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Chapter 17:

The conditions and the scene of conflict in Virginia now changed. McClellan, whining like a wellwhipped schoolboy, and in so doing damaging his military reputation, begged for reinforcements and for permission, when reinforced, to make another attempt on Richmond. But the Federal government, alarmed at the result of its gigantic effort to capture Richmond, now feared, and justly, that Lee's victorious army might take up the line of march to menace its own capital; so, instead of reinforcing McClellan and permitting him to try again an ‘on to Richmond,’ it ordered him back to the line of the Potomac and to the front of Washington.

When it was learned that the ubiquitous Jackson was really engaged in the contest with McClellan at Richmond, the army that had been waiting for him in the valley, finding none to oppose it, ventured to cross the Blue ridge at Chester gap, and encamp in the lovely coves of Piedmont Virginia, just under and amid the spurs of the grand mountains in the vicinity of Sperryville; where, on the 26th day of June, with the roar of booming cannon, the echoes of which were heard as far away as Gordonsville, was organized from the armies of Fremont, Banks and McDowell, the ‘army of Virginia,’ under Maj.-Gen. John Pope. . Its three corps, of now well-rested veterans, were prepared for another campaign—to essay another ‘on to Richmond’ from another direction. The 13,000 men under Burnside, in North Carolina, were hastened to the Potomac end of the Richmond, Potomac & Fredericksburg railroad at Aquia creek, to guard the left of the new movement; and preparations were hastened to bring back the great host still on the James with McClellan, and add that to the new army of Virginia.

Excellent highways led from the Rappahannock region, where Pope was encamped, to Gordonsville and Culpeper, [305] and the march was not a long one to either of these places. A blow at Gordonsville would break Lee's line of railway communication with his best base of supplies in the Great Valley, and it was rightly concluded that if that blow were struck, Lee would meet it with a portion of his army, and thus give McClellan, opportunity to escape.

Full of ambition to accomplish what his predecessors had failed to do, and equally full of himself, and hoping to infuse some of the same spirit into the men whom Jackson had so lately roughly handled and discomfited, Pope joined his army near Sperryville, and on the 14th of July issued a very remarkable address, in which he said, among other things:

I have come to join you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and beat him when found; whose policy has been attack, not defense. . . . I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find in vogue amongst you, of lines of retreat and bases of supplies. Let us dismiss such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance toward the enemy. Let us study the possible lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance. Disaster and shame lurk in the rear.

After this bombastic fulmination, Pope immediately proceeded to wage unsoldierly war upon the peaceable citizens of the surrounding country, and ‘disaster’ to these citizens followed every movement of his army. Under pain of expulsion from their homes, he ordered that every male citizen of the region dominated by him should take the oath of allegiance to the United States, and thus old men and boys, women and children became the suffering victims of this braggart, who expressed himself so anxious to meet and fight the Confederate soldiers.

McClellan was still lingering on the banks of the James, and Lee was as yet uncertain what his discomfited opponent might be ordered to do; but, watching the whole military chess-board in Virginia, he saw that it would not do to let Pope enter the field of contention without having him met by one competent to manage him, so, on the 13th of July, just as Pope was riding in from Washington to take command of his army of Virginia, Lee ordered Jackson to Gordonsville with Robertson's [306] cavalry brigade and the two infantry divisions of Ewell and Winder, only about 12,000 men, but all hardy and well-tested veterans; and on the 27th another 12,000 under A. P. Hill were added to Stonewall's command. Pope's unheard — of orders came to Lee's hands during these preparations. That gentle-mannered man and model soldier characterized such threatenings against ‘defenseless citizens’ as ‘atrocious,’ and by direction of his government sent a note to Halleck, the general commanding the Federal forces, protesting that such orders were in violation of the recent cartel entered into for the exchange of prisoners, and characterizing them as beginning ‘a savage war in which no quarter is to be given.’ Halleck did not reply to the protest; but it was noticed that Pope, for some reason, changed his behavior.

Lee still had 50,000 men in front of Richmond, watching for any opportunity to strike his enemy that might offer itself. A reconnaissance, on the south side of the James, revealed the fact that Coggin's point, opposite McClellan's camp across the James, and projecting toward its rear, commanded that camp from its bluffs and was within range of field artillery. Taking advantage of this, Lee sent D. H. Hill, secretly, to this point on July 31st, and he, under cover of darkness, startled the Federals in their camp and shipping by pouring into them the fire of forty-three pieces of artillery, doing considerable damage but suffering none, as he retired before an attack could be planned against him. This stung Mc-Clellan to seek retaliation, and on August 5th he moved out to Malvern hill, in battle array. Lee promptly advanced to Charles City cross-roads, ordering his left to threaten McClellan's rear, while with the brigades of Cobb and Evans, on the right, he drove the Federals behind the guns on the Malvern ridge and waited for the morning, designing to try again for the capture of that formidable position; but when morning came there was nothing there to meet him, as McClellan's courage failed when he found Lee ready to fight him.

Jackson's advance reached Gordonsville on the 19th of July, and he at once marched his veterans to the charming Piedmont region west of the coast range (the ‘little mountains of Orange,’ as Light Horse Harry Lee called them), where they luxuriated amid the open groves and in the grassy fields of that charming region, and recuperated [307] from the effects of the miasmatic swamps of the low country in the great wild blackberry patches loaded with ripened fruit. Jackson himself pitched his camp far up on the western slope of the mountain range, whence he overlooked the terrace occupied by Pope, and could study from afar its peculiar topography, at the same time urging to tense activity in the study of the country and in the preparation of campaign maps his topographical engineers, who had again joined him. His cavalry held the line of the Rapidan up to the mouth of the Robertson, and then along that river toward the Blue ridge, communicating with the Confederate cavalry beyond, that still guarded the upper Shenandoah valley. The Federal cavalry picketed to these rivers on their northern sides. Lee had no misgivings about intrusting the care of Pope to Jackson. Writing to him, after sending Hill to his aid, he says: ‘Relying upon your judgment, courage and discretion, and trusting to the continued blessing, of an ever-kind Providence, I hope for victory’—words and sentiments that found a responsive echo in the soul of his twin brother in the art of war.

Watching, through his cavalry, his scouts and his spies, for a coveted opportunity to meet his arrogant adversary, whom he constantly deceived by his own marchings and countermarchings (one of them 10 miles to the rear of Gordonsville to cover the coming of A. P. Hill to his army), Jackson soon found it when Pope moved forward to Culpeper Court House, and sent a portion of his command on the road leading to Orange Court House, but leaving parts of it strung all along the way, back for many miles, to Sperryville, at the foot of the Blue ridge, where a whole division under Sigel still tarried in camp. Pope's strategic force on the 7th of August was 36,500 men; but his tactic force, within easy reach of Jackson, was but a part of this number, and Jackson knew it. This partial force was the 8,000 men under Banks, an old Valley acquaintance of Jackson's army, in an advanced camp across the Rapidan. Ricketts' division, of about 10,000, was nearer to Culpeper Court House, but Sigel was far away at Sperryville.

Late in the day of the 7th of August, Jackson moved his men, by concealed roads, to the vicinity of the Rapidan, where they slept on their arms and were ready to [308] march in the early morning of the 8th, drive in the Federal cavalry, and occupy a favorable position where the road to Culpeper crosses the low watershed between the Rapidan and Cedar run. The day was intensely hot. the roads dusty, and both animals and men suffered fearfully. A misunderstanding of orders by one. of his division commanders, which led to an interference of marching columns, added to the delay caused by the heat and the dust. On the morning of the 9th, Jackson moved forward and drew up his line of battle in the edge of the forest that crowned the Cedar run watershed, at right angles to the road and to the range of low hills known as the Cedar Run or Slaughter's mountain, that, covered with forest, extended parallel to the road and at right angles to his line on his right. A road ran along the top of this broken ridge, which Jackson proceeded to occupy with artillery and a portion of Ewell's division. The basin of Cedar run, crossed by that stream about a mile in his front, lay spread out before him, the larger portion of it divided into the fields of cultivated plantations, but with patches of forest, especially on its western side, along which ran the highway to Culpeper, on the west of which was a low ridge, mostly covered by forest but gashed with fields extending from the road to its crest.

Jackson, by a glance over the field of contest, discovered that he had secured an advantageous position for disposing of his troops for either attack or defense. He turned Ewell's division, which was in advance, to the eastern side of the Culpeper road, and Ewell himself, leading his right, advanced it to Cedar mountain, accompanied by a number of guns, for which he found good positions on the slope and crest of Slaughter's mountain. Early's brigade was formed on the left, followed by Hays' and Trimble's. Winder's division was ordered to support Early, but in echelon, extending his line to the left of the Culpeper road. Several batteries followed, on Early's right, through the open fields, while those of Winder followed the highway. Early's skirmishers soon advanced and drove back the Federal cavalry across Cedar run. Numerous Federal batteries, from the slopes beyond the run, opened on him as he advanced, but these were promptly answered by those on Jackson's left, center and right, and an active artillery duel was kept up for nearly two hours. [309]

At about 10 o'clock, Pope, from Culpeper, six miles in the rear, ordered Banks to the front to make an immediate attack on Jackson. Ricketts' division was held some four miles in front of Culpeper, where the Madison road enters the Orange road, as Pope was in doubt as to whether Jackson was advancing in force over the Orange road; Sigel was ordered forward from Sperryville,20 miles away at the foot of the Blue ridge, but became no factor in the impending conflict, because, after receiving his orders, he sent back to know which road he should take, although a graded one led directly from his camp to Pope's headquarters at Culpeper, and so arrived too late to join in the combat. It was about noon when Banks' advance reached the vicinity of Cedar run, the line of which was being held by Bayard with his cavalry and artillery. Crawford's brigade was formed on the right of the road, extending up through the woods to near the crest of the low ridge before mentioned. In his front was a wheat field, also extending up the slope of the ridge and prolonged by another field, the two cutting out a narrow parallelogram from the forest. Across this field, in the edge of the forest, with its right resting in a strip of woods south of the road and its left extending a short distance into the edge of the forest to the north of it, Jackson placed Taliaferro's brigade. Banks placed Augur's division, of three brigades, on the left of the road, thus extending his line to the south along the slope toward Cedar creek from the eastward. In Augur's front, next to the Culpeper road, was a large field of standing Indian corn; to the south of that, pasture fields reached to the foot of Slaughter mountain. The topography of the ground occupied by Banks was well suited for defense. That commander, smarting under the criticisms that Jackson's Valley campaign had brought upon him, and having in hand Pope's peremptory order to attack, was in a fighting mood, and doubtless thought that he now had an opportunity for settling with Jackson and regaining his lost reputation.

About 5 p. m. of the long August day, when the sun in that locality does not set before half past 7, and being in battle array, Banks ordered an advance, by one brigade on the north and two on the south of the road, which moved promptly and bravely forward. Gordon's brigade, one of the best in the division, remained in [310] reserve on the right, while Green's remained guarding the left. It was plain to be seen, from the Federal line, that there was a wide gap in the open field between Early's right and the left of Ewell's other brigades. The Federals attempted to break Jackson's line through this opening; but Early, always quickly comprehending the wants of his position, had already asked for reinforcements to fill this space, and Jackson promptly furnished Thomas' brigade of A. P. Hill's division, and so made his line an unbroken front.

The Federal advance on the north of the road, that of Crawford's brigade, was more successful. Taliaferro's brigade held the road and the strip of woods to the south of it on Early's left, but with several batteries between, and extended a short distance north of the road along the edge of the forest and that of the wheat field. His line was prolonged to the left, in the woods, by Campbell's brigade. It was unfortunate that the brave and prudent Winder was not at this point to look after these brigades of his division. He had been mortally wounded by the fragment of a shell, just as the action commenced some hours before. Crawford, with his own and part of Gordon's brigade on the Federal right, soon emerged from the forest, and in gallant style swept across the wheat field, diagonally turning on his left, and struck first Campbell's brigade and then Taliaferro's, and drove them back in great confusion, thus threatening for the time to effectually turn Jackson's left and gain possession of his rear. The Confederate officers of the two brigades that had been flanked, aided by Jackson in person and all his staff, made heroic efforts to rally their men. Every regimental commander was either killed or wounded, and they met with but small success in their efforts, and the winning tido of Federal soldiery swept eastward across the road and struck Early's left, breaking or driving back the half of his brigade. The Thirteenth Virginia, under Col. James A. Walker, though forced back on Early's left, made a determined resistance, holding on to its organization, and became a check on the Federal attack. Early's right, parts of the Twelfth Georgia and the Fifty-second and Fifty-eighth Virginia (parts of Gen. Edward Johnson's old command on Alleghany mountain and at McDowell), held their ground and beat back the oncoming tide. As soon as this Federal attack [311] developed, Jackson ordered Winder's brigade, the old Stonewall, through the woods on his left, overlapping the right flank of the Federal movement. The Thirtythird and Twenty-seventh Virginia regiments promptly engaged with the enemy that had scattered Taliaferro's men; the Twenty-seventh had to give way, but at this opportune moment Branch's brigade, of A. P. Hill's division, which Jackson had, by orders, been urging forward during the day, came up in gallant style and moved in on the right of the Stonewall brigade, extending its line to the road, and boldly pushing forward struck the flank of the victorious Federal column and hurled it in confusion to the rear. The left of the Stonewall brigade, at the same time, wheeled into action, and Crawford's men, yielding to the force of superior numbers, fled, under a destructive fire, across the wheat field to find refuge in the forest, whence he had advanced, and behind his reserves, which he, too late, had ordered into action. The brave Gordon promptly moved forward to save the day and attempted to check the Confederates; but Jackson, at that time, had extended his left with the brigades of Archer and Pender of Hill's division, and thrown his extreme left forward around the upper end of the wheat field, so that when Gordon advanced he found himself within a blaze of musketry, both in front and flank, and was forced in disorder from the field, after losing fully one-third of his men. A small battalion of Federal cavalry then charged down the Culpeper road to aid in saving a battery, but these were quickly repulsed. Of Jackson's routed men, some rallied on Walker's Thirteenth Virginia and others joined the fresh brigades moving in on the left, and took part in securing the victory.

The brigades of Geary and Prince, which extended Augur's line south of the road, were also swept away by the Confederate counterstroke, Early having joined in the forward movement along with Thomas, and borne an active part in turning the tide of victory. Ewell, on Jackson's right, watched the fierce contention from Slaughter's ridge, impatient to join in the fray; but the Confederate batteries, which, with their usual daring, were being pressed forward, not only to answer those of the enemy but to fire at short range into their lines of battle, so swept the field that he could not enter it without passing through their fire. When the direction of [312] this fire changed, later in the day, Ewell's two brigades advanced and joined in the thickening combat. His artillery, from a bench in Slaughter's field at the northeastern end of the mountain ridge, opened with an enfilade on the Federal left and made that portion of its line untenable. Thus vigorously and unflinchingly pressed in front and flanks, by a superior tactic force, resistance, though determined and brave, was no longer possible, and the entire Federal corps retreated in disorder nearly two miles to the rear, to find refuge behind the division of Ricketts, which had been in the meantime thrown forward for this purpose and to check Jackson's pursuit. The latter pressed forward, from his right, Field's fresh brigade of A. P. Hill's division, with Pegram's battery, which opened on the retreating Federals, adding to their confusion; but several batteries, which Ricketts had placed on his left, in commanding positions, soon forced this movement, which was made after nightfall, to retire. Both armies then rested in bivouac on and near the battlefield, exhausted by the intense heat of the midsummer day and the hard struggles they had undergone.

