Chapter 7: the Army of Virginia under General Pope—Battle of Cedar Mountain.
Bearing peremptory orders to General Banks
, I took the route by Harper's Ferry
, delaying there for an hour to stray up to our old encampment on Maryland Heights
The camp-ground had been converted into a flourishing wheat-field, where the green bushes that once formed our shelter now lay in withered and unsightly heaps, testifying to the not too energetic efforts of the phlegmatic proprietor, the good old Dutchman Unseld, from whom I received a cheerful and hearty welcome.
Without pausing to moralize upon the events which our former bivouac recalled, and too hurried to hear any of the long stories which our old host delighted in reciting in slow and measured tones, I recrossed to Harper's Ferry
, where, taking the train for Winchester
, I reached my command on the twenty-fifth of June.
My camp was located on the Front Royal
road, some seven or eight miles north of the former town, where we could watch the crossings of the Shenandoah
The officers of my regiment took the occasion of my arrival to offer their congratulations upon my promotion.
In full uniform, but without other display, they came forward to my tent, led by Captain Cary
, who, in behalf of all, in quiet but feeling words, expressed for
himself and others gratitude at my return.
I replied very briefly.
There was no occasion for much speaking; every one knew how glad I was to come back, and how I had labored to overcome plans (if there were any) for my removal to another army.
There was not an officer or private of the Second Regiment who did not know, without assurance of mine, that my nearest, dearest, and strongest tie was just themselves.
They knew it then, they know it now; and if they do not die in that conviction, it will be because they will never die at all Alas!
how soon the kind voices, the sparkling eyes, the generous and manly hearts that — expressed so much sympathy in my prosperity were to be hushed and lifeless on the fatal field of Cedar Mountain
, toward which, over the Blue Ridge
, we were soon to move, unconscious of the impending doom!
It was while General Banks
's headquarters were at Middletown
, and we were in camp near Front Royal
, that we heard of the President
's order of the 26th of June, 1862, gathering up all the stray and loose armies within the theatre of our operations, and placing in command John Pope
, of the United States Engineers, with the rank of major-general.
I well remember the day when this order came to my headquarters.
An intense heat was followed by a terrific storm, in which heavy clouds, obscuring the sun, spread over the landscape an unnatural gloom.
The lightning flashed, and the thunder roared in incessant peals,--a fitting prelude to almost any following tragedy.
It was for us, at the beginning of our new campaign, a storm of ill omen, foreboding and portending evils dire.
Whatever the future might be, we now, however, addressed ourselves to instant preparation for an active and important duty.
The three corps of the new army were to be commanded
by Generals McDowell
, and Fremont
Our corps, no longer the Fifth of the Army of the Potomac, was to be known as the Second of the Army of Virginia, and was to be commanded by General Banks
, at the date of this promotion, was Fremont
's junior in rank,--a fact which the latter considered so offensive to his dignity that he refused to take the command assigned him; therefore Siegel
was substituted, and Fremont
retired, carrying with him everything but our regrets.
's department covered the region which holds, east of the Blue Ridge
, the great battle-fields of the war. The troops were organized and posted to cover the city of Washington
from any attack in the direction of Richmond
, to assure the safety of the Shenandoah Valley, and to operate upon the enemy's lines of communication in the direction of Gordonsville
,--thus hoping to draw a considerable force of the enemy from Richmond
, to the relief of the Army of the Potomac.1
It is affirmed by Pope
, and established by many facts that form the groundwork of the history of that period, that McClellan
's refusal to correspond with Pope
, or to unite with him in the execution of his plans, caused the former's removal from the chief command of all the armies of the United States
, and the substitution of General Halleck
The strength of the three corps commanded by Pope
was as follows: Siegel
's corps was reported as 11,500 strong; Bank's corps as 14,500, although in reality it numbered only about 8,000; and McDowell
's corps was given as 18,400,--a grand total of 38,000, to which add, for cavalry, about 5,000.2
July came to find us quiet in our camp, with Banks
, from whence, on the 2d, he telegraphed to
his assistant adjutant-general to be in readiness to march.
On the 5th, despite holding back and suppression by the War Department, we knew that the Army of the Potomac was driven back to Harrison's Landing
, and that its struggles for Richmond
had, for a time, ended.
