Military Reminiscences of the Civil War V1
Jacob Dolson Cox

Part 4 out of 9

subject. General Grant is a witness whose opinion alone may be
treated as conclusive. In his Personal Memoirs [Footnote: Personal
Memoirs of U. S. Grant, vol. i. p. 573.] he explicitly and
unqualifiedly says that at the close of the Vicksburg campaign his
troops fulfilled every requirement of an army, and his volunteer
officers were equal to any duty, some of them being in his judgment
competent to command an independent army in the field. Sherman fully
shared this opinion. [Footnote: Letter to Halleck, Official Records,
vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 413.]

In trying to form a just estimate of the officers of the regular
army in 1861, we have to consider not only their education, but the
character of their military life and experience up to that time. It
is, on the whole, a salutary popular notion that "professionals" in
any department of work are more likely to succeed than amateurs. At
the beginning of the Civil War our only professional soldiers were
the officers of our little regular army, nearly all of whom were
graduates of the West Point Military Academy. Since the Mexican War
of 1848, petty conflicts with Indians on the frontier had been their
only warlike experience. The army was hardly larger than a single
division, and its posts along the front of the advancing wave of
civilization from the mouth of the Rio Grande to the Canada border
were so numerous that it was a rare thing to see more than two or
three companies of soldiers together. To most of the officers their
parade of the battalion of cadets at West Point was the largest
military assemblage they had ever seen. Promotion had been so slow
that the field officers were generally superannuated, and very few
who had a rank higher than that of captain at the close of 1860 did
any active field work on either side during the Civil War. The total
number of captains and lieutenants of the line would hardly have
furnished colonels for the volunteer regiments of the single State
of New York as they were finally mustered into the National service
during the war; and they would have fallen far short of it when
their own numbers were divided by the rebellion itself.

Our available professional soldiers, then, were captains and
subalterns whose experience was confined to company duty at frontier
posts hundreds of miles from civilization, except in the case of the
engineers, the staff corps, and some of the artillery in sea-coast
forts. With the same exceptions, the opportunities for enlarging
their theoretic knowledge had been small. It was before the days of
post libraries, and books of any sort were a rarity at the
garrisons. In the first year of the war, I expressed to General
Gordon Granger my surprise at finding how little most line officers
had added to the theoretic reading they got at the academy. "What
could you expect," he said in his sweeping way, "of men who have had
to spend their lives at a two-company post, where there was nothing
to do when off duty but play draw-poker and drink whiskey at the
sutler's shop?" This was, of course, meant to be picturesquely
extravagant, but it hit the nail on the head, after all. Some of the
officers of the old regime did not conceal their contempt for books.
It was a stock story in the army that when the Utah expedition was
fitting out in 1856, General Henry Hunt, chief of artillery of the
army of the Potomac, then a young artillery officer, applied to
General Twiggs, from whose command part of the expedition was making
up, for leave to take a little box of military books. "No, sir," was
the peremptory response; "no room in the train for such nonsense."
Hunt retired chop-fallen; but soon after another officer came in,
with "General, our mess has a keg of very nice whiskey we don't want
to lose; won't you direct the quartermaster to let it go in the
wagons?" "Oh yes, sir. Oh yes, anything in reason!" If not true, the
story is good enough to be true, as its currency attests; but
whether true or no, the "fable teaches" that post-graduate study in
the old army was done under difficulties.

The course of study at West Point had narrower limitations than most
people think, and it would be easy to be unfair by demanding too
much of the graduates of that military college. The course of study
was of four years, but the law forbade any entrance examinations on
subjects outside of the usual work done in the rural common schools.
The biographies of Grant, of Sherman, of Sheridan, of Ormsby
Mitchell, and of others show that they in fact had little or no
other preparatory education than that of the common country school.
[Footnote: Grant, in his Personal Memoirs (vol. i. p. 24), says of
the school in his early Ohio home, that the highest branches taught
there were "the three R's,--Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic. I
never saw," he says, "an algebra or other mathematical work higher
than the arithmetic, in Georgetown, until after I was appointed to
West Point. I then bought a work on algebra in Cincinnati, but
having no teacher it was Greek to me."] The course of study and
amount of education given must necessarily be limited, therefore, to
what boys of average ability and such preparation could accomplish
in the four years. They were no further advanced, on entering, than
they would have to be to enter any ordinary fitting school for one
of our first-class colleges, or the high schools in the graded
systems of public schools in our cities. Three years of study would
put them abreast of students entering college elsewhere, and four
years would carry them about as far as the end of the Freshman year
in Yale, Harvard, or Princeton. The corps of professors and teachers
at West Point has always deservedly ranked high as instructors, but
there is no "royal road" to knowledge, and it cannot be claimed that
three or four years at the Military Academy would count for more, as
general education, than the same period spent in any other good
school. A very few men of high standing in the classes supplemented
their education by obtaining appointments as temporary instructors
in the academy after graduating, but most of them left their books
behind them and began at once the subaltern's life at the distant
frontier post.

If we analyze the course of study they pursued, we find that it
covered two years' work in mathematics, one in physics and
chemistry, and one in construction of fortifications. This was the
scientific part, and was the heaviest part of the curriculum. Then,
besides a little English, mental philosophy, moral philosophy, and
elementary law, there were two years' study of the French and one of
Spanish. This was the only linguistic study, and began with the
simplest elements. At the close of the war there was no instruction
in strategy or grand tactics, in military history, or in what is
called the Art of War. The little book by Mahan on Out-post Duty was
the only text-book in Theory, outside the engineering proper. At an
earlier day they had used Jomini's introduction to his "Grandes
Opérations Militaires," and I am unable to say when its use was
dropped. It is not my wish to criticise the course of study; on the
other hand, I doubt if it could be much improved for boys who had
only the preparation required by the law. But since we are trying to
estimate its completeness as professional education fitting men to
command armies in the field, it is absolutely necessary to note the
fact that it did not pretend to include the military art in that
sense. Its scientific side was in the line of engineering and that
only. Its prize-men became engineers, and success at the academy was
gauged by the student's approach to that coveted result.

That the French which was learned was not enough to open easily to
the young lieutenant the military literature which was then found
most abundantly in that language, would seem to be indicated by the
following incident. In my first campaign I was talking with a
regular officer doing staff duty though belonging in the line, and
the conversation turned on his West Point studies. The little work
of Jomini's mentioned above being casually referred to as having
been in his course, I asked him if he had continued his reading into
the History of the Seven Years' War of Frederick the Great, to which
it was the introduction. He said no, and added frankly that he had
not read even the Introduction in the French, which he had found
unpleasantly hard reading, but in the English translation published
under the title of the Art of War. This officer was a thoroughly
estimable, modest, and intelligent man, and seemed in no way
inferior to other line officers of his age and grade. It would of
course be true that some men would build industriously upon the
foundation laid at the academy, and perfect themselves in those
things of which they had only acquired the elements; but the
surroundings of frontier life at a post were so unfavorable that I
believe few in fact did so. The officers of the engineer corps and
the ordnance were specifically devoted to scientific careers, and
could go steadily forward to expertness in their specialties. Those
who were permanently attached to the staff corps or to bureaus at
Washington had also opportunity to enlarge their professional
knowledge by study if they were so inclined. But all these were
exceptionally situated, and do not help us answer the question What
kind and amount of military education was implied in the fact that a
man had graduated at West Point and been sent to serve in the line?
I have purposely omitted for the present to consider the physical
training and the practical instruction in tactics by means of drill,
because the question is in terms one of science, not of practice;
that will come later. The conclusion is that the intellectual
education at the Military Academy was essentially the same, as far
as it went, as that of any polytechnic school, the peculiarly
military part of it being in the line of engineering. In actual
warfare, the laying out and construction of regular forts or the
conduct of a regular siege is committed to professional engineers.
For field work with an army, therefore, the mental furnishing of the
West Point man was not superior to that of any other liberally
educated man. In some of our volunteer regiments we had whole
companies of private soldiers who would not have shunned a
competitive examination with West Point classes on the studies of
the Military Academy, excepting the technical engineering of
fortifications. [Footnote: It must not be forgotten that my
criticisms are strictly confined to the condition of military
education in our Civil War period. Since that time some excellent
work has been done in post-graduate schools for the different arms
of the service, and field manoeuvres have been practised on a scale
never known in our army prior to 1861. A good beginning has also
been made, both here and in England, toward giving the young soldier
a military library of English books.]

Let us look now at the physical and practical training of the cadet.
The whole period of his student life at West Point had more or less
of this. He was taken as a raw recruit would be, taught the school
of the soldier in marching, in the manual of arms, and in personal
carriage. He passed on to the drill of the squad, the platoon, the
company. The tactics of the battalion came last, and the cadet might
become a corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or captain in the corps if
he showed aptitude for drill and tactics. It is noticeable, however,
that Grant and Sheridan remained privates during their whole
cadetship, and Sherman, though once he became sergeant, was put back
in the ranks. The fair conclusion is that this part of the cadet
discipline is not very closely connected with generalship, though it
is important as preparation for the ready handling of a company or a
battalion. Sherman tells us, in his Memoirs, that he studied
evolutions of the line out of the books, as a new subject, when he
was in camp in front of Washington, after the first battle of Bull
Run. [Footnote: Memoirs, vol. i. p. 220.] The tactical education of
the cadet stopped at the evolutions of the battalion, and for nearly
all of them it was, even in that respect, the education of the
soldier in the ranks and not of the officer, since a very small
proportion became officers in the cadet corps.

This practical drill was, of course, the same as that which was used
in organized militia regiments, and the famous Ellsworth Zouaves of
Chicago, the New York Seventh Regiment, with a number of other
militia regiments in different States, were sufficient proof that
this training could be made as exact outside of the cadet corps as
in it. It certainly was enough for the practical handling of the
company and the regiment under the simplified tactics which not only
prevailed during the war itself, but, with Upton's Manual as a
basis, has been authoritatively adopted as an improvement upon the
older and more complicated methods. It must not be forgotten that
although our militia system had fallen into scandalous neglect, the
voluntary efforts of citizen soldiers had kept many good independent
companies organized everywhere, as well as full regiments in most of
the older States; so that there were in fact more well-drilled
regiments in the militia than there were in the little regular army.
It was the small ratio all these, of both classes, bore to the
demands of the gigantic war that was upon us, which made the problem
so troublesome. The officers of the organized militia regiments,
before the end of the three months' service, did what I have said it
was desirable that those of the regular regiments should have
done,--they scattered from their original commands and were active
in organizing the new volunteer regiments. General De Trobriand, who
went out as Colonel of the Fifty-fifth New York, says that the New
York Seventh Regiment furnished three hundred officers to volunteer
regiments. [Footnote: De Trobriand, Four Years with Potomac Army, p.
64.] In a similar way, though not to the same extent, the other
organized and disciplined militia, in both Eastern and Western
States, furnished the skeletons of numerous new regiments.

The really distinguishing feature in the experience of the regular
officers of the line was their life in garrison at their posts, and
their active work in guarding the frontier. Here they had become
familiar with duty of the limited kind which such posts would
afford. This in time became a second nature to them, and to the
extent it reached, was, as other men's employments are, their
business. They necessarily had to learn pretty thoroughly the army
regulations, with the methods and forms of making returns and
conducting business with the adjutant-general's office, with the
ordnance office, the quartermaster's and subsistence departments,
etc. In this ready knowledge of the army organization and its
methods their advantage over the new volunteer officers was more
marked, as it seemed to me, than in any and all other things. The
routine of army business and the routine of drill had to be learned
by every army officer. The regular officer of some years' standing
already knew, as a matter of course, what a new volunteer officer
must spend some time in learning. There is something of value also
in the habit of mind formed in actual service, even if the service
is in subaltern grades and on a petty scale. Familiarity with danger
and with the expectation of danger is acquired, both by the Indian
wars of the frontier and by the hunting and field sports which fill
more or less of the leisure of garrison life.

But there were some drawbacks upon the value of the preparation for
war which these officers possessed. There was a marked conservatism
as to military methods and arms, and an almost slavish reverence for
things which were sanctioned by European authority, especially that
of the second French Empire. American invention was never more
fruitful than when applied to military weapons. Repeating and
magazine small arms, breach-loading cannon, and Gatling guns with
other repeating artillery, were brought out or improved with
wonderful variety of form and of demonstrable excellence. The
regular army influence was generally against such innovations. Not
once, but frequently, regular army officers argued to me that the
old smooth-bore musket with "buck and ball" cartridge was the best
weapon our troops could desire. We went through the war with a
muzzle-loading musket, the utmost that any commander could do being
to secure repeating rifles for two or three infantry regiments in a
whole army. Even to the end the "regular" chiefs of artillery
insisted that the Napoleon gun, a light smooth-bore twelve-pounder
cannon, was our best field-piece, and at a time when a great
campaign had reduced our forces so that a reduction of artillery was
advisable, I received an order to send to the rear my three-inch
rifled ordnance guns and retain my Napoleons. The order was issued
by a regular officer of much experience, but I procured its
suspension in my own command by a direct appeal to the army
commander. There was no more doubt then than there is to-day of the
superiority of rifled guns, either for long-range practice with
shells or in close work with canister. They were so much lighter
that we could jump them across a rough country where the teams could
hardly move a Napoleon. We could subdue our adversaries' fire with
them, when their smooth-bores could not reach us. Yet we were
ordered to throw away our advantages and reduce ourselves to our
enemy's condition upon the obstinate prejudice of a worthy man who
had had all flexibility drilled out of him by routine. Models of
automatic rapid-fire and repeating field-pieces were familiar
objects "at the rear," but I saw none of them in action in any army
in which I served. The conservatism of the old army must be held
responsible for this.

The question of zeal and devotion to the cause for which we fought
cannot be ignored in such a war as ours was. It is notorious that
comparatively few of the regular officers were political friends of
Mr. Lincoln's administration at the beginning. Of those who did not
"go with the South" but remained true to the National flag, some
were full of earnest patriotism, like the young officers whom I have
mentioned as volunteering to assist the governors of States in
organizing their contingents and as seeking places in volunteer
regiments. There were others who meant to do their duty, but began
with little hopefulness or zeal. There were still others who did not
hesitate to predict defeat and to avow that it was only for
professional honor or advancement that they continued to serve under
the National flag. These last were confessedly soldiers of fortune.
The war was an education for all who were in it, and many a man
began with reluctance and half-heartedness who was abundantly
radical before the conflict was over. There was, however, a
considerable class who practised on Talleyrand's diplomatic motto,
"point de zèle," and limited their efforts to the strict requirement
of duty. Such men would see disaster occur for lack of a little
spontaneity on their part, and yet be able to show that they
literally obeyed every order received. I was once ordered to support
with my command a movement to be made by another. It was an
important juncture in a campaign. Wondering at delay, I rode forward
and found the general officer I was to support. I told him I was
ordered to support him in doing what we both saw was needing to be
done; but he had no explicit orders to begin the movement. I said
that my orders to support him were sufficient to authorize his
action, and it was plain that it would be unfortunate if the thing
were not done at once. He answered cynically, "If you had been in
the army as long as I have, you would be content to do the things
that are ordered, without hunting up others." The English regulars,
also, have a saying, "Volunteering brings bad luck."

There was altogether too much of this spirit in the army, and one
who can read between the lines will see it in the history of many a
campaign. It did not necessarily mean wavering loyalty. It was
sometimes the mental indecision or timidity which shrinks from
responsibility. It was sometimes also the result of education in an
army on the peace establishment, where any spontaneity was snubbed
as an impertinence or tyrannically crushed as a breach of
discipline. I would not be understood to make more of these things
than is necessary to a just estimate of the situation, but it seems
to me an entirely fair conclusion that with us in 1861 as with the
first French republic, the infusion of the patriotic enthusiasm of a
volunteer organization was a necessity, and that this fully made up
for lack of instruction at the start. This hasty analysis of what
the actual preparation for war was in the case of the average line
officer of the regular army will show, to some extent, the basis of
my judgment that there was nothing in it which a new volunteer
officer, having what I have called military aptitude, should not
learn in his first campaign.

How far the officers of the engineers and of the staff corps applied
themselves to general military study, would depend upon their taste
and their leisure. Their opportunities for doing so were much better
than those of line officers, but there was also a tendency to
immerse themselves in the studies of their special department of
work. Very eminent officers of engineers have told me since the war
that the pressure of their special professional work was such that
they had found no time to read even the more noteworthy publications
concerning the history of our own great struggle. The surveys of the
great lakes and the coast, the engineering problems of our great
rivers, etc., have both formerly and in recent years absorbed their
time and their strength. The ordnance and the staff corps, also, had
abundant special duties. Still it may reasonably be assumed that
officers of the classes mentioned have usually made themselves
somewhat familiar with the best writings on military art. If we had
in the country in 1861 a class of men who could be called educated
soldiers in the scientific sense, we certainly should find them in
the several corps just referred to.

Here, however, we have to meet the question What is military art as
applied to the problem of winning battles or campaigns? We are
obliged to answer that outside of the business administration and
supply of an army, and apart from the technical knowledge of
engineering and the construction of fire-arms and ammunition, it
consists in the tactical handling of bodies of men in accordance
with very few and very simple principles of strategy. The literature
of the subject is found in the history of wars analyzed by competent
men like Napoleon, Jomini, the Archduke Charles, Sir William Napier,
Clausewitz, Moltke, Hamley, and others; but it may be broadly said
that the principles of this criticism and analysis may be so briefly
stated as to be printed on the back of a visiting-card. [Footnote:
Prince Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, in his admirable "Letters on
Strategy," states them in five brief primary axioms. Letters on
Strategy, vol. i. pp. 9, 10.] To trace the campaigns of great
soldiers under the guidance of such a critic as Jomini is full of
interest to any intelligent person, and there is nothing in the
subject of the slightest difficulty of comprehension if full and
authentic topographical maps are before the reader. To make much
instructive use of military history in this way demands a good deal
of voluminous reading and the command of charts and maps extensive
enough to allow the presentation of the face of a country on a large
scale. With these advantages all wars, both ancient and modern, are
full of instructive examples of the application of the simple
principles of strategy under innumerable varying circumstances and
situations; and this union of simple theory in ever-changing
practical application is what constitutes the theoretic knowledge of
the general as distinguished from the tactical and administrative
duties of the subordinate. [Footnote: Jomini expresses it thus:
"J'en couclus que l'histoire militaire raisonnèe de plusieurs
campagnes, seront la meilleure Ecole pour apprendre et par
conséquent pour enseigner la grande guerre: _la science des
géneraux._" Grandes Operations Militaires, vol. i. p. 7.] It was the
very simplicity of the principles that made many successful generals
question whether there was any art in the matter, except to use
courage and natural sagacity in the actual situation in which the
commander found himself and the enemy. Marshal Saxe asserted in his
"Rêveries" that down to his time there had been no formulation of
principles, and that if any had been recognized as such in the minds
of commanders of armies, they had not made it known. [Footnote:
Jomini, in the work already cited, quotes Marshal Saxe thus: "Que
toutes les sciences avaient des principes, mais que la guerre seule
n'en avait point encore; si ces principes ont existé dans la tête de
quelques généraux, nulle part ils n'ont été indiqués ou développés."
The same idea has been put quite as trenchantly by one of the most
recent writers of the English Army, Colonel J. F. Maurice, R. A.
Professor in the Farnborough Staff College. In the able article on
"War" in the last edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he says,
"it must be emphatically asserted that there does not exist, and
never except by pedants of whom the most careful students of war are
more impatient than other soldiers, has there ever been supposed to
exist, an 'art of war' which was something other than the methodic
study of military history."]

It was precisely in this department of military history "raisonnée"
that frontier garrison life shut the young army officer out from the
opportunities of profiting by his leisure. The valuable books were
all foreign publications in costly form with folio atlases, and were
neither easy to procure nor easily carried about with the limited
means and the rigid economy of transportation which marked army life
in the far West. That this was true even in the artillery is
indicated by General Gibbon before the Committee on the Conduct of
the War when questioned in reference to the relative amount of
artillery used at Gettysburg as compared with great European
battles; that distinguished officer having himself been in the
artillery when the Civil War began. [Footnote: "Question. You have
studied the history of battles a great deal: Now, in the battles of
Napoleon, had they at any time half as many artillery engaged as
there were at Gettysburg? Answer. I am not sufficiently conversant
with military history to tell you that. I think it very doubtful
whether more guns were ever used in any one battle before. I do not
believe Napoleon ever had a worse artillery fire." Testimony of
General John Gibbon, Committee on Conduct of the War, vol. iv. p.
444. At Gettysburg the whole number of cannon employed was about two
hundred. Compare this with Leipzig, for instance, the "battle of the
giants," where _two thousand_ were employed! Thiers says, "de
Leipzig à Schönfeld au nord, de Schönfeld à Probstheyda à l'est, de
Probstheyda à Connewitz au sud, une cannonade de deux mille bouches
à feu termina cette bataille dit des géants, et jusqu'ici la plus
grande, certainement, de tous les siecles." Thiers, Consulat et
l'Empire, vol. xvi. p. 607.]

If then the officers of the regular army, as a body, were not in
fact deeply read in what, as we have seen, Jomini calls "the science
of generals," their advantage over equally well-educated civilians
is reduced to a practical knowledge of the duties of the company and
the petty post, and in comparison with the officers of well-drilled
militia companies it amounted to little more than a better knowledge
of the army regulations and the administrative processes. It is no
reproach to them that this was so, for it resulted from the
operation of law in the course of education at the Military Academy
and the insignificant size of our army in times of peace. It had
been the peculiar blessing of our country that a great standing army
was unnecessary, and it would be foolish to regret that our little
army could not have the experience with great bodies of troops and
the advantages of theoretical instruction which are part of the life
of officers in the immense establishments of Continental Europe. My
only purpose is to make an approximately true balance sheet of the
actual advantages of the two parts of our National army in 1861.
Whilst on the subject, however, I will go a little further and say
that prior to our Civil War, the history of European conflicts
proves that there also the theoretic preparation of military men had
not, up to that time, saved them from the necessity of learning both
generalship and army administration in the terrible school of
experience, during their first year in the field when a new war
broke out after a long interval of peace.

The first volume of Kinglake's "Crimean War" appeared in 1863, and I
immediately and eagerly devoured it for the purpose of learning the
lesson it could teach. It was one of the memorable sensations of a
lifetime, to find that the regular armies of England, of France, and
of Russia had had to learn their lesson anew when they faced each
other on the shore of the Euxine, and that, whether in matters of
transportation, of subsistence, of the hospital, of grand tactics,
or of generalship, they had no advantage over our army of volunteers
fresh from their peaceful pursuits. The photographic fidelity to
detail on the part of the historian, and his apparent
unconsciousness of the sweeping conclusions to be drawn from his
pictures, made the lesson all the more telling. I drew a long breath
of relief, and nothing which happened to me in the whole war so
encouraged me to hopeful confidence in the outcome of it, as the
evidence I saw that our blunders at the beginning had been no
greater than those of old standing armies, and that our capacity to
learn was at least as quick as theirs. Their experience, like ours,
showed that the personal qualities of a commanding officer counted
for much more than his theoretic equipment, and that a bold heart, a
cool head, and practical common-sense were of much more importance
than anything taught at school. With these, a brief experience would
enable an intelligent man to fill nearly any subordinate position
with fair success; without them any responsibility of a warlike kind
would prove too heavy for him. The supreme qualification of a
general-in-chief is the power to estimate truly and grasp clearly
the situation on a field of operations too large to be seen by the
physical eye at once, [Footnote: Wellington said the great task of
his military life was "trying to make out what was behind the
hill."] and the undaunted temper of will which enables him to
execute with persistent vigor the plan which his intellect approves.
To act upon uncertainties as if they were sure, and to do it in the
midst of carnage and death when immeasurable results hang upon
it,--this is the supreme presence of mind which marks a great
commander, and which is among the rarest gifts even of men who are
physically brave. The problem itself is usually simple. It is the
confusing and overwhelming situation under which it must be solved
that causes timidity or dismay. It is the thought of the fearful
consequences of the action that begets a nervous state of hesitation
and mental timidity in most men, and paralyzes the will. No
education will ensure this greatest and most essential quality. It
is born in a man, not communicated. With it his acquired knowledge
will be doubly useful, but without it an illiterate slave-trader
like Forrest may far outshine him as a soldier. Nor does success as
a subordinate give any certain assurance of fitness for supreme
command. Napoleon's marshals generally failed when trusted with an
independent command, as Hooker did with us; and I do not doubt that
many men, like McClellan, who failed as generals-in-chief, would
have made brave and good subordinates. The test of quality is
different in kind, and, as I have said, the only proof of its
possession is in the actual trial. It is safe to say that a timid
subordinate will not be a good commander, but it cannot be affirmed
that a bold one will, though there are more chances in his favor.

The education of peril is so powerful in bringing out the qualities
that can master it, and for any one who has true military courage
the acquirement of skill in the more mechanical part of his duty in
war is so rapid, that my experience has led me to reckon low, in the
comparison, the value of the knowledge a soldier gains in times of
peace. I say "in the comparison." Tactics are essential to the
handling of large bodies of men, and must be learned. But the
zealous young soldier with aptitude for his work will learn this
part of his duty so fast that a single campaign will find him
abreast of any. At the beginning of a great war and in the
organization of a great army, the knowledge of routine and of
details undoubtedly saves time and saves cost both of treasure and
of life. I am therefore far from arguing that the knowledge which
was found in the regular army should not be made the most of. I have
already said that it should have been scattered through the whole
volunteer organization. So I also say that it was quite right to
look for the higher qualities for command in those who had the
technical information and skill. But I reckon patriotic zeal and
devotion so high that I have no hesitation in adding, that our army
as a whole would have been improved if the distinction between
regular and volunteer had been abolished, and, after the first
beginnings, a freer competition for even the highest commands had
been open to all. To keep up the regular army organization was
practically to say that a captaincy in it was equivalent to a
brigade command in the volunteers, and to be a brigadier in it was a
reward which regular officers looked forward to as a result of the
successful conduct of a great campaign as general-in-chief of an
army. The actual command in war was thus ridiculously belittled in
the official scale in comparison with grades of a petty peace
establishment, and the climax of absurdity was reached when, at the
close of hostilities, men who had worthily commanded divisions and
corps found themselves reduced to subordinate places in regiments,
whilst others who had vegetated without important activity in the
great struggle were outranking them by virtue of seniority in the
little army which had existed before the Rebellion!



Rosecrans's plan of campaign--Approved by McClellan with
modification--Wagons or pack-mules--Final form of plan--Changes in
commands--McClellan limited to Army of the Potomac--Halleck's
Department of the Mississippi--Fremont's Mountain
Department--Rosecrans superseded--Preparations in the Kanawha
District--Batteaux to supplement steamboats--Light wagons for
mountain work--Fremont's plan--East Tennessee as an objective--The
supply question--Banks in the Shenandoah valley--Milroy's
advance--Combat at McDowell--Banks defeated--Fremont's plans
deranged--Operations in the Kanawha valley--Organization of
brigades--Brigade commanders--Advance to Narrows of New River--The
field telegraph--Concentration of the enemy--Affair at
Princeton--Position at Flat-top Mountain.

As the spring of 1862 approached, the discussion of plans for the
opening of a new campaign was resumed. Rosecrans had suggested,
early in February, that he would prefer to attempt reaching the
Virginia and East Tennessee Railroad by two columns moving
simultaneously upon Abingdon in the Holston valley. One of these
would start from Gauley Bridge and go by way of Fayette, Raleigh,
and Princeton; the other would leave some point in the Big-Sandy
valley on the common boundary of Kentucky and Virginia, and march by
most direct route to Abingdon. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. v.
p. 721.] If this plan were approved, he asked that the west side of
the Big-Sandy valley be added to his department. He proposed to
depend largely upon pack-mule trains in place of wagons, to
substitute the French shelter tent for the larger tents still in
use, and to carry hand-mills by which the soldiers might grind into
meal the Indian corn to be found in the country. McClellan, as
general-in-chief, gave his approval, suggesting a modification in
regard to the column to move from the Big-Sandy valley. His
information led him to believe that the Big-Sandy River could be
relied upon as navigable to Prestonburg, which was seventy miles
from Abingdon by what was supposed to be a good road. He thought,
therefore, that it would be easier to make Prestonburg the base and
to use wagons. [Footnote: O, R., vol. v. p. 722.] On investigation
Rosecrans reported that the most feasible route in that region was
by steamboat transportation to Pikeville, twenty-five miles above
Prestonburg, in the Big-Sandy valley, and thence up the Louisa Fork
of the Big-Sandy by way of Pound Gap to the Holston valley; but
there would still be eighty-eight miles of marching after leaving
the steamboats, and navigation on the Big-Sandy was limited to brief
and infrequent periods of high water.

On the 12th of March he submitted his modified plan to the
adjutant-general of the army. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 744.] It had
grown more complex with the passage of time. The eastern line of the
department had been moved forward so as to bring the South Branch of
the Potomac and the Cow-pasture branch of the James River under
Rosecrans's command. He now planned four separate columns. The first
was to move up the south branch of the Potomac with a view to turn
and to capture the enemy's position at Alleghany Summit or Monterey
on the Staunton turnpike. The second and third were to be in my
district, and to move toward the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad on
the two sides of New River. The fourth should march from the
Big-Sandy valley on the line indicated above. Rosecrans seems to
have limited his plan to the occupation of the mountain valleys as
far east as the Blue Ridge, and did not submit any scheme for
uniting his columns for further work. He asked for reinforcements to
the extent of six regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and two
field batteries to enable him to perform his task. The use of pack
trains was given up, as they required a greater number of animals
than could be procured. In fact, it was never found to be an
economical use of mule power, and important movements were always
confined to lines upon which wheel vehicles could be used. A rapid
cavalry raid could be thus supplied, but heavy columns of infantry
and artillery demanded wagon trains.

The weakness of Rosecrans's scheme is found in the wide separation
of parallel columns, which could never have co-operated with
success, and which had no common object had success been possible.
To be sure, it was presumed that McClellan with the Army of the
Potomac, and Banks in the Shenandoah valley, would be operating in
eastern Virginia; but as McClellan was already bent on making
Chesapeake Bay his base, and keeping as far as possible from the
mountains, there was no real connection or correlation between his
purposed campaign and that of the others. Indeed, had he succeeded
in driving Lee from Richmond toward the west, as Grant did three
years later, the feeble columns of National troops coming from West
Virginia would necessarily have fallen back again before the enemy.
If the general scheme had been planned by Lee himself, it could not
have secured for him more perfectly the advantage of interior lines.
Yet it was in substance that which was tried when the spring opened.

When Rosecrans's letter, enclosing his final plan, reached
Washington, McClellan had taken the field, and President Lincoln had
made use of the occasion to relieve him from the direction of all
other forces, so that he might give undivided attention to his
campaign with the Potomac army. This was done by an executive order
on March 11, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. v. p. 54.] which
assigned General Halleck to the command of everything west of a line
drawn north and south through Knoxville, Tennessee, and formed the
Mountain Department from the territory between Halleck and
McClellan. This last department was put under the command of
Major-General John C. Frémont. General Banks was commanding in the
Shenandoah valley, but he was at this time subordinate to McClellan.
These changes were unexpected to both McClellan and Rosecrans. The
change in McClellan's relations to the whole army was the natural
result of his inactivity during the autumn of 1861, and the
consequent loss of confidence in him. The union of Buell's and
Halleck's commands in the west was the natural counterpart to the
concentration of Confederate armies under A. S. Johnston at Corinth,
Miss., and was a step in the right direction. There was, however, a
little too much sentiment and too little practical war in the
construction of the Mountain Department out of five hundred miles of
mountain ranges, and the appointment of the "path-finder" to command
it was consistent with the romantic character of the whole. The
mountains formed a natural and admirable barrier, at which
comparatively small bodies of troops could cover and protect the
Ohio valley behind them; but, for reasons which I have already
pointed out, extensive military operations across and beyond the
Alleghanies from west or east were impracticable, because a
wilderness a hundred miles wide, crossed by few and most difficult
roads, rendered it impossible to supply troops from depots on either

Such assurances of other satisfactory employment seem to have been
given Rosecrans that he acquiesced without open complaint, and
prepared to turn over his command to Frémont when the latter should
arrive in West Virginia. Political motives had, no doubt, much to do
with Frémont's appointment. The President had lost faith in his
military capacity as well as in his administrative ability, but the
party which elected Mr. Lincoln had not. The Republicans of the
Northern States had a warm side for the man they had nominated for
the Presidency in 1856, and there was a general feeling among them
that Frémont should have at least another opportunity to show what
he could do in the field. I myself shared that feeling, and reported
to him as my immediate superior with earnest cordiality. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 35.]

In my own district, preparations had been made during the winter for
the expected advance in the spring. I had visited Rosecrans at
Wheeling, and he had conversed freely upon his plans for the new
campaign. Under his directions the old piers of the turnpike bridge
across the Gauley had been used for a new superstructure. This was a
wire suspension bridge, hung from framed towers of timber built upon
the piers. Instead of suspending the roadway from the wire cables by
the ordinary connecting rods, and giving stiffness to it by a
trussed railing, a latticed framing of wood hung directly from the
cables, and the timbers of the roadway being fastened to this by
stirrups, the wooden lattice served both to suspend and to stiffen
the road. It was a serviceable and cheap structure, built in two
weeks, and answered our purposes well till it was burned in the next
autumn, when Colonel Lightburn retreated before a Confederate
invasion. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 99.]

The variable position of the head of steamboat navigation on the
Kanawha made it impossible to fix a permanent depot as a terminus
for our wagon trains in the upper valley. My own judgment was in
favor of placing it at Kanawha Falls, a mile below Gauley Bridge,
and within the limits of that post. To connect this with the
steamboats wherever the shoaling water might force them to stop, I
recommended the use of batteaux or keelboats, a craft which a
natural evolution had brought into use in the changeable mountain
rivers. They were a canoe-shaped open boat, sixty feet long by eight
wide, and were pushed up the stream by quants or poles. They
required a crew of five men,--four to do the poling, and a
steersman. In the swiftest "chutes" they carried a line ashore and
made fast to a tree, then warped the boat up to quieter water and
resumed the poling. Each boat would carry eight tons, and, compared
with teaming over roads of which the "bottom had dropped out," it
proved a most economical mode of transport. The batteaux dropped
alongside the steamer wherever she had to stop, the freight was
transferred to them directly, covered with tarpaulins, and the boats
pushed off. The number of hands was no greater than for teaming, and
the whole cost of the teams and their forage was saved. I had built
two of these early in the winter and they were in successful
operation. Two more were partly done when Frémont assumed command,
and I urgently recommended a fleet of fifteen or twenty as an
auxiliary to our transportation when active operations should be
resumed. By their use Gauley Bridge could be made the practical
depot of supply, and from ten to twenty miles of wretched and costly
wagoning be saved. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii.
pp. 45-48.]

I became satisfied, also, that the regulation army wagon was too
heavy for the difficult mountain roads, and recommended a strong but
much lighter farm wagon, in which four mules could draw nearly or
quite as much as six usually drew in the heavier wagon. This became
a matter of great consequence in a country where forage could not be
found, and where the wagon had to be loaded with the food for the
team as well as the rations and ordnance stores for the men.

It had already been determined to substitute the shelter tent for
other forms in the principal armies, and the change soon became
general. We, however, had to wait our turn after more important
columns were supplied, and our turn did not come till the campaign
was over. Even our requisitions for ammunition were not filled, our
artillery was not reduced to uniformity, and we could not secure
muskets enough of any one calibre for a single regiment. We made the
best of the situation, and whilst keeping "headquarters" informed of
our lack, were ready to do our best with the means we had. No
attention was paid, perhaps none could be paid, to our
recommendations for any special supplies or means adapted to the
peculiar character of our work. We received, in driblets, small
supplies of the regulation wagons, some droves of unbroken mules,
some ordnance stores, and a fair amount of clothing. Subsistence
stores had never been lacking, and the energy of the district
quartermaster and commissary kept our little army always well fed.

The formal change in department commanders took place on the 29th of
March, Frémont having reached Wheeling the day before. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. i. p. 4.] Mr. Lincoln's desire by
some means to free the loyal people of East Tennessee from the
oppressive sway of the Confederates showed itself in the
instructions given to all the military officers in the West. He had
been pressing the point from the beginning. It had entered into
McClellan's and Rosecrans's plans of the last campaign. It had been
the object of General George H. Thomas's organization of troops at
Camp Dick Robinson in Kentucky. For it General Ormsby Mitchell had
labored to prepare a column at Cincinnati. It was not accomplished
till the autumn of 1863, when Rosecrans occupied Chattanooga and
Burnside reached Knoxville; but there had never been a day's
cessation of the President's urgency to have it accomplished. It was
prominent in his mind when he organized the Mountain Department, and
Frémont was called upon to suggest a plan to this end as soon as he
was appointed. His choice was to assemble the forces of his
department in Kentucky at the southern terminus of the Central
Kentucky Railroad, at Nicholasville, and to march southward directly
to Knoxville, upon what was substantially the line taken by Burnside
a year and a half later. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt.
i. p. 7.] Frémont was mistaken, however, in saying that from
Nicholasville to Knoxville supplies could be "transported over level
and good roads." General Buell had, on the 1st of February,
[Footnote: _Id_., vol. vii. p. 931.] reported that line to be some
two hundred miles long from the end of the railway to Knoxville, the
whole of it mountainous, and the roads bad. He estimated a train of
a thousand wagons, constantly going and returning, as needful to
supply ten thousand men at Knoxville after allowance was made for
what could be gathered from the country. General Buell was
unquestionably correct in his view of the matter, but the strong
political reasons for liberating East Tennessee made the President
unwilling to be convinced that it was then impracticable. He,
however, could not furnish the transportation required for the
movement proposed by Frémont, and hesitated to interfere further
with the conduct of military affairs within Buell's territorial
limits. Besides this, Rosecrans's plan had found such favor with the
Secretary of War that it was laid before Frémont with official
approval. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xii. pt, iii. p. 8.] The stripping
of West Virginia of troops to make a column in Kentucky seemed too
hazardous to the government, and Frémont changed his plan so as to
adopt that of Rosecrans with some modifications.

He proposed to leave General Kelley with sufficient troops to
protect the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and with
Blenker's division (which was taken from the Army of the Potomac and
given to him) to advance from Romney in the valley of the South
Branch of the Potomac, ascending this valley toward the south,
picking up Schenck's and Milroy's brigades in turn, the latter
joining the column at Monterey on the great watershed by way of the
Cheat Mountain pass. From Monterey Frémont purposed to move upon
Staunton, and thence, following the southwestern trend of the
valleys, to the New River near Christiansburg. Here he would come
into communication with me, whose task it would have been to advance
from Gauley Bridge on two lines, the principal one by Fayette and
Raleigh C. H. over Flat-top Mountain to Princeton and the Narrows of
New River, and a subordinate one on the turnpike to Lewisburg. His
plan looked to continuing the march with the whole column to the
southwest, down the Holston valley, till Knoxville should be
reached, the last additions to the force to be from the troops in
the Big-Sandy valley. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. i.
p. 7.]

General Garfield (then colonel of the Forty-second Ohio) had already
been sent by General Buell with a brigade into the Big-Sandy valley,
and General George W. Morgan was soon to be sent with a division to
Cumberland Gap. Although these were in Frémont's department, the War
Department issued an order that they should continue under General
Buell's command at least until Frémont should by his operations come
into their vicinity and field of work. [Footnote: _Id_, vol. xii.
pt. iii. pp. 14, 119.] They would, of course, co-operate with him
actively if he should reach the Holston valley. When he should form
his junction with me, he expected to supply the whole column from my
depots in the Kanawha valley, and when he reached Knoxville he would
make his base on the Ohio River, using the line of supply he first
suggested, by way of central Kentucky.

The plan was an improvement upon Rosecrans's in arranging for a
progressive concentration of his forces into one column led by
himself; but it would probably have failed, first, from the
impossibility of supplying the army on the route, and second,
because the railroads east of the mountains ran on routes specially
well adapted to enable the enemy quickly to concentrate any needed
force at Staunton, at Lynchburg, at Christiansburg, or at
Wytheville, to overpower the column. The Union army would be
committed to a whole season of marching in the mountains, while the
Confederates could concentrate the needed force and quickly return
it to Richmond when its work was done, making but a brief episode in
a larger campaign. But the plan was not destined to be thoroughly
tried. Stonewall Jackson, after his defeat by Kimball at Kernstown,
March 23d, had retired to the Upper Shenandoah valley with his
division, numbering about 10,000 men; Ewell, with his division, was
waiting to co-operate with him at the gaps of the Blue Ridge on the
east, and Edward Johnson was near Staunton with a similar force
facing Milroy. In April General N. P. Banks, commanding the National
forces in the Shenandoah valley, had ascended it as far as
Harrisonburg, and Jackson observed him from Swift-Run Gap in the
Blue Ridge, on the road from Harrisonburg to Gordonsville. Milroy
also pushed eastward from Cheat Mountain summit, in which high
region winter still lingered, and had made his way through snows and
rains to McDowell, ten miles east of Monterey, at the crossing of
Bull-Pasture River, where he threatened Staunton. But Banks was
thought to be in too exposed a position, and was directed by the War
Department to fall back to Strasburg. On the 5th of May he had
retired in that direction as far as New-Market. Blenker's division
had not yet reached Frémont, who was waiting for it in Hardy County
at Petersburg. Jackson saw his opportunity and determined to join
General Johnson by a rapid march to Staunton, to overwhelm Milroy
first, and then return to his own operations in the Shenandoah.
Moving with great celerity, he attacked Milroy at McDowell on the
8th, the latter calling upon Frémont for help. Schenck was sent
forward to support him, and reached McDowell after marching
thirty-four miles in twenty-four hours. Jackson had not fully
concentrated his forces, and the Union generals held their ground
and delivered a sharp combat in which their casualties of all kinds
numbered 256, while the Confederate loss was 498, General Johnson
being among the wounded. Schenck, as senior, assumed the command,
and on the 9th began his retreat to Franklin, abandoning the Cheat
Mountain road. Franklin was reached on the 11th, but Jackson
approached cautiously, and did not reach there till the 12th, when,
finding that Frémont had united his forces, he did not attack, but
returned to McDowell, whence he took the direct road to
Harrisonburg, and then marched to attack Banks at Strasburg, Ewell
meeting and joining him in this movement.

Frémont resumed preparations for his original campaign, but Banks's
defeat deranged all plans, and those of the Mountain Department were
abandoned. A month passed in efforts to destroy Jackson by
concentration of McDowell's, Banks's, and Frémont's troops; but it
was too late to remedy the ill effects of the division of commands
at the beginning of the campaign. On the 26th of June General John
Pope was assigned to command all the troops in northern Virginia,
Frémont was relieved at his own request, and the Mountain Department
ceased to exist.

My own operations in the Kanawha valley had kept pace with those in
the northern portion of the department. The early days of April were
spent by Frémont in obtaining reports of the condition of the
several parts of his command. My report of the condition of affairs
in the Kanawha valley was made on the 5th of April. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 45.] In it I called
attention to the necessities of my troops and to the equipment
necessary for any extended campaigning. Requisitions for supplies
and transportation had been sent to the proper staff departments
during the winter, but had not yet been filled. My forces consisted
of eleven regiments of Ohio infantry, three new and incomplete
regiments of West Virginia infantry, one regiment of cavalry (the
Second West Virginia) with three separate cavalry troops from other
commands, and, nominally, three batteries of artillery. One of the
batteries was of mountain howitzers, and the other two of mixed
smooth-bore and rifled guns of different calibres. My force at the
opening of the campaign numbered 8500 present for duty. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 121. The regiments of the
command were the 11th, 12th, 23d, 28th, 30th, 34th, 36th, 37th,
44th, 47th Ohio, the 4th, 8th, 9th West Virginia, the 2d West
Virginia Cavalry. Of these the 11th Ohio had only nine companies and
did not get the tenth till the autumn following. The 8th West
Virginia passed from the command before active operations. The
batteries were McMullin's Ohio battery, Simmonds's Kentucky battery,
and a battery of mountain howitzers at Gauley Mount, manned by a
detachment of the 47th Ohio Infantry. Simmonds's company was
originally of the 1st Kentucky Infantry assigned by me to man the
guns I first took into the Kanawha valley, and subsequently
transferred to the artillery service by the Secretary of War. The
guns were two 20-pounder Parrott rifles, five 10-pounder Parrotts,
two bronze 10-pounder rifles altered from 6-pounder smooth-bores,
three bronze and one iron 6-pounder smooth-bores, and ten mountain
howitzers to be packed on mules. Some of these guns were left in
position at posts, and three small field batteries were organized
for the marching columns. Besides the regiment of freshly recruited
West Virginia cavalry, there were Schambeck's Independent troop of
Illinois cavalry, and Smith's (originally Pfau's) Independent troop
of Ohio cavalry, both German troops.] Detachments were at the mouth
of the Big-Sandy River, at Guyandotte, at the mouth of the Kanawha
on the Ohio River, at several points in the Kanawha valley below
Gauley Bridge, at Summersville on the upper Gauley, at Gauley
Bridge, at Gauley Mount or Tompkins farm on New River, and at
Fayette C. H. The last-named post had the only brigade organization
which had been retained in winter quarters, and was commanded by
Colonel Scammon of the Twenty-third Ohio. The post at Summersville
had been brought into my command for the winter, and was garrisoned
by the Thirty-sixth Ohio under Colonel George Crook. At Gauley
Bridge was the Twenty-eighth Ohio (a German regiment), under Colonel
August Moor.

When the decision of General Fremont to have my command advance on
both sides of the New River was received, I immediately submitted my
plan of organization to that end. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xii. pt. iii. p. 127.] I proposed to leave the West Virginia
Infantry regiments with half the Second West Virginia Cavalry to
guard the Kanawha valley and our depots of supply, with Colonel J.
A. J. Lightburn of the Fourth West Virginia in command. The Ohio
regiments were to be moved forward so that the Eleventh,
Forty-fourth, and Forty-seventh could be quickly concentrated on the
Lewisburg turnpike in front of Gauley Bridge, where Colonel Crook
could join them with the Thirty-sixth by a diagonal road and take
command of this column. I assigned to him a mixed battery of
field-pieces and mountain howitzers. Colonel Scammon's brigade was
to advance from Fayette C. H. to Flat-top Mountain as soon as the
weather would permit, and thus secure the barrier covering our
further movement southward. The brigade consisted of the Twelfth,
Twenty-third, arid Thirtieth Ohio, with McMullin's battery, and one
half the Second Virginia Cavalry. When Scammon advanced, the
remaining Ohio regiments (Twenty-eighth, Thirty-fourth, and
Thirty-seventh), with Simmonds's battery should concentrate at
Fayette C. H. and form a new brigade under Colonel Moor. This
organization was approved by Fremont, and the preliminary steps were
quietly taken. By the 20th of April Scammon's brigade was at
Raleigh, only awaiting the settling of the roads to advance to
Flat-top. A week later he held the passes of the mountain, with a
detachment on the New River at the mouth of the Blue-stone, where he
communicated with the right of Crook's brigade. The front was thus
covered from Summersville to Flat-top Mountain, and the regiments in
rear were moving into their assigned positions.

My brigade commanders were all men of marked character. Colonel Moor
was a German of portly presence and grave demeanor, a gentleman of
dignity of character as well as of bearing, and a brave, resolute
man. He had been long a citizen of the United States, and had, as a
young man, seen some military service, as was reported, in the
Seminole War in Florida. He was a rigid disciplinarian, and his own
regiment was a model of accuracy in drill and neatness in the
performance of all camp duties. He was greatly respected by his
brother officers, and his square head, with dark, smooth-shaven
face, and rather stern expression, inspired his troops with
something very like awe, insuring prompt obedience to his commands.
At home, in Cincinnati, he was a man of influence among the German
residents, and his daughter was the wife of General Godfrey Weitzel
of the regular army. My association with him was every way agreeable
and satisfactory.

Colonel Crook was an officer of the regular army who had taken early
advantage of the relaxation of the rule preventing such from
accepting a volunteer appointment. A man of medium size, with light
hair and sandy beard, his manner was rather diffident and shy, and
his whole style quiet and reticent. His voice was light rather than
heavy, and he was so laconic of speech that this, with his other
characteristics, caused it to be commonly said of him that he had
been so long fighting Indians on the frontier that he had acquired
some of their traits and habits. His system of discipline was based
on these peculiarities. He aimed at a stoical command of himself as
the means of commanding others, and avoided noisy bluster of every
sort, going, perhaps, to an excess in brevity of speech and in
enforcing his orders by the consequences of any disobedience. His
subordinates recognized his purpose to be just, and soon learned to
have the greatest confidence in him as a military officer. Unless
common fame did him injustice, he was one of those officers who had,
at the beginning, no deep sympathy with the National cause, and had
no personal objection to the success of the Rebellion. But he was a
Northern man, and an ambitious professional soldier who did not mean
to let political opinions stand in the way of military success.
[Footnote: A romantic story is told of his experience a little
later. He was in command on the Upper Potomac with headquarters at
Cumberland, where he fell in love with the daughter of the
proprietor of the hotel at which he had his headquarters, and whom
he subsequently made his wife. The family was of secession
proclivities, and the son of the house was in the Confederate army.
This young man led a party of the enemy who were able, by his
knowledge of the surroundings of his home, to capture General Crook
in the night, and to carry him away a prisoner without any serious
collision with the troops encamped about. Crook was soon exchanged,
and in the latter part of the war served with distinction as
division commander under Sheridan.] In his case, as in many others,
I believe this attitude was modified by his service under the flag,
and that in 1864 he voted for Mr. Lincoln's re-election; he, with
General Sheridan, casting at the improvised army ballot-box, what
was understood to be their first vote ever cast in a civil election.

Colonel Lightburn was one of the loyal West Virginians whose
standing and intelligence made him naturally prominent among his
people. He was a worthy man and an honorable officer, whose
knowledge of the country and of the people made him a fit selection
to preserve the peace and protect our communications in the valley
during our forward movement. As his duties thus separated him from
the principal columns, I saw less of him than of the other brigade
commanders. The two West Virginia regiments which remained in the
district were freshly organized, and were distributed in camps where
they could practise company drill and instruction whilst they kept
the country in order. Of Colonel Scammon, my senior brigade
commander, I have already spoken in a former chapter. [Footnote:
_Ante_, pp. 110, 111.]

Frémont limited our advance to the line of Flat-top Mountain until
he should himself be ready to open the campaign in the north.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 89, 108.]
Blenker's division had been given to him from the Potomac army when
McClellan began his movement to the peninsula, but on the 12th of
April it had only reached Salem, a station on the Manassas Gap
Railway between the Bull-Run Mountains and the Blue Ridge.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 71.] The War Department now sent General
Rosecrans to conduct the division with speed to Frémont, but
extraordinary delays still occurred, and the command did not reach
Frémont at Petersburg till the 11th of May, when he immediately
moved forward with it to the support of Schenck and Milroy at
Franklin. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 168, 177, pt. i. pp. 8, 9.] This
delay was one of a series of misfortunes; for could Frémont have
been at McDowell with this strong reinforcement added to Schenck's
and Milroy's brigades, there can be no reasonable doubt that
Jackson's attack, if delivered at all, would have proven a disaster
for the Confederates. This, however, would not have ensured success
for the general campaign, for Banks might still have been driven
back in the Shenandoah valley, and Frémont's position would have
been compromised. Nothing but a union of the two columns would have
met the situation.

At the beginning of May, the additional transportation necessary for
my advance beyond Flat-top had not arrived, but we did not wait for
it. [Footnote: ._Id_., pt. iii. pp. 108, 112, 114, 127.] The
regiments were ordered to leave tents behind, and to bivouac without
shelter except such as they could make with "brush," for the
expected shelter tents also were lacking. The whole distance from
the head of navigation to the railroad at Newberne was one hundred
and forty miles. Flat-top Mountain and Lewisburg were, respectively,
about halfway on the two routes assigned to us. Some two thousand of
the enemy's militia were holding the mountain passes in front of us,
and a concentration of the regular Confederate troops was going on
behind them. These last consisted of two brigades under General
Henry Heth, as well as J. S. Williams's and Marshall's brigades,
under General Humphrey Marshall, with the Eighth Virginia Cavalry.
General Marshall appears to have been senior when the commands were
united. Looking south from Flat-top Mountain we see the basin of the
Blue-stone River, which flows northeastward into New River. This
basin, with that of the Greenbrier on the other side of New River,
forms the broadest stretch of cultivated land found between the
mountain ranges, though the whole country is rough and broken even
here. The crest of Flat-top Mountain curves southward around the
headwaters of the Blue-stone, and joins the more regular ranges in
Tazewell County. The straight ridge of East-River Mountain forms a
barrier on the southern side of the basin, more than thirty miles
away from the summit of Flat-top where Scammon's camp was placed on
the road from Raleigh C. H. to Princeton, the county-seat of Mercer.
The Narrows of New River were where that stream breaks through the
mountain barrier I have described, and the road from Princeton to
Giles C. H. passes through the defile. Only one other outlet from
the basin goes southward, and that is where the road from Princeton
to Wytheville passes through Rocky Gap, a gorge of the wildest
character, some thirty miles south-westward from the Narrows. These
passes were held by Confederate forces, whilst their cavalry, under
Colonel W. H. Jenifer, occupied Princeton and presented a
skirmishing resistance to our advance-guard.

On the 1st of May a small party of the Twenty-third Ohio met the
enemy's horse at Camp Creek, a branch of the Blue-stone, six miles
from the crest of Flat-top, and had a lively engagement, repulsing
greatly superior numbers. On hearing of this, Lieutenant-Colonel R.
B. Hayes marched with part of the Twenty-third Ohio and part of the
West Virginia cavalry, and followed up the enemy with such vigor
that Jenifer was driven through Princeton too rapidly to permit him
to remove the stores collected there. [Footnote: Official Records,
vol. xii. pt. i. pp. 449, 450.] To avoid their falling into our
hands, Jenifer set fire to the town. Hayes succeeded in saving six
or eight houses, but the rest were destroyed. Jenifer retreated on
the Wytheville road, expecting us to follow by that route; but
Hayes, learning that the Narrows were not strongly held, and being
now reinforced by the rest of his regiment (the Twenty-third),
marched on the 6th to the Narrows which he held, [Footnote: _Id_.,
pt. iii. p. 140.] whilst he sent Major Comly with a detachment into
Pearisburg, the county-seat of Giles. [Footnote: James M. Comly,
later Brevet Brigadier-General, and since the war at one time United
States minister to the Sandwich Islands.] The affair at Camp Creek
had cost Jenifer some twenty in killed and wounded, and an equal
number were captured in the advance on Giles C. H. Our casualties
were 1 killed and 20 wounded. Our line, however, was getting too
extended, and the utmost exertions were needed to supply the troops
in their present positions. Princeton, being at the forking of the
roads to Pearisburg and Wytheville, was too important a point to be
left unguarded, and I at once sent forward Colonel Scammon with the
Thirtieth Ohio to hold it. [Footnote: _Id_., p 148.] On the 9th of
May the Twelfth Ohio was put in march from Raleigh to join him, and
Moor's brigade was approaching the last-named place where my
headquarters were, that being the terminus, for the time, of the
telegraph line which kept me in communication with Frémont.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p 157.] The same day
the department commander informed me of the attack by Jackson on
Milroy on the 7th, and ordered me to suspend movements in advance
until my forces should be concentrated. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 158.]
The weather was rainy, and the roads suffered badly from cutting up
by the wagons, but I had hoped to push forward a strong advanced
guard to the great railway bridge near Newberne, and destroy it
before the enemy had time to concentrate there. This made it
necessary to take some risk, for it was not possible to move the
whole command till some supplies could be accumulated at Raleigh and
at Flat-top Mountain.

As fast as the supplies would permit, Moor went forward, taking no
tents beyond Raleigh, and all of the troops on this line now faced
the continuing rains without shelter. Guerilla parties were set
actively at work by the Confederates in the region of the Guyandotte
and at other points in our rear. Colonel Lightburn was directed to
keep his forces actively moving to suppress these outbreaks, and the
forward movement was pressed. On the 10th of May Heth's two brigades
of the enemy attacked our advance-guard at Pearisburg, and these,
after destroying the enemy's stores, which they had captured there,
retired skirmishing, till they joined Scammon, who had advanced from
Princeton to their support. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 176.] Scammon's
brigade was now together, a mile below the Narrows of New River,
with the East River in front of him, making a strong, defensible
position. The telegraph reached Flat-top Mountain on the 13th,
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 184.] even this being delayed because wagons to
carry the wire could not be spared from the task of supplying the
troops with food. I moved my headquarters to Princeton on this day,
and pressed forward Moor's brigade in the hope of being able to push
again beyond the barrier at the Narrows of New River, where Heth's
brigades had now taken position. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xii. pt. iii. p. 188.] Neither Scammon nor Moor was able to take
with him ammunition enough for more than a slight engagement, nor
was any accumulation of food possible. We were living "from hand to
mouth," no additional transportation had reached us, and every wagon
and pack-mule was doing its best. As fast as Moor's regiments
reached Princeton they were hurried forward to French's Mill, five
miles in rear of Scammon, on the road running up East River, and
intersecting the Wytheville road so as to form a triangle with the
two going from Princeton. During the 14th and 15th Moor's regiments
arrived, and were pushed on to their position, except one half
regiment (detachments of the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-seventh Ohio),
under Major F. E. Franklin, and one troop of cavalry, which were
kept at Princeton as a guard against any effort on the enemy's part
to interrupt our communications. Moor was ordered to send a
detachment up the East River to the crossing of the Wytheville road,
so as to give early warning of any attempt of the enemy to come in
upon our flank from that direction. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. p.
505.] My purpose was to attack Heth with Scammon's and Moor's
brigades, drive him away from the Narrows of New River, and prevent
him, if possible, from uniting with Marshall's command, which was
understood to be somewhere between Jeffersonville (Tazewell C. H.)
and Wytheville. If we succeeded in beating Heth, we could then turn
upon Marshall. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. iii. pp. 197-199.]

On the afternoon of the 15th Moor threw a detachment of two
companies over East River Mountain as a reconnoissance to learn
whether the roads in that direction were practicable for a movement
to turn the left of Heth. It attacked and handsomely routed a post
of the enemy on Wolf Creek. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii.
pt. ii. p. 505.] The few wagons and pack-mules were hurrying forward
some rations and ammunition; but the 17th would be the earliest
possible moment at which I could lead a general advance. The
telegraph wire would reach Princeton by the evening of that day, and
I waited there for the purpose of exchanging messages with Frémont
before pushing toward Newberne, the expected rendezvous with the
other troops of the department. But all our efforts could not give
us the needed time to anticipate the enemy. They had railway
communication behind a mountain wall which had few and difficult
passes. Marshall and Williams were already marching from Tazewell C.
H. to strike our line of communications at Princeton, and were far
on the way. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. iii. p. 199.]

About noon of the 16th Colonel Moor reported that his detachment on
the Wytheville road was attacked by a force of the enemy estimated
at 1500. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. pp. 505, 509.] This seems to have
been the command of Colonel Wharton, marching to join Marshall, who
was coming from the west by a road down the head-waters of East
River. Of this, however, we were ignorant. I ordered Moor to take
the remainder of his command (leaving half a regiment only at
French's) to drive off the force at the cross-roads, and if he were
overpowered to retreat directly upon Princeton by the western side
of the triangle of roads, of which each side was twelve or fifteen
miles long. Colonel Scammon reported no change in Heth's positions
or force in front of him. Patrols were sent out on all the roads
west and south of Princeton, our little force of horsemen being
limited to Smith's troop of Ohio cavalry which was acting as
headquarters escort. About two o'clock the patrol on the Wyoming
road, five miles out of Princeton, was fired upon by the enemy's
cavalry, and came rapidly in with the report. The four companies of
infantry under Majors Franklin and Ankele were moved out on that
road, and soon developed the infantry of Marshall's command.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. p. 506.] He and
Williams had marched across from the Tazewell to the Wyoming road,
and were coming in upon our flank and rear. I reconnoitred them
personally with care, and satisfied myself of their overwhelming
superiority to the little detachment I had in hand. Franklin and
Ankele were ordered to deploy their whole force as skirmishers and
to hold the enemy back as long as possible. Some of our troopers
were shown on the flanks, and so imposing a show was made that
Marshall advanced cautiously. Our men behaved beautifully, holding
every tree and rock, delaying the enemy for more than three hours
from reaching the crests of the hills looking down upon the town. I
had sent orderlies to stop and turn back our wagon trains on the way
from Flat-top, and had directed headquarters baggage and the few
stores in Princeton to be loaded and sent on the road toward Moor
and Scammon. Our only tents were three or four wall tents for
headquarters (the adjutant-general's, quartermaster's, and
commissary's offices), and these I ordered to be left standing to
impose upon the enemy the idea that we did not mean to retire. As
evening approached, the hostile force occupied the summits of
surrounding hills, and directing the infantry slowly to fall back
and follow me, I galloped with my staff to bring back Scammon and
restore our broken communications. At French's, twelve miles from
Princeton, I found that Moor had not had time to execute the orders
of the afternoon, and that ten companies from the Twenty-eighth and
Thirty-seventh Ohio were all that he had been able to send to
Wytheville road crossing. These, we learned later in the night, had
succeeded in re-occupying the cross-roads. They were ordered to hold
fast till morning, and if the enemy still appeared to be mainly at
Princeton, to march in that direction and attack them from the rear.
Scammon was ordered to send half a regiment to occupy Moor's
position at French's during the night, and to march his whole
command at daybreak toward Princeton. There was but one and a half
regiments now with Moor, and these were roused and ordered to
accompany me at once on our return to Princeton. It was a dark and
muddy march, and as we approached the town we deployed skirmishers
in front, though they were obliged to move slowly in the darkness.
Day was just breaking as we came out of the forest upon the
clearing, line of battle was formed, and the troops went forward
cheering. The enemy made no stubborn resistance, but retired
gradually to a strong position on rough wooded hills about a mile
from the village, where they covered both the Wytheville and the
Wyoming road. They had artillery on both flanks, and could only be
reached over open and exposed ground. We recovered our headquarters
tents, standing as we had left them. We had captured a few prisoners
and learned that Marshall and Williams were both before us. Whilst
pushing them back, Lieutenant-Colonel Von Blessingh with the ten
companies of Moor's brigade approached on the Wytheville road and
attacked; but the enemy was aware of their approach and repulsed
them, having placed a detachment in a very strong position to meet
them. Von Blessingh withdrew his men, and later joined the command
by a considerable detour. With less than two regiments in hand, and
with the certainty of the enemy's great superiority, there was
nothing for it but to take the best position we could and await
Scammon's arrival. We made as strong a show of force as possible,
and by skirmishing advances tempted the enemy to come down to
attack; but he also was expecting reinforcements, and a little
artillery firing was the only response we provoked. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. pp. 506, 507.] As some evidence
of the physical exhaustion from the continuous exertions of the
preceding day and night, I may mention the fact that during the
artillery firing I threw myself for a little rest on the ground,
close beside the guns; and though these were firing at frequent
intervals, I fell asleep and had a short but refreshing nap almost
within arm's length of the wheels of a gun-carriage.

Toward evening Scammon arrived with his brigade, reporting that
Heth's force had followed his retiring movement as far as French's,
and confirming the information that four brigades of the enemy were
before us. Shortly after dark the officer of the day, on the right,
reported the noise of artillery marching around that flank. Our last
day's rations had been issued, and our animals were without forage.
Small parties of the enemy had gone far to our rear and cut the
telegraph, so that we had had no news from the Kanawha valley for
two days. The interruption was likely to create disturbance there
and derange all our plans for supply. It was plain that we should
have to be content with having foiled the enemy's plan to inflict a
severe blow upon us, and that we might congratulate ourselves that
with two brigades against four we had regained our line without
serious loss. I therefore ordered that the troops be allowed to rest
till three o'clock in the morning of the 18th, and that the column
then retire behind the Blue-stone River. The movement was made
without interruption, and a camp on Flat-top Mountain was selected,
from which the roads on every side were well guarded, and which was
almost impregnable in itself. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. iii. p. 209.]
Our casualties of all kinds in the affairs about Princeton had been
only 113, as the enemy had not delivered any serious attack, and the
contest on our side had been one of manoeuvre in which our only
chance of important results was in attacking either Heth or Marshall
when they were so far separated that they could not unite against us
on the field of battle. After the 15th this chance did not exist,
and wisdom dictated that we should retire to a safe point from which
we could watch for contingencies which might give us a better
opportunity. Our experience proved what I have before stated, that
the facility for railway concentration of the enemy in our front
made this line a useless one for aggressive movements, as they could
always concentrate a superior force after they received the news of
our being in motion. It also showed the error of dividing my forces
on two lines, for had Crook's brigade been with me, or my two
brigades with him, we should have felt strong enough to cope with
the force which was actually in our front, and would at least have
made it necessary for the enemy to detach still more troops from
other movements to meet us. Our campaign, though a little one, very
well illustrates the character of the subordinate movements so often
attempted during the war, and shows that the same principles of
strategy are found operating as in great movements. The scale is a
reduced one, but cause and effect are linked by the same necessity
as on a broader theatre of warfare.



A key position--Crook's engagement at Lewisburg--Watching and
scouting--Mountain work--Pope in command--Consolidation of
Departments--Suggestions of our transfer to the East--Pope's Order
No. II and Address to the Army--Orders to march across the
mountains--Discussion of them--Changed to route by water and
rail--Ninety-mile march--Logistics--Arriving in Washington--Two
regiments reach Pope--Two sent to Manassas--Jackson captures
Manassas--Railway broken--McClellan at Alexandria--Engagement at
Bull Run Bridge--Ordered to Upton's Hill--Covering
Washington--Listening to the Bull Run battle--Ill news travels fast.

Our retreat to Flat-top Mountain had been made without loss of
material, except one baggage-wagon, which broke down irreparably,
and was burned by my order. At the crossing of Blue-stone River we
were beyond the junction of roads by which our flank could be
turned, and we halted there as the end of the first march. As the
men forded the stream, the sun broke through the clouds, which had
been pretty steadily raining upon us, the brass band with the
leading brigade struck up the popular tune, "Aren't you glad to get
out of the wilderness?" and the soldiers, quick to see the humorous
application of any such incident, greeted it with cheers and
laughter. All felt that we were again masters of the situation. Next
day we moved leisurely to the mountain summit, a broad undulating
table-land with some cultivated farms, where our camp was perfectly
hidden from sight, whilst we commanded a most extensive view of the
country in front. Outposts at the crossing of the Blue-stone and at
Pack's Ferry on New River, with active scouting-parties and patrols
scouring the country far and wide, kept me fully informed of
everything occurring near us. We had time to organize the new
wagon-trains which were beginning to reach us, and, while waiting
till Frémont could plan new co-operative movements, to prepare for
our part in such work.

The camp on Flat-top Mountain deserved the name of a "key point" to
the country in front as well, perhaps, as that much abused phrase
ever is deserved. [Footnote: Clausewitz says of the phrases
"covering position," "key of the country," etc., that they are for
the most part mere words without sense when they indicate only the
material advantage which is given by the elevation of the land. "On
War," part ii. chap. xvii.] The name of the mountain indicates its
character. The northern slope is gentle, so that the approach from
Raleigh C. H. is not difficult, whilst the southern declivity falls
off rapidly to the Blue-stone valley. The broad ridge at the summit
is broken into rounded hills which covered the camp from view,
whilst they still permitted manoeuvre to meet any hostile approach.
The mountain abutted on the gorge of the New River on the northeast,
and stretched also southwestward into the impracticable wilderness
about the headwaters of the Guyandotte and the Tug Fork of Sandy.
The position was practically unassailable in front by any force less
than double our own, and whilst we occupied it the enemy never
ventured in force beyond the passes of East River Mountain. We built
a flying-bridge ferry at Pack's, on New River, near the mouth of the
Blue-stone, where a passable road up the valley of the Greenbrier
connected us with Colonel Crook's position at Lewisburg. The post at
Pack's Ferry was held by a detachment from Scammon's brigade in
command of Major Comly of the Twenty-third Ohio. On the 6th of
August a detachment of the enemy consisting of three regiments and a
section of artillery under Colonel Wharton made an effort to break
up the ferry by an attack from the east side, but they accomplished
nothing. Major Comly was quickly supported by reinforcements from
Scammon's brigade, and drove off his assailants. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. p. 127; pt. iii. pp. 541, 542.]

I have not yet spoken of the movements of Colonel Crook's brigade on
the Lewisburg route, because circumstances so delayed his advance
that it had no immediate relation to our movements upon Pearisburg
and Princeton. As the march of my own column was beginning, General
Frémont, upon information of guerilla raids north of Summersville,
directed that Crook be sent into Webster County to co-operate with
troops sent southward from Weston to destroy the lawless parties.
This involved a march of more than seventy miles each way, and
unforeseen delays of various kinds. Two of the guerillas captured
were tried and convicted of murder, and Colonel Crook was obliged to
remain in that region to protect the administration of justice till
the execution of the murderers and the dispersion of the guerilla
bands. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 127, 159.] The organization and
movement of his brigade upon Lewisburg was by this means put back so
far that his column could not get within supporting distance of
mine. He reached Lewisburg on the day of our affair at Princeton. He
had been energetic in all his movements, but the diversion of parts
of his command to so distant an enterprise as that into Webster
County had been fatal to co-operation. The Confederate General Heth
had been able to neglect the Lewisburg route and to carry his
brigade to the assistance of Marshall in his opposition to my
advance. As it turned out, I should have done better to have waited
at Flat-top Mountain till I knew that Crook was at Lewisburg, and
then to have made a fresh combination of movements. Our experience
only added another to the numerous proofs the whole campaign
furnished, of the futility of such combined operations from distant

Major-General Loring took command of all the Confederate forces in
southwestern Virginia on the 19th or 20th of May, and Heth was
already in march to oppose Crook's forward movement. On the 23d
Heth, with some 3000 men, including three batteries of artillery,
attacked Crook at Lewisburg, soon after daybreak in the morning.
Crook met him in front of the town, and after a sharp engagement
routed him, capturing four cannon, some 200 stand of arms and 100
prisoners. His own loss was 13 killed and 53 wounded, with 7
missing. He did not think it wise to follow up the retreating enemy,
but held a strong position near Lewisburg, where his communications
were well covered, and where he was upon the same range of highlands
on which we were at Flat-top, though fifty miles of broken country
intervened. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. pp.
804-813.] Meanwhile Frémont had been ordered to Banks's relief, and
had been obliged to telegraph me that we must be left to ourselves
till the results of the Shenandoah campaign were tested. [Footnote:
_Id_., pt. iii. p. 264.] Rumors were rife that after Jackson retired
from Frémont's front at Franklin, Johnson's division was ordered to
march into our part of West Virginia. We were thus thrown,
necessarily, into an expectant attitude, awaiting the outcome of
Frémont's eastward movement and the resumption of his plans. Our men
were kept busy in marching and scouting by detachments, putting down
guerilla bands and punishing disorders. They thus acquired a power
of sustained exertion on foot which proved afterward of great value.

There was, in a way, a resemblance in our situation and in our work
to that of feudal chiefs in the middle ages. We held a lofty and
almost impregnable position, overlooking the country in every
direction. The distant ridges of the Alleghanies rose before us, the
higher peaks standing out in the blue distance, so that we seemed to
watch the mountain passes fifty miles away without stirring from our
post. The loyal people about us formed relations to us not unlike
those of the feudal retainers of old. They worked their farms, but
every man had his rifle hung upon his chimney-piece, and by day or
by night was ready to shoulder it and thread his way by paths known
only to the natives, to bring us news of open movement or of secret
plots among the Secessionists. They were organized, also, in their
own fashion, and every neighborhood could muster its company or its
squad of home-guards to join in quelling seditious outbreaks or in
strengthening a little column sent against any of the enemy's
outposts. No considerable hostile movement was possible within a
range of thirty miles without our having timely notice of it. The
smoke from the camp-fires of a single troop of horse could be seen
rising from the ravines, and detachments of our regiments guided by
the native scouts would be on the way to reconnoitre within an hour.
Officers as well as men went on foot, for they followed ridges where
there was not even a bridle-path, and depended for safety, in no
small degree, on their ability to take to the thickets of the
forest-clad hillside if they found themselves in the presence of a
body of the Confederate cavalry. Thirty miles a day was an easy
march for them after they had become hardened to their work, and
taking several days together they could outmarch any cavalry,
especially when they could take "short cuts" over hills and away
from travelled roads. They knew at what farms they could find
"rations," and where were the hostile neighborhoods from which
equally enterprising scouts would glide away to carry news of their
movements to the enemy. At headquarters there was a constant going
and coming. Groups of home-guards were nearly always about, as
picturesque in their homely costume as Leather-stocking himself, and
many of our officers and men were hardly less expert as woodsmen.
Constant activity was the order of the day, and the whole command
grew hardy and self-reliant with great rapidity.

General Pope was, on the 26th of June, assigned to command the Army
of Virginia, including the forces under McDowell and Banks as well
as those in the Mountain Department. [Footnote: Official Records,
vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 435.] Fremont was relieved from command at his
own request, and the Mountain Department ceased to exist. [Footnote:
_Id_., p. 437.] Pope very wisely determined to unite in one army
under his own command as many as possible of the troops reporting to
him, and meanwhile directed us to remain on the defensive.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 471.] I ventured on the 3d of July to suggest
by telegraph that my division would make a useful reinforcement to
his active army in the field, and reiterated it on the 5th, with
some explanation of my views. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 451, 457.] I
indicated Fayetteville and Hawk's Nest as points in front of Gauley
Bridge where moderate garrisons could cover the valley defensively,
as I had done in the preceding year. Getting no answer, I returned
to the subject on the 13th. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 471.] Pope,
however, did not issue his address upon assuming active command till
the 14th, when his much ridiculed manifesto to the army appeared.
[Footnote: He had announced his assignment and his headquarters at
Washington on June 27 (_Id_., p. 436), but he now issued the address
as he was about to take the field (_Id_., p. 473).] Since the war
General Pope has himself told me that this, as well as the other
orders issued at that time and which were much criticised, were
drafted under the dictation, in substance, of Mr. Stanton, the
Secretary of War. He admitted that some things in them were not
quite in good taste; but the feeling was that it was desirable to
infuse vigor into the army by stirring words, which would by
implication condemn McClellan's policy of over-caution in military
matters, and over-tenderness toward rebel sympathizers and their
property. The Secretary, as he said, urged such public declarations
so strongly that he did not feel at liberty to resist. They were
unfairly criticised, and were made the occasion of a bitter and
lasting enmity toward Pope on the part of most of the officers and
men of the Potomac Army. It seems that Mr. Lincoln hesitated to
approve the one relating to the arrest of disloyal persons within
the lines of the army, and it was not till Pope repeated his sense
of the need of it that the President yielded, on condition that it
should be applied in exceptional cases only. It was probably
intended more to terrify citizens from playing the part of spies
than to be literally enforced, which would, indeed, have been hardly
possible. No real severity was used under it, but the Confederate
government made it the occasion of a sort of outlawry against Pope
and his army. [Footnote: It is only fair to recollect that in the
following year Halleck found it necessary to repeat in substance
Pope's much abused orders, and Meade, who then commanded the Potomac
Army, issued a proclamation in accordance with them. (Official
Records, vol. xxvii. pt. i. p. 102; pt. iii. p. 786.) For Pope's
submission of Order No. 11 to Mr. Lincoln and the limitation placed
on it, see _Id_., vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 500, 540. For general
military law on the subject, see Birkhimer's "Military Government
and Martial Law," chap. viii. For the practice of the Confederates,
see the treatment of the Hon. George Summers, chap. xix. _post_.]
Only two days later he issued an order against pillaging or
molestation of persons and dwellings, as stringent as any one could
wish. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 573.]

On the 5th of August Pope suggested to Halleck that I should be
ordered to leave about 2500 men intrenched near Gauley Bridge, and
march with the remainder of my command (say nine regiments) by way
of Lewisburg, Covington, Staunton, and Harrisonburg to join him.
Halleck replied that it was too much exposed, and directed him to
select one more in the rear. Pope very rightly answered that there
was no other route which would not make a great circuit to the rear.
Halleck saw that Jackson's army near Charlottesville with a probable
purpose of turning Pope's right flank might make a junction
impossible for me, and stated the objection, but concluded with
authority to Pope to order as he deemed best, "but with caution."
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 534, 540, 543.]

