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Chapter 47:

  • Situation in the Shenandoah Valley
  • -- March of General Early -- his force -- attack at Monocacy -- approach to Washington -- the works -- battle at Kernstown -- captures -- outrages of the enemy -- statement of General Early -- retaliation on Chambersburg, Pennsylvania -- battle near Winchester -- Sheridan's forces routed -- attack subsequently renewed with New forces -- incapacity of our opponent -- Early Falls back -- the enemy Retires -- Early advances -- report of a Committee of citizens on losses by Sheridan's orders -- battle at Cedar Creek -- losses, subsequent movements, and captures -- the Red River campaign -- repulse and retreat of General Banks -- capture of Fort Pillow.

Before the opening of the campaign of 1864, the lower Shenandoah Valley was held by a force under General Sigel, with which General Grant decided to renew the attempt which had been made by Crook and Averill to destroy the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad west of Lynchburg as a means to his general purpose of isolating Richmond; a prompt movement of General Morgan had defeated those attempts and driven off the invaders. Sigel, with about fifteen thousand men, commenced his movement up the valley of the Shenandoah. Major General Breckinridge, commanding in southwestern Virginia, was notified on May 4th of the movement of Sigel, and started immediately with two brigades of infantry to Staunton, at which place he arrived on the 9th. The reserves of Augusta County, under Colonel Harmon, were called out, numbering several hundred men, and the cadets of the Military Institute at Lexington, numbering two hundred, voluntarily joined him. With this force Breckinridge decided to march to meet Sigel. General Imboden, with a cavalry force of several hundred, had been holding as best he might the upper Valley, and joined Breckinridge in the neighborhood of New Market, informing him that Sigel then occupied that place.

Breckinridge having marched so rapidly from Staunton that it was probable that his advance was unknown to the enemy, he determined to make an immediate attack. His troops were put in motion at one o'clock, and by daylight were in line of battle two miles south of New Market. Sigel seems to have been unconscious of any other obstruction to the capture of Staunton than the small cavalry force under Imboden. [445] At this time Lee was engaged with the vastly superior force of Grant, which had crossed the Rapidan, and Sigel's was a movement to get upon our flank, and thus cooperate with Grant in his attempt to capture Richmond. Breckinridge had an infantry force not much exceeding three thousand. The hazard of an attack was great, but the necessity of the case justified it. Breckinridge's force was only enough to form one line of battle in two ranks, the cadets holding the center between the two brigades. There were no reserves, and Colonel Harmon's command formed the guard for the trains. Skirmish lines were promptly engaged, and soon thereafter the enemy fell back beyond New Market, where Sigel, assuming the defensive, took a strong position, in which to wait for an attack. Our artillery was moved forward, and opened with effect upon the enemy's position; then our infantry advanced ‘with the steadiness of troops on dress parade, the precision of the cadets serving well as a color-guide for the brigades on either side to dress by. . . . The Federal line had the advantage of a stone wall which served as a breastwork.’1 Sigel's cavalry attempted to turn our right flank, but was repulsed disastrously, and in a few moments the enemy was in full retreat, crossing the Shenandoah and burning the bridge behind him.

Breckinridge captured five pieces of artillery and over five hundred prisoners, exclusive of the wounded left on the field. Our loss was several hundred killed and wounded. General Lee, after receiving notice of this, ordered Breckinridge to transfer his command as rapidly as possible to Hanover Junction. The battle was fought on the 15th, and the command reached Hanover Junction on May 20th.

Before General Breckinridge left the Valley he issued an order thanking his troops, ‘particularly the cadets, who, though mere youths, had fought with the steadiness of veterans.’

Brigadier General W. E. Jones had, with a small cavalry force, come from southwestern Virginia to the Valley after Breckinridge's departure, and this, with the command of Imboden only sufficient for observation, was all that remained in the Valley when the Federal General David Hunter, with a larger force than Sigel's, succeeded the latter. Jones, with his cavalry and a few infantry, encountered this force at Piedmont, was defeated and killed. Upon the receipt of this information Breckinridge with his command was sent back to the Valley.

