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Campaigning With Jeb Stuart

Col. G. N. Saussy


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Bobby Burns admonishes us "the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang aglee." Neither Stuart or General Lee anticipated Hooker's provoking plan of moving so as to keep his army between Stuart and the Army of Northern Virginia. Neither did Stuart know that, that captured wagon train would prove a decided drawback or impediment to his movement, and come near being his undoing.

Had he not been embarrassed with this big train, of course his march would have been much more rapid. He would possibly have been at Hanover the evening he bivouaced at Westmins


Amongst the prisoners captured between tween the Potomac and Rockville, amounting to more than four hundred, were Major J. C. Duane and Captain Michler, the former afterwards chief engineer of the Potomac Army. At the urgent solicitation of these officers, Stuart stopped to parol the prisoners. Let the reader of WATSON'S MAGAZINE remember at this stage of the fierce game of war, there existed between the governments of the Confederate States and the United States, a cartel for the parole of all prisoners; none to be detained longer than ten days; the men to be exchanged as rapidly as possible; the excess to remain on parole until the equivalent on the other side should offset such excess.

The delay in making out the paroles and releasing these prisoners under the existing agreement, was, in this case, "love's labor lost," for the Federal government refused to recognize these paroles and ordered the men to at once. report to their several commands for duty.

Kilpatrick, commanding a division of

fresh cavalry, had started after Stuart. The night of the 30th Stuart's command, including the captured train, rested at Westminster. Kilpatrick had gone into camp the same evening at Littlestown. Being unincumbered and men and horses comparatively fresh, Kilpatrick arrived at Hanover ahead of Stuart and threw his command across Stuart's path. This caused a serious dilemma. It was difficult to tell what force had thus blocked the road.

The writer was a free lance that day, and as such, rode to the head of the column and found the Confederate advance engaged with the enemy. General Stuart was much excited. Part of the troops were parking the captured train, for Stuart determined to destroy it rather than permit its recapture. The Confederates in front were fighting under disadvantages. Stuart had placed a battery on a hill overlooking the valley, in which the town of Hanover was located. The gunners were serving spherical case to the enemy at the base of the hill, but the Yankees were having the best of the argument. The Confederates had been driven under the cover of their guns on the hill and were slow in reforming; while the enemy, three regiments, were firing upon the force at the foot of the hill.

Stuart, with but one remaining staff officer, was on the hill in the midst of the guns, when the writer rode up. Soon a small command, certainly not exceeding two squadrons in strength, charged the enemy at the foot of the hill and quickly put the three regiments to flight.

tain ordered, "Turn your guns on those men!" "They are our men," the writer promptly interferred. "No such thing!" hastily replied General Stuart. The writer rejoined: "You can see they are; the colors are easily apparent to the naked eye." "But they might have captured one of our colors," responded Stuart. "In that case, the swiftest horse in the command would be speeding to the rear with it," was the answer. Just then the staff officer, who was dismounted and with his binocular resting on the fence, was counting audibly the troops of Kilpatrick's division by their standards. I heard him count from one to thirteen. Hearing the coloquy between General Stuart and the writer, he diverted the glass from the foe to the troops in question, and plainly seeing that they were Confederate troops, forcibly said, "They are our men!" "Hold that fire! Hold that fire!" hastily ordered General Stuart, to his artillery commander. And not a moment too soon, as the gunners were ready to send shell in that part of the Second North Carolina which had made so splendid a charge. The writer does not recall a more heroic demonstration by the cavalry in his personal observation, for this detachment did not exceed in strength two full squadrons, yet it put to flight and drove into the town of Hanover, fully a mile distant, three regiments of the enemy. Kilpatrick still held the key to the situation, as he was directly across Stuart's path. Late that afternoon, Stuart was forced to again swing to his right. The writer was summoned to the front of the brigade, directed to assume the advance with a detail of eight troopers. He said he was totally ignorant of the country and how was he to direct the line of march without a guide?

Stuart, in his excitement, did not seem to have witnessed the attack, and when he became aware of it, the small Confederate force had driven the enemy back to Hanover, and wisely drew rein there, deeming it problematical to follow the foe into the town. Just then Stuart discovered them (his small force) and turning to the artillery cap

He was directed to move in advance of the head of the column of the brigade, and after passing about one hundred and fifty yards, drop two of his

detail, then advance one hundred and fifty yards, drop two more, and again at the same interval, another pair, then retain the last two with him and just keep that main road.

A range of hills on our left concealed the movement from the enemy. All night, until 2:30 a. m., this weary march was pressed. At times the drivers of the captured teams would fall asleep and the teams stop to graze, as they were sadly in need of subsistence. At the hour above mentioned, the advance guard reached the little town of Jefferson. A courier came with an order to there halt, so that the command could close up. The writer discovered a spring house, in which were several crocks of delicious fresh milk, which had been preserved sweet by the elegant cold spring. He "borrowed" a crock from the owner, and lifting the two quart vessel to his thirsty, tired and hungry lips, drunk in the rich cream and delicious milk until he had well nigh emptied the vessel.

Returning to the crown of the hill, while the brigade was closing up, he threw himself upon the ground and almost instantly "Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep," enveloped him.

But time was too precious to indulge in sleep or rest, so in fifteen minutes he and his detachment were roused and ordered to mount and again proceed. Then all the following day these "tired troopers, weary marchers, grim and sturdy cannoneers" pressed forward. At dusk, at a big Pennsylvania farm, the command halted. That day a large white horse was brought the writer, as his horse had contracted a galled back. Mindful of the necessity of caring for his mount, he entered the huge brick barn and secured an ample supply of forage for the horse. Securing two flat rails, he proceeded to make himself a feather bed. The preceding thirty-eight hours continuously in the saddle, together with the hard marching and fighting since leaving Salem, Va., had

drawn heavily upon the reserve vitality of a husky young trooper. Just as he was about to make his vesper devotions, "Now I lay me down to sleep," his attention was directed to a courier rapidly approaching, who was directed by one of the troopers to General Hampton, who was about one hundred yards away. Soon General Hampton signalled his bugler and the appalling blast of "boots and saddles" rang out upon the evening air.

There was no great alacrity displayed by those exhausted troopers, but as soon as they could saddle up were again in motion. Again all night the weary men and horses trudged along. Nature asserted her domination, at least in the instance of this over-tired trooper. Riding at the head of his command with the captain, he lost consciousness, but did not lose his gravity-went fast asleep riding upright in his saddle. Three times that night fatigue utterly overcame him and he went to sleep in his saddle.

At sun up the column halted beside a cool stream. Disrobing, into its pleasant water this weary lad wallowed for fifteen or twenty minutes. But, oh, was not the reaction delicious? Fortunately he had a fresh suit of underwear in his

wallet and after a "rub-down"-"Richard is himself again."

A steady march all that day shortened the distance between Stuart and the Army of Northern Virginia. That evening at dusk we were again in touch with Lee's left flank. But the Federal cavalry were again in contact with us. A brief but tart engagement between the Cobb Legion and the enemy closed the incident of the second of July for Stuart.

We slept that night on our arms. With dawn the blue horsemen withdrew from our front and we moved slowly forward.

About midday, Hampton's brigade entered a body of timber on Lee's extreme left, waiting for our artillery.

The batteries of horse artillery that had accompanied the three brigades, had dangerously near exhausted their ammunition, and had sought the supply train for refilling the limber chests. In this timber we rested, waiting for the return of the batteries. In the meantime Griffin's battery was sent to us. The command was not long resting here when Alexander turned loose his dogs of war on Seminary Ridge-120 guns opened a rapid and terrific fire upon Cemetery Heights, where Hunt responded with 90 pieces from the blue line.

Well drilled field batterymen could load and fire their pieces four times a minute. Here were more than two hundred guns in action, each using shell, for the distance between the lines from Seminary Ridge to Cemetery Hill was about seven-eighths of a mile. There were therefore double explosions, those of the guns and those of the shells and the present-day reader can understand the occasion was somewhat noisy. From one o'clock, when the two signal guns literally ordered "fire," until three p. m., these "dogs of war" kept up a fierce barking, disturbing the country for miles around.

The timber in which the writer's command was resting, screened the view of this terrific cannonade. We could see some of the shells bursting over the Federal line, but could not see the Confederate battle line.

Retrospecting, this incident should have been mentioned in its proper place. While waiting beside the creek where this trooper took the refreshing bath, we could plainly hear the boom of artillery. Fitz Lee was throwing shell into Carlysle, where there was a U. S. Military barrack. A demand had been made upon Gen. Smith for the surrender of the post and its garrison, and upon refusal, Fitz used his ar tillery and the government buildings were destroyed.

Returning to the line of battle at the

third day at Gettysburg. Gettysburg. Generals Hampton and Stuart proceeded through the heavy timber to inspect the ground to the right of the position occupied by the cavalry. Here they could see part of the infantry line and much of the artillery fire.

While Stuart and Hampton were to the right, Fitz Lee came along and enquiring what command was ours, was informed these troops were Hampton's brigade. He ordered part of them to dismount and passed these dismounted men well to our front and several hundred yards beyond the timber in which we had halted.

Before Hampton returned, the dismounted men Fitz Lee had advanced, attracted the attention of the enemy's cavalry and were charged by their mounted men. These dismounted men turned or repulsed several of these mounted charges, but ammunition giving out, they were overridden. When Stuart and Hampton returned the action was well under way. General Hampton was much annoyed that his brigade had been sent in while he was absent. Back and forth across the open country the contending troopers charged, cutting, thrusting and pistoling their opponents. General Hampton came near being caught between the two charging regiments. A blue trooper, noticing him isolated and well mounted, made for the gallant Carolinian and sabred him across the head, cutting almost through the skull, then dashed past him. Hampton drew his pistol and snapped it three times at his fleeing foeman, each time the gun misfired. He then reversed the weapon and hurled it with excellent aim, striking his enemy on the back of the head, throwing him forward on his mount, but did not unhorse him. His floeman's steed deflected through a gap in the fence and took his rider to the protection of his own troops.

Hampton then turned back to meet one of his regiments that had been or

dered to the front, and in moving across the field came upon two troopers engaged in a sabre duel. He determined to aid his trooper, who seemed to be acting upon the defensive. As he drew near the Confederate trooper conIcluded to let his General have the whole show. Hampton made a cut at his adversary, but the blood of the first wound had gotten into his eye, causing him to miscalculate his distance. The Federal trooper also reined back and Hampton missed his mark.

The blue trooper countered upon the head of Hampton and drew blood. The General, however, was not unhorsed, and recovering his sabre and levying upon his good right arm for all its strength, dealt his adversary so terrible a blow, he cleft his head from the top to his chin. The writer has a personal, confidential letter from General Hampton confirming the above incident.

Soon after our command began the charge a shell burst just in front; this killed the gallant Connes, major of the Jeff Davis Legion, and shattered the right arm of the captain of Company "F" just below the shoulder. The writer saw the colors of his command fall three times in five minutes, either by hit of the color-bearer or his mount, but in each instance the flag was grasped by one of the color guard and caught before it reached the ground.

The cavalary engagement on the Confederate left resulted in a draw; that is, after considerable fighting each side retained the respective positions occupied by each when the conflict began. The losses on each side were quite


We remained on the battle field that night and the next day. The writer recalls his personal discouragement on the failure of the cavalry to worst the enemy. But we fought under great disadvantages. The men and their mounts were much exhausted by their "strenuous and heroic ride with Stuart," from Upperville to Gettysburg. Later, we

learned when Picketts repulsed remnants staggered back to Seminary Ridge, General Lee consoled them with, "We cannot always expect to win victories. All good men must rally now. We will talk this over later on."

With the repulse of the Army of Northern Virginia on July 3, 1863, the fortunes of the Confederacy began its wane. When the remnant got back to Seminary Ridge, naturally the Confederate officers expected Meade to deliver a counter strike, and though the assaulting troops were badly shattered, preparation was at once made to repel any assault by the enemy.

There were some Federal officers also who believed this to be the rational sequence of Lee's repulse. One of them was General Pleasanton, commanding the Federal cavalry, and a fighter, too. He rode up to General Meade and said: "General Meade, I give you two hours to prove you are a general. Order your infantry to attack and I'll take my cavalry around Lee's rear and we will end this campaign in a week!"

Cautious and conservative as McClellan, Meade called a council of war of his corps commanders and laid General Pleasanton's proposition before them. One general approved it; the majority votea to let well enough alone.

Without serious molestation, the Army of Northern Virginia begun its retrograde movement on the evening of the Fourth of July.

A singular casuality happened in this great battle to a gunner of the Fifth Maine Battery. A Confederate shell burst within four feet of him and wrenched an arm off, gouged one eye out, smashed three or four ribs, and punctured his corpus in forty-eight places. He lay as dead, and the burying detail dumped him in a cart to haul to the burying trench. As he was being dragged from the cart, the man handling the dead observed there was breath in that shattered body. He called a surgeon and asked his attention. The doc

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