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Chapter 12: Halleck and Pope in Federal command.

The Federals had by this time organized the Army of Virginia from the independent forces in the State,the First Corps under General Sigel, the Second under General Banks, the Third under General McDowell, commanded by Major-General John Pope, brought from the West for that object and appointed June 26. This army reported July 31, 46,858 strong, for field service.

On the 23d of July, General H. W. Halleck assumed command of the Federal armies as general-in-chief, by order of the President of July 11.

The quiet of General McClellan's army at Harrison's Landing assured General Lee of his opportunity for attention to the movements of the army under General Pope, working towards Richmond by the Orange and Alexandria Railway. On the 13th of July he ordered General Jackson, with his own and Ewell's division, to Gordonsville, to have a watch upon the Federal force operating in that quarter, promising reinforcements as soon as occasion should call for them. Stuart was at Hanover Court-House, in observation towards Fredericksburg, and Robertson's cavalry was ordered to Jackson, to reinforce his cavalry under Colonel Munford.

To engage attention pending these movements, General D. H. Hill, in command on the south side of the James, [154] was ordered to have all of his artillery on that side available put in battery on the banks of the river against McClellan's camps on the north side and his transports on the water.

General Pope immediately displayed bold front as a diversion, seeking to draw General Lee away from McClellan.

So General Lee sent General A. P. Hill with his division to reinforce Jackson, with orders to the latter to strike out for the enemy in his front.

The threatening attitude of the Confederates at Gordonsville caused apprehension at Washington, and induced the authorities to consider the withdrawal of McClellan's army to reinforce the army under Pope.

Upon receipt of an intimation to that effect, General McClellan ordered a strong force under General Hooker to advance in threatening move against General Lee on the 4th of August. Hooker marched on the 5th, and occupied the ground of the battle of Malvern Hill. General Lee ordered the divisions of McLaws, D. R. Jones, that under Ripley (D. H. Hill's), and my own to march against Hooker. It was night when our troops were posted, and before daylight of the next morning Hooker had marched back to his camp at Harrison's Landing.

Just here, as a digression from following the operations of the armies of Lee and Pope, it should be remarked that the latter, by injudicious and unsoldierly attitude assumed at the outstart of his campaign, intensely incensed the people of Virginia and the South generally, the Confederate army to a man, and probably to a considerable degree discomfited the most considerate and thoughtful of his own officers and the authorities behind him. The exigencies of war did not demand some of the harsh measures that he promulgated,--such, for instance, as his notorious “General orders no. 11” and several other of his pronunciamentos: [155]

Headquarters Army of Virginia, Washington, July 23, 1862.

General orders no. 11.1

Commanders of army corps, divisions, brigades, and detached commands will proceed immediately to arrest all disloyal male citizens within their lines or within their reach in rear of their respective stations.

Such as are willing to take the oath of allegiance to the United. States, and will furnish sufficient security for its observance, shall be permitted to remain at their homes and pursue in good faith their accustomed avocations. Those who refuse shall be conducted south beyond the extreme pickets of this army, and be notified that if found again anywhere within our lines, or at any point in rear, they will be considered spies, and subjected to the extreme rigor of military law.

If any person, having taken the oath of allegiance as above specified, be found to have violated it, he shall be shot, and his property seized and applied to the public use.

All communication with any person whatever living within the lines of the enemy is positively prohibited, except through the military authorities and in the manner specified by military law; and any person concerned in writing or in carrying letters or messages in any other way will be considered and treated as a spy within the lines of the United States army.

By command of Major-General Pope. Geo. D. Ruggles, Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General, and Chief of Staff.

This was a measure of unnecessary severity towards non-combatants, and had an unsalutary effect. When men volunteer to fight in their country's cause they should be credited with faith in its righteousness, and with expectations of meeting soldiers worthy of their mettle. Appeals to turn their strength against women and children and non-combatants are offensive to manhood, demoralizing in influence, and more likely to aggravate and prolong war spirit than to open ways of order and amity. Besides, such orders indicate a flaw in the armor of the author. [156]

General Scott set an example worthy of eternal emulation. In his march through Mexico he was as strict in the requirement of order and protection for non-combatants as he could have been in marching through his own civil communities. The result was speedy peace, respect from all the people, admiration and affection from many.

When A. P. Hill's division joined General Jackson at Gordonsville, General Pope's army was posted,--the First Corps (Sigel's) at Sperryville, the Second (Banks's) at Culpeper Court-House, the Third (McDowell's), one division near Culpeper Court-House, and one at Fredericksburg-these two under Ricketts and King respectively; his cavalry under Buford, Bayard, and Hatch along the Rapidan from the Blue Ridge to Fredericksburg.

