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Chapter 22: the War on the Potomac and in Western Virginia.

The fulfillment of the prediction, that “Poor old Virginia will have to bear the brunt of battle,” 1 had now commenced. The clash of arms had been heard and felt within her borders. The expectations of her conspirators concerning the seizure of the National Capital had been disappointed; and thousands of armed men were marching from all parts of the Free-labor States, to contend for nationality upon her soil with herself and her allies whom she had invited to her aid.

Since the 19th of April, the important post of Harper's Ferry, on the Upper Potomac, had been occupied by a body of insurgents,2 composed chiefly of Virginia and Kentucky riflemen. A regiment of the latter, under Colonel Blanton Duncan, took position on Maryland Hights, opposite the

Stockade on Maryland Hights.

Ferry, where they constructed a stockade and established a fortified camp. Early in June,

the number of troops at and near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers was full twelve thousand, composed of infantry, artillery, and cavalry.

Kentucky Rifleman.

On the 23d of May, Joseph E. Johnston took the command of the insurgent forces at Harper's Ferry and in the Shenandoah Valley. He was a veteran soldier and meritorious officer, having the rank of captain of Topographical Engineers under the flag of his country, which he had lately abandoned. He now bore the commission of brigadier in the service of the conspirators, and was charged with the duty of holding Harper's Ferry (which was the [520] key to the Shenandoah Valley, in its relation to the Free-labor States), and opposing the advance of National troops, both from Northwestern Virginia and from Pennsylvania, by whom it was threatened. Major-General McClellan was throwing Indiana and Ohio troops into that portion of Virginia; and Major-General Robert Patterson, a veteran of two wars, then at the head of the Department of Pennsylvania,3 was rapidly gathering a large force of volunteers at Chambersburg, in that State, under General W. H. Keim.4

General Patterson took command at Chambersburg, in person, on the 3d of June. His troops consisted mostly of Pennsylvania militia, who had cheerfully responded to the call of the President, and were eager for duty in the field. The General had proposed an attack on the insurgents on Maryland Hights, and his plan was approved by General Scott. He was about to

First Pennsylvania Regiment.

move forward for the purpose, when the cautious General-in-chief ordered him
June 4, 1861.
to wait for re-enforcements. These were soon in readiness to join him, when Scott sent Patterson a letter of instruction,
June 8.
in which he informed him what re-enforcements had been sent, and that he was organizing, for a diversion in his favor, “a small side expedition, under Colonel Stone,” of about two thousand five hundred men, including cavalry and artillery, who would take post on the Potomac, opposite Leesburg, and threaten Johnston's rear. He directed Patterson to take his measures with circumspection. “We must sustain no reverses,” he said. “But this is not enough,” he continued; “a check or a drawn battle would be a victory to the enemy, filling his heart with joy, his ranks with men, and his magazines with voluntary contributions. . . . Attempt nothing without a clear prospect of success, as you will find the enemy strongly posted, and not inferior to you in numbers.” 5

Patterson advanced from Chambersburg with about fifteen thousand men. Already the insurgents, as we have seen, had been smitten at Philippi,

June 3.
and, just as this movement had fairly [521] the blow struck by Wallace at Romney
June 11, 1861.
had filled them with alarm. Johnston clearly perceived that he could not safely remain at Harper's Ferry, and he took the responsibility of abandoning that post. He withdrew his troops from Maryland Hights,
June 13.
and blocked up the railway and canal near the Ferry, by casting down by gunpowder

Bolman's Rock.

blasts immense masses of stone that overhung them, including the famous Bolman's Rock, which always attracted the attention of tourists and of travelers on that road. At five o'clock the next morning, with fire and gunpowder, he destroyed the great bridge of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway Company at the Ferry, a thousand feet in length, and much other property belonging to that corporation and the National Government. Then he spiked the heavy guns that could not be taken away, burned another Potomac bridge a few miles above, and, on the 15th, marched up the Valley toward Winchester, and encamped near Charlestown. On that day Patterson, who had received intimations from the General-in-chief that he was expected to cross the Potomac after driving Johnston from the Ferry, was at Hagerstown, in Maryland, a few miles from that stream. He pushed his columns forward, and on the following day (Sunday) and the next,
June 16 and 17.
about nine thousand of his troops crossed the river, by fording, at Williamsport, twenty-six miles above Johnston's late encampment. These troops consisted of two brigades (the First and Fourth), led by Brigadier-General George Cadwalader, at the head of five companies of cavalry. The Potomac had been slightly swollen by recent rains, and the foot-soldiers were often breast-deep in the flood. Eye-witnesses described the scene as most exciting. The soldiers took to the water in high glee, singing popular songs, in the chorus of which the voices of whole regiments were heard.6

While this movement was going on, General Patterson received from General Scott

June 16.
three dispatches by telegraph in quick succession, which surprised and embarrassed him. The first inquired what movement in pursuit of the fugitives from Harper's Ferry he contemplated, and if none (and he recommended none), then “send to me,” he said, “at once, all the regular troops, horse and foot, with you, and the Rhode Island [Burnside's] Regiment.” Patterson replied, that on that day and the next, nine thousand of his troops would be on the Virginia side of the Potomac, there to await transportation, and to be sent forward toward Winchester in detachments, well sustained, as soon as possible. He requested that the Regulars might remain; and he expressed a desire to make Harper's Ferry his base of operations; to open and maintain a free communication along the Baltimore and Ohio Railway; to hold, at Harper's Ferry, Martinsburg, and [522] Charlestown a strong force, gradually and securely advancing a portion of them toward Winchester, and with a column from that point, operate toward Woodstock, thus cutting off all the communication of the insurgents with

Robert Patterson.

Northwestern Virginia, and force them to retire and leave that region in the possession of the loyal people. By that means he expected to keep open a free communication with the great West, by the Baltimore and Ohio Railway. The General-in-chief disapproved the plan; repeated the order to send to Washington the designated troops; told Patterson that McClellan had been ordered to send nothing across the mountains to support him, and directed him to remain where he was until he could satisfy his Chief that he ought to go forward. This was followed by another, saying: “You tell me you arrived last night at Hagerstown, and McClellan writes that you are checked at Harper's Ferry. Where are you?” Early the next morning

June 17.
the Chief telegraphed again, saying:--“We are pressed here. Send the troops I have twice called for, without delay.”

This order was imperative, and was instantly obeyed. The troops were sent, and Patterson was left without a single piece of available artillery, with only one troop of raw cavalry, and a total force of not more than ten thousand men, the most of them undisciplined. A larger portion of them were on the Virginia side of the Potomac, exposed to much peril. Cadwalader had marched down toward Harper's Ferry as far as Falling Waters, to cover the fords; and Johnston, with full fifteen thousand well-drilled troops, including a considerable force of cavalry and twenty cannon, was lying only a few miles off.7 Patterson had only the alternative of exposing the greater part of his army to destruction, or to recall them. He chose the latter, mortifying as it was, and they re-crossed the river at Williamsport, with the loss of only one man. Patterson was severely censured by the public, who did not know the circumstances, for not pushing on against the insurgents; but the welfare of the cause compelled him to keep silence and bear the blame.8

At that time there was an indescribable state of feverish anxiety in Washington City. It was shared by the Government and the General-in-chief. Exaggerated accounts of immense forces of insurgents at Manassas were continually reaching the Capital. It was known that General Beauregard, whose success at Charleston had made him famous, had been placed in command of the troops at Manassas at the beginning of June; and there was a general [523] belief that, under instructions from Davis, he would attempt the seizure of Washington City before Congress should meet there, on the 4th of July.9 It was well known that the secessionists, then swarming in the Capital, were in ,continual communication with Beauregard, and it was believed that they were ready to act in concert with him in any scheme for overturning the ,Government. The consequence was, that credence was given to the wildest rumors, and the Government and the General-in-chief were frequently much alarmed for the safety of the Capital. It was during one of these paroxysms of doubt and dread that General Scott was constrained to telegraph to Patterson :--“, We are pressed here. Send the troops I have twice called for, without delay.”

The danger was, indeed, imminent. It is now known that, at about that time, a proposition was made to L. P. Walker, the so-called Secretary of War of the conspirators, to blow up the National Capitol with gunpowder, some time between the 4th and 6th of July, at a time when both Houses of Congress should be in session therein, and when Mr. Lincoln, it was hoped, would be present. This infernal proposition to murder several hundred men and women (for on such occasions the galleries of the halls of Congress were generally filled with spectators of both sexes) so pleased the conspirators, that directions were given for a conference between the assassin and Judah P. Benjamin, the so-called Attorney-General of the “Confederacy.” 10 Thus early in the conflict, the plotters against their Government were ready to employ agencies in their wicked work such as none but the most depraved criminals would use. The records of the war show that Jefferson Davis, and his immediate accomplices in the Great Crime of the Ages, were participants in plans and deeds of wickedness which every right-minded man and woman who was misled into an adhesion to their cause should be eager to disavow, and, by genuine loyalty to their beneficent Government, to atone for.

General Patterson was compelled to remain on the Maryland side of the Potomac until the beginning of July. In the mean time the General-in-chief had asked him

June 20, 1861.
to propose to him a plan of operations, without delay. He did so. He proposed to fortify Maryland Hights, and occupy them with about two thousand troops, provisioned for twenty days; to remove all of his supplies to Frederick, and threaten with :a force to open a route through Harper's Ferry; and to send all available forces to cross the Potomac near the Point of Rocks, and, uniting with Colonel Stone at Leesburg, be in a position to operate against the foe in the :Shenandoah Valley, or to aid General McDowell when he should make his proposed march, with the main army near Washington, on the insurgents at Manassas. This would have placed him in a better position to prevent Johnston, at Winchester, from joining Beauregard at Manassas, than if stationed between Williamsport and Winchester. These suggestions were not heeded ; and a few days afterward, while Patterson was begging earnestly for cannon and transportation, to enable him to well guard the fords of the river, and take position on the Virginia side, he received a dispatch from the General-in-chief,
June 25.
directing him to remain “in front of the enemy, between Winchester and the Potomac,” and if his (Patterson's) [524] force was “superior or equal” to that of Johnston, he might “cross and offer him battle.” The conditions would not warrant a movement then, and the disabilities were laid before the Chief. Two days afterward,
June 27, 1861.
Scott telegraphed to Patterson that he expected he was “crossing the river that day in pursuit of the enemy.”

Patterson was eager to advance, notwithstanding his foe was greatly his superior in numbers and equipment; and when, on the 29th,

harness for artillery horses arrived, he made instant preparations to go forward.11 A reconnoissance in force was made on the 1st of July,
and on the 2d the whole army crossed the Potomac, at the Williamsport Ford, and took the road toward Martinsburg, nineteen miles northwest of Harper's Ferry. Near Falling Waters, five miles from the ford, the advance-guard, under Colonel John J. Abercrombie, which had crossed the river at four o'clock in the morning, fell in with Johnston's advance, consisting of about three thousand five hundred infantry, with cannon (Pendleton's battery of field artillery), and a large force of cavalry, under Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, the whole under the command of the heroic leader afterward known as “StonewallJackson. Abercrombie

Thomas J. ( “Stonewall” ) Jackson.

immediately deployed his regiments (First Wisconsin and Eleventh Pennsylvania) on each side of the road; placed Hudson's section of Perkins's battery, supported by the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, in the highway, and advanced to the attack, in the face of a warm fire of musketry and artillery. A severe contest ensued, in which McMullen's Philadelphia company of Independent Rangers participated. It lasted less than half an hour, when Lieutenant Hudson's cannon had silenced those of the insurgents, and Colonel George H. Thomas's brigade was coming up to the support of Abercrombie. Perceiving this, Jackson fled, hotly pursued about five miles, to the hamlet of Hainesville, where the chase was abandoned. Having been reenforced by the arrival of General Bee and Colonel Elzy, and the Ninth Georgia Regiment, Johnston had sent a heavy force out to the support of Jackson, and the Unionists thought it prudent not to pursue further. Jackson halted and encamped at Bunker's Hill, on the road between Martinsburg and Winchester. The skirmish (which is known as the Battle of Falling Waters) and the chase occupied about two hours. It was a brilliant little affair, for the insurgents considerably outnumbered the Union troops, and were sheltered by a wood in a chosen position; but by greater operations, that soon followed, it was almost totally obscured.

On the following day,

July 3.
General Patterson and his army entered Martinsburg, where he was joined on the 8th by the Nineteenth [525] and Twenty-eighth New York Regiments, under Colonel Stone, and on the following day by the Fifth and Twelfth New York Regiments, under General Sandford. Thus strengthened, Patterson immediately issued orders for an advance on Winchester, when it was found that the troops of Stone were too weary and footsore to be of efficient service. The order was countermanded, and on the following morning
July 9, 1861.
Patterson held a council of officers at his quarters, a small house in the village, when he was advised not to advance at the present.12 The wisdom of that advice will be apparent hereafter. Patterson acted in accordance with it, and remained almost a fortnight at Martinsburg, waiting for re-enforcement, supplies, and means for transportation.

Patterson's quarters at Martinsburg.

While these movements were in progress in the vicinity of Harper's Ferry, others equally important were occurring elsewhere, and at points far distant from each other. In Missouri, the fires of civil war were blazing out; and in Western Virginia the opposing forces were carrying on quite an active campaign. Nearer Washington City blood began to flow. From their grand encampment at Manassas Junction the insurgents were continually sending out reconnoitering parties, all having reference to the seizure of the Capital. These were frequently seen along the line of the Potomac from Leesburg to the Chain Bridge, within five or six miles of Washington City; while others were establishing batteries below Alexandria for the blockade of the river.

At the middle of June the insurgents were hovering along the line of the railway between Alexandria and Leesburg, and on the 16th they fired upon a train of cars on that road, at the little village of Vienna, fifteen miles from Alexandria. General McDowell immediately ordered the First Ohio Regiment, Colonel A. McD. McCook, to picket and guard the road. These troops left their encampment near Alexandria on the 17th, accompanied by Brigadier-General Robert C. Schenck, and proceeded cautiously in cars and on trucks in the direction of Vienna. Detachments were left at different points along the road, one of which was the village of Falls Church, which became a famous locality during the earlier years of the war. When the train approached Vienna, only four companies, comprising less than three hundred men, were on the train, and these were on open platforms or trucks.

In the mean time a detachment of Beauregard's army was waiting for them in ambush. These consisted of six hundred South Carolina infantry, a company of artillery, and two companies of cavalry, under Colonel Maxcy Gregg.13 They had been on a reconnoissance up the Potomac region as far [526] as Dranesville, and, having come down to Vienna, had just torn up some of the railway and destroyed a water-tank, and were departing, when they heard the whistle of a locomotive engine below the village. They hastened to the curve of the railway, in a deep cut a quarter of a mile from the village, and there planted two cannon so as to sweep the road, and masked them.

Unsuspicious of.danger, McCook and his men entered the deep cut. Contrary to orders, the engineer had run up to that point quite rapidly, and there had been no opportunity for reconnoitering. The engine was behind the train, and was pushing it .up. When the whole train was fairly exposed to the masked cannon, they opened fire, and swept it from front to rear with

Robert C. Schenck.

grape and canister shot. Fortunately, the shot went high, and most of the soldiers were sitting. The frightened engineer, instead of drawing the whole train out of the peril, uncoupled the engine and one passenger-car, and fled with all possible speed toward Alexandria. The troops leaped from the train, fell back along the railway, and rallied in a grove near by, where they maintained so bold a front under a shower of shell and other missiles, that the assailants believed them to be the advance of a heavier force near. With that belief they soon retired, and hastened to Fairfax Court House, leaving the handful of Ohio troops, whom they might have captured with ease, to make their way leisurely back, carrying their dead and wounded companions on litters and in blankets. The Union loss was five killed, six wounded, and thirteen missing.14 That of the insurgents is unknown. The latter destroyed the portion of the train that was left in the deep cut, and captured a quantity of stores. When they ascertained that the National troops were not in force in that vicinity, they returned and took possession of Vienna and Falls Church Village. On that occasion, the flag of the “Sovereign State of South Carolina15 was displayed, for the first time, in the presence of National troops out of that State.

South Carolina flag.

We have observed that the insurgents were endeavoring to blockade the Potomac. Ten days after the affair at Vienna, there were some stirring scenes connected with that blockade at Matthias Point, a bold promontory in King George's County, Virginia, jutting out into the river, and giving it a short sharp turn. That point was covered with woods, and there the insurgents commenced erecting a battery which might completely destroy the [527] water communication with the Capital. Captain Ward, of the Potomac flotilla, was with the Freeborn, his flagship, below this point, when information of the presence of an insurgent force on the promontory reached him.

Falls Church in 1865.16

He determined to drive them off, and on the evening of the 26th of June,

he requested Commander Rowan, of the Pawnee, then lying near Acquia Creek, to send to him, during the night, two boatloads of marines, well equipped, with a competent leader. They were accordingly sent in charge of Lieutenant Chaplin Ward's plan was to land, drive off the insurgents, and denude the Point of trees, so that there might be no shelter for the aggressors from the observation of cruisers on the river.

On the morning of the 27th,

June, 1861.
the Freeborn, with the boats from the Pawnee, went up to Matthias Point, when the former commenced firing shot and shell into the woods. Under cover of this fire, Lieutenant Chaplin and his party, with others from the Freeborn, landed at about ten o'clock. Captain Ward accompanied them. Skirmishers were thrown out, and these soon encountered the pickets of the insurgents, who fired and fled. Just then a body of four or five hundred of the foe were seen coming over a hill. Ward hastened back to their Freeborn, to renew the shelling, while Chaplin and his men took to their boats. The insurgents were checked, and, in the course of fifteen minutes, Chaplin was again ordered to land, and to throw up a breastwork of sand-bags. This was nearly ready for the guns that were to be sent ashore to arm them when a signal was given for him to retire, for the insurgents were too many for them. Before the men could reach their boats, the foe fired upon them with muskets. They safely embarked. Chaplin was the last to leave. The boats [528] had drifted away. Unwilling to call the men back to an exposed position, the Lieutenant swam out to the nearest one, carrying on his back a soldier (and his musket) who could not swim.

Only one man of the party who landed was injured; but a sad event

James Harman Ward.

occurred on the deck of the Freeborn. The gunner was wounded in the thigh, when Captain Ward took charge of the piece. While sighting it, a well-aimed Minie ball came from the shore and mortally wounded him by entering the abdomen. As he fell he was caught by one arm of Harry Churchill, the boatswain's mate, who used his other hand with the string to fire the well-aimed cannon, whose round shot struck plump among the insurgents. Ward lived only forty-five minutes. The ball had passed through the intestines and liver. His was the only life sacrificed on the occasion, on the Union side.17

This attack on the works of the insurgents on Matthias Point, and those on the batteries at Sewell's and Pig Point, and at Acquia Creek, convinced the Government that little could be done by armed vessels, without an accompanying land force, competent to meet the foe in fair battle.

While these events were transpiring in the region of the Potomac, others equally stirring and important were occurring in Northwestern Virginia. For a month after the dash on Romney,

June 11, 1861.
Colonel Wallace and his regiment were placed in an important and perilous position at Cumberland, in Western Maryland. When the insurgents recovered from the panic produced by that dash, which made them flee sixteen miles without halting, and found that Wallace had fallen back to Cumberland, they took heart, advanced to Romney, four thousand strong, under Colonel McDonald-infantry, cavalry, and artillery — and, pushing on to New [529] Creek, destroyed the bridge of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway at that place. Then they passed on to Piedmont, five miles farther westward, where they cut the telegraph-wires, and destroyed all communication between Cumberland and Grafton. Fortunately, the advance of the insurgents upon Piedmont was known in time to send all the rolling stock of the railway there to Grafton, and save it from seizure.

Wallace was now completely isolated, and expected an immediate attack upon his camp at Cumberland. He had no cannon, no cavalry, and very little ammunition. For twenty-one days his men had only ten rounds of cartridges apiece. He could not hold Cumberland against the overwhelming force of the insurgents, so he prepared for a retreat, if necessary, to Bedford, in Pennsylvania. He sent his sick and baggage in that direction, and after advising the Union people in Cumberland to keep within their houses, he led his regiment out upon the same road, to the dismay of the loyal inhabitants and the chagrin of his men, who did not comprehend his design. It was soon made apparent. He halted, changed front, and prepared for battle. Believing that when the insurgents should enter Cumberland they would scatter in search of plunder, he prepared to rush in, attack them in the streets, and defeat them in detail.

When the insurgents under McDonald reached Frostburg, only six miles from Cumberland, they were informed of Wallace's bold stand, and ventured no farther, but remained at that place until evening, when they turned southward and hastened to Romney. Wallace returned to Cumberland, and was joyfully received. He appealed to both Morris and McClellan at Grafton, and to Patterson at Hagerstown, for re-enforcements and supplies, but neither of them had any to spare. There was danger at all points and weakness at all points. Only the Governor of Pennsylvania could afford relief. He sent Wallace some ammunition, and ordered two regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves,18 under Colonel Charles J. Biddle, with a field-battery under Captain Campbell, to take post on the frontier of Maryland, but not to step over the line unless the Indianians should be attacked.19 That frontier line was only five or six miles from Cumberland.

During that month of peril, while the Indiana regiment was engaged in independent duty, and successfully guarding the railway for about a hundred miles each way from Cumberland, it was subjected to the most trying and exhausting services. Wallace succeeded in impressing thirteen horses into his service, and on these scouts were mounted, whose performances, night and day, crowded that month's history of the Zouaves with the most exciting events. The insurgents felt a wholesome dread of these Zouaves; and their appearance created many a sudden flight of a much superior force. The foot-soldiers of the Eleventh were equally active. The Potomac was everywhere fordable, and both parties crossed and re-crossed it at their pleasure, [530] and often engaged in little skirmishes. Finally, on the 26th,

June, 1861.
a spirited affair occurred near Frankfort, on the road between Cumberland and Romney, in which thirteen picked men of the regiment, mounted on the thirteen impressed horses, were engaged. They were sent on a scout, led by Corporal D. B. Hay, one of their number. They boldly attacked forty-one mounted insurgents, killing eight of them, chasing the remainder two miles, and capturing seventeen of their horses. The leader of the scouts was severely wounded, but was saved. On their way back, they were attacked by seventy-five mounted men of the command of the afterward famous Ashby, near the mouth of Patterson's Creek. They fell back across a portion of the stream to Kelley's Island, at the mouth of the creek, where; they had a terrible hand-to-hand fight with their assailants, that ceased only with the daylight. It ended at nightfall, with a loss to the Zouaves of only one man killed. The remainder made their way back to camp in the darkness.20 Their bravery elicited the highest praise of both Patterson and McClellan. The former, in general orders,21 commended their example to his troops; and the latter thanked them for their noble services, and said to Colonel Wallace:
June 28.
--“I more than ever regret that you are not under my command. I have urged General Scott to send up the Pennsylvania regiments. I begin to doubt whether the Eleventh Indiana needs re-enforcements.” 22

On the 8th of July, by order of General Patterson, Wallace's regiment broke camp at Cumberland, and joined the forces under their chief at Martinsburg; and they were engaged on duty in that vicinity until after the battle of Bull's Run,

July 21.
notwithstanding the term of their three months enlistment had expired. For his eminent services in this. three months campaign, Wallace was rewarded with the commission of a brigadier.

