Chapter 9: battle of Cedar Mountain (continued).
From the most authentic sources 1
we now know the movements of the enemy at the time I was ordered into action.
In addition to the reserve brigade of Winder
's division, and Branch
's brigade of A. P. Hill
's division, both of which had united with the restored fragments of the two that had been driven back by Banks
's assault as described, General Jackson
threw two fresh brigades — those of Archer
, of Hill
's division — into the woods opposite the wheat-field, not only extending them far to his left, but ordering them also to throw their left continually forward and attack the enemy in the opposite woods.
Before the two brigades of Archer
were added to this force, the third (or Stonewall) brigade of Winder
's division, on Branch
's left, was prolonged so far into the timber that its fire took the repulsed regiments in flank as they were retreating across the wheat-field; after which, in connection with Branch
's, the two brigades poured a united fire into the Tenth Maine, until, as related, it was driven back into the forest.
In the woods upon which Jackson
now directed his attack, nothing but my three small regiments was left to
confront not less than five 2
entire brigades of the enemy, of which four were in line when we came upon the field, and one reaching far around to envelop our right.
Of the ten brigades which Jackson
threw — out of the twelve in his army 3
--into the fight at Cedar Mountain
, one half of them awaited our attack on the right of the road across that deadly wheat-field.
My force was less than 1,500 men; the enemy's could not have fallen short of 8,000 out of his whole command of from 20,000 to 25,000 men. It will be seen that the woods opposite must have been literally packed with Rebels, and that they must have extended far beyond our right to have enabled even one third of the men to get to the front.
This was the situation, as we alone of all Banks
's corps, when the light was growing dim on that fatal August night, opened fire on the long lines of Archer
's brigade, as his troops, disdaining cover, stood boldly out amid the wheat-stacks in front of the timber.
As may be imagined, our position was an exposed one.
It is almost in vain to attempt to convey an impression of the fierceness of that fire; there was no intermission; the crackling of musketry was incessant.
To Colonel Colgrove
, commanding the Twenty-seventh Indiana, on the right of the Second Massachusetts, the enemy seemed to be all around him, in his front, on his right in a dense growth of underbrush, and on his left, in line extending nearly across the wheat-field.
From front and flank, direct and cross, came this terrible fire upon the Twenty-seventh Indiana.
Then signs of panic began to show themselves in this regiment.
“We are firing upon our own men!”
cried those who saw in
the wooded thicket at the end of the wheat-field large bodies 6f troops endeavoring to approach, under cover, nearer to our flank.
“We are firing upon our own men!”
shouted Colonel Colgrove
to me, as he pointed to what seemed to him to be the blue uniforms of our troops in the dense brushwood on our right.
“We have no men there,” I replied, “the enemy is there.
Order your men to open fire upon him.”
To convince him of his error I rode forward to the right of his regiment, up to the fence that skirted the brushwood, and was received with a fire that settled the matter at once.5
Then the firing of the enemy became heavier along our whole line, and the Twenty-seventh Indiana, after giving many symptoms of disorder, broke, and fled through the woods to the open ground, a distance which Colonel Colgrove
gives as two hundred yards.
The fortunes of the Third Wisconsin were involved with those of the Twenty-seventh.
This regiment, on the extreme right of my line, stood with six of its companies, bearing, for a second time within an hour, this baptism of blood.
When the Twenty-seventh fell back I could not complain because the Third Wisconsin did not stand.
I know of no other regiment in Banks
's entire corps that twice on that day, in different brigades and in different parts of the field, stood so unflinchingly before numbers and fire so overwhelming.
And how was it with the officers and men of the Second Massachusetts?
Before them, too, appeared the enemy,
with his long lines far outflanking the right of our brigade, and pouring upon them a hail-storm of musketry from lines open and concealed.
Steadily they replied to the enemy's fire, in the face of the continual flashing of muskets,--an undiminished flame,-- from which bullets hissed with sound more terrible than ever heard by them before.
They also saw, unmoved, the enemy advancing in line, throwing forward his left as ordered, and thus approaching obliquely their right flank; and they received him with a fire so severe that his shattered line could easily have been driven back,6
had this been all. The Second stood there for some time, of all my brigade, alone, for the regiments on the right had fallen back.
Of course, when it too would be compelled to retire was only a question of moments; but the moment had not yet come, and it was not anticipated.
The Twenty-seventh Indiana, which had retreated through the woods, was rallied, re-formed,7
and moved to the right of the Second Massachusetts, where again it opened fire upon the enemy.
By this time, Pender
with his brigade, who until now had kept carefully out of sight, had gained our rear.
In the confusion, the roar and smoke, this force was not seen until after it had reached our side of the fence, and was within twenty paces of the right of Colonel Colgrove
's regiment 8
and a little in rear
of my line.
As it was marching deliberately towards us in columns of companies, the commander of the Twenty-seventh Indiana saw it, and shouted instantly to his men to face and file to the right; but he was obeyed by his right company only.
The enemy halted, wheeled into line, opened fire with that portion of his front that could reach us, and threw forward the remainder of his brigade full upon our flank and rear.9
But the Twenty-seventh Indiana had again fled, leaving exposed to this new attack the flank and rear of the Second Massachusetts.
On the extreme right of the Second was brave Captain Goodwin
, fighting Company K most valiantly and fearlessly; and in front was Captain Abbott
with his company, in the open field, where upon our arrival he had deployed his skirmishers, who were lying down and firing upon the enemy.
Now, in front and on flank, full and fierce the storm tore through and around us. The crash was terrific; it was indescribable.
fell dead, and with him over twenty of his men; fifteen more were missing Major Savage
, opposite the right and rear, in the very face of this deadly blast, fell grievously wounded, while his horse was shot dead upon the spot.
I will not here name the dead, as I shall refer to them when, under a flag of truce, we were permitted to recover their bodies.
But as I am speaking of that terrible, that dreadful and remorseless fire, that came like a whirlwind, and licked up with its fiery blast more lives than were lost to the Second Regiment and my brigade in any battle of the war, I recall the name of one who in the midst of all this carnage, in the very face and front of the enemy's fire, and almost within reach of his guns, himself unwounded, placed his
own body and his own frail life between his friend and the enemy.
and Captain Henry S. Russell
were captured together; the former, lingering for a few weeks, died at Charlottesville
, but the latter I rejoice to number as among the survivors of the officers of the Second.10
Flesh and blood could stand no longer; the last attack had been made, and now we, too, were driven the last from the field.
While Colonel Andrews
was endeavoring to rally his regiment, his horse received two balls, one in the shoulder and one in the neck, the effect of which, the Colonel
says, was “to send him plunging among the branches and undergrowth and to bewilder his rider.”
My own horse, when that fire came, shook for a moment with terror, then bore me, despite my will, through the underbrush and woods to the left of the line of my brigade.
It was about half-past 6 o'clock in the evening, when, in company of from thirty to fifty men (principally of the Wisconsin
regiments) whom I had rallied, I found myself out of the timber on its edge, at the foot of the hill up which we had scrambled, and not three hundred yards from the fatal field.
The horror with which at first I contemplated the possibility that these were all that
remained was soon relieved by the sight of the Second Massachusetts, led by Colonel Andrews
, emerging from the woods, farther towards the centre of our line than they went in, and moving, all that were not dead, wounded, or captured, in perfect order to the rear.
I directed my shattered and broken command towards the point from whence, scarce an hour before, we had started.
There we arrived after dark, to sink down exhausted upon the ground.
But what a change since our departure!
The cottage, the yard, the grounds around were filled with our dead and dying.
All who could be recovered from Crawford
's brigade, as well as all from mine, were here.
My batteries were in position, as when I had left them, but there was nothing else to resist the momentarily expected forward movement of the enemy.
In the midst of much confusion, a staff-officer from General Williams
brought me an order to fall back.
But little did General Williams
know what I should have to abandon.
I sent one of my staff to inform him. It was quite dark, and my pickets were extended to the front.
In the mean time from General Banks
the same instructions were received.
On my way to enlighten him (he was near the centre of our line on the pike) upon the condition of things around my station, I encountered one Clark
, an aid of the General
, who repeated to me an order from Banks
to leave my present position, when I should be relieved by troops from McDowell
's corps, and take up a new one in the centre of our line.
Replying that I would see Banks
in person, I groped my way forward, and soon came where he and Pope
were standing together in the road nearly two miles in rear of the wheat-field, and about one mile on the Culpeper
side from Cedar Creek
had at last arrived on the field, and the following will explain how he happened there:
The boom of artillery that echoed back to Culpeper Court House in the morning, and continued at intervals until it broke out into the heavy cannonade which I have described, made it at last no longer doubtful to Pope
, and some officers of his staff, that a battle between our corps and Jackson
's army was impending, or in progress.
Until four o'clock in the afternoon Pope
sat, quietly reading and smoking, at his tent-door in Culpeper
At this hour, as peal after peal from our artillery fell upon his ears, he sprang into his saddle, and calling upon his staff to follow, galloped rapidly through the village in the direction of Cedar Mountain
, followed by glances of terror from the citizens, who during the day had listened with anxiety to the combat.
, who accompanied Pope
, gave to Ricketts
' division of his corps, as he came up to it, orders to form and move forward immediately.
neared the battle-field, the cannonade becoming more and more furious, the troops of McDowell
were pushed on through road and fields in separate columns and with increased rapidity.
Soon a column of wounded with assistants was met, some on foot, some on horseback or in ambulances, whom Pope
's staff, mistaking for stragglers, valiantly set upon, and thus endeavored for a time to force back men whose bloody bandages and stout countenances and arms, to which they still clung, denoted, upon a closer inspection, that there were no cowards among them.
And now the sound of cannon ceased, and that piteous roll of musketry which I have described was borne to Pope
's ears, “while the long procession of bandaged and bloody soldiers and dripping ambulances continued.”
Then came silence, for Banks
had been overpowered.