This adversity caused such a departure from the plan Pope
had formed, that it was now, not how to aid the Army of the Potomac in the capture of Richmond
, but how to unite the two armies to save the national capital, and provide for a further prosecution of the attack upon Richmond
After consideration, it was determined to use the Army of Virginia mainly, while covering the front at Washington
and securing the valley of the Shenandoah
, in forcing such heavy detachments from the main body of the enemy as to enable the Army of the Potomac to withdraw from its position at Harrison's Landing
, and take shipping for Aquia Creek
and so to embarrass the enemy, should he move northward, as to give all time possible for the Army of the Potomac to arrive behind the Rappahannock
On the sixth of July, with our part in the coming tragedy not yet revealed, we took up our line of march, halting the first night one mile south of the town of Front Royal
The next day we crossed the Blue Ridge
at Chester Gap
, and began our campaign within the region bounded by those mountains and the sea. We rested at night in a pleasant woods, just before reaching the little town of Flint Hill
, where I had an amicable discussion with a Virginian
upon secession as a Constitutional right.
On the 8th we encamped near Amissville
, from whence, after a short day's march, I pitched my tent in the front door-yard of an unwilling host on the Warrenton
Our camps generally were established in the neighborhood of quiet farms, which we occupied and overran, until we became a great unnatural plague to the people.
We filled their woods with our tents, we killed their sheep and calves, and substituted, for the “drowsy tinkling of their lowing herds,” the beating drum, the ear-piercing fife, and all the loud alarum of war. My sympathies were often touched as our cold-eyed commissary seized cattle, as they were moving from their quiet folds in the early morning to their wellknown pastures, and doomed them to the shambles for our troops.
We were beginning to live upon the country.
When General Banks
, on the fifth of July, returned from Washington
he was despondent.
At his mess-table the next morning, in the presence of some eight officers and their servants, with an indiscretion unusual to him, he spoke of rumors afloat in Washington
of disaster to Mc-Clellan, and fears of the capture of his whole command.
He said that the President
was believed to be much alarmed and uncertain what to do, and that some one commander should be placed in charge of the War Department and the army in the field.5
The relation of such matters was too much for one of Banks
's listeners, the unlucky Major Copeland
, who, despite the telegram for his removal after the unfortunate proclamation, was here again with Banks
temporarily abiding, until service could be secured with General Hunter
in the Southern Department.6 Copeland
listening to the promptings of the evil one, believed that now was the time for him to make the United States Government abandon conservatism, as he called it;7
so he determined to take the first step, and sent a despatch in secret cipher to his friend Dunbar
of the “Boston daily Advertiser,” 8
which should not only accomplish that result, but perhaps effect changes in Washington
that might restore his status with officials in the War Department.
The despatch 9
was sent, and Copeland
's doom was sealed.
Within a few days, while preparing to sail from New York for the Southern Department, he read in a New York paper that he was dismissed from the United States
The only reasons for this ever given him by the President
were founded upon the proclamation and despatch.10
My own experience with Banks
, in an interview after his return from Washington
, in which I labored hard to get
some hope out of our heavy despair from disastrous reports, was so intensely satisfactory
that I cannot forbear giving it in this history.
It was on the evening of the fifth of July, the day Banks
arrived at the headquarters of his corps, that I rode to his tent, dismounted, and engaged with our austere chieftain in the following animated conversation:--
“What information have you brought back to us, General?”
“Nothing of this sad affair of General McClellan
's,this rumor of his defeat?”
“ Nothing, sir.”
“ Nothing of the purposes of the Administration in such an event?”
Nothing! Nothing! Can you, under these circumstances of our excessive anxiety and desire to know something
, can you not tell us something?
Surely the Administration must have some plans.”
At last, with a great oath, and with seemingly intense satisfaction, Banks
relieved himself of the following irrefutable sentiment; “By God, sir, without honest men this country will be ruined, sir!”
At the camp near Warrenton
(we moved there on the 8th) we sent to Alexandria
such superfluities as baggage and tents, for we were not only to live on the country, but were to sleep on it unsheltered, and clothe ourselves as might be. But the men were in good spirits, and soon threw off all depression, even if they had felt any, because of the defeat of the Army of the Potomac.
