previous next

Doc. 5.-the escape of General Stuart.

Official report of General Pleasanton.

Frederick, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 1862.
the following are the main features of the report of Gen. Pleasanton, relative to the rebel raid into Pennsylvania:

On Saturday morning, (October eleventh,) at four o'clock, he received orders to start with his command, and was soon en route for Hagerstown, arriving there about eleven o'clock.

There he was informed that the rebels were moving in the direction of Mercersburgh. He started toward Clear Spring, on the Hancock road, to intercept them. He had proceeded four miles, when he was ordered to halt, by a despatch from headquarters.

At half-past 1 o'clock P. M., he was ordered to move to Mechanicstown via Cavertown and Harrison's Gap, and sent patrols to Emmettsburgh and Gettysburgh to obtain information of the enemy.

He arrived at Mechanicstown at half-past 8 o'clock P. M. At half-past 12 o'clock A. M. he sent scouts in the direction of Middleburgh, who reported that the rebel cavalry, under Stuart, had passed through Middletown, five miles to the east of Mechanicstown, one hour before that time, taking a private road to Woodsborough, and [17] thence to Liberty, on the route to the mouth of the Monocacy.

General Pleasanton started for this point via Frederick City, passing through the latter at five o'clock A. M., Sunday. He reached the Monocacy at eight o'clock A. M., and found four or five hundred infantry guarding the canal aqueduct and the roads to the ferries. They told him that they had neither seen nor heard of the rebel cavalry. He crossed the Monocacy with portions of the Eighth Illinois and the Third Indiana cavalry, and two guns of Pennington's battery, and sent forward a company on the Barnesville road to reconnoitre, while the main column moved in the direction of Poolesville.

The advanced squadron had not passed more than one and a half miles from the ferry before they discovered a body of cavalry approaching, dressed in the uniform of the United States soldiers. The officers in command of the squadron made signals in a friendly manner, which were returned by the parties, who approached to within a short distance of each other, when the officer commanding the opposite party ordered his men to charge.

Skirmishing took place; the enemy brought up a superior force, and opened a couple of guns, which obliged our men to retire. The two guns of Pennington's battery were brought into position and opened with a brisk fire, which checked the enemy's advance. At this time Pleasanton's command was not more than four hundred strong; four small companies of infantry were then taken to support the guns. Skirmishing took place until the remainder of Pennington's guns came up, and they soon drove off the enemy's guns.

It was then discovered that the enemy had two guns in position at White's Ford, on this side, and one gun on the other side of the river. Pleasanton then took all the infantry at the mouth of the Monocacy, with the exception of two companies, and made a general advance. The enemy then retreated toward White's Ford, keeping up a rapid fire all the time.

Pennington's horses gave out, and the men were obliged to push the cannon up the hills. The enemy, owing to this delay, effected a crossing over the river.

This was at half-past 1 o'clock P. M. He then received information from Colonel Ward of Gen. Stoneman's division, that a brigade of infantry and a regiment of cavalry, and a section of artillery were in the neighborhood. He sent word to the General that the enemy had escaped. This was the first intimation he had of troops being in that vicinity.

General Pleasanton succeeded in driving the rebels from the mouth of the Monocacy to White's Ford, a distance of three miles. The General is of the impression that had White's Ford been occupied by any force of ours previous to the occupation of it by the enemy, the capture of Stuart's forces would have been certain; but with his (Pleasanton's) small force, which did not exceed one fourth of that of the enemy, it was not practicable for him to occupy that ford while the enemy was in his front.

New-York times account.

White's Ferry On the Potomac, two miles South of the mouth of the Monocacy, Monday, Oct. 13, 1862.
I have already sent you by telegraph a brief statement of the successful retreat of Stuart's cavalry over the Potomac at this point, after their daring and brilliant raid into Pennsylvania. I now transmit you such details as I have been able to learn by personal presence and inquiry on the spot.

I chanced to be at the headquarters of General McClellan, near Knoxville, on Sunday forenoon, at the time heavy firing was heard down the river, in the direction of Point of Rocks and the mouth of the Monocacy. The cannonading was first heard briskly about nine A. M., and it continued, though with slackening rapidity, for two or three hours. Learning from Major Myer, chief of the signal corps, that the most eligible point for intelligence would be Point of Rocks, I started immediately on horseback for that place, six miles distant, reaching it in the course of an hour.

On my arrival I found the entire population of this little railroad village in a state of intense panic. An infinity of alarming stories were brought up by persons arriving from down the river. Though differing in every other respect, all agreed that Stuart's cavalry were endeavoring to effect a crossing of the Potomac, a little below the mouth of the Monocacy, and a visit to the Point of Rocks was momentarily looked for — there being no obstacle whatever to their crossing there, if any difficulty should be found below. Shortly afterward a corporal of the Loudon Rangers, an independent company of loyal Virginia horsemen, came up from the mouth of the Monocacy, and brought the report which I transmitted to you by telegraph, to the effect that though a considerable portion of the rebels had succeeded in making good the transit, the main body had been captured. You already know how far, unhappily, from the truth was this pleasing report of the valiant Loudon Rangers. While debating whether I should proceed down to the scene of conflict, I ascended the hill at Point of Rocks on which the local branch of the signal corps has its station, and from this “coign of vantage” took a survey of the whole field. No troops, rebel or otherwise, were observable through the glass, with the exception of a body of soldiers drawn up in line back of a piece of woods on the Virginia shore, below the mouth of the Monocacy, wearing the National uniform. Imagining from this circumstance that Union troops occupied both shores of the Potomac, and that the whole rebel force was certainly bagged, I started for down the river at five o'clock, against the united persuasion of the whole assembled population, including the stout-hearted Loudon Rangers, who were sure that I would be either killed or captured.

To the mouth of the Monocacy the distance by [18] the tow-path along the canal, which runs close by the Potomac, is six miles, while by the country road via Licksville, it is eight. As, however, the latter was certainly the safer, I took it. The roads were frightful. A cold pelting rain was pouring down, and night set in before I had half completed my journey. The bridges being all down, I had twice to swim the canal with my horse. The night was horribly dark, and the only feature of the desolate scene connecting one with civilization, was the telegraph-poles, my sole guides along the way. It was about nine in the evening when I reached the mouth of the Monocacy, whither I was led by the welcome sight of camp-fires ahead. Arriving, I found detachments numbering about seven hundred men, of the Sixth regular cavalry and the Eighth Illinois cavalry, who had arrived about an hour ahead of me, and were on their way to report to Gen. Pleasanton. As, however, it was ascertained that the General was some two or three miles below the mouth of the Monocacy, they had halted on the hither side of that stream, and the crossing being dangerous in the dark, they encamped on the road for the night. I spent it with them, horses and men both lying by the wayside-brisk fires fed by the fence-rails being kept up to counteract, somewhat, the effect of the drenching rain from which we had no shelter save our blankets. In the gray of the morning we pushed on to Gen. Pleasanton's quarters, at White's Ferry on the Potomac, about two miles below where the Monocacy empties into the stream. From the General we learned the story of the previous day. The cavalry reenforcement were many hours too late to be of any service. The whole rebel force had succeeded in effecting their escape into Virginia at this crossing about noon of Sunday.

Riding back to-day from White's Ferry to headquarters in company with General Pleasanton, I learned from that officer the chief points in his remarkable chase after the rebel cavalry. When he received his orders on Saturday morning from headquarters to proceed in pursuit he was stationed near Sharpsburgh. At seven A. M., he had started, his command consisting of portions of the Eighth Illinois cavalry, Third Indiana cavalry, and Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, with Lieut. Pennington's battery of horse artillery. At eleven A. M. of Saturday they made Hagerstown. Thence they moved out on Clearspring road three miles toward Hancock, but were recalled to Hagerstown by a despatch from headquarters. From Hagerstown they were ordered to Mechanicstown, which they made at eight P. M. of Saturday. Here they first got scent of the rebels, who were returning southward on their detour from Chambersburgh, and were reported as having passed a little town east of Mechanicstown, half-past 11 Saturday night. From Mechanicstown, Pleasanton set out in pursuit at one A. M., Sunday morning. At five A. M. he reached Frederick, and thence went directly south to the mouth of the Monocacy, the rebels passing a little ahead of him, by a parallel road a little east, through Newmarket and Urbana. At eight A. M. the Union cavairy struck the Poolesville road, near the mouth of the Monocacy. Here the Union advance-guard met the rebel cavalry, from two thousand to two thousand five hundred strong, under command of Generals Stuart, Hampton, and Fitz-Hugh Lee. Pleasanton's force did not number over five hundred horse. The rebels were clothed in the National uniforms taken at Pennsylvania, and were mistaken for our own troops. The rebel officer; waited till the Union troops came close up, gave the salute, and then charged with carbines and pistols. At the same time they opened with two pieces of artillery, with the evident intention of forcing a passage to Monocacy Ferry. General Pleasanton was able to prevent this, and having succeeded at length in getting the battery in position on a hill by the roadside, opened upon the rebels, and shelled them in the woods. Thus thwarted, they made for the crossing at White's Ferry, and all that the small force of Gen. Pleasanton could do was insufficient to prevent their making good their escape at this point. They were all safely across by half-past 12 o'clock. No damage was done to our side except one man wounded; rebel loss not known.

Thus, unsuccessfully for us, ended this exciting cavalry race--one of the most remarkable on record, in which our force made the unprecedeented chase of ninety miles in twenty-four hours. If the General in command of the Union force did not capture the rebels, he certainly did the best he could under the circumstances. His force was entirely too small to cut off their re treat, after he did come up with them. It must be remembered that they had four men to his one; while the crossing was covered by batteries, planted on both sides of the Potomac. Besides, in the line of his pursuit, he was strictly subject to orders from headquarters, and was thus cut off from all the advantage he would have had by being able to make cross-cuts on the enemy as he found them.

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

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

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Pleasanton (14)
J. E. B. Stuart (6)
Lewis Pennington (5)
J. E. Ward (1)
Stoneman (1)
Myer (1)
George B. McClellan (1)
W. H. F. Lee (1)
Hancock (1)
Wade Hampton (1)
Fitz-Hugh (1)
Doc (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
October 15th, 1862 AD (1)
October 13th, 1862 AD (1)
October 11th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: