« 上一頁繼續 »
DISASTER AT BALL'S BLUFF.
Two hours or more the battle raged with fierce energy on both sides, but with terrible havoc among our men, owing to their uncovered position. Between four and five o'clock, P.m., Col. Baker, whose daring bravery amounted to recklessness, fell, shot through the head, and cheering his men to the last. A scene of disaster followed. Our men rushed down the side of the bluff, and tried to cross in a flat boat, but were shot by the rebels and drowned by the sinking of the boat. Fully one-half of Baker's entire force was lost; while the rebels escaped with a loss of about 200*
This lamentable affair at BalFs Bluff was criticised every where with severity and indignation, and the question was frequently asked, who is responsible for the gross bungling and blundering which exposed our troops to almost certain destruction \ Why was a force of less than 2,000 men allowed to be placed in the perilous position that this was? Why were there only such paltry means of communication as these flat boats; and why, if the movement was necessary, was it not adequately supported, when there were 40,000 of our men only a few miles distant? The subject came up before Congress for inquiry, and efforts were made to ascertain and fix the blame where it properly belonged; but to little purpose, for it has never yet been satisfactorily explained why this
* Col. Baker's death was very generally lamented. The Senate, of which he was a member, devoted a day (Dec. 11th), to the commemoration of his talents and virtues; and Gen. McClellan, Oct. 22d, issued an order, speaking in the highest terms of the gallant deceased. VOL. IV.—13.
fatal result was not prevented by those in command at the time.*
This second defeat on the soil of Virginia, added to that at Bull Run, in July, was a severe trial to the loyal people of the country; it gave rise to much complaint; but it did not lessen their determination to put down the rebellion. The effect upon the rebels was similar to that produced by Bull Run; their conceit was inflamed, and their confidence in their invincibility magnified to an absurd degree.
The veteran General Scott, conscious of the infirmities of increasing age, as well as mortified at the disastrous result at Bull Run, begged to be allowed to retire from active service. This was, of course granted, and the highest encomiums were heaped upon him from all quarters. Gen. McClellan, whose popularity was now in the ascendant, and for whom president Lincoln entertained strong personal regard, was made his successor, and on the 1st of November, he assumed the position of general - in - chief of the armies of the United States. Aware of the weighty duties imposed upon him, McClellan felt, as he says, that "the direction of the campaigns in the West, and of the operations on the seaboard, enabled him to enter upon larger
* Gen. McClellan repudiated all responsibility in the matter, saying in his report: * I did not direct Stone to cross, nor did I intend that he should cross the river in force for tho purpose of fighting." Early in January, 1862, Gen. Stone was severely spoken of iu Congress, during debate. A month or so later, he was arrested by order of the war department, on charges of disloyalty, involving, among other things, his conduct at Ball's Bluff. He was sent to Fort Warren, and detained there till late in the summer, when he was released without trial.
combinations" than he otherwise could have undertaken. He addressed letters of instruction to Gen. Burnside in North Carolina, to Gen. Halleck in Missouri, to Gen. Buell in Kentucky, to Gen. T. "W. Sherman in South Carolina, and to Gen. Butler, who was placed in command of the land forces to operate against New Orleans. McClellan's intention was, that the several undertakings against the enemy "should be carried out simultaneously, or nearly so, and in co-operation along the whole line;'' but, various circumstances interfered, and his plan was modified and virtually given up. The coming into office of a new secretary of war, Mr. Stanton, had a marked effect upon our military operations from this date; and Gen. McClellan soon found that he had a different officer from Mr. Cameron to deal with, and one disposed to yield to the popular call for more active, speedy, forward movements.
On the 13th of November, Gen. Dix ordered 4,000 troops under Gen. Lockwood, to march from Baltimore into Accomac and Northampton Counties, Virginia, and occupy them. This part of the state, forming the " eastern shore," as it is called, is east of Chesapeake Bay and joins Maryland. By a proclamation Gen. Dix assured the people that the rights of persons and property would be respected, and "the condition of any person held to domestic servitude" was not to be interfered with.*
* It is curious to note how slowly people learned to call a spade a spade. It took years before the awkward periphrasis or euphemism of the Constitution, about "persons held to service or labor " was abandoned, and negro slaves were designated by their true name, negro slaves.
The advance was attended with excellent results. A body of some 3,000 insurgents laid down their arms and disbanded; and, in March, 1862, a representative was chosen and sent to Congress.
Early on the morning of Dec. 20th, Gen. Ord was sent by Gen. McCall from Camp Pierrepont, on the Potomac, towards Dranesville, to capture, if possible, the rebel force there, and collect forage. Between 4,000 and 5,000 men were placed under his command. When near Dranesville, he was attacked by the enemy under Gen. J. E. B. Stuart with a force of 2,500 to 3,000 men. The fight began at one o'clock, j and lasted only an hour, the victory being entirely on Ord's side.
McCall did not deem it prudent to pursue the enemy, but brought back with him to camp sixteen loads of hay and twenty-two of corn. Although the victory was of no special moment, it came acceptably at the time, there still being great soreness in the public mind as to Ball's Bluff, and the unaccountable—as it seemed to outsiders—delays in the Army of the Potomac making any forward movement.
Gen. McClellan, professing his earnest desire to move against the enemy in Virginia,* still both showed by his action, and gave it as his mature judgment, that the army was not sufficiently numerous, nor in the proper state of readiness to advance at the beginning
* McClellan advised, in August, sending armed vee' sels to hinder the rebels from constructing batteries along the Potomac. In September, Gen. Barnard made a reconnaissance of the rebel batteries as far as Matthias Point. He reported adversely to the plan of at- | tempting to carry these batteries by assault.
of December. He preferred to wait till the winter was passed. Mr. Stanton, the secretary of war, at an early date urged upon McClellan to take immediate steps to secure the reopening of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and to free the hanks of the lower Potomac from the enemy's works, which seriously annoyed passing vessels. The people generally, not fathoming the causes or reasons for matters relating to the Army of the Potomac, which, according to McClellan, required "minds accustomed to reason upon military operations," were eager for some forward movement, or something which looked like it at least; and it was hard to persuade them that time was not wasted, and opportunity let to slip by without profit.
Complaints having been made that various rebels had recovered their fugitive slaves at Washington, through the connivance, it was supposed, of officers of the army, the secretary of state, on the 4th of December, addressed to Gen. McClellan an order, calling his attention to this subject, and stating that: "By the fourth section of the act of Congress, approved August 6th, 1861, entitled an act to confiscate property Used for insurrectionary purposes, such hostile employment (in the rebel army) is made a full and sufficient answer to any further claim to service or labor. Persons thus employed and escaping are received into the military protection of the United States, and their arrest as fugitives from labor or service, should be immediately followed by the military arrest of the parties making the seizure."
The Confederate Congress, according to adjournment (see p. 56), met at Richmond, Nov. 18th. Members were present from six of the seceded states, sufficient to form a quorum, and the next day Jefferson Davis sent in his message. It was a document prepared with care, and evidently intended to produce effect abroad quite as much as at home; its tone was very confident, and its presentation and treatment of various topics skilful and shrewd, even for Davis. "We are gradually becoming independent of the rest of the world for the supply of such military stores and munitions as are indispensable for war," v/as one of his statements. Further, he said, "a succession of glorious victories at Bethel, Bull Run, Manassas, Springfield, Lexington, Leesburg, and Belmont, has checked the wicked invasion which greed of gain and the unhallowed lust of power brought upon our soil." The state of the finances was pronounced good; some smart remarks were made upon the Trent affair, evidently in the hope that England would go to war about it; and a sort of loftiness was assumed on the subject of the recognition of the rebel states, as much as to say, if foreign nations can do without us, we can get along very well without them. Davis also indulged in some spiteful words, scorning any idea of ever again having aught to do with the people of the loyal states; e. g., "our people now look with contemptuous astonishment on those with whom they have been so recently associated. They shrink with aversion from the bare idea of renewing such a connec