Whilst the Baltimore and Ohio Railway--the great line of communication with the West--was thus held by the National troops, attempts were made by the insurgents to occupy the country in Western Virginia south of it. We have observed that Colonel Porterfield had notified the authorities at Richmond that a large force must be immediately sent into that region, or it would be lost to the “Confederacy.” 23 A plan of campaign in that direction was immediately formed and put in execution. Porterfield was succeeded in command in Northwestern Virginia by General Robert S. Garnett, a meritorious officer, who served on the staff of General Taylor, in Mexico, and was breveted a major for gallantry in the battle of Buena Vista. He made his Headquarters at Beverly, in Randolph County, a pleasant village on a plain, traversed by Tygart's Valley River. It was an important point in operations to prevent McClellan pushing through the gaps of the mountain ranges into the Shenandoah Valley. Garnett proceeded at once to fortify places on the roads leading from Beverly through these mountain passes. [531] He collected a considerable force at that place, and had outlying detachments at Bealington, Buckhannon, Romney, and Philippi. Ex-Governor Henry A. Wise, with a brigadier's commission, had been organizing a brigade in the Great Kanawha Valley, beyond the Greenbrier Mountains, for the purpose of holding in subjection the loyal inhabitants of the fertile regions of that river. He was now ordered to cross the intervening mountains around the head-waters of the Gauley River, and co-operate with Garnett; and every measure within the means of the “Confederates” was used for the purpose of checking the advance of McClellan's forces, and preventing their junction with those of Patterson in the Shenandoah Valley.

General McClellan took command of his troops in person, at Grafton, on the 23d of June, and on that day he issued a proclamation to the inhabitants of Western Virginia, similar in tenor to the one sent forth from Cincinnati a month earlier.

May 23, 1861.
He severely condemned the guerrilla warfare in which the insurgents were engaged, and threatened the offenders with punishment, “according to the severest rules of military law.” He also told the disloyal people of that section that all who should be found acting in hostility to the Government, either by bearing arms or in giving aid and comfort to its enemies, should be arrested. To his soldiers he issued an address two days afterward, reminding them that they were in the country of friends, and not of enemies, and conjuring them to behave accordingly. He denounced the insurgents as outlaws, who, without cause, had rebelled, and seized public property, and “outraged the persons of Northern men merely because they came from the North, and Southern men merely because they loved the Union ;” and he exhorted his soldiers to pursue a different course. He concluded by saying :--“I now fear but one thing — that you will not find foemen worthy of your steel.”

The entire force of Ohio, Indiana, and Virginia troops, now under the command of McClellan, numbered full twenty thousand men, and he resolved to advance. He sent a detachment, under General J. D. Cox, into the Kanawha Valley, to meet Wise and keep him in check, while his main body, about ten thousand strong, led by himself, advanced from Clarksburg, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, twenty-two miles west of Grafton, in the direction of Buckhannon, to attack Garnett at Laurel Hill, near Beverly. At the same time a detachment of about four thousand men,24 under General Morris, moved from Grafton toward Beverly, by way of Philippi; and another body, commanded by General Hill, was sent to West Union, eastward of Philippi, toward St. George, in Tucker County, to prevent the escape of the insurgents by that way over the Alleghany Mountains, to join Johnston at Winchester.

Morris was instructed not to attack Garnett, but to thoroughly reconnoiter the country, make such feints as would deceive the insurgents with the belief that they might expect the main attack from that officer, and to keep them employed until McClellan should gain their rear. Morris carried out the plan faithfully. He advanced to Bealington, within a mile of Garnett's camp, which was on a wooded slope on the eastern side of the Laurel [532] Hill range of mountains, between Leedsville and Beverly, where he had about eight thousand men strongly intrenched.25 These were chiefly East Virginians, Georgians, Tennesseans, and some Carolinians.26 In front of these intrenchments continual and heavy skirmishing was carried on daily, chiefly by the Seventh and Ninth Indiana Regiments, commanded respectively by Colonels E. Dumont and Robert H. Milroy. The troops were so eager for conflict that Morris found it difficult to restrain them. The scouting parties were so earnest, vigilant, and bold, that when McClellan approached Beverly, each position of the insurgents and their works in all that region was perfectly known. A thousand deeds of daring, worthy of record, were performed during those few days. Those of the Ninth Indiana were so notable that the insurgents gave them the name of “Swamp Devils.”

T. A. Morris.

McClellan reached Buckhannon on the 7th of July, and advanced to Roaring Run, on the road to Beverly. He ascertained that a large force of insurgents, about fifteen hundred strong, under Colonel John Pegram, was occupying a heavily intrenched position in the rear of Garnett, in Rich Mountain Gap, of the Laurel Hill Range, about four miles from Beverly, where his forces commanded the important road over the mountains to Staunton, and the chief highway to Southern Virginia. Pegram boasted that his position could not be turned, because of the precipitous hills on his flanks; but he was mistaken. McClellan sent the Eighth, Tenth, and Thirteenth Indiana Regiments, and the Sixteenth Ohio Regiment, with Burdsall's troop of cavalry, all in light marching order, under the command of Colonel (afterward General) W. S. Rosecrans, to do what Pegram thought impossible. They were accompanied by Colonel Lander, who was with Dumont at Philippi,27 and were piloted by a young man named Hart, son of the owner of the mountain farm on which Pegram was encamped. They started at three o'clock in the morning,

July 11, 1861.
made a wide detour through the mountains in a heavy rain-storm, along most perilous ways, pathless, slippery, and rough, a distance of about eight miles, and at noon were on the summit of a ridge of Rich Mountain, high above Pegram's camp, and a mile from it. Just as they reached the Staunton road, near Hart's, they were furiously assailed by musket and cannon shot, bullets, grape, canister, and shells. [533]

Rosecrans supposed his movements were unknown to the insurgents. He was mistaken. A courier sent after him by McClellan had been captured by Pegram's scouts, and the march of Rosecrans was revealed.28 Pegram immediately sent about nine hundred men, with two cannon, up the mountain road in his rear, to meet him. They hastily cast up works of logs and earth near Hart's, and masked their cannon, and from these came the unexpected volley.

Rosecrans had no cannon, but he had men eager for conflict. He formed the three Indiana regiments in battle order, held the Ohio regiment as a reserve, and sent forward his skirmishers. They engaged in desperate fighting while the main body lay concealed in the grass, the shot of the insurgents passing over them. Finally, Pegram's men came out from their works and charged across the road. The Indianians sprang to their feet, and at a given order they fired, fixed their bayonets, and with a wild shout charged upon the foe. A sharp conflict ensued, when the latter gave way and fled in wild confusion down the declivities of the mountain to Pegram's main camp. Re-enforcements sent from Garnett's reserves at Beverly, then on their way, hearing of the disaster to their friends, fell back. Rosecrans recalled his men in pursuit of the fugitives, and prepared for another encounter.

This engagement, known as the battle of rich mountain, commenced at about two o'clock in the afternoon, and occupied less than an hour and a half. The Union troops in action numbered about eighteen hundred, and those of the insurgents about nine hundred. The loss of the former was eighteen killed, and about forty wounded. The latter lost about one hundred and forty killed, and a large number wounded and made prisoners. Their entire loss was more than four hundred, including several officers. For his gallantry on this occasion, Rosecrans was commissioned a brigadier-general.

The position of Rosecrans was now perilous. Pegram was immediately before him with an overwhelming force, and he was separated from the main army by the rough mountain over which he had passed with the greatest difficulty. Fortunately for him, McClellan, who, at his camp at Roaring Run, had heard the cannonading, advanced that evening to a position directly in front of Pegram's main camp, and prepared to assail it in the morning with twelve cannon. Pegram did not wait for the assault, but stole off during the night, and tried to make his way with the remnant of his troops to Garnett's camp. This movement exposed Garnett's rear, and he, too, under cover of the night, abandoned his camp and all in it — cannon, tents, and many wagons — and in light marching order pushed on toward Beverly, hoping to pass it before McClellan could reach it, and so escape over the mountains by Huttonsville, toward Staunton. He was too late. McClellan had moved rapidly on Beverly, and fugitives from Pegram's camp informed him that his advance was already there. Garnett turned back, and taking the road toward St. George, through a gap near Leedsville, he plunged into the wild mountain regions of the Cheat Range, taking with him only one cannon. His reserves at Beverly fled over the mountains, by [534] way of Huttonsville, as far as Monterey, in Highland County, and the re-enforcements that had been sent to Pegram, as we have observed, scattered over the Laurel Hill Range. Rosecrans entered Pegram's abandoned camp the next morning; while the latter, with about six hundred followers, weary, worn, and dispirited, were vainly seeking a way of escape. They had been without food for nearly two days. Seeing no hope of relief, Pegram offered to surrender to McClellan; and on Sunday morning, the 14th,

July, 1861.
he and his followers were escorted into the camp of the chief at Beverly by some Chicago cavalry.

When it was discovered that Garnett had fled, McClellan ordered a hot pursuit. He sent a detachment from his own column, under Captain H. W. Benham, his Chief Engineer, to join that of General Morris, and the united forces started eagerly after the fugitives, who had about twelve hours the start of them. The recent rains had made the roads very muddy, and swelled the mountain streams. The fugitives, in their anxiety to escape, left knapsacks, provisions, camp furniture, and every thing that might impede their flight, along the way, and these were continual clews to their route, which frequently deviated from the main road along rough mountain paths. Broken and abandoned wagons were found in many places, and in narrow gorges the insurgents had felled trees and cast down rocks to obstruct the pursuit.

Both parties rested on the night of the 12th, and resumed the race in the morning. The pursuers gradually gained on the fugitives; and at about noon, while a driving rain-storm was drenching them, the advance of the former, composed of the Seventh and Ninth Indiana, Fourteenth Ohio, and a section of Burnett's Ohio Battery, came in sight of the flying insurgents at Kahler's Ford of a branch of the Cheat River. They were evidently preparing to make a stand there. The pursuing infantry dashed into the stream, which was waist deep, and halted under shelter of the bank until the artillery came up. A single cannon-shot set the insurgents in motion, for they were only the rear-guard of Garnett's force, the main body of which was some distance in advance. The exciting chase was renewed, and its interest was hightened by a sort of running fight for about four miles to another ford of the same stream, known as Carrick's, where the banks were high and steep, and the land a rolling bottom about a mile in width between the mountains.

After crossing the stream Garnett made a stand. The Fourteenth Ohio (Colonel Steedman) of the advance was close upon him, and rushed down to the Ford in pursuit, when it was met by a volley of musketry and cannon-shot from a single heavy gun, under Colonel Taliaferro, of the Twenty-third Virginia Regiment. The Ohio troops stood their ground bravely. The Seventh and Ninth Indiana and Burnett's battery hastened to their aid; and Captain Benham, who was in command of the advance, ordered Colonel Dumont and a detachment of his regiment to cross the deep and rapid stream above the ford, and gain the rear of the foe. The opposite shore was too precipitous for them to scale, and they were ordered to wade down in the bed of the stream hidden by the bank, and, under cover of fire of cannon and musketry, charge the insurgents in front. The order was quickly executed, and while the Indianians were struggling up the bank among the [535] laurel bushes, the insurgents broke and fled. They had fought bravely against great odds, and yielded only when their ammunition was almost exhausted. Garnett tried to rally them to make another stand, and while trying to do so he was shot dead.29 A youthful Georgian, who was among the few around the General at that moment, fell dead at his side. The insurgents fled to the mountains, and were pursued only about two miles. The

Carrick's Ford.30

main body of Morris's force soon came up, and the victors slept near the Ford that night. They had lost two killed and ten wounded, two of them mortally. The insurgents lost thirty men killed, a much larger number wounded, and many who were made prisoners. They also lost their cannon, many wagons, and forty loads of provisions. The body of their fallen General fell into the hands of the victors, and was tenderly cared for and sent to his friends.31 This is known as the battle of Carrick's Ford.