On June 13th Major General Early, with the Second Corps of Lee's army, numbering a little over eight thousand muskets and two battalions of artillery, commenced a march to strike Hunter's force in the rear [446] and, if possible, destroy it; then to move down the Valley, cross the Potomac, and threaten Washington. On the 17th he reached Lynchburg, and Hunter arrived at the same time. Preparations were made for the attack of Hunter on the 19th, when he began to retreat, and was pursued with much loss, until he was disposed of by taking the route to the Kanawha River. On the 27th Early's force reached Staunton on its march down the Valley. It now amounted to ten thousand infantry and about two thousand cavalry, having been joined by Breckinridge and by Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, with a battalion of Maryland cavalry. The advance was rapid. Railroad bridges were burned, the track destroyed, and stores captured. The Potomac was crossed on June 5th and 6th, and the move was made through the gaps of South Mountain to the north of Maryland Heights, which were occupied by a hostile force. A brigade of cavalry was sent north of Frederick to strike the railroads from Baltimore to Harrisburg and Philadelphia, burn the bridges over the Gunpowder, and to cut the railroad between Washington and Baltimore, and threaten the latter place. The other troops moved forward toward Monocacy Junction, where a considerable body of Federal troops under General Wallace was found posted on the eastern bank of the Monocacy, with an earthwork and two blockhouses commanding both bridges. The position was attacked in front and on the flank, and it was carried and the garrison put to flight. Between six and seven hundred unwounded prisoners fell into our hands, and the enemy's loss in killed and wounded was far greater than ours, which was about seven hundred.

An advance was made on the 10th nearly to Rockville, on the Georgetown Pike. On the next day it was continued to Washington, with the hope of getting into the fortifications before they could be manned. But the heat and the dust impeded the progress greatly. Fort Stevens was approached soon after noon, and appeared to be lightly manned, but before our force could get into the works, a column of the enemy from Washington filed into them on the right and left, skirmishers were thrown out in front, and an artillery fire was opened on us from a number of batteries. An examination was now made to determine if it were practicable to carry the defenses by assault. ‘They were found to be exceedingly strong, and consisted of what appeared to be inclosed forts for heavy artillery, with a tier of lower works in front of each, pierced for an immense number of guns, the whole being connected by curtains with ditches in front, and strengthened by palisades and abatis. The timber had been felled within cannon-range all around and left on the [447] ground, making a formidable obstacle, and every possible approach was raked by artillery.’ As far as the eye could reach, the works appeared to be of the same impregnable character. The exhaustion of our force, the lightness of its artillery, and the information that two corps of the enemy's forces had just arrived in Washington, in addition to the veteran reserves and hundred-days men, and the parapets lined with troops, led us to refrain from making an assault, and to retire during the night of the 12th. On the morning of the 14th General Early recrossed the Potomac, bringing off the prisoners captured at Monocacy and everything else in safety, including a large number of beef-cattle and horses. There was some skirmishing in the rear between our cavalry and that which was following us, and on the afternoon of the 14th there was artillery firing across the river at our cavalry watching the fords.

Meantime General Hunter had arrived at Harpers Ferry and united with Sigel, and some skirmishing took place; General Early determined to concentrate near Strasburg, however, so as to enable him to put the trains in safety, and mobilize his command to make an attack. On the 22d he moved across Cedar Creek toward Strasburg, and so posted his force as to cover all the roads from the direction of Winchester. Learning on the next day that a large portion of the column sent after him from Washington was returning, and that the Army of West Virginia, under Crook, including Hunter's and Sigel's forces, with Averill's cavalry, was at Kernstown, he determined to attack at once.

After the enemy's skirmishers had been driven in, it was discovered that his left flank was exposed, and General Breckinridge was ordered to move Echols's division under cover of some ravines on our right and attack that flank. The attacking division struck the enemy's left flank in open ground, doubling it up and throwing his whole line into great confusion. The other divisions then advanced, and his rout became complete. He was pursued by the infantry and artillery beyond Winchester. Our loss was very light; his loss in killed and wounded was severe. The whole defeated force crossed the Potomac, and took refuge at Maryland Heights and Harpers Ferry. The road was strewed with debris of the rapid retreat—twelve caissons and seventy-two wagons having been abandoned, and most of them burned.

On the 26th the Confederate force moved to Martinsburg:

While at Martinsburg, [says General Early in his memoir] it was ascertained beyond all doubt that Hunter had been again indulging in his favorite mode of warfare, and that, after his return to the Valley, while we were near Washington, among other outrages, the private residences of Mr. Andrew Hunter, a member of the Virginia Senate, Mr. Alexander R. Boteler, an ex-member of the [448] Confederate Congress, as well as of the United States Congress, and Edmund I. Lee, a distant relative of General Lee, all in Jefferson County, with their contents, had been burned by his orders, only time enough being given for the ladies to get out of the houses. A number of towns in the South, as well as private country-houses, had been burned by Federal troops, and the accounts had been heralded forth in some of the Northern papers in terms of exaltation, and gloated over by their readers, while they were received with apathy by others. I now came to the conclusion that we had stood this mode of warfare long enough, and that it was time to open the eyes of the people of the North to its enormity by an example in the way of retaliation. I did not select the cases mentioned as having more merit or greater claims for retaliation than others, but because they had occurred within the limits of the country covered by my command, and were brought more immediately to my attention.2