Alone, or attended by a single aid, in the twilight after our defeat, Banks
They met only a few
minutes before I came upon them.
briefly inquired of me as to the condition of my command.
“I do not think I have now,” I said, “more than three or four hundred troops together; we have been very much cut up.”
replied, “you will move, as soon as relieved, to the right of the pike and form the centre of a new line of battle.
I don't expect much of your troops to-morrow, but you will make a show, and can support a battery.
You will not have much to do. I shall have twenty thousand fresh troops to-morrow morning
This was the first appearance of the major-general
commanding the Army of Virginia upon the disastrous battlefield of Cedar Mountain
He had come, when disaster could not be averted, to talk of his twenty thousand fresh troops, all of whom had been available to give us the victory,--at least, to save us from defeat; he had come to propose supporting a battery with my brigade on the morrow, and I was angry withal.
In an instant I rejoined, “General Pope
, this battle should not have been fought, sir.”
To which Pope
as promptly replied, “I never ordered it fought, sir.”
And to this General Banks
made no reply, no retort or remonstrance, though he was standing by Pope
Then turning to Banks
, full of indignation at the crime, the blunder, of the battle, I exclaimed, “General Banks
, I disobeyed your order received during the fight.”
“ What was it, sir,” replied Banks
“An order brought by an officer, purporting to come from you, to charge across the field where my troops were then fighting.”
“I never sent you such an order,” retorted Banks
“I am glad to know it,” I replied; “it would have resuited in our total destruction.”
So important an order, and so direct a denial, demand
that the circumstances attending its reception should be given in full
When Major Pelouze
was attempting to move the Tenth Maine forward in the wheat-field, an officer passed him, saying he had orders for Gordon
then on the right.
In the midst of the struggle of my brigade with the enemy, an officer, representing himself as sent by Banks
, coming through the woods, rode up to me, saying, “General Banks
wishes you to charge across that field.”
With what had transpired already in my front, the astonishment this order caused may well be conceived.
“ What field?”
I asked in amazement.
“I don't know,” was the reply.
“I suppose this field.”
“Well, sir,” I answered, “ ‘suppose’ won't do at such a time as this.
Go back to General Banks
and get explicit instructions as to what field he wishes me to charge over.”
The officer (I had never seen him before) disappeared, and before he could have reported to Banks
the enemy solved all doubts as to where our commander wished me to charge, by doing all the charging himself, and gaining the flank and rear of my three regiments, with his five brigades.
Into the open arms of the enemy, had I obeyed the order, I should most certainly have fallen.
But other orders, unauthorized and fatal,--uselessly fatal if obeyed,--given to regiments of my brigade during that half hour of battle, swell into most unseemly proportions the huge blunders committed at Cedar Mountain
For instance: while the enemy's fire was at its hottest, Major Perkins
's staff, coming from the wooded cover, rode up to Colonel Andrews
, with an order to charge with the Second Massachusetts across the field.
“In utter astonishment at such an order,” writes Colonel Andrews
to me in a recent letter, “I exclaimed, ‘Why, it will be the destruction
of the regiment, and will do no good!’
(who was an educated soldier) made no reply, but shrugged his shoulders in a significant manner.
Determined not to subject the regiment to such wanton destruction if I could avoid it, I reported to you, and you told me I need not obey the order.
I met Major Perkins
a day or two after, and he said to me he supposed that I blamed him very much for bringing me such an order, but it was sent by signal, and, he had since found, under a misapprehension,13
it having been forgotten that the regiment had been sent to the right instead of the centre, as first ordered.”
It is somewhat of an explanation that Major Perkins
, while on the extreme right of our line of battle, in giving an order to one of my regiments that he did not communicate through me, imparted in an automatic way what was received by signal; but as an explanation it is wholly inadequate to clear up why Major Perkins
did not himself discover the error, and not put upon me the responsibility.
knew not only that Colonel Andrews
could not have made that movement without my orders, but that such a movement would have resulted in most direful disaster; he knew, moreover, that Banks
did not know where we were.
Most important is it here to consider whether Banks
sent me the order imputed to him. I do not think it admits of doubt.
Who would have taken such responsibility?
Not the officer who brought it: I charged him with this presumption in the presence and hearing of Banks
a few days after, and he strongly and indignantly reiterated that he received the order from General Banks
made no reply.
If we seek for an explanation of our defeat in some of the
well-proven facts of that battle, we shall find a management so inexplicable that both the order given to me and that received by Colonel Andrews
can be taken only as fitting parts of this abortive effort.
Did not Banks
, at five o'clock in the afternoon, in sending his last despatch from the field, speak of the skirmishers approaching each other, without indicating that he expected a general engagement, and without asking for any assistance ;14
although at four o'clock the cannonade which reached Pope
's ears in Culpeper
was so heavy and continuous that Pope
feared a general engagement was going on, and so hurried forward?
Had not Banks
with an estimated force of 6,000 troops undertaken to whip Jackson
's 25,000 under an impression that he could carry the field?
Had he not in entire ignorance of the numbers in his front precipitated Geary
's and Crawford
's brigades, and six companies of my Third Wisconsin Regiment, against two whole brigades in position, and five of Hill
's division in reserve?
And then when everything combined to inform him of the many thousands more than his own that were before him, had he not attempted to whip them with the Tenth Maine, singlehanded, on his right?
Is it then incredible, when the enemy had poured into the woods in my front a brigade for each one of my small regiments, and two to spare, that Banks
, so long as he “feared the opinions of his friends” (as he conceived them) more than “the bayonets of his enemies,” should have hesitated to send me the order I received?
There remains to tell that when Jackson
swung his forces around my command, he at the same time ordered Taliaferro
's brigade to charge, bearing towards its right (the position of the field of Indian corn) against our left and in front of Early
At this time General Prince
in ignorance of what had transpired, was riding to where Geary
had been, to find out what had become of Banks
In this laudable pursuit his bridle was suddenly seized, and himself summoned to surrender.
He was captured when surrounded by the enemy, who were silently moving over the ground lately occupied by Geary
and enveloping his own troops, whom he could not warn of their danger, though his officers soon discovered it and fell back, but not until four hundred of them were captured.15
There are yet two brigades of the enemy to account for: those of Ewell
's division, which remained inactive upon the face of the mountain through the scenes we have described.
Precluded from advancing by the incessant fire of their own batteries, which swept the valley through which they must pass,16
they now advanced upon the right, to turn the left flank of our line, but found that we were in full retreat.
The battle was over.
On our left, General Prince
was a prisoner, Generals Geary
wounded; but one general officer
was left of those who formed that part of our line of battle.
In the centre, out of a brigade numbering about 1,467 men, nearly every field-officer on the ground, and about half the company-officers and men, were killed or wounded.17
Upon receiving Pope
's orders, I returned to my brigade and directed commanders to move out their regiments, while I proceeded to point out to General Tower
, of Ricketts
' division, who had now come up to relieve me, the exact position I had held for so many hours.
Although it was then after dark, a bright moon made objects sufficiently prominent to enable me to discover that the enemy's pickets had greatly advanced towards the woods north of the creek on the Culpeper
road, and that our own
were falling back.
I could also see that the enemy had moved his batteries to the positions occupied during the fight by our own. My description of positions to General Tower
concluded, ambulances sent with my command and scouts taken from my own escort recalled, I was ready to leave; but to my surprise my command did not join me where I had ordered: they had taken a shorter way to the pike, where they expected to meet me. Upon approaching the road, in moving with my staff to select our position, I perceived that our cavalry, which previously had been in line between the woods I was ordered to occupy and Cedar Creek
, had now passed through the woods, and were in line behind it on the Culpeper
side, having fallen back before the approach of the enemy.
As my orders from Pope
were imperative, I headed my somewhat numerous retinue of staff-officers and orderlies (accompanied by General Williams
, who with his staff had joined me) for the woods, which I was about entering, when a hot fire, from what sounded like a regiment, was poured into our midst.
In the darkness, aim was so uncertain that no greater damage followed than the killing of one of my orderlies, while General Williams
, myself, and our respective staffs were warned in time to escape inevitable capture.
Moving quickly to the rear of the cavalry, I there found the Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment drawn up in line.
I halted for a moment to speak to its commander, when again the enemy opened fire, with fatal effect, Captain Shurtleff
of the Twelfth falling dead with a bullet through his heart.
This regiment returned the enemy's fire with vigor.
We will turn again to Pope
Believing that he could form his new line of battle in the woods I had just tried in vain to enter, General Pope
, with McDowell
, their staffs and escorts, had before my arrival dismounted,
and seated themselves behind the shelter of a rocky ledge which rose to a gentle eminence.
In the woods or though them, or somewhere towards Cedar Mountain
, there had been heard at intervals a dropping fire of musketry, with occasional volleys, and now and then a single shell.
Sometimes a flight of shells, in coursing over the heads of Pope
and his officers, had rendered night hideous with their screams.
The situation was picturesque, almost romantic, --“--as romantic as hell,” 18
one of the staff ventured to remark, as attention was called to a full moon which disclosed the dark shadows of the woods and threw a dreamy light over the landscape.
Three quarters of an hour passed; the moon had become obscured; stragglers and even organized companies seen in the moonlight moving from the woods and through the fields, to the rear along the Culpeper
road, had dwindled into a dribbling stream.
The fire from the batteries had ceased, when the cavalry I had found in my rear emerged from the woods, and halted not over forty yards from where Pope
and his general officers were reclining.
When the fire broke out upon myself, General Williams
, and our staffs, and was continued upon the cavalry and the Twelfth Massachusetts, the bullets hissed through the bushes, sparkled in the darkness as they struck the flinty road, or singing through the tree-tops, covered Pope
and his officers with leaves and twigs.
The effect upon the conclave of romantic officers was as follows: Pope
's party of officers, staff and escorts, numbering in all one hundred, rose suddenly to their feet, while the cavalry with pistols returned the enemy's fire in a continuous fusillade.
Mounting with undue haste, the commander of the Army of Virginia and his officers moved to the rear at a trot, which soon broke into a gallop, while the Twelfth Massachusetts, which was
lying as I have said in rear of the cavalry, on a slight elevation, rose and opened fire as I have described.19
It was sufficiently apparent that the enemy held possession of the woods I had been ordered to hold.
It was a change of Pope
's program made by the enemy since I had received Pope
The only accident that happened to the party of general officers or their staffs was a severe contusion suffered by Banks
, who was struck by the forefoot of an orderly's horse as the animal reared from fright.
The rider of the horse, it was said, was killed.
In the darkness and confusion I had not been able to find my command.
The two regiments that were to join me at the pike were not to be seen.
I pushed to the rear in search, and soon came up with the Second Massachusetts and Twenty-seventh Indiana, but the Third Wisconsin was not in sight.
While groping around to find it, the enemy advanced his batteries to the position we had just vacated, and sent a shower of shot and shell at short range that shook our ears and the earth itself with the noise.
To add to this confusion, a battery of ours, some half mile to the rear, opened with such malevolent satisfaction that its shells for a few moments threatened to destroy what little life the enemy's guns had left in our bodies.
Plump in our midst came the friendly shells, one exploding so nearly under my horse that I have never been able to tell whether it was to the right or left of a plumbline through his belly.
Stop that damned ass!”
with expletives stronger than refined, greeted this ambitious artillerist, who seemed bent, like the Irishman at Donnybrook Fair, to hit the first head he saw; and he was stopped by one of Pope
's staff-officers before he had destroyed the commanding general
of the Army of Virginia.
Hardly had the enemy opened with his artillery, when a battery of Ricketts
sent its compliments in such furious earnest and with such accurate aim that the enemy retreated with a loss of nearly all his horses and many of his men. We found them where they fell when Jackson
While batteries were still passing farther to the rear, accompanied by straggling regiments of infantry and cavalry, I discovered General Williams
, commanding our division, by my side.
I asked him whether, in view of the probable formation of a new line of battle, I had better move still farther to the rear.
To this he assented.
With the Second Massachusetts Regiment leading, followed by all that I could gather of my brigade, I had proceeded but a short distance, when out of the darkness of the night I heard a voice scolding at the retreating troops which preceded me. “Where are you going?
Halt! I will report you!
Halt, I say!”
etc., was uttered, with an accent not English
, and with a volubility quite foreign.
In the midst of his vehement exclamations, whom should the speaker next encounter but Colonel Andrews
, at the head of the Second Massachusetts Regiment.
Him, therefore, the voice addressed, with the same energy and almost in the same words used to others, ending with the threat of a report.
Evidently the speaker fancied the whole army was going to the rear, and his duty it was to save it from disgrace.
I doubt if Colonel Andrews
ever received such a “blessing” in a few moments in his life.
It seemed to stagger him. I heard it, and rode forward, to find Andrews
' march impeded by a little man, surrounded with a large staff.
It was near midnight, and too dark to distinguish the person or rank of the speaker.
“ Who are you,” I angrily exclaimed, “who uses such language to this regiment, or any officer belonging to it?”
“Who am I?
” slowly and emphatically uttered the voice.
“Yes! Who are you?
What is your name?”
again spoke the voice, in measured tones.
“Yes; your name — if you have a name?
Who are you?”
“ I am General Siegel
was the reply, with an emphasis as crushing as could be extracted from these words.
“You are General Siegel
, are you?
Well; General Siegel
, you cannot address yourself to troops that I command, in this manner.
This regiment is the Second Massachusetts, --a regiment that never retreats until ordered.
It is just out of the fight, has suffered a terrible loss in officers and men, and is now moving under orders to the rear to take up a new position.”
In an instant Siegel
, with softened tones, made the amende honorable
. He had seen, he said, so many going to the rear, that he thought all were moving without orders.
With many apologies he moved forward with his corps of fresh troops, whose presence a few hours earlier would have saved our corps, perhaps given us the victory.
And here we may pause in our narrative to ask why, when Jackson
threw from 20,000 to 25,000 troops upon our corps, Siegel
was not there to help us?
Impressed by the furious cannonade with the belief that Banks
might be about to fight alone the battle he intended to fight with the three corps of his army, we have narrated that General Pope
hurried, with McDowell
's force, to the front.
About the time Pope21
, with his staff, entered it to report to him. The troops of his command, said to be much jaded by the heat and fatigue, were not yet in town.
It will be remembered that on the 8th Siegel
received orders from Pope
to march immediately from Sperryville
, a distance of about twenty miles. Instead of obeying these orders, he sent a note (which the latter received after night on the 8th), dated at Sperryville
at 6.30 P. M., asking by what road he should march to Culpeper Court House.
This delay of Siegel
's detained him until too late for the action,--“delayed him,” as Pope
“by the singular uncertainty of what road he ought to pursue.”
Nor was this all. At this vital hour, at four o'clock in the afternoon of the ninth of August, Siegel
's corps had not yet arrived at Culpeper
, and, worse than that, when it did arrive, the men were hungry as well as jaded, for they were without rations.
“I had given notice,” says Pope
, “that the whole army of Virginia should always be ready to move at the shortest notice, and should habitually keep two days rations in their haversack;” and this Pope
seems to have thought sufficient to assure, beyond peradventure, the arrival of Siegel
with food at all events on the day of the battle of Cedar Mountain
But not so SiegeL His corps had not a cracker nor a ration of pork; and his men could not march without them.
So provisions were procured from McDowell
's command and cooked, at Culpeper Court House.
's corps, between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, were getting their dinners to be in readiness to move forward between five and seven miles to aid in fighting the battle Pope
intended to fight with his whole army, the principal events which I have recorded were transpiring.
“It was intended,” testifies McDowell
, in the Court
Inquiry, where Siegel
brought charges against him for not supporting Banks
,--“it was intended that Siegel
should follow and support Banks
, and Siegel
did not do so because of unnecessary delay in marching to Culpeper
But at last Siegel
had found his road, and we had found Siegel
Had he moved when ordered, there would have been a very different history of the fight of Cedar Mountain
It is not probable that Banks
would have assaulted Jackson
's army at all, at least not single-handed and alone.
We left Pope
, and Banks
, their staffs and escorts, making rapid time to the rear, while, from the woods where I was ordered to take up a position, the enemy poured into us a heavy fire of musketry.
After my interview with Siegel
I halted my command about where I supposed a new line of battle would be formed by fresh troops and the remnant of Banks
's corps, when Pope
suddenly came upon us.
“ General, you have mistaken your position,” he said.
“ I have not taken the one you designated, because the enemy in large force occupy it,” I replied.
“You are mistaken,” said Pope
; “those are our own troops.”
“No, sir,” I urged, “I was there but just now, and we were fired at by infantry from the woods you ordered me to enter.”
Again insisted Pope
, “It is not so.”
“ Of course, then,” I replied, “I will move there now, or as near there as I can, if you wish it.”
“ Do so,” was the order.
Facing about, I moved my diminutive column, that somehow or other had dwindled to less than two hundred men, over the ground from whence the whole of Banks
's corps had retreated.
On my right our troops, under General Tower
, still held their strong point at Brown
and held it through the night, as I had maintained it through the day, unmolested; but on my left and front I was alone.
When within a reasonable distance of the woods I halted.
, with Banks
, and Siegel
, had followed me, and having dismounted were now sitting under a tree by the roadside.
It was after twelve at night.
An examination at the front convinced me of the truth of more than I had asserted to Pope
; and I went to him to report, that, save my small guard, there was nothing between him and the whole of Jackson
“ Not so,” replied Pope
; “Generals Greene
are there with their commands.”
I denied it, affirming that those troops had fallen far back to the rear long before.
was persistent, and would not believe that I, alone of all Banks
's corps, was in his front.
Soon, however, many members of the Seventh Virginia Cavalry, groping about in the dark, began to make inquiries at my principal picket station whether we could inform them where their regiment was. Some dozen or so of them were thus silently taken into our arms, and immediately sent back to Pope
Then again I sought the general commanding, and urged, as confirming proof of my statement that we were alone, the fact that the enemy, unmolested, were wandering around in our front.
“But Colonel Clark
are there on our left,” urged Pope
“ Won't you send him out to find them?”
“ Yes,” replied Pope
“Give him an escort, and let him go.”
, whose information was generally in the inverse ratio of his assumption, went doubtingly forth with a large escort; but he had not proceeded fifty yards across the
pike towards my left, when he was met by a sharp musketry fire from the enemy's skirmish line.
returned, followed by the troops.
The bullets pattered with such effect against the trees and fence-rails beneath which Pope
and his generals were reposing, that a second time the whole body of officers and followers moved in an incredibly short time to the rear.
It was rather a long chase before I could catch Pope
, but when I did, I asked him if he was now satisfied of the truth of my assertions.
“ Remove your men to the rear,” replied Pope
, who then with McDowell
addressed himself to the work of forming a new line of battle (which about daylight was effected with fresh troops) for a resumption of our fight,--which, however, did not take place.
From where General Jackson
rested after his forward movement upon Banks
's line, to where he halted again in doubt, the distance was one mile and a half. It was the intention of the enemy “to reach Culpeper
that night;” but the vigorous attack upon his battery,23
the report of his “most reliable scout that the enemy was but a few hundred yards in advance,” and the additional fact that Colonel Jones
, of the Seventh Virginia Cavalry, “reported that he had learned from some prisoners taken that Federal reinforcements had arrived,” induced Jackson
to think it “prudent to halt.”
It was not until morning that Jackson
added to this prudent resolve yet another, which was, not to fight Pope
again on that ground.
He gave as his reason “that he was convinced that Pope
would have sixty thousand men before
he could resume.”
When we consider that the whole force Pope
could have had on the morning of the 10th was all on the ground before twelve at midnight of the 9th, that this was enough to make Jackson
doubt and waver, and that with the addition of only King
's division of McDowell
's corps it was sufficient to make Jackson
retreat across the Rapidan
on the night of the 11th, who can repress his indignation that this force was not united against Jackson
on the 9th?