One of the memorable incidents that occurred at this camp was the recovery of a horse that had been stolen from me by some of the New York cavalrymen, on the morning we crossed the river at Williamsport
on our retreat before Jackson
The animal, noticeable for his flowing mane and tail, and for his rich color, a mahogany bay, disappeared a few minutes after my servant had tied him to a fence on the Maryland
side of the Potomac
There was a house near the fence occupied by a sergeant or two of the New York cavalry, but they had seen nothing of such a horse, they told my man, repeating their denial to me with an honest touch of incipient indignation at my cross-examination.
It was certain the horse had not strayed off, nor had he committed suicide in the river, nor would any citizen of Williamsport
, under the circumstances, have dared to steal him.
All search proving vain, I sought General Hatch
, who invited me to attend with him, in the afternoon, a review of his cavalry, “where,” he suggested, “in riding between the open ranks, you will see your horse if he is there; and if he is not, he will be found, if taken by any of my cavalrymen, among the horses left in camp, and there your groom can look during the review.” --“Good!”
I replied, “that is the thing.
I'll find him.”
After the review I rode along the ranks, seemingly criticising the troops, but really looking for the horse-thief.
Returning to the reviewing officer's position, when the
was given, the cavalry command gave me three rousing cheers.
“ That's .for your accusing them of stealing your horse,” said Hatch
How the fellow that did steal that horse must have smiled!
for the horse was there, but I did not recognize him; and after a few days gave him up.
On a lazy afternoon of the thirteenth of July, on Sunday, at this camp near Warrenton
, my groom Fuller
came to me, excitedly saying,--
“General, I have found your horse.”
“When, where, and how?”
“Ridden by a private in the New York cavalry.”
In a few minutes, in charge of my guard, the private appeared, riding a horse with ragged mane and tail,--a gaunt, dejected animal, upon whose flank was stamped or branded the letter “A,” thus denoting a public animal belonging to Company “A,” of a cavalry regiment.
“ Do you mean to tell me that that
is my horse?”
I said to Fuller
, as he and the private and the guard stared in silence at each other.
“I think so, sir,” replied Fuller
By what token?
Wherein do you see anything like my bright-colored horse, his thick mane and waving tail, his spirit-anything!
Tell me, where do you see it?”
Looking down doggedly, as if indignant at a suspicion that he could, through a mistake, have originated this scene, Fuller
lifted the animal's fore-leg, looked intently at the shoe, dropped the foot, struck a defiant attitude, and exclaimed,--
“ It's your hoss, sir!”
“Well, by Jove!
So it is, or the remains of him,” I exclaimed, after a critical examination.
Then followed a scene.
The private and the sergeant, the one who denied at the house in Williamsport
having any knowledge of the horse (and, I have every reason to believe, the captain also of the company to which these worthies were attached), were accomplices in the theft: they were members of a gang of horse-thieves.
When this fine-looking animal was espied tied to the fence in Williamsport
, while Fuller
was trying to get some breakfast after his long fast, it was the work of a moment to lead him to a secluded spot, and there to crop and notch his mane as if mules had fed on it; to dock and thin his tail until there was no waving curl about it; and then with sharp-pointed scissors to finish the work by cutting tllc letter A in the hair on his flank.
One without experience cannot conceive the transformation thus effected.
Add to this the rough riding of a cavalry-trooper from the twenty-sixth of May to the thirteenth of July, and gauntness, lack of fire, and dulness of coat completed the disguise.
After seeing the letter A, of appropriate dimensions, cut out of the shock of hair on the head of the private, I sent him away under guard, with the good intentions I entertained concerning the captain and sergeant dissipated in the crowding events that thickened and darkened until Pope
's campaign was at an end.
In carrying out the plans already referred to, Pope
had ordered General King
, of McDowell
's corps, at Fredericksburg
, to send forward detachments of his cavalry to break up and destroy the Virginia Central Railroad; and at the same time, with a view of destroying the enemy's communications by rail in the direction of Gordonsville
was on the fourteenth of July ordered to send an infantry brigade, with all his cavalry, to Culpeper Court House, from whence the cavalry were to take possession
and destroy the railroad for ten or fifteen miles east, while another detachment was to move on Charlottesville
, destroy a railroad bridge there, and break up communications.
But on the seventeenth of July Banks
reported that General Hatch
, commanding the cavalry, had started on his march with infantry, artillery, and train-wagons, and had at that date succeeded in getting no farther than Madison Court House.