The town of Chambersburg was selected as the one on which retaliation should be made, and McCausland was ordered to proceed with his brigade and that of Johnson's and a battery of artillery to that place, and demand of the municipal authorities the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in gold, or five hundred thousand dollars in United States currency, as a compensation for the destruction of the houses named and their contents; and in default of payment to lay the town in ashes, in retaliation for the burning of those houses and others in Virginia, as well as for the towns which had been burned in other Southern States. A written demand to that effect was also sent to the municipal authorities, and they were informed what would be the result of a failure or a refusal to comply with it. I desired to give the people of Chambersburg an opportunity of saving their town, by making compensation for part of the injury done, and hoped that the payment of such a sum would have the desired effect, and open the eyes of people of other towns at the North to the necessity of urging upon their Government the adoption of a different policy.

On July 30th McCausland reached Chambersburg, and made the demand as directed, reading to such of the authorities as presented themselves the paper sent by me. The demand was not complied with, the people stating that they were not afraid of having their town burned, and that a Federal force was approaching. The policy pursued by our army on former occasions had been so lenient that they did not suppose the threat was in earnest at this time, and they hoped for speedy relief. McCausland, however, proceeded to carry out his orders, and the greater part of the town was laid in ashes. He then moved in the direction of Cumberland, but found it defended by a strong force. He then withdrew [449] and crossed the Potomac, near the mouth of the South Branch, capturing the garrison and partly destroying the railroad-bridge. Averill pursued from Chambersburg, and surprised and routed Johnson's brigade, and caused a loss of four pieces of artillery and about three hundred prisoners from the whole command.

Meantime a large force, consisting of the Sixth, Nineteenth, and Crook's corps, of the Federal army, had concentrated at Harpers Ferry under Major General Sheridan. After various maneuvers, both armies occupied positions in the neighborhood of Winchester. Early had about eight thousand five hundred infantry fit for duty, nearly three thousand mounted men, three battalions of artillery, and a few pieces of horse artillery. Sheridan's force, according to the best information, consisted of ten thousand cavalry, thirty-five thousand infantry, and artillery that greatly outnumbered ours both in men and guns.

On the morning of September 19th the enemy began to advance in heavy force on Ramseur's position, on an elevated plateau between Abraham's Creek and Red Bud Run, about a mile and a half from Winchester on the Berryville road. Nelson's artillery was posted on Ramseur's line, covering the approaches as far as practicable; Lomax, with Jackson's cavalry and a part of Johnson's, was on the right, watching the valley of Abraham's Creek and the Front Royal road beyond, while Fitzhugh Lee was on the left, across the Red Bud, with cavalry, watching the interval between Ramseur's left and the Red Bud. These troops held the enemy's main force in check until Gordon's and Rodes's divisions arrived, a little after 10 A. M. Gordon was placed under cover in rear of a piece of woods, behind the interval between Ramseur's line and the Red Bud. Rodes was directed to form on Gordon's right, in rear of another piece of woods. Meanwhile we discovered very heavy columns, that had been massed under cover between the Red Bud and the Berryville road, moving to attack Ramseur on his left flank, while another force pressed him in front. Rodes and Gordon were immediately hurled upon the flank of the advancing columns. But Evans's brigade of Gordon's division, on the extreme left of our infantry, was forced back through the woods from behind which it had advanced by a column, which followed to the rear of the woods and within musket range of seven pieces of Braxton's artillery. Braxton's guns stood their ground and opened with canister. The fire was so well directed that the column staggered, halted, and commenced falling back. Just then Battle's brigade moved forward and swept through the woods, driving the enemy before it, while Evans's brigade was rallied and cooperated. Our advance was resumed, and the enemy's attacking columns, the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps, were thrown into great confusion and fled [450] from the field. General Early exclaims, ‘It was a grand sight to see this immense body hurled back in utter disorder before my two divisions, numbering very little over five thousand muskets!’ This affair occurred about 11 A. M., and a splendid victory had been gained. But the enemy still had a fresh corps which had not been engaged, and there remained his heavy force of cavalry. Our lines were now formed across from Abraham's Creek to Red Bud, and were very attenuated. There was still seen in front a formidable force, and away to the right a division of cavalry massed, with some artillery overlapping us at least a mile. Late in the afternoon two divisions of the enemy's cavalry drove in the small force that had been watching it on the Martinsburg road, and Crook's corps, which had not been engaged, advanced at the same time on the north side of Red Bud and forced back our brigade of infantry and cavalry. A considerable force of cavalry then swept along the Martinsburg road to the skirts of Winchester, thus getting in the rear of our left flank. This was soon driven back by two of Wharton's brigades, and subsequently another charge of cavalry was also repulsed. But many of the men in the front line, hearing the fire in the rear and thinking they were flanked and about to be cut off, commenced to fall back. At the same time Crook's corps advanced against our left, and Evans's brigade was thrown into line to meet it, but after an obstinate resistance that brigade also retired. The whole front line had now given way, but was rallied and formed behind some old breastworks, and with the aid of artillery the progress of the enemy's infantry was arrested. Their cavalry afterward succeeded in getting around on our left, producing great confusion, for which there was no remedy. We now retired through Winchester, a new line was formed, and the hostile advance was checked until nightfall. We then retired to Newton without serious molestation. Our trains, stores, sick, and wounded that could be removed had been sent to Fisher's Hill. This battle, beginning with the skirmishing in Ramseur's front, had lasted from daylight until dark, and, at the close of it, we had been forced back two miles, after having repulsed the first attack with great slaughter, and subsequently contested every inch of ground with unsurpassed obstinacy. We deserved the victory, and would have gained it but for the enemy's immense superiority in cavalry. In his memoir General Early says:

When I look back to this battle, I can but attribute my escape from utter annihilation to the incapacity of my opponent.

Our loss was severe for the size of our force, but only a fraction of that ascribed to us by the foe, while his was very heavy, and some prisoners fell into our hands. [451]

On the 22d, after two days spent in reconnoitering, the enemy prepared to make an attack upon our position at Fisher's Hill; as our force was not strong enough to resist a determined assault, orders were given to retire after dark. Before sunset, however, an advance was made against Ramseur's left by Crook's corps. The movement to put Pegram's brigades into line successively to the left produced some confusion, when the enemy advanced along his entire line, and after a brief contest our force retired in disorder. We fell back to a place called Narrow Passage, all the trains being removed in safety. Some skirmishing ensued as we withdrew up the Valley, but without important result.

On October 1st our force was in position between Mount Sidney and North River, and the enemy's had been concentrated around Harrisonburg and on the north bank of the river. On the 5th we were reenforced by General Rosser with six hundred mounted men, and Kershaw's division, numbering twenty-seven hundred muskets, with a battalion of artillery. On the morning of the 6th it was discovered that the foe had retired down the Valley. General Early then moved forward and arrived at New Market with his infantry on the 7th. Rosser pushed forward on the back and middle roads in pursuit of the cavalry, which was engaged in burning houses, mills, barns, and stacks of wheat and hay, and had several skirmishes with it.

A committee consisting of thirty-six citizens and the same number of magistrates, appointed by the County Court of Rockingham County for the purpose of making an estimate of the losses of that county by the execution of General Sheridan's orders, made an investigation, and reported as follows:

Dwelling-houses burned, 30; barns burned, 450; mills burned, 31; fences destroyed (miles), 100; bushels of wheat destroyed, 100,000; bushels of corn destroyed, 50,000; tons of hay destroyed, 6,233; cattle carried off, 1,750; horses carried off, 1,750; sheep carried off, 4,200; hogs carried off, 3,350; factories burned, three; furnaces burned, one. In addition there was an immense amount of farming utensils of every description, destroyed, many of them of great value, such as reapers and thrashing-machines; also, household and kitchen furniture, and money, bonds, plates, etc., pillaged.

General Early, having learned that Sheridan was preparing to send a part of his troops to Grant, moved down the Valley again on the 12th, and reached Fisher's Hill. The enemy was found on the north bank of Cedar Creek in strong force. He gave no indication of an intention to move, nor did he evince any purpose of attacking us, though the two positions were in sight of each other. At the same time it became necessary for us to move back for want of provisions and forage, or to [452] attack him in his position with the hope of driving him from it. An attack was determined upon by General Early, and, as he was not strong enough to assault the fortified position in front, he resolved to get around one of the enemy's flanks and attack him by surprise. His plan of attack is thus stated by him:

I determined to send the three divisions of the Second Corps, to wit, Gordon's Ramseur's, and Pegram's, under General Gordon, to the enemy's rear, to make the attack at 5 A. M., which would be a little before daybreak on the 19th; to move myself with Kershaw's and Wharton's divisions and all the artillery along the pike through Strasburg, and attack the enemy on the front and left flank as soon as Gordon should become engaged, and for Rosser to move with his own and Wickham's brigade on the back road across Cedar Creek, and attack the enemy's cavalry simultaneously with Gordon's attack, while Lomax should move by Front Royal, cross the river, and come to the Valley pike, so as to strike the enemy wherever he might be, of which he was to judge by the sound of the firing.

Gordon moved at the appointed time. At 1 A. M. Kershaw and Wharton, accompanied by General Early, advanced. At Strasburg Kershaw moved to the right on the road to Bowman's Mill, and Wharton moved along the pike to Hupp's Hill, with instructions not to display his forces, but to avoid notice until the attack began, when he was to move forward, support the artillery when it came up, and send a force to get possession of the bridge on the pike over the creek. Kershaw's division got in sight of the enemy at half-past 3 o'clock. He was directed to cross his division at the proper time over the creek as quietly as possible, and to form it into column of brigades as he did so, and advance in that manner against the left breastwork, extending to the right or left as might be necessary. At half-past 4 he was ordered forward, and, a very short time after he started, the firing from Rosser on our left and the picket firing at the ford at which Gordon was crossing were heard. Kershaw crossed the creek without molestation and formed his division as directed, and precisely at five o'clock his leading brigade, with little opposition, swept over the left work, capturing seven guns, which were at once turned on the enemy. At the same time Wharton and the artillery were just arriving at Hupp's Hill, and a very heavy fire of musketry was heard in the rear from Gordon's column. Wharton had advanced his skirmishers to the creek, capturing some prisoners, but the foe still held the works on our left of the pike, commanding that road and the bridge, and opened with his artillery on us. Our artillery was at once brought into action, and opened on the enemy, but he soon evacuated his works, and our men from the other columns rushed into them. Wharton was immediately ordered forward. Kershaw's division had [453] swept along the enemy's works on the right of the pike, which were occupied by Crook's corps, and he and Gordon had united at the pike, and their divisions had pushed across it in pursuit. A delay of an hour at the river had occurred in Gordon's movement, which enabled Sheridan partially to form his lines after the alarm produced by Kershaw's attack; Gordon's, which was after daylight, was therefore met by the enemy with greater obstinacy than it would otherwise have encountered, and the fighting had been severe. Gordon, however, pushed his advance with such energy that the Nineteenth and Crook's corps were in complete rout, and their camps, with a number of pieces of artillery and a considerable quantity of small arms, abandoned. The Sixth Corps, which was on the right and some distance from the point attacked, had had time to get under arms and take position so as to arrest our progress. A fog which had prevailed soon rose sufficiently for us to see the Sixth Corps' position on a ridge to the west of Middletown, and it was discovered to be a strong one. The enemy had not advanced, but opened on us with artillery, and orders were given to concentrate all our guns on him. In the meantime a force of cavalry was moving along the pike, through the fields to the right of Middletown, thus placing our right and rear in great danger. Wharton was ordered to form his division at once, and take position to hold that cavalry in check. Discovering that the Sixth Corps could not be attacked with advantage on its left flank, because the approach in that direction was through an open flat and across a boggy stream with high banks, Gordon in conjunction with Kershaw was ordered to assail the right flank, while a heavy fire of artillery was opened from our right. In a short time eighteen or twenty guns were concentrated on the enemy, and he was soon in retreat. Ramseur and Pegram advanced at once to the position from which he was driven, and just then his cavalry commenced pressing heavily on the right, and Pegram's division was ordered to move to the north of Middletown and take position across the pike against the cavalry. As soon as Pegram moved, Kershaw was ordered from the left to supply his place. Rosser had attacked the enemy promptly at the appointed time, but had not been able to surprise him, as he was found on the alert on that flank. There was now one division of cavalry threateneing our right flank, and two were on the left near the Back road, held in check by Rosser. His force was so weak he could only watch.

After he had been driven from his second position, the enemy had taken a new one about two miles north of Middletown. An advance by Gordon and Kershaw and Ramseur was ordered, but after it had been [454] made for some distance, Gordon's skirmishers came back, reporting a line of battle in front, behind breastworks, and an attack was not made.

It was now apparent that it would not do, [says General Early] to press my troops farther. They had been up all night and were much jaded. In passing over rough ground to attack the enemy at dawn their own ranks had been much disordered and the men scattered, and it had required time to reform them. Their ranks were much thinned by the absence of the men engaged in plundering the enemy's camps.

It was determined, therefore, to try to hold what had been gained, and orders were given to carry off the captured and abandoned artillery, small arms, and wagons. A number of bold attempts were made, during the subsequent part of the day, by the enemy's cavalry, to break our line on the right, but they were invariably repulsed. Late in the afternoon his infantry advanced against Ramseur's, Kershaw's, and Gordon's lines, and the attack on Ramseur's and Kershaw's fronts was handsomely repulsed; a portion of the assailants had penetrated an interval which was between Evans's brigade on the extreme left and the rest of the line, when that brigade gave way, and Gordon's other brigades soon followed. General Gordon made every possible effort to rally his men and lead them back, but without avail. This affair was soon known with exaggerations along Kershaw's and Ramseur's lines, and their men, fearing to be flanked, began to fall back in disorder, though no force was pressing them. At the same time the enemy's cavalry, observing the disorder in our ranks, made another charge on our right, but was again repulsed. Every effort was made to rally the men, but the mass of them continued to resist all appeals. Ramseur succeeded in retaining with him two or three hundred men of his division, and about the same number was retained by Major Goggin from Conner's brigade; these, aided by several pieces of artillery, held the whole force on our left in check for one hour and a half until Ramseur was shot down, and the ammunition of the artillery was exhausted. While the latter was being replaced by other guns, the force that had continued steady gave way also. Pegram's and Wharton's divisions and Wofford's brigade had remained steadfast on the right, and resisted every effort of the cavalry, but no portion of this force could be moved to the left without leaving the pike open to the cavalry, which would have destroyed all hope at once. Every effort to rally the men in the rear having failed, these troops were ordered to retire. The disorder soon extended to them. The greater part of the infantry was halted at Fisher's Hill, and Rosser, whose command had retired in good order on the Back road, was ordered to that point with his cavalry to cover the retreat, and hold that position until the troops [455] were beyond pursuit. He fell back on the forenoon of the 20th, when the enemy had not advanced to that place. The troops were halted at Newmarket, seven miles from Mount Jackson. Our loss in the battle of Cedar Creek was twenty-three pieces of artillery, some ordnance, and medical wagons and ambulances, about 1,860 killed and wounded, and something over a thousand prisoners; 1,500 prisoners were captured from the enemy and brought off, and his loss in killed and wounded was very heavy. We had in this battle about 8,500 muskets and a little over forty pieces of artillery. Sheridan's cavalry numbered 8,700, and his infantry force was fully as large as at Winchester.

Subsequently General Early confronted Sheridan's whole force north of Cedar Creek for two days, November 11th and 12th, without an attack being made upon him. On November 27th the fortified post at New Creek on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was surprised and captured by General Rosser. Two regiments of Federal cavalry with their arms and colors were taken, and eight pieces of artillery and a very large amount of ordnance, quartermaster, and commissary stores fell into our hands. Eight hundred prisoners, four pieces of artillery, and some wagons and horses were brought off. When the campaign closed, the invader held precisely the same position in the Valley which he held before the opening of the campaign in the spring.

In the Red River country of Louisiana it became certain in February, 1864, that the enemy was about to make an expedition against our forces under General Richard Taylor, not so much to get possession of the country as to obtain the cotton in that region. Their forces were to be commanded by Major General Banks, and to consist of his command, augmented by a part of Major General Sherman's army from Vicksburg, and accompanied by a fleet of gunboats under Admiral Porter. With these the force under General Steele, in Arkansas, was to Cooperate. Taylor's forces at this time consisted of Harrison's mounted regiment with a four-gun battery, in the north toward Monroe; Mouton's brigade, near Alexandria; Polignac's, at Trinity, on the Washita, fiftyfive miles distant; Walker's division, at Marksville and toward Simmsport, with two hundred men detached to assist the gunners at Fort De Russy, which, though still unfinished, contained eight heavy guns and two field pieces. Three companies of mounted men were watching the Mississippi, and the remainder of a regiment was on the Teche.

On March 12th Admiral Porter, with nineteen gunboats and ten thousand men of Sherman's army, entered the Red River. A detachment on the 14th marched to De Russy and took possession of it. On the 15th [456] the advance of Porter reached Alexandria, and on the 19th General Franklin left the lower Teche with eighteen thousand men to meet him. General Steele, in Arkansas, reported his force at seven thousand men. The force of General Taylor at this time had increased to five thousand three hundred infantry, five hundred cavalry, and three hundred artillerymen; Liddel on the north had about the same number of cavalry and a four-gun battery. Some reenforcements were soon received. On March 31st Banks's advance reached Natchitoches, and Taylor moved toward Pleasant Hill, arriving on the next day. On April 4th and 5th he moved to Mansfield, concentrating his force in that vicinity. There two brigades of Missouri infantry and two of Arkansas, numbering four thousand four hundred muskets, joined him. On April 7th the enemy were reported from Pleasant Hill to be advancing in force, but their progress was arrested by a body of our cavalry.

General Taylor then selected his position in which to wait for an attack expected on the next day. It was in the edge of a wood, fronting an open field eight hundred yards in width and twelve hundred in length, through the center of which the road to Pleasant Hill passed. On the opposite side of the field was a fence separating it from the pine forest which, open on the higher ground and filled with underwood on the lower, spread over the country. The position was three miles in front of Mansfield, and covered a crossroad leading to the Sabine. On each side of the main Mansfield-Pleasant Hill road at two miles' distance was a road parallel to it, and these were connected by this Sabine crossroad.

On the 8th General Taylor disposed, on the right of the road to Pleasant Hill, Walker's infantry division of three brigades with two batteries; on the left, Mouton's two brigades and two batteries. As the horsemen came in from the front, they took position, dismounted, on Mouton's left. A regiment of horsemen was posed on each of the parallel roads, and cavalry with a battery was held in reserve on the main road. Taylor's force amounted to 5,300 infantry, 3,000 mounted men, and 500 artillerymen; total, 8,800. Banks left Grand Ecore with an estimated force of 25,000.

As the enemy showed no disposition to advance, a forward movement of the whole line was made. On the left our forces crossed the field under a heavy fire and entered the wood, where a bloody contest ensued, which resulted in gradually turning their right, which was forced back with loss of prisoners and guns. On the right little resistance was encountered until the woods was entered. Finding that our force outflanked the opponent's left, the right brigade was kept advanced, and we swept everything before us. [457]

His first line, consisting of all the mounted force and one division of the Thirteenth Corps, was in full flight, leaving prisoners, guns, and wagons in our hands. Two miles to the rear of the first position, the Second Division of the Federal Thirteenth Corps was brought up, but was speedily routed, losing guns and prisoners. The advance was continued. Four miles from the original position, his Nineteenth Army Corps was found drawn up on a ridge overlooking a small stream. Sharp work followed, but as our force persisted, his fell back at nightfall. Twenty-five hundred prisoners, twenty pieces of artillery, several stands of colors, many thousands of small arms, and two hundred fifty wagons were taken.

On the next morning the enemy was found about a mile in front of Pleasant Hill, which occupies a plateau a mile wide from west to east along the Mansfield road. His lines extended across the plateau from the highest ground on the west, his left, to a wooded height on the right of the Mansfield road. Winding along in front of this position was a dry gully cut by winter rains, bordered by a thick growth of young pines. This was held by his advanced infantry, his main line and guns being on the plateau. The force of General TaylorChurchill's brigade having joined him now—amounted to twelve thousand five hundred men against eighteen thousand of General Banks, among them the fresh corps of General A. J. Smith. The action commenced about 4:30 P. M. It was the plan of General Taylor, as no offensive movement on the part of the enemy was anticipated, to turn both his flanks and subject him to a concentric fire and overwhelm him. The right was successfully turned, but our force on his left did not proceed far enough to outflank him. An obstinate contest ensued, with much confusion, and failure to execute the plan of battle. Night ended the conflict on our right, and both sides occupied their original positions. General Banks made no attempt to recover the ground from which his right and center had been driven. During the night he retreated, leaving four hundred wounded and his dead unburied. On the next morning he was pursued twenty miles before his rear was overtaken, and on the road were found stragglers, and burning wagons and stores. Our loss in the two actions of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill was twenty-two hundred. At Pleasant Hill the loss was three guns and four hundred twenty-six prisoners. The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was larger than ours. We captured twenty guns and twenty-eight hundred prisoners, not including stragglers. Their campaign was defeated. In the second volume of the ‘Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War,’ page 239, a [458] report of Admiral Porter, dated Grand Ecore, April 14, 1864, says:

The army here has met with a great defeat, no matter what the generals try to make of it. . . .

