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The time of Longstreet's arrival at Groveton.

D. M. Perry, sergeant in Company E, 76th New York (of Doubleday's brigade, King's division, McDowell's corps), wrote to the editors in 1886 to say that he was wounded in the attack made on the flank of King's division as it was passing Jackson's front on the evening of August 28th, was left on the field, was taken prisoner, hobbled off the next morning, and again fell into the hands of the enemy, Hood's men, of Longstreet's corps. By an ingenious device he managed to retain possession of his watch. He says:
I awoke at 7 A. M., August 29th, by the Warrenton Pike, near Douglass's woods. A few yards away, under the trees, were several wounded comrades. ... I made use of a broken musket as a crutch, and was well on my way to the shelter of the trees, when some one called out: “ Throw down that gun.” It was not until the order had been repeated that I was aware it was addressed to me. Looking round, I saw a company of the enemy's cavalry approaching. I dropped the gun, and they rode up and claimed us as prisoners.

A few of the Confederates remained with us nearly two hours, and were then compelled to retire before Schenck's skirmishers, who passed through the woods, and remained west of us, possibly thirty minutes, when they in turn retired whence they came, followed by those of the enemy, with whom they exchanged a few shots. The enemy's skirmishers passed down the pike and through the field south of it, followed by the 2d Mississippi, of Hood's division, which halted a few yards east of us. The enemy now began to arrive in force, and occupied the woods. Hood's troops remained here from 11 A. M. until nearly sundown, when they went forward and engaged our — troops under Hatch southeast of Groveton.

This action between Hood and Hatch at sunset, August 29th, was fought east, rather than west of Groveton, as laid down on the map [p. 473], which would have been only a few yards from us, and within full view. The battle took place, I should think, at least a mile east of Douglass's woods. Participants in that action, who visited the field with me in October, 1883, were positive regarding the locality of the fight.

My recollection of the time of Hood's arrival is concurred in by fellow-prisoners with whom I have recently corresponded. They say, “10 A. M., and the woods were full of the enemy's troops at 11 o'clock.”

General Lee's headquarters during the 29th and 30th were on the elevation between Pageland lane and Meadowville lane [see p. 473], a few hundred yards west of us. When he moved on the 31st, the band stopped and played “ Dixie ” for us in good old Southern style.

William R. Houghton, attorney-at-law, of Hayneville, Alabama, writes to the editors as follows:

I belonged to Toombs's brigade of D. R. Jones's division, and we were ready to march from the eastern end of Thoroughfare Gap at daylight on the morning of the 29th of August, but other troops filing past occupied the road, so that we did not move until a little after sunrise. We moved at a quick pace, without halting, until we filed to the right of the road near Groveton. My recollection of the distance we marched is that it was eight or nine miles. At the time of our arrival some of Longstreet's troops who had preceded us were formed in two lines fronting toward Centreville, while Jones's division was deployed, facing more toward Manassas Station. I do not know the exact time of our arrival, but it could not have been later than 11 o'clock. My recollection is that it was earlier than the hour named, and that Jones's whole division, in addition to the two lines of men who had preceded us, was in position on very favorable ground before 11 o'clock in the day, and between Porter's corps and Jackson's right flank. Before Porter could have attacked Jackson's right, it would have been necessary for him to remove or disperse this force, which must have been much larger than — if not double — his own. I volunteered for skirmish duty, and we remained in this position all the remainder of that day, and until about 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 30th of August, at which time we advanced against the enemy, whose line was then at the Chinn house. I feel perfectly assured that we — that is, D. R. Jones's division of several thousand men — were in front of Porter all the day, 29th of August, and that General Pope is utterly mistaken when he says we were not.

General E. M. Law, then colonel of the 4th Alabama Regiment, commanding Whiting's brigade of Hood's division, has written as follows in the Philadelphia Weekly press :

The true story of the forcing of Thoroughfare Gap has never been fully told. Bare allusions were made in some of the official reports to the fact that Hood's division was sent over the mountain by a trail north of the pass, and I have seen it stated that Hood was guided by a wood-chopper, who was familiar with the mountain. The facts are these: My brigade was leading the division when it reached the mountain. There I met General Hood, coming from the direction of the gap. He informed me that it was held on the other side in strong force by the enemy, and that Jones's division was unable to force it. He was accompanied by a man living in the vicinity, who, he said, would guide me by a trail across the mountain, a short distance above the gap. His own brigade was to follow mine. The head of my column was at once turned to the left, and, striking a slight trail, commenced the ascent. I had not gone half-way up the side of the mountain when my guide either missed the trail or it ran out. At any rate, he seemed to know as little as I did, and told me he could guide me no farther. Letting him go, I moved on through the tangled woods and huge rocks until the crest was reached. Here we were confronted by a natural wall of rock, which seemed impassable. Men were sent out on both sides to search for some opening through which we might pass, and a crevice was soon found several feet above our level, where the men could get through one at a time, the first one being lifted up by those behind, and each man as he got up lending a helping hand to the next. As I stood on the crest and heard the fighting in the gap below and the distant thundering of Jackson's battle at Manassas, I felt that the sound of each gun was a call for help, and the progress of the men, one by one, across the rocky barrier seemed painfully slow. In fact, they got through in an almost incredibly short time. As soon as the leading regiment was over, a skirmish line was pushed down the mountain, which on this side sloped gently, and presented few obstacles except a small ravine and stream which issued from the gap itself. The Federal batteries at the mouth of the gap soon came in sight. They were firing steadily but leisurely, and seemed as if they were there to stay. My whole brigade were soon over, the skirmishers in the meantime pressing forward upon the flank of the batteries, which were less than half a mile off. As they emerged into the open ground at the foot of the mountain and engaged the Federal skirmishers on the ravine already mentioned, there was a commotion among the batteries, which limbered up and rapidly moved off.

