Pickets on reserve — across this wheatfield the Union charge was swept back by “Stonewall” Jackson |
Where the commander heard the cannonading: Pope's headquarters during the battle of Cedar Mountain
The Hudson farmhouse, with its mossy shingles, vines, and aged locust trees, suggests anything but the storm-center of a nation at war. Yet it was here that General John Pope set up his headquarters while his eight thousand trained soldiers under General Banks sped toward Gordonsville, to strike the first blow of what the new general had promised would be a series of victories.
As this picture was taken, the New York Herald wagon stands plainly in view to the left of the porch; the newspaper correspondents prepared to despatch big “stories.”
John Pope was the leader whose swift success in capturing New Madrid and Island Number10 in the Mississippi campaign formed a brilliant contrast, in the popular mind, to the failure of the Eastern armies in their attempt upon Richmond.
Pope himself proclaimed, “I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies.”
So he set out for the front with “headquarters in the saddle.”
He could not know what the world later learned — that Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson were generals before whose genius few opponents, however brave, could make headway.
And so it was too late when Pope heard the cannonading from the Hudson house on the 9th of August. |
A halt on the day of battle: Federal artillery nearing Cedar Mountain
The 9th of August, 1862.
A sultry day in old Virginia.
The brook rippling toward the Rappahannock cools the hoofs of the battery horses at halt, tired with rushing their heavy guns south from Culpeper Court House.
The cannoneers lolling on horseback and caisson-seats look as if they too like to rest in the shade.
Some gaze at the lucky wagoners across the creek, at ease while their horses feed.
Least war-like of all seems the queer wagon to the right.
They stare at it, and the civilian beside it, and at his companion wielding the clumsy apparatus for that newly discovered art-photography.
Little do the actors in this quiet interlude imagine that by half-past 2 this afternoon the Federal batteries will plunge into range of a flaring crescent two miles long--“Stonewall” Jackson's guns; that those guns will roar destruction upon them for three hours without ceasing; and that before another sun rises, two thousand of Pope's army will lie dead and wounded beside thirteen hundred men in gray, upon the battle-ground of Cedar Mountain. |
The Federal army, under Pope
, in its advance against Lee
needed much more than well drilled regiments of soldiers.
Indeed, during the forward march the engineer corps was the busiest division of the army.
Artillery battalions and provision trains had to have bridges to cross the numerous streams flowing into the Potomac
and the Chesapeake
Three pictures on this page and the preceding show us the men at their work in that summer of long ago. The polka-dot shirt of the foreman (page 14), the roughly hewn timbers cut from the banks, the improvised derrick, the piers built in the middle of the stream around which the water is now rippling, the quiet trees on the banks — all these features stand out as clearly as they did in August of 1862, as the engineer corps was working on the north fork of the Rappahannock
, near Sulphur Springs
The pictures are of the same bridge from different points of view.
Crossing the Rappahannock |
The Army of Virginia, under Pope, is now to bear the brunt of Lee's assault, while the Army of the Potomac is dismembered and sent back whence it came, to add in driblets to Pope's effective. --Colonel Theodore A. Dodge, U. S.A., in A Bird's-eye view of the Civil War.
General George B. Mcclellan
, with all his popularity at the beginning, had failed in his Peninsula campaign to fulfil the expectations of the great impatient public of the North
At the same time, while the Army of the Potomac had as yet won no great victories, the men of the West
could triumphantly exhibit the trophies won at Donelson
, at Pea Ridge
, at Shiloh
, and at Island No.10
thereupon came to believe that the Western
leaders were more able than those of the East
This belief was shared by the President
and his Secretary of War
and it led to the determination to call on the West
The first to be called was General John Pope
, who had won national fame by capturing New Madrid and Island No.10
on the Mississippi River
In answer to a telegram from Secretary Stanton
came to Washington
in June, 1862.
The secretary disclosed the plans on which he and President Lincoln
had agreed, that a new army, to be known as the Army of Virginia, was to be created out of three corps, then under the respective commands of Generals McDowell
, N. P. Banks
, and John C. Fremont
These corps had been held from the Peninsula
campaign for the purpose of protecting Washington
demurred and begged to be sent back to the West
, on the ground that each of the three corps commanders was his senior in rank and that his being placed at their head would
A breathing spell
Federal Encampment at Blackburn's Ford on Bull Run, July 4, 1862.
When McClellan went to the Peninsula in March of 1862 he had expected all of McDowell's Corps to be sent him as reenforcement before he made the final advance on Richmond.
But the brilliant exploits of Jackson in the Shenandoah required the retention of all the troops in the vicinity of Washington.
A new army, in fact, was created to make the campaign which Lincoln had originally wanted McClellan to carry out. The command was given to General John Pope, whose capture of Island No.10 in the Mississippi had brought him into national importance.
The corps of Banks, Fremont, and McDowell were consolidated to form this new army, called the “Army of Virginia.”
General Fremont refused to serve under his junior, and his force was given to Franz Sigel, who had won fame in 1861 in Missouri.
This picture was taken about two weeks after the reorganization was completed.
The soldiers are those of McDowell's Corps.
They are on the old battlefield of Bull Run, enjoying the leisure of Camp life, for no definite plans for the campaign have yet been formed. |
Where Jackson struck
Cedar Mountain, Viewed from Pope's Headquarters.
On the side of this mountain Jackson established the right of his battle line, when he discovered at noon of August 9th that he was in contact with a large part of Pope's army.
He had started from Gordonsville, Pope's objective, to seize Culpeper Court House, but the combat took place in the valley here pictured, some five miles southwest of Culpeper, and by nightfall the fields and slopes were strewn with more than three thousand dead and wounded.|
doubtless create a feeling against him. But his protests were of no avail and he assumed command of the Army of Virginia on the 26th of June.
made no protest; but Fremont
refused to serve under one whom he considered his junior, and resigned his position.
His corps was assigned to General Franz Sigel
The new commander, General Pope
, on the 14th of July, issued an address to his army that was hardly in keeping with his modesty in desiring at first to decline the honor that was offered him. “I have come to you from the West
,” he proclaimed, “where we have always seen the backs of our enemies — from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and to beat him when found. . . . Meantime I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases which I am sorry to find much in vogue among you. I hear constantly of . . . lines of retreat and bases of supplies.
Let us discard such ideas. . . . Let us look before us and not behind.”
The immediate object of General Pope
was to make the capital secure, to make advances toward Richmond
, and, if possible, to draw a portion of Lee
's army away from McClellan
His first objective was Gordonsville
From this town, not far from the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains
, there was a railroad connecting it with Richmond
— a convenient means of furnishing men and supplies to the Confederate army.
decided to occupy the town and destroy the railroad.
To this end he ordered Banks
and thence to send all his cavalry to Gordonsville
, capture the town and tear up ten or fifteen miles of the railroad in the direction of Richmond
But, as if a prelude to the series of defeats which General Pope
was to suffer in the next six weeks, he failed in this initial movement.
The sagacious Lee
had divined his intention and had sent General “Stonewall
with his and General Ewell
's divisions on July 13th, to occupy Gordonsville
arrived in advance of Jackson
and held the town for the Confederates
In the line of fire
Where the Confederate General Winder was killed at Cedar Mountain.
It was while directing the movements of four advance batteries that General Winder was struck by a shell, expiring in a few hours.
Jackson reported: “It is difficult within the proper reserve of an official report to do justice to the merits of this accomplished officer.
Urged by the medical director to take no part in the movements of the day because of the enfeebled state of his health, his ardent patriotism and military pride could bear no such restraint.
Richly endowed with those qualities of mind and person which fit an officer for command and which attract the admiration and excite the enthusiasm of troops, he was rapidly rising to the front rank of his profession.”
In the campaign we are describing Jackson
was the most active and conspicuous figure on the Confederate
He rested at Gordonsville
for two weeks, recuperating his health and that of the army, which had been much impaired in the malarial district of the Peninsula
The fresh mountain air blowing down from the Blue Ridge
soon brought back their wonted vigor.
On July 27th A. P. Hill
was ordered to join him, and the Confederate
leader now had about twenty-five thousand men.
The movement on Gordonsville
was exactly in accordance with Jackson
's own ideas which he had urged upon Lee
. Although believing McClellan
to be in an impregnable position on the Peninsula
, it was not less evident to him that the Union
general would be unable to move further until his army had been reorganized and reenforced.
This was the moment, he argued, to strike in another direction and carry the conflict into the Federal
An army of at least sixty thousand should march into Maryland
and appear before the National Capital
could not be won over to the plan while McClellan
was still in a position to be reenforced by sea, but Lee
, seeing that McClellan
remained inactive, had determined, by sending Jackson
westward, to repeat the successful tactics of the previous spring in the Shenandoah valley.
Such a move might result in the recall of McClellan
And so it happened.
No sooner had Halleck
assumed command of all the Northern
armies than the matter of McClellan
's withdrawal was agitated and on August 3d the head of the Army of the Potomac, to his bitter disappointment, was ordered to join Pope
on the Rappahannock
was much concerned as to how Lee
would act during the Federal
evacuation of the Peninsula
, uncertain whether the Confederates
would attempt to crush Pope
could reenforce him, or whether McClellan
would be attacked as soon as he was out of his strong entrenchments at Harrison's Landing
The latter of the two possibilities seemed the more probable, and Pope
was therefore ordered to push his whole army toward Gordonsville
, in the hope that Lee
, compelled to strengthen Jackson
, would be too weak to fall upon the retiring Army of the Potomac.
The Union army now occupied the great triangle formed roughly by the Rappahannock
and the Rapidan rivers
and the range of the Blue Ridge Mountains
, with Culpeper Court House as the rallying point.
soon found that the capturing of New Madrid and Island No.10
was easy in comparison with measuring swords with the Confederate
generals in the East
On August 6th Pope
began his general advance upon Gordonsville
already had a brigade at Culpeper Court House, and this was nearest to Jackson
The small settlement was the meeting place of four roads by means of which Pope
's army of forty-seven thousand men would be united.
, informed of the advance, immediately set his three divisions in motion for Culpeper
, hoping to crush Banks
, hold the town, and prevent the uniting of the Army of Virginia.
His progress was slow.
The remainder of Banks
's corps reached Culpeper
on the 8th.
On the morning of the 9th Jackson
finally got his troops over the Rapidan
and the Robertson rivers
. Two miles beyond the latter stream there rose from the plain the slope of Slaughter Mountain
, whose ominous name is more often changed into Cedar.
This “mountain” is an isolated foothill of the Blue Ridge
, some twenty miles from the parent range, and a little north of the Rapidan
From its summit could be seen vast stretches of quiet farmlands which had borne their annual harvests since the days of the Cavaliers.
Its gentle slopes were covered with forests, which merged at length into waving grain fields and pasture lands, dotted here and there with rural homes.
It was here on the slope of Cedar Mountain
that one of the most severe little battles of the war took place.
On the banks of Cedar Run
, seven miles south of Culpeper
and but one or two north of the mountain, Banks
's cavalry were waiting to oppose Jackson
Learning of this the latter halted and waited for an attack.
He placed Ewell
's batteries on the slope about two hundred feet above the valley and sent General Winder
to take a strong position on the left.
So admirably was Jackson
's army stationed that it would have required a much larger force, approaching it from the plains, to dislodge it. And yet, General Banks
made an attempt with an army scarcely one-third as large as that of Jackson
had made glowing promises of certain success and he well knew that the whole North
was eagerly watching and waiting for him to fulfil them.
He must strike somewhere and do it soon — and here was his chance at Cedar Mountain
He sent Banks
with nearly eight thousand men against this brilliant Southern commander with an army three times as large, holding a strong position on a mountain side.
with his infantry left Culpeper Court House on the morning of August 9th and reached the Confederate stronghold in the afternoon.
He approached the mountain through open fields in full range of the Confederate
cannon, which presently opened with the roar of thunder.
All heedless of danger the brave men ran up the slope as if to take the foe by storm, when suddenly they met a brigade of Ewell
's division face to face and a brief, deadly encounter took place.
In a few minutes the Confederate
right flank began to waver and would no doubt have been routed but for the timely aid of another brigade and still another that rushed down the hill and opened fire on the Federal
lines which extended along the eastern bank of Cedar Run
Meanwhile the Union batteries had been wheeled into position and their deep roar answered that of the foe on the hill.
For two or three hours the battle continued with the utmost fury.
The ground was strewn with dead and dying
Survivors of the fighting tenth
When Crawford's troops were driven back by A. P. Hill, he halted on the edge of a wheatfield, where he was reenforced by the Tenth Maine.
For nearly half an hour it held its own, losing out of its 461 officers and men 173 in killed and wounded.
A few days after the battle some survivors had a picture taken on the exact spot where they had so courageously fought.
The remains of the cavalry horses can be seen in the trampled field of wheat.
From left to right these men are: Lieutenant Littlefield, Lieutenant Whitney, Lieut.-Colonel Fillebrown, Captain Knowlton, and First-Sergeant Jordan, of Company C. |
The house well named
Slaughter's house, overlooking the scene of carnage of Cedar Mountain, stood on the northern slope in the rear of the position taken by the Confederate troops under General Ewell.
The brigades of Trimble and Hayes were drawn up near this house, at some distance from the brigade of Early.
After the battle the whole of Jackson's army was drawn up on the slopes near it. |
The fugitives: followers of Pope's retreat
Virginia Negroes following Pope's soldiers in their retreat from Cedar Mountain.
From the beginning of the war Negroes had been a subject of debate.
Even before Bull Run, on May 26, 1861, General B. F. Butler had declared that all fugitive slaves would be considered as contraband of war. Congress, however, decided in August that all slaves confiscated should be held subject to the decision of the United States courts.
In April of 1862, General Hunter, at Hilton Head, South Carolina, declared that all slaves in his military department were “forever free,” but a week later Lincoln annulled the proclamation.
Hunter, however, raised a storm by organizing a regiment of fugitive slaves.
It was only before Cedar Mountain — to be precise, on July 22, 1862--that “all National commanders were ordered to employ as many Negroes as could be used advantageously for military and naval purposes, paying them for their labor and keeping a record as to their ownership as a basis on which compensation could be made in proper cases.”
Ten days after the battle, Greeley published his famous letter to Lincoln, “The Prayer of Twenty millions.”
On September 22, 1862, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, and on January 1, 1863, the final proclamation was made that “Negroes would be received into the military and naval service of the United States Corps.”
This picture was taken about the time Greeley's letter was published — less than two weeks after the battle of Cedar Mountain had been fought. |
and human blood was poured out like water.
But the odds were too great and at length, as the shades of evening were settling over the gory field, Banks
began to withdraw the remnant of his troops.
But he left two thousand of his brave lads--one fourth of his whole army — dead or dying along the hillside, while the Confederate
losses were in excess of thirteen hundred.
The dead and wounded of both armies lay mingled in masses over the whole battle-field.
While the fighting continued, neither side could send aid or relief to the maimed soldiers, who suffered terribly from thirst and lack of attention as the sultry day gave place to a close, oppressive night.
had remained at Culpeper
, but, hearing the continuous cannonading and knowing that a sharp engagement was going on, hastened to the battle-field in the afternoon with a fresh body of troops under General Ricketts
, arriving just before dark.
He instantly ordered Banks
to withdraw his right wing so as to make room for Ricketts
; but the Confederates
, victorious as they had been, refused to continue the contest against the reenforcements and withdrew to the woods up the mountain side.
Heavy shelling was kept up by the hard-worked artillerymen of both armies.
until nearly midnight, while the Federal
troops rested on their arms in line of battle.
For two days the armies faced each other across the valley.
Then both quietly withdrew.
's first battle as leader of an Eastern army had resulted in neither victory nor defeat.