The arrival of the enemy at Gordonsville
, on the sixteenth of July, rendered the contemplated movement impossible.
On the nineteenth of July we had moved our camp to Little Washington, a small town east of the Blue Ridge
, on a line from Luray
The following are the points our army occupied on this line, which was in length thirty and one-third miles: The two divisions of the Second Corps were at Little Washington; General Siegel
, with the First Corps, was at Luray
; and General McDowell
, with the Third Corps, at Warrenton
We were concentrating on this base.
There, in that summer season, scenes of rural loveliness became desolate and unsightly by the occupation and destruction that ever marks the devastation of armies.
From my tent I could see, on the west, the wondrous beauty, famous in Virginia
scenery, of the Blue Ridge
; and towards the south, a rolling country, from which on many fields the grain, carefully shocked upon our arrival, had all been appropriated by our soldiers as straw for bedding.
Tents whitened the hills, and thousands of men were wandering around, knowing no man as owner of field, forage, or domain.
From the hill we could look for thirty miles towards Richmond
, the bourn of all our hopes and many of our bodies.
The remaining days of July were passed in drills, brigade and regimental; and when the latter, Colonel Andrews
(who had received full promotion to the command of the
Second Regiment) practised his men in aiming, to enable them to do better than at Winchester
, where not one of the enemy could show himself with impunity at a thousand yards. My military family consisted of officers taken from the Second Massachusetts Regiment; this was due to the kindness of the Secretary of War
, who promoted, at my request, to the rank of captains, Lieutenant H. B. Scott
, as assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenant Wheaton
, as commissary of subsistence, and Lieutenant M. M. Hawes
, as quartermaster.
Lieutenant Robert G. Shaw
, who subsequently, as colonel of the First Massachusetts Colored Regiment, was killed at Fort Wagner
, served as an aid on my staff.
Although General Pope
was at Washington
, in the District of Columbia, we began to receive at Little Washington, through the newspapers, furious orders, intended to inflame his army with zeal,--“No lines of retreat,” “No bases of supply,” “Live upon the country,” “We have always seen the backs of our enemy,” “Discard your false notions,” etc.12
We knew well enough that this was a fling at the commander of the Army of the Potomac, and was intended to please the Chandlers, and such-like war-horses of the Administration, who were then comparing McClellan
to an old woman with a broom.
Although the newspapers laughed at Pope
, and criticised
his Falstaffian pretences, and dubbed him “five-cent Pope
and although every man in his army wondered if he were not a weak and silly man,--there were none who fell away in fervor or determination to do all that mortals could do to retrieve the losses sustained by the Army of the Potomac, be it under Pope
or the Devil himself.
On the twentyninth of July, we were favored with the actual presence of the commander-in-chief
of the Army of Virginia.
He had come to take up his abode with us. As recorded at that time by an observing officer of my staff, the following description of General Pope
may serve to recall him: “Pope
is a thick-set man, of an unpleasant expression, of about fifty years of age, average height, thick, bushy black whiskers, and wears spectacles.”
The savage orders that had preceded our commander created an intense curiosity actually
to look upon him, and we were gratified on the 3d of August, for he came to inspect the troops of our corps in a review.
Upon this momentous occasion, which had been preceded by many drills, in some of which General Banks
attempted and creditably performed division movements, we were anxious to excel, as we knew we ought; and so were ready long before the arrival of Pope
, and long after the time assigned in orders.
did not fail to keep his appointments to review his troops,” said a critical officer, somewhat melted by the heat.
“Nor did Wellington
,” was the aimable reply of another.
Further comparison was checked by a rising cloud of dust, within which Pope
and a numerous staff drew rein; while the cannon roared, the drums sounded, and the horses pranced or cavorted
so vigorously that it took about ten minutes to quiet their demonstrations of admiration for Pope
Then the review began in column of brigades, of which mine was the last.
As the General
rode in turn in front of each brigade, he was to be received by each regiment in the orthodox style of the regulation,--three ruffles from the drum, the march, the colors drooped, and a present-arms.
Now when Pope
was receiving these regulation tokens of respect from the left regiment of the brigade in my front, what did that incorrigible Twenty-seventh Indiana do, on the left of my line, but put the whole paragraph of ruffles, marches, and droops in, and all in the wrong place,--the colonel commanding looking on meanwhile as blandly as did Pickwick
when he awoke in the pound as a trespasser upon the lands of the fierce Captain Boldwig
My feelings were indescribable.
