網頁圖片
PDF

~\ and out of the Gap; during which, Lee moved rapidly southward, passing around our right flank and appearing in our front when our army again looked across the RappahanInock.

[ocr errors]

So soon as it was known that Lee had started for the North with all the force that he could muster, Gen. Dix, commanding at Fortress Monroe, was directed to make a demonstration on Richmond. Gen. Keyes was appointed to lead it. Starting” from White IIouse, about 5,000 men of all arms, under the more immediate command of Gen. Getty, with at least as many more behind at call, Keyes moved up to Baltimore Crossroads, whence some 1,500 cavalry were sent forward to burn the Central Railroad bridge over the South Anna, which they effected. There was some skirmishing at various points, with the advantage oftener on the side of the enemy; the upshot of all being that Keyes retreated without a serious fight, and without having accomplished any thing worth the cost of the movement. As Richmond was defended by a single brigade under Wise, with such help as might be hastily summoned from points farther South or obtained from her officeholders and other exempts organized as militia, it seems obvious that a more determined leader, who would not have fallen back without knowing why, was badly needed. A spirited, resolute dash might have given us Richmond on the same day that Grant took possession of surrendered Wicksburg and Lee recoiled from Meade's unshaken front at Gettysburg.

Gen. Buford, with his cavalry division, pushed “across the river, at Tappahannock Station, and crowded back, first a brigade, then a division, of Stuart's cavalry nearly to Culpepper Court House, when their infantry compelled him to retreat, fighting, till he was supported by the 1st corps; when the foe in turn desisted. Our loss this day was 140, including 16 killed. Gen. Kilpatrick next crossed” at . Port Conway below Fredericksburg, driving before him a Rebel force stationed on this side, and burning two gunboats recently captured by the Rebels on the Potomac, and run into the IRappahannock for future use. Gen. Pleasanton next crossed “ the Rappahannock at Kelly's and other fords with most of our cavalry, in three divisions, under Buford, Kilpatrick, and Gregg, pressing back Stuart's cavalry to Brandy Station and Culpepper Court House, and thence across the IRapidan, capturing two guns and quite a body of prisoners. Otherwise, the losses on either side were light. Gen. Warren; with the 2d corps, supported our cavalry, but was at no time engaged. This reconnoissance having proved that Lee had depleted his army to rüenforce Bragg in Tennessee, Gen. Meade crossed” the Rappahannock in force, posting himself at Culpepper Court House, throwing forward two corps to the Rapidan; which he was preparing to cross when he was ordered from Washington to detach" the 11th and 12th corps, under Hooker, to the aid of our army at Chattanooga. Being réenforced soon afterward, he sent.” Gen. Buford, with his cavalry division, across the Rapidan

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors]

to uncover the upper fords, preparatory to an advance of the 1st and 6th corps; but Lee at the same time crossing Robertson's river and advancing in force from Madison Court House on our right, Meade fell back “across the Rappahannock; our cavalry, under Pleasanton, covering the retreat, and being engaged from Culpepper Court House to Brandy Station, where Buford rejoined him,and the enemy were held in check till evening, when Pleasanton withdrew across the river. Meade now, presuming the enemy in force at Culpepper Court IIouse, pushed over” the 6th, 5th, and 2d corps to Brandy Station, while Buford's cavalry moved in the van to Culpepper Court House; when, on hearing from Gen. Gregg, commanding the cavalry division on our right, that the enemy had driven him back from Hazel run across the Rappahannock, and were crossing at Sulphur Springs and Waterloo in heavy force, Meade hastily drew back his army across the river and retreated" to Catlett's Station and thence" to Centerville; Gregg, with the 4th and 13th Pa. and 1st N. Y. cavalry and 10th N. Y. infantry, being surrounded and attacked" near Jefferson, and routed, with a loss of 500, mainly prisoners. Our army was sharply and impudently pursued, especially by Stuart's cavalry, who gathered up quite a number of prisoners, mainly stragglers, of little value unless to exchange. Stuart, with 2,000 of his cavalry, pressed our rear so eagerly that, when near Catlett's Station,” he had inadvertently got ahead, by a flank movement, of our 2d corps, Gen. Warren, acting as rear-guard;

* Oct. 11. * Oct. 12. * Oct. 13, " Oct. 14.

[ocr errors]

and was hemmed in where his whole command must have been destroyed or captured had he not succeeded in hiding it in a thicket of old-field pines, close by the road whereon our men marched by: the rear of the corps encamping close beside the enemy, utterly unsuspicious of their neighborhood, though every word uttered in our lines as they passed was distinctly heard by the lurking foe. Stuart at first resolved to abandon his guns and attempt to escape with moderate loss, but finally picked three of his men, gave them muskets, made them up so as to look as much as possible like our soldiers, and thus drop silently into our ranks as they passed, march a while, then slip out on the other side of the column, and make all haste to Gen. Lee at Warrenton, in quest of help. During the night, two of our officers, who stepped into the thicket, were quietly captured. At daylight, the crack of skirmishers' muskets in the distance gave token that Lee had received and responded to the prayer for help; when Stuart promptly opened with grape and canister on the rear of our astounded column, which had bivouacked just in his front, throwing it into such confusion that he easily dashed by and rejoined his chief; having inflicted some loss and suf. fered little or none. But such ventures can not always prove lucky. That same day,” A. P. Hill's corps, which had left Warrenton at 5 A. M., moving up the Alexandria turnpike to Broad Run church, thence obliquing by Greenwich to strike our rear at Bristow Station, had obeyed the order, and fallen in just behind our 3d corps,

• Oct. 12, "Night of Oct. 13-14. " Oct. 14.

and was eagerly following it, picking up stragglers, and preparing to charge, when, about noon, our 20 corps, Gen. Warren, which was still behind, appeared on the scene, and considerably deranged Hill's (or Lee's) calculations. Hill turned, of course, to fight the advancing rather than the retreating foe, having his batteries ready for action; while Warren, who was for the moment surprised at finding an enemy in his front rather than his rear, required ten minutes to prepare for a suitable reply. Soon, however, Brown's and Arnold's batteries opened on our.side, with such effect, aided by the fire of Webb's and Hays's divisions of infantry, that the enemy fell back, abandoning six guns, whereof five—all that were serviceable—were at once seized and put to use on our side. An attempt to charge our right flank by Pettigrew’s old brigade, now Heth's, was signally repulsed, with a loss of 450 prisoners. After this, the fighting was more cautious and desultory; the enemy recoiling to the woods, and thence keeping up a long-range cannonade, which amounted to nothing. Our loss in killed and wounded was about 200, including Col. James E. Mallon, 42d N.Y.,killed, and Gen. Tile, of Pa., wounded; that of the enemy was probably 400, including Gens. Posey (mortally), Kirkland, and Cooke,” wounded, and Cols. Ruffin, 1st N. C., and Thompson, 5th N. C. cavalry, killed. Our soldiers held the field till dark, then followed the rest of our army, whose retreat they had so effectually covered. Meade, on reflection, was evidently ashamed—as well he might be—of this flight—which, the Rebels assert,

continued up to Fairfax Court House —and would have attempted to retrace his steps directly; but a heavy rain” had rendered Bull Run unfordable, and obliged him to send for pontoons; meantime, the enemy, af.

ter skirmishing along his front and

making feints of attack, retreated as rapidly as they had advanced, completely destroying the Orange and Alexandria Railroad from Bristow to the Rappahannock—Stuart, aided by a flank attack from Fitz Hugh Lee, worsting Kilpatrick, by force of numbers, in a not very sanguinary encounter” near Buckland's Mills, whence our cavalry fell back nimbly to Gainesville. In this affair, Custer's brigade did most of the fighting on our side; but the enemy was so vastly the stronger, backed by infantry, that Kilpatrick did well to escape with little loss. Stuart claims to have taken 200 prisoners. Lee récrossed the Rappahannock next day; leaving Meade, by reason of his ruined railroad, unable, if willing, to follow him farther for some time. During these operations, General J. D. Imboden, who, with a Rebel cavalry division, had been guarding the gaps of the Blue Ridge, swooped down “upon Charlestown, near Harper's Ferry, which he took; capturing 424 men, with a large amount of stores. Two hours afterward, a superior Union force appeared from IIarper's Ferry, before which Imboden deliberately fell back, fighting, to Berryville, saving nearly all his spoils; thence making good his escape by a night-march. Besides Imboden’s, Lee claims to have taken 2,000 prisoners during

"Son of Gen. Philip St. George Cooke, Union army.

** Oct. 16. 7* Oct. 19. ** Oct. 18.

[ocr errors]

his dash across the Rappahannock;
while our captures were hardly half
so many. In killed and wounded,
the losses were nearly equal—not far
from 500 on either side. But the
prestige of skill and daring, of au-
dacity and success, inured entirely
to the Rebel commander, who, with
an inferior force, had chased our
army almost up to Washington,
utterly destroyed its main artery of
supply, captured the larger number
of prisoners, destroyed or caused us
to destroy valuable stores, and then
returned to his own side of the IRap-
pahannock essentially unharmed;
having decidedly the advantage in
the only collision which marked his
retreat.
Nettled by the trick which had
been played upon him, Meade now
sought permission to make an at-
tempt, by a rapid movement to the
left, to seize the heights of Freder-

were the enemy's works.

both above and below the enemy's works; then our lines were quietly advanced over rugged ground till within half a mile of the works; whence a flat, open vale, traversed by a wide ditch, with high, steep banks and three feet of mud and water in its bed, then by a moat 12 feet wide by 5 deep, now dry; beyond which, rose a hill or ridge, directly on the river's bank, on which Gen. Wright had command of the 6th corps; while Brig.-Gen. David A. Russell" commanded the 1st division, whereof the 3d brigade, comprising the 5th Wisconsin, 6th Maine, 49th and 119th Pa., now commanded by Col. P. C. Ellmaker, of the latter, was his own, and had been carefully drilled by him into the highest efficiency. This brigade was advanced directly opposite the enemy's works; and IRussell, after a careful observa

icksburg; but IIalleck negatived the tion, reported to Wright, just before project; so Sedgwick, with the 6th sunset, that those works could be and 5th corps, was sent forward at carried by storm, and was authorized daybreak” from Warrenton to Rap- to try it. pahannock Station, where the Rebels | The next moment, his brigade had strongly fortified the north bank moved forward in two lines: five of the river, covering a pontoon companies of the 6th Maine deploybridge. The works on this side were sing as skirmishers, while the 5th Wisheld by Hayes's Louisiana brigade; consin, dashing in solid column on while IIoke's brigade, composed of the largest and strongest redoubt, folthe 6th, 54th, and 57th N. C., was lowed close behind them; the 20th sent over to support it by Lee, who, Maine, of another brigade, closing with Early's division, was just across on their left, and advancing in line the river. Our approach was of , with the 6th; Russell himself at the course well known, and IIoke pushed front, and giving the order to over on purpose to make all secure. charge; whereupon, with fixed bayArriving at noon opposite the Sta- onets and without firing a shot, the tion, our troops were halted behind a line swept forward through a deluge hill a good mile away, rested and of case-shot and Minié bullets. carefully formed, and our skirmish Ten minutes later, the rest of the lines gradually advanced to the river i brigade came up at double-quick to

* Of Salem, N.Y. —son of the late Hon. David Russell

* Nov. 7.

their aid; but, during those ten min-. utes, the 6th Maine had lost 16 out of 23 officers, and 123 out of 350 enlisted men; three of their veteran captains lying dead, with Lt.-Col. II arris, of this regiment, and Maj. Wheeler, of the 5th Wisc., severely wounded. Adj. Clark, of the former, and Lt. Russell, a relative and aid of the General, were likewise wounded. But now the Pennsylvania regiments rushed in at their highest speed, and the struggle at this point was over; while the 121st New York and 5th Maine, of the 2d brigade, firing but a single volley, swept, just at dusk, through the Itebel rifle-pits on Tussell’s right, and down to the pontoons in the Itebel rear, cutting off the retreat of the routed garrison, and compelling 1,600 of them to surrender. Four guns, 7 flags, 2,000 small arms, and the pontoon bridge, were among the captures; Gen. IIayes surrendered, but afterward escaped. Two of his Colonels swam the river. Several who attempted to do so were drowned. The whole was the work of two brigades, numbering less than 3,000 men; and most of it of Ilussell's, barely 1,549 strong. And, while no praise is too high for his men, it is not too much to say that the credit of this rarely paralleled exploit is mainly due to David A. Tussell—as capable, modest, and brave a soldier as the army of the Potomac ever knew. Simultaneously with this movement, the 2d and 3d corps, Gen. French, advanced to Kelly's ford; where pontoons were quickly laid, under the fire of their guns, and the 3d brigade of Ward's division, Gen.

De Trobriand, at once dashed across,

Berdan’s sharp-shooters in front, and charged into the enemy's rifle-pits, capturing Col. Gleason, 12th Wirginia, and over 400 men, with a loss of some 40. Our command of the ford was complete; and Lee, thoroughly worsted, fell back to Culpepper that night, and across the Rapidan the next. Our railroad was then rebuilt down to and across the Rappahannock, and réopened” to Brandy Station; which thus became our dépôt of supplies.

It was a prevalent conviction among its more energetic and enterprising officers that our army might have advanced directly on the heel of its brilliant success at Rappahannock Station and its seizure of the fords, and caught that of the enemy dispersed in Winter cantonments or compelled it to fight at disadvantage before it could be concentrated and intrenched in a strong position. Meade, however, with his habitual caution, waited till the bridge at Rappahannock Station was rebuilt, and every thing provided for moving safely; when, finding that he was not assailed nor likely to be, he again gave” the order to advance. A storm forthwith burst, which dictated a delay of three days; after which, the start was actually made: Gen. French, with the 3d corps, followed by Sedgwick, with the 6th, crossing the Rapidan at Jacob's mill; Gen. Warren, with the 2d, at Germania ford—both moving on Robertson's tavern; while Sykes, with the 5th, followed by Newton, with two divisions of the 1st, crossed at Culpepper ford, and Gregg, with a division of cavalry, crossed at Ely's

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[graphic]
« 上一頁繼續 »