There is not a shadow of a doubt that it might have been.
Why was Banks
's corps of 6,000 or 7,000 men allowed to stand mangled and bleeding in a useless assault against Jackson
's entire army of at least 20,000 able-bodied and fresh troops?
was not ordered to fight that battle,--was not expected to fight it,-- until I could bring up the force which Jackson
admits would have been too strong for him to have encountered.26
answers with a denial of Pope
In the last chapter of this book I will endeavor to show which of these conflicting statements is the true one.
When the sun rose on the morning of the tenth of August, our army held a new line of battle almost two
miles in rear of the woods into which the enemy had passed during the night.
, his corps strongly posted in the woods with a wide space of open ground in its front, was on the left; while Ricketts
, withdrawn from our old position to a corner of timber, and behind ridges, held the right of the line.
The whole effective force thus in line is officially stated at twenty thousand artillery and infantry, and about two thousand cavalry.27
This is exclusive of Banks
's corps, which had been sent by Pope
about two miles farther to the rear, with orders to General Williams
, who had succeeded to the command, to put it rapidly in condition for service.
The day was intensely hot; hour after hour passed, and the silence continued unbroken, while in compact lines our troops remained in constant readiness.
Early in the day, or during the night, of the 9th Jackson
had withdrawn towards Cedar Mountain
The 10th passed; our dead were unburied, and our wounded were lying where they fell, all through the wheat and the corn fields and in the surrounding forest.
did not attack Pope
, and we have his reason: he was afraid of his numbers.
did not attack Jackson
, and we have his reason: his “troops were too much fatigued to renew the action.”
's true reason for delay was that King
might come up with the other division of McDowell
arrived on the evening of the 11th, and Pope
“made up his mind, though his force barely equalled Jackson
's, to fall upon the enemy on the 12th.”
Many such resolutions have been frustrated by the enemy not waiting to be fallen upon.
He fled on the evening of the 11th, leaving many of his dead and wounded on the field and along the road from Cedar Mountain
to Orange Court House
On the morning of that day Pope
sent, by flag of truce, for permission to recover the wounded and bury the dead.
This was granted; and thus we were permitted, by those over whom, according to Halleck
's despatch to Pope
we had won a hard-earned and brilliant success, to succor our wounded, to recover our dead.
All day of the 11th the rank and file of the two armies met and talked, between hostile lines, without passion or resentment.
On our left the cornfield was only sprinkled with dead, but on the wheat-field and in the woods into which our regiments charged, and by the fence where my brigade fought in line of battle, there were ghastly piles of dead, with here and there a living sufferer, who had drawn his painful breath through more than thirty-six hours of exposure.
The severest loss fell to the Second.
The mortality among the officers was unusually heavy.
One writer attributes this to their conspicuous dress, making them a mark for the enemy's sharp-shooters; but it can be better and more satisfactorily accounted for by the habit which that reiment had acquired of standing steadily where and when it was ordered, despite all attacks made upon it, even though, as at Cedar Mountain
, it was overwhelmed on its front, flank, and rear.
The total loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners in the Second Regiment was one hundred and seventy-three,thirty-five per cent of all engaged.
Out of the whole loss, but fifteen were prisoners unwounded.
Thirteen officers and one hundred and forty-seven non-commissioned officers and privates were killed and wounded out of the Second alone; and of this number, six of the officers and fifty-two
of the non-commissioned officers and privates were instantly killed or mortally wounded.32
Surrounded by many of their men killed in the action, I saw dead upon the field Captains Cary
, and Lieutenant Perkins
. Major Savage
had been removed, to die at Charlottesville
Never in the entire history of the Second Massachusetts Regiment had its percentage of loss been so great.
Not at Winchester
; not at Gettysburg
, the Atlanta campaign
, or in the march to the sea,--was the sacrifice so large.
In my whole brigade the loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was four hundred and sixty-six,--over thirty in every hundred of my command.
had won a complete victory.
could it be otherwise?
Place the figures of the force I have given for Banks
's corps against the twelve brigades of Jackson
's three divisions, against the 25,000 men of all arms which met the charge of our 7,500 men,33
and can there be a doubt how such a contest would terminate?
admits in his history of this action that Jackson
had 20,000 men engaged; but he puts our force at 32,000 in the battle.34
Arguments for Jackson
's prowess based upon such figures are grounded on air. Jackson
admits a loss in killed and wounded of 1,314, and claims to have caused us a loss of twice that number.35
thought,” says Dabney
, “that Cedar Mountain
was his most successful battle.”
known that he was fighting none other than Banks
's corps, would he have thought this battle so successful?
Who shall say?
was fallible, and oftentimes too stubborn to know or admit the truth.
In his official report, he feels obliged to defend himself for not attacking on the 10th the army he thought he had whipped on the 9th, by assuming that Pope
had received reinforcements, which, Dabney
placed as high as 60,000.
himself says that he fled on the 11th “to avoid being attacked by vastly superior forces in front.”
The evidence we have given is conclusive, that although Jackson
shrank from an encounter with Pope
when the two armies were evenly matched, his historians, clamorous in their falsehoods of the numbers overpowered, demanded that Cedar Mountain
should be emblazoned on Jackson
But the mills of Time at last grind out the truth; and before Dabney
had exhausted even his endless vocabulary in coining loud-sounding words of praise, he felt obliged to defend Jackson
, not only for retreating, but even for fighting where he did.
The reinforcements which caused Jackson
to retreat were not present with Pope
's army on the 10th, when the former refused to renew the fight; and when they came up on the 11th they gave us, as we have shown (King
's division only), a force no larger than Jackson
's. Yet this made him retreat.
Of the fight at Cedar Mountain
meant to have fought at Culpeper Court House on the 8th.
Had he done so, his victory would have been so much more complete as to silence every charge of fruitlessness; for we have seen that the supports which saved Pope
from destruction only arrived at nightfall on the 9th.”
To silence such criticism, to show what would have happened had something not interposed of which we are not informed, it is sufficient to refer to what we have said of Pope
's dispositions on the 8th.
marched to Culpeper Court House on that day, he would not only have saved Pope
much time in concentration, but he would have met, in addition to Banks
's corps, the whole of Ricketts
' division; and we may believe Siegel
would have found a road upon which he could have arrived in time.
's battle of Cedar Mountain
cannot be defended.
It accomplished no purpose, it established no desirable end. In three days from the time the last gun
was fired, our cavalry pickets were re-established upon the Rapidan
In concluding this chapter, it seems proper to offer the following criticism upon the plan of this battle, and the causes which led to the peculiar efforts put forth.
's testimony before the Committee
on the Conduct of the War
, he attempts to exculpate himself for attacking Jackson
by trying to make it appear that Jackson
was marching to attack him. He had seen the movement of Ewell
's remaining regiments to the mountain-side, and the brigade of Thomas
's division) reinforcing Early
; and, in his own language, he “had gone down to the front with some officers, and had been impressed with the idea that while the enemy was moving on the other side (the left), he was coming down on the right,” --that is, across the wheat-field and through the woods, behind which all of Williams
's division were concealed.
ever thought of turning our right, it was not while Crawford
were peering through the woods and trying to guess
what was behind them.
The enemy could not have crossed that wheat-field and attacked Crawford
without exposing his flank and rear to an attack from my whole brigade of infantry and batteries; nor could he have attempted it without full warning to me from my skirmishers, who filled the woods in front of Crawford
“Turning our right!”
It would not have been attempted at that stage of the battle; or if it had, to swing his whole line backward on my position as on a pivot, and cover his left by the woods on the ridge, on the northern side of Cedar Creek
was the evening before, when we were sent out to establish ourselves at Crawford
's position), would have been Banks
's true movement to repel such an attack.
As proof of this, I may
refer to the fact that the remnant of Banks
's corps fell back behind a line of battle thus posted, when Pope
came up, and with new troops established a new line, the right of which was at the position I had occupied until I was ordered forward to the stubble-field.37
Our right never was attacked, it was too strong; but, alas!
it was too evident that Banks
did not know where the right of his line was. With all these facts (which cannot be disputed) before us, I read, with the same amazement that fills me whenever I investigate any of Banks
's military efforts, that “the enemy had massed his forces on our right, and was moving forward and begun an attack upon us. My force encountered him about five o'clock, which is the usual time for them to make an attack.
They made a desperate attack on our right: of course we had to strengthen that with all our force.”
Now every one but Banks
knows that the enemy made at this time (five o'clock) no attack at all on our right, the right of our line.
had not sent four regiments over the wheat-field to attack Jackson
, and then sent me from the right over half a mile to the front after
the enemy had used up these regiments, this whole force would have been saved to meet Jackson
's attack, if he had made one; and had it been upon the right, we could have held the enemy at bay until night, or McDowell
There is no room for controversy here: the weak and unhappy conference with Crawford
is marked with blunders, which would be comedies if they were not crimes.
Bearing in mind that Banks
moved his line forward at
least four hundred yards from where Roberts
stationed him, before he “sent Crawford
a brigade;” that Crawford
's regiments advanced six hundred yards in crossing the stubble-field before they entered the woods, and. then that they totally surprised the enemy, driving him back some hundreds of yards farther, and almost capturing Winder
's battery,--the very thing which Banks
he thought he could do and should do,--we are forced to the conclusion that Banks
instead of fearing an attack was determined to make one, because he thought he “could carry the field,” and did not believe the enemy was there in force; and that for this purpose he advanced his troops until the regiments of Crawford
's brigade, when repulsed, were at least one mile from the position assigned him (Banks
). Whether Jackson
would or would not have attacked us is not the question.
to give in sworn testimony, as he has, that the enemy “made a desperate attack upon our right,” and that Crawford
was thrown forward to repel it, is to pervert history; it is to substitute, with formal solemnity, fiction for fact.39