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April 29th (search for this): chapter 12
ed by Hooker as the base of his main operations and where he had concentrated the bulk of his army. On pages 83-5 of his Four years with General Lee, Colonel Taylor says: General Lee, with fifty-seven thousand troops of all arms, intrenched along the line of hills south of the Rappahannock, near Fredericksburg, was confronted by General Hooker, with the Army of the Potomac, one hundred and thirty-two thousand strong, occupying the bluffs on the opposite side of the river. On the 29th of April the Federal commander essayed to put into execution an admirably conceived plan of operations, from which he doubtless concluded that he could compel either the evacuation by General Lee of his strongly fortified position, or else his utter discomfiture, when unexpectedly and vigorously assailed upon his left flank and rear by the finest army on the planet --really more than twice the size of his own. A formidable force, under General Sedgwick, was thrown across the river below Frede
April 28th (search for this): chapter 12
and crush and crumble him as between the upper and nether millstone. The very boldness of the movement contributed much to insure its success. This battle illustrates most admirably the peculiar talent and individual excellence of Lee and Jackson. For quickness of perception, boldness in planning and skill in directing, Lee had no superior; for celerity in his movements, audacity in the execution of bold designs and impetuosity in attacking, Jackson had not his peer. About the 28th of April dispatches by the army or grapevine telegraph began to come in very rapidly, and that, too, minutely and correctly revealing the situation. We were at the time in camp a little back of the main fortified line. That evening, I think it was, we received orders to be ready to move at a moment's notice. Very early next morning we heard firing in the direction of Fredericksburg. It was very foggy, and we could see nothing, but understood that a heavy force of the enemy was crossing to our
December 25th (search for this): chapter 12
did the captain approve our application, but the first lieutenant offered me his thoroughbred horse, Rebel, by the aid of whose fleet limbs it was thought I might be able to get around to the necessary headquarters in a day, and also, perhaps, have a chance to say a word in behalf of my brother and myself, instead of waiting the slow process and the somewhat uncertain result of the papers working their own way through the regular channels. My recollection is that all this happened about Christmas time, so that the goodness of our comrades in standing back for us was the more praiseworthy. I did succeed in making the grand rounds in a day, but might not have done so but for the combined intelligence and stubborness of little Rebel. It was almost dark when I left the last headquarters I had to visit, and started for camp, which was a long distance off, and the latter part of the way almost a labyrinth of undistinguishable army tracks. The road was yet, however, distinct, and my
ns is important. To my next younger brother, Randolph, and myself the one event of transcendent interest about this time was the long-deferred arrival in Richmond of our mother and sisters, whom we had left behind in New Haven in the spring of 1861. Neither of us had heretofore asked anything in the nature of a furlough, or leave of absence, feeling that our comrades who, by such leave, would be enabled to see father and mother, sisters and home, should be entitled to the preference; and noliar and enjoyable. On duty he was our commanding officer, off duty our intimate friend. I used to call him the intelligent young Irishman, and to tell the following story in explanation: Just before the Howitzers left Richmond, in the spring of 1861, General Magruder called upon Major Randolph to send him a suitable man for a courier, adding, intelligent young Irishman preferred and McCarthy was sent as filling the bill. The captain had long been laying for me, as the saying is, and now he h
consisted on our side of tobacco and on the Federal side of coffee and sugar, yet the trade was by no means confined to these articles, and on a sunny, pleasant day the waters were fairly dotted with the fairy fleet. Many a weary hour of picket duty was thus relieved and lightened, and most of the officers seemed to wink at the infraction of military law, if such it was. A few rigidly interdicted it, but it never really ceased. Another institutional amusement of the army in the winter of 1862-3, which tended greatly to relieve the almost unendurable tedium of camp life, was the snow-ball battle. These contests were unique in many respects. In the first place here was sport, or friendly combat, on the grandest scale, perhaps, known in modern times. Entire brigades lined up against each other for the fight. And not the masses of men only, but the organized military bodies-the line and field officers, the bands and the banners, the generals and their staffs, mounted as for genuin
thus relieved and lightened, and most of the officers seemed to wink at the infraction of military law, if such it was. A few rigidly interdicted it, but it never really ceased. Another institutional amusement of the army in the winter of 1862-3, which tended greatly to relieve the almost unendurable tedium of camp life, was the snow-ball battle. These contests were unique in many respects. In the first place here was sport, or friendly combat, on the grandest scale, perhaps, known in moned the paper, with the above suggestion, and therewith dismissed the matter from my mind. Meanwhile there occurred one of the most noteworthy experiences of my life. The very day, I think it was, of what might be termed our spring opening of 1863, and probably before we made the first move looking toward Chancellorsville, I was busy about some duty in the battery, when I heard the captain's voice calling me sharply, and as I approached his quarters noticed a courier just leaving. The capt
ansmitted along the lines of the army. Partial explanations readily occur, but I have yet to meet the first intelligent and observant soldier of the Army of Northern Virginia who is not ready to admit that, in some instances, the rapid transmission of news and the detailed accuracy of forecast that sifted through the army were at the time, and remain to-day, inexplicable. Of course we knew of the resignation or removal of Burnside and the appointment of Hooker as his successor, late in January, and we had seen, too, the remarkable order of the latter, issued upon assuming command, in which he declared that: In equipment, intelligence, and valor, the enemy is our inferior. Let us never hesitate to give him battle whenever we can find him. From this order, as well as from his military history, with which we were familiar, we knew our man. We knew also the atmosphere that surrounded his appointment, but I for one never saw, until long after the war, the remarkable letter of Mr. L
April, 1863 AD (search for this): chapter 12
which had lain torpid in the winter's cold, until suddenly the one or the other monster glided, hissing from its den, and delivered its stroke. To our friends, the enemy, the only relation between the swelling of the sassafras buds and the spring-burst of battle was chronological; but with us the sassafras amounted almost to a sub-commissariat-we chewed it, we drank it, we smelled it, and it was ever at hand without the trouble or expense of transport. All through the latter part of April, 1863, even more than the normal premonitory spring shudderings were noted throughout the great winter camps and quarters of the Federal army corps across the river, and very soon the marvelous army telegraph was in full operation. Every surviving veteran of either side will understand what I mean. It was really little less than miraculous the way in which information-often astonishingly correct — as to what had happened or was about to happen, was transmitted along the lines of the army. Pa
December, 1862 AD (search for this): chapter 12
n and its commander Commerce across the Rappahannock snow-ball battles a commission in engineer troops an appointment on Jackson's staff characteristic interview between General Jackson and my father the Army telegraph President Lincoln's letter Hooker's plan really great, but Lee's audacity and his Army equal to any crisis head of column, to the left or to the right. In the four or five months between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, that is to say, between the middle of December, 1862, and the first of May, 1863, several things occurred of special interest to me personally, as well as several others of more general and public significance. It is not possible now to relate these events in their exact sequence, nor even to be confident that every incident referred to as belonging to this period actually happened between the dates mentioned; but neither of these considerations is important. To my next younger brother, Randolph, and myself the one event of transcende
ake his battalion in the field. When this feature was developed, for once he flamed into ungovernable rage. It was the only time I ever heard him swear. Stiles, said he, what do these people take me for? Have I given men any reason to consider me a damned sneak and coward and fool? I cannot forbear a trifling incident, revealing in a flash the simplicity and beauty of his nature and of our relations and intercourse. It occurred at the left base of the Bloody Angle at Spottsylvania in 1864, where one or two of his batteries had been ordered to take the place of some of our artillery which had been captured, and to stay the rout. The guns were in column back of the lines, awaiting our return, we having ridden into that gloomy pit of defeat and demoralization to determine exactly where they should be placed. As we came out, before riding back to bring up the guns, we dismounted in a place of comparative security, just to stretch our limbs and unbend a moment from the awful tens
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