Whilst the stirring events which we have just considered were transpiring, General McClellan, at Beverly, sent cheering dispatches to his Government; and, when he heard of the dispersion of Garnett's forces at Carrick's Ford, he expressed his belief that General Hill, then at Rowlesburg, on the Cheat River, where the Baltimore and Ohio Railway crosses that stream, would certainly intercept the fugitives at West Union or St. George. He [536] was so confident of this result, that on the night of the 14th he telegraphed, saying:--“Our success is complete, and I firmly believe that secession is

Seat of War in Western Virginia.

killed in this section of the country.” He was disappointed. The fugitives were rallied by Colonel Ramsay, and turning short to the right near West Union, they fled over the Alleghanies and joined “Stonewall” Jackson at Monterey, Highland County, Virginia.

On the morning after the conflict at Carrick's Ford, General Morris returned to his camp at Bealington,32 while detachments from McClellan's force pursued the fugitives from Beverly, under Major Tyler, to the summit of the Cheat Mountain Range, on the road toward Staunton, where the Fourteenth Indiana, Colonel Kimball, was left. as an outpost. A camp was established at the eastern foot of the mountain, an.d detachments were posted at important points along the eastern slopes of the Alleghanies.

On the 19th,

July, 1861.
McClellan issued an address to his troops, from Huttonsville, telling them that he was “more than satisfied” with their conduct; that they had annihilated two armies well intrenched among mountain fastnesses; recounted the results of the campaign, and praised their courage and endurance without stint. The campaign [537] had been successful, and McClellan thus summed up the results in a dispatch to the War Department: “We have completely annihilated the enemy in Western Virginia. Our loss is about thirteen killed, and not more than forty wounded; while the enemy's loss is not far from two hundred killed; and the number of prisoners we have taken will amount to at least one thousand. We have captured seven of the enemy's guns in all.”

General Cox had been successful in the Kanawha Valley. He crossed the Ohio at the mouth of the Guyandotte River, captured Barboursville

July 12, 1861.
after a slight skirmish, and pushed on to the Kanawha River. Wise was then in the valley of that stream, below Charleston, the capital of Kanawha County, and had an outpost at Scareytown, composed of a small force under Captain Patton. This was attacked by fifteen hundred Ohio troops under Colonel Lowe, who were repulsed. That night, the assailed insurgents fled up the valley to Wise's camp, and gave him such an alarming. account of the numbers of the invaders, that the General at once retreated, first to Charleston, then to Gauley Bridge (which he burnt), near the mouth of the Gauley River,
July 29.
and did not make a permanent halt until he reached Lewisburg, the capital of Greenbrier County. The news of Garnett's disaster, and Wise's own incompetence, had so dispirited his troops, that large numbers had left him. At Lewisburg, he was re-enforced and outranked by John B. Floyd, late Secretary of War, who had a brigadier's commission.

The war in Western Virginia seemed to have ended with the dispersion of Garnett's forces, and there was much rejoicing over the result. It was premature. The “Confederates” were not disposed to surrender to their enemy the granaries that would be needed to supply the troops in Eastern Virginia, without a severer struggle. General Robert E. Lee succeeded Garnett, and more important men than Wise and Floyd took the places of these incompetents. Rosecrans succeeded McClellan, who was called to the command of the Army of the Potomac,

July 22.
and the war in the mountain region of Virginia was soon renewed, the most prominent events of which will be recorded hereafter.

Tail-piece — Cap.

1 See page 344.

2 See page 392.

3 When the war broke out there were only two military departments, named respectively the Eastern and the Western. By a general order issued on the 27th of April, 1861, three new departments were created, namely, the Department of Washington, Colonel J. K. F. Mansfield, Commander; the Department of Annapolis, Brigadier-General B. F. Butler, Commander; and the Department of Pennsylvania, Major-General Robert Patterson, Commander.

4 General Patterson comprehended the wants of the Government, and while the National Capital was cut off from communication with the loyal States, he took the responsibility of officially requesting [April 25, 1861] the Governor of Pennsylvania to direct the organization, in that State, of twenty-five regiments of volunteers, in addition to the sixteen regiments called for. by the Secretary of War. The Governor promptly responded to the call, but the Secretary of War, even when the term of the three months men was half exhausted, declined to receive any more regiments. Fortunately for the country, Governor Curtin induced the Legislature to take the twenty-five regiments into the service of that State. This was the origin of that fine body of soldiers known as the Pennsylvania Reserves, who were gladly accepted by the Secretary of War after the disastrous battle of Bull's Run, and who, by hastening to Washington, assisted greatly in securing the National Capital from seizure immediately thereafter.

5 General Scott's Letter of Instruction to General Patterson, June 8, 1861.

6 The favorite song among the soldiers at the beginning of the war was one entitled, John Brown's Soul is Marching on!

7 Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, II. 78, 79, and 80. Narrative of the Campaign in the Valley of the Shenandoah: by Major-General Robert Patterson.

8 John Sherman, a representative of Ohio in Congress, was on General Patterson's staff at that time. On the 30th of June, he wrote to the General from Washington, saying:--“Great injustice is done you and your command here, and by persons in the highest military positions. I have been asked, over and over again, why you did not push on to Martinsburg, Harper's Ferry, and Winchester. I have been restrained, by my being on your staff, from saying more than simply that you had executed your orders, and that, when you were prepared to advance, your best troops were recalled to Washington.”

9 See the Proclamation of the President, April 15, 1861, on page 336.

10 See note 1. page 232.

11 On that day a party of insurgents dashed into Harper's Ferry village, drove out the Union men there, destroyed what was left of the railroad bridge and trestle-work in front of the army, and crossed the river and broke up or carried away all the boats they could find there.

12 Report of General Patterson to Lieutenant-General Scott. Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, volume II.

13 Gregg was a leading member of the South Carolina Secession Convention (see pages 103 and 107). He entered the army, was promoted to brigadier-general, elected Governor of South Carolina, and was killed at Fredericksburg. Fort Gregg, on Morris Island, near Charleston, was named in his honor.

14 Report of General Schenck to Lieutenant-General Scott. Correspondence of the Louisville Courier, June 29, and New York Tribune, June 20.

15 The flag was composed of blue silk, with a golden Palmetto-tree on a white oval center-piece, and a silver crescent in the left upper corner. Partly surrounding the white oval were the words of the motto of the State:--“Animis Opibusque Parati.” See picture of the Seal of South Carolina, on page 105.

16 this is a view of the ancient Church which gives the name to the village, mentioned on page 526, as it appeared when the writer visited and sketched it, at the close of April, 1865.. the Church is a cotemporary with Pohick Church, near Mount Vernon, built before the Revolution, of brick, and in a style similar to the latter. It is about eight miles north of Alexandria, and the same distance west of Washington City. The village that has grown up around the Church was built chiefly by Massachusetts people who had settled there, but the congregation of this Church (Episcopalians) were chiefly native Virginians, and were nearly all secessionists. Their rector, a secessionist, afraid to pray for the President of the United States or for Jefferson Davis. When the war broke out, took the safe course of praying for the Governor of Virginia. The Church is now (1865) a ruin, made so by the National troops, who took out all of its wood-work for timber and fuel, and had commenced taking the brick walls for chimneys to huts. The latter depredation was immediately checked.

17 Captain Ward was the first naval officer who was killed in the war. His body was taken to the Washington Navy Yard, and thence to New York, where, on the deck of the North Carolina, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, it lay in state, and was visited by many persons. It was then conveyed to Hartford, where funeral services were performed by the Roman Catholic Bishop of that diocese, in the Cathedral. It was buried with imposing ceremonies.

The Pawnee became so obnoxious to the insurgents that they devised many schemes for her destruction. Among other contrivances was a torpedo, or floating mine, delineated in the accompanying sketch. It was picked up in the Potomac, a few yards from the Pawnee, on the evening of the 7th of July, 1861. The following is a description:--1,1, Oil-casks, serving for buoys. 2, 2, Iron tubes, four feet six inches long, and eighteen inches in diameter, charged with gunpowder. 3, A 3-inch rope, with large pieces of cork two feet apart. 4, 4, Boxes on top of casks with fusees. 5, 5, Gutta-percha tubing connected with capped tubes. 6, 6, Brass tops on the torpedoes. 7, 7, Copper tubes running through the casks. 8, Wooden platform in center of cask, on which the fusee was coiled and secured. 9, Fusee. This infernal machine was to be set afloat with the tide in the direction of the vessel to be destroyed, after the fusee or slow match was lighted. This was the beginning of the use of torpedoes, which the insurgents employed very extensively during the war. Others will be hereafter delineated and described.


18 See note 2, page 520.

19 The Pennsylvanians were restive under the restraints of this portion of the order. “Campbell,” says Dr. Stevenson, “ascertained exactly where the line of division ran, and camping his men close by, with cutting practical sarcasm, planted his guns so that the wheels were in Pennsylvania and the muzzles in Maryland.” --Indiana's Roll of Honor, page 100. The order was in accordance with the deference then felt for the jurisdiction of the respective States. The Reserves were Pennsylvania State troops, and it was felt that they had no right upon the soil of Maryland.

20 The following are the names of the thirteen brave men:--D. B. Hay, E. H. Baker, E. Burkett, J. C. Hollenback, T. Grover, J. Hollowell, T. Brazier, G. W. Mudbargar, L. Farley, F. Harrison, P. M. Dunlap, R. Dunlap, and E. P. Thomas.

21 Dated Hagerstown, June 80, 1861.

22 Letter from General McClellan to Colonel Wallace, dated Grafton, June 28, 1861.

23 See page 494.

24 This force was composed of the Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Indiana, the Sixth and Fourteenth Ohio, the First Virginia, and Burnett's Artillery, of Cleveland, Ohio.

25 Garnett's position was a very strong one by nature; and was made stronger by art. On a mountain slope, masked by woods, and commanding one of the most important passes in all that region, he had a line of intrenchments a mile in extent, stretching on each side of the main road that runs up from Philippi to Beverly. Within these were other works for final defense, if assailed. Outside of all was a strong abatis, formed of felled trees; also numerous rifle-pits, the earth thrown up so as to make a breastwork for each man. These works extended up the slopes on each side of the narrow valley; and on the summits of two elevations were two redoubts made of logs and earth, with embrasures for six cannon, and also loopholes for musketry. See map on page 536.

26 General McClellan's Dispatch to Adjutant-General Townsend, July 18, 1861.

27 See page 495.

28 Statement of young Hart.

29 Major Gordon, who accompanied the Ninth Indiana, had joined the Seventh in the water. He jumped upon a stump to cheer on his comrades, when Garnett directed several of his men (Tompkins's Richmond Sharp-shooters) to fire on him. They did so, but without effect. He discovered Garnett, and directed Sergeant Burlingame, of the Seventh, to shoot him. The General almost instantly fell.--See Stevenson's Indiana's Roll of Honor, page 58.

30 this view of Carrick's Ford is from a drawing by Edwin Forbes, an artist who accompanied the expedition. The name of the Ford was derived from that of the person who owned the land there.

31 Stevenson (page 59) cites the following description of Garnett, who was a graduate of West Point, of the class of 1841:--“In form he was about five feet eight inches, rather slenderly built, with a fine, high, arching forehead, and regular and handsome features, almost classic in their regularity, and mingled delicacy and strength of beauty. His hair, almost coal black,.as were his eyes, he wore long on the neck, in the prevailing fashion of the Virginia aristocracy. His dress was of fine broad-cloth throughout, and richly ornamented. The buttons bore the coat of arms of the State of Virginia, and the star on his shoulder-strap was richly studded with brilliants.”

32 The three months term of enlistment of these troops had now expired, and they returned to their homes, a greater portion of them to re-enlist for “three years or the war.”

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