Chapter 15: the Army of the Potomac on the Virginia Peninsula.
- The Confederates evacuate Yorktown, 377.
-- pursuit of the fugitives
-- Confederate works at Williamsburg, 378.
-- Hooker's advance upon them, 379.
-- battle near Williamsburg
-- Hooker bears the Brunt, 380.
-- Kearney's troops on the field, 381.
-- Hancock's flank movement, 382.
-- close of the battle of Williamsburg
-- composition of the National Army there, 383.
-- McClellan urged to the front
-- the fruits of victory lost by delay, 384.
-- expedition up the York River
-- National troops on the Pamunkey
-- a sharp fight, 385.
-- quarters near the “White House”
-- a trick to save that building, 386.
-- preparations to attack Norfolk
-- vigilance of General Wool, 387.
-- he leads troops against Norfolk
-- surrender of the City, 388.
-- events in the Shenandoah Valley, 389.
-- battle at McDowell, 390.
-- Kenly attacked at front Royal, 391.
-- Banks's retreat toward the Potomac
-- difficulties in the way, 392.
-- battle at Winchester, 393.
-- Banks's retreat to the Potomac
-- Jackson hastens up the Shenandoah Valley, 394.
-- an exciting race in that Valley
-- Jackson and Ewell hard pressed, 395.
-- battle of Cross Keys, 396.
-- map of operations in Upper Virginia, 398.
-- battle of Port Republic and escape of Jackson's Army, 399.
-- a visit to the Shenandoah region
-- Weyer's Cave, 400.
-- passage of the Blue Ridge, 401.
'S batteries would all have been ready to open on the Confederate
works on the morning of the 6th of May;
but there was then no occasion for their use, for those works were abandoned.
So early as the 30th of April, Jefferson Davis
and two of his so-called cabinet, and Generals Johnston
, and Magruder
, held a council at the Nelson House
where, after exciting debates, it was determined to evacuate Yorktown
and its dependencies.
A wholesome fear of the heavy guns of the Nationals, whose missiles had already given a foretaste of their terrible power, and also an expectation that the National
gun-boats would speedily ascend the two rivers flanking the Confederate Army, caused this prudent resolution.
had been ordered to Yorktown
, but it had so great a dread of the watchful little Monitor
that it remained at Norfolk
Already some war-vessels, and a fleet of transports with Franklin
's troops, as we have observed, were lying securely in Posquotin River, well up toward Yorktown
These considerations caused immediate action on the resolutions of the council.
The sick, hospital stores, ammunition, and camp equipage were speedily sent to Richmond
, and on the night of the 3d of May, the Confederate
garrisons at Yorktown
, and the troops along the line of the Warwick
, fled toward Williamsburg
Early the next morning General McClellan
telegraphed to the Secretary of War
that he was in possession of the abandoned
post, and added: “No time shall be lost.
I shall push the enemy to the wall.”
At that hour a vigorous pursuit of the fugitives had begun by the cavalry and horse-artillery under General Stoneman
, followed along the Yorktown
road by the divisions of Generals Joseph Hooker
and Philip Kearney
, and on the Winn's Mill road, which joins the former within two miles of Williamsburg
, by the divisions of Generals W. F. Smith
, Darius N. Couch
, and Silas Casey
Those of Generals Israel B. Richardson
, John Sedgwick
, and Fitz-John Porter
, were moved to the vicinity of Yorktown
, to be ready to go forward as a supporting force, if required, or to follow Franklin
's division, which was to be sent up the York River
to West Point
, to co-operate with the pursuing force on the flank of the fugitives, and to seize that terminus of the Richmond and York River railway. General Heintzelman
was at first charged with the direction of the pursuit, but the General-in-Chief
changed his mind, and directed General Edwin V. Sumner
, his second in command, to go forward and conduct the operations of the pursuers.
remained at Yorktown
, to make arrangements for the dispatch of Franklin
up the York
The Confederates had, some months before, constructed a line of strong works, thirteen in number, across the gently rolling plateau on which Williamsburg
These were two miles in front of that city at the narrowest part of the Peninsula
the right resting on a deep ravine near the James River
, and the left on Queen's Creek
, near the York River
The principal work was Fort
, close by the junction of the Yorktown
and Winn's Mill roads. It was an earth-work with bastion front, its crest measuring nearly half a mile, surrounded by a wet ditch, and heavily armed.
The others were redoubts, similar to those cast up around Washington City
At these works the retreating Confederates left a strong rear-guard to check the pursuers, while the main body should have time to place the Chickahominy River
between it and the advancing Nationals
approached these lines he was met by Confederate cavalry, and these, with the guns of Fort Magruder and its immediate supporters, caused him to halt, fall back about four miles, and wait for the infantry.
Hearing of this repulse, Hooker
, who was not far in the rear of a brick church on the Yorktown
road, was impatient to move forward, but the way was blocked by Smith
Therefore he sought and obtained leave of Heintzelman
to throw his command on the Hampton
or Warwick road; and in the mean time Sumner
, with Smith
's division, moved on to the point where Stoneman
was halting, at five o'clock in the evening.
These bivouacked for the night.
pressed forward along the Hampton
road, and took position on the left of Smith
's at near midnight. Rain was then falling copiously, and the roads were rendered almost impassable.
There all rested until dawn,
again pressed forward, and at half-past 5 came in sight of the Confederate
works, the spires of Williamsburg
appearing in the distance across the open level land.
Before the Nationals for nearly half a mile the way was obstructed by felled trees, and the open plain beyond was thickly dotted with rifle-pits.
Knowing that thirty thousand troops were within supporting distance of him, and the bulk of the Potomac Army within four hours march, Hooker
made an immediate advance upon the Confederate
works, believing that he could sustain a conflict until aid might reach him, if needed.
