網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

rately in front; and the enemy took advantage of the darkness to effect his escape, not, however, without leaving his trains in our hands.

The Yankees made a stand at Cotton Hill, seven miles further on. A few hours' fighting dislodged them, and we pursued on to Kanawha Falls, where they again made a stand; but a few hours' contest made us again masters of the field, with more than a million dollars' worth of stores and some prisoners.

The advance of our troops to Charlestown was the signal to the enemy for an inhuman attempt to burn the town, the women being driven from their homes on fifteen minutes' notice. As our troops approached the town, dense clouds of black smoke were seen to hang over it, mingled with the lurid glare of burning buildings, while the shrieks of frightened women and children filled the air. The sight stung to madness our troops. Two regiments of Kanawha Valley men, beholding in plain view the homes of their childhood blazing, and catching the cries of distress of their mothers, wives and sisters, rushed, furious and headlong, to the rescue. Happily they were not too late to arrest the conflagration, and a few public buildings and some private residences were all that fell under the enemy's torch.

The campaign of the Kanawha was accomplished by us with a loss of not more than a hundred men. The results were apparently of great importance, as we had secured the great salines of Virginia,* driven the enemy from the Valley of the Kanawha, and put our forces in position to threaten his towns on the bank of the Ohio. But unhappily we shall have occasion hereafter to see that these results were ephemeral, and that this unfortunate part of Virginia was destined toother experiences of the rigour of the enemy.

* But few persons, even in the South, have adequate ideas of the resources and facilities for the production of salt in the Kanawha Valley, and of the value of that small strip of Confederate territory. In Kanawha countyalone forty furnaces were in operation; some operated by gas and some by coal. Salt by the million of bushels had been sold here from year to year at twelve cents and twenty cents per bushel, filling the markets of the West and South. Ships for Liverpool had formerly taken out salt as ballast; and yet, at one time in the war, owing to the practical cutting off of the saline supplies in Virginia, this article, formerly of such cheap bulk, had been sold in Richmond at a dollar and a half a pound.

For the present the progress of events takes us from the old battle-fields of the South and introduces us to a novel theatre of the war—that theatre being located for the first time on the soil and within the recognized dominions of the enemy.

On the fourth day of September Gen. Lee, leaving to his right Arlington Heights, to which had retreated the shattered army of Pope, crossed the Potomac into Maryland.

The immediate designs of this movement of the Confederate commander were to seize Harper's Ferry and to test the spirit of the Marylanders; but in order to be unmolested in his plans, he threatened Pennsylvania from Hagerstown, throwing Gov. Curtain almost into hysterics, and animating Baltimore with the hope that he would emancipate her from the iron tyranny of Gen. Wool.

After the advance of our army to Frederick, the Northern journals were filled with anxious reports of a movement of our troops in the direction of Pennsylvania. While the people of the North were agitated by these reports, the important movement undertaken for the present by Gen. Lee was in the direction of Virginia. It appears that for this purpose our forces in Maryland were divided into three corps, commanded by Generals Jackson, Longstreet and Hill. The forces under Jackson having re-crossed the Potomac at Williamsport and taken possession of Martinsburg, had then passed rapidly behind Harper's Ferry, that a capture might be effected of the garrison and stores known to be there. In the meantime, the corps of Longstreet and Hill were put in position to cover the operations of Jackson and to hold back McClellan's forces, which were advancing to the relief of Harper's Ferry.

Gen. McClellan had resumed the chief command of the Federal armies on the second day of September. On the fourteenth of that month, he fought his first battle in Maryland, called the battle of Boonsboro' or of South Mountain.

THE BATTLE OP BOONSBORO'.

When Jackson had diverged to the left from the line of march pursued by the main body of fhe Confederates re-crossing the Potomac and moving rapidly upon Harper's Ferry, Gen. Longstreet had meanwhile continued his march to Hagerstown, and there awaited the result. To frustrate this design, and relieve Gen. Miles and the ten or twelve thousand men who occupied Harper's Ferry, the enemy moved their entire force upon the Gap in the mountains, to whiclj we have alluded, and there sought to break through the barrier we were so jealously guarding* divide our lines, and defeat our armies in detail. Foreseeing this intention on the part of the Federals', Gen. Lee had posted the division of Gen. D. H. Hill in and around the Gap, on the opposite side and summit, with instructions to hold the position at every hazard, until he was notified of the success of the movement of Jackson and his co-operates. It was certainly no part of the original plan to fight a pitched battle here, except to secure this one desirable result.

