's Mills,” etc. He is now a Major-General.

2 Jackson did it.-It is very easy, now that the affair is over, to perceive the cause of McClellan's recent reverse. At the last moment, when least expected, and equally to the surprise, we have no doubt, of President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, and General McClellan himself, Stonewall Jackson rushed from the Valley of the Shenandoah, attacked our right wing, forced it back, and got in rear of our whole army, without weakening the rebel force massed in front of it by a single man. No general on earth could make head against such a coup de guerre. If McClellan had stood his ground and fought in such a position, nothing in the world could have prevented the utter annihilation of the army of the Potomac. -New-York Paper.

3 A Texan soldier writes of this charge:,

A splendid battery of thirteen guns, manned by regulars, was just beyond, belching forth destruction, and it seemed almost like certain death to venture upon the brow of the hill; but these were Texans. The most extraordinary fact about it was, that this terrible battle was being fought without any directions from officers on our side. We had lost all our field officers before we got to the first battery--the lieutenant-colonel mortally wounded, since dead; the major badly wounded, since dead; and many of the line officers killed or wounded. When I got to the top of that hill, I was almost completely exhausted, but as I got a breath, there I was, able and ready to go on when the word was given. The men had been firing from the brow of the hill, and had shot down many of the artillerymen and so many of their horses that they could not get their guns away. They stood to their guns well, only running when they could do nothing else. We pushed forward, and placed our colors upon the battery, but as the enemy were still firing upon us, we commenced firing in return. Pretty soon a strong force opened fire upon our left, and changing our front in that direction, we poured in a heavy fire, which soon brought them to taw, as the greater part of two regiments threw down their arms, and ran to us, bringing their colors. Having delivered them over to another brigade, we pressed on in front, and drove the last Yankee from the field. As night was coming on, we were halted, and drawn up in line of battle. It was indeed a sad sight to look at the old regiment, a mere squad of noble men, gathered around their tattered colors. I could not realize that this little band of fifty or sixty men was the Fourth Texas. But it was even so. Out of five hundred and thirty men who went into the fight, there were two hundred and fifty-six killed, wounded, or missing; while many were completely broken down, and nearly every one was struck or grazed. We staid here all night without interruption, being heavily reenforced during the night.

4 Brigadier-General Daniel P. Whiting is a native of New-York, about fifty years of age, small in stature, thin, wiry, and active, an excellent officer in any department, and, though always in the infantry, proved himself an admirable engineer, by fortifying Harper's Ferry, in May, 1861. He entered the old service Second Lieutenant Second Infantry, July first, 1832; was Brevet Major April eighteenth, 1847; and full Major when hostilities commenced. He was assigned to Johnston's command in the Shenandoah Valley, May, 1861, as chief engineer there-Johnston on many occasions testifying to his merit and industry. In the absence of General Gustavus Smith, Whiting always commanded the division, and proved himself an officer of great ability at Seven Pines, where he commanded the left attack. At the battle of Gaines's Mills he won immortal honor by the skilful manner of handling his division; and to cheer on the men sprang to the front on foot, cap in hand, fighting his way up-hill, through the timber, while his own brigade were cheering and making resistless charges. In fact, every brigadier did the same in that terrible conflict, while colonels acted as brigadiers, captains as colonels, and sergeants as captains. ‘MajorWhiting, as he is called, is much beloved by his men, and has always accomplished whatever he was ordered to do, which cannot be said of dozens of those who, without talent, have risen through social or political influence.

5 From a Norfolk paper of a recent date we learn that “since the battles near Richmond, certain Irishmen at Old Point have hauled up in their seines large numbers of legs and arms which had been amputated from the wounded received at the fortress, and thrown to feed the sharks in the,--Roads. What will the Yankee nation say of the disposition made by their surgeons of the dismembered limbs of the army of the Potomac? They will anxiously inquire whether McClellan indeed retains so little of Virginia soil as not to afford him decent burial-place for the mangled limbs of his followers.”

6 I have since learned that this estimate of the Confederate force is incorrect — it did not muster ninety thousand effective men.

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