At half-past 7 o'clock General Grover
was directed to make the attack, by sending into the felled timber the First Massachusetts on the left, and the Second New Hampshire on the right, with orders to skirmish up to the verge of the open fields, to pick off the Confederate
sharp-shooters and artillerists.
At the same time the Eleventh Massachusetts and Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania were directed to form on the right of the New Hampshire regiment, and advance as skirmishers until they should reach the Yorktown
road; while Weber
's battery was pushed forward into the open field, within seven hundred yards of Fort Magruder.
This drew the fire of the Confederates
,. which killed four of the artillerists and drove off the remainder.
The battery was soon re-manned by volunteers from Osborn
's, and with the assistance of Bramhall
's, which was now brought into action, and also sharp-shooters, Fort Magruder was soon silenced, and the Confederates
in sight on the plain were, dispersed.
's brigade (Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth New Jersey) was; charged with the support of these batteries, and was soon heavily engaged with Confederate infantry and sharp-shooters, who now appeared in great numbers.
Hitherto the opponents of the Nationals were composed of only the Confederate
rear-guard; now Longstreet
's division, which had passed on through Williamsburg
, had been sent back by Johnston
to support that rear-guard, for the pressure of the pursuers was greater than the hitherto tardy movements of McClellan
had given reason to expect.
These were fresh and strong, and Hooker
was compelled to send the First Massachusetts.
and Seventieth and Seventy-second New York (Excelsior Brigade), under Brigadier-general Grover
, to the aid of Patterson
In the mean time the Eleventh Pennsylvania and Twenty-sixth Massachusetts had reached the Yorktown
road, and Colonel Blaisdell
, who led them, was directed to clear
that way for the advance of the National
forces, and form a connection with Heintzelman
was sorely pressed.
The Confederates were heavily massed in front of Patterson
and his supports.
At half-past 11 o'clock he sent a note to Heintzelman
, asking immediate assistance.
That officer was absent, and Hooker
was obliged to fight on unaided.
At one o'clock the l battle had assumed gigantic proportions, and Hooker
's last regiments (Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth New York) had been sent into the fight.
He was losing heavily and making no apparent head-way, for as the conflict progressed fresh Confederate troops under Pickett
, and others hastened back from the direction — of the Chickahominy
to assist their struggling comrades, until a large portion of Johnston
's army in that region were in the conflict.
Three times the Confederates
had made fierce charges on Hooker
's center, with the hope of breaking his line, but were repulsed, and as
Excelsior brigade. |
often the places of the defeated ones were filled with fresh troops.
Once a dash was made from the direction of Fort Magruder, which resulted in the capture of five of Weber
's guns, and between two hundred and three hundred prisoners.
For almost nine consecutive hours Hooker
's division fought the foe unaided,3
excepting by the brigade of General J. J. Peck
, of Couch
's division, which arrived on the field early in the afternoon, and was posted on Hooker
There it acted as a continually repelling foil to the attacks of the Confederates
, until near night, when it was relieved by two other of Couch
Finally the ammunition of some of Hooker
's regiments, and also of the artillery, began to fail,4
and no supply train had yet come up. The rain had made much of the road between Yorktown
an almost impassable slough, through which, and over the little wooded hills, whose trees the fugitives had cast in the way, and across miry ravines coursed by swollen brooks, cannon and wagons had to be dragged with almost a snail's pace.
had called repeatedly on Sumner
for help, but could get none, for that officer had ordered a large portion of the troops in hand to the right, under Hancock
, to keep the Confederates
in check in that direction, and to flank the works if possible.5
So he fought on, maintaining his ground until between four and five o'clock, when the gallant and dashing Philip Kearney
came up with his division, with orders
(who with his staff had arrived on the ground early in the afternoon) to relieve Hooker
's worn and fearfully thinned regiments.
pressed to the front, and Hooker
's troops withdrew from the fight and rested as a reserve.
They had lost in the battle one thousand seven hundred of their companions.
's brigade to the left of the Williamsburg
road, and Birney
's to the right, and at the same time two companies of Poe
Second Michigan were pressed forward to cover the movement, and drive back Confederate skirmishers, who were almost silencing the National
Thus Major Wainwright
's chief of artillery, was enabled to collect his gunners and re-open the fire from several quiet pieces.
At that moment the fearfully shattered New Jersey
Fifth went promptly to their support.
The battle, which was lagging when Kearney
arrived, was renewed with spirit, and the Nationals began to slowly push back their foe.
The heavy felled timber prevented all direct forward movement, and Kearney
ordered the Thirty-eighth New York (Scott Life-guard), Colonel Hobart Ward
, to charge down the road and take the rifle-pits in the center of the abatis
by their flank.
This duty was gallantly performed, with a loss to the regiment of nine of its nineteen officers.
It did not quite accomplish Kearney
's full desire, and he ordered the left wing of the Fortieth New York (Mozart
), Colonel Riley
, to charge up the open field and take the rifle-pits in reverse.
was hotly engaged in front, and the movement was performed under the lead of Captain Mindil
's chief of staff, and the Confederates
were driven out. By this time the rear brigade of the division
had been brought up by General Jameson
, and a second line was established under a severe fire.
Disposition was at once made for further vigorous operations, when profound darkness fell upon the armies, the struggle ceased, and the wearied National soldiers rested on the soddened battle-field.
had been successfully engaged in his flank movement.
He had been dispatched by General Smith
at an early hour, with about twenty-five hundred men,6
to seize and hold an unoccupied redoubt at the extreme left of the Confederate
position, which had been thrown up by Magruder
Site of the Dam.7 |
but was unknown to Johnston
and his officers.
It was upon a high bank above a ravine commanding a dam on Cub Dam Creek, a little tributary of Queen's Creek
, about a mile and a half eastward of the Yorktown
d crossed the creek, took possession of the redoubt without opposition, and also of another one twelve hundred yards in advance of it, which was unoccupied.
Two more redoubts stood between these and Fort Magruder, and a few shells and the bullets of sharp-shooters soon drove the Confederates
's force was too small to make their occupation by it a prudent act, and he determined to wait for re-enforcements.
