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We have already referred in the pages of this history to Ashby's share in the several glorious campaigns of Jackson in the Valley; to.his participation in the battle of Kernstown; to his famous adventure with the Yankee pickets at the bridge, and to somye other of his daring exploits on the front and flanks of the enemy. It was on the occasion of the battle of Kernstown'that his energy was exercised to an extraordinary degree in protecting the retreat and annoying the skirts of the enemy. In thirty-eight out of forty-two days after this battle he was fighting the enemy, keeping him in check, or cutting off his communications. iThe terrible fatigues he incurred never seemed to depress him, or to tax his endurance. An acquaintance testifies that it was not an infrequent feat for him to ride daily over a line of pickets sixty or seventy miles in extent.
At a later period of the Valley campaign, when Banks returned from Strasburg and our troops were chasing him, Ash by would follow and charge the Yankees as the Rockbridge Artillery poured in their fire. At one time he was riding abreast of three hundred infantry, who were passing along the turnpike. All at once he wheeled his horse, and leaping the fence with drawn sword, cut his way1 right through them, then wheeling, he did the same thing a second time. Riding up to the standard bearer, he.seized it from him and dashed him to the earth. The terrified wretches neve\ raised a weapon against him. S-eventy-five of them, whom he cut off, laid down their arms, and sat down at his order in the corner of the fence, where they remained until his men came up to take care of them. The flag was that of a Vermont regimentr A few days after, Mr. Boteler asked Ashby of the exploit. He drew the flag from his bosom and gave it 'to-Him. It was presented by Mr. Boteler to the Library of the State, at Richmond, where it may now be seen— a'testimony to one of the most brilliant deeds of Virginia's youthful hero.
A .week after this adventure, Ashby was dead. But a few days before'the termination of his brilliant career, he received the promotion which had been long due him from the Government. Just before leaving Richmond after the adjournment of the first session of the permanent Congress, Mr. Boteler, who was a member of that body and Ashby's constant friend, went to the President, V>ld him that he was going home, and asked that one act of justice should b6 done to the people of the Valley, which they had long expected. He wished to be able to carry back to his people the assurance that Ashby_ should be commissioned a Brigadier General. The order for the commission was at once made out. When the announcement was made to Ashby, he exhibited no emotion, except that his face was lighted up by one of thos>? sad smiles which had occasionally brightened it since the death of his brother.
The majiner of Ashby's death has already been mentioned in the preceding pages of the brief historical narrative of the Valley campaign. The writer is indebted for the particulars of that sad event to Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, the brave Maryland officer whose command was conspicuous in the affair that cost Ashby his life, and earned an immortal honour in revenging his* death. H* takes the liberty of extracting fr.om a letter of this officer an account of the engagement:
"On the morning of Friday, the 6th of June," writes Colonel Johnson,
41 we left Harrisonburg, not having seen the enemy for two days. To oar "surprise yi the afternoon, his cavalry made a dash into our rear guard, and "was whipped most effectually, their Colonel, Sir Percy Wyndham, being "taken prisoner. My regiment was supporting a battery a short distance "behind this cavalry fight. In half an hour we were ordered forward—that "js, toward the enemy retracingnthe march just made. Our infantry consisted only of Brigadier General Geoi%e H. Stewart's brigade, the 58th «4 Virginia, 44th Virginia, two other Virginia regiments, and the Maryland '"Line—of the latter, only the 1st Maryland was taken back; the artillery "and all. the cavalry was left behind us. The 58th Virginia was first, my re** giment (the 1st Maryland) next, then came the 44th andfaie rest.
"A couple of miles east of Harrisonburg, we left the road and filed to the "right, through the fields, soon changing direction again so as to move par"allel to the road. General Ewell soon sent for two of my companies as skii> "mishers. Moving cautiously through the darkening shades of the tangled "wood just as the evening twilight was brightening the trees in front of u« "in an opening, spot, spot, spot, began a dropping fire from the skirmish"ers, and instantly the 58th Virginia poured in a volley. Another volley "was fired. The leaves-began to fall, and the bullets hit the trees around. "General Ewell came up in a gallop. 'Charge, Colonel, charge to the left!' "And I charged, got to the edge of the wood, and found a heavy body of in"fantry and cavalry supporting a battery on a hill six hundred yards in front "of me. But the Yankee ba*lls came fast and thick on my flank. 'The -" 58th are firing into us,' the leading Captain said. General Ewell and my"self, the only mounted officers, plunged after them, and found, it was not "their njre, I got back. 4 Up, men, and take that hill,' pointing to my right. ** They went in with a cheer. In less than five seconds the front rank of the "second company went down. The colour sergeant, Doyle, fell. The cor"poral who caught them from him fell. The next who took them fell, when "Corporal Shanks, a six-footer, seized them, raising them over his head at "arm's length. Captain Robertson lay dead; Lieutenant Snowden shot to "death; myself on the<ground, my horse shot in. three places. But still we* "went forward, and drove the Bucktails from the fence where they had been "concealed. * * * *" .