I fancied Pope
looked like Captain Boldwig
, when that worthy discovered the handbarrow and heard the words “cold punch” muttered as his baptismal name by the unhappy Pickwick
; at all events, we knew that we had lost what otherwise would have been an easy victory.
There was no reserve about General Pope
; he “let out” in censure with such vigor, that if words had been missiles our army would never have failed for want of ammunition.
In a long talk with me at his headquarters on the fifth of August, he attributed our want of success at Richmond
to mismanagement on the part of McClellan
, for whom he seemed to entertain a bitter hatred, which might have pleased the Administration, but found little favor with us.
I think General Pope
's freedom of speech infected his command with a general mania for discussing men and
It was not an uncommon event for generals and colonels to meet at my tent, and express their views in words stronger than those generally used in war councils,--“cuss words” of such vigor, when they fell from the lips of our division commander, that all were appalled into silence, save Colonel Knipe
of the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania; and when he began, Williams
Ordinary words being totally inadequate to express one's feelings, swearing became an epidemic.
On the sixth of August the Army of Virginia began its march for Culpeper Court House. General Pope
's main purpose in thus moving forward was not to fight.
His instructions required him to be very careful not to allow the enemy to interpose between himself and Fredericksburg
, to which point the forces from the Peninsula
were to be brought; and it was to cover the Army of the Potomac that we were now in motion, following up with the whole of our corps a brigade of Williams
's division that had moved from Culpeper
on the 4th to support the cavalry.
The day was hot, the roads were dusty; and when the men of my brigade came into bivouac at Woodville
, some ten miles from where we started in the morning, they were so tired that they wilted away in a merciless manner, until the sun had turned his hot face towards another quarter of the world, when a cooler and more refreshing atmosphere replaced the fierce heat of the day. Then the crickets began to sing, and all the soothing sounds of night hushed our senses to such sweet repose that our men entered upon the next day's march with refreshed spirits.
Our march on the 7th was short, but a very tiresome one. General Augur
's division of our corps encamped in advance of us the night before, and thus claimed the right of precedence.
It was my wish to move at three o'clock A. M., and thus complete our work before the heat began;
did not get off until eight o'clock, as this was the time designated in one of Pope
's long orders.
When we were off, and had proceeded about ten rods to a corner, we found the rear of Augur
's baggage-trains at a halt.
After waiting fifteen minutes, we pushed the train one side and went on a quarter of a mile farther, until we came to another train standing still in the road.
The sun by this time was pouring down so hot and fierce upon us that I put all my men in the woods, unhitched all my horses, and gave a general rest until twelve at noon, when, the road being clear, I pushed on. It was then the hottest part of the day. Clouds of dust hung over us, there was not a breath of air, and the road — was like a furnace.
We did get over the six miles that made that day's march, but many of our men fell out from weakness.
Diarrhea was more prevalent than usual.
The atmosphere of our camp while we were at Little Washington was like that of a pesthouse, from the number of dead animals lying about.
's division of our corps, two entire regiments had been sent to the hospital.
In the Sixtieth New York, men died eight and ten a day; in a single day from that regiment two commissioned officers were buried.
The drum and fife constantly sounding the dead march, made the evenings seem sad and solemn.
If we were not conforming to Pope
's order to live on the country, we were doing the next thing to it,--we were dying on it. General Augur
's division was made up of troops whose officers had little or no experience in discipline or hygiene.
The men ate every miserable, crabbed green apple they came across, and, in short, so violated every sanitary regulation that it was no wonder typhoid fever marked them for its own. The Second Regiment suffered, but in a less degree.
Poor Captain Goodwin
, having been sick for nearly two months, applied at Little Washington for leave of absence; but
was answered, it is said, that if he was as sick as he represented, he had better resign.
On the 7th about 28,000 men of Pope
had assembled along the turnpike from Sperryville
's division of McDowell
's corps (3d) was still opposite Fredericksburg
, on the Lower Rappahannock
, but Ricketts
' division arrived at Culpeper
on the 7th from Waterloo Bridge.
's cavalry was distributed as follows: General Buford
, who had relieved Hatch
, was with five regiments posted at Madison Court House, with his pickets along the line of the Rapidan
from Barnett's Ford as far west as the Blue Ridge
These were supported by a brigade of infantry and a battery of artillery from Siegel
's corps, stationed where the road from Madison Court House to Sperryville
crosses Robertson's River. General Bayard
, with four regiments of cavalry, was near Rapidan Station, the point where the Orange and Alexandria Railroad crosses Rapidan River
, with his pickets extended east to Raccoon Ford
, and connecting with Buford
at Barnett's Ford.
was lined with cavalry pickets from Raccoon Ford
to the forks of the Rappahannock
; and in addition thereto, on the top of Thoroughfare Mountain
, about half-way between Bayard
, there was a signal station, which overlooked the whole country as far south as Orange Court House
On the morning of the 8th, Pope
, who had in person arrived at Culpeper Court House, sent word to Banks
to move his corps to that town, and at the same time notified Siegel
, to which place he had marched from Luray
, to move to the same point.
The other important
orders given by Pope
this day were to Crawford
to move forward and support General Bayard16
in holding the enemy in check, and an order to General Ricketts
, of Mc-Dowell's corps, to move his division of three brigades two and a half or three miles south of Culpeper Court House.
All these movements, save Siegel
's, were executed as ordered.
It was two o'clock on the afternoon of the 8th when our corps received its orders.
Tents, all we had, were struck, and we were ready; but Geary
's brigade was before us, and making such slow progress that we were delayed in a burning sun three hours before we got off, and then it was not much better,--a few steps forward, then a halt; then on, again to stop: motion alternating with rest, and rest with motion.
Our tired troops were more fatigued than if they had made a march of twice the distance.
It was eleven o'clock at night when our division arrived at Culpeper
, having made eight miles in eight hours.
Why General Pope
was hurrying his forces into and around Culpeper Court House will appear from a review of the movements of the enemy.
On the nineteenth of July, Jackson
, with two divisions of troops, commanded by Winder
, arrived near Gordonsville
thought that important railroad place was in danger; and from what we have seen of the instructions given by Pope
, he might well have thought so. Jackson
, finding Pope
strong in numbers, asked for reinforcements, and the whole of A. P. Hill
's division was added to his army.
On the seventh of August, Jackson
moved his three divisions of troops from their respective encampments near Gordonsville
, in the direction of Culpeper
as he says, was not to attack Pope
's whole army, but only that part of it which he had been informed was at Culpeper
and this part, “through the blessing of Providence
,” he hoped to defeat.
This force, as we have shown, was Ricketts
' division, Crawford
's brigade of Banks
's corps, and General Bayard
, who had been stationed on the Rapidan
, at Barnett's Ford, about fifteen miles from Culpeper
, with four regiments of cavalry.
Ample information was conveyed to Pope
on the 7th that Jackson
was moving to attack him; and not only to attack, but the strength of his cavalry, infantry, and artillery was known to Pope
, or ought to have been.
What did Pope
On the 7th, while he was at Sperryville18
's corps, he was informed that the enemy was crossing the Rapidan
at several points between the railroad-crossing of that river and Liberty Mills
Rightly divining the enemy's purposes, so it seems, Pope
at four o'clock in the afternoon, and proceeded in person to Culpeper Court House, arriving there (a distance of twenty miles) on the 8th, as we have said.
In the mean time Jackson
with his columns was pushing our cavalry back, and Buford
were constantly sending Pope
word to that effect,--the latter that he was falling back in the direction of Culpeper Court House, and the former that the enemy was advancing in heavy force upon Madison Court House.
A glance at the map will show that these two forces could have had but one objective point, and that was Culpeper
If all the enemy had been at Madison Court House, it might have been doubted; but with Bayard
's report that he was falling back on Culpeper
, and the enemy following him, it was no longer doubtful But during all day of the 8th Pope
says he did consider it doubtful whether the enemy's movements were
in the direction of Madison Court House and Culpeper
; so he determined to keep himself between the enemy and the lower fords of the Rappahannock
: in other words; he determined to hold on to Culpeper
; and this was wise.
