previous next

Pennsylvania campaign of Gen. Lee.

[from our own Correspondent.]
Army of Northern Virginia,
Jan. 30th, 1864.
I had hoped when I began the review of the operations of the Army of Northern Virginia for the past year to have been able to have gone on without interruption, but a combination of circumstances, which I deem unnecessary to mention, has heretofore prevented that regularity and sequence which I had wished to have preserved. To-day I resume the narration, and will proceed so far as to include an account of

The battle of Winchester.

On the 9th of June Lieut. Gen. R. S. Ewell's (second) corps, being encamped near Culpeper C. H., Major-Gen. J. E. B. Stuart reported a large force of the enemy, made up of cavalry, artillery, and infantry, to have crossed the Rappahannock river, and that they were advancing to give battle. Rodes's division, being nearest to the cavalry, was ordered up to support it, if necessary, but did not become engaged. The result of that fight was a signal repulse to the enemy, though not without severe loss on our side. Inasmuch as I propose to devote a chapter to the operations of the cavalry during the past year I will not now allude further to this fight.

On the afternoon of the 10th of June the whole of Ewell's corps left Culpeper C. H., moving in the direction of Winchester, via Front Royal, in the county of Warren, and crossing the Blue Ridge at Chester Gap on the night of the 12th, the whole corps arrived at and near Front Royal, and was disposed as follows. Johnson's division bivouacked near Cedarville; Early's between the north and south forks of the Shenandoah river, at Front Royal, and Rodes's five miles beyond the river, on the road leading to Berryville.

On the 13th Johnson, moving on the Front Royal road, and Early, on the Valley pike, approached Winchester. About 12 o'clock Johnson's pickets became engaged with the enemy's pickets just below Winchester, and drove them in. Soon thereafter Col. R. Lumden Andrews, with Carpenter's battery, opened fire on a battery of the enemy, which they had advanced out on the Millwood road, driving it into the town, and blowing up one of their caissons. This achievement drew upon Carpenter's battery a heavy, but not well directed fire from the enemy's artillery posted in the forts and on the heights above and beyond the town.--Carpenter, however, did not respond to this fire, and the enemy did him but little damage.

Just before sunset Gordon's Georgia and Hayes's Louisiana brigades, of Early's division, became engaged near Kernstown, about three miles south of Winchester, on the Valley turnpike, with a brigade of the enemy and a battery of their artillery. The enemy, however, made a very feeble stand, and quickly falling back, were pursued by our men, now moving at double quick time, for a distance of some two miles, or until they, the enemy, reached Barton's Mills at the foot of Bowers's hill — the enemy barely saving their artillery. It was now dark, and operations were suspended for the night. During the night a severe rain fell. At daylight it was discovered that the enemy had abandoned all of his outer works, and had taken up position in his inner and main forts.

Lt. General Ewell, after consultation with Maj-General Early, determined upon a flank movement, in order to reduce the town, as preferable to an assault in front. Gen. Early at once began to move to attack a work of the enemy on the Pugh town road, on a hill commanding their main fort. A circuit of some eight miles was necessary, to avoid observation. Gen. Gordon's brigade of Georgians, with the Maryland battalion of infantry, having been left in the meantime confronting the enemy at Hollingsworth's Mill, near the town, pushed the enemy's pickets to the edge of town, and would have driven them farther, but for fear of drawing the enemy's fire on the town. The rest of the division, consisting of Smith's Hays's, and Hoke's brigades, were now engaged in the execution of the flank movement. Meantime General Johnston moved a portion of his division across the Millwood road, and threw out a line of skirmishers, so as to divert attention from Early's operations. These skirmishers were commanded by Lt. Col. H. J. Williams, who was severely wounded after a conspicuous display of gallantry. With a single line of skirmishers he more than once repulsed the enemy's heavy line of battle, supported by artillery. This line of skirmishers unflinchingly maintained their position until dark.

About an hour before sunset, on the evening of the 14th of June, Gen. Early, without encountering scout or picket, was in easy cannon range of the enemy's work, which it was his purpose to assault. He at once set to work making disposition of his forces, preparatory to the attack.--Twenty pieces of artillery--twelve from Colonel Jones's battalion and eight belonging to the 1st Virginia regiment, under Capt. Dance, Col. Brown acting as Chief of Artillery of corps — were placed in position. Hays's Louisiana brigade was now ordered to prepare for the charge, and Smith's Virginians were so disposed as to act as supports.--Our artillery opened a vigorous, and well directed fire on the enemy's works and guns. They responded with considerable spirit; but after the artillery duel had been kept up for some thirty minutes the enemy's guns were completely silenced. Then Hays's gallant and fearless Louisianian — the same men who drove Sedgwick from the heights at Fredericksburg back to Banks's Ford, during the Chancellorsville fights, and the same men too, whose foot tracks have been printed in blood during this rigorous winter, while standing picket on the banks of the Rapidan, for want of shoes, moved forward to the music of our cannon, which were still playing upon the works of the enemy. So fierce and well directed did our iron missiles of death rain around them that no Yankee dared show his head above the parapet. When our men got within two hundred yards of the enemy's works and being still unperceived, suddenly our artillery ceased. And now Hays's men charge over an abattis, capturing the work and taking six pieces of artillery. Lieut. John Orr, of the 6th Louisiana regiment, being the first to enter the enemy's works, fell wounded in the thigh by a Yankee bayonet. The enemy vainly attempted, under cover of the guns of their main fort, to form in the bottom between the two hills and retake the works, but Hays's men manned and turned the enemy's own guns upon them. A few well directed shots quickly broke them in confusion, and they retreated to the inner fort. Just after dark heavy volleys were heard proceeding from the fort, and it is surmised that the enemy must have fired into each other.

That night Gen. Ewell ordered Gen. Ed. Johnson, with the Stonewall brigade, Nichols's (now Stafford's) Louisiana brigade, two regiments of Stuart's brigade, with Carpenter's battery, and sections of Demerit's and Rame's batteries, to move to the Martinsburg road and intercept the expected retreat of the enemy; or, if they should hold their ground, to be prepared for a simultaneous attack at dawn. Gen. J. thought it better, from the roughness of the road which he had to travel, to go to Stevenson's Depot. By a mistake in the delivery of an order, Gen. Walker, with the Stonewall brigade, did not begin to move until after midnight; and so when Gen. J. met the head of the enemy's column, on striking the pike, a little before day, he had only Stuart's two regiments and the Louisiana brigade. The pike and the railroad here run parallel to each other, and not more than an hundred yards apart. The railroad cut is crossed upon a bridge by the road over which Gen. Johnson came, this road striking the pike nearly at right angles. Gen. Johnson posted the infantry along the cut, except the 10th and 2d La. regiments, which were held in reserve to support the artillery. One of Demerit's Napoleon guns was placed by Col. Andrews on the bridge. The other Napoleon was placed a few yards one side, just below our line of battle. The rest of the artillery was on an eminence to the left of the road by which Gen. Johnson came, and one hundred and fifty yards in rear of our line of battle. These dispositions had scarcely been made when the Yankees charged, with loud yelling, hoping to break through our lines and escape. The battle raged for nearly an hour, our troops (but little over 1,200 men) being greatly outnumbered. Just, however, as the last of our cartridges gave out Gen. Walker came up. The enemy had by this time divided into two columns for the purpose of endeavoring to turn both of our flanks simultaneously. Gen. Walker charged the party attempting to turn our right flank, and they surrendered. Gen. Johnson moved the two Louisiana regiments, held in reserve, against the body of the enemy attempting to pass our left flank, and captured the greater part of them.--Though Milroy and three hundred cavalry, besides some straggling infantry, made their escape, our captures here amounted to some 2,500 men.

Our artillery in this action was served most gallantly, and did fine execution. Fourteen out of sixteen men manning the section of Demeritt's battery were killed or wounded, among them Lieut. C. S. Contee, commanding the section, as also Lieut. Col. Andrews. The remaining members of this section staid at their posts, and, assisted by Lieut. R. W. McKim, Gen. G. H. Stuart's A. D. C., and Lieut. John Morgan, 1st N. C. regiment, both of whom volunteered their aid, worked one piece (not being enough to work both,) till the close of the engagement, using grape and canister often at a distance of not more than fifty yards. This singular action, says my informant, closed about fifteen minutes after daylight, and was fought on ground unknown to either party, and for half the time in almost utter darkness.