It was now nearly dark. My skirmishers were pressing steadily forward, followed by the main line, when I received an order from a staff-officer of General Hood directing me to return at once to the gap by the way I had come — that the enemy was retiring. This was plain enough, but of what had caused him to retire Hood was at that time entirely ignorant. I remonstrated against the order, but was told that it was peremptory. I therefore had no choice but to move back, and march [528] two miles and a half in the night to reach a point less than half a mile from where I had started. We passed through the gap and camped that night on the ground that Ricketts's troops had held in the afternoon. The second battle of Bull Run was practically decided at Thoroughfare Gap. Had McDowell's whole corps been assigned to the duty of keeping Longstreet on the west side of the Bull Run Mountains, it could, properly handled, have kept him there long enough to enable General Pope to crush Jackson with the other forces at his disposal.

At sunrise the next morning we were on the march toward Manassas, Hood's division leading. A short delay was caused near Gainesville by the passage of a portion of Stuart's cavalry from left to right across our line of march; but before 10 o'clock the head of the column reached Jackson's battle-field, where heavy artillery firing was then going on. There have been many different statements as to the time of Longstreet's arrival at Manassas on the 29th of August. I am absolutely certain that Hood's division reached there not later than the time above stated. The distance to our camp of the previous night was under eight miles, and we marched steadily from 6 o'clock until we reached the field, with the exception of less than an hour's halt caused by the passage of the cavalry already referred to. At that time, in addition to the artillery firing, heavy skirmishing was in progress along Jackson's line, which was formed on the grading of an unfinished railroad running from Sudley Ford to a point near the Warrenton turnpike in rear (north-west) of Groveton. The line formed an acute angle with the pike, and the right wing was thrown back so as partially to face that road. Federal troops were moving on and to the south of the pike, around Jackson's right, when we arrived. Our division was thrown quickly into line across the road, one brigade on each side, and pressed these troops steadily back until Jackson's flank was cleared, when we took up a line on the ridge.west of Groveton, slightly in advance of Jackson's right.

The other troops of Longstreet's command were now rapidly coming up. Kemper, with three brigades, took position to the right of Hood, and D. R. Jones's division still farther to the right, extending the line a mile and a half south of the turnpike. Evans's brigade came up in rear of Hood, and Wilcox's three brigades were posted in rear of the interval between Longstreet's left and Jackson's right, the interval itself being occupied by Colonel Walton's battalion of Washington Artillery.

Colonel John S. Mosby, C. S. A., said, in 1887, in his lecture on “War reminiscences” :

The reason that Jackson left Manassas was that Stuart had captured a dispatch showing that Pope was concentrating his army on that point. General Jackson says: “ General Stuart kept me advised of the movements of the enemy.” In a dispatch to Fitz John Porter, on the evening of the 27th, Pope ordered him to be at Bristoe at daylight the next morning to bag Jackson, who was then five miles off. General Pope says that Jackson made a mistake in leaving Manassas before he got there. If Jackson went there to be caught, it was. If Pope had reached the place at daylight he would have found nothing but a rear-guard of Stuart's cavalry. He has censured Porter for not getting there in time to bag Jackson. Pope himself arrived about noon. It happened that the evening before I rode off to a farmer's house to get some supper and slept under a tree in the yard. The next morning I returned to the Junction thinking our army was still there. I found the place deserted and as silent as the cities of the plain. So, if General Pope and Fitz John Porter had come at that time they might have caught me, that is, if their horses were faster than mine. ... On the evening of the 28th, Longstreet drove Ricketts's division from Thoroughfare, and the head of his column bivouacked within about six miles of Jackson. During the fight I rode with Stuart toward Thoroughfare Gap. As Ricketts was then between him and Longstreet, Stuart sent a dispatch by a trusty messenger urging him [Longstreet] to press on to the support of Jackson.

And in a letter to the editors, referring to the above, Colonel Mosby says:

You will also see that I make some new points in Fitz John Porter's case. I was a witness against him and was somewhat prejudiced against him by the unwise attacks his friends made on Stuart, and by being a particular friend of Colonel [T. C. H.] Smith, who preferred charges against Porter. You may remember that General Pope in his “Century” article quotes Stuart's report to convict Porter: both sides have misunderstood it. Stuart is a conclusive witness for Porter. I took nothing in my lecture second-hand.

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