The occupation of the two redoubts on his extreme left by Hancock
was the first intimation that Johnston
had of their existence.
He at once perceived the importance of the position, for it was on the flank and rear of the Confederate
line of defense, and seriously menaced its integrity.
He directed General Hill
to send a sufficient force to drive back the Nationals, and to this duty General Jubal Early
, with a force of Virginia
and North Carolina
troops, was assigned.
had earnestly called for re-enforcements, but they did not come.
Twice General Smith
had been ordered to send them, and each time the order was countermanded just as they were about to move, for Sumner
was unwilling, he said, to risk the center by weakening it. So, instead of re-enforcements, Hancock
received an order to fall back to his first position.
He was slow to obey, for he felt the importance of his forward movement, but when, at about.
five o'clock, he saw the two redoubts nearest Fort Magruder
re-occupied by Confederates, and a force moving on his front, and pressing forward with the war-cry of “Bull Run
! Bull Run
he retired beyond the crest of a ridge, not far from the dam, disputing the ground as he fell back, and there formed a line of battle and awaited Early
When that force was within thirty paces of his line he ordered a general bayonet-charge.
This was executed with the most determined spirit.
The Confederates broke and fled with precipitation, with a loss of over five hundred men. Hancock
held his position until Smith
sent re-enforcements, by order of McClellan
, who had arrived near the field of action, and soon afterward the contest ceased all along the line.
So ended the battle of Williamsburg
That post was
Battle of Williamsburg.8 |
already won, for Hancock
held the key of the position.
reported the entire National loss in this battle at two thousand two hundred and twenty-eight, of whom four hundred and fifty-six were killed and fourteen hundred wounded.9
That of the Confederates
was, according to careful estimates, about one thousand.
This battle, in which so much of the precious blood of the young men of the country was shed,10
appears to have been fought without any controlling mind in charge of the movement, or much previous knowledge of the locality and the Confederate
miles distant during most of the battle, and did not arrive near the field until near its close.
A sudden change of commanders conducting the pursuit seems to have produced some confusion and misapprehension.
arrived on the field he ranked Hooker
; and all day long there was uncertainty as to who was in command, each general appearing to fight as he considered best.11
In consequence of this there was great confusion in the advance.
The troops of different commands became mixed, and much delay ensued.
So much was a head needed, and so tardy were re-enforcements, that while Hooker
was heavily engaged, at noon, Governor Sprague
and the Prince de Joinville
rode in great haste to Yorktown
, to urge McClellan
to go immediately to the front.
“I suppose those in front can attend to that little matter,” was his short reply; but he was finally induced to mount his horse at two o'clock, and at five, when Kearney
were about giving the blow that won the victory, he approached the battle-field, ascertained that more than “a skirmish with the rebel rear-guard” was in progress, and gave some orders.
The fighting soon afterward ceased, and he countermanded his order on leaving Yorktown
for the divisions of Sedgwick
to advance, and directed them to accompany Franklin
to West Point
At ten o'clock that night, when Longstreet
had commenced his flight from Williamsburg
with such haste as to leave nearly eight hundred of his wounded men to become prisoners, and was following the more advanced of Johnston
's army, in a rapid march toward the Chickahominy
telegraphed to the War Department, from “Bivouac in front of Williamsburg
,” that the Confederates
were before him in force, probably greater than his own, and strongly intrenched.
He assured the Secretary
, however, that he should “run the risk of holding them in check there.”
Experts on both sides (among them several of McClellan
's Generals) declared their belief that,. had the fugitives been promptly and vigorously pursued the next morning, the National
army might easily have followed them right into Richmond
but the Commanding General
, in his report, made fifteen months afterward, declared that the mud was too adhesive to allow him to follow the retreating forces along the roads which the latter traveled with such celerity.
They were safely encamped under the shelter of the fortifications around Richmond
before he was ready to move forward from Williamsburg
On the morning after the battle
troops took possession of Williamsburg
, and General McClellan
, from the house of Mr. Vest
's late Headquarters, telegraphed to the Secretary of War
a brief account of the events of the previous day, and concluded with the prediction that was so terribly fulfilled--“We have other
battles to fight before reaching Richmond
the pursuit really ended, and Johnston
was permitted to place the Chickahominy
and its malarious borders between himself and his tardy opponent.
The flank movement up the York
was not commenced in time to perform its intended service as such.
's long waiting division was not dispatched for that purpose until the day of the battle at Williamsburg
, when it was debarked at Yorktown
It arrived at the head of York
that night, and on the following morning Newton
's brigade landed and took position on a plain of a thousand acres of open land, on the right bank of the Pamunkey
, one of the streams that form the York river
Within twenty-fours hours afterward Franklin
's whole division had encamped there, and gun-boats had quietly taken possession of West Point
, between the
Vests House.15 |
two rivers, and the National
flag was unfurled over that little village, from which every white person had fled.
In the mean time General Dana
had arrived with a part of Sedgwick
's division, but remained on the transports.
The divisions of Richardson
No signs of Confederate troops appeared at first, but that night one of Franklin
's vedettes was shot near the woods that bordered the edge of the plain.
On the following morning a considerable force of Confederates was seen, when Dana
landed, and the Sixteenth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second New York, and the Ninety-fifth and Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania, were ordered to drive from the woods what was supposed to be a body of scouts lurking there in front of a few Confederate regiments.
They pushed into the forest and were met by Whiting
's division and other troops, forming the rear-guard of Johnston
's retreating forces, when a spirited engagement began, chiefly by Hood
's Texas brigade and Hampton
's (South Carolina
) Legion, on the part of the Confederates
The contest was continued for three or four hours, when the cannon on the gun-boats, and batteries that were speedily landed, drove the foe from their shelter in the woods, and kept them at bay. In this encounter the Nationals lost one hundred and ninety-four men, mostly of the Thirty-first and Thirty-Second New York.
