previous next

Chapter 39: battle of Monocacy.

The enemy, in considerable force under General Lew Wallace, was found strongly posted on the eastern bank of the Monocacy near the Junction, with an earthwork and two block-houses commanding both the railroad bridge and the bridge on the Georgetown pike. Ramseur's division was deployed in front of the enemy, after driving his skirmishers across the river, and several batteries were put in position, when a sharp artillery fire opened from both sides. Rodes' division had come up from Jefferson and was placed on Ramseur's left, covering the roads from Baltimore and the crossings of the Monocacy above the Junction. Breckenridge's command, with the trains, was in the rear between Frederick and the Junction, while the residue of the cavalry was watching a force of the enemy's cavalry which had followed from Maryland Heights. The enemy's position was too strong, and the difficulties of crossing the Monocacy under fire too great, to attack in front without greater loss than I was willing to incur. I therefore made an examination in person to find a point at which the river could be crossed, so as to take the enemy in flank.

While I was engaged in making this examination to my right, I discovered McCausland in the act of crossing the river with his brigade. As soon as he crossed, he dismounted his men, and advanced rapidly against the enemy's left flank, which he threw into confusion, and he came very near capturing a battery of artillery, but the enemy concentrated on him, and he was gradually forced back obstinately contesting the ground. McCausland's movement, which was very brilliantly executed, solved the problem for me, and, as soon as I discovered it, orders were sent to Breckenridge to move up rapidly with Gordon's division to McCausland's assistance, and to follow up his attack. This division crossed at the same [388] place, and Gordon was ordered to move forward and strike the enemy on his left flank, and drive him from the position commanding the crossings in Ramseur's front, so as to enable the latter to cross. This movement was executed under the personal superintendence of General Breckenridge, and, while Ramseur skirmished with the enemy in front, the attack was made by Gordon in gallant style, and, with the aid of several pieces of King's artillery which had been crossed over, and Nelson's artillery from the opposite side, he threw the enemy into great confusion and forced him from his position. Ramseur immediately crossed on the railroad bridge and pursued the enemy's flying forces and Rodes crossed on the left and joined in the pursuit.

Echols' division, which had been left to guard the trains, was ordered up during the engagement, but was not needed. The pursuit was soon discontinued, as Wallace's entire force had taken the road towards Baltimore, and I did not desire prisoners. Wallace's force I estimated at 8,000 or 10,000 men, and it was ascertained that one division of the 6th corps (Rickett's), from Grant's army, was in the fight. Between 600 and 700 unwounded prisoners fell into our hands, and the enemy's loss in killed and wounded was very heavy. Our loss in killed and wounded was about 700, and among them were Brigadier General Evans wounded, and Colonel Lamar of the 61st Georgia Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Tavener of the 17th Virginia Cavalry and Lieutenant Hobson of Nelson's artillery, killed. The action closed about sunset, and we had marched fourteen miles before it commenced. All the troops and trains were crossed over the Monocacy that night, so as to resume the march early next day. Such of our wounded as could not be moved in ambulances or otherwise were sent to the hospitals at Frederick under charge of competent medical officers, and our dead were buried. During the operations at Monocacy, a contribution of $200,000 in money was levied on the city of Frederick, and some needed supplies were obtained.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Ramseur (5)
Lew Wallace (3)
McCausland (3)
J. B. Gordon (3)
Breckenridge (3)
Robert E. Rodes (2)
Tavener (1)
Rickett (1)
Lamar (1)
King (1)
Hobson (1)
U. S. Grant (1)
Evans (1)
Echols (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: