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Chapter 3: through Harper's Ferry to Winchester—The Valley of the Shenandoah.

It has been affirmed that the President's order for a movement of the Federal army against the enemy on Washington's birthday, although a seeming interference with the plans of McClellan, was due to the fact that that officer did not appreciate the value of time in its relation to national finances, and to a democratic form of Government; also that further delay involved national despondency, a tax levied upon the people for an immense debt which had borne no fruit in victories, distrust, a great fall in national stocks, and a possible if not probable foreign intervention. The President's Order No. 1, issued against McClellan's protest, peremptorily commanded an advance at all points on the twenty-third of February. McClellan was placed at the head of the Army of the Potomac, and soon ceased to be commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States.

It was very early in the morning of the twenty-seventh of February, 1862, when I marched with my regiment through the streets of Frederick, in Maryland, to take the cars for Harper's Ferry. As the band aroused the town, young ladies, hurriedly dressed, waved handkerchiefs from windows and, in some cases with tears ill repressed, uttered a trembling good-by. Though their hearts were full of anticipations, [102] hopeful and fearful, their heroism was magnificent. While there was solicitude for suffering that must come, there was no flinching. I saw a sister sending a brother to fight against her husband; a father armed to fight against his sons. All were heroes, and all seemed proud that they could do something to crush the “accursed Rebellion.” A Maryland regiment, raised principally in Frederick as a home-guard, choosing its own duty, volunteered to go with us to the field. Its colonel was one of the most prominent men in the city.

When we arrived at Harper's Ferry, we found the place more wrecked and ruined than when we last saw it in July of 1861. Blackened walls met the eye at every turn; there was no life in the town. Now and then we saw a prowling inhabitant stealing around, the ghost of a former life. Our passage in the cars had been so tedious, through interminable delays, that we were glad enough to cross the pontoon bridge laid down by the engineers for this invasion, even into that town of desolation. A good old negro woman, frightened to death at first, aided the commanding officer of our regiment in getting supper in one of the few houses left. Here, while a bright fire, made from the palings of an adjoining fence, burned in an open fireplace, the good old aunty, keeper of the house, turned out bedding for the night, and made herself generally useful, as well as amusing in her talk of the “seceshers,” as she called them, who were here only last Sunday, praying that the river might rise “to keep the Yankees out.” How she laughed as she told us that she saw our men, whom she called Indians, lying down on their backs on the other side of the river, to load and fire at the “secesh” here. And “she is glad of it,” she says; she wants the Yankees to whip the secesh, and will laugh long and loud again, “if you'se able to do it.” We found General McClellan [103] here, with a large staff, giving personal supervision to this the first movement of his army on its momentous mission.

Before nightfall an armed reconnoissance, to consist of the Second Massachusetts and the Third Wisconsin Regiments, two sections of the First New York Battery, and four squadrons of the First Michigan Cavalry, the whole to be under my command, was ordered “to move as soon after daylight as possible” in the direction of Charlestown, and explore the roads diverging south and west from the town. When the sergeant-major of the Second came around and notified company commanders to be ready, it was four o'clock in the morning. Without a struggle, officers and men threw themselves from hard board floors into the open air, washed their faces in a brook, snatched some kind of a breakfast, which they were an hour in getting, and took their places at daylight in good style, in advance, with rifles loaded. In advance of the infantry went the cavalry, and following these, supported by a rear-guard, came the artillery, “all ready to talk the right kind of music,” as one of our officers said. With skirmishers thrown out on the flanks, the column made its eight miles to Charlestown, and took the town by surprise.

Some few negroes gazed at us from the by-ways, and a few poor whites looked listlessly on, but none hailed our coming. Leaving the infantry to follow as we approached the town, I charged through at the head of three squadrons of cavalry, only to drive a pitiful twenty of the enemy's cavalry out. We arrived at twelve o'clock at noon. While making an examination of the roads, I came upon General McClellan and his whole staff, native and foreign. It appeared that my advance had been to clear the way for his military examination of the country, and the disposal of his forces for the grand oncoming movement. General McClellan having been my classmate at West [104] Point, we had a pleasant and familiar conversation for an hour or more.

After returning to the town it was determined to occupy and hold Charlestown; so I was ordered to send back for my knapsacks, wagons, and the company property. Regarding our regiment approvingly as he passed (so some of our young officers thought), General McClellan rode rapidly to Harper's Ferry and thence by special train to Washington. From some words dropped at this interview, while looking over his maps, I was persuaded that I was right, and that this was the beginning of the movement of the Army of the Potomac. Hardly had the order to remain in town become known, when the men began to forage, somewhat. Several pigs that were running around loose, as it was termed, were shot, while many a duck and chicken went into the men's haversacks for supper. It was at Charlestown, and at this time, that Major Dwight ordered a stop put to foraging in the Second,--after he had seen all the men of his regiment thoroughly provided for. There was great exhilaration among the young officers of our regiment over the novelty of being followed around by trusty men to knock down anybody who objected to their taking ways, and there was much enjoyment and good feeding with us for a time. A portion of two wagon-loads of flour, captured on our march, fell to the Second, and was cooked, too, with some of their own roosters, by nice old ladies, who were violent secessionists when they were not scared out of their wits.

Until the ninth of March, while troops were being collected for an onward movement upon Winchester, we had many stampedes, and can recall pleasant campaign experiences. My regiment had rejoined General Abercrombie's brigade, from which, as I have said, it was detached for this movement, and it again occupied the ground where it [105] had encamped in July of the preceding year, when under Patterson. In this place, always a hot-bed of sedition, it must have seemed strange to see many thousand loyal soldiers quartered, and the National colors waving over the town. Here was the field where John Brown's eyes fell for the last time upon the “fine country” around him; the old fence and stump where it was believed he was executed. The stump had been freely chipped for mementos. On Sunday, for the first time in many months, we had religious services under a roof. The bell on the old courthouse, which called the people to arms to resist John Brown, now tolled the call to church. The chaplain of the Second preached a moving sermon. Quite different scenes had that old court-house witnessed the past week, from those of two years before, when the walls that listened to John Brown's death-sentence now echoed back, “Glory, hallelujah, his soul is marching on!”

Secrecy was to characterize our movements. An Associated Press reporter would have laid himself out on the occupation of Charlestown and the presence of General McClellan, but that he was not allowed to send a single word that had not been supervised by the commanding General.

Here in Charlestown we stumbled across a good Union citizen, whom we had met in July of 1861. It is amusing now to note how eagerly then we hung on such stuff as this: “He predicts that the Rebels will fall back from Winchester, and he doubts very much whether they will attempt to hold Manassas. He thinks they will go South and make their last stand there, if indeed they ‘ stand anywhere ;’ that they are getting no recruits, and can get none; that they are poorly armed, have poor ammunition. Only assure the country,” said he, “of your ability to protect the people in the expression of their opinions, and they will [106] immediately declare for the Union.” In this I doubt not there was a grain of truth, and possibly a grain in the following: “Since your entrance into Charlestown, now only three days, I have heard great change in the sentiments of some who formerly made use of strong secession language, and I have been much surprised at it.”

This was so cheerful that I thought I might venture to test the strength of Union feeling by sending Major Dwight to find rooms for General Abercrombie, our brigade commander. Knocking at a promising-looking house, he was greeted by a sharp-visaged woman, who called out to him from an upper window,--

“ Go away, I won't have anything to do with you.”

“Won't you come to the door, and let me talk with you?” urged the Major, blandly smiling.

The door was opened just a crack.

“Could n't you open the door wider,” inquired the Major, “and so avoid a draught?”

“ I'm a lone woman. I am a lady, and I am a secessionist; and I hope you will lose the next battle you fight, and I just as lief tell you so as not. I hope I am a Christian, but I hope you will get whipped.”

Through the crack of the door came this impetuous torrent of words, until the flow was checked in a downright cry.

Major Dwight, though embarrassed, proceeded to business.

“I want a room,” said he, “for General Abercrombie; and he will protect you.”

Still the woman refused.

Then the Major, with soothing words, mollified the good woman, and soon received the assurance that she would take the General, but she would tell him she “hoped he would be whipped in the next battle he fought,” --which [107] seemed to afford her so much relief that she at last agreed to board the General; and later, so we learned from one of the staff, began to deliver herself of sentiments favorable to the Union.

Thus we crowded in on the people, taking their houses, horses, furniture, and live-stock. Of many feathered bipeds, confiding pigs, and stately geese that were seen upon our entrance, alas! not one survived. The efforts of the people to bear these woes with Christian resignation were sometimes ludicrous. “I hope I'm a Christian, and if my enemy hungers I'll feed him,” furnished wonderful consolation to a good woman, who hurled it at me because I gave her no encouragement for her losses. We found the women here much more violent than the men, but perhaps this was only from the female habit of not suppressing their feelings. The women took a malicious pleasure in expressing to our officers their sentiments of hatred to “your” president and to “your” government; and no amount of swearing induced them to believe in our recent victories at Henry, Mill Springs, and Donelson. We found some difficulty, too, in trading with our treasury notes, especially with the lower classes; but when they found it was that or nothing, they took them eagerly. The thin, flimsy-looking currency, issued by the Confederate States, as well as by their municipal corporations, was exchanged among their own people with confidence in its value, although I observed that the knowing ones used it to buy lands of the foolish.

Many of the Second Regiment can recall the guard duty, on picket or with the batteries, performed during our occupancy of Charlestown; can recall the huts, thatched with alternate layers of corn-stalks and rails, which afforded shelter from storms of snow and rain; the fenceless fields, where hungry cattle homeless wandered, treading down the [108] stalks with corn unplucked and wheat unthreshed; the pigs, hauled out from burrows under wheat-stacks, and then despatched by swords in unpractised hands, and so untimely cut off in their prime to satisfy a craving for pork-chops; the excitement and glorious fun of the enemy being near, to startle from the warmth of huge fires, and give perhaps a skirmish before morning. On all these memories I but touch, that I may recall to mind that the citizens of Charlestown were quite willing if not anxious to appeal to the officers for protection against the swarms of foragers who invaded their spring-houses and their cellars for food. As the army increased in numbers, camps were pitched on the outskirts of the town, where I selected as my headquarters the yard or park which enclosed a gentleman's house.

The man's name was Kennedy, and he was supposed to have some Union proclivities, as well as a house-full of females and slaves. The inmates were so much surprised to see a regiment of infantry file into their yard and locate tents and baggage in front of the old family mansion, that there was an immediate appeal to General Banks, who “thought I better move,” --which I did, first however calling upon the family to assure them that I thought my protection was more valuable than my presence was annoying.

The old lady of the house was full of apologies for her conduct in locking the door and flying to the bedroom in the upper story, as I entered with the regiment. Notwithstanding she “had heard” that I had “the best regiment in the United States service, and the best disciplined,” she was alarmed, she said; but she would be gratified if I would take a bed in her house,--which I declined, and slept in camp where water froze, and where breakfast in the open air was cool and invigorating. [109]

Again, I met here one of my old friends of the Patterson campaign,--a Mr. James L. Ranson (I strongly suspect it was his slave that I was ordered in 1861 to catch and return from Harper's Ferry), who in a polite note begged the favor of my protection for his family, consisting of Mrs. Ranson in delicate health, his daughter and her child, and himself their sole protector. “Recalling,” the note continued, “our brief interview last summer, at Harper's Ferry, I congratulate myself in appealing to one who so favorably impressed me upon that occasion.”

Hovering over a stove in my tent on the night of the sixth of March,--it was bitter cold,--I wore away the evening until late, in a vain effort to read by a wretched candle stuck in a splinter of wood for a stand; and then, with a sense of uneasiness, a presage that some disagreeable duty was impending, I invoked slumber,--though in vain, for hardly had I lost myself when an orderly, galloping through my camp, halted at my tent, with “despatches for Colonel Gordon.”

With matches ready, I struck a light and read as follows :

General Abercrombie will put his brigade immediately under arms, and will order the Second Massachusetts and Sixteenth Indiana Volunteers to move cautiously down the Berryville road to such a point as may be indicated by an aid-de-camp who will be sent out from these headquarters. Two squadrons of cavalry and two sections of artillery will report to Colonel George H. Gordon, who will command the entire force, subject to further orders from these headquarters. Let not a moment be lost.

By command of Major-General Banks. R. Morris Copeland, Maj. Vols., A. A. G.
Colonel Gordon will comply with the above order.

By command of General Abercrombie. Geo. B. Drake, A. A. G.


In a moment I had shivered into my shoes, ordered my horse, aroused our regiment, met the staff-officer, received the report that artillery and cavalry were ready, and started off by the uncertain light of the stars. Soon the long column unwound itself in the road, and we proceeded on at a rapid pace. Now it was, for the first time, that I learned our destination. Our friends, the Maryland regiment, Colonel Maulsby commanding, had been stationed as a guard at a ferry on the Shenandoah, between four and five miles from Charlestown towards the southeast. During the day Colonel Maulsby had been threatened by the enemy's cavalry, and had asked for reinforcements, which were not furnished. Between twelve and one o'clock A. M., of the 7th, a frightened teamster came flying from camp to Banks's headquarters, crying out that the loyal Maryland regiment had been cut to pieces. Twelve hundred cavalry, he said, had attacked it.

My route for a short distance led along a good paved road; but soon turning to the left, upon a dirt road, the mud and obstructions rendered it impossible to proceed farther by night. Halting by the roadside, I threw out pickets to the front, and directed the men to make themselves comfortable. Fires soon blazed along our line from fuel furnished by adjoining fence-rails. While awaiting daylight, I extracted from the frightened teamster, whom I had brought along as a guide, the following story of the disaster that had overtaken Colonel Maulsby:--

“When the twelve hundred cavalry of the enemy made the attack on us I heard the first shots fired, and then heard the officers call out, ‘Turn out, boys, the enemy is upon you!’ ” Throwing himself down in a hollow, this frightened teamster remained concealed, until he thought all the enemy had passed, when he arose to find that his “mules had broken away.” As fast as his legs could carry him, he [111] ran through fields, trembling with fear, spreading the report to our own pickets, who, many of them, with the fugitive teamster, came crowding into Charlestown.

“Did you see the enemy's cavalry?” I asked.

“I saw the Maryland men run, and heard the firing; and then I thought it time to take care of myself,” he replied.

“But did you see any of the enemy?” I urged.

“No; but I was told there were twelve hundred.”

“Did you see any one killed?”

“No, sir. I laid low until they passed me, and then I ran here through the fields.”

“Can it be possible that this story is all of your own imagining?” I inquired.

“No, indeed, sir; I'm sure the camp is taken,” he answered.

The duty I was to perform was to capture, if possible, the captors, and if not, to bring back reliable information.

At daylight I resumed the march. We were but four miles from our destination. As we approached the river I came suddenly upon five or six men of the Maryland regiment, as they were crawling out of a hole that led from a barn-loft. These men confirmed the story of the teamster, saying that their regiment had been cut to pieces. Sweeping them in with my encircling line of skirmishers, I moved rapidly for the belt of woods in front of the ferry, where the regiment had been encamped. Near by was a small village, in which I saw the gleaming of bayonets, and troops apparently falling back; but with my glass I could not make out their colors nor their uniforms, so I threw out an entire company of skirmishers, and ordered up the artillery. But hardly had I made preparations for a fight, when one of my cavalry scouts came galloping back, saying, “Those are men of the Maryland [112] regiment.” Passing them, I directed my column for the camp, and soon came upon sentinels, whom recognizing by their uniform as of the Maryland regiment, I inquired if there had been a fight, and was promptly answered that there had not. Turning to my frightened teamster, who stood near, I asked him what this meant. “Have you not had firing?” he asked a sentinel, without directly addressing himself to me. “Yes: we made a mistake last night, and our men just fired into our cavalry pickets, but did n't hurt anybody. Only a horse — perhaps a man — was wounded,” the sentinel replied.

“Is this all?” I asked.

“That is all!” replied the sentinel

“ I ought to tie you to the tail of my horse, and drag you as a coward back to Charlestown!” I said to the now pallid teamster by my side.

“ Well, there was firing!” he stammered out.

“And as soon as you heard it you ran, like a great lout, five miles to Charlestown, and with your false reports have caused three thousand infantry, two sections of artillery, and two squadrons of cavalry to be trailed out on this useless march!”

After breakfasting with the officers, I returned again to my camp, which I reached at ten A. M., having been absent about twelve hours.

Information having been received that the enemy had abandoned his batteries on the lower Potomac, and was preparing to abandon Manassas, our corps, “pursuant to directions received from Washington,” was ordered to move at seven o'clock A. M., of the tenth of March.

While Congress had been sitting in judgment upon McClellan, condemning his policy and his plans, discussing his movements and misapprehending his motives, as if it had become a body of mis-representatives with the single [113] purpose of decrying the commander of the Army of the Potomac, General McClellan had been carefully and methodically preparing his vast army for the field.

I have referred to the onward movement ordered by the President on the twenty-second of February, with General McClellan in command of the grand army of the Potomac, organized into its several divisionary corps, under McDowell, Sumner, Heintzelman, Keyes, and Banks. Halleck was in charge of a department at the West, and Fremont in charge of the Mountain Department. It is with Banks's corps that our interest lies. While the others were to move on their devious way up the peninsula to Yorktown, Williamsburg, the Chickahominy, and the James, we were to move up the valley of the Shenandoah, closing this gateway to the enemy. Our force was as follows: We had the brigades that wintered with us at Frederick, commanded by Generals Hamilton, Williams, and Abercrombie. This force was increased by the division formerly commanded by General Charles P. Stone, at Poolsville, and consisted of three brigades, commanded by Generals Gorman, Burns, and Dana. Only the first two were with us, and these were commanded by General Sedgwick, to whom, after Stone's removal and incarceration, the division was assigned. We had also a force of some six thousand men commanded by General Shields, formerly Lander's force, which was ordered to report to Banks. Then there were about fourteen hundred nen, commanded by Colonel Geary, not serving with any brigade. This made up the whole of Banks's command.1 The use to be [114] made of it was primarily the capture of Winchester. It was reported, and we believed, that General (Stonewall) Jackson, with from seven to eleven thousand men, awaited us behind those fortified walls.2 Whatever may have been Jackson's force, we knew he could increase it from Manassas, or from further south. The disposition of our command was as follows: While our brigade moved on and to Charlestown from Harper's Ferry, General Williams with my old Darnstown brigade moved from Hancock through Martinsburg to Bunker Hill (our old position under Patterson); General Hamilton passing through Charlestown stopped at Smithfield, midway between Charlestown and Bunker Hill; General Shields halted at Martinsburg, and General Sedgwick at Charlestown.

