Chapter 1

  • Passage of ordinance of secession by Virginia convention.
  • -- Resign office of Quartermaster -- General of the United States. -- defense of West point officers, who resigned, from Unjust attack. -- assigned to duty of organizing Virginia troops. -- ordered by President Davis to take command at Harper's Ferry. -- convinced, on examination, that it was untenable. -- correspondence, on the subject, with General Lee and the Confederate authorities. -- General Beauregard assigned to command of Confederate army at Manassas. -- movements of General Patterson. -- withdrawal from Harper's Ferry. -- affair near Romney. -- General Patterson again marches on Martinsburg. -- battle offered at Darkesville. -- General McDowell advances on Manassas. -- Precautions preparatory to assisting General Beauregard.

The composition of the convention assembled in Richmond in the spring of 1861, to consider the question of secession, proved that the people of Virginia did not regard Mr. Lincoln's election as a sufficient cause for that measure, for at least two-thirds of its members were elected as “Union men.” And they and their constituents continued to be so, until the determination to “coerce” the seceded States was proclaimed by the President of the United States, and Virginia required to furnish her quota of the troops to be organized for the purpose. War being then inevitable, and the convention compelled to decide whether the State should aid in the subjugation [10] of the other Southern States, or join them in the defense of principles it had professed since 1789 --belong to the invading party, or to that standing on the defensive — it chose the latter, and passed its ordinance of secession. The people confirmed that choice by an overwhelming vote.

The passage of that ordinance, in secret session on the 17th of April, was not known in Washington, where, as Quartermaster-General of the United States Army, I was then stationed, until the 19th. I believed, like most others, that the division of the country would be permanent; and that, apart from any right of secession, the revolution begun was justified by the maxims so often repeated by Americans, that free government is founded on the consent of the governed, and that every community strong enough to establish and maintain its independence has a right to assert it. Having been educated in such opinions, I naturally determined to return to the State of which I was a native, join the people among whom I was born, and live with my kindred, and, if necessary, fight in their defense.

Accordingly, the resignation of my commission, written on Saturday, was offered to the Secretary of War Monday morning. That gentleman was requested, at the same time, to instruct the Adjutant-General, who had kindly accompanied me, to write the order announcing its acceptance, immediately.

No other officer of the United States Army of equal rank, that of brigadier-general, relinquished his position in it to join the Southern Confederacy.

Many officers of that army, of Southern birth, had previously resigned their commissions, to return [11] to the States of which they were citizens, and many others did so later. Their objects in quitting the United States Army, and their intentions to enter the service of the seceded States, were well known in the War Department. Yet no evidence of disapproval of these intentions was given by the Federal Administration, nor efforts made by it to prevent their execution. This seems to me strong proof that they were not then considered criminal.

Northern editors and political speakers accuse those who thus left the service of the United States for that of the Southern Confederacy, of perjury, in breaking their oaths of allegiance. It is impossible that the inventors and propagators of this charge can be ignorant that it is false. The acceptance of an officer's resignation absolves him from the obligations of his military oath as completely as it releases the government from that of giving him the pay of the grade he held. An officer is bound by that oath to allegiance to the United States, and obedience to the officers they may set over him. When the contract between the government and himself is dissolved by mutual consent, as in the cases in question, he is no more bound, under his oath, to allegiance to the government, than to obedience to his former commander. These two obligations are in force only during tenure of office. The individual who was an officer has, when he becomes a citizen, exactly the same obligations to the United States as other citizens.

This principle was always acted upon by the United States. Whenever a military officer received a new appointment, either of a higher grade, or of an equal one in another corps, he was required to [12] repeat the oath of office, because the previous one, including of course that of allegiance, was held to have expired with the previous office, although the individual had not ceased to be an officer of the army. When he left the army, as well as a particular office in it, the case was certainly stronger.

Leaving all my property but personal arms and clothing, I set off to Richmond with my family, on Tuesday. In consequence of railroad accidents, however, we did not reach that place until daybreak, Thursday.

General Lee had been appointed commander-in-chief, with the rank of major-general. There were, however, several other officers of that grade. A few hours after my arrival, Governor Letcher gave me the appointment of major-general.

The commander-in-chief assigned me to the service of organizing and instructing the volunteers then just beginning to assemble at the call of the Governor. He himself was then selecting the points to be occupied by these troops for the protection of the State, and determining the number to be assigned to each. Norfolk, a point near Yorktown, another in front of Fredericksburg, Manassas Junction, Harper's Ferry, and Grafton, seemed to be regarded by him as the most important positions, for they were to be occupied in greatest force.

I was assisted in my duties by Lieutenant-Colonel Pemberton, Majors Jackson and Gilham, and Captain T. L. Preston. Near the end of April, however, the second named was promoted to a colonelcy and assigned to the command of Harper's Ferry, held until then by Colonel Kenton Harper. [13]

I was employed in this way about two weeks. Then, Virginia having acceded to the Southern Confederacy, the government of which assumed the direction of military affairs, I accepted a brigadier-generalcy offered me by telegraph by the President. It was then the highest grade in the Confederate army. The offer had been made in one or two previous telegrams sent to General Lee, for me, but not delivered. The Virginia Convention had abolished my office in the State service, and offered me the next lower. But, as it was certain that the war would be conducted by the Confederate Government, and its officers had precedence of those having like State grades, I preferred the Confederate commission.

The President had me called to Montgomery to receive instructions, and there assigned me to the command of Harper's Ferry.

In my journeys from Washington to Richmond, from Richmond to Montgomery, and thence to Harper's Ferry, I saw in the crowds assembled at all the railroad-stations the appearance of great enthusiasm for the war against subjugation-so much as to give me the impression that all of the population fit for military service might have been brought into the field, if the Confederate Government could have furnished them with arms and ammunition-which, unfortunately, it had not provided. That government depended for arms, for the war then imminent, mainly upon those found in the arsenals at Fayetteville, Charleston, Augusta, Mount Vernon, and Baton Rouge; United States muskets and rifles of discarded pattern, the number supposed to be about [14] seventy-five thousand; above forty thousand muskets belonging to the State of Virginia in course of rapid conversion from “flint” to “percussion lock” by Governor Letcher's orders; and twenty thousand lately procured for the State of Georgia, by Governor Brown.

I reached Harper's Ferry soon after noon of the 23d of May, accompanied by Colonel E. Kirby Smith,1 acting adjutant-general, Major W. H. C. Whiting,2 of the Engineer Corps, Major E. McLean, of the Quartermaster's Department, and Captain T. L. Preston, assistant adjutant-general. Within an hour the commanding officer, Colonel Jackson,3 visited me; learned the object of my coming, and read the order of the War Department, assigning me to the command he had been exercising. My order announcing the change of commanders, made by the President's authority, was sent to him next morning, with the request that he would have the proper number of copies made and distributed to the troops, as I had no office as yet. He replied very courteously, in writing, that he did not “feel at liberty to transfer his command to another without further instructions from Governor Letcher or General Lee;” but offered me, in the mean while, every facility in his power for obtaining information relating to the post. Major Whiting, who had been his school-fellow, saw him at my request, and convinced him very soon that the President's authority was paramount in military affairs, and his action in the [15] case in accordance with military usage. This misunderstanding of military custom produced little more delay than the time consumed by the messenger in bringing me Colonel Jackson's note, and by Major Whiting in going to that officer's quarters from mine.

This little affair is mentioned, only because what seems to me a very exaggerated account of it has been published.4 Governor Letcher had taken possession of Harper's Ferry as soon as possible, and had it occupied by a body of troops commanded by Colonel Kenton Harper--not soon enough, however, to prevent the destruction of the small-arms stored in the armory. The Federal commanding officer, when compelled by the approach of the Virginia troops to abandon the place, set fire to the buildings containing these arms,5 to destroy what he could not save for his government. Soon after being appointed commander-in-chief of the forces of the State, General Lee increased the garrison of Harper's Ferry, and placed Colonel Jackson in command there. On extending its control of military affairs over Virginia, the Confederate Government, as if equally impressed with the importance of the position, made another addition to the troops assembled there — of three regiments and two battalions of infantry. I was also instructed in Montgomery to “take Lynchburg in my route, and to make arrangements there for sending forward to Harper's Ferry such force as I might deem necessary to strengthen my command.” I found no available “force” there, however. [16]

The forces thus assembled were, the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Tenth, Thirteenth, and Twenty-seventh Virginia, Second and Eleventh Mississippi and Fourth Alabama regiments of infantry, and a Maryland and a Kentucky battalion; four companies of artillery (Virginia), with four guns each, but without caissons, horses, or harness; and the First Regiment of Virginia Cavalry--of about two hundred and fifty men, including Captain Turner Ashby's company, temporarily attached to it by Colonel Jackson--in all, about five thousand two hundred effective men. Among the superior officers were several who subsequently rose to high distinction : “StonewallJackson; A. P. Hill, who won the grade of lieutenant-general; Stuart, matchless as commander of outposts; and Pendleton, General Lee's commander of artillery.

These troops were undisciplined, of course. They were also badly armed and equipped-several regiments being without accoutrements-and were almost destitute of ammunition, and, like all new troops assembled in large bodies, they were suffering very much from sickness; nearly forty per cent.6 of the “total” being in the hospitals there or elsewhere, from the effects of measles and mumps.

General Lee's command in Virginia, as major-general in the State service, was continued until Richmond became the Confederate seat of government. The law converting the Confederate brigadier-generals into generals, approved May 16th, had not been published to the army in orders, by the War Department, but was known to be in existence, for it had appeared in the newspapers. [17]

My conversations with General Lee in Richmond, and the President's oral instructions to me in Montgomery, had informed me distinctly that they regarded Harper's Ferry as a natural fortress-commanding the entrance into the Valley of Virginia from Pennsylvania and Maryland-and that it was occupied in that idea, and my command not that of a military district and active army, but of a fortress and its garrison. Maps, and intelligent persons of the neighborhood, told me that the principal route into “the Valley” from Pennsylvania crosses the Potomac at Williamsport, and the railroad at Martinsburg, at least twenty miles west of this garrison, and of course beyond its control. A careful examination of the position and its environs, made on the 25th, with the assistance of an engineer of great ability, Major Whiting, convinced me that it could not be held against equal numbers by such a force as then occupied it.

Harper's Ferry is untenable against an army by any force not strong enough to hold the neighboring heights north of the Potomac and east of the Shenandoah, as well as the place itself. It is a triangle formed by the Potomac, Shenandoah, and Furnace Ridge, the latter extending from river to river, a mile and a half above their junction. Artillery on the heights above mentioned to the north and east could sweep every part of this space. As the rivers are fordable at various points, it was easy to turn or invest the place, or assail it on the west (Furnace Ridge) side.

Two main routes lead from Maryland and Pennsylvania [18] into the Valley of Virginia, meeting at Winchester: one passing through Frederick, and crossing the Potomac at Harper's Ferry; the other leading through Chambersburg, Williamsport (where it crosses the Potomac), and Martinsburg. These roads are met at Winchester by the principal one from Northwestern Virginia into “the Valley,” and also by a good and direct one from Manassas Junction, through Ashby's Gap, which, east of the Blue Ridge, had the advantage of easy communication with the Manassas Gap Railroad. This road is, perhaps, little shorter than that from Manassas Junction to Harper's Ferry; but there were insuperable objections to the latter. Near Harper's Ferry it follows the course of the Potomac, and could be completely swept by artillery on the north bank of the river, so that it might have been closed to us by a few Federal batteries; and, even if our troops following it escaped that danger, they might have been intercepted near Centreville by the Federal army.

The United States had, at that time, three armies threatening Virginia. The principal one at Washington, commanded by Major-General McDowell; the second at Chambersburg, under Major-General Patterson's command; and the third in Northwestern Virginia, under that of Major-General MoClellan.

We supposed that these armies would cooperate with each other, and that the Federal general-in-chief would direct their combined forces against Richmond. This supposition was partially sustained by our scouts and friends in Maryland, who reported that the armies of Generals Patterson and McClellan [19] were to unite at Winchester; and this report was confirmed by the Northern press.

It was necessary, of course, that the Confederate troops in the Valley should always be ready to meet this invasion, as well as to unite quickly with the army at Manassas Junction, whenever it might be threatened by General McDowell's. At Harper's Ferry, they were manifestly out of position for either object, for Patterson's route from Chambersburg lay through Williamsport and Martinsburg — a long day's march to the west; and the only direct road thence to Manassas Junction was completely under the enemy's control. Winchester was obnoxious to neither objection, but, on the contrary, fulfilled the conditions desired better than any other point. The commanders on both sides, in the subsequent military operations in that region, seem to have appreciated its importance, and to have estimated its value as I did, except those who disposed the forces of the United States in September, 1862, when eleven thousand men, placed at Harper's Ferry as a garrison, were captured, almost without resistance, by General Lee's troops, coming from Maryland.

My objections to Harper's Ferry as a position, and to the idea of making a garrison instead of an active force of the troops intrusted with the defense of that district, were expressed to the proper authorities in letters dated May 26th and 28th, and June 6th, and replied to by General Lee7 on the 1st and 7th of June. These letters of his express the [20] dissent of the authorities from my views, and their opinion that the maintenance of the existing arrangement was necessary to enable us to retain the command of the Valley of Virginia, and our communications with Maryland, held to be very important.

General Lee wrote in his letter of June 1st: “I received, on my return from Manassas Junction, your communications of the 25th and 28th ult., in reference to your position at Harper's Ferry. The difficulties which surround it have been felt from the beginning of its occupation, and I am aware of the obstacles to its maintenance with your present force. Every effort has been made to remove them, and will be continued. But, with similar necessities pressing on every side, you need not be informed of the difficulty of providing against them. . . .” And in that of the 7th: “I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 6th inst. The importance of the subject has induced me to lay it before the President, that he may be informed of your views. He places great value upon the retention of the command of the Shenandoah Valley, and the position at Harper's Ferry. The evacuation of the latter would interrupt our communication with Maryland, and injure our cause in that State....”

The objects of the Confederate Government, expressed in these letters, were not to be accomplished by the concentration of its forces at Harper's Ferry; for General Patterson's invasion was to be from Chambersburg, and therefore by Williamsport and Martinsburg, a route beyond the control of Harper's Ferry.

Notwithstanding this determination on the part [21] of the Executive, I resolved not to continue to occupy the place after the purposes for which the troops were sent to it should require them elsewhere.

About the 9th of June, however, I again represented to the Government the objections to its plan, and urged it to change the character of my command.8 General Beauregard came to Manassas Junction and assumed command on that frontier, a week after my arrival at Harper's Ferry. We communicated with each other at once, and agreed that the first attacked should be aided by the other to his utmost. We were convinced of our mutual dependence, and agreed in the opinion that the safety of the Confederacy depended on the cooperation of the armies we commanded.

In the mean time the Potomac was observed by the cavalry from the Point of Rocks to the western part of the county of Berkeley, as had been done under my predecessor. The manufacture of cartridge-boxes and belts was ordered in the neighboring towns and villages. Cartridges were made of powder furnished by Governor Letcher, and lead found at the place, or procured in the neighborhood. Caps (in small quantities only) were smuggled from Baltimore. Caissons were constructed at Captain Pendleton's suggestion, by fixing roughly-made ammunition-chests on the running-parts of farm-wagons. Horses, and harness of various kinds, for the artillery, and wagons and [22] teams for field-transportation, were collected in the surrounding country; and the work of removing the machinery of the armory, begun by Governor Letcher's orders, was continued. Two heavy guns on naval carriages, that had been placed in battery on the west side of the village by Colonel Jackson's direction, were mounted on Furnace Ridge. My predecessors had constructed two very slight outworks, one on the summit of the mountain on the Maryland side of the Potomac, the other on the Loudon Heights.

Before the end of the first week in June the Seventh and Eighth Georgia and Second Tennessee regiments had arrived.

About the 10th of the month, General Patterson, who had been organizing and instructing his troops at Chambersburg, advanced from that place to Hagerstown. According to the information we could obtain from scouts and intelligent people of the country, they amounted to about eighteen thousand men. The organization of this army, as published in a newspaper of Hagerstown, corresponded very well with this estimate; for twenty-four regiments of infantry were enumerated in it, and several small bodies of regular artillery and cavalry.9 The garrison of Harper's Ferry had then been increased to almost seven thousand men of all arms.

At sunrise on the 13th the Hon. James M. Mason brought from Winchester intelligence, received there the night before, that two thousand Federal troops, supposed to be the advanced guard of General McClellan's army, had marched into Romney the day before. That place is forty-three miles west of [23] Winchester. As this information had come from the most respectable sources, it was believed, and Colonel A. P. Hill immediately dispatched to Winchester with his own (Thirteenth) and Colonel Gibbons's (Tenth Virginia) regiments on trains provided by Mr. Mason's forethought. Colonel Hill was instructed to add Colonel Vaughn's (Third Tennessee) regiment, which had just reached the town, to his detachment, and to move on toward Romney without delay, and to take the best measures in his power to retard the progress of the Federal troops, if they should be approaching “the Valley.”

During that day and the next the heavy baggage of the troops (almost every private soldier had a trunk), the property of the quartermaster's and subsistence departments, and the remaining machinery of the armory, were removed to Winchester by railroad, whence the machinery was transported over the turnpike to Strasburg, on the Manassas Gap Railroad, and the bridges over the Potomac were destroyed from the Point of Rocks to Shepardstown.

The troops followed on the morning of the 15th, by the Berryville road, and bivouacked for the night three or four miles beyond Charlestown.

Before the time for resuming the march next morning, intelligence was received from the cavalry outposts that General Patterson's army had crossed the Potomac below Williamsport, and was marching toward Martinsburg. I determined at once to oppose its advance on that road; and directed the march of the Confederate troops across the country to Bunker's Hill, midway between Martinsburg and Win. [24] chester, to prevent the junction of Patterson's and McClellan's forces.

While we were waiting for a guide to lead us by the best road to Bunker's Hill, a courier from Richmond brought me a letter10 from General Cooper,11 dated June 13th, giving me the President's authority to abandon Harper's Ferry and retire toward Winchester in such a contingency as the present, in the following passages: “.. . You will consider yourself authorized, whenever the position of the enemy shall convince you that he is about to turn your position, to destroy every thing at Harper's Ferry which could serve the purposes of the enemy, and retire upon the railroad toward Winchester. ... Should you not be sustained by the population of ‘the Valley,’ so as to enable you to turn upon the enemy before reaching Winchester, you will continue to retire slowly to the Manassas road, in some of the passes of which, it is hoped, you will be able to make an effective stand, even against a very superior force. . . . Should you move so far as to make a junction with General Beauregard, the enemy would be free immediately to occupy the Valley of Virginia, and to pass to the rear of Manassas Junction .. .”

We moved at nine o'clock, and, passing through Smithfield, reached the turnpike at Bunker's Hill in the afternoon, and bivouacked on the banks of the stream that flows through the hamlet.

Next morning the troops were formed on the high ground on the Martinsburg side, which offered a favorable position for battle, to await the approach of [25] the Federal army. About noon, however, information that it had recrossed the Potomac was received — we supposed in consequence of this movement of ours. It was really because some of General Patterson's best troops had just been taken from him.

In pursuance of my original design, the army marched toward Winchester, and bivouacked some three miles from the town, and on the 18th was disposed in camps in its immediate vicinity, on the Martinsburg front, except the cavalry, which was replaced in observation along the Potomac; its colonel had already won its full confidence, and mine.

In the night of the 18th Colonel Hill, then at Romney, detached Colonel Vaughn with two companies of his regiment (Third Tennessee), and two of the Thirteenth Virginia, to destroy the bridge of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad over New Creek. Colonel Vaughn learned, when near the bridge, that a small body of Federal troops-two hundred and fifty infantry and two field-pieces — was near it, on the other side of the Potomac. He crossed the river at sunrise in their presence,12 put them to flight, and captured their cannon and colors; the guns were found loaded, and spiked.

As it had become certain that no considerable body of United States troops was approaching from the west, Colonel Hill's detachment was called back to Winchester.

It being ascertained that some of the public property (rough gun-stocks) had been left at Harper's Ferry, Lieutenant-Colonel G. H. Stewart was sent with his Maryland Battalion to bring it away, which [26] was done in about a day. Nothing worth removing was left.

In a letter dated the 18th, addressed to me at Winchester, giving the President's further instructions, General Cooper wrote:

. . . You are expected to act as circumstances may require, only keeping in mind the general purpose to resist invasion as far as may be practicable, and seek to repel the invaders whenever and however it may be done.

In order that all dispositions may be made to meet your wants, it is necessary that you write frequently and fully as to your position, and the movements that may be contemplated by you. Since the date of my last letter reinforcements have been steadily sent forward to the camp at Manassas Junction, and others will be added to that place and to yours, as the current of events may determine us to advance on one line or the other ....

Reenforcements will be sent to you of such character and numbers as you may require and our means will enable us to afford. ...

In another, written on the 19th, he added:

A large supply of ammunition for your command left here this morning, including eighty thousand percussion caps. An additional supply will be forwarded by to-morrow morning's train. Every effort will be made to support and sustain you, to the extent of our means .. .

The movements of the enemy indicate the importance he attaches to the possession of the Valley of Virginia, and that he has probably seen the power he would acquire if left free to do so, by advancing as far as Staunton and distributing his forces so as [27] to cut off our communication with the west and south, as well as to operate against our Army of the Potomac, by movements upon its lines of communications, or attacking upon the reverse, supplying himself at the same time with all the provisions he may acquire in the Valley of the Shenandoah, enabling him to dispense with his long line of transportation from Pennsylvania. Every thing should be destroyed which would facilitate his movements through ‘the Valley.’

In a few days the army was strengthened by the accession of Brigadier-General Bee, Colonel Elzey, and the Ninth Georgia regiment. It was then reorganized. Jackson's brigade was formed of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Twenty-seventh Virginia regiments, and Pendleton's battery; Bee's of the Second and Eleventh Mississippi, Fourth Alabama, and Second Tennessee regiments, and Imboden's battery; Elzey's of the Tenth and Thirteenth Virginia, Third Tennessee and Maryland regiments, and Groves's battery; and Bartow's of the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Georgia regiments, the Kentucky Battalion, and Alburtis's battery.

As the intelligence obtained from Maryland indicated that General Patterson was preparing to cross the Potomac again, Colonel Jackson was sent with his brigade to the vicinity of Martinsburg to support the cavalry. He was instructed also to protect and aid an agent of the Government, appointed for the work, in removing such of the rolling-stock of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as he might select for the use of the Confederacy, or as much of it as practicable. It was to be transported to the railroad at [28] Strasburg, on the turnpike through Winchester. The orders of the Government required the destruction of all that could not be brought away.

It has been said13 somewhat hastily, and I think harshlly, that those who had the power to seize and remove this property committed a gross blunder by failing to send it to Winchester by railroad from Harper's Ferry before the evacuation of that place. This charge falls upon the Executives of the State and of the Confederacy, and the military commanders, General Jackson and myself. I presume that all were governed by the same considerations-those that directed my course. It would have been criminal as well as impolitic on our part to commit such an act of war against citizens of Maryland, when we were receiving aid from the State then, and hoping for its accession to the Confederacy. The seizure of that property by us could have been justified only by the probability of its military use by the enemy. Such a probability did not appear, of course, until after our evacuation of Harper's Ferry. Besides, at the time in question, the Winchester Railroad and its rolling-stock were required exclusively for the transportation of property far more valuable to the Confederacy than engines and cars — the machinery of the armory. There was another cogent reason, the engines of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad were too heavy for use on the other, or even to pass over it, especially near the Shenandoah, where it rests on trestles. While at Harper's Ferry I was prevented from attempting to use them in the removal of the machinery by the remonstrances of the engineers of [29] both roads, founded on their opinions that the heavier engines of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad would crush the trestle-work of the Winchester road if brought upon it.

Mr. Davis wrote to me in a letter dated 22d:

I congratulate you on the brilliant movement of Colonel Vaughn's command. To break the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was essential to our operations, and if the bridge at Cheat River and the Grand Tunnel could be destroyed so as to prevent the use of that railroad for the duration of the war the effect upon public opinion in Western Virginia would doubtless be of immediate and great advantage to our cause.

If the enemy has withdrawn from your front to attack on the east side of the mountain, it may be that an attempt will be made to advance from Leesburg to seize the Manassas Gap road and to turn Beauregard's position.... In that event, if your scouts give you accurate and timely information, an opportunity will be offered to you by the roads through the mountain-passes to make a flank attack in conjunction with Beauregard's column, and with God's blessing to achieve a victory alike glorious and beneficial.... I wish you would write whenever your convenience will permit, and give me fully both information and suggestions.

Twenty-five hundred militia, called out in Frederick and the surrounding counties, were assembling at Winchester under Brigadier-Generals Carson and Meem; and, especially to increase their value, Major Whiting was directed to have a few light defensive works constructed on the most commanding positions [30] on the northeast side of the town, and to have some very ineffective heavy guns, on ship-carriages found there, mounted in them.

On the 2d, General Patterson's army, which had been strongly reenforced, again crossed the Potomac and marched toward Martinsburg, driving before it the little body of cavalry that Stuart was able to gather. Colonel Jackson directed his brigade to retire, according to the instructions he had received; and with the rear-guard, composed of three hundred and eighty men of Colonel Harper's (Fifth Virginia) regiment and a field-piece,14 which Stuart joined with his little detachment, engaged the enemy's leading troops near Falling Waters. By taking a position in which the smallness of his force was concealed, he was able to keep the greatly superior Federal numbers in check for a considerable time, long enough for his object, the safety of his baggage, and retired only when his position was about to be turned. He lost in this affair15 two men killed and six or eight wounded, and brought off forty-five prisoners, besides inflicting other loss; two brigades were engaged with this little rear-guard.16

On this intelligence, received at sunset, the army was ordered forward, and met Jackson's brigade retiring, at Darksville, six or seven miles from Martinsburg, soon after daybreak. We bivouacked there in order of battle, as the Federal army was supposed to be advancing to attack us. We waited in this position four days, expecting to be attacked, because we [31] did not doubt that General Patterson had invaded Virginia for that purpose. But, unwilling to assail greatly superior numbers in a town so defensible as Martinsburg, with its solid buildings and inclosures of masonry, and convinced, at length, that we were waiting to no purpose, I ordered the troops to return to Winchester, much to their disappointment, for they were eager to fight.

Our effective force, then, was not quite nine thousand men, of all arms. General Patterson's was about twenty thousand, I believe, instead of thirty-two thousand, the estimate of the people of Martinsburg at the time. We overrated each other's strength greatly, as was generally done by the opposing commanders during the war-0probably from the feeling in Gil Blas, which made his antagonist's sword seem d'une longueur excessive.

In a letter, dated July 10th, the President said:

. ... Your letter found me trying by every method to hasten reenforcements to you. ...

Colonel Forney's regiment will, I suppose, get off in the morning, if not this evening, and more shall follow as fast as the railroad will permit. . ..

And in another, dated the 13th:

. . .. Another (regiment) for the war came yesterday. It was fully equipped, and to-day has gone to your column .... I could get twenty thousand from Mississippi, who impatiently wait for notice that they can be armed. In Georgia, numerous tenders are made to serve for any time, at any place, and to these and other offers I am still constrained to answer, ‘ I have not arms to supply you.’ . . .

The rich country around us furnished abundant [32] supplies of provision and forage, which the farmers and millers willingly sold on credit to the quartermasters and commissaries of the army. We neither received nor required assistance from the Commissary Department at Richmond, except for the articles of coffee and sugar, which were then parts of the Confederate soldier's ration. The army was so fortunate as to have Major Kersley for its chief commissary, a gentleman of sense and vigor, well acquainted with that district and its resources. Under his administration of the commissariat, “the Valley” could have supplied abundantly an army four times as large as ours.

It was not so easy to procure ammunition: no large quantity had been imported; and the Ordnance Department, then not fully organized, had neither time nor means to prepare half the amount required. The very small supply brought from Harper's Ferry was increased, however, by applications to the chief of the department at Richmond, and by sending officers elsewhere for caps as well as cartridges.

On the 15th, Colonel Stuart reported that the Federal army had advanced from Martinsburg to Bunker's Hill. It remained there on the 16th, and on the 17th moved by its left flank a few miles to Smithfield. This gave the impression that General Patterson's design was to continue this movement through Berryville, to interpose his army between the Confederate forces at Winchester and those at Manassas Junction, while the latter should be assailed by McDowell, or perhaps to attack Winchester from the south, thus avoiding the slight intrenchments.

Since the return of the army from Parksville, [33] the Thirty-third Virginia regiment, organized by Colonel A. C. Cummings, had been added to Jackson's brigade; the Sixth North Carolina to Bee's; the Eleventh Georgia to Bartow's;17 and a fifth brigade formed, for Brigadier-General E. Kirby Smith, just promoted, of the Nineteenth Mississippi, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Alabama regiments, and Stannard's Battery. Measles, mumps, and other diseases, to which new troops are subject, had been so prevalent, that the average effective strength of the regiments of this army did not much exceed five hundred men.

About one o'clock A. M., on the 18th, I received the following telegram from General Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General: “General Beauregard is attacked; to strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangement, exercise your discretion.” A half-hour later, a telegram from General Beauregard informed me of his urgent need of the aid I had promised him in such an emergency. This intelligence, dispatched to me by him when he reported to the War Department, had been unaccountably delayed.

Being confident that the troops under my command could render no service in “the Valley,” so important to the Confederacy as that of preventing a Federal victory at Manassas Junction, I decided, without hesitation, to hasten to that point with my [34] whole force. The only question was, whether to attempt to defeat or to elude General Patterson. The latter, if practicable, was to be preferred, as quickest and safest. Stuart's first report was expected to give the means of judging of its practicability, while the troops were preparing to move. Although the Federal cavalry had greatly the advantage of the Confederate in arms and discipline, it was not in the habit, like ours, of leaving the protection of the infantry. This enabled Stuart to maintain his outposts near the enemy's camps, and his scouts near their columns, learning their movements quickly, and concealing our own.

Stuart's expected report showed that the Federal army had not advanced from Smithfield at nine o'clock. It was certainly too far from our road, therefore, to be able to prevent or delay our march. This information left no doubt of the expediency of moving as soon as possible.

The order to send the sick to Culpepper Court-House was not obeyed, because obedience would have caused a delay of several days, when hours were precious,18 for it would have involved their transportation in wagons eighteen miles to Strasburg, and [35] none were available for the purpose but those that had been procured for the troops, and were absolutely necessary for the march. Therefore they were provided for in Winchester, comfortably and quickly. The brigades (militia) of Generals Carson and Meem were left to defend the place and district, for which their strength was quite sufficient; for it could scarcely be doubted that General Patterson would follow the movement to Manassas Junction with his main force, at least, as soon as he discovered it. To delay this discovery as long as possible, Colonel Stuart was instructed to establish as perfect a cordon as his regiment could make, and as near the Federal army as practicable, to prevent access to it from the side of Winchester and Berryville, and to maintain it until night; then to follow the army through Ashby's Gap.

1 Afterward lieutenant-general.

2 Who fell at Fort Fisher, a major-general.

3 Who became so celebrated as lieutenant-general.

4 In Dabney's “Life of Jackson.”

5 It was said that there were about seventeen thousand of them.

6 This proportion is given from memory.

7 After Richmond became the seat of the Confederate Government, General Lee performed a part of the duties of the Secretary of War, and of the Adjutant-General.

8 In my report of the military operations, ending in the battle of Manassas, published by the Government, I briefly reminded the War Department of these views, and of the expression of them by me at the time, and that “the continued occupation of the place was deemed by it indispensable.” (See fourth and fifth paragraphs of that report.)

9 This statement is from memory.

10 In reply to mine of the 9th.

11 The Adjutant-General of the Confederate States army.

12 Colonel Vaughn's official report to Colonel Hill.

13 In Dabney's “Life of Jackson.”

14 Commanded by Captain Pendleton himself.

15 General Jackson's report.

16 General Patterson's report.

17 The Ninth Georgia had joined it soon after the troops reached Winchester.

18 There were about seventeen hundred of them. In my report of the battle of Manassas, as published by the Administration, this sentence does not appear: “The delay of sending our sick, seventeen hundred in number, to Culpepper Court-House, would have made it impossible to arrive at Manassas in time; they were, therefore, provided for in Winchester.” And this one is in its place: “Our sick, seventeen hundred in number, were provided for in Winchester.” The original is in possession of the Government in Washington. In an indorsement on it, by Mr. Davis, I am accused of reporting his telegram to me inaccurately. I did not profess to quote his words, but to give their meaning, which was done correctly.

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