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Chapter 11: McDowell.

From April 1st to April 17th, General Jackson occupied the position already described, upon Reede's Hill. Meantime, the grand armies of the Potomac had wholly changed their theatre of war. April 1st, General McClellan appeared at Fortress Monroe, on the eastern extremity of the peninsula between the James and York Rivers, and began to direct the approaches of his mighty host against Richmond from that point. On the 4th, he appeared before the lines of General Magruder, at Young's Mill, while at the same date, the troops of General Johnston were pouring through Richmond, from their lines behind the Rappahannock, to reinforce their brethren defending the peninsula. General Jackson's prospect of a junction with the main army in Culpepper were, therefore, at an end; and his movements were thus rendered, for a time, more independent of the other Confederate forces. The correctness of his reasonings upon the probable movements of the Federalists was now verified. He was convinced that Staunton would be the aim of General Banks, if he were guided by a skilful strategy; and the Official Report of General McClellan, since published, shows that his instructions to that General were, to press to that point as soon as his means would permit. The forces at his disposal now amounted, according to General McClellan, to 25,000 men, besides General Blenker's Division of 10,000 Germans, which, [333] having been just detached from the Federal Army of the Potomac, to reinforce General Fremont in the Northwest, was ordered to pause at Strasbourg, and support General Banks during the critical period of his movement. For the rest, the position of the Federal forces in Virginia was the following: General Fremont, in command of the Northwestern Department, was organizing a powerful force at Wheeling, while General Milroy, under his orders, confronted the Confederates upon the Shenandoah Mountain, twenty miles west of Staunton, and considerable reserves, under General Schenck, were ready to support him in the Valley of the South Branch. At, and near Manassa's Junction, were stationed forces amounting to about 18,000 men, guarding Washington City against an imaginary incursion of the dreaded Rebels; while the 1st Army Corps of General McDowell, detached from the grand army, against the urgent remonstrances of General McClellan, lay near Fredericksburg, to protect the capital in that direction.

On the side of the Confederates, were found the six regiments of General Edward Johnston, impregnably posted on the Shenandoah Mountain; the army of General Jackson at Reede's Hill; the Division of General Ewell upon the Rappahannock, confronting the Federalists upon the Orange and Alexandria Railroad; and the command of General Anderson, about 10,000 strong, watching Fredericksburg. The whole remainder of the forces in Virginia was collected upon the peninsula, to resist the advance of McClellan.

By the 17th of April, the fords of the North Fork of Shexandoah, above Reede's Hill, were becoming practicable; and General Jackson's position there was no longer secure. He therefore resumed his retreat on that day, and retired, by two marches, to Harrisonburg, the capital of Rockingham county, upon the great Valley Turnpike; while General Banks timidly pursued him. [334] From Harrisonburg, he turned aside to tile east, and passing the southern end of the Masanuttin Mountain, which here sinks into the plain, crossed the South, or main Fork of the Shenandoah River, at Conrad's Store, and posted himself in the valley of Elk Run, at the gorge of Swift Run Gap in the Blue Ridge. The highway to Staunton was now seemingly open to General Banks; but he durst not pursue it. This was indeed, one of the most adroit manceuvres of the great strategist. His position in the mouth of the mountain gorge was unassailable, and deprived his adversary of all the advantage of his superior numbers. Yet he threatened thence the Federal rear, the moment they attempted to advance upon Staunton; and thus arrested him as completely as though a superior force had been planted in his front. From his own rear, a good turnpike road led over Swift Run Gap, into Eastern Virginia, and to the Centcal Railroad, forty miles distant, at Gordonsville; thus providing him supplies, a secure line of retreat, and communication with General Ewell in Culpepper. There was, indeed, one grave objection to the movement; but the manner in which General Jackson's insight into his adversary's character here modified his application of the maxims of the military art, most clearly displayed his genius. Had his enemy been enterprising, this objection would have been decisive; but knowing his slowness and timidity, he safely disregarded it. From Harrisonburg, a turnpike road leads southwestward to the Warm Springs, passing through Jennings' Gap in the Great North Mountain, which was not guarded by any adequate force, along the eastern base of the Shenandoah Mountain, in the immediate rear of General Edward Johnson's position there. A forced march of little more than one day would have conducted General Banks to this spot; where proper concert with General Milroy, in front, would have ensured the destruction of the little army of Confederates. The two Federal forces [335] united would then have easily occupied Staunton, and made the Valley untenable for Jackson, thus deprived of the expected cooperation of Johnson. But the fear of leaving his rear exposed for a moment to the terrible Stonewall, together with the difficulty of passing the Shenandoah at Bridgewater, where the citizens had destroyed the bridge, were enough to deter General Banks from so promising a movement. General Jackson stated in his correspondence, that he foresaw the danger of such a manceuvre, and calculated the timidity of his opponent, as a sufficient defence.

