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PALMER'S MOVEMENT ON DALTON.
supposed that Sherman had in view, in his expedition, the capture of Mobile. No official statement, however, was made on the subject; and whether so or not, the rebels sent a considerable force to strengthen the defences of Mobile. Admiral Farragut also, at the same date, February 23d, made threatening demonstrations against Fort Powell, at the entrance of Grant's Pass, and if he could have had the assistance of an iron-clad or two, and a few thousand troops, he would no doubt have gained full possession of the bay; as it was, his attack made but little impression on the rebel works, and further operations were deferred until July, 1864.
A movement of the rebels to reinforce Gen. Polk, induced Gen. Grant at Chattanooga to order Gen. Palmer to make an advance upon Dalton, Georgia The 14th corps, under Palmer's command, set out, February 22d, and Ringgold, twenty-three miles from Chattanooga, was occupied that night. The next morning, early, the column moved forward, constant skirmishing going on with the cavalry of the enemy. Tunnel Hill was reached by night, and the next morning the rebels were dislodged from their position, and the town was occupied, 150
the expedition is thus summed up: "Gen. Sherman arrived yesterday at Memphis. His command is all safe. Our total loss in killed, wounded, and missing is 170 only. The general result of his expedition, including Smith's and the Yazoo River movements, are about as follows: 150 miles of railroad, 67 bridges, 7,000 leet of trestle, twenty locomotives, twenty-eight cars, 10,000 bales of cotton, several steam mills, and over 2,000,000 bushels of corn were destroyed. The railroad destruction is complete and thorough. The captures of prisoners exceed all loss. Upwards of 8,0!K) contrabands and refugees came in with various columns."
prisoners being captured. The movement was immediately continued upon Dalton, seven miles distant; but, on ascertaining that the entire force of Johnston was waiting to receive him, Palmer deemed it prudent to fall back to Tunnel Hill, and avoid so unequal a struggle as that before him. Subsequently, by March 10th, he had fallen back to Ringgold, his loss being about 350 killed and wounded.
Early in February, a spirited movement was made in Eastern Virginia upon Richmond, with the intention of taking the seat of the rebel government by surprise, and releasing the Union prisoners who were held there in large numbers, and were experiencing in their own persons that Mhe tender mercies" of the rebels were "cruel" indeed. Gen. Butler, who, after his recall from New Orleans, had passed some time without a command, had, in October, 1863, been appointed the successor of Gen. Foster in the department of Virginia and North
Carolina. His administration at Norfolk, Newport News, Newbern, and elsewhere in his department, had been signalized by his usual characteristics. He had taken in hand the troublesome and difficult negotiation of the exchange of prisoners with the rebel authorities at Richmond, in which he had been, in a measure, successful, notwithstanding the sentence of outlawry hurled against him by Jeff. Davis (p. 157).
At the beginning of February, the garrison at Newbern, N. C., under Gen. I. N. Palmer, (Gen. Peck being absent), was threatened by tbq rebels ander Pickett, who, being reinforced fromRichmond, was advancing with a considerable body of troops from Kinston. The Union outposts at Bachelor's Creek, eight miles from Newbern, were driven in and retired to Newbern. The gun boat Underwriter was captured and destroyed by the rebels. Palmer held his position firmly, and the assailants retired to Kinston. The defences of Newbern were strengthened and rendered too powerful for any attack which the rebels were likely to undertake.
It was at this time that the expedition spoken of above, was set on foot by Butler. While a movement of a portion of the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan diverted Lee's attention in that quarter, Gen. Wistar, with a body of cavalry and mounted infantry, left New Kent Court House on the 5th of February, and marched rapidly to Bottom's Bridge on the Chickahominy, with the expectation of making a sudden dash into Richmond. The authorities, however, had taken the alarm, and interposed such obstacles of fallen timber at the bridge that the opportunity of a surprise was lost, and Wistar was compelled to relinquish his object and retire. Nothing was accomplished beyond exciting a panic at Richmond, the city being thrown into great excitement when news of the advance arrived.*
The deplorable condition of the thousands of our officers and men, suffering under the inhuman treatment of the
* A few days later, Col. A. D. Streight, with 110 other officers, escaped from that vile hole, the Libby Prison at Richmond, and a large portion of them arrived safely, on the 15th of February, within the Union lines at Williamsburg. The escape was effected after a mont h's severe and intense labor. Col. Straight soon
rebels at Libby Prison, Castle Thunder, and Belle Isle, roused the strongesf sympathy in their behalf, and an expe dition was planned, for the purpose not only of making a raid upon Richmond, but also of setting at liberty our brave countrymen who were being killed by inches by the rebels. The expedition, consisting of over 4,000 men, with a light battery of six guns, was placed under command of a distinguished young cavalry officer, Gen. H. J. Kilpatrick; and on the evening of the 28th of February, left camp at Stevensburg, crossed Ely's Ford ou the igg4 Rapidan, and captured the rebel pickets without firing a gun or exciting any alarm. At daylight the next morning, the column passed through Spotsylvania Court House, twenty miles ip the rear of Lee's army, and dashed on towards Beaver Dam Station, on the Virginia Central Railroad. This was reached at four P.m., and not only the buildings at the station were destroyed, but the track was torn up for miles, the telegraph line was cut, culverts and bridges were burned, etc. Thence, having crossed the South Anna during the night, Kilpatrick and his brave troopers pushed ou actively toward Richmond, and that same morning, Tuesday, March 1st, crossed the Brook turnpike, three and a half miles from | Jeff. Davis's capital, carried the first line of works, and before noon opened with shot and shell upon the panic- j
afterwards addressed an account of his imprisonment and that of his fellow-sufferers at Richmond to the military committee of the House of Representatives at Washington, exhibiting the cruelties and barbarities inflicted by the rebel authorities.
stricken city. The firing was kept up on both sides for several hours, without material result, and late in the afternoon, amid a storm of sleet and hail, Kilpatrick encamped at a point six miles from Richmond and two from the Chickahominy. It was his intention to
'make another vigorous effort to relieve the suffering prisoners, by effecting an
I entrance into the city; but during the night an artillery attack was made by the rebels upon his camp, and he felt compelled reluctantly to turn away from Richmond and take up his line of march down the Peninsula towards Williamsburg. The rebels followed and annoyed our troops to some extent; but no battle was fought; on the 3d March, Kilpatrick arrived at Williamsburg, and soon after returned to the Army of the Potomac by way of Fortress Monroe.*
Col. Ulric Dahlgren, accompanied by Major Cook, had been detached with 500 chosen men, after crossing the Rapidan, for a special purpose. Having left the main column, he advanced rapidly to Frederick's Hall, on the Virginia Central Railroad, tore up the road, destroyed the telegraph line and captured some prisoners. He next struck the James River Canal, eight miles east of Goochland Court House, and between there and Wertham Creek an immense amount of property was destroyed. It was at this point that Dahlgren discovered that his guide had deceived him, so as to thwart the principal object of the
* For an interesting account of this expedition, sec Surgeor. Moore's "Kilpatrick and our Cavalry," pp. 137-156
expedition, and he was immediately hanged to the nearest tree. The com mand then struck the Plank Road and moved on to Richmond from a westerly direction, and when within three miles of that city, had a lively skirmish with some rebel infantry. Finding the force too large to operate against with any prospect of success, and not knowing the whereabouts or fate of the main column, Dahlgren decided to fall back. He and Major Cook, with about 100 men, went a different route from the main portion of the column, commanded by Capt. Mitchell, who rejoined Kilpatrick on the 2d of March. Dahlgren, while making his way along the Mattapony, on Wednesday evening, toward West Point, and when about three miles from King and Queen Court House, was surrounded by a party of Virginia cavalry, aided by armed citizens and others. In a state of desperation, he ordered a charge, determined, if possible, to cut his way through; but he fell in the onset, and his men were partly cut to pieces and the remainder captured. The body of Col. Dahlgren was treated with great indignity by the rebels, and it was asserted by them that certain orders and papers were found on his person, directing that Jeff. Davis and his cabinet be killed and Richmond consigned to the flames. The newspapers endeavored to make capital out of all this, and to seek to stir up sympathy abroad in behalf .of the tottering and worthless "Confederacy;" but the authenticity of the papers remains to be proved, and they who knew Dahlgren well, and had seen his instructions to his men,