The pass is known as Boonsboro' Gap, being a continuation over the broad back of the mountain of the national turnpike. The road is winding, narrow, rocky and rugged, with either a deep ravine on one side and the steep sides of the mountain on the other, or like a huge channel cut through a solid rock. Near the crest are two or three houses, which, to some extent, overlook the adjacent valleys, but elsewhere the face of the mountain is unbroken by a solitary vestige of the handiwork of man.

The battle commenced soon after daylight, by a vigorous cannonade, under cover of which, two or three hours later, first the skirmishers and then the main bodies became engaged. A regular line of battle on our part, either as regards numbers or regularity, was impossible, and the theatre of the fight was therefore limited. The fortunes of the day, which were desperate enough in the face of the most overwhelming numbers, were stubbornly contested by the Confederates. The brigade of Gen. Garland of Virginia, the first engaged, lost its brave commander. While endeavoring to rally his men, he fell, pierced in the breast by t musket ball, and died upon the field.

While our lines were giving way under the pressure of the enemy's numbers, the welcome sounds of reinforcements were borne on the air. The corps of Gen. Longstreet was at Hagerstown, fourteen miles distant, and at daylight commenced its march towards the scene of action. Hurrying forward with all speed, stopping neither to rest nor eat, the advance arrived at the pass about four o'clock, and were at once sent into the mountain. Brigade after brigade, as rapidly as it came up, followed, until by five o'clock nearly the entire,command, with the exception of the brigade of General Toombs, which had been left at Hagerstown, was in position, and a portion of it already engaged. Evans was assigne'd to the extreme left, Drayton to the right, and Hood, with his "ragged Texans," occupied the centre.

The accession of fresh numbers at once changed the tone and temper of the combat. The ominous volleys of musketry rolled down the mountain in almost deafening succession. But advance we could not. The enemy in numbers were like a solid wall. Their bayonets gleamed from behind every rock and bush. Retreat, wTe would not, and thus we fought, doggedly giving and taking the fearful blows of battle, until long after nightfall.

The cessation of firing left the respective forces, with some exceptions, in nearly the same relative situation as at the commencement of the battle. The enemy gained nothing and we lost nothing. On the contrary, our object had been obtained. We had encountered a force of the enemy near five-fold our own, and after a bloody day, in which our killed and wounded were quite twenty-five hundred and those of the enemy probably more, we had held him in check until Gen. Jackson was heard from and the success of his enterprise rendered certain.

THE CAPTURE OF HARPER'S FERRY.

While the action of Boonsboro, was in progress, and the enemy attempting to force his way through the main pass on the Frederick and Hagerstown road, the capture of Harper's Ferry wa^ accomplished by the army corps of Gen. Jackson.

During the night of the 14th September, General Jackson planted his guns, and in the morning opened in all directions on the Federal forces drawn up in line of battle on Bolivar Heights. The white flag was raised at twenty minutes past seven. At the moment of surrender, Col. Miles, the Federal commander, was struck by a piece of shell, which carried away his left thigh. "My God, I am hit," he exclaimed, and fell into the arms of his aid-de-camp.

The extent of the conquest i& determined by the fact that we took eleven thousand troops, an equm number of small arms, seventy-three pieces of artillery, and about two hundred wagons. The force of the enemy which surrendered consisted of twelve regiments of infantry, three companies of cavalry and six companies of artillery. The scene of the surrender was one of deep humiliation to the North. It was indeed a repetition of the revolutionary glories of Yorktown to see here the proud, gaily-dressed soldiers of the oppressor drawn up in line, stacking their arms, and surrendering to the ragged, barefoot, half-starved soldiers of liberty.

THE BATTLE OF SHARPSBURG.

*

On the 17th of September Gen. Lee had retired to unite his forces, as far as possible, to confront the still advancing forces of McClellan, which, having obtained possession of Crampton's Gap on the direct road from Frederick City to Sharpsburg, were pressing our forces, and seemed determined

« 上一頁繼續 »