On April 21st General Banks retreated from Grand Ecore to Alexandria, harassed by a small cavalry force. A large part of our forces had been taken by General E. K. Smith to follow General Steele. On April 28th Porter's fleet was lying above the falls, then impassable, and Bank's army was in and around Alexandria behind earthworks. On May 13th both escaped from Alexandria, and on May 19th Banks crossed the Atchafalaya, and the campaign closed at the place where it began. Porter was able to extricate his eight ironclads and two wooden gunboats by building a dam with transports. General Banks boasted that the army obtained ten thousand bales of cotton, to which Admiral Porter added five thousand more as collected by the navy. This was the compensation reported for the loss of many lives, much public property, and a total defeat. Even for the booty as well as for the escape of their fleet, they were probably indebted to the unfortunate withdrawal of a large part of Taylor's force, as mentioned above.3

On April 12, 1864, an attack was made by two brigades of General N. B. Forrest's force, under Brigadier General J. R. Chalmers, upon Fort Pillow. This was an earthwork on a bluff on the east side of the Mississippi, at the mouth of Coal Creek. It was garrisoned by four hundred men and six pieces of artillery. General Chalmers promptly gained possession of the outer works and drove the garrison to their main fortifications. The fort was cresent-shaped, the parapet eight feet in height and four feet across the top, surrounded by a ditch six feet deep and twelve feet in width. About this time General Forrest arrived and soon ordered his forces to move up. The brigade of Bell, on the northeast, advanced until it gained a position in which the men were sheltered by the conformation of the ground, which was intersected by a ravine. The other brigade, under McCulloch, carried the entrenchments on the highest part of the ridge, immediately in front of the southeastern face of the fort, and occupied a cluster of cabins on its southern face and about sixty yards from it. The line of investment was now short and complete, within an average distance of one hundred yards. It extended from Coal Creek on the north, which was impassable, to the river bank south of the fort. In the rear were numerous sharpshooters, well posted on commanding ridges, to pick off the garrison whenever they exposed themselves. At the same time, our forces [459] were so placed that the artillery could not be brought to bear upon them with much effect except by a fatal exposure of the gunners. During all this time a gunboat in the river kept up a continuous fire in all directions, but without effect. General Forrest, confident of his ability to take the fort by assault, which it seemed must be perfectly apparent to the garrison, and desiring to prevent further loss of life, sent a demand for an unconditional surrender, with the assurance that they should be treated as prisoners of war. The answer was written with a pencil on a slip of paper, ‘Negotiations will not attain the desired object.’ Meantime, three boats were seen to approach, the foremost of which was apparently loaded with troops, and, as an hour's time had been asked for to communicate with the officers of the gunboat, it seemed to be a pretext to gain time for reenforcements. General Forrest, understanding also that the enemy doubted his presence and had pronounced the demand to be a trick, declared himself, and demanded an answer within twenty minutes whether the commander would fight or surrender. Meanwhile, the foremost boat indicated an intention to land, but a few shots caused her to withdraw to the other side of the river, along which they all passed up. The answer from the fort was a positive refusal to surrender. Three companies on the left were now placed in an old rifle pit and almost in the rear of the fort, and on the right a portion of Barton's regiment of Bell's brigade was also under the bluff and in the rear of the fort.

On the signal, the works were carried without a halt. As the troops poured into the fortification the enemy retreated toward the river, arms in hand and firing back, and their colors flying, doubtless expecting the gunboats to shell us away from the bluff and protect them until they could be taken off or reenforced. As they descended the bank an enfilading and deadly fire was poured in upon them from right and left by the forces in rear of the fort, of whose presence they were ignorant. To this was now added the destructive fire of the regiments that had stormed the fort. Fortunately some of our men cut down the flag, and the firing ceased. Our loss was twenty killed and sixty wounded. Of the enemy two hundred twenty-eight were buried that evening and quite a number next day. We captured six pieces of artillery and about three hundred fifty stand of small arms. The gunboat escaped up the river.

1 I. Stoddard Johnston, Southern Historical Society Papers, June, 1879, p. 258 et seq.

2 ‘I had often seen delicate ladies who had been plundered, insulted, and rendered desolate by the acts of our most atrocious enemies, and, while they did not call for it, yet in the anguished expressions of their features while narrating their misfortunes, there was a mute appeal to every manly sentiment of my bosom for retribution, which I could no longer withstand. On my passage through the lower Valley into Maryland, a lady had said to me, with tears in her eyes: “Our lot is a hard one, and we see no peace; but there are a few green spots in our lives, and they are when the Confederate soldiers come along and we can do something for them.” May God defend and bless these noble women of the Valley, who so often ministered to the wounded, sick, and dying Confederate soldiers, and gave their last morsel of bread to the hungry! They bore with heroic courage the privations, sufferings, persecutions, and dangers to which the war, which was constantly waged in their midst, exposed them, and upon no portion of the Southern people did the disasters, which finally befell our army and country, fall with more crushing effect than on them.’

3 Destruction and Reconstruction, Taylor, p. 162 et seq.

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