About the time of his march to Swift Run Gap, an incident occurred which showed his decision. The elevated valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountain are inhabited by a poor, rude, and hardy people, little amenable to law, in the best times, who live as much by hunting as by agriculture. Among a part of these, an insurrectionary movement arose against the conscription; and a few score of the men assembled in one of their fastnesses, and prepared for a forcible resistance to the laws. General Jackson at once sent a force and dispersed them, capturing some of the more daring. For this act of promptitude he received the thanks of the authorities.

In the previous winter, General R. E. Lee had been stationed next the President in Richmond, as general director of the operations of all the armies in the field. The high estimate held by General Jackson of his character and accomplishments was pleasantly illustrated by the manner in which he received the news of this appointment, at Winchester. Much had been said by his friends there, of the desire that he should receive reinforcements. One evening, at supper, he said, with a smile, to the lady whose hospitality he was sharing: “Well, Madam, I am reinforced at last;” and pointed her to a paragraph in the newspaper from Richmond just received, which announced the [336] appointment of General Lee as Commander-in-Chief. It was his wisdom and counsel, which he regarded as equivalent to new forces.

While General Jackson held Banks thus check-mated for a fortnight at Harrisonburg, he was busily corresponding with General Lee concerning the proper direction to be given to his, and the neighboring Confederate forces. Three movements were discussed by them, of which the first was, to draw General Ewell to Swift Run Gap, in order to hold General Banks in check, while General Jackson combined with General Edward Johnson to deliver a crushing blow against Milroy, and then associated his and General Ewell's forces against Banks. The second was, to leave General Johnson for a little while, with a detachment from General Jackson's force intended to mask his withdrawal from Banks, to hold the Valley as best they might; while he marched with General Ewell across the Rappahannock and made a vigorous onslaught against the Federalists upon the Manassa's Railroad, and at its Junction. It was hoped by General Lee, that the news of this attack, so far towards his base, would cause Banks's immediate retreat to Winchester, or even to the Potomac. The third project was to leave the same dispositions for the defence of the Valley, effect a junction with General Ewell at Gordonsville, and marching thence to Fredericksburg, unite with the forces of Generals Anderson and Field, and attack thie Federal army in that neighborhood. This assault gave promise of alarming the Government at Washington, of recalling Banks, and of disturbing the arrangements of General McClellan on the peninsula. As General Lee remarked, the dispersion of the enemy's forces clearly indicated the policy of concentration, to attack some one or other of their detachments. But he gave General Jackson full discretion to select the project which he preferred. He decisively chose the first. The secret history of [337] this movement is related here, because many have asserted, according to their hypothesis, that General Jackson was a mere fighter, and no strategist, that the plan of the Valley campaign was due to another mind. On the contrary, the choice was left wholly to his judgment; and the first among the three schemes, the one adopted, and so gloriously effected, was of his suggestion. It is easy to argue for his preference of it, after it. was so sanctioned by complete success. But the considerations which seem to have decided General Jackson to prefer it were such as these: That it made a more complete concentration of our strength, in that it included General Edward Johnson, who, upon the other plans, would have been left aside, with a detachment, also, of General Jackson's own army; that it provided a more complete protection for the Valley and Staunton, of which he so highly appreciated the strategic importance; and that, if successful, it would as effectually neutralize the Federal forces on the Rappahannock, through the fears excited for Washington City, and thus assure the left flank of the army protecting Richmond against an assault from the direction of Fredericksburg.