Therefore on the 8th he sent Crawford
with his brigade to support Bayard
, and to assist him in determining the movements and forces of the enemy.
did not obey his orders to march at once from Sperryville
, but to Pope
's surprise returned in reply a note, which, dated at the former place at 6.30 P. M., and received after night, asked by what road he should march to Culpeper Court House. “There was but one, and that a broad stone turnpike, between these points,” says Pope
; “how could he entertain any doubt as to the road?”
claims that this doubt delayed the arrival of Siegel
's corps several hours, and rendered it impracticable for it to be pushed to the front, as he had designed, on the afternoon of the next day.
The morning of August 9 found Jackson
, with his whole force, pursuing his way northerly on Bayard
's line of retreat towards Culpeper
's brigade then occupied a strong position on the low ground of Cedar Creek
, with Bayard
's cavalry in his front, and batteries on his flanks.19
It was nearly ten o'clock on that morning, when, under the heat of an overpowering sun, our corps moved at a quick pace and with few halts (under orders which will be referred to hereafter) from Culpeper Court House over a shadeless, waterless road.
We soon came to where Ricketts
' division, of three brigades of McDowell
's corps, was watching the road which turns off from the Orange Court House
road to Madison Court House.
These troops were stripped of harness, and taking their
ease under shelter tents.
We passed them and pushed onward, until in the Second regiment one recruit fell dead from exhaustion, and many veterans of a year were disabled; onward for about five miles, until before us, high in air, rose Slaughter Mountain
bearing southwest from Crawford
's brigade, which was drawn up in line of battle.
When I arrived at Cedar Creek
, though all was quiet, I felt in the air an impending battle.
The cavalry were still in our front, but not far; Crawford
's skirmishers were deployed through the woods; and there too was General Roberts
, a staff-officer sent by Pope
to designate the ground Banks
was to hold
, and to give him instructions.
It was about twelve o'clock at noon when I approached Roberts
; he was pointing out positions for the troops.
Off to the right of the road upon which we had been marching I saw a strong position on the crest of a hill, in front of which the land was clear, and fell off by a gentle descent to Cedar Creek
. “That should be held by our right,” I said to General Roberts
; “shall I take it?” --“Yes,” he replied, “do so.”
I moved my brigade there at once.
The distance from where Roberts
then stood in the road to this position was about three fourths of a mile.
came up, he said to Roberts
, “General Pope
said you would indicate the line I am to occupy.” --“I have been over this ground thoroughly,” replied Roberts
, “and I believe this line,” meaning the one which Crawford
's brigade then held, “is the best that can be taken.” --“In this opinion I concurred with him,” says Banks
“and placed my command there.”
The Federal line of battle was formed with Augur
's division of Banks
's corps (2d) on the left of the road lead-·ing to Orange Court House
, and Williams
's division on the
right, and in the following order from right to left: Gordon
's brigade on the right consisted of the 2d Massachusetts, Zouaves d'afrique (Collis Company), 27th Indiana, 3d Wisconsin, and Cothran
's (N. Y.) battery; next came Crawford
's brigade, with the 5th Connecticut, 10th Maine, 28th New York, and 46th Pennsylvania, Roemer
's battery of six 3-inch rifled guns, two sections of Knapp
's battery of 10-pounder Parrotts, and Muhleuberg
's division, Geary
's brigade, with its right resting on the left of the road, was made up of the 5tl, 7th, 29th, and 66th Ohio Volunteers, and Knapp
's battery,--total enlisted men, 1,121; Prince
's brigade consisted of a battalion of the 8tl and 12th Regulars, 102d New York Volunteers, 109th and 111th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 3d Maryland Volunteers, and Robinson
's battery, 4th Maine,--total enlisted men, 1,435; and Greene
's brigade, which consisted of the 78th New York Volunteers, a battalion of the 1st District Volunteers, and McGilvray
's 6th Maine battery,total enlisted men, 457: making the total for Augur
's division actually on the field, 3,013.
's brigade reduced by detachments was thrown back on the extreme left, and held in support of a battery.
This division in two lines, with its left extending in the direction of Cedar Mountain
, was covered by Captain Pitcher
's battalion of the 8th and 12th Regulars, with Knapp
's battery near the centre of the line, McGilvray
's on the extreme left, and Robinson
In front the ground was open, with an occasional cornfield and clumps of underbrush, and gradually rising for nearly a mile.
Generally along the whole line, with an unobstructed fire over the cornfields and plain, and themselves commanded by the mountain, were our batteries.22
As one approaches Cedar Creek
, going south towards Orange Court House
, a gentle descent for half a mile leads to the low ground, through which the creek winds in a northwesterly and southeasterly course.