Our route was first south from Charlestown to Berryville, fourteen and one half miles, then due west to Winchester, about ten and one half miles. General Williams was only fourteen miles away, and Hamilton about the same. On the morning of the tenth of March, General —, at 7 o'clock, started with his brigade to make a reconnoissance to Berryville; we were to follow, and were ready. At 12 M. a mounted messenger from General — came tearing into camp, asking for reinforcements. Our brigade was instantly put in motion. Without adventure we encamped about sundown within one mile of Berryville. [115] General — was there before us, and without opposition, although not without a fight. While riding in advance, the commanding general saw, as he thought, preparations to oppose his march. On a distant hill, surrounded with horsemen, a devilish invention met his gaze. “What is it?” he asked in vain. “Are these three men on horseback the advance of legions? Bring up the field-batteries!” he cried aloud. Pointing, like Napoleon to the British squares at Waterloo, he shouted, “Our pathway lies there.” So General — hurled his shot and shell at this obstacle to his progress. Off scampered the three horsemen; down from his perch scrambled and scud the driver of a threshing-machine,--for this was the harmless implement that filled the soul of General — with direful purpose. To camp that afternoon there came an old farmer to inquire why they fired at him. “According to the proclamation,” said he, “you did n't come to destroy property or interfere with citizens peaceably following their avocations; and certainly there was nothing rebellious in threshing wheat.” 3

There were no signs of Union feeling on our route, save in a single house in a mean, poverty-stricken little collection of houses, by which our road ran; and here we found three or four young women and children lustily waving handkerchiefs, while a small boy held up conspicuously a Union flag, whose diminutive proportions could be embraced in two inches by three. The inmates of this house seemed reckless in their determination to brave all danger; indeed, had they been Northern men they could not have expressed more joy, although the judgment hereafter, if we did not sustain ourselves, no doubt caused some repression of feeling. The Second Regiment, with the rest of our brigade, bivouacked on Monday night, the tenth of March, [116] in the woods near Berryville. With straw from farmers' stacks, we added to the warmth of our single blanket; with rails from farmers' fences, we managed to moderate an atmosphere that was near the freezing-point. Bright and early in the morning of the 11th, our cavalry, moving forward for Winchester, encountered the enemy's cavalry, made prisoners of three, and chased the rest to within three or four miles of the town itself.

General Gorman now began to make arrangements for an armed reconnoissance, in force, towards Winchester. This he wished me to command, but somehow or other the day passed and nothing was done. We were awaiting the arrival of General Banks. I rode around the town, out on the Winchester road, and saw that ample arrangements for guards and a defence had been made. There were no alarms and no change during the day. The next morning, the twelfth of March, just after a long interview with a clergyman of Berryville,--a Union man, who had been giving me a plan of the works around Winchester, which I had committed to paper,--news came that last night (Tuesday) the enemy fled from the town, and that our force from Bunker Hill (General Williams) had entered. It was true. The Winchester that we had looked at in July of 1861, from this same Bunker Hill, had now been entered from Bunker Hill; the Winchester we had hoped to gain by Berryville, in 1861, when Patterson implored his militia to march to its attack, we were now about entering from Berryville. I galloped to the town with a staff-officer in anticipation of our march there on the morrow; found everything quiet and peaceable, and fancied perhaps there was some Union feeling. Some Northern men were there, said to be from Milford, Mass., who told me of the flight of the enemy. When I returned to Berryville it was dark; the ride had been wearisome. I was indulging in thoughts [117] of a good supper and sleep; but my reverie was rudely broken by the sight of batteries and brigades en route to Winchester. Berryville had been plunged into commotion by the report that a fierce battle was raging there. In vain I urged that I had just come from Winchester; had found and left no enemy in sight or sound; that marriage bells were not more peaceful than was Winchester. It was all in vain. On streamed the columns of infantry; on rolled the batteries and the caissons, while the wheels jarred and cracked against the axles, and on lumbered the baggage-wagons and the camp-followers,--still onward, tramp, tramp, for the severe fight at Winchester, though not a sound of fighting we heard. In the darkness all was quiet, save the subdued noise of our own senseless march. At about twelve o'clock at night, two or three miles from the peaceable town, I lay down in the woods again, to bivouac in cold and in hunger, with a disgust, deep and undefinable, to awake, however, on the morning of the 13th, with all discomforts vanished, and our fatigues forgotten

The feelings that agitated General Jackson, as our columns approached the town from the north and east, have, since his death, been given to the world. This noted commander was moved with doubts and perplexities. Now he was ready to hazard everything to make good his promise to the people of Winchester that the “Yankees” should not enter their town; and then, more prudent considerations prevailing, he would resolve to retire, only again to reconsider, with renewed agitation.4

On the night of the eleventh of March Jackson entered the house of a Rev. Mr. Graham, of Winchester, with whose family he was intimate. Here he called for a Bible, read aloud, and prayed with the family. Then suddenly rising, he said, “I will never leave Winchester without a [118] fight! never, never!” He stood looking at his astonished auditors a moment, and then, his excitement disappearing, his sword was driven back with a ringing clash into its scabbard,1 and in tones of profound discouragement he said, “No, I cannot sacrifice my men. I intended to attack the enemy on the Martinsburg road, but they are approaching on the flanks, too, and would surround me. I cannot sacrifice my men, I must fall back.” And so he fell back to Mount Jackson, forty-five miles from Winchester.

About two miles from town, the camp of our regiment was located. Then came days of cold, with huge fires in front of tents; and days of sunshine and heat, when the bluebirds and the robins sang; and days when the air was filled with flocks of unsightly ravens hovering over fields, noisome with the carcasses of dead horses. Here, too, were felt such cravings for poultry that the feathered tribe became almost extinct. The peacock was caught by his magnificent tail by vandal hands, and roasted like any common bird. The officers shut their eyes whenever a rooster crowed; for General Abercrombie, commanding the brigade, had given strict orders to punish all detected foragers. This was hard, for Abercrombie ate secession chickens; but he paid for them, it was said. So did the forager of a line-officer's mess pay for a calf he coveted, or

1 Oliver Cromwell Farmer Cromwell! Lord of the fens! the slovenly, ungainly member for Huntingdon! the man of massive forehead, swift, glancing eye, and firm-set lips, who had a habit of suddenly grasping the hilt of his sword with firmness, as if there, in his mind, lay the true argument, or, at all events, which would, all others failing, assuredly prevail!--Oliver Cromwell, who at Naseby Field passed the words “Peace and hope” along his line as the triumphant psalm pealed forth, when the swords of the Ironsides flashed in the sun!--Oliver Cromwell, who in piercing tones bade his Ironsides charge home “in the name of the Most High God!” --this Cromwell has had, through near one hundred and fifty years, no better or truer prototype than “StonewallJackson. [119] attempted to pay for it, but the farmer would not sell Federal money was offered; then Confederate, but the owner still refused.

“ The officers have nothing to eat,” said the man.

“Let them starve, then,” replied the farmer.

“Not so,” said the man, as he levelled his musket and shot the calf.

A general staff-officer — an unhallowed quartermaster-did not shut his eyes; and thus it was that the whole force of the North was employed to punish the destroyer of calves, to the satisfaction of the destroyers of country,--for the former was punished by imprisonment, and the latter encouraged to deny food to his enemy. Still, I doubt not, our men survived; for I find, upon referring to that period, that my regiment arrived in camp at Winchester at two P. M., and at five P. M. some of the companies had built brick ovens, from which there came forth fresh bread, to make more palatable the baked beans and mutton-chops which graced the line-officers' mess tables. Such were sometimes rations.

The great fortifications of which we had heard, surrounding Winchester, proved to be of no moment. One could have jumped over them as easily as Remus over the walls of Rome. Much dissatisfaction was expressed that Jackson was permitted to get away without a fight, and but little heed paid to my assurances that this chieftain would be apt, before the war closed, to give us an entertainment up to the utmost of our aspirations.

It was about this time that the appearance of our first “Monitor” off James River, so providential as it seemed, moved the fears of some of us that the end was about coming, and that with the flight of Jackson our last chance for a fight was gone. Though the country might not be restored in July, of 1862, there was no doubt the war [120] would be over then, said those whom neither reason nor reproach could reach.

When General McClellan's order of movement and strong appeal to his army appeared, I learned of the disposition to be made of our corps. Again the destiny of the Second Regiment gave it a new brigade commander; one that shared with it all the eventful scenes, with the attendant joys and sorrows, that so largely entered into the year of 1862. We were to be no more to General Abercrombie. General Hamilton was, by order of General McClellan, transferred to another corps in his army, and my regiment sent to the brigade lately commanded by Hamilton. As senior colonel, I thus became the commander of a brigade which, then for the first time united, remained unbroken during the remainder of the war,--a brigade with a common history and a common glory.