The loss of the Confederates
The National force now at the head of York
was sufficient to hold it firmly, as a secure base of supplies for the Army of the Potomac.
As we have observed, McClellan
's pursuit of Johnston
nearly ended at Williamsburg
, where his sick and wounded were placed in the buildings
of the venerable William and Mary College, and in portions of the Asylum for the Insane.
While these were thus provided for, the men fit for duty were allowed to rest more than two days, until the main body of the army moving up from the direction of Yorktown
Then, on the 8th, General Stoneman
was sent forward with the advance to open a communication with Franklin
, at the head of York
, followed by Smith
's division, on the most direct road to Richmond
, by way of New Kent Court-House.
The roads were left in a wretched condition by the fugitive Confederate Army, and the General-in-Chief
, with the advance portion of his force, did not reach the vicinity of the White House
at the head of the navigation of the Pamunkey
, and about eighteen miles from Richmond
, until the 16th.
He arrived at Tunstall's Station
, on the Richmond and York River railway, on the 18th, and on the 22d he made his Headquarters at Cool Arbor,17
not far from the Chickahomminy, and between eight and nine miles from Richmond
His advanced light troops had reached Bottom's
bridge, on the Chickahominy
, at the crossing of the New Kent
road, two days before.
The Confederates had destroyed the bridge, but left the point uncovered.
's division of Keyes
's corps was thrown across,
and occupied the heights on the Richmond
side of the stream, supported by Heintzelman
In the mean time a most important movement had been made in McClellan
's rear by the Confederates
, and by General Wool
at Fortress Monroe
, who saw the eminent advantage of the James River
as a highway for the supplies of an army on the Peninsula
, had, ever since McClellan
decided to take that route to Richmond
, urged the Government
to allow him to attempt the capture of Norfolk
, and thus make the breaking up of the blockade of the James
an easy matter.
But it was not until after the evacuation of Yorktown
, when President Lincoln
and Secretaries Chase
visited Fortress Monroe
, that his suggestions were favorably considered.
He then renewed his recommendations; and when, on the 8th,
he received positive information that Huger
(who, with Burnside
in his rear and McClellan
on his flank, saw that his position was untenable) was preparing to evacuate that post, orders were given for an immediate attempt to seize Sewell's Point
, and march on Norfolk
Arrangements were made with Commodore Goldsborough
to co-operate; and a large number of troops were embarked on transports then lying in Hampton Roads
attacked the Confederate batteries on the point, which replied with spirit.
came out to assist
them, when the National
vessels withdrew, and the troops were disem barked.
The enterprise was abandoned for the timer but information that reached Headquarters a few hours later revived it.
On the following day General Wool
, with Colonel T. J. Cram
, and an accomplished topographical engineer) and Secretary Chase
, made a reconnaissance toward Willoughby's Point, and along the coast toward the sea, when it was decided to land five thousand troops at a summer watering-place called Ocean View, by which the works on Sewell's Point
could be taken in reverse, and a direct route to Norfolk
The troops were again embarked, and a bombardment was opened on Sewell's Point
from Fort Wool, in the Rip Raps
to deceive the Confederates
with the appearance of a design to renew the attempt to land there.
At a little past midnight, the troops, artillery, infantry, and cavalry,19
under the immediate command of Brigadier-general Max Weber
, were in readiness for debarkation at Ocean View, and early in the morning
a landing was effected unopposed, under the direction of Colonel Cram
The water was so shallow that the troops were compelled to pass ashore on platforms laid on old canal barges.
The entire movement was successful; and at eight o'clock in the morning General Wool
, accompanied by the President
and the two Secretaries
, and Generals Mansfield
, took command in person.
The infantry were immediately pushed forward to secure the bridge over Tanner's Creek
They found it on fire, and received shot from cannon on the opposite side of the stream.
Supposing this to indicate intended opposition, the artillery was hurried forward, but on its arrival the foe had disappeared.
The troops pushed forward, and at five o'clock in the afternoon reached the lines of the strongly intrenched camp of the Confederates
, where they found twenty-nine
Wool's Landing-place at Ocean view. |
mounted cannon, but no troops.
Onward they marched, and just before reaching the city they were met by a flag of truce, heralding the approach of the Mayor
with a proposition to surrender the town.
had been instructed not to attempt to hold the city against any demonstration of National troops; and when he was informed that Wool
had landed at Ocean View, he turned over Norfolk
to the keeping of Mayor Lamb
, and with his troops fled towards Richmond
was formally surrendered to General Wool
; and from the City Hall he issued an order announcing the fact, appointing General Viele Military Governor
, and directing that all the rights and privileges of peaceable citizens should be carefully protected.
The venerable commander then rode back to Ocean View (thus making a journey on horseback that day of thirty-five miles), and reached Fortress Monroe
at near midnight with the pleasing intelligence of his success, for the anxious President
and Secretary of War
On the following morning he
received publicly expressed thanks for his achievement.21
At dawn the same morning a bright light was seen in the direction of Norfolk
, and then an explosion was heard.
The fleeing Confederates had set the Merrimack
, other vessels, and the Navy Yard
on fire, and by a slow match communicating with her magazine, the monster ram was blown into fragments.22 Sewell's Point
and Craney Island
, both strongly fortified, were abandoned.23
The Confederate gun-boats in the James River
fled toward Richmond
, and the navigation of that stream was opened to the National
The Confederates destroyed all they could by fire before they departed, but left about two hundred cannon in fair condition, to become spoils of victory.
Two unfinished armored vessels were among those destroyed.
While the stirring events we have just considered were occurring in Southeastern Virginia
, important military movements were seen in the Shenandoah Valley and the adjacent region on both sides of the Blue Ridge
There were three distinct Union armies in that region, acting independently of, but in co-operation with, the Army of the Potomac. One was in the Mountain Department, under Fremont
; another in the Department of the Shenandoah, under Banks
; and a third in the newly created Department of the Rappahannock, under McDowell
At about the time of the siege of Yorktown
, early in April, General Fremont
was at Franklin, in Pendleton County
, over the mountains west of Harrisonburg
, with fifteen thousand men; General Banks
was at Strasburg
, in the Valley
, with about sixteen thousand; and General McDowell
was at Fredericksburg
, on the Rappahannock
, with thirty thousand.
When the appearance of McClellan
on the Peninsula
's main body from the Rapid Anna
to the defense of Richmond
was relieved, and McDowell
's corps was ordered forward to co-operate with the Army of the Potomac; and for this purpose Shields
's division was detached from Banks
's command and given to McDowell
, making the force of the latter about forty-one thousand men and one hundred guns.
Such was the disposition of the National
forces in Virginia
at the close of April, when “Stonewall Jackson
,” who, as we have observed, was driven up the Shenandoah Valley after his defeat by Shields
, again commenced offensive operations.
remained a few days at Mount Jackson
, after his flight from Winchester
, and then took a position between the South Fork
of the Shenandoah
and Swift Run Gap, eastward of Harrisonburg
, in Rockingham County
There he was joined
by the division of General R. S. Ewell
, from Gordonsville
, and also two brigades under Edward S. Johnson
, who had an independent command in Southwestern Virginia
's entire force was now about fifteen thousand men, while General Banks
was lying at Harrisonburg
, not far away, his force reduced to about five thousand men by the withdrawal of Shields
was watching Banks
closely, with orders to hold him, while General Lee
, with a strong column, should push beyond the Rappahannock
to cut off the communication between Winchester
when he was startled by the information that one of Fremont
's brigades, under General Milroy
, was approaching from the direction of Monterey
, either to join Banks
or to fall upon Staunton.
He perceived that such a junction, or the occupation of Staunton, might give to the, Nationals the possession of the, Shenandoah Valley, and he took immediate measures to prevent the catastrophe.
to watch Banks
, he moved rapidly upon Staunton, and from that point sent Johnson
, with five brigades, to attack Milroy
The latter, greatly outnumbered, fell back to the Bull Pasture Mountains
and took post at McDowell
, thirty-six miles west of Staunton, whither Schenck
hastened with a part of his brigade to assist him. Jackson
had also hurried.
from Staunton to assist Johnson
, and on the 8th he appeared with a large force on a ridge overlooking the National
camp, and commenced planting a battery there.
led a force to dislodge him,26
and for about five hours a battle, varying in intensity, was fought with great gallantry on both sides.
Darkness put an end to the conflict.
(who ranked Milroy
) saw that the position of the Nationals was untenable, and by his direction the whole force retreated during the night to Franklin
, having lost two hundred and fifty-six men, of whom one hundred and forty-five were only slightly wounded.
reported a loss of four hundred and sixty-one, of whom three hundred and ninety were wounded.
Among the latter was General Johnson
It was a fairly drawn fight, and yet Jackson
, whose troops largely outnumbered the Nationals, and had every advantage of position, sent a trumpet-toned note to Ewell
the next morning, saying, “Yesterday God gave us the victory at McDowell
pursued the Nationals to Franklin
, where he heard from Ewell
was evidently preparing to fly from Harrisonburg
So he hastened back to McDowell
, recrossed the Shenandoah mountains
to Lebanon Sulphur Springs, rested a little, and then pressed forward to fall upon Banks
The latter had fled to Strasburg
pursued by Ewell
, and Jackson
pushed on,, joining the latter at New Market
Then he led the united forces into the Luray Valley
, between the Massanutten Mountain
and the Blue Ridge
, and hastened toward Front Royal
, to cut off Banks
's retreat in that direction,
if he should attempt to join McDowell
by way of the Manassas Gap railroad.
's cavalry so perfectly masked this movement that Banks
was not aware of it, and almost without a warning Ewell
with crushing force on the little garrison of Front Royal
, of about a thousand men, under Colonel Kenly
That gallant Marylander28
made a spirited resistance against the overwhelming force, ten times his own in
number, but he was driven from the town.
He made a stand on a ridge a mile distant, from which he was soon pushed across the river.
He attempted to burn the bridge behind him over the Shenandoah
, but failed.
His pursuers put out the flames, and he was soon overtaken by the cavalry of Ashby
, when he again gave battle.
In that encounter he was severely
wounded, and himself and seven hundred of his men, with a section of rifled 10-pounders and his entire supply-train, fell into the hands of the victors.30
was at Strasburg
, about fifteen miles distant, unsuspicious of great danger being so near, when, at evening, he was startled by intelligence of Kenly
's disaster, and the more astounding news that Jackson
, at the head of about twenty thousand men,31
was rapidly making his way toward Winchester
It was Jackson
's intention to cut Banks
off from re-enforcements and capture or disperse his troops.
had perceived his danger too soon, and with his usual energy and skill he resumed his flight down the valley at nine o'clock the next morning,
his train in front, escorted by cavalry and infantry, and with a rear-guard or covering force of cavalry and six pieces of artillery, under the command of General John P. Hatch
The vanguard was led by Colonel Dudley Donnelly
, and the center by Colonel George H. Gordon
Just as the column had passed Cedar Creek
, three miles from Strasburg
, word came that the train had been attacked at Middletown
, two miles farther on. The news was instantly followed by a host of frightened fugitives, refugees, and wagons, “which,” says Banks
, “came tumbling to the rear in wretched confusion.”
The column was instantly reorganized, with the train in the rear,32
and Colonel Donnelly
, pushing on to Middletown
, encountered a small Confederate force there, which was easily driven back on the Front Royal
road by Knipe
's Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, supported by Cochran
's New York Battery and the Twenty-eighth New York, Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Brown
's First Michigan cavalry now took the lead, and soon reported the road clear to Winchester
, thirteen miles below Middletown
; but before Banks
's main body had all passed the latter village, the Confederates
occupied it in large numbers.
The rear-guard were compelled to fall back to Strasburg
Making a circuit to the Northward, Tompkins
's First Vermont cavalry rejoined Banks
the next morning, and De Forest
's Fifth New York cavalry made its way among the mountains of the Potomac
with a train of thirty-two wagons and many stragglers, and joined Banks
at Clear Spring
The main column meanwhile had moved on and encountered a Confederate force near Newton
, eight miles from Winchester
, which was repulsed by the Second Massachusetts, Twenty-eighth New York, and Twenty-seventh Indiana; and by midnight
the extraordinary race for Winchester
was won by Banks
, who had made a masterly retreat with very little loss, and had concentrated his infantry and artillery there.
's cavalry first entered the city.
The retreating troops found very little time for rest.
The Confederates, composed entirely of Ewell
's corps, were closing around them in vast numbers compared to their own. Banks
's force was less than seven thousand effective men, with ten Parrott
guns and a battery of 6-pounders, smooth-bore cannon.
The Confederate force was full twenty thousand in number.
The leaders of the latter felt confident that on the morrow they would see the capture or destruction of their opponents.
Yet they did not idly revel in these pleasing anticipations.
Like a vigilant soldier, as he was, Ewell
, who bivouacked within a mile and a half of Winchester
, began operations to that end before the dawn.
The equally vigilant Banks
was on the alert, and at daylight his troops were in battle order.
, commanding the right, was strongly posted on a ridge, a little south of the city, and Colonel Donnelly
was in charge of the left.
Near the center, the troops were well sheltered from their foes by stone walls.
(who was cut off at Middletown
), with Tompkins
's cavalry, had rejoined the army just in time to participate in the battle.
The battle opened furiously in front of Winchester
had placed a heavy body of troops on the Berryville
road, to prevent re-enforcements reaching Banks
from Harper's Ferry
, and regiments were heavily massed on the National
right, with the evident intention of turning it. This danger was so boldly and bravely met, that the Confederates
were kept in check for five hours by a steady and most destructive fire.33
In the mean time Jackson
's whole force had been ordered up,34
's signal officers reported the apparition of regimental standards in sight that indicated a strength equal to twenty-five thousand men. The Union commander perceived that further resistance would be only a prelude to destruction.
In anticipation of this contingency, his trains had been sent toward the Potomac
, and now an order for retreat was given.
Under a most galling fire of musketry the army broke into a column of march, and, covered by a rear-guard composed of the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin, passed rapidly through Winchester
, assailed in the streets by the secessionists
of both sexes.35
On leaving the city in some confusion (but finally in good order), it moved rapidly on toward Martinsburg
, twenty-two miles distant, in three columns, and reached that point late in the afternoon.
There the wearied and battle-worn soldiers rested less than two hours, and then, pressing on twelve miles farther, reached the Potomac
, opposite Williamsport
, in the course of the evening,36
where soon afterward a thousand camp-fires were blazing on the hill-sides.
had halted his infantry a short distance from Winchester
, but George H. Stewart
had followed the fugitives with cavalry to Martinsburg
, where the pursuit was abandoned.
Three days later a Confederate brigade of infantry drove a small Union force out of Charlestown
Within the space of forty-eight hours after hearing of Kenly
's disaster at Front Royal
, with his little army, had marched fifty-three miles, with an overwhelming force on his flank and immediate rear a part of the way, and fought several skirmishes and a severe battle.
attributed his failure to crush Banks
to the misconduct of Ashby
and his cavalry, who, stopping to pillage the abandoned wagons of Banks
's train between Middletown
, did not come up in time to pursue the fugitives after the battle at Winchester
After menacing Harper's Ferry
, where General Rufus Saxton
was in command, Jackson
as hasty a retreat up the Valley
had made down it, for he was threatened with immediate peril.
, as we have observed, had been ordered to join McDowell
in a movement toward Richmond
, to co-operate with McClellan
He reached McDowell
's camp with eleven thousand men on the day of the battle of Winchester
On the following day the President
and Secretary of War
arrived there, when McDowell
, whose army was then forty-one thousand strong, was ordered to move toward Richmond
on the 26th.
That order was countermanded a few hours later, for, on their return to Washington
, the President
and his War Minister were met by startling tidings from the Shenandoah Valley.
The safety of the National
capital seemed to be in great peril, and McDowell
was ordered to push twenty thousand men into the Valley
by way of the Manassas Gap Railroad, to intercept Jackson
if he should retreat.
At the same time Fremont
was ordered by telegraph to hasten with his army over the Shenandoah Mountain
for the same purpose, and with the hope that he and the troops from McDowell
might join at Strasburg
in time to head
obeyed, but with a heavy heart, for, he said, “it is a crushing blow to us all.”
's army made as rapid a march as possible over the mountain region, through drenching rains, and with five days rations of hard bread.
He took a more northerly road to the Valley
than the one from Franklin
, and reached Strasburg
on the evening of the 1st of June, a little too late to intercept Jackson
, for the latter had passed through that town a few hours before.
Next morning Shields
's vanguard of cavalry, under General Bayard
, reached Strasburg
, too late likewise for the intended service of interception.
And now began a race up the Valley
as exciting as the one down it ten days before.
marched vigorously up the South
fork of the Shenandoah
, between the Massanutten Mountains
and the Blue
, Ridge, along the lateral Luray Valley, hoping to head his foe at some point above, while Fremont
followed directly in his rear, up the North
fork, along the great pike to Harrisonburg
The rains had swelled many of the little mountain tributaries of the Shenandoah
into torrents too formidable to ford, with safety, and Jackson
destroyed all the bridges behind him, and sent cavalry through the Massanutten passes to break down or burn those in front; of Shields
Thus he kept his prisoners at least a day in his rear, reaching Harrisonburg
on the 5th of June.
now perceived that his only chance for escape was to cross the swollen Shenandoah
at Port Republic
, where there was a strong bridge; so, after a brief rest, he diverged to the southeast from the pike to Staunton,, for that purpose.
Another object in view was to prevent Shields
, who was. near at hand on the east side of the river, crossing the stream or forming a, junction “with Fremont
, when the united forces would equal his own in” numbers.
's rear was well covered with his cavalry (Second and Sixth Virginia), under General Turner Ashby
About two miles from Harrisonburg
this rear-guard was attacked by a reconnoitering party of cavalry,, under Colonel Percy Wyndham
A smart skirmish ensued, and at first the. Nationals were repulsed, with the loss of that leader and sixty-three of his. men, who were made prisoners.38 General Bayard
and Colonel Cluseret
then pushed forward with cavalry and infantry, when Ashby
, hard pressed, called for an infantry support.
's brigade was ordered up, and was soon engaged in a sharp fight, in which the little band of Kane
's Pennsylvanians (Bucktail Rifles) performed uncommon deeds of valor.
was wounded and made prisoner, and lost fifty-five of his men. Ashby
His death was a severe blow for the Confederates
They regarded his loss as equal to that of a regiment, for he was one of the most fearless.
and enterprising of their cavalry commanders.39
was so close upon the Confederates
, that the latter were obliged to turn and fight before attempting the passage of the Shenandoah
at Port Republic
with three brigades (Elzy
's) of the rear division of his army at Union Church
, about seven miles from Harrisonburg
, to keep back the Nationals and gain time, while he should throw forward his own division to cover the bridge at Port Republic
, five miles farther on, and prevent Shields
from crossing it.
strongly posted his force, about five thousand strong, on a ridge that crossed the road near the church, with his flanks well protected by woods.
This excellent position was chosen by General vance of the center; Stewart
was on the right, and Elzy
on the left.
In that position he was attacked on Sunday morning, the 7th,
, who had moved out of Harrisonburg
o'clock, and at nine was ready for battle.
was on the right,40 Milroy
in the center,41
and General Stahl
on the left,42
forming a line about a mile and a half in length.
's right and Schenck
's left were the Sixtieth Ohio, Eighth Virginia, and the Garibaldi Guards of Blenker
's division, commanded by Colonel Cluseret
's wing was supported by Bohlen
's brigade, and the remainder of Blenker
's division was held as a reserve.
moved steadily to the attack, down through a little valley and up a slope, in the face of a storm-of shot and shell.
At eleven o'clock the conflict was general and severe.
It was specially so at the center, and continued several hours, Milroy
all the while gaining ground; the former with heavy loss.
The brunt of the battle fell upon him and Stahl
, and upon Trimble
on the part of the Confederates
finally gave way, and an order was given at about four o’Clock for the whole line to fall back, at the moment when Milroy
had penetrated Ewell
's center, and was almost up to his guns.
That daring soldier obeyed, but with the greatest reluctance, for he felt sure
The Confederates occupied the battle-field that night, and the Nationals rested where their first line was formed in the morning.44
“So ended the battle of Cross Keys
, whose position was an excellent one, intended to renew the battle.
with his repulsed enemy at dawn, but was called to aid Jackson
in his operations at Port Republic
His troops slept on their arms, and just as day was breaking they silently moved toward the Shenandoah
, carrying with them all of their wounded comrades excepting those who were mortally hurt.
followed them closely
in battle order, with Milroy
on the right, Blenker
on the left, and Schenck
in the center.
The brigades of Stahl
formed the reserve.
In the mean time there had been stirring events at Port Republic
had crossed the Shenandoah
, and was occupying the town when Fremont
were fighting at Cross Keys
The vanguard of Shields
's force, under acting Brigadier-general Carroll
, had been pressing up the eastern side of the Shenandoah
from Conrad's Store, and a portion of it had arrived near Port Republic
almost simultaneously with Jackson
On Saturday, the 7th, Carroll
had been ordered to hasten to that point, destroy the bridge, seize Jackson
's train, and fall on his flank.
With less than a thousand infantry, one hundred and fifty cavalry, and a battery of six guns, he went forward and halted that night within six miles of Port Republic
He was informed that Jackson
's train was parked there,. with a large drove of beef cattle.
With the cavalry and five pieces of artillery he dashed into the town, for the purpose of capturing the June 8.
coveted prize; drove Jackson
's cavalry-guard out, and took possession of the bridge.
Had he burned that structure instantly he might have ruined Jackson
, for he would have cut him off from Ewell
, who was fighting Fremont
a few miles distant.
But he waited for his infantry to come up, and during that interval he was attacked by a superior force and driven out to a point two miles from the town, where in the afternoon he was joined by General E. B. Tyler
and his brigade, two thousand strong, who had hastened to his assistance, and now took command.46
While awaiting orders from Shields
was informed that the Confederates
were on his front in large force, endeavoring to outflank him on his left, and with all the approaches to the town and bridge covered by artillery.
had escaped the pursuit of Fremont
, and had crossed the bridge, and so strongly re-enforced Jackson
that the latter justly felt almost invincible.
quickly counteracted the flanking movement by employing nearly his whole force, which did not exceed three thousand men, in opposing it. With these, after being pushed back a little by the assailants, he drove into the woods about eight thousand Confederates, some
of whom then crossed over and joined the regiments of General Winder
, of Ewell
's division, which was on Tyler
's right, and where a battle had begun that soon became heavy.
General Dick Taylor
's Louisiana brigade, which had flanked and attacked General Tyler
's left, but was driven back, now made a sudden dash through the woods that completely masked it, upon a battery of seven guns under Lieutenant-colonel Hayward
, and captured it. With his Own regiment (Sixty-sixth Ohio), and the Fifth and Seventh Ohio, Colonel Candy
, who was in the rear of the battery, made a spirited counter-charge, and re-captured it with one of the Confederate
guns, but the artillery horses having been killed, he was unable to take it off. Instead of the guns, he took with him, in falling back, sixty-seven of Taylor
's men as prisoners.
So overwhelming was the number of Jackson
's troops that Tyler
was compelled to retreat.
This was done in good order, “save the stampede of those who ran before the fight was fairly opened.”
He was pursued about five miles, gallantly covered by Carroll
and his cavalry.
“Upon him I relied,” said Tyler
, “and was not disappointed.”
In the engagement and retreat the Confederates
captured four hundred and fifty prisoners, and eight hundred muskets.
So ended the battle of Port Republic
telegraphed to Richmond
, saying--“Through God's blessing the enemy near Port Republic
was this day routed, with the loss of six pieces of his artillery.”
The battle was disastrous in its results, but glorious for the officers and men of the National
army engaged in it. It was one of the brilliant battles of the war.50
in check until his main body crossed the bridge, when his rear-guard set it on fire.
The sounds of battle and the sight of columns of smoke had hastened the march of Fremont
When he came near Port Republic
he found the bridge in flames, the Shenandoah
too deep to be forded anywhere, and his enemy beyond his immediate grasp.
Here ended the pursuit — here ended the famous race of Fremont
, and Jackson
up the Shenandoah Valley, which was skillfully won by the latter.
On the following morning
army began to retrace its steps, and, in the midst of a drenching rain, it reached Harrisonburg
fell back to Mount Jackson
to New Market
, when both commanders were called to Washington
re-crossed the Shenandoah
and encamped at Weyer
two miles from Port Republic
, and on the 17th he was summoned, with a greater portion of his army, to assist in the defense of Richmond
The writer, accompanied by two friends ( S. M. Buckingham
and H. L.
Young), visited the theater of events recorded in this chapter early in October, 1866.
Having explored places made famous by the exploits of Sheridan
and others at a later period of the war, from Harper's Ferry
, and at Kernstown
, Cedar Creek
, and Fisher's Hill
, we left Strasburg
at nine o'clock in the evening,
in an old-fashioned stage-coach, making three of nine passengers inside, with a remainder on the top. Our route lay along the great Valley Pike from Winchester
to Staunton, a distance of fifty miles, and we were at breakfast in Harrisonburg
the next morning at eight o'clock. An hour later we were on our way to the battle-fields of Cross Keys
and Port Republic
, in a well-worn and rusty pleasure-carriage belonging to a colored man, the proprietor of a livery-stable, who furnished us with an intelligent colored driver and a good team of horses.
It was a very beautiful morning; and in the clear atmosphere the lofty hills of the Blue Ridge
on the east, the Short Shenandoah Mountains
on the west, and the Massanutten range northward, were perfectly defined.
Our driver was a competent guide, being familiar with the events and the localities in that region, and we anticipated a day of pleasure and profit, and were not disappointed.
A mile south of Harrisonburg
we turned to the left up a rough, lane-like road, that skirted the field upon a ridge in which Ashby
The place of his death was at the edge of a wood two hundred yards north of the road.
The abrupt southern end of Massanutten Mountain
, on which Jackson
had a signal-station while Banks
lay near him, arose like a huge buttress above the general level, seven miles to our left, while before us and to the right was a beautiful hill country, bordered by distant mountain ranges.
We soon came to the battle-ground of Cross Keys
, sketched the Union Church
(see page 396), that was in the midst of the storm of conflict, and rode on to Port Republic
, twelve miles from Harrisonburg
, where we passed over a substantial new bridge on the site of the one fired by Ewell
After spending a little time there, we rode through the once pretty but then dreadfully dilapidated and half-deserted village, forded the Shenandoah
(which was very shallow because of previously dry weather) a little above the town, and rode on two miles to the house of Abraham Mohler
, the owner of Weyer
's Cave near by, where we ordered dinner, and then proceeded with a guide to explore the famous cavern.
Near it was the camping-ground of Jackson
We climbed a steep ridge, about one hundred and fifty feet above a tributary of the Shenandoah
at its base, entered a rocky vestibule, each with a lighted tallow candle, and went down by rough paths and sometimes slippery acclivities far into the awful depths of the mountain, along a labyrinth of winding passages among the rocks.
Chamber after chamber, recess after recess, passage after passage was visited until we were many hundred feet from the daylight.
Here we were compelled to stoop because of the lowness of the roof; there its glittering stalactites were ninety feet above us; and everywhere we had the most strange and wonderful visions of cavern scenery.
Nowhere did we find regularity of forms, nor abundant reasons for many of the fanciful names given to the localities, which Cooke
's valuable little guide-book contains.
This is not the place nor the occasion to describe this really great wonder
of nature — a wonder worthy of a voyage across oceans and continents to see;51
so we will dismiss the consideration of it by saying that we ascended into upper air and the sunlight at a late hour in the afternoon, with appetites that gave a keen relish to a good dinner at Mohler
's, for we had eaten nothing since breakfast.
After dinner we rode on by a good highway, parallel with the Valley Pike
, toward Staunton, passing the site of what is known as the Battle of Piedmont
(to be mentioned hereafter) at sunset, and arrived at our destination at a late hour in the evening.
We spent the next day (Sunday) in Staunton, and on Monday morning departed by railway for the scenes of strife eastward of the Blue Ridge
, along the hollow of Rockfish Gap in that range, and through the great tunnel.
Magnificent was the panorama seen on our right as we emerged from that dark artificial cavern in the mountains.
Skirting the great hill-side along a terrace, we saw, a thousand feet below us, one of those beauteous and fertile valleys with which the mountain regions of Virginia
Others opened to our view as we descended gradually into the lower country.
We passed the seat of Jefferson
, near Charlottesville
, at noon, dined at Gordonsville
, and lodged that night at Culpepper Court-House.
Our experience at the latter place will be considered hereafter.
Tail-piece — Punishments in camp.|