Where the road begins its descent a thick wood skirts it on either side for some four hundred yards. From that point turn northerly, and, leaving the road, follow the ridge for about twelve hundred yards to a house, with thick forest-trees on the north and west.
Here my brigade was stationed: it was the extreme right of our line of battle, and was the exact position designated by General Roberts
Returning to the road, and crossing the creek, it will be found that in nine hundred yards beyond it an ascent has been made, and a plateau four hundred yards in depth crossed.
Just beyond the plateau there was on our left, on the 9th of August, 1862, a cornfield, and on our right a growth of timber, which, touching the road at a point, widened out as it extended back, until in front of my position it was from four to six hundred yards in depth.
Beyond this timber there was a stubble-field, bounded on the opposite side by thick woods.
This stubble or wheat field, cut out as it were from the forest, was somewhat in the form of a parallelogram, of which the two sides, at right angles to the road, were about eight hundred yards in length.
One of the short sides of the field rested on the road, and was about six hundred yards long; while the other, skirted by brushwood the height of a man's head, was only about four hundred yards. Clearing the cornfield, which was of the same width on the road as the wheat-field, there was on the left a ridgy plain or pasture, which continued for a third of a mile, and then the timber began again.
On the right the timber lined the road as soon as the wheat-field was passed, and continued for nearly a mile.
The cornfield and the plain extended away
towards the base of Cedar Mountain
From where the road divides the corn and wheat field to the base of the mountain it is about a mile; and it is the same distance to the base from where the wood again skirts both sides of the road.
Going towards the Rapidan
, from the crossing of the creek to the limit of the road I have described, the distance is not over two miles. From the position occupied by my brigade to the same crossing of the creek is, as stated, about twelve hundred yards, and to Cedar Mountain
about two miles. I have endeavored to depict without tedious details the face of the country, that the movements of the troops may be intelligible, and that an accurate judgment may be formed of the progress of the battle.
On the crest of the hill, where the Second Massachusetts with the other regiments of my brigade was stationed, I have spoken of a little cottage.
A pretty picture it was, with its green turf enclosed by a fence, and behind, almost touching it, an inviting grove of forest-trees.
This cottage, occupied by women and children only, was the central figure, about which clustered the infantry and artillery of my command.
As out of that impending war-cloud we swarmed around this peaceful home, the occupants were startled at the strange and unusual sight.
Nervously they asked me what they should do, and, without waiting for a reply, again and again inquired; and when told to move away at once, paid no heed to my words.
My position was a very strong one.
I do not think Banks
knew its capabilities for a defence; at all events, he did not think the right of his line of sufficient importance to visit it, either before or during the battle.
I am sure he did not know where we were.23
Although the consolidated report24
's corps, made some days previous to the ninth of August, exhibited an effective force of something over 14,000 men,--made up of infantry, 13,343; artillery, 1,224; cavalry, 4,104: total, 18,671,--less 3,500 infantry and artillery left at Front Royal
in his official report distinctly states that it appeared after the battle that when Banks
led his forces to the front he had in all not more than 8,000 men,25
and that this discrepancy has never been explained, although, writes Pope
, “I have frequently called his attention to it; and I do not yet understand how General Banks
could have been so greatly mistaken as to the forces under his immediate command.”
in 1864 testified under oath that he had but about 6,000 men on the 9th of August, 1862; and before he concluded
his testimony he put his force at 5,000, and that of the enemy at 25,000.26
My own brigade comprised less than 1,500 infantry.
The Second Massachusetts, all told,--commissioned, non-commissioned, and privates,--numbered, as near as ever will be known, 497.
It was but little after twelve at noon when I made the following disposition of my infantry and batteries: on the right, skirmishers from the Twenty-seventh Indiana penetrated the woods; in front, over Cedar Creek
, in the timber upon the edge of the stubble-field, six companies of the Third Wisconsin Regiment were deployed; while in the wood directly behind the cottage, to the north, the Second Regiment was ready to respond to my call My two batteries covered the hill, the valley, and the hillside, fringed with its dark lining of thick forest-trees.
Beyond was the bloody wheat-field, over which, though we did not know it then, the old reaper Death was hovering to gather up a more precious harvest than was promised in the sheaves of grain that dotted the ground.