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Chapter 9:

  • Hampton's cavalry in the Maryland raid
  • -- the battle of Fredericksburg -- death of Gregg -- South Carolinians at Mary's Hill -- cavalry operations.

Early in October, General Lee, from his camp at Winchester, in the Virginia valley, directed J. E. B. Stuart to take a picked force of 1, 500 cavalry, cross the Potomac above Williamsport, penetrate the rear of General McClellan's army, damage his railroad communications, and gain such information of his positions, strength, etc., as this opportunity would afford. He was to return by such route as circumstances would determine. In this expedition, Hampton's brigade was in advance, and crossed at McCoy's ford by the dawn of day on October 10th. A section of Hart's South Carolina battery, and 175 picked men of the Second South Carolina cavalry, under Colonel Butler, were with Hampton. Lieutenant Phillips, Tenth Virginia, with 25 dismounted men, at the appointed moment waded the river and surprised the enemy's pickets above the ford, while Butler dashed across with his troopers and routed the guard, and in five minutes the ford was secured. Hampton's brigade leading, rode on rapidly, passing through the narrow strip of Maryland into Pennsylvania, and arrived before Chambersburg at night. Placing Hart's guns in position, the town surrendered upon demand (made through Lieut. T. C. Lee, Second South Carolina), and General Hampton moved his little brigade into it at 10 o'clock at night and established a rigid provost guard, with Capt. J. P. Macfie, Second cavalry, in command. The night was spent in Chambersburg, and on the morning [166] of the 11th, Hampton was ordered to destroy the depot and such storehouses as contained munitions of war. This was promptly done, and as rear guard General Hampton took up his march behind Stuart's column. The march was continued through the day and night of the 11th, and the early morning of the 12th found the rear guard at Barnesville, on the Potomac, with the enemy's advance pressing.

Hampton sent part of his command and one of Hart's guns down the Poolesville road on his left, and with the other and the Second South Carolina and Phillips' legion, he defended the crossing of the wagons, led horses and the two other brigades of Stuart. This being successfully accomplished, he crossed most of his brigade under cover of one of Hart's pieces, then sent the gun over, and brought his last regiment to the Virginia shore, without losing a man or a horse. The brigade brought over 260 horses captured on the raid. General Hampton mentioned in terms of praise the conduct of his whole brigade, and especially commended the service rendered by Captain Macfie, Second South Carolina; Capt. W. H. H. Cowles, First North Carolina; Capt. T. G. Barker, adjutant-general of the brigade, and Lieutenants Hamilton and Phillips.

Early in November, the Federal army, under McClellan, was concentrated about Warrenton, Va., and General Lee had thrown Longstreet in its front, at Culpeper Court House. McClellan's plan was to move directly upon Culpeper and Gordonsville. President Lincoln thought his movements too slow and cautious, losing much time after the battle of Sharpsburg, and had written him to this effect under date of October 13th. In this letter Mr. Lincoln revealed the insight of an experienced soldier and admirable common sense, incidentally paying the Confederate army and its chief so many tributes that we quote the paragraphs: ‘Are you not overcautious [he asked McClellan], when you assume that you cannot do [167] what the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess and act upon the claim?’ McClellan had called for the rebuilding of the road from Harper's Ferry to Winchester, in order to supply his army if he moved against Lee, then at Winchester. Mr. Lincoln reminded him that Lee was subsisting his army without a railroad, hauling his supplies twice the distance from Harper's Ferry to Winchester. The President rallied his general for not operating on Lee's communications and for being so anxious about his own, and said: ‘Change positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with Richmond in the next twenty-four hours? . . . You are now nearer Richmond than the enemy is, by the route that you can and he must take. Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your equal on a march? His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on yours as on his.’ The President was for aggressive action, and urged his general to strike at Lee directly, through the gaps in the mountains, on his communications, in any way, so he fought and beat him. ‘I would press closely to him; fight him if a favorable opportunity should present, and at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I say “try;” if we never “try,” we shall never succeed. . . . We should not so operate as merely to drive him away. As we must beat him somewhere, or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away. If we cannot beat the enemy where he now is [at or about Winchester], we never can, he again being within the intrenchments of Richmond.’

This letter, written on the 13th of October, did not have the effect of either breaking up General Lee's wagon communications, or beating him in direct battle. The first week of November found the Federal army cautiously concentrating about Warrenton, and on the 5th of November, President Lincoln issued an order relieving Mc- [168] Clellan from command and giving the army to General Burnside. The new commander took charge on the 9th, and on the 15th began his march on the ‘chord,’ while Lee took the ‘arc.’ Burnside's plan was to ‘beat’ Lee to Fredericksburg, cross the river on pontoons and seize the heights, and ‘move upon Richmond from that point.’

The advance of Burnside's army reached Falmouth on the 17th. Colonel Ball, with a regiment of Virginia cavalry, a regiment of infantry and two batteries of artillery, prevented a crossing and held the city of Fredericksburg.

On the 22d, at 8 p. m., General Lee informed President Davis by telegram from Fredericksburg, that General Burnside's whole army was on the left bank of the river opposite Fredericksburg; that he was on the heights with four divisions of Longstreet's corps, Pendleton's reserve artillery, and two brigades of Stuart; that the Fifth division of Longstreet would be up on the 23d, and that he would resist an attempt to cross the river.

On the 23d, Lee ordered Jackson, in the Valley, to move east of the mountains and put his corps in position at Warrenton, or Culpeper, on the flank of Burnside, where he would be in calling distance when needed. On the 25th he again wrote Jackson, that as far as he could judge, Burnside was repairing the railroad to the Potomac, getting up supplies, and making ready for a move on Richmond. ‘To delay him,’ said General Lee, ‘and throw him into the winter, I have determined to resist him from the beginning. From the circumstances which surround you, if you see that no good can be obtained from a flank movement on Culpeper or Warrenton, you can march directly to this point.’ Accordingly, on December 1st, Jackson was in position on Longstreet's right, and General Lee's army was united.

General Burnside's army was arranged in three grand divisions—right, center and left—commanded by Generals Sumner, Hooker and Franklin. In each grand division there were six divisions, with cavalry and numerous [169] batteries attached. According to General Burnside's report, he had in battle line in Lee's front, December 13th, an army 113,000 strong. There were four brigades of cavalry on his immediate flanks, and twenty-three batteries with Franklin's wing and nineteen with Sumner's and Hooker's. In the battle, as reported by the chief of artillery, all of Franklin's batteries were engaged on the field (116 guns), and only seven batteries of Sumner's and Hooker's. To cover the crossing of the river on the 12th, General Hunt reported 147 guns in battery along the Stafford hills.

Confronting this magnificent array of guns and infantry, Lee's army was drawn up on the hills behind Fredericksburg, ‘with a view to resist the enemy's advance after crossing,’ as General Lee expressed it. Longstreet's corps, five divisions, was the left, and Jackson's, four divisions, the right wing of Lee's army. From Longstreet's left, resting on the river at Taylor hill, to Jackson's right on the wooded height at Hamilton, the divisions stood as follows: Anderson's, McLaws', Pickett's and Hood's, of Longstreet's wing; and A. P. Hill's, of Jackson's wing. Ransom's division was in support of the guns on Marye's and Willis' hills. Behind A. P. Hill were the divisions of Early, Taliaferro and D. H. Hill in columns of division. A. P. Hill's division was in two lines, the brigades of Archer, Lane and Pender in front, and Gregg and Thomas behind them. There was a gap between Archer and Lane, and Gregg was some distance behind this gap. The woods hid the front line of A. P. Hill from its supports. Jackson had fourteen guns on his right and twenty-one on his left, posted in good positions to sweep his front and flank. Walton's and Alexander's battalions of artillery occupied the Marye's height and the hills to right and left, on which were also posted the batteries of the divisions of Anderson, Ransom and McLaws.

In this disposition of the troops the South Carolina [170] commands were posted as follows: Gregg's brigade on the right, as has been noted; McIntosh's battery, with Lieut.-Col. R. L. Walker's guns, on the extreme right of A. P. Hill; Jenkins' brigade with Pickett's division; Bachman's and Garden's batteries on Hood's line; Rhett's battery in Alexander's battalion; Kershaw's brigade in McLaws' line, with the left of the brigade resting on Hazel run. The brigade of Gen. N. G. Evans, with Boyce's battery, had been ordered to South Carolina early in November.

The part which fell to the South Carolina commands in the battle of Fredericksburg will now be related. That allotted to Gregg's brigade is sad to relate, for it involved the death of the gallant commander. The first attack of the day was made on Walker's guns and A. P. Hill's division, on the extreme right. The enemy's batteries, from the plain and from the Stafford hills, had been raking Hill's front for hours. Stuart had held the Federal infantry advance in check, with Pelham's enfilade fire, as long as he could maintain his exposed position in front of Jackson's right, and had been forced to retire. At noon, the division of General Meade, supported on its right by that of General Gibbon and on its left by that of General Doubleday, advanced to the assault of the position at Hamilton's, held by A. P. Hill. Meade received the fire of McIntosh's and Pegram's, Crenshaw's and Latham's guns, which checked, then broke, and finally drove back his advance. Promptly reforming, Meade and Gibbon marched steadily on through the artillery fire, and rushed against Hill. Archer and Lane and Pender met the assault, and the battle was sternly contested. Meade and Gibbon pressed their attack and entered the woods in the unfortunate interval between Archer and Lane. Lane and Archer were flanked right and left. Lane gave away slowly, and Archer's left was overwhelmed.

Thomas came to Lane's help in answer to his call, and they held Gibbon back, but Meade pressed on through [171] the woods and took Gregg by surprise. Gregg was fully persuaded that the time had not come for his advance, and being without orders from Hill, unaware of the interval between Archer and Lane, unable to see in the thick woods, and not believing the enemy near him, he had resisted the request of his men to fire for fear of damaging Lane and Archer. Suddenly Meade's troops came in sight of Orr's rifles on his right and opened a fire upon them before they could return it. This threw the rifles into confusion, and but for the firmness of the First regiment, immediately on the left, and the conduct of the left company of the rifles, under Lieut. J. D. Charles, the whole brigade would have been routed, for General Gregg, who had promptly ridden to his right, was immediately shot from his horse, and at the critical moment the brigade was without its head.

Col. D. H. Hamilton, of the First, senior officer, quickly grasping the situation, changed his front on his tenth company, to the rear, and opened on the mass of the enemy at close quarters, the left company of the rifles, under Lieutenant Charles, taking post on his right. Holding his position, Hamilton was immediately supported by the other regiments of the brigade, the Twelfth coming up on his left and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, under McGowan, on his right, and they stood firmly against Meade's attack, delivering their fire at close quarters, without giving a foot. Driven from their guns, Orr's rifles were helpless, but every man who survived hailed the moment of his ability to regain his place in the front. Some of them, seizing their guns from the stacks, fought in the ranks of the First regiment. Sergeant Pratt, of Company B, rallied a number of the men, and took his place on the right of Lieutenant Charles' company. The Fifth Alabama battalion, the Twenty-second Virginia battalion, and the Forty-seventh Virginia regiment, from Archer's and Brockenbrough's brigades, came up to Hamilton's assistance, and together the Carolinians, [172] Alabamians and Virginians charged and drove back the bold assault of Meade. Jackson sent Early forward, and a sweeping charge of his division drove Meade and Gibbon back and beyond the railroad. The attack on Gregg was wholly unexpected by that brave and gallant soldier, who had exerted himself to keep his brigade quiet, particularly cautioning them that their friends were in front.

The casualties of the brigade were reported as follows: Orr's Rifles, 21 killed, 149 wounded; First South Carolina, 15 killed, 58 wounded; Twelfth South Carolina, i killed, 7 wounded; Thirteenth South Carolina, 3 killed, 52 wounded; Fourteenth South Carolina, 28 wounded; aggregate, 336. The main loss was sustained by Orr's rifles, who were attacked lying down behind their stacks, and 170 of them killed and wounded and their general slain, before they could grasp their arms in defense. In the First regiment Capt. T. H. Lyles was killed. Capt. T. P. Alston, Lieutenant Armstrong, Lieut. Thomas McCrady, and Lieut. W. J. Delph were wounded. Captain Alston returned to the field, after his wound was dressed, despite the remonstrances of the surgeon. Adjt.--Gen. A. C. Haskell, severely wounded, refused to leave the field until he sank fainting from loss of blood.

General Gregg was shot through the spine, and died the day after the battle. Seeing he must die, he sent his respects to the governor of his State, and assured him that he ‘gave his life cheerfully for South Carolina.’ General Hill said of him, in his official report, ‘A more chivalrous gentleman and gallant soldier never adorned the service which he so loved.’ General Jackson, in his report, deplored the loss of ‘a brave and accomplished officer, full of heroic sentiment and chivalrous honor.’ General Lee wrote to Governor Pickens to claim a share in South Carolina's sorrow, and to express his appreciation of her loss and the loss to his army. ‘He has always been at the post of duty and of danger,’ said General Lee. ‘His [173] services in this army have been of inestimable value, and his loss is deeply lamented. In its greatest triumphs and bloodiest battles he has borne a distinguished part . . . . The death of such a man is a costly sacrifice, for it is to men of his high integrity and commanding intellect that the country must look to give character to her councils, that she may be respected and honored by all nations.’ Mr. Caldwell, the brigade historian, pays his general a worthy tribute, and speaks of his high character, his heroic courage, his careful, unswerving, unselfish equity. He was a Ney on the battlefield and a Rhadamanthus in giving judgment.

The distinguished part borne by Kershaw's brigade at Fredericksburg will now be referred to. As already stated, Kershaw was in McLaws' line, to the right of Marye's hill. His brigade included, besides the Second, Third, Seventh and Eighth, the Fifteenth, transferred from Drayton's brigade, and the Third battalion, known as James' battalion. These transfers were made by General Lee on November 26th, and the policy adopted, as far as possible, of brigading troops of the same State together.

On the morning of the 11th, being called on to reinforce General Barksdale's pickets on the river, at Deep run, General Kershaw sent the Fifteenth, Colonel De Saussure, upon this duty. During the night, so bitterly cold was the weather, one of De Saussure's men was frozen to death, and others so badly as to be temporarily disabled for service. Under such circumstances of suffering the fortitude and courage required of the soldier on picket are as great and as noble as when displayed in charging the batteries of the enemy. The brigade was at work on the line strengthening the position, until the hour of its battle. At 10 o'clock on the 13th, while Meade and, Gibbon were assaulting A. P. Hill, and Sumner and Hooker were throwing their divisions against Marye's hill, Kershaw was ordered to reinforce the position held by General [174] Cobb at the foot of the hill. The Second regiment, Col. A. D. Kennedy, and the Eighth, Capt. E. T. Stack-house, were sent forward. Before these regiments could reach their destination, Kershaw was directed by General McLaws to go with his whole brigade and take personal command, as the gallant and noble Cobb had been mortally wounded, and General Cooke, who supported him from the crest in rear, was also wounded. Riding rapidly forward, General Kershaw reached the point with the Second and Eighth just in time to meet and assist in repulsing a fresh assault. Kershaw describes the position at the stone wall so clearly that we quote his report:

Marye's hill, covered with our batteries—then occupied by the Washington artillery, Colonel Walton commanding—falls off abruptly toward Fredericksburg to a stone wall, which forms a terrace on the side of the hill and the outer margin of the Telegraph road, which winds along the foot of the hill. The road is about 25 feet wide, and is faced by a stone wall about 4 feet wide on the city side. The road having been cut out of the side of the hill, in many places this wall is not visible above the surface of the ground. The ground falls off rapidly to almost a level surface, which extends about 500 yards, then, with another abrupt fall of a few feet, to another plain which extends some 200 yards, and then falls off abruptly to a wide ravine, which extends along the whole front of the city and discharges into Hazel run.

The brigade of General Cobb had held the position behind the stone wall against the attack of the Federal Second corps, the three divisions of that corps, French's, Hancock's and Howard's, assaulting successively in the order named. In making his heroic defense, Cobb was supported by the artillery fire from the hill in his rear, and the infantry fire from the crest, delivered by the brigade of General Cooke. When Kershaw arrived, the attack of the Ninth corps was pending, and Sturgis' division of that corps was moving forward. Throwing his two regiments behind the wall, in the sunken road, the [175] line of Confederates, four deep, delivered their fire with such deadly effect that the column of Sturgis was checked, broken and driven in confusion back on its supports. Meanwhile the remaining regiments of Kershaw's brigade were reporting for position as they successively came up. Col. James Nance, with the Third, formed to the left of the Marye house with his right at the house, and the Seventh, Lieut.-Col. Elbert Bland, formed on the right of the house with his left in front of the house and touching the Fifteenth North Carolina, of Cooke's brigade. Bland's position was not so exposed as that of Nance, as he was partially protected by an abrupt rise along his front. Nance was in the open and terribly exposed. The Fifteenth, Colonel De Saussure, was placed in rear of Walton's battalion as a support.

These regiments took their position under the enemy's artillery and infantry fire. De Saussure being under the crest, could not reply, but Nance and Bland, firing over the troops at the stone wall, delivered their volleys into Getty's column of attack as it advanced boldly against Kershaw to make the fifth division assault of the day. Getty made a gallant charge, but all in vain. Walton's guns, the fire from the North Carolinians and the volleys of Nance and Bland, all pouring down on him from the hills, and the steady stream from the Georgians of Cobb and the Carolinians of Kershaw at the stone wall, broke up his front and his march, and he, too, went to the rear in confusion.

Three divisions of the Second and two of the Ninth corps had now been beaten in detail in the attempt to carry the Confederate position. General Sumner's right grand division had been repulsed by three brigades and the artillery. General Burnside, bitterly disappointed that Franklin, with 60,000 troops, had not crushed Jackson and turned Lee's right, and unwilling to accept General Hooker's assurance that it was a ‘hopeless’ task to attack the stone wall again, determined that it must be [176] done, and ordered Hooker forward with his Fifth corps. Calling all his batteries at his command into service, and ordering General Butterfield to form Humphreys' and Sykes' divisions of the Fifth corps for attack, Hooker directed all his guns to open their fire, with the intention of breaking all ‘barriers’ and clearing the way for ‘Butterfield's attacking column to carry the crest.’

Seeing these preparations in progress in his front, Kershaw ordered down the Third, Seventh and Fifteenth regiments to take position in the road and behind the stone wall. General Kershaw described the artillery fire of Hooker's batteries as terrific. It was continued until near sunset, when Humphreys and Sykes advanced to carry the position with the bayonet. General Hooker says the attack was made with a spirit of determination ‘seldom, if ever, equaled in war.’ He assigns as the reason for its ‘almost immediate repulse,’ that the enemy had the advantage of an ‘impregnable position.’

General Kershaw reports that the attack was gallant and impetuous, and assailed his whole front, lasting from 5 to 6 p. m., but that the columns were shattered and beaten by the time they came within a hundred paces of the position. Some of the assailants came as near as thirty paces, but were shot down, or, being unsupported, retreated with the mass. With this last assault the battle was practically ended, and the Confederate victory won. General Lee reports that not more than 20,000 of his army were engaged during the day.

At the last assault of General Hooker's, Kershaw had behind the stone wall and in the sunken road, his own and Cobb's brigades, and a brigade from General Ransom's division. It is not clear from the reports whether this last-mentioned brigade was not General Cooke's. If so, it is certain that Cooke's brigade fought from the hill, and the brigade from Ransom's division, to which Kershaw refers as being engaged in defense of the position, was not behind the wall. If this was the case, then only [177] Cobb's and Kershaw's brigades defended the Wall against the successive attacks of eight divisions and their batteries!

The loss of General Kershaw's brigade was 373 killed and wounded, distributed as follows: Second South Carolina, 6 killed, 56 wounded; Third, 25 killed, 138 wounded; Seventh, 4 killed, 57 wounded; Eighth, 2 killed, 29 wounded; Fifteenth, 1 killed, 52 wounded; Third battalion, i killed, 1 wounded. The heaviest loss fell on Colonel Nance's regiment. Taking his position on the crest of the hill to the left of the Marye house, just as an assault was being made, and being in the open and in full view of the assaulting column and its supports, the Third was subjected to a terrible infantry fire, as well as the fire of the batteries. Seeing the importance of delivering a steady fire on the advancing column of attack, Colonel Nance held his men in position and delivered his fire until the attack was repulsed. Meanwhile he fell wounded, and Lieut.-Col. D. W. Rutherford, Maj. Robert C. Maffett, Capt. W. W. Hance and Capt. John C. Summer, who in succession took command, were all shot down. Colonel Nance lay on the field, and continued to direct his men, and when carried off, ordered up a fresh supply of ammunition and directed them to move more under cover. Captain Hance lost a leg, and Capts. J. C. Summer and L. P. Foster and Lieuts. James Hollingsworth and James C. Hill, all officers of high character and gallant men, were killed on the field. Capt. R. P. Todd, the senior captain of the regiment, was among those first wounded. The three field officers and the three senior captains were wounded or killed, leaving the fourth captain, John K. G. Nance, in command.

In the Second, Maj. Franklin Gaillard was twice wounded. Lieuts. R. E. Elliott and R. Fishburne, Jr., of Captain Cuthbert's company, were wounded. Captain Cuthbert was detailed to skirmish with the enemy's advance in front of McLaws' division early in the morning, [178] and remained on that duty all day. The Third battalion was also detailed for special duty at Howison's mill, on Hazel run, and was not with the brigade in the engagement. In the Seventh, Capts. Benjamin Roper and T. A. Hudgens and Lieut. J. C. Lovelace were wounded. In the Eighth most of the casualties were met while the regiment was taking position and exposed to the enemy's view. In the Fifteenth, Lieuts. B. P. Barron and J. A. Derrick were wounded.

Of the general staff, Adjt.-Gen. C. R. Holmes, Lieut. A. E. Doby, Lieut. J. A. Myers and Lieut. W. M. Dwight were specially mentioned. Doby's gallant and efficient conduct in directing the posting of troops under fire is particularly referred to by the regimental commanders. Dwight, not yet recovered from his injuries on Maryland heights, was again at his post, and was wounded by a fragment of shell. The Georgians and Carolinians who defended the stone wall against the assaults of eight divisions, with their powerful artillery, throughout the memorable battle of Fredericksburg, made it a veritable Thermopylae, and won from their gallant assailants the declaration that their defense made the position ‘impregnable,’ and to attack it was a ‘hopeless’ task. The name and death of Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb will forever be associated with this heroic defense, and the honor and glory of sustaining the position which he held against such odds, will be the lasting possession of Kershaw and his brigade.

Jenkins' brigade, though under artillery fire and suffering the loss of 8 men, was but slightly engaged; Bachman's and Garden's batteries did effective service against the flank of the Federal attack on the extreme right. The rifle battery of Captain Rhett, attached to Alexander's battalion, was posted on an eminence south of the plank road. From this position Rhett's guns commanded the Stafford hills, a mile and a half away, and the approach to the stone wall. On the 12th, Rhett [179] opened on the bridge parties and enfiladed two of the streets of the city. The rifles of the enemy replied vigorously, but the battery was so well protected that no harm was done. On the 13th, the battery shared in the honors of that eventful day, and is associated with other batteries of Alexander's battalion and the batteries of Colonel Walton in the immortal defense of Marye's heights.

General Hampton's cavalry brigade, after November 10th, included two South Carolina regiments, the First, Col. J. L. Black, and Second, Col. M. C. Butler. While General Lee was concentrating his army at Fredericksburg, before the battle, Longstreet being already in position and Jackson halted at Orange Court House, General Hampton crossed the Rappahannock and made a brilliant dash into the enemy's lines, capturing an outpost on his immediate right flank. On the morning of November 27th, with 50 men from the First North Carolina, 50 from the Cobb legion, 40 from the Jeff Davis legion, 347 from the Phillips legion, and 34 from the Second South Carolina, a force of 208 men, Hampton crossed the river at Kelly's mill and moved northeast to Morrisville. Learning of an outpost stationed at a church 8 miles east of Falmouth, immediately on Burnside's right flank, and on the road from Morrisville to Fredericksburg, General Hampton at once determined upon its capture. The pickets of this outpost were advanced toward Morrisville as far as Deep run, a tributary of the Rappahannock, and on the roads leading toward Warrenton. Moving from Morrisville in an arc through the country, so as to avoid the picket on the Morrisville road and to get between those on the other roads and the post at the church, Hampton lay concealed the night of the 27th, within two miles of the church.

At 4 a. m. of the 28th, he left the Morrisville road, passed through the woods in a circuit and came into the marsh road a half mile from the church. The attack was [180] ordered, and Maj. J. H. Whittaker, leading the detachments of the First North Carolina and the Jeff Davis legion, dashed into camp, and Hampton coming up with the rest of his command, the surprise was complete, and the whole Federal squadron captured. The Cobb legion, sent up the White Ridge road, took the pickets in rear, and surprised and captured them. Taking his prisoners, except those too badly wounded to be moved, General Hampton went up the road toward Morrisville, and swept the picket at Deep run, thus completing the capture of two squadrons of the enemy's cavalry. The achievement was completed by 8 o'clock. This was a brilliant morning's work. With a small force, numbering 208 men, General Hampton had eluded the outpost pickets on two roads, surprised and captured the outpost, and then, in turn, swept in his pickets! With 2 captains, 3 lieutenants, 2 stand of colors, 87 privates, 100 horses and as many carbines as the fruit of his brilliant dash at the enemy, and without the loss of a man, General Hampton moved on to Morrisville and to the Rappahannock, and was in camp again by night of the 28th. To General Stuart he reported in high terms of praise the conduct of his men and their officers, mentioning particularly Major Whittaker, Capt. T. G. Barker and Lieut. T. P. Hampton of his staff.

On December 10th, General Hampton again left his camp at Culpeper Court House and rode out to capture Dumfries and operate on the Telegraph road up to the Occoquan. This would bring him on the line between Alexandria and Fredericksburg. His detachments were from the First South Carolina, Lieut.-Col. J. D. Twiggs; Second South Carolina, Col. M. C. Butler; First North Carolina, Lieut.-Col. James B. Gordon; Jeff Davis legion, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin, and the Cobb legion, Capt. Jerry Rich, a force of 520 men. Butler commanded the First North Carolina, Second South Carolina, and Cobb legion; Martin the First South Carolina and Davis [181] legion. On the night of the 11th, the command bivouacked within 16 miles of Dumfries, and by daylight on the 12th, Hampton had his troops on the main approaches immediately at the town. The surprise was complete, and Butler, dashing in, received the surrender after firing a few shots. Fifty-odd prisoners, 24 sutler's wagons and the telegraph operator with his battery, were the only fruits of this dash. The command was disappointed at not finding the large garrison they confidently expected, but Hampton proposed to sweep up the Telegraph road toward the Occoquan.

In this move, however, he was disappointed. General Sigel's corps was marching to Dumfries by the only road open to General Hampton's retreat, and he was compelled to retrace his march in order to save his wagons and prisoners. Marching in retreat on the 12th for 40 miles, he camped near Morrisville, and on the morning of the 13th, while the battle of Fredericksburg was in progress, recrossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's again, without losing a man.

Resting for three days, General Hampton left camp on the 17th for a third expedition against the enemy's communications, this time aiming to sweep up the Telegraph road and attack the garrison at Occoquan. His force, numbering 465 men, was made up of detachments from his regiments, as in the other expeditions; 100 from the First South Carolina, Col. J. L. Black; 75 from the First North Carolina, Capts. J. C. Blain and N. M. Addington; 75 from the Second South Carolina, Capt. T. H. Clark; 80 from the Phillips legion, Maj. W. B. C. Puckett; 75 from the Cobb legion, Maj. William C. Delony, and 60 from the Davis legion, LieutenantCol-onel Martin.

Crossing the river at the railroad on the 17th, the brigade marched to the wood road and bivouacked at Cole's store at night. Moving rapidly down this road before day, Hampton by dawn was at Kanky's store, on the [182] Neabsco creek, 8 miles from Occoquan. At Kanky's a small post was surprised and captured, with eight wagons. Sweeping up the Telegraph road Major Deloney in advance, every picket was successively surprised and captured. Hampton moved on the town of Occoquan in three columns, commanded by himself, Deloney and Martin. The latter dashed into the town from the south side, and found a wagon train of Sigel's corps in the act of crossing the river, by ferry-boat. Dismounting his men, he deployed them on the south bank as sharpshooters, and compelled the wagon guard on the opposite bank to surrender. General Hampton entered the town from the north side, and Deloney came up the Telegraph road with his prisoners and two captured wagons, loaded with army stores. A force of 2,500 cavalry, marching from Alexandria, appeared at this juncture at Selectman's ford, 1 1/2 miles south of Occoquan, and were about to cross, but General Hampton sent Captain Clark with part of his own and part of the Phillips legion to hold the ford, while he secured the wagon train.

Clark successfully disputed the crossing, and the enemy sent part of his force to recapture the wagons on the north side. In this they were defeated and driven off, and returned to the ford. Hampton sent word to Captain Clark to resist the crossing for an hour, and he would save the train. But the single boat was his only means of crossing the river, and the banks were high and the passage difficult. After twenty wagons, loaded with army stores, had been ferried over, General Hampton sent them off under Colonel Black, with the prisoners, and commenced his return march, Captain Clark covering his rear. The enemy's cavalry crossed, but Clark gallantly dashed at the head of their column and drove them back and across the river. Resuming the retreat, Clark skirmished with the advance of the enemy for two miles, when he gave up the pursuit. Marching by Greenwood church and Cole's store, the brigade camped on Cedar [183] run on the night of the 18th, and on the 19th the march was promptly resumed, the wagons and prisoners securely crossed over the Rappahannock, and General Hampton was ‘safely home without the loss of a man.’

He brought in 157 prisoners, 20 loaded wagons, 30 stand of infantry arms, and 1 stand of colors. Again he reported to General Stuart the gallant bearing and spirit of his command, staff, field, line, rank and file. The wonderful escape from casualties on this expedition is hard to be accounted for, especially in the operations of Captain Clark while disputing the passage of Selectman's ford and charging the enemy's head of column. It seems ungracious to say that the only explanation is that the enemy were badly demoralized and fired wildly, for they fired abundantly. At the town and on the Telegraph road, there was no decided resistance offered. The surprise was complete, and the show of force and dash compelled almost immediate surrender.

These brilliant achievements of General Hampton's command were followed by a fourth expedition, led by General Stuart, with ‘select detachments’ from the brigades of Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee and W. H. F. Lee. Hampton's command was composed of 175 of the First North Carolina, under Maj. J. H. Whittaker; 150 of the First South Carolina, Capt. W. A. Walker; 150 of the Second South Carolina, Col. M. C. Butler; 180 of the Cobb legion, Maj. William G. Delony; 130 of the Phillips legion, Lieut.-Col. W. W. Rich, and 85 of the Jeff Davis legion, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin; a force 870 strong. A section of artillery, under Lieut. F. M. Bamberg, was also with Hampton. General Stuart's purpose was to operate mainly on the Telegraph road, assured of finding it at this time well filled with trains moving to General Burnside's army. Gen. W. H. F. Lee was ordered to move on Dumfries, General Hampton on [184] Occoquan, and Gen. Fitzhugh Lee on the Telegraph road between these points, the brigades being in supporting distance.

Gen. W. H. F. Lee found the force at Dumfries too strong for successful attack. He captured all the pickets he encountered, about 50, and drove in the outposts, but the infantry and artillery defending the town were too well posted for his small cavalry brigade. Fitzhugh Lee was more fortunate. Encountering two regiments of cavalry drawn up in line of battle, he charged and routed them, following them for 8 miles and taking over 100 prisoners; captured 8 loaded wagons, and their guard, on the Telegraph road; crossed the Occoquan at Selectman's ford, attacked and routed a body of cavalry posted there, and took their camp and burned the railroad bridge over the Accotink, on the Orange & Alexandria railroad.

Hampton crossed the Rappahannock with the division, and pushed on to Cole's store with his brigade, capturing the pickets beyond that point. Butler, with most of the brigade, moved directly on the town of Occoquan; Hampton, with Martin's and Delony's detachments, supporting him. Colonel Butler drove in the pickets, charged into the place and routed several hundred cavalry, taking 19 prisoners and 8 loaded wagons, with the loss of i man wounded, the first casualty in Hampton's command on his repeated expeditions. Camping for the night at Cole's store, General Hampton returned toward Occoquan on the 28th. At Greenwood church, General Stuart sent Butler, with his detachments, to attack the enemy's force north of that point, at Bacon Race church, and ordered Hampton, with the other detachments, to follow Fitzhugh Lee across the Occoquan at Selectman's ford. Crossing in Lee's rear, he turned up the river, met and routed a small force of the enemy, and was joined by Butler at night, when the darkness stopped his pursuit of the enemy.

Colonel Butler, before joining Hampton north of the [185] Occoquan, had extricated his command on the Bacon Race road in the most skillful manner. Meeting a force of the enemy within a mile of the church, Butler's advance, under Lieut. W. H. Perry, charged and drove it back on its supports. Coming up with his main force, Colonel Butler charged the squadron in his front, and drove them in precipitous retreat. Following up their retreat, he came upon General Geary's division of cavalry, with artillery, on the march from Fairfax to Dumfries. Geary was in position to meet him, and at once opened with canister. Taking in the seriousness of his situation, he promptly retired a short distance, and by the time the enemy had formed column for advance, he wheeled about and presented a bold front, compelling a halt and the forming of a new line of battle by this movement. This gave time for retreat, but a strong force of Geary's division was on the road in his rear. Before either force of the enemy could attack him, Colonel Butler moved off on his flank, and by making a circuit of four miles, rejoined his friends and saved his command, with the loss of several horses and two of his men wounded. Colonel Butler had understood that his attack at the church was to be supported by General Hampton, and pushed his little force against Geary with the expectation of this co-operation. Finding himself in front of a division and under its artillery fire, he made the best of the situation, and extricated his command with admirable tact and the coolest judgment.

Hampton recrossed the Rappahannock on the 29th, with his captured wagons and 33 prisoners. General Stuart reported over 200 prisoners captured by his brigade, a large number of horses, mules, wagons, saddles, sabers, and other valuable property. He was disappointed in his expectation of finding loaded trains on the Telegraph road, and ascribed his ill luck to the numerous ‘descents upon that road by General Hampton and detachments from his command.’ [186]

These brilliant achievements of the cavalry were acknowledged and published in orders to the army by General Lee, as follows:

General orders, no. 29.

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, February 28, 1863.
The general commanding announces to the army the series of successes of the cavalry of Northern Virginia during the winter months, in spite of the obstacles of almost impassable roads, limited forage, swollen streams and inclement weather.

I. About the 1st of December [November 27th] General Hampton, with a detachment of his brigade, crossed the upper Rappahannock, surprised two squadrons of Federal cavalry, captured several commissioned officers and about 100 men, with their horses, arms, colors and accouterments, without loss on his part. . . .

III. On the 10th of December, General Hampton crossed the Rappahannock with a detachment of his brigade, cut the enemy's communications at Dumfries, entered the town a few hours before Sigel's corps, then advancing to Fredericksburg, captured 20 wagons with a guard of about 90 men, and returned safely to his camp. On the 17th of the same month, he again crossed the river with a small force, proceeded to Occoquan, surprised the pickets between that place and Dumfries, captured 50 wagons, bringing many of them across the Occoquan in a ferry-boat, and beating back a brigade of cavalry sent to their rescue. He reached the Rappahannock with 30 wagons and 130 prisoners.

IV. On the 25th of December, General Stuart, with detachments of Hampton's, Fitz Lee's and William H. F. Lee's brigades, under the command of these officers respectively, made a forced reconnaissance in rear of the enemy's lines, attacked him at Dumfries, capturing men and wagons near that place, advanced toward Alexandria, drove his cavalry with considerable loss across the Occoquan, captured his camp on that stream, burned the Accotink bridge, on the Orange & Alexandria railroad, then, passing north of Fairfax Court House, returned to Culpeper with more than 200 prisoners and 25 wagons, with a loss on his part of 6 men wounded and Captain Bullock, a most gallant officer, killed. . . . . [187]

IX. . . . A detachment of 17 men of Hampton's brigade, under the brave Sergeant Michael, attacked and routed a body of Federals near Wolf Run shoals, killing and wounding several and bringing off 15 prisoners, with the loss on our part of Sergeant Sparks, of the Second South Carolina regiment, who, a few days before, with 2 of his comrades, attacked, in Brentsville, 6 of the enemy sent to take him, killed 3 and captured the rest.

In announcing these achievements, the commanding general takes special pleasure in adverting to the promptness of the officers in striking a successful blow whenever the opportunity offered, and the endurance and gallantry with which the men have always supported their commanders. These deeds give assurance of vigilance, activity and fortitude, and of the performance of still more brilliant actions in the coming campaign.

R. E. Lee, General.


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