General Ewell was accordingly withdrawn from the Rappahannock towards Gordonsville, and then, towards the eastern outlet of Swift Run Gap. He brought with him three brigades, those of Brigadier-Generals R. Taylor, Trimble, and Elzey, with two regiments of cavalry, commanded by Colonel Th. S. Munford, and Lieutenant-Colonel Flournoy, with an adequate supply of field artillery. The whole formed an aggregate of about 8,000 men, in an admirable state of efficiency. The afternoon of April 30th, General Ewell entered Swift Run Gap, and took the position which General Jackson had just left to march towards Staunton. General Banks had been deceived by feints of an attack in force in the direction of Harrisonburg, on the previous day, and on that morning; so that he received [338] no knowledge of the true direction of General Jackson's movement. The object of the latter was to reach Staunton by a route, which, while not so circuitous as to consume invaluable time, should be sufficiently so, to conceal his march from the enemy, and protect him from an attack on the road. The incessant rains of a late and ungenial spring had rendered all the roads, which were not paved, almost impracticable. After careful explorations, General Jackson determined to ascend the eastern or right bank of the Shenandoah river to Port Republic, a village seven miles from Harrisonburg, and then, instead of proceeding direct to Staunton by a road of twenty-five miles, to cross the Blue Ridge into Albemarle County, by Brown's Gap, and go thence to Staunton along the line of the Virginia Central Railroad. This route made three marches; but it completely masked his movement, and mystified both friends and foes; for no one, except the General's chief engineer, knew whether he was on his way to the east or the west.

In the midst of a dreary rain, the army left its comfortless bivouac on the Elk Run, and made a half march, between the river and the western base of the Blue Ridge, towards Port Republic. The stream is here separated from the declivities of the mountain by a plain of two or three miles in breadth, whose flat, treacherous soil, softened by the rains, was speedily converted by the trains of baggage and artillery, into a quagmire without apparent bottom. If the teamsters attempted to evade this by turning aside into the woodlands, as soon as the fibrous roots of the surface were, severed, the subsoil proved even more deceitful than the mire of the roads, and a few vehicles made the track impassable. The rivulets descending from the mountain were swollen into broad rivers, and the glades of the forest were converted into lakes. The straggling column toiled along through water and mud for a few miles, yet [339] enthusiastically cheering their General when he passed along it; and then bivouacked in the woods, while he, with his suite, found shelter in the hospitable mansion of General Lewis. In the morning, the clouds were gradually dispersed by the struggling sun; and General Jackson, having established his Headquarters in the little village of Port Republic, and having assigned to a part of his staff the duty of arresting all transit between his line of march and the enemy, returned with the remainder, and addressed himself to the arduous task of extricating his trains from the slough, which would have been to any other, a “slough of despond.” Each detachment was preceded by a large party of pioneers, who, with excessive toil, so far repaired the effects wrought by the wheels of the preceding one, as to pass, over another train. Whole road-beds formed of stones and brush-wood sunk into the quicksands, and others were placed above them, again and again. The General and his staff were seen dismounted, urging on the laborers; and he carried stones and timber upon his own shoulders, with his uniform bespattered with mud like a common soldier's. From Thursday afternoon until Saturday morning, the trains struggled along, sorely scattered and travel-soiled, until at length, all were assembled at the western opening of Brown's Gap. The energy and determination required to drive them, in a day and a half, through those sixteen miles of incredible difficulties, were equal to any display of these qualities, ever made upon the field of a great victory.

The mountain-sides afforded a road-bed so stony, that no floods could soften it; and on Saturday, the army passed over to Whitehall in Albemarle, by a track rough, but firm, cheered by a brilliant sun, and full of confidence and elation. The Sabbath morning dawned upon them clear and soft, in their pleasant bivouacs along the green meadows of Moorman's [340] river; and the General, after hard debate with himself, and with sore reluctance, gave the order to march again, surrendering the day of holy rest, which he would have so much enjoyed, to military necessity. General Johnston reported himself closely pressed by the enemy west of Staunton; and the crisis forbade the expenditure of a precious day. When General Jackson had left the Great Valley Turnpike at Harrisonburg, to turn aside to Swift Run Gap, the people of Staunton, in their panic, supposed that he was gone to reinforce the army near Richmond, leaving them to their fate; and unauthorized messages from officers near Headquarters confirmed this erroneous construction of his movement. The consequence was a fit of alarm, in which public military stores were hastily removed or destroyed, and the most exciting news of the certain occupation of Staunton by the enemy was sent to the force on the Shenandoah Mountain. General Johnson was detained from his command at the time; but the officer next in rank concluded that the juncture required immediate action, to rescue the army from capture. He therefore evacuated his strong position on the mountain, and retired to West View, only six miles west of Staunton, prepared to evade the approach of Banks, on that place, and retire to the Blue Ridge. Thus the advanced forces of Milroy were brought within ten miles of Staunton, and he was about to establish his communications with the Federalists at Harrisonburg. General Jackson therefore pressed forward from Whitehall to Staunton, reaching the latter place at evening on the Sabbath; to the unspeakable delight of the inhabitants, who had only heard that the army had disappeared again into Eastern Virginia, no one knew whither. By Monday evening, the whole army came up, and the junction with General Johnson was virtually effected.

Meantime, General Banks no sooner learned that General [341] Ewell had reached Elk Run, and that General Jackson had vanished thence, than he hastily evacuated Harrisonburg; and retreated to Strasburg, followed by the cavalry of Ashby. The imagination of the Federal leader was affrighted with the notion of an attack in front from Ewell, while the mysterious Jackson should fall upon his flank or rear, from some unimagined quarter. Yet his force present at Harrisonburg, about twenty thousand men, was superior to that of both generals united!

On Wednesday morning, May 7th, a day having been employed in collecting and refreshing the troops, General Johnson broke up his camp at West View at an early hour, and marched against the enemy, followed by General Jackson in supporting distance, with the brigade of General Taliaferro in front, that of Colonel Campbell next, and the Stonewall Brigade, now commanded by General Charles S. Winder, in the rear. The Corps of Cadets, from the Military Academy, forming a gallant battalion of four companies of infantry, under their teachers, was also attached to the expedition. The spruce equipments and exact drill of these youths formed a strong contrast with the war-worn and nonchalant veterans, as they stepped out, full of enthusiasm, to take their first actual look upon the horrid visage of War, under their renowned Professor.

The first collision with the enemy occurred about mid-day, at the intersection of the Harrisonburg and Parkersburg turnpikes. There a Federal picket was surprised, and nearly captured, escaping with the loss of a few men and horses. Their advanced posts at the eastern and western bases of the Shenandoah Mountain were immediately deserted, with some military stores, and the position upon the top of the mountain, lately held by the Confederates; and they retired across the Bull Pasture Mountain to McDowell, making no other resistance to the advance of the Confederates, than a few ineffectual cannon shots. The [342] latter paused for the night upon both sides of the Shenandoah Mountain, with the rear brigades many miles behind the front. On Thursday morning, May 8th, the march was resumed early, with General Johnson's regiments still in advance, and the ascent of the Bull Pasture Mountain was commenced. This ridge, unlike its neighbors, has a breadth of a couple of miles upon its top, which might be correctly termed a table-land, were it not occupied by clusters of precipitous hills, which are themselves almost mountainous in their dimensions and ruggedness. The Parkersburg turnpike, proceeding westward, ascends to this table land, passes across it, and descends to the Bull Pasture River, by a sinuous course, along the ravines which seam the sides and top of the mountain alike; so that it is almost everywhere commanded, on one or both sides, by the steep and wooded banks of the valleys which it threads. On the right and left of the road, the western portions of the rough plateau which has been described, were occupied by pasture lands, covered with the richest greensward, with here and there the prostrate trunk of a forest tree long since girdled and killed. The chasm which separates the higher reaches of these lofty pastures, is a mile in width; and far down in its bottom, the turnpike descends toward the river, until it debouches through a straight gorge of a few hundred yards in length, upon the bridge. Artillery, planted upon a hillock beyond the river, commanded this reach of the road with a murderous fire.

Generals Jackson and Johnson having cautiously ascended the mountain, and driven away a picket of the enemy which quartered its top, proceeded to the western ridge of the pasture lands on the left of the road, and occupied the forenoon in examining the position of the enemy. The grounds here belonged to a patriotic citizen named Sitlington; while the rival heights, on the right of the turnpike, fed the cattle of a [343] proprietor named Hull. The latter were found to be occupied by two regiments of Federal riflemen; but the distance was too great for effective volleys. Beneath them lay the smiling hamlet of McDowell, crowded with Federal troops, stores, and artillery, while beyond, the champaign stretched away with a smooth and gentle ascent to the westward, for a number of miles. The edges of the vale next to the position of the Confederate Generals were fringed by a forest, which covered the steeper and more barren slopes of the mountain's foot. This wood was speedily found to be infested by the enemy's skirmishers; but a detachment of General Johnson's riflemen easily kept them at bay, and chastised their audacity whenever they attempted to advance from cover. The open field itself, of a mile's length, was heaved into confused and billowy ridges, presenting, on the whole, the concavity of an irregular crescent toward the west. The ravine by which the Confederates reached this field from the turnpike, is narrow and precipitous, and occupied both by the forest and by a stream of rude boulders, which the rains had precipitated from the ridge above. Yet it was judged that, by the strenuous exertions of men and horses, field guns might have been carried up after several hours' labor.

From the ridges of the pasture-field, General Jackson quietly watched the enemy far below him, for a number of hours; while they cannonaded him and his escort from a battery on the farther side of the vale, whose guns had their muzzles elevated toward the sky, and their trails thrust into trenches in the ground. It was no part of his purpose to engage them that day, nor on that ground. He had reason to hope that they were ignorant of his junction with General Johnson, and that they supposed they had only the six regiments of the latter to deal with. His troops had not all come up; and the Stonewall Brigade especially, was many miles in the rear. His purpose was to amuse the enemy, [344] while his engineers diligently explored the mountain to the right and left, for a road which might lead him to their rear. To the zeal of his artillery officers, who offered to bring up batteries, he quietly replied: “Thank you; not yet;” and at length added to one of them: “Perhaps Providence may open a way toward Monterey for you tomorrow.” (Monterey is the next village ten miles west of McDowell; and was in the enemy's rear.) In truth, his explorations had already been successful in leading him to a rude mountain road, practicable for artillery, which, passing far to the right of Hull's mountain pastures, enters the highway five miles in the rear of McDowell; and his orders were just issued to move a formidable park of artillery, with sufficient escort, by this road, during the night; who were to assume a good position behind the enemy. His preponderance of force would have enabled him thus to envelop and crush the army of Milroy.

But that officer had astuteness enough, though ignorant of these formidable preparations, to apprehend something of the danger of his position. If once the lofty fields occupied by Generals Jackson and Johnson were crowned with artillery, their plunging fire would have made the whole valley of McDowell untenable for him; and the altitude forbade an effective reply. At mid-day General Schenck arrived with three thousand additional bayonets: and they resolved to take the initiative, and drive the Confederates from their threatening position at once. How little purpose General Jackson had of commencing the action that evening, appears from the fact, that as the afternoon advanced, he had dismissed all his staff, save two members, upon different errands, with kindly instructions to seek the repose of their quarters when they had fulfilled those functions, and had sent orders to the Stonewall Brigade, which was at length approaching the top of the mountain, to [345] descend again, and seek a suitable encampment. But the advance of the enemy did not, for all this, find him unprepared. Although he had carefully avoided making any display of force upon the open hills, the regiments of General Johnson were close at hand, and the brigades of Taliaferro and Campbell within supporting distance. The aggressive intentions of the enemy now becoming manifest, the 52d Virginia regiment was brought upon the field, and posted upon the left, speedily followed by the 58th and 44th Virginia, and the 12th Georgia regiments. The 52d Virginia having been disposed as skirmishers, were speedily engaged in a brisk encounter with the enemy's skirmishers, whom they handsomely repulsed. The other three regiments then arriving, were soon afterwards posted as follows: the 12th Georgia on the crest of the hill, and forming the centre of the Confederate line, the 58th Virginia on the left to support the 52d, and the 44th Virginia on the right near a ravine.

General Milroy's advance now began in good earnest. He was protected in hiss approach by the convexity of the hills, and by the wood interposed in the Confederate front, until he emerged from it, and engaged their skirmishers. These he drove before him, and poured a galling fire into the Confederate right, which was returned, and a brisk and animated contest was kept up for some time; when General Johnson's two remaining regiments, the 25th and 31st Virginia came up and were posted on the right. The fire was now rapid and well sustained on both sides, and the conflict fierce and sanguinary. The narrow and rough ravine by which the Confederate troops ascended from the left side of the turnpike to the field of battle, has been described. If the enemy advanced along the highway and seized its mouth, the results would be disastrous. To prevent the possibility of such a movement, the 31st Virginia [346] was posted on both sides of the road, between that point and the enemy. It was, not long after, ordered to join its brigade in action; and its place was taken by the 21st Virginia. To the commander of this regiment General Jackson gave his orders in person. They were, that he should avail himself of every inequality of the ground to protect his men, and then hold the turnpike against all odds, and at every cost.

The engagement had now not only become general along the entire line, but so furious, that General Jackson ordered General Taliaferro to the support of General Johnson. Accordingly, the 23d and 37th Virginia regiments were advanced to the centre of the line which was then held by the 12th Georgia, with heroic gallantry; and the 10th Virginia was ordered to support the 52d Virginia, which had already driven the enemy from the left, and had now advanced to make a flank movement on him. At this time the Federalists were pressing forward in strong force on the extreme right of the Confederates, with a view of turning that position. This movement was speedily detected, and met by General Taliaferro's brigade, and the 12th Georgia, with great promptitude. Further to check it, portions of the 25th and 31st Virginia regiments were sent to occupy an elevated piece of woodland on the right and rear, so situated as fully to command the position of the enemy. The brigade commanded by Colonel Campbell, coming up about this time, was ordered, together with the 10th Virginia, down the ridge into the woods, to guard against designs upon the right flank. This duty they, in connexion with the other force, effectually performed. The battle had now raged from half past 4 to half past 8 o'clock P. M., and the shades of night had descended. Every attempt of the enemy by front or flank movement, to attain the crest of the hills where General Jackson's line was formed, was signally and effectually repulsed; [347] and they finally ceased firing and retired from the field. During all the earlier portions of the engagement, the enemy's artillery on the farther side of the valley was actively employed in throwing shot and shell, until their infantry approached too closely. But the elevation of the mountain, and the shelter of the sharp ridges rendered their fire ineffectual. Only one of the Confederate slain lost his life by a cannon shot. General Jackson brought up no artillery; assigning as his reason, that in case of disaster, there was no road by which it could be promptly withdrawn. The battle may therefore be said to have been fought with musketry alone.

By nine o'clock, the roar of the struggle had passed away; and the green battle-field reposed under the starlight, as calmly as when it had been occupied only by its peaceful herds. Detachments of soldiers were silently exploring the ground for their wounded comrades, while the tired troops were slowly filing off to their bivouac. At midnight the last sufferer had been removed, and the last picket posted; and then only did General Jackson turn, to seek a few hours repose in a farmhouse at the eastern base of the mountain. The valley of McDowell lay beneath him in equal quiet. The camp-fires of the Federals blazed ostentatiously in long and regular lines, and their host seemed to be wrapped in sleep. At one o'clock A. M., the General reached his quarters, and threw himself upon a bed. When his faithful servant, knowing that he had eaten nothing since morning, came with food, he said, “I want none; nothing but sleep” --and in a minute, was slumbering like a healthy infant. The dawn found him in the saddle, and ascending the mountain again. When he reached the crest of the battle-field, he saw the vale beneath him deserted; the foe had decamped in the night, leaving their dead, and partially destroying their camp-equipage and stores. The pebbly bottom [348] of the neighboring stream was found strewn with tens of thou sands of musket-cartridges, and vast heaps of bread were still smoking amidst the ashes of the store-houses which had sheltered them. After marching west for a few miles, General Milroy sought the sources of the South Branch of the Potomac, and turned northward down that stream, along which a good highway led toward Franklin and Romney. His aim was to meet the reinforcements of General Fremont, which, he hoped, were approaching by that route, from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The line of his retreat was marked by the graves of his wounded, and the wreck of an occasional carriage.

The loss of the Confederates in this engagement was sixtynine killed, and three hundred and ninety-one wounded; making a total of four hundred and sixty men. The greatest carnage occurred in the ranks of the famous 12th Georgia regiment, which had thirty-five killed, and one hundred and forty wounded. This noble body, trained under the eye of General Edward Johnson, when Colonel, held the centre of the battle from the beginning to the end. But their heavy loss was also due to their own zeal and chivalry. Having been advanced at first, in front of the crest of the hills, where their line showed to their enemies from beneath, in bold relief against the sky, they could not be persuaded to retire to the reverse of the ridge, where many of the other regiments found partial protection without sacrificing the efficiency of their fire. Their commander, perceiving their useless exposure, endeavored again and again to withdraw them; but amidst the roar of the musketry his voice was lifted up in vain; and when by passing along the ranks he persuaded or entreated one wing of the regiment to recede, they rushed again to the front while he was gone to expostulate with the other. A tall Georgia youth expressed the spirit of his comrades, when he replied the next day to the question, why they did not retreat to [349] the shelter of the ridge behind them, whence they could fight the battle equally well: “We did not come all this way to Virginia, to run before Yankees.”

Just before the close of the engagement, General Johnson received a painful wound in the ankle, which, breaking one of its bones, compelled him to leave the field. General Jackson paid him the following merited tribute in his report: “General Johnson, to whom I had entrusted the management of the troops engaged, proved himself eminently worthy of the confidence reposed in him, by the skill, gallantry, and presence of mind, which he displayed on the occasion.” Colonel Gibbons, commanding the 10th Virginia, a Christian gentleman and soldier, beloved by all his comrades, fell dead as he was bringing his men into position; and he was the only person in his regiment who was struck. Colonel Harman, of the 52d Virginia, Colonel Smith, and Major Higginbotham, of the 25th, and Major Campbell, of the 42d Virginia, were wounded. At the beginning of the action, General Jackson was, for the reason stated above, accompanied by only two of his staff: Captain Lee, his ordnanceofficer, and Lieutenant Meade, his Aide. These two, by their zeal and courage, temporarily supplied the place of all; and Captain Lee received a severe wound in the head. The Federal loss was estimated by General Johnson, who witnessed nearly the whole struggle, to be double that of the Confederates; but this reckoning was probably too large. Few prisoners were taken on either side; but among those captured by Jackson was a Colonel of an Ohio regiment. Some Quarter-Master's and Commissary stores, arms, ammunition, and cavalry equipments remained for the victors. The force of General Milroy was supposed to be 8,000 men. Of General Jackson's, about 6,000, or only half his force, were engaged.

From McDowell, General Jackson sent the following modest [350] and laconic despatch, the first of those missives which, during the remainder of his career, so frequently electrified the country with joy:

Valley district, May 9th, 1862.
To Gen. S. Cooper:
God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell yesterday.

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.

This announcement was received by the people of Virginia and of the Confederate States with peculiar delight, because it was the first blush of the returning day of triumphs after a season of gloomy disasters. The campaign had opened with the fall of Fort Donelson and the occupation of Nashville. The fruitless victory of Shiloh had been counterpoised in April by the fall of New Orleans, a loss as unexpected to the Confederates as it was momentous. On the 4th of May, while Generals Jackson and Johnson were effecting their junction at Staunton, Yorktown was deserted by the Confederates, and, on the next day, Williamsburg fell into their hands after a bloody combat. Or the 9th, Norfolk surrendered to the enemy, and, on the 11th, the gallant ship Virginia, the pride and confidence of the people, was destroyed by her own commander. The victory of McDowell was the one gleam of brightness athwart all these clouds; and the eyes of the people turned with hope and joy to the young soldier who had achieved it, and recognized in this happy beginning the vigor and genius of the great commander.

General Jackson immediately threw forward a few companies of cavalry under Captain Sheetz to harass the enemy's rear, and collected his infantry in the valley beyond McDowell to prepare for a close pursuit. The mountain passes by which General Banks might have communicated succors to Milroy were immediately obstructed, and an active officer was sent by a circuitous [351] route to the northern parts of Pendleton county, below Franklin, to collect the partisan soldiers of the mountains in the enemy's rear. They were exhorted to fill the roads with felled timber, to tear down the walls which supported the turnpike along the precipitous cliffs, and to destroy the bridges, in order that the retreat of Milroy might be retarded, and the advance of Fremont to his aid checked, until his flying army was again beaten and dispersed. Saturday morning, the victors resumed their march, refreshed by a night of quiet rest, and pressed the enemy so hard, that General Jackson hoped in the afternoon to bring them to bay. Their rear-guard assumed a position, and held the Confederate cavalry in check. General Jackson disposed his troops, and issued his orders for battle with a stern joy; but the slippery game soon continued its flight. The next morning was the Sabbath; but after anxious deliberation, the Confederate General concluded that the importance of overtaking the enemy, who would certainly not pause from any reverence for the sacred day, and of inflicting another disaster before the reinforcements of General Fremont arrived, required him to disregard its claims. When he began to urge the enemy again, the Federals resorted to the expedient of setting fire to the forests upon the mountain sides, in order to envelop their flight in obscurity. Soon the sky was overcast with volumes of smoke, which almost hid the scene, and wrapped every distant object in a veil, impenetrable to the eyes and the telescopes of the officers alike. Through this sultry fog the pursuing army felt its way cautiously along, cannonaded by the enemy from every advantageous position; while it was protected from ambuscades only by detachments of skirmishers, who scoured the burning woods on each side of the highway. As fast as these could scramble over the precipitous hills, and through the blazing thickets, the great column crept along the main road, like a lazy [352] serpent; their General often far in advance of its head, in his eagerness to overtake the foe. He declared that this smoke was the most adroit expedient, to which a retreating army could resort, to embarrass pursuit, and that it entailed upon him all the disadvantages of a night attack. By slow approaches, and constant skirmishing, the enemy were driven to the village of Franklin; when the double darkness of the night, and the fog, again arrested his progress.