It was as the brave Marylanders were pressing on in this charge that Ash by, who was on the right of the 58th Virginia exhorting them, fell by an intelligent bullet of the enemy. His death was quickly avenged. As our troops reached the fence from which the shot had been fired, the line of Yankees melted away like mist before a hurricane.
"The account I have given you," writes Colonel Johnson, "of the manner "of Ashby's death, is collated from the state-ments of many eye-witnesses of "my skirmishing companies, who were all around him when he. fell. I did "not see it, though not thirty yards from him, but was busy with my own "men; and I am specific in stating the source of his death, as there is a loose u impression that he was killed by a shot from the 58th Virginia. I am per* "suaded this is not so, from the statements of. two very cool officers,' Captain "Nicholas and Lieutenant Booth, who were'talking to him the minute before "he fell. **•***.
* "Ashby was my first revolutionary acquaintance in Virginia. I was with "him when the first blow was struck for the cause we both 'had so much at ** heart, and was with him in his last fight, always knowing him to be beyond '* all modern men in chivalry, as he was equal to any one in courage. He "combined the virtues of Sir Philip Sidney with the dash of Murat. I con** tribute my mite to his fame, which will hve«in the Valley of Virginia-, oufc*'»ide of books, as long as its hills Aid mountains shall endure."
No worfd escaped from Ashby's lips as he fell. It was not necessary. No dying legend, spoken in death's embrace, could have added to that noble life. Itself was a beautiful poem; a sounding oration; a sufficient legacy to the virtue of his countrymen.
The Situation of Richmond...Its Strategic Importance...What the Yankees Had Done to Secure Richmond...the Battle Of Seven Pines...Miscarriage of Gen. Johnston's Plans...The Battles or The Chickahominy...Storming of the Enemy's Entrenchments...McClellan Driven from his Northern Line of Defences...The Situation on the Other Side of the Chickahominy...Magruder's Comment...The Affair of Savage Station....The Battle of Frazler's Farm...A Terrible Crisis...Battle of Malvern Hill...The Enemy in Communication with
his Gunboats."...The Failure to Cut him oif....Glo'ry and Fruits of Our Victory
Misrepresentations of the Yankees...Safety of Richmond...The War in Other Parts of the Confederacy...The Engagement of Secessionville...The Campaign of the West...The"Evacuation of Corinth...More Yankee Falsehoods...Capture of Memphis...The Prize of the Mississippi...Statistics of its Navigation...Siege of Vicksburg... Heroism of "the Queen City "...Morgan's Raid into Kentucky...The Tennessee ahd Virginia Frontier...Prospects in the West...Plan of Campaign there.
Richmond is the heart of the State of Virginia. It is hundreds of miles from the sea, yet with water communication to Old Point, to Washington, and to New York. It is the strategic point of the greatest importance in the whole Confederacy. If Richmond had fallen before McClellan's forces, the North expected that there- wo^ild follow all of North Carolina except the mountains, part of South Carolina, and all of Tennessee that was left to us.
On the Richmond lfnes, two of the greatest and most splendid armies that had ever been arrayed- on a single field confronted each*other; every accession that could be procured from the most distant quarters to their numbers, and everything that could be drawn from the resources of the respective countries of each, had been made to contribute to the strength and splendour of the opposing hosts.
Since the commencement of the war, the North had Jtaxed its resources for the capture of Richmond; nothing was omitted for the accomplishment of this event; the way had to be opened to the capital by tedious and elaborate operations on the frontier of Virginia; this accomplished, the city of Richmond was surrounded by an army whose numbers was all that could be^desired; composed of picked forcesj haying every advantage that science and art could bestow in fortifications and every appliance of war; assisted by gun-boat flotillas in two rivers, and endowed with everything that could assure success.
The Northern journals were unreserved in the statement that the commands of Fremont, Banks and McDowell had been consolidated into one army, under Major-General Pope, with a view of bringing alj the Federal forces in Virginia to co-operate with McClellan on the Richmond lines. A portion of this army must have reached MeCfellan, "probably at an early stage of the engagements in the vicinity of Richmond. Indeed, it* was stated at a subsequent period by Mr. Chandler, a member of the Federal Congress, that the records of the War Department at Washington showed that more than one hundred and fifty thousand men had been sent to the lines about Richmond. There is little doubt but that, in the memo- . rable contest for the safety of the Confederate capital,, we engaged an army whose superiority in. numbers to us was largely increased by timely reinforcements, and with regard to the operations of which the Northern Government had omitted no conditions of success.
THE BATTLE OF SEVEN PINES.
Having reached the Chickahominy, McClellan threw a portion of his army across the'river, and, having thus established his left, proceeded to pivot upon it, and to extend his right by the right bank of the Pamunkey, so as to get to the North of Richmond.
.Before the 30ch of May, General Johnston had ascertained • that Keyes' corps was encamped on this side of the Chickahominy, near the Williamsburg road, and the same day a strong body of the enemy was reported in front of D. H. Hill. The