The point held by his left was thought essential by the Washington authorities as holding the way for reinforcements from McClellan's army on the James to join in the contemplated march by General Pope's route to Richmond.

On the 2d of August, Jackson sent part of his cavalry forward as far as Orange Court-House, under Colonel W. E. Jones, who encountered at that point a formidable cavalry guard of the enemy, when a spirited affair occurred, creditable alike to both sides. This was followed up, on the 8th, by the advance of Jackson's entire force, his own division under Winder leading, Ewell's and A. P. Hill's following.

General Pope's outpost at Cedar Run, held by cavalry and Crawford's brigade of infantry, had meantime been reinforced by the balance of the Second Corps under Banks, and Ricketts's division put in supporting position of the advance post.

On the 9th, Jackson advanced and found the enemy in strong position at Cedar Run. His division under Ewell was posted on the northeast slope of Slaughter Mountain, his own division under Winder formed to the left. The [157] engagement was pitched and soon became severe. While yet posting his troops, Winder was mortally struck by a fragment of shell. Banks, gaining confidence in his battle, moved forward to closer and severe fight and held it an hour, at points putting Jackson's troops in disorder. Jackson, reinforced by A. P. Hill's brigades, recovered his lost ground, advanced and renewed attack, drove the enemy back, engaged against reinforcements of Ricketts's division, continued the fight till near midnight, then reorganized for battle away from the immediate front of the enemy, where he awaited next day, During the evening of the 9th, Pope received his First Corps under Sigel and called up McDowell's division, under King, from Fredericksburg. On the 10th both armies remained quiet. On the 11th a flag of truce was sent in asking for time to bury the dead, which Jackson granted, and extended to a late hour of the day. King's division coming up, Pope decided to engage again on the 12th, but Jackson, having information of the extent of reinforcements, decided to withdraw during the night.

The loss was severe on both sides,--Jackson's, 1276, including his most promising brigadier, Winder; Pope's, 2381, including three brigadiers, two wounded and one taken prisoner.

After drawing King's division to his field, General Pope had about thirty-six thousand present for service. Jackson's reports as to these forces were such that he accepted the advice of prudence and retired to stronger ground on the right bank of the Rapidan.

In the battle of the 9th the troops engaged were, according to official return of July 31,2-

Second Corps (Banks's), artillery and infantry14,567
Ricketts's division, half of Third Corps, artillery and infantry9,287


The absence of Lawton's brigade and one from Jackson's division reduced his force to something less than eighteen thousand. The troops engaged in battle, however, were not far from equal, Jackson probably the stronger.

That this was only a partial success-coming on the heels of the cruel orders of the Federal commander-was gratifying to the Confederates, and encouraging as well.

Inaction of the Army of the Potomac gave General Lee opportunity for movement of his troops towards Washington and the army under General Pope. On the 15th I was ordered to Gordonsville by the Central Railroad with ten brigades. Two others under Hood at Hanover Junction were ordered to join me.

Before despatching my corps, General Lee expressed his thought to advance the right column and cavalry by the lower fords of the Rapidan, the left by the fords above the railroad bridge, but left the question open, with orders to me to work on it.

The brigades that moved with me were D. R. Jones's, Kemper's, Pickett's, Pryor's, Jenkins's, Featherston's, Wilcox's, Toombs's, Evans's, and Drayton's. Hood's and Whiting's joined us near Gordonsville, Hood commanding the demi-division,--his own and Whiting's brigades.

It may be well to write just here that experience during the seven days about Richmond established between General Lee and his first lieutenant relations of confidence and esteem, official and personal, which ripened into stronger ties as the mutations of war bore heavier upon us. He always invited the views of the latter in moves of strategy and general policy, not so much for the purpose of having his own views approved and confirmed as to get new light, or channels for new thought, and was more pleased when he found something that gave him new strength than with efforts to evade his questions by compliments. [159] When oppressed by severe study, he sometimes sent for me to say that he had applied himself so closely to a matter that he found his ideas running around in a circle, and was in need of help to find a tangent. Our personal relations remained as sincere after the war until politics came between us in 1867.

General Pope was industriously increasing his strength. The Ninth Corps, General Burnside, had been ordered to Fredericksburg via Acquia Creek, and a division under General Reno of eight thousand of that corps reported to the commander at Culpeper Court-House on the 14th. Besides reinforcements called to support him from General McClellan's army, Pope was authorized to call to his aid the greater part of the army in West Virginia under General Cox.

After reaching Gordonsville and learning something of the position of the armies, and more of the features of the country, it occurred to me that a move against General Pope's right would give us vantage-ground for battle and pursuit, besides the inviting foot-hills of the Blue Ridge for strategy, and this preference was expressed to General Lee.3 He joined us on the 15th, and the brigades, including those under Hood, were advanced to position for a general march. He thought it better to strike in between General Pope's left and the reinforcements that could join him from Fredericksburg than to adopt the proposition to move his army by the upper fords of the Rapidan and strike down upon the enemy's right, and decided to throw his right wing forward by the Raccoon Ford, and his left by the Somerville Ford, the latter above the railroad,--Fitzhugh Lee and Robertson's cavalry with his right, and T. T. Munford's with the left wing; General Stuart with the column on the right.

My command marched on the 16th to position for [160] crossing by the lower fords. Jackson was in position for the upper crossings. As all of the cavalry was not up, General Lee ordered his march for the 18th, to give time for the arrival of General Stuart and his marching troopers.

Leaving the cavalry on the march, under General Fitzhugh Lee, with instructions to camp on the plank-road opposite Raccoon Ford on the 17th, General Stuart rode on the cars to General Lee's Headquarters, received his orders, and rode out on the plank-road to join his command under Fitzhugh Lee, then due. The latter, however, “by failure to comply with instructions,” as his commander expressed it subsequently, lost a day in a roundabout ride, which so jaded his horses that another day was sacrificed to give them rest. As if this were not sufficient misfortune, Captain Fitzhugh (General J. E. B. Stuart's adjutant) was captured, and, as a crowning disaster, the despatch of the Confederate commander giving instructions for the march of his army as ordered for the 18th was lost. The despatch was taken to General Pope, who, thus advised by accident, immediately set about retiring from Culpeper to the east bank of the Rappahannock. General Pope reported that “The cavalry expedition sent out on the 16th in the direction of Louisa Court-House captured the adjutant-general of General Stuart, and was very near capturing that officer himself. Among the papers taken was an autograph letter of General Robert E. Lee to General Stuart, dated Gordonsville, August 15, which made manifest to me the position and force of the army, and their determination to overwhelm the army under my command before it could be reinforced by any portion of the Army of the Potomac.” 4 Thus on that day Pope put his army in retreat by the several crossings of the Rappahannock to its strong camps of the north side, leaving his cavalry in observation. [161]

As Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry failed to get to position on my right on the 17th, I ordered two regiments of infantry to be posted as guard on the road to Raccoon Ford until the cavalry could relieve them. The detail fell upon Toombs's brigade. As we were to be in wait during the 17th, General Toombs rode off that morning to visit an old Congressional friend, and was absent when the order was received at his brigade Headquarters. The detail was filled by his next in rank, Colonel H. L. Benning, and duly posted. On his return, General Toombs rode upon his picket, claimed that his troops should not have been moved except by orders through himself, and ordered the detail back to their camps. Upon learning of General Stuart's mishap, and the ride of the Federal cavalry by Raccoon Ford, I sent to inquire how the cavalry happened to escape my picket-guard. Finding that the troops had been ordered off by General Toombs, the chief of staff was directed to put on his sword and sash and order him under arrest. Afterwards he was ordered to the rear, to confine himself to the limits of Gordonsville.

In addition to Reno's command, Stevens's division of the Ninth Corps joined General Pope on the 15th. On the 17th, Reno sent out a party of two hundred and fifty men and captured Jackson's signal-station on Clarke's Mountain; and it appears from the official report of this occurrence that the Federals were misinformed as to our position, and that up to the receipt of the captured despatch, General Pope knew nothing of the arrival of the troops of my command.

On the 18th report came from Clarke's Mountain of unusual stir in the Federal commands about Culpeper Court-House, and General Lee sent for me to ride with him to the mountain to observe the movements. From the summit we had a fair view of many points, and the camp-flags, as they opened their folds to the fitful breezes, seemed to mark places of rest. Changing our glasses to [162] the right and left and rear, the white tops of army wagons were seen moving. Half an hour's close watch revealed that the move was for the Rappahannock River. Changing the field of view to the bivouacs, they seemed serenely quiet, under cover from the noonday August sun. As we were there to learn from personal observation, our vigilance was prolonged until the wagons rolled down the declivities of the Rappahannock. Then, turning again to view the bivouacs, a stir was seen at all points. Little clouds of dust arose which marked the tramp of soldiers, and these presently began to swell into dense columns along the rearward lines. Watching without comment till the clouds grew thinner and thinner as they approached the river and melted into the bright haze of the afternoon sun, General Lee finally put away his glasses, and with a deeply-drawn breath, expressive at once of disappointment and resignation, said, “General, we little thought that the enemy would turn his back upon us thus early in the campaign.”

1 rebellion Record, vol. XII. part II. p. 52.

2 Rebellion Record, vol. XII. part II. p. 53.

3 His letter of August 14, 1862.

4 Rebellion Record, vol. XII. part II. p. 29.

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