When the morning of Monday arrived, General Jackson resolved to discontinue his pursuit of Milroy, and return to pay his respects to General Banks. Several considerations weighed together, to determine his judgment. He ascertained that his orders for obstructing the turnpike below Franklin had been disregarded by the citizens; and their supineness and timidity filled him with disgust. It was now obvious that his cunning adversary, with an unobstructed road for retreat, and all the advantages of a mountainous country for defence, would not be brought to a battle, until he had received the support of General Fremont. On the other hand, the concentration of the Confederates was only half completed, for the excellent division of General Ewell, was still to be associated with the forces of Jackson; and prudence dictated that the risk of such a collision as that, with Fremont and Milroy united, should not be taken without the advantage of all the strength attainable by him. Moreover, time was precious; for he knew not how soon a new emergency at Fredericksburg or at Richmond, might occasion the recall of General Ewell to the East, and deprive him of the power to strike any effective blow against General Banks. The motive last mentioned was perhaps the most operative of all; for he knew that the loan of General Ewell's aid to him by the Confederate authorities at Richmond, was not entirely hearty, and that they did not wholly concur in his estimate [353] of the importance of protecting his District from invasion. But the conclusive reason, was a despatch from General Lee, May 11th, requiring his return. The same day General Jackson sent a courier to General Ewell, to announce his coming, who was commanded to ride post-haste with his message.

General Jackson, therefore, prepared to turn his face eastward again. He granted the soldiers the half of Monday as a season of rest, in lieu of the Sabbath, which had been devoted to warfare; and issued the following order to them.

“Soldiers of the army of the Valley and North West.” “I congratulate you on your recent victory at McDowell. I request you to unite with me, this morning, in thanksgivings to Almighty God, for thus having crowned your arms with success; and in praying that He will continue to lead you on from victory to victory, until our independence shall be established; and make us that people whose God is the Lord.”

“The chaplains will hold divine service at 10 o'clock A. M., this day, in their respective regiments.”

The different groups were accordingly soon assembled, beneath a genial sun, along the verdant meadows of the South Branch; and the neighboring mountains, which, on the Sabbath, had reverberated with the bellowings of cannon, now echoed the Sabbath hymns. The commanding General attended reverently the worship of a company of artillery near his tent. After midday, the camps were broken up, and the march was resumed for McDowell; which the army reached Wednesday evening. The next day's journey brought them to the Lebanon Springs, on the road to Harrisonburg; where they paused for a day, Friday, May 16th, to observe a season of national humiliation and prayer, appointed by the Confederate Government, for all the people and armies. On Saturday, an easy march was ended, in the beautiful region of Mossy Creek; where the troops, no [354] longer pressed by a military exigency, were allowed to spend a quiet Sabbath.

One incident remains to be mentioned, illustrating Jackson's iron will, which occurred while the army paused on this march, at McDowell. A part of the men of the 27th regiment, in the Stonewall Brigade, who had volunteered for twelve months, now found their year just expired. Assuming that the application of the late conscription to them was a breach of faith, they demanded their discharge, and laying down their arms, refused to serve another day. Their gallant Colonel Grigsby referred the case to General Jackson for instructions. On hearing it detailed, he exclaimed, his eye flashing, and his brow rigid with a portentous sternness, “What is this but mutiny? Why does Colonel Grigsby refer to me, to know what to do with a mutiny? He should shoot them, where they stand.” He then turned to his adjutant, and dictated an order to the Colonel to parade his regiment instantly, with loaded muskets, to draw up the insubordinate companies in front of them, disarmed, and offer them the alternative of returning to duty, or being fusilladed on the spot. The order was obeyed, and the mutineers, when thus confronted with instant death, promptly reconsidered their resolution. They could not be afterwards distinguished from the rest of the regiment in their soldierly behavior; and this was the last attempt at organized disobedience in the army.

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