At daylight, in pursuance of orders, Gordon's Georgia brigade, of Early's division, which had been left on the Valley pike the evening before, advanced into the town, while Early advanced from the captured fort Gordon's men, reaching the main fort, found it abandoned, and hauled down the "old flag" at daylight, just before the enemy, four miles off, surrendered to Gen. Johnson.

At dark on the evening before we captured Winchester, Rodes entered Martinsburg. His division moved from Cedarville, near Front Royal, with the view of cutting off and capturing a force of the enemy at Berryville, in Clark county. The enemy, however, got information of his advance. fled to Winchester, and were among the prisoners captured at that place. Rodes, with Jenkins cavalry brigade, had a sharp skirmish with the enemy

just before entering Martinsburg, capturing one hundred and fifty prisoners and five pieces of artillery. On the road to Martinsburg Jenkins's cavalry had a fight at Bunker's Hill with a force of the enemy's infantry in loopholed houses at that place, killing and capturing seventy- five of the enemy and driving the rest from the house.

After Early had thus taken Winchester, and Johnson had intercepted the enemy's retreat, Gen. Ewell dispatched the small force of cavalry which he had with him in pursuit of the enemy — and until next morning they were continually bringing in prisoners. The fruits of Johnson and Early's successes may be summed up in the following statement. Twenty-three pieces of artillery, over three hundred loaded wagons, six or seven hundred horses, and over four thousand prisoners, besides large quantities of quartermaster and commissary stores. In fact, of the whole force stationed in the Valley, not over five or six hundred made their escape, and these only saved one piece of their artillery, and this was in the battery of which Jenkins captured the other five. Our official loss, all told, did not foot up quite three hundred. Surely, this was glorious work.

Briefly, then, to recapitulate: Early and Johnson invested Winchester on the morning of the 14th of June, and about the same hour Rodes entered Berryville. Early took the key of the enemy's position at Winchester just as Rodes entered Martinsburg at sunset on the 14th June, and next morning Johnson intercepted the enemy's flying columns.

The 16th Virginia cavalry, of Jenkins's brigade, under Major J. H. Nounnum, was attached to Johnson's division on its advance upon Winchester, and with the cavalry of the Maryland line, on similar duty with Early's division, did good service in picking up stragglers and horses, as also in preventing the escape of some armed bodies of the enemy after the fall of the place. I am also told that O'neal's partisan company was quite useful in the same way.

I have thus hurriedly sketched the main facts connected with the capture of Winchester and the liberation of the Valley. It was altogether a most brilliant episode in the otherwise disastrous Pennsylvania campaign. Lieut. Gen. R. S. Ewell, by his skill, energy, and strategy, fully demonstrated his high capacity for the post to which he had then so recently been promoted; whilst Early, Rodes, and Johnson gave signal proofs of their respective fitness for commands in Jackson's old corps.--And as for the men, it will suffice to say that they were all of Ewell's corps, and had been trained in marching, fighting, and endurance under Stonewall Jackson.

In my next I shall speak of the passage of the Potomac and the Gettysburg fights.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Edward Johnson (15)
Early (14)
Rodes (7)
R. S. Ewell (7)
Martinsburg Jenkins (4)
Hays (4)
Carpenter (4)
Walker (3)
J. E. B. Stuart (3)
Gordon (3)
R. Lumden Andrews (3)
Smith (2)
H. J. Williams (1)
G. H. Stuart (1)
Stafford (1)
Sedgwick (1)
John Orr (1)
J. H. Nounnum (1)
Nichols (1)
John Morgan (1)
Milroy (1)
R. W. McKim (1)
Robert E. Lee (1)
Jones (1)
Johnston (1)
Stonewall Jackson (1)
Hoke (1)
Hayes (1)
Demeritt (1)
Dance (1)
C. S. Contee (1)
Thomas Brown (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 14th (3)
October, 6 AD (1)
September, 6 AD (1)
January 30th, 1864 AD (1)
13th (1)
12th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: