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boys. turn; we're going back!" and so powerful was his influence over the troops, and such new spirit was infused into them by his presence, that they rallied, and renewed the battle to good purpose.
At ten P.m. of the same day, Sheridan sent Grant a dispatch, in which he said: "I have the honor to report, that my army at Cedar Creek was attacked this morning before daylight, and my left was turned and driven in confusion. In fact, most of the line was driven in confusion, with a loss of twenty pieces of artillery. I hastened from Winchester, where I was, on my return from Washington, and found the armies between Middle town and Newtown, having been driven back about four miles. I here took the affair in hand, and quickly united the corps, formed a compact line of battle iust in time to repulse an attack of the enemy, which was handsomely done at about one P.m. At three P.m., after some changes of the cavalry from the left to the right flank, I attacked with great vigor, driving and routing the enemy, capturing, according to the last report, forty-three pieces of artillery and very many prisoners. Affairs, at times, looked badly, but by the gallantry of our brave officers and men, disaster has been converted into a splendid victory. Darkness again intervened to shut (iff greater results. I now occupy Strasburg." Two days later, October 21st, Sheridan wrote again to Grant: "I pursued the routed force of the enemy nearly to Mount Jackson, which point he reached during the night of the 19th and 20th, without an
organized regiment of his army. From the accounts of our prisoners who have escaped and citizens, the rout was complete. About 2,000 of the enemy broke and made their way down through the mountains on the left. Fourteen miles on the line of retreat the road and country were covered with small arms thrown away by the flying rebels and other debris. Forty-eight pieces of captured artillery are now at my headquarters. I think that not less than 300 wagons and ambulances were either captured or destroyed. From all that I can learn, 1 thing that Early's reinforcements were not less than 16,000 men.*
Thus was brought to end, as Grant states in his report, "the enemy's last attempt to invade the North by way of the Shenandoah Valley. I was now enabled to return the 6th corps to the Army of the Potomac, and to send one division from Sheridan's army to the Army of the James, and another to Savannah, Georgia, to hold Sherman's new acquisitions on the sea coast, and thus enable him to move without detaching from his force for that purpose."
* Early was greatly annoyed at his defeat, and he told his troops so, in an address. October 22d: "I had hoped to have congratulated you on the splendid victory won by you on the 19th, but I have the mortification of announcing to you that, by your subsequent misconduct, all the benefits of that victory were lost, and a serious disaster incurred. Had you remained steadfast to your duty and your colors, the victory would have been one of the most brilliant and decisive of the war. You would have gloriously retrieved the reverses at Winchester and Fisher's Hill, and entitled yourselves to the admiration of your country. But many of you, including some commissioned officers, yielding to a disgraceful propensity for plunder, deserted your colors to appropriate to yourselves the abandoned property of the enemy," eta
After the occupation by Gen. Warren of the Weldon Railroad below Petersburg, in August, (p. 453) there was no active demonstration of importance for more than a month. Grant was watching the opportune moment, and guiding the affairs of the several armies so as to tend steadily, if not rapidly, to the destruction of the rebels in arms. On the night of the 28th of September, the 10th and 18th corps, forming part of Butler's army, were crossed to the north side of the James, and advancing, early the next morning, carried the very strong fortifications and entrenchments below Chapin's Farm, known as Fort Harrison. Fifteen pieces of artillery were captured, and possession was taken of the New Market road and entrenchments. Following this, an assault was made upon Fort Gillmore, immediately in front of Chapin Farm fortifications; but it was unsuccessful and attended with heavy loss.
Kautz's cavalry was pushed forward ou the right, moving along the Central Road, supported by the 10th corps, to the main works, within three miles of Richmond. The two corps now formed a junction on the line of works which they had captured, where they were next day vigorously assailed by the enemy, who had been brought up in force from Petersburg to regain the lost positions. In this assault the Union troops acting on the defensive had the advantage, and gallantly repulsed the impetuous assaults of the foe.
On the morning of the 30th of September, Gen. Grant sent out a reconnaissance, with a view to attacking the enemy's line, if it was found sufficiently
weakened by withdrawal of troops to the north side. In this reconnaissance we captured and held the enemy's works near Poplar 1864, Spring church. In the afternoon, troops moving to get to the left of the point gained, were attacked by the enemy in heavy force, and compelled to fall back, until supported by the forces holding the captured works. Our cavalry, under Gregg, was also attacked, but repulsed the enemy with great loss. On the 7th of October, an attack was made on Kautz's cavalry, north of the James, which succeeded in driving back our force, with heavy loss in killed, wounded and prisoners, and the loss of all the artillery, eight or nine pieces. The enemy then attacked the entrenched line, where Birney was in command, but were repulsed with great slaughter. On the 13th of October, a reconnaissance was sent out by Butler, with a view to drive the rebels from some new works they were con structing; no advantage, however, was gained, and our troops met with heavy loss.
An attempt was made by Grant, on the 27th of October, to penetrate the rebel lines, the movement being on their right flank. The 2d corps, followed by two divisions of the 5th corps, with the cavalry in advance and covering our left flank, forced a passage of Hatcher's Run, and moved up the south side of it toward the Southside Railroad, until the 2d corps and- part of the cavalry reached the Boydton Pla'ik Road where it crosses Hatcher's llun. At this point our troops were six miles distant from j the Southside Raih oad, which Grant 11
had hoped, by this movement, to reach and hold. But, finding that the end of the enemy's fortifications had not been reached, and no place presenting itself for a successful assault, our troops were ordered to withdraw within our fortified lines. Late in the afternoon, the rebels moved out across Hatcher's Run, in a gap not yet closed between Hancock's and Warren's troops, and made a furious assault on Hancock's right and rear. The corps was immediately faced to meet the assault, and, after a bloody combat, our men drove the enemy within his works, and withdrew that night to their old position. In support of this movement, Butler made a demonstration on the north side of the James, and attacked the enemy on the Williamsburg Road, and also on the York River Railroad. In the former he was unsuccessful; in the latter he succeeded in carrying a work which was afterward abandoned, and his forces withdrew to their former positions.
The subsequent movements in the Army of the Potomac, during the year, were directed against the enemy's line for receiving supplies to the south of 1Sj&i Petersburg. On the 1st of December, Gen. Gregg, at the head of a strong cavalry force, made a successful raid upon Stony Creek Station on the Weldon Railroad, where there was a store of supplies, this being the depot whence they were transferred by wagoning across to the Southside Railroad. A fort at this place, mounting two guns, was assaulted and taken, together with about 200 prisoners. This expedition was followed, on the 6th of December, by another, led by Gen. War
ren, which resulted in the destruction of the Weldon Railroad from Jarrett's, below Stony Creek Station, to Bellfield at the Meherrin River. A cold rainstorm, turning to hail and snow, rendered the march, which lasted five days, especially severe and trying to our men.
The successful operations of the navy, in closing the ports of Savannah, Charleston and Mobile, had reduced the rebels to a single place of entrance for the blockade runners and such like. This was the harbor of Wilmington, North Carolina. The approach to this important and valuable strategic position, situated on Cape Fear River, thirty miles from the sea, was protected by several formidable forts and batteries, at the two main entrances at either extremity of the island, stretching across the mouth of the river. The old or western inlet was commanded by Forts Caswell and Johnson and the coast fortifications, while the new or eastern inlet was defended on Federal Point by Fort Fisher, a newly-erected casemated earthwork of great strength, mounting some forty heavy guns. Other formidable defences, stretched along the shore, affording a secure protection to blockade runners entering the harbor. The two main entrances being forty miles apart, intersected by numerous channels, it was virtually impossible effectually to prevent the English vessels, specially constructed for the purpose, entering the river.
In order to gain possession of Fort Fisher, the land north of New Inlet was a matter of prime importance, and as it required the co-operation of the land force, Gen. Grant gave earnest attention to the furnishing it. During the latter part of November and early in the month following, a most formidable armada, over seventy vessels in all, under Admiral Porter, was gathered in Hampton Roads at the beginning of December; and a force of 6,500 men, taken from Butler's troops, was added, Gen. Weitzel being designated as their commander. Grant, having learned that Bragg had gone to Georgia, taking with him the larger part of the forces about Wilmington, deemed it the opportune moment to urge forward the expedition. He wrote out full and careful instructions, intending them for Weitzel but sending them through Butler, who accompanied the expedition, and was greatly interested in a projected explosion of a powder-boat. After some delays, the fleet sailed, on the 13th of December, and arrived at the place of rendezvous, off New Inlet, near Fort Fisher, on the evening of the 15th. Porter was hindered, for two or three days, having put in at Beaufort, to get ammunition for the monitors. A heavy gale set in from the south-west, and the sea becoming very rough, made it difficult to land troops; the supply also of water and coal being nearly exhausted, the transport fleet put back to Beaufort to replenish; this, with the state of the weather, delayed the return to the place of rendezvous until the 24th of December. "The powder-boat," as Grant sarcastically says, "was exploded on the morning of the 24th, before the return of Gen. Butler from Beaufort; but, it would seem, from the notice taken of it in the southern news
papers, that the enemy were never enlightened as to the object of the explosion until they were informed by the northern press."
Porter, on the morning of December 24th, gave order to engage the forts, which was gallantly done, and in little more than an hour after the first shot was fired, not a shot came from the fort. On the 25th, all the transports had arrived, and Porter and Weitzel, after a conference, determined that, while the ships attacked the forts, as before, the troops should land and assault them, if possible, under the heavy fire. The ships did their duty thoroughly; but | after some 3,000 men had been landed, and a close approach made to the works, the troops were re-embarked, by order of Butler, and, as Grant says, "in direct violation of the instructions given." This was accomplished by the morning of December 27th. Porter was very much mortified at the course pursued by the troops, and believed the assault entirely practicable. "I don't pretend," said Porter, "to put my opinion in opposition to that of Gen. Weitzel, who is a thorough soldier and able engineer, and whose business it is to know more of assaulting than I do. But I can't help thinking that it was worth while to make the attempt, after arriving so far. . . . We have not commenced firing rapidly yet, and could keep any rebels inside from moving their head until an assaulting column was within twenty yards of the works. I wish , some more of our gallant fellows had followed the officer who took the flag from the parapet, and the brave fellow who brought the horse out from the |