When the achievements of any portion of that organization are told, deeds are declared in whose fame all share. The Second Massachusetts, the Third Wisconsin, and the Twenty-seventh Indiana regiments made up, substantially, the brigade that fell to my command.

From Winchester, on the fifteenth of March, General Sedgwick, with his division, was transferred to another corps in the Army of the Potomac.

In the second movement, of which the advance upon Winchester was the first in McClellan's plans, Williams's division of the Fifth Corps was ordered to proceed, via Berryville, through Snicker's Gap to Centreville, while Shields, with his division of about six thousand men, was to remain at Winchester. Williams's division of three brigades moved very early in the morning of the 22d for its destination. At night my brigade encamped at Berryville, and the next night at Snicker's Gap. Ignorant of the events transpiring in the rear, I was awakened [121] on the morning of the twenty-fourth of March by despatches coming thick and fast, calling me back to Winchester. “We have heard cannon at intervals, hear them now,” wrote Major Crane, of the Third Wisconsin, at halfpast six of the day before; and so, as I read the orders sent me at ten minutes past six P. M. from General Williams to return at once to Berryville, I exclaimed, “There are Major Crane's cannon.” “Push on to Winchester,” continued the orders, “if on your arrival at Berryville you hear the sound of large guns, giving an indication of an action in progress at the former place.” Rapidly we retraced our steps. Six companies of my regiment had encamped for the night at the ferry across the Shenandoah. The bridge had broken down and delayed them. These were turned back to Berryville by orders from General Williams. “Leave two regiments, with one section of artillery, at Berryville, and move the remainder of your command from three to five miles from there unless you hear firing at Winchester, in which event leave but one regiment and one section of artillery, and push on for Winchester,” came to me through a flying orderly at eight o'clock; and still following upon the heels of the former came another, to say that General Banks had returned (from Harper's Ferry), that my brigade would proceed immediately to Winchester. Scarcely had I digested this, when out of the thick dust loomed up another orderly, galloping as if for life, and I read, from the headquarters of the Fifth Army Corps to Colonel George H. Gordon: “Send forward your battery with'all possible despatch.” And still the cry was, “On they come;” as yet again the orders came: “Send back the ordnance train with all possible despatch;” and “Send forward to General Abercrombie to return with all his trains to Winchester;” and “General Williams expects you to leave one regiment at [122] Berryville, with one section of artillery;” and Colonel Andrews “hopes I will leave some other force to guard the bridge and ordnance train, and send Captain Abbott's company to report” to him.

From the multitude of despatches and orders that poured fast and furious upon me, it was evident that a battle was imminent, and that I was expected to push on to be in time to take a hand. When I reached Winchester it was late in the evening. I had done two days work in one,had marched twenty-six miles. Banks was at Middletown. There had been a fight; Shields's division had whipped Jackson, who was now being pursued by Banks, and the urgent calls upon me were to aid in the pursuit. I sent a messenger to Banks (twelve miles) to announce my arrival, and he, on the morning of the 25th, ordered me to report to him at Strasburg. It was apparent the fight with Jackson was not to be renewed at once. There was still a little daylight left, as with my staff I entered Winchester on the evening of the 24th; and I improved it, to ride with my aid over the field on which we had gained a decided victory. The wounded of both sides had been removed; but the dead still lay where they fell. Along the enemy's lines the ground was covered with them. The coming shades of twilight in the thick woods rendered everything obscure. To a novice the scene was awful. As they were when stricken, so in death the dead remained: the clenched hand, the uplifted arm, the effort to stanch a bleeding limb, the solitude, the dreary light,it was a picture I cannot forget; and yet to add to its horror, amidst this deathly silence, I heard a voice invoking curses on the dead.

Peering into the darkness, I saw a man on horseback, slowly moving towards me, with head bowed low, gazing sternly into those upturned ghastly faces, while angry [123] denunciations fell from his lips, as without pity in his heart he rejoiced in this carnival of death.

The bitterness of his cries filled me with horror. Who was he that had no sorrow for a scene like that? Nearer came the rider, near enough for recognition. It was a son of Virginia, here upon the soil of his native State, cursing with all the bitterness of his heart his dead kinsman at his feet: a loyal Virginian, who had been driven from home, wife, and children; who had seen his aged father driven out of his house to die,--driven out by those who had plunged the nation into war; a man maddened by outrages and gloating over this terrible retribution, and plunging yet deeper into that gloom of horrors as if his vengeance could not be satisfied.

The events of the preceding two days began on the very day that we left Winchester for Centreville. On that day the enemy under command of Stonewall Jackson showed himself one mile south of Winchester, in the edge of woods that skirt the town. This was on the 22d. Banks was still in Winchester, and so was the second division of his corps under General Shields; but Jackson did not know that, nor did Ashby (who with two to three hundred cavalry and guns from Chew's battery was making the preliminary demonstration that should cause a return of the Federal troops) believe that there were more than four of the enemy's regiments in the town, and these he thought and was convinced were to march to Harper's Ferry in the morning. Shields paid but little heed to this demonstration, sending against it but one brigade of infantry, two batteries of artillery, and a small force of cavalry, though he gave personal attention to his batteries until his arm was fractured by a fragment of a shell. At night Ashby retired to Kernstown, three miles south of Winchester.

At the same time the remainder of Jackson's corps was at [124] Strasburg, Fulkerson's brigade having marched from Woodstock, and Garnett's (Stonewall's) with Burks's from Mount Jackson, twenty-two miles.

During the night Shields sent forward more troops. Kimball's brigade and Daum's artillery went out on the Strasburg road nearly to Kernstown. In rear, Sullivan supported Kimball, and covered the approaches to Winchester on the east and west; Tyler's brigade and Broadhead's cavalry were held in reserve. In the morning (the 23d), at nine o'clock, Colonel Mason of the Fourth Ohio made a reconnoissance; he was out one hour, and reported that Ashby's was the only hostile force before us; and this was then true. Both Banks and Shields agreed that this was not a dangerous indication, and the former between one and two P. M. left for Washington.

On the same morning, too, at daylight, Jackson pressed forward from Strasburg. At one P. M. his whole force reached the vicinity of Kernstown, a march of fourteen miles. Jackson meant to have deferred his attack until the next day, for his troops were weary; but when he saw that the Federals could overlook his position, and reflected that his enemy could strengthen himself by reinforcements, he changed his purpose and prepared to deliver battle at once. Not yet was he undeceived. We may here state that Jackson's army consisted of the first (Stonewall) brigade of five regiments under General Garnett, the second of three regiments and one battalion under Colonel Burks, and the third of two regiments under Colonel Fulkerson. The Rebel army numbered in infantry 3,087, and had of artillery 27 pieces; of cavalry 290.

The force under General Shields5 numbered in infantry [125] 6,000, and in cavalry 750. There were also twenty-four pieces of artillery, and one company of Massachusetts sharp-shooters.

The battle of Kernstown, as the Confederates call it, was fought on a high ridge, which beyond the western limits of Winchester extends in a north-easterly and south-westerly direction. So does the Strasburg or Valley Turnpike trace its course, crossing for a distance of two miles from Winchester to the toll-gate, the eastern foot-hills of the ridge, where, diverging, it passes Kernstown, nearly three miles from the crest. The ridge commands both the Strasburg road, from Kernstown to Winclester, and the surrounding country, which is open and cultivated.

Upon Jackson's arrival near Kernstown he found a strong force of Federals on both sides of the pike, about one mile north of the town; with their left strengthened to resist Ashby's attacks, and centre supported by guns on a hill (between the pike and a dirt road, called the middle road), known as Pritchard's Hill. But on the Federal light, towards the crest of the ridge, there did seem to the astute Jackson to be a fair chance of turning the enemy's line, and at the same time gain the advantage of a commanding position over his enemy on the plain below. And this plan, while Ashby was pounding away with his guns against the Federal left, he proceeded to carry out. It was, by the way, this hammering that Major Crane had heard when he sent me the note I have alluded to.

Leaving Colonel Burks to support Ashby, Jackson led [126] Fulkerson's brigade and part of Carpenter's battery towards his left. Garnett followed, and then came the artillery of McLaughlin and Waters's batteries. When Jackson reached the crest of the ridge, he formed a line of battle (perpendicular to its direction) with Fulkerson's brigade on the left, posted behind a stone-wall which ran down the western declivity of the ridge, and with four of Garnett's regiments and two of Burks's in the centre to the northwest of the crest. The wall was on the southern edge of a rocky field, the northern side of which was thickly wooded. Colonel Kimball (commanding a brigade), as the ranking officer on the field after Shields was hurt, was in command of the Federals. Anticipating Jackson's very transparent device, Kimball laid his plans to meet it. The Cedar Creek road leaves the turnpike at the toll-gate, and, running westerly, crosses the ridge within about a mile of Jackson's position. Tyler's Federal brigade, at 2 P. M., was at the junction of the Cedar Creek and Strasburg roads. At 3 P. M. it had crossed the ridge, and was moving rapidly along the crest and both faces to reach the battlefield, which it did at 3.30 P. M., just in time to encounter the infantry which Jackson was sending forward to turn the Federal right. Behind that growth of timber our troops gained a vantage ground unperceived, from which Tyler attempted to turn Fulkerson; but he could not draw him out from that wall, so he turned his attention to Garnett, whose line was concealed in the undergrowth, and marched across the open to get at him. Reinforcements of the Fifth and Sixth Ohio and the Thirteenth of Sullivan's brigade, the Fourteenth Indiana, Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania, seven companies of the Sixty-seventh Ohio, and three companies of the Eighth Ohio of Kimball's brigade were hurried forward to Tyler. Then commenced a fierce assault. Bravely did the Federals charge up to and into [127] the hostile line, unmoved by the Rebel fire, unterrified by the Rebel yell. In vain did Jackson hurry up his reserve regiments; in vain address them to stand; and, as “my brave boys,” in vain cry out, “Give them one more round!” Both commander and command were taken aback by this increased force of Federals (larger than they believed within reach), which soon pressed back the Rebel line upon its centre, swept over the stone-wall, and drove the Rebel left from the field, capturing artillery and many prisoners. While Jackson was in another part of the field, General Garnett had ordered a retreat. The Rebels turned in disorder. Garnett met the Fifth Virginia coming to his assistance, and ordered it to retire. With his force retreating in dismay, Jackson turned thoroughly beaten towards Strasburg. His flight was not stopped until he had made six miles south of Newtown, whence on the next morning he moved to the south side of Cedar Creek, and thence gradually retired again to Mount Jackson. The Rebel loss was 80 killed, 342 wounded, and 269 missing,total 691; 2 pieces of artillery, and many small arms. The Federal loss in killed and wounded was 568.

Jackson was angry with General Garnett, and soon relieved him from the command of his brigade,6 and preferred charges against him for trial before a court-martial. Speaking of him in his official report he says, “Though our troops were fighting under great disadvantage, I regret that General Garnett gave orders to fall back, as otherwise the enemy's advance would have been retarded and other regiments brought up. Colonel John Campbell was rapidly advancing with his regiment, but night, and an indisposition of the enemy to pressfurther, had terminated the battle, which commenced at four o'clock P. M.” 7 [128]

Jackson had promised the people of Winchester that he would return to them. This time he failed to keep his word. His dead, dying, and wounded were left to our care. Too much praise cannot be awarded the Federal troops for their courage, especially those from Ohio. It was pluck more than leadership in this action. The thickets were cut into slivers by the storm of bullets poured into them from the open field over which the Federals passed to the assault.

That Jackson was deceived in the number of our troops in front of Winchester is admitted by Southern writers,8 and that he intended to deceive him was always claimed by General Shields. It was part of his feint to move forward to Strasburg on the nineteenth of March, and retreat rapidly again, passing through Winchester, after three brigades of Banks's corps had marched for Centreville.9

General Shields dwelt with unfeigned delight upon his “stratagem” in placing his force in a secluded position, two miles from Winchester, upon the Martinsburg road, to give the inhabitants an impression that the main part of his army had left, and that nothing remained but a few regiments to garrison the place. He knew that the people would convey false information to Jackson at New Market, as indeed they did, for Jackson turned instantly in pursuit. On the 22d, when Ashby drove in Shields's pickets, he discovered only what he supposed to be a single brigade. On the 23d, when Jackson attacked, he soon found he had caught a “tartar.” His force of 4,000 was opposed, not to [129] 2,000 less than his own, but to the whole of Shields's division of 6,750 infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and no more.10 There is no evidence that Jackson contemplated the result that followed, although some writers claim unforeseen consequences, when favorable, as results of welllaid plans. Southern writers, while speaking openly of Jackson's not doubting that he could crush the four regiments at Winchester,11 further affirm that this battle brought upon him a great deal of censure; for it was a fierce and frightful engagement, in which he lost nearly twenty per cent of his force in a very few hours of conflict. One of his officers at this time said of him that he was “cussed by every one ;” “and it must be confessed,” says Pollard,12 “in this instance at least, the great commander had been entrapped by the enemy.” 13 Again, on the other side it is claimed that “this was not a blind, heedless assault; that [130] it was not a blunder or an accident, but the result of calculation and design,--to wit, the retention of the Federal forces in the valley.” 14

“It was not until he was actually engaged with the enemy that he found his force numbered eleven thousand men” 15 is a Southern statement, falsely made, to excuse a defeat, and yet containing an undeniable admission that if Jackson had known that our force was superior in numbers to his own, he would not have attacked us.16

When the enemy fled, his flight was rapid, and, as described [131] by the fugitives, fatiguing. Jackson, forcing his men along the valley pike all night, pushed on through Strasburg,17 and did not rest until far enough towards Charlottesville to be secured against a rapid pursuit.

As narrated, I proceeded on the morning of the 25th to unite my forces with the advance under Banks. Everywhere there were signs of a hasty retreat. To hinder pursuit, bridges, whether over pike or railroad, had been destroyed by the fugitives. We found dead and wounded in houses along the road; and in a miserable hut there lay a poor fellow, a wounded ecbel, hit so lard by a shell that his arm had been fractured, his right leg badly lacerated in twelve places, and his left badly torn. Before deserting him, a surgeon had amputated the arm; but the leg having received no attention, mortification had set in. All that we could do was done to make him as comfortable as possible, before death should close the scene.

Though the reality of this retreat was bad enough, the Northern papers indulged in flights of fancy that if possible put to shame even a Rebel pen. No one ever saw the “nine wagon-loads of the enemy's dead upon the road,” nor did they exist, although our papers so reported. A German aid to General Shields performed marvels of gallantry,so he said; three Rebel horsemen, if not six, being in turn killed by sword and pistol by his single hand. A bullethole through his cap he showed me in proof of his escape in this deadly encounter. A satirical sketch represented this ferocious German in the act of running his sword through two Rebel cavalrymen, while a third in rear, with jaws agape at such wonders, received the point in his mouth. The tables of our laughter were turned when this sketch appeared in “Harper's Weekly,” solemnly representing a swordsman transfixing two men only: the sword [132] had been rubbed out beyond the second, and thus the sketch was sent and published as a true delineation18

On the evening of the twenty-sixth of March, my tired troops laid down their knapsacks in Strasburg. The effect of our victory we perceived in strong professions of love for the Union, expressed by men of intelligence, in the towns along our route. We heard many confessions of regret and accusations of deception against Southern leaders by people here, who affirmed their belief that upon our coming their property would be taken, their houses destroyed, and themselves made prisoners. I slept the first night of my arrival in Strasburg in the house of a finelooking and cheery old gentleman, who said to me, that, when he first saw our troops coming down the hill, he was firmly convinced that he would be killed or made prisoner, and that he could not express his astonishment and delight at our treatment of the people; adding that such information as he could now impart would cause hundreds of men to return to their allegiance.

These confessions, coming on the heels of our decisive victory, filled us with enthusiasm, gave tone to our feelings, and made our hearts bound with delight at the thought of carrying onward the old flag, though our marches might be in days and nights of travel, in hunger, privation, and death. As the superb scenery of the valley opened before us in the sparkling waters of the Shenandoah, winding between the Blue Ridge and its parallel ranges; in the trees of cedar and pine that lined its banks; in the rolling surfaces of the valley, peacefully resting by the mountainside, and occupied by rich fields and quiet farms,--there was no foreshadowing of the terror, the desolation, and death that were to follow. [133]

On the day after our arrival we were thrown forward through the town towards Woodstock, to a camp back from the road concealed behind Round Hill, in front of which was Colonel Sullivan, of Shields's brigade, and, for some purpose of offence, beyond Colonel Sullivan was Jackson. Now Jackson was constantly stirring up Sullivan, and Sullivan was as constantly stirring up my brigade at Round Hill. The enemy seemed to be always advancing. .Bits of paper announcing it in hurried though laconic style floated through camp, until “How is Sullivan?” became a popular inquiry. The enemy was constantly in readiness to move, said our spies, but in which direction was the conundrum of the hour. When we pursued towards Strasburg, Ashby made a display of his artillery, fired a few shots, and retreated; and in this manner we had chased him about four miles beyond the town. When we halted, Jackson halted. Our pickets were about a mile beyond our camp: they were on Tom's Brook, as it was called. About a mile beyond the brook I could see the Rebel cavalry. Sometimes the enemy amused himself by throwing shells at our pickets, when they were a little too venturesome; but beyond a feeble show of strength and ugliness, nothing transpired to disturb the dulness of camp.

It was on the first of April that Banks received from General McClellan a new plan of operations. Up to this point Jackson had planned our campaign. Now we were to plan Jackson's.

From the steamer “Commodore” as his headquarters, on the first of April General McClellan addressed to “General Banks, commanding the Fifth Corps,” a communication, in which he affirmed that the change in affairs in the valley of the Shenandoah rendered necessary a departure “from the plan we some days since agreed upon.”

Assuming that Banks had a force sufficiently ample to [134] drive Jackson before him, provided the latter was not largely reinforced, and that the former might find it impossible to detach anything towards Manassas for some days, probably not until the operations of the main army had drawn all the Rebels towards Richmond, Banks was ordered, as the most important thing he could do at present, to throw Jackson well back, and then to assume a position to prevent his return. When railway communications were re-established, McClellan thought it would be advisable to move on Staunton; “which would require a force of twenty-five or thirty thousand men, and should be mainly coincident with my own movement on Richmond, at all events not so long before as to enable the Rebels to combine against you, perhaps with smaller force, after the main battle near Richmond.”

Thus began our second campaign. Up and along the North Fork of the Shenandoah we advanced on the second of April, in pursuit of General Jackson's army. My brigade with cavalry and artillery was ordered to take the advance.

As our sturdy columns, with bayonets glistening in the sunlight, moved out upon the main road to form on that bright April morning for an eventful campaign, I was never more impressed with the march of a column of troops. As the long lines conformed in graceful curves to the undulations of the earth, they seemed, with their solid tread, like a symbol of irresistible force centred in the immovable rocks beneath. I know of nothing like it in nature. The columns pass, leaving scarce a trace of motion; and, lo! what changes are wrought! Forms and customs, laws and religions, property and possessions, all give way before this mysterious power. In view of such scenes I have often felt the sternness of this reality. Here indeed is the inevitable. It is born of destiny. [135]

Hardly had we passed Tom's Brook, where our advance guard had been stationed, when we came in sight of the enemy's cavalry pickets. Saluting them with a shot or two from my battery (Cothran's Parrotts), I moved rapidly towards Woodstock. As we were descending the hill which brought us into this picturesque little town, bang went a gun, and a shell whizzed about ten feet over our heads (I won't be accurate about the feet), grazing the neck of Colonel Broadhead's horse,19 and striking the road a few feet in front of a company of the Second Massachusetts Regiment. Fortunately the shell did not explode. Perhaps a minute passed, when there arose a puff of smoke, then a report, and a shell screamed along the road; but this, like its predecessor, did not burst. Cothran's battery was close behind. At a spanking gallop his horses came up, his guns were unlimbered, and we gave them a dozen to their four; which not liking they retired with their artillery, and threw forward some of their skirmishers (probably dismounted cavalry).

I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews to deploy the Second Massachusetts, and move over them; which was done rapidly, with but few casualties. Without a halt we pushed on for Edenburg, which is about five miles from Woodstock. At every hill we got some shells, but paid them back with interest. These jagged pieces of iron whirring around one's ears gave a new sensation to our men. “If there is anything that can scare a man,” said one of the best of the officers of the Second, “it is a shell; and I've seen precious few who are not scared.” As we approached Edenburg, the scenes at Woodstock were repeated; but here the enemy's infantry snarled at us. The Second Massachusetts as skirmishers advanced handsomely towards the town. Bullets fell thickly around; but the [136] men moved forward without hesitation. At Edenburg, Stony Creek, a deep and rapid stream, running easterly across the pike and railroad, empties into the North Fork of the Shenandoah. The place was favorable for a stand, and it looked for a time as if the enemy were determined to make one there. Retreating, however, across the creek, Jackson burned both the pike and railroad bridges in his flight, and placed his cavalry and artillery on a commanding ridge on the south side of the creek, confronting us on the northern side. The enemy's batteries, posted about three fourths of a mile from us, exchanged continual shots with our Parrott's. Our guns, cleverly concealed just over the brow of a hill, did good execution without loss of men or horses. Beneath the hill, resting from their fatiguing march of a good sixteen miles, were my infantry. The enemy's guns, answering our fire, sent shells merrily around our heads; but the men had got somewhat used to the sound, and munched their cold rations with indifference, and kept on, too,--all but one poor fellow, a private of my Twentyninth Pennsylvania Regiment, who would have continued to masticate his hard bread, but, alas! a ragged piece of iron severed the back of his head from the front as cleverly as if a knife had passed through. The crowd around him was great, the commotion noticeable; but no one else was hit. It was determined to remain at Edenburg for several days; so before sunset the line of the creek swarmed with our pickets. Our men tumbled down in their designated encampments, unmindful of the sharp reports of hostile muskets or the deeper bass of answering artillery. Through the day we had been fighting Ashby, with his cavalry and horse artillery,--the rear-guard of Jackson's army. Ashby's cavalry force numbered about one thousand, and, as cavalry, were greatly superior to ours. In reply to some orders I had given, my cavalry commander replied, “I [137] can't catch them, sir; they leap the fences and walls like deer: neither our men nor our horses are so trained.” And this was true; although before the war was much older we could give them odds and beat them, too. Ashby was as cool and brave as he was experienced. I think our men had a kind of admiration for the man, as he sat unmoved upon his horse and let our men pepper away at him, as if he enjoyed it. In Southern histories the writers never tired in praising Ashby. The more absurd the stories the more credible they were to Southern admirers, who gloated over such Munchausenisms as that when our troops entered Winchester, Ashby on his white horse, at some conspicuous point in the town, alone awaited our advance. There he sat, motionless, until we were hard upon him, when, with a defiant wave, he galloped rapidly away, killing one, and lifting by the coat-collar from his horse to Ashby's own, and so bearing him off, the other of two of our cavalry-men sent around to intercept him.

During the day's march I had my first experience of the part the blacks were to render us in this war. Entering a collection of poor negro huts during one of my halts, I was handed, by some of the colored people, two letters addressed to General Banks,--which proved to be from a white man calling himself a spy, and giving information of importance. If this was a ruse, it revealed that there was no surer way to get information adverse to the enemy into our hands than to intrust it to such messengers. In another instance, sorrowful complaints made to me proved that the colored people would be called for by the Rebel armies to assist them to the extent of their capacity. Near our bivouac there was a poor hut; its occupant a neat-looking free negro woman. She came to speak to me; not to complain, but to say, in a weary discouraged way, that the enemy had taken her two sons away from [138] her, one of them a poor cripple, who with a wagon and two poor “bones” (horses) earned the pittance upon which she lived. He was taken to haul off sick soldiers of Jackson's army. “I shall never see him again,” mourned the poor mother, as she looked eagerly in my face for that consolation which I could feel would be hers only through that God who in love would come to this poor woman in this lowly cabin, and through a great sorrow lead her at last into a path of freedom and of joy.

Our stay at Edenburg was a continuous season of artillery-brawling and picket-stalking. We had some severe lessons before we learned to creep up on our game, like our more experienced friends on the other side of the creek. It was not five minutes after one of my staff had entered and examined a piece of woods on the outskirts of our camps, until the enemy's sharp-shooters fired upon and killed some of my men going through the same piece for water. Company H of our Regiment was sent to dislodge them. While the men were crawling up towards the bank, pushing their guns before them, and eagerly peering ahead for a shot, I could see with my glass the Rebel hunters dodging low along the walls, or creeping carefully behind the bushes, to gain a sheltered spot in an unlookedfor cover, when muskets cracked and a lively rattle mingled with answering growls of artillery. The creek that separated us from the enemy was not more than ten yards in width. On its banks on either side were houses. Back from the river about one fourth of a mile there was a thick wood, in which the enemy concealed his batteries until he chose to stir us up, when he would sneak up behind the cover, open upon us at an unexpected moment, and retreat rapidly when we replied. The fire from the artillery and the skirmishing between the pickets, though continuous, was wonderfully free from casualties. On one of our [139] afternoons at this spot, I had just arisen from the rough camp-table that served us for our meals, when hissing and crashing came the enemy's shells over towards our battery. Instantly I heard the cheerful boom of ours in reply; and then, as the enemy's demonstration was a little more spiteful than usual, I got the brigade under arms. There was no harm done; but it took at least a dozen shots from our guns to make the Rebels move off.

The brigade, after some little delay, went into camp again; and the occasion, though one of no moment to the troops, proved a trial to my aid, who having just procured a horse out of the government train, Iust needs try his martial ardor. The horse was a good-natured, stupid, slow old beast, and mated with another was very well; but, alone, he turned out “a bad lot.” He did not mind spurs, ran into every man he met, causing much profanity, and was especially obdurate when my aid (an officer of the Second Massachusetts) particularly desired to appear in the rl6e of an equestrian warrior. So here, one regiment having been formed, and the Second Massachusetts coming up, before which of all others the officer felt a pardonable pride in appearing in most gallant style, his plebeian charger could not be entreated out of a walk. Now any horseman knows that for a military chieftain a gallop is the thing,--a light, airy, arched-neck gallop, a spirited intimation of reserved force, with champing bit and nostrils dilated, and eye flashing, and ear pointed, as reminders of what you may get if you want it. It was something like this that my aid essayed, when, lo! his beast struck a dead, lazy, creeping walk. Spurs were dug into him by exasperated heels, until the beast struck a trot that any sixmule team might have envied, jolting the aid a foot from his saddle at every step. This was the only response, and it caused derisive laughter from concealed lookers-on. The [140] continued bumping, and the consciousness of being a merited object of mirth, naturally increased this officer's ire; and it was vented in renewed digging of spurs, until the animal, in sheer desperation at being held in tightly ahead and sharply urged astern, bumped into the drummajor of our regiment and nearly knocked him down, at which the smile was louder than allowed by the regulations. “He does n't mind shells, either, half as much as I do,” said the perturbed aid, as he eyed the sorry beast askance while he dwelt upon his vices; “in fact,” he added, “I should like to see the Devil himself make him shy. When those shells were coming over at Woodstock, making a perfectly infernal noise, and other horses were on the rampage, there stood this beast as quiet as if in a stable. Even when I saw a shell fired, and tried the protection of a friendly tree, he wouldn't stir a peg faster than usual; and the shell burst long before I got him there. But he has one virtue,--I can leave him anywhere, and he will stand till doomsday.” As I, too, had just secured a new horse, one belonging to an officer of Ashby's cavalry, captured by one of our skirmishers as we entered Woodstock, I was anxious to try his mettle. The contrast between my aid's horse and mine only served to make more conspicuous the shortcomings of the former. My horse would take a six-rail fence beautifully. After bounding over I often turned to look back, and call out, “Come along, don't stop for that!” at which my aid's big farm plough-horse would come up, run square into the fence, bump his knees, sneeze, turn around, and stand, firmly courting death rather than attempt the fence. “But if there are only four rails, now,” cries out the aid, “he will take that.” “Orderly, take down two of those rails. Now, Captain, take a fair start: let him out!” Down came the Captain with pace growing slower and slower, until he [141] reached the fence; when the horse halted, gravely counted the rails, quietly raised himself on end, put his fore-feet over, gave himself an unearthly hitch with his hind legs, and landed on the other side with a pair of barked shins, then sneezed again, as if he fancied he was a gay courser. The effect of this school of jumping is hard on the rider, who generally performs unheard — of gymnastics in the air, and comes down on the pommel of his saddle, to the great detriment of his pantaloons,--though there is some fun in it, and more excitement.

I have described the animal transferred from cart to cavalier duty, and how the change became him, and may now briefly describe the magnificent animal that fell to my lot. In doing this I must with his life speak of his death, which took place long after the war had ended.

It was after we had driven off Ashby's guns, and when the Second Massachusetts, deployed as skirmishers, were sweeping through Woodstock, that a skirmisher of the Second came suddenly upon a negro, leading a horse out of a stable in the town.

“Halloo,” says the skirmisher, “where are you going with that horse?”

“Don't stop me,” replied the negro; “dis is my marster's best horse, and I'm taking him to him.”

“Where is your master?”

“Why, dare he is, sir, wid Marse Ashby's cavalry; dare, sir, on de hill yonder.”

“Well, you can't go there with the horse. I'll take care of him; hand him over,” replied the soldier.

And so the horse, saddled and bridled, was passing by me to the rear, when I learned the facts of his capture. Directing the soldier to bring him to me after the fight was over, we moved on, and, as related, sent “Marse Ashby” and his cavalry whirling up the valley. [142]

Having occasion towards night to visit General Banks at his headquarters, distant about three miles, I called for this horse, jumped on his back, and let him take his own gait. Though it was a still night, I found from the way in which the air was rushing past my face that my horse must be going at great speed; and this impression was strengthened by hearing behind me the rapid gallop of a horse attempting in vain to pass. Presently I heard exclamations from the rider, “Jerusalem!” then sounds of urging to greater speed, until my pursuer was on a run. My horse had not broken his gait, which was a singular mixture of a trot and a pace; for although he moved his legs on one side of his body together (the characteristic of a pace), yet his fore-feet were thrown out with such a proud and lofty shock that it bore every semblance to a trot. I pulled up my horse to a slower gait, when in a moment my pursuer was by my side, exclaiming,--

Mister, what sort of a horse do you call that?”

“Why,--a very good horse, is he not?”

“ Good horse!” (with emphasis) “I call my horse a good horse, and I have been on the tight run to catch you and could n't do it, and you only trotting.”

The man belonged to a New York cavalry regiment, so he told me; was a private, and on duty as orderly, carrying despatches to General Banks. It was very amusing to see his look of astonishment and hear his delicate apology as he found he had been chasing a colonel of infantry in the dark,--but, “I do think that horse is a stunner,” he still insisted.

I next tried the horse with those of our cavalry, and found that he beat them all in leaping; indeed, General Hatch, commanding the cavalry, acknowledged there was no horse in his command that could compete with him. His jump was not a flying leap, it was really a jump. He [143] approached the fence or bar slowly, and preferred to do so at a walk; then slowly rising on his hind legs threw over his fore-feet, following with the rest of his body with a muscular energy that would unseat a careless rider. I found I could travel across the country without stopping to take down fences. I have often seen our pickets stare with amazement as I galloped towards them, taking all the fences in my path. I never lowered anything but the riding-rail of a Virginia fence; and I did that for my own comfort, though I think the horse would have gone over it with urging. It was not long before general attention was attracted to my horse. One could not see without admiring him. His weight was over eleven hundred, and his height in proportion to his weight. His nostril was of enormous size; his ear was large, but well-made and expressive; his tail was handsome and full; his mane soft but not thick, though slightly flowing; his color was a dark bay, with a black streak running from his mane along his back to the roots of his tail Unopposed he was quiet; but mount him, and witness the change! Then his neck arched, his immense nostril dilated, his teeth impatiently champed the heavy cavalry bit; every nerve was strung for instant and intense action. You felt in every fibre of your body that mass of muscle and of nerve, and you knew that there was strength, will, and courage that could be broken only with his life. It was a hard day's work one would have, if he were restless and impatient when he mounted for a day's march. So finely strung was this horse, that an approach to composure was only possible when the rider was calm.

After our fight with Jackson at Winchester, we were ordered to cross the Blue Ridge, to join Pope for his campaign. On our first day's march we passed the place where

Ashby” (so I had named the horse) was raised. My [144] quartermaster had a nice eye for a horse, and had made up his mind that. mine was a prize. “If you want to get rid of that horse,” he had once or twice insinuated, “I should be willing to take him off your hands;” but meeting no encouragement, he finally admitted that he knew more about the animal than I did, and he would point out the horse's old home when we came to it. It was a charming little old house on the summit of the Blue Ridge, with a view away off in the valley towards the Potomac. There were trees to shade from the hot sun; there were green fields and fresh breezes,--everything favorable to the nurture of such a horse.

There was an old negro at the house, and he, I knew, could tell me something of my capture; but I preferred to let this old servant make the discovery if he could. So I ordered all the horses of my staff, with some others, to be tied together in the woods, and then calling to the negro, I asked him if any one from that house had gone away into Ashby's cavalry.

“Oh, yes,” he replied, “Marse John, he's gone with Marse Ashby.”

“Did he take a horse with him from here?”

“Oh, yes, he took a horse from dis house.”

“Do you know the horse?”

“Do I know him? Oh, yes, I raised him.”

“Is he a good horse?”

“Yes, indeed, marssa, he's good horse; he's son of de old horse, but he ain't quite ekle to him — no. No horse is ekle to him.”

“ Why not?”

“Why not? why, dat ole horse, he once run sixty mile in sixty minutes! And dis horse could n't do dat; no, he could n't do dat.”

“Look around here in the woods among these horses, [145] and see if you can find one that looks like the horse Marse John rode away,” I said.

In a moment the darky's eyes opened as large as saucers. He had unerringly made straight for “Ashby.”

“Where you don get dat horse?” he exclaimed, as he fondled his old favorite. “Is Marse John dead?”

“No,” I replied, “but we have captured his horseaway in the valley at Woodstock.”

“ Youse hev got mighty good horse, den; dat's trufe.”

That the horse was of famous breed, and that he was then old (how old I could not ascertain), was all the reliable information I could get.

But from the (lay of Iis capture until the close of the war that horse was my inseparable companion. Nothing could tire him or break his spirits. For days and nights in Pope's campaign neither bridle nor saddle was removed, and all he ate was by hasty snatches at grass or musty hay; and yet he came into Alexandria with a proud step and an unbroken courage, ready for the Maryland campaign.

I have never known such a horse; I never expect to know one like him. Every moment a manifestation of power and gameness, fearless in his sweeping gallop, unmoved by the din of battle, his mettle inspired courage. He seemed to invite the thunders of war, and he never shrunk from the sound. In winter hardly sheltered from snow and ice, in summer exposed to the sun and rain, he bore his part in the campaigns of the war with a nerve and bearing that attracted the admiration of the army.

He was with me for eight months on a. wretched sand-bar off Charleston, during Gillmore's operations; he was with me in Florida; I carried him by sea to New Orleans, and thence up the Mississippi in July, where on transports he was borne around and buffeted from place to place,--now [146] at Memphis, then at Arkansas, up the White River, at Vicksburg, and back again at New Orleans; then Mobile Bay, and on that malarious shore, until again transferred by sea to the Army of the Potomac, there to remain until the war closed, when I brought him to a quiet country home within twenty miles of Boston.

In a comfortable stable with a box-stall, with every provision made for his comfort, “old Ashby” passed a tranquil life. In his peaceful home, and with kind treatment, his disposition became gentler, and his response to caresses, never decided, was not so haughtily returned. I doubt if “Ashby” had ever been in harness, until I clothed his limbs in such ignoble bonds. He resisted stoutly and manfully at first, but at last, when an appeal to his reason was made, submitted, and behaved well, if kindly and quietly treated. In this, as in everything about this horse, one could accomplish anything through reason: only appeal to his reasoning faculties. He had a large brain, and could understand when appealed to. He could not be driven by blows. In our twelve years companionship I never struck him a blow. Nothing would have tempted me to show passion, or to attempt to reach him but through reason and love. Therefore I always secured his best services, for they were never given from fear. For the nine years that had passed since the war closed, my pleasure and my joy had been greatly increased whenever I could contribute to the comfort or the wants of my faithful friend. To let him run in the field in summer, to lead him to the choicest bits of grass in the spring, to respond to his begging neigh when I came towards him in my daily visits, to pick up the choicest apples to be taken from my hand,--all these interchanges of mutual respect and affection added to my pleasure in life.

I have written these lines to tell of my faithful horse, [147] though he has at last met that death which, on the battlefield or the ocean, in the chill of winter or the heat of summer, seemed long ago inevitable. Despite shelter and tenderest care and most nutritious food, he now sleeps under the green sod in the orchard where he has so many times played without restraint, in sight of the home that has so gently cared for him, of the stable that has so warmly sheltered him, and under the apple-trees whose fruit he has so often eaten, and whose blossoms whiten his grave. On Monday, the eighteenth of May, 1874, I was aroused early in the morning with the information that my poor old horse was in great pain, and would not eat. I lost not a moment in applying remedies, sending in the mean while for one more skilled.

Everything was tried, but nothing seemed to lessen the pain in the stomach: there was the seat of pain. Beseechingly would this intelligent animal look, first at one side and then at the other, and then at us, appealing for help. In vain did he gallop wherever he inclined, trying one road and then another, the pasture and the field, and equally in vain rolling and struggling, rising and lying down. The disease advanced with a force that defied us. Early in the afternoon it became evident the noble animal must die. He was lying down in the soft grass, some distance from the house, only occasionally lifting his head in an uneasy manner, as a sick child might toss himself in bed. All but myself had gone and left him. As I saw this splendid frame stretched helplessly on the earth, so exhausted by the agony he had suffered that he could but feebly lift his head; as I saw that bright eye half closed, and heard the quick breath as it came through that great nostril; as I saw my friend, my companion of so many years, so helpless before me, strength gone, muscles soft and feeble,--as the memory of all this dear companion had [148] been came over me, I shed such tears as I thought never to shed again. Kneeling by him I stroked his face, and then gently raising his head coaxed him to attempt to rise. The rain was beginning to fall, and I wished to shelter him, and also that he might breathe his last in the old stable where he had stood so long. Putting forth all his dying force, and obedient to a call that he knew had never been made.but in love, he staggered to his feet. Gently I led him, tottering and reeling, to his stable, where a soft bed had been prepared. I covered him with blankets, to retain as long as possible the ebbing life. It was now two o'clock. I doubt if there was much pain then; the disease, or narcotics, seemed to stupefy him. Now and then he would still look around at his side, as if there in his stomach, where it had begun, there the disease still remained.

For seven hours “Ashby” hardly moved from the spot where I had placed him in his stall; there was but little restlessness, though his breathing became more rapid and labored, and this increased as the night came on. My last effort to save him was in rubbing his legs with mustard, and applying bandages; but this gave no relief. His breath came shorter and shorter, his head dropped lower and lower, and at a quarter before nine at night he fell dead upon the floor. I heard the rattle of death in his throat, as tenderly I closed his eyes; then turning from him, gently, lovingly, I said: “My poor old friend, my dear old companion, I have tried to be as faithful to you, as you have been true and constant to me.”

1 Banks's command, including railroad guards, etc., numbered 38,484, -made up of Banks's division, 15,398; Lander's (Shields's) division, 11,869; Sedgwick's division, 11,217. Without guards, etc., its effective strength was 30,000. See McClellan's Morning Report, March 2, 1862, “Rebellion Record,” vol. i. p. 546, supplement. Gorman's brigade of Sedgwick's division had been guarding the Potomac from Great Falls to the Monocacy, and was sent forward to Banks, March 11.

2 Jackson's force at Winchester, March 1, 1862, was made up,--of infantry, 3,600 ; artillery, 369; cavalry, 601. This was called the Second Corps A. N. V., and numbered, say, 4,600 effective men. Joseph E. Johnston gives it as 5,276. The first brigade, commanded by Garnett, known as the Stonewall brigade, was made up of the 2d, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33d Virginia regiments. The second brigade (Burks's) consisted of the 21st, 42d, 48th Virginia and the Irish battalion; the third brigade consisted of the 23d and 37th Virginia regiments (Fulkerson). See Jackson's “Valley Campaign,” by William Allan, p. 39.

3 This is no fiction: the story was common talk when we reached Berryville.

4 Life of General (Stonewall) Jackson, by Esten Cooke, p. 106.

5 First brigade, Kimball's,--Eighth Ohio; Sixty-seventh Ohio; Fourteenth Indiana; Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania. Second brigade, Sullivan's, -Thirteenth Indiana; Fifth Ohio; Sixty-second Ohio; Thirty-ninth Illinois. Third brigade, Tyler's,--Seventh Ohio; Twenty-ninth Ohio; First Virginia; Seventh Indiana; One Hundred Tenth Pennsylvania. Daum's Artillery,--Jenks's Battery A, First Virginia; Clark's Battery E, Fourth Artillery; Davis's Battery B, First Virginia; Robinson's Battery L, First Ohio; Huntington's Battery H, First Ohio. Broadhead's Cavalry,four companies First Michigan; two companies Ohio; two companies Maryland; six companies First Virginia; two companies Ringgold and Washington cavalry.

6 General Winder of the Confederate service was appointed to its command.

7 See Jackson's “Valley Campaign,” by William Allan, 1880.

8 “I heard that the enemy's infantry force at Winchester did not exceed four regiments. A large Federal force was leaving the valley, and had already reached Castleton's Ferry on the Shenandoah.” Jackson's Official Report, battle of Kernstown.

9 “On the preceding Friday evening, despatches from Colonel Turner Ashby were received, stating that the enemy had evacuated Strasburg.” Jackson's Report.

10 If Shields had remained at Strasburg, the history of Banks's retreat would never have been written. My brigade would have followed the others of the division, and all would have reported to McDowell in front of Fredericksburg. As it was, only Abercrombie got away, and him we saw no more. In this event Lee would probably have found enough to engage his attention, without sending Jackson on the rampage through the valley.

11 Life of Stonewall Jackson, by John Esten Cooke, p. 109.

12 Pollard's “Lost cause,” pp. 264, 265.

13 The recent narrative of General Johnston, of the Confederate service, confirms these views. He says: “After it became evident that the valley was to be invaded by an army too strong to be encountered by Jackson's division, that officer was instructed to endeavor to employ the invaders in the valley, but without exposing himself to the danger of defeat, by keeping so near the enemy as to prevent him from making any considerable detachment to support McClellan, but not so near that he might be compelled to fight. Under these instructions, when Banks, approaching with a Federal force greatly superior to his own, was within four miles of Winchester, Jackson, on March 12, fell slowly back to Strasburg, eighteen miles, in two days, remaining there undisturbed until the 16th, when, finding that the Federal army was again advancing, he fell back to Mount Jackson, twentyfour miles, his adversary halting at Strasburg. I received these reports on the 19th, and suggested that his distance was too great from the Federal army for objects in view. On the 21st he acknowledged this, and said that he was about to move his headquarters to Woodstock, twelve miles from the enemy's camp. At about half-past 6 A. M., on the 23d, at Strasburg, he expressed a hope that he should be near Winchester that afternoon; and at ten o'clock that night he wrote in his brief manner that he attacked the Federal army at four P. M., and was repulsed by it at dark. He gave his force as three thousand and eighty-seven infantry, two hundred and ninety cavalry, and twenty-seven pieces of artillery; and his loss at eighty killed, three hundred and forty-two wounded, and two hundred and thirty prisoners.” --Narrative of Military Operations directed during the Late War between the States. By Joseph E. Johnston, General C. S. A., 1874, pp. 106, 107.

It would seem that not only was Jackson deceived by Shields, but that a gentle reminder from Johnston that the former was too far from his enemy may have irritated Jackson to make his ill-judged movement. We find, too, that Johnston instructed Jackson to keep the Federals in the valley,--all of which has been claimed for Jackson.

14 “ I feel justified in saying, that, though the field is in possession of the enemy, the most essential fruits of the battle are ours.” --Jackson's Official Report, battle of Kernstown.

15 Cooke's Life of Jackson.

16 The number of troops present in the field, available for the fight, in Jackson's army, was: “Infantry, 3,087; artillery, 27 guns; and Ashby's cavalry.” --Jackson's Offcial Report.

From the same source we find Jackson admitted a loss of killed, wounded, and missing of 701, of which 46 were officers. In addition to this, Shields claims to have captured 2 guns, 4 caissons, and 1,000 small arms.

Our loss was (from Shields's official report), in killed and wounded, 504.

17 Battle-fields of the South, vol. i., Ashton's letter, p. 324.

18 The German had borrowed it of the artist, and sent it, stripped of its ludicrous elements, to the publisher.

19 The Colonel commanded the cavalry force attached to my column.

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