Jackson's losses in this battle were 1,314; 61 of these were in the brigades of Jones and Taliaferro, upon which Crawford's blow had fallen at the beginning of the battle. Early lost 163, and the brigades of Winder, Branch, Archer and Pender, whose timely arrivals saved the day, lost but 273. The Confederates captured 400 prisoners, a 12-pounder gun and three colors, and gathered from the battlefield 5,300 small-arms, all of which, after deducting about 1,000 left by Jackson's killed, wounded and disorganized men, were lost by Banks' division. The Federal loss was 2,393, of which 1,661 were killed and wounded, and 732 missing. Crawford's brigade lost 867, and Gordon's 466. Generals Augur and Geary were wounded and General Prince captured.

Jackson telegraphed to Lee: ‘On the evening of the 9th instant God blessed our arms with another victory.’ Lee promptly responded: ‘I congratulate you most heartily on the victory which God has granted you over our enemies at Cedar run. The country owes you and your brave officers and soldiers a deep debt of gratitude.’

The 10th of August was another scorching summer day. Jackson held his position in the rear of his battlefield with his skirmishers on the other side of Cedar run. [313] Gen. J. E. B. Stuart put in an appearance during the day, having been sent forward by Lee, with the larger portion of his cavalry, to cover the right of Lee's general movement to the vicinity of Gordonsville. Stuart reconnoitered the Federal left, moving his cavalry along the eastern side of Cedar mountain and advancing his scouts well toward Culpeper. Through these, Jackson learned that Pope already had in hand 22,000 fresh troops, under Sigel and Ricketts,2,000 cavalry under Bayard, and about 5,000 that remained with Banks; a tactic force of about 30,000 in front of Jackson's 24,000, from which the casualties of the 9th had taken 1,000. When informed of Jackson's advance, on the 8th, Pope ordered King's division of 10,000 men up from Fredericksburg. These joined him on the 11th, so that he then had 40,000 men at command. Reno was following King with 8,000 of Burnside's corps, and he reported to Pope on the 14th.

Through the tireless Stuart, who was as ubiquitous as Jackson himself, he was kept well posted in reference to these movements of the various parts of Pope's army of Virginia. Thus informed, he reluctantly gave up his idea of further attacking Pope, but remained on the battlefield during the 10th and 11th, caring for his wounded, burying his dead, and gathering the spoils of the battle-field. On the 11th he granted Pope a truce, until 2 p. m., for removing his dead, that were not already buried, and then, on request, extended the truce until 5. During the night of the 11th he recrossed the Rapidan, and the next day reoccupied his old camps along ‘the little mountains of Orange,’ covering Gordonsville, having stolen a march on Pope, who had arranged to attack him at Cedar run, on the morning of the 12th, with double his numbers. This bold movement of Jackson, although it did not accomplish all he desired and had good reason to expect, in consequence of the condition of the weather and of the failure of his division commanders to promptly and intelligently respond to his orders, was by no means a barren victory. Pope's cavalry had made repeated efforts to reach and break the Virginia Central railroad, and his main body was dangerously near to that important line of communication between Jackson and Lee, and of supply for both armies. The Federal commander was only awaiting the reopening of the railway from Washington to the Rapidan to move forward in [314] force and fall upon Jackson, and by so doing draw Lee's attention from McClellan that the latter's army might be brought around to Pope's. The battle of Cedar Run taught Pope his first lesson and gave him thenceforward a wholesome fear of his military schoolmaster, which made him desist from further attempts on the railway, and remain idle in his Culpeper camps while McClellan's army was being transported to Washington, thence to reinforce Pope, and while Lee was moving the whole army of Northern Virginia from Richmond to Orange, preparatory to sending Pope's army to meet McClellan's at Washington, and transferring the field of operations to and across the Potomac, while the farmers and plant-ers of Virginia, in Piedmont and in the Valley, garnered the magnificent harvest which a bountiful Providence had vouchsafed to them. [315]

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