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The movement of Jackson, which we have briefly sketched, is the chief element of the situation in which. the decisive engagements of Manassas were fought. In this connection it must be studied; it was the brilliant strategic preface to the most decisive, victory yet achieved on the theatre of vthe war. The corps of Jackson, having headed off the Federal army under Pope, had now possession of Manassaa Plains. It had accomplished its design, which was to force Pope back—deprive him completely of direct communication with Washington or Alexandria, and eventually induce his surrender or annihilation.
The principal and anxious topic in the North was, by what eccentric courses the famous Confederate commander had managed to get around the right wing of Pope's army, when it was supposed—and in fact the hasty exultation had already been caught up in the Yankee newspapers—that it was the "rebel" general who was cut off, and that he would probably make a desperate retreat into the mountains to escape the terrours of Pope. Indeed, it was some time before the full and critical meaning of the situation dawned upon the prejudiced mind of the Northern public. The idea was indulged that the capture of Manassas was only a successful raid by a body of rebel guerillas; and so it was dismissed by the newspapers with a levity, characteristic of their insolence and ignorance.
Weak and credulous as General Pope was, it is probable that the moment he heard that. Jackson was in his rear, he was satisfied that it was no raid. The situation had been changed almost in a moment. Pope had evacuated Warrenton Junction and was moving along the railroad upon Manassas, anxious to secure his "line of retreat," and expecting, doubtless, with no little confidence, by rapid marches of a portion of his forces by the turnpike upon Gainesville, to intercept any reinforcements by the way of Thoroughfare Gap to Jackson, and to fall upon and crush him by the weight of numbers. A portion of the Confederate army now fronted to the South, and the Federal army towards Washington. The latter had been swollen by reinforcements, and the advance corps from Burnside was marching on rapidly from Fredericksburg to complete the amassment on the Federal side.
Although the situation of Gen. Pope was one unexpected by himself, and surrounded by many embarrassments, he yet had many circumstances of advantage in which to risk a great and decisive battle. The New York journals persisted in declaring that it Avas not the infallible Pope, but the "rebel" army j;hat was "in a tight place." At any rate, Pope was not in the situation in which McClellan found himself when his right wing was turned by the Confederates in front of Richmond—that is, without supports or reinforcements. On the contrary, on his right, and on the way up from Fredericksburg, was the new army of the Potomac under Burnside; while advancing forward from Alexandria was the newly organized army of Virginia under McClellan. Such was the array of force that threatened the army we had withdrawn from Bichrnond, and in which the Northern populace indulged the prospect of a* certain and splendid victory.
An encounter of arms of vital consequence was now to ensue on the already historic and famous Plains of Manassas— the beautiful stretch of hill and dale reaching as far as Centreville, varied by amphitheatres, an admirable battle ground^ with the scenery of which the Southern troops associated the exciting thoughts of a former victory and a former shedding of the blood of their beloved' and best on the memorable and consecrated spots that marked the field of battle.
THE ENGAGEMENT OF WEDNESDAY, THE 27TH OP AUGUST.
On Wednesday, the 27th, an attack was made by the enemy upon Bristow Station, and also at Manassas Junction.
On the morning of that day, at about eleven o'clock, Gen. Taylor's brigade, of Major-General Slocum's division of the army of the Potomac, consisting of the first, second, third and fourth New Jersey regiments, were ordered to proceed to Manassas by rail from their camp near Fort Ellsworth, Alexandria.
The brigade arrived at Bull Run bridge about seven o'clock in the morning. The troops landed and crossed the bridge with as little delay as possible, and marched towards Manassas. After ascending the hill emerging from the valley of Bull Run, they encountered a line of skirmishers, of the Confederates, which fell back before them. Th& brigade marched on in the direction of Manassas} not seeing any of the enemy until within range of the circular series of fortifications around the Junction, ,when heavy artillery was opened upon them from all directions. General Taylor retired beyond the range of our guns to the rear of a sheltering crest of ground, from which he was driven by our infantry. Crossing at Blackburn's ford, he was pursued by our horse artillery, which fired into him, creating the utmost havoc. The brigade retreated in a disorganized mass of flying men towards Fairfax; it was pursued by our eager troops beyond Centreville, and the track of the flying and cowardly enemy was marked with his dead.
The flight of the enemy was attended-by the most wild and terrible scenes, as he was pursued by our horse artillery, pouring canister into his ranks. The brigade was almost annihilated. General Taylor himself, his son on his staff, and his nephew, were wounded; also one-half of his officers.
At 3 o'clock, P. M., of the same day, the enemy attacked General Ewell, at Bristow, and tnat General, after a handsome little fight, in which he punished the enemy severely, retired across Muddy Run, as had previously been agreed upon, to Manassas Junction. This attack was. made by the division of the enemy commanded by Gen. Hooker, which was dispatched to that point and detached from the advancing forces of Pope, who, of course, claimed the result of the affair as a signal Federal success.
MOVEMENTS OF THURSDAY, THE 28TH OF AUGUST.
After sunset on Thursday General Jackson accomplished one of the most beautiful and masterly strategic movements of the war. He found himself many miles in advance of the rest of our army. The enemy might throw his immense columns between him and Longstreet—-Alexandria and Washington was to his rear when he turned to attack the enemy. He determined to throw himself upon the enemy's flank, to preserve the same nearness to Alexandria, to place himself within support of the remainder of our army, and to occupy a position from which he could not be driven, even if support did not arrive in time. All this he accomplished that night, after destroying the stores, buildings, cars, &c, and burning the railroad bridges over Muddy Run and Bull Run. He marched at night with his entire force from Manassas Station to Manassas battle-field, crossing the Warrenton turnpike, and placing his troops in such position that he could confront the enemy should they attempt to advance by the Warrenton pike or by the Sudley road and ford, and have the advantage of communicating by the Aldie road with Longstreet, should he not have passed the Thoroughfare Gap, and at all events gain for himself a safe position for attack or defence. At seven o'clock, A. M., on Friday, General Stuart encountered the enemy's cavalry near Gainesville, on the Warrenton pike, and drove them back; and during the morning the 2d brigade of Gen. Taliaferro's division, under Colonel Bradley Johnson, again repulsed them. It was now ascertained that the enemy's column was advancing (or retreating) from Warrenton, along the line of the railroad and by way of the Warrenton turnpike, and that they intended to pass a part of their force over the Stone Bridge and Sudley ford. Gen. Jackson immediately ordered Gen. Taliaferro to advance with his division to attack their left flank, which was advancing towards Sudley Mill. Gen. Ewell's division marched considerably in the rear of the 1st division. After marching some three miles, it was discovered that the enemy had abandoned the idea of crossing at Sudley, and had left the Warrenton pike to the left, beyond Groveton, and were apparently cutting across to the railroad through the fields and woods. In a few minutes, however, he advanced across the turnpike to attack us, and Jackson's army was thrown forward to meet him.
From this sketch of the movements of the corps commanded by Gen. Jackson, it will be seen that though a portion of our forces, under Gens. Ewell and Jackson, were on Tuesday and a part of Wednesday, the 26th and 27th of August, on the Orange and Alexandria railroad, between Pope and Alexandria, on the approach of Pope from Warrenton they withdrew to the west and halted in the vicinitjfeof the Warrenton turnpike, expecting to be rejoined by Longstreet, where they awaited the approach of the enemy and delivered him battle.
THE BATTLE OF FRIDAY, THE 29TH OF AUGUST..
The conflict of Friday occurred near the village of Groveton, our right resting just above and near the village, and the left upon the old battle-field of Manassas. The division of General Anderson had not yet arrived, and the corps of Longstreet had not been fully placed in position. The enemy, probably aware of our movements, selected this opportunity to make an attack upon Jackson, hoping thereby to turn our left, destroy our combinations, and disconcert the plans which had already become apparent to the Federal commanders.
Gen. Longstreet's passage of the Thoroughfare Gap in the face of a force of two thousand of the enemy,' is one of the most remlrkable incidents of the late operations in Northern Virginia. The Gap is a wild, rude opening through the Bull Run Mountains, varying in width from one hundred to two hundred yards. A rapid stream of water murmurs over the rocks of the rugged defile, along which runs a stony winding road. On either side arise the mountains, those on the left presenting their flat, precipitous faces to the beholder, with