On the 8th of August Pope telegraphed me, accordingly, to march by
way of Lewisburg, Covington, Warm Springs, and Augusta Springs to
Harrisonburg, and there join him by shortest route. He indicated
Winchester or Romney as my secondary aim if I should find the
junction with him barred. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 460, 462, 551.] This
route avoided Staunton, but by so short a distance that it was
scarcely safer, and the roads to be travelled were much harder and
longer. At this time several detachments of considerable size were
out, chasing guerilla parties and small bodies of Confederate
troops, and assisting in the organization or enlistment of Union
men. The movement ordered could not begin for several days, and I
took advantage of the interval to lay before General Pope, by
telegraph, the proof that the march would take fifteen days of
uninterrupted travel through a mountainous region, most of it a
wilderness destitute of supplies, and with the enemy upon the flank.
Besides this there was the very serious question whether the Army of
Virginia would be at Charlottesville when I should approach that
place. On the other hand, my calculation was that we could reach
Washington in ten days or less, by way of the Kanawha and Ohio
rivers to Parkersburg, and thence by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
to the capital. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xiii. pt. iii. pp. 555, 559.]
My dispatches were submitted to General Halleck, and on the 11th of
August General Pope telegraphed a modified assent to my suggestions.
He directed that 5000 men should remain in West Virginia under my
command, and the remainder proceed to Washington by river and rail.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xiii. pt. iii. p. 560.] An
incursion of the enemy's cavalry into Logan County on my right and
rear was at the moment in progress, and we used great activity in
disposing of it, so that the change in our dispositions might not be
too quickly known to our adversaries nor have the appearance of
retreat. [Footnote: I at one time supposed that the orders to march
across the country originated with General Halleck, but the Official
Records of the War fix the history of the matter as is above

It is a natural wish of every soldier to serve with the largest army
in the most important campaign. The order to remain with a
diminished command in West Virginia was a great disappointment to
me, against which I made haste to protest. On the 13th I was
rejoiced by permission to accompany my command to the East.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 567, 570.] Preliminary orders had already been
given for making Fayetteville and Hawk's Nest the principal advanced
posts in the contracted operations of the district, with Gauley
Bridge for their common depot of supply and point of concentration
in case of an advance of the enemy in force. I organized two small
brigades and two batteries of artillery for the movement to
Washington. Colonels Scammon and Moor, who were my senior colonels,
were already in command of brigades, and Colonel Lightburn was in
command of the lower valley. The arrangement already existing
practically controlled. Scammon's brigade was unchanged, and in
Moor's the Thirty-sixth Ohio under Crook and the Eleventh were
substituted for the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-fourth. The
organization therefore was as follows; namely, First Brigade,
Colonel Scammon commanding, consisted of the Twelfth, Twenty-third,
and Thirtieth Ohio and McMullin's Ohio Battery; Second Brigade,
Colonel Moor commanding, consisted of the Eleventh, Twenty-eighth,
and Thirty-sixth Ohio and Simmonds's Kentucky Battery. One troop of
horse for orderlies and headquarters escort, and another for similar
service, with the brigades, also accompanied us. The regiments left
in the Kanawha district were the Thirty-fourth, Thirty-seventh,
Forty-fourth, and Forty-seventh Ohio, the Fourth and Ninth West
Virginia Infantry, the Second West Virginia Cavalry, a battery, and
some incomplete local organizations. Colonel J. A. J. Lightburn of
the Fourth West Virginia was in command as senior officer within the
district. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 567,
570; vol. li. pt. i. pp. 738, 742, 754.]

Portions of the troops were put in motion on the 14th of August, and
a systematic itinerary was prepared for them in advance. [Footnote:
_Id_., vol. li. pt. i. p. 738.] They marched fifty minutes, and then
rested the remaining ten minutes of each hour. The day's work was
divided into two stages of fifteen miles each, with a long rest at
noon, and with a half day's interval between the brigades. The
weather was warm, but by starting at three o'clock in the morning
the heat of the day was reserved for rest, and they made their
prescribed distance without distress and without straggling. They
went by Raleigh C. H. and Fayetteville to Gauley Bridge, thence down
the right bank of the Kanawha to Camp Piatt, thirteen miles above
Charleston. The whole distance was ninety miles, and was covered
easily in the three days and a half allotted to it. [Footnote:
_Id_., vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 629.] The fleet of light-draft
steamboats which supplied the district with military stores was at
my command, and I gave them rendezvous at Camp Piatt, where they
were in readiness to meet the troops when the detachments began to
arrive on the 17th. In the evening of the 14th I left the camp at
Flat-top with my staff and rode to Raleigh C. H. On the 15th we
completed the rest of the sixty miles to Gauley Bridge. From that
point I was able to telegraph General Meigs, the
Quartermaster-General at Washington, that I should reach
Parkersburg, the Ohio River terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad, on the evening of the 20th, and should need railway
transportation for 5000 men, two batteries of six guns each, 1100
horses, 270 wagons, with camp equipage and regimental trains
complete, according to the army regulations then in force.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 577, 619, 629;
vol. li. p. 754.]

At Gauley Bridge I met Colonel Lightburn, to whom I turned over the
command of the district, and spent the time, whilst the troops were
on the march, in completing the arrangements both for our
transportation and for the best disposition of the troops which were
to remain. The movement of the division was the first in which there
had been a carefully prepared effort to move a considerable body of
troops with wagons and animals over a long distance within a
definitely fixed time, and it was made the basis of the calculations
for the movement of General Hooker and his two corps from Washington
to Tennessee in the next year. It thus obtained some importance in
the logistics of the war. The president of the railway put the
matter unreservedly into the hands of W. P. Smith, the master of
transportation; Mr. P. H. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War,
represented the army in the management of the transfer, and by thus
concentrating responsibility and power, the business was simplified,
and what was then regarded as a noteworthy success was secured. The
command could have moved more rapidly, perhaps, without its wagons
and animals, but a constant supply of these was needed for the
eastern army, and it was wise to take them, for they were organized
into trains with drivers used to their teams and feeling a personal
interest in them. It turned out that our having them was a most
fortunate thing, for not only were the troops of the Army of the
Potomac greatly crippled for lack of transportation on their return
from the peninsula, but we were able to give rations to the Ninth
Army Corps after the battle of Antietam, when the transportation of
the other divisions proved entirely insufficient to keep up the
supply of food.

From the head of navigation on the Kanawha to Parkersburg on the
Ohio was about one hundred and fifty miles; but the rivers were so
low that the steamboats proceeded slowly, delayed by various
obstacles and impediments, At Letart's Falls, on the Ohio, the water
was a broken rapid, up which the boats had to be warped one at a
time, by means of a heavy warp-line made fast to the bank and
carried to the steam-capstan on the steamer. At the foot of
Blennerhassett's Island there was only two feet of water in the
channel, and the boats dragged themselves over the bottom by
"sparring," a process somewhat like an invalid's pushing his
wheel-chair along by a pair of crutches. But everybody worked with a
will, and on the 21st the advanced regiments were transferred to the
railway cars at Parkersburg, according to programme, and pulled out
for Washington. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp.
619, 629.] These were the Thirty-sixth Ohio, Colonel Crook, and the
Thirtieth Ohio, Colonel Ewing. They passed through Washington to
Alexandria, and thence, without stopping, to Warrenton, Virginia,
where they reported at General Pope's headquarters. [Footnote:
_Id_., pp. 636, 637, 668, 676.] The Eleventh Ohio
(Lieutenant-Colonel Coleman) and Twelfth (Colonel White), with
Colonel Scammon commanding brigade, left Parkersburg on the 22d,
reaching Washington on the 24th. One of them passed on to
Alexandria, but the other (Eleventh Ohio) was stopped in Washington
by reason of a break in Long Bridge across the Potomac, and marched
to Alexandria the next day. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii.
pt. iii. pp. 650, 677.] The last of the regiments (Twenty-eighth
Ohio, Colonel Moor, and Twenty-third, Lieutenant-Colonel Hayes),
with the artillery and cavalry followed, and on the 26th all the men
had reached Washington, though the wagons and animals were a day or
two later in arriving. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 698.]

In Washington I reported to the Secretary of War, and was received
with a cordiality that went far to remove from my mind the
impression I had got from others, that Mr. Stanton was abrupt and
unpleasant to approach. Both on this occasion and later, he was as
affable as could be expected of a man driven with incessant and
importunate duties of state. In the intervals of my constant visits
to the railway offices (for getting my troops and my wagons together
was the absorbing duty) I found time for a hurried visit to
Secretary Chase, and found also my friend Governor Dennison in the
city, mediating between the President and General McClellan with the
good-will and diplomatic wisdom which peculiarly marked his
character. I had expected to go forward with three regiments to join
General Pope on the evening of the 26th; but Colonel Haupt, the
military superintendent of railways at Alexandria, was unable to
furnish the transportation by reason of the detention of trains at
the front. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 625, 677.] Lee's flank movement
against Pope's army had begun, and as the latter retreated all the
railway cars which could be procured were needed to move his stores
back toward Washington. On the afternoon of the 26th, however,
arrangements had been made for moving the regiments at Alexandria
early next morning. [Footnote: _Ibid_, and pp. 678, 679.] The wagons
and animals were near at hand, and I ordered Colonel Moor with the
Twenty-eighth Ohio to march with them to Manassas as soon as they
should be unloaded from the railway trains. But during the night
occurred a startling change in the character of the campaign which
upset all our plans and gave a wholly unexpected turn to my own part
in it.

About nine o'clock in the evening Colonel Haupt received at
Alexandria the information that the enemy's cavalry had attacked our
great depot of supplies at Manassas Junction. The telegrapher had
barely time to send a message, break the connection of the wires,
and hurry away to escape capture. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xii. pt. iii. p. 680.] It was naturally supposed to be only a
cavalry raid, but the interruption of communication with Pope in
that crisis was in itself a serious mishap. The first thing to be
done was to push forward any troops at hand to protect the railway
bridge over Bull Run, and by authority of the War Department Colonel
Haupt was authorized to send forward, under Colonel Scammon, the
Eleventh and Twelfth Ohio without waiting to communicate with me.
They were started very early in the morning of the 27th, going to
support a New Jersey brigade under General George W. Taylor which
had been ordered to protect the Bull Run bridge. [Footnote: C. W.,
vol. i. pp. 379, 381.] Ignorant of all this, I was busy on Wednesday
morning (27th), trying to learn the whereabouts of the trains with
my wagon teams, which had not yet reached Washington, and reported
the situation as to my command to the Assistant Secretary of War,
Mr. Watson. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 698.]
I then learned of Scammon's sudden movement to the front, and of the
serious character of the enemy's movement upon Manassas. I marched
at once with the two regiments still in Washington, expecting to
follow the rest of the command by rail as soon as we should reach
Alexandria. Arriving there, I hastened to the telegraph office at
the railway station, where I found not only Colonel Haupt, but
General McClellan, who had come from Fortress Monroe the night
before. Of the Army of the Potomac, Heintzelman's and Porter's corps
were already with Pope, Franklin's was at Alexandria, and Sumner's
was beginning to arrive. As soon as it was known at the War
Department that McClellan was present, General Halleck's
correspondence was of course with him, and we passed under his
orders. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 688,
689, 691.] It had already been learned that 'Stonewall' Jackson was
with infantry as well as cavalry at Manassas, and that the Bull Run
bridge had been burned, our troops being driven back three or four
miles from it. McClellan thought it necessary to organize the two
corps at Alexandria and such other troops as were there, including
mine, first to cover that place and Washington in the possible
contingency that Lee's whole army had interposed between General
Pope and the capital, and, second, to open communication with Pope
as soon as the situation of the latter could be learned. Couch's
division was still at Yorktown, and orders had been issued by
Halleck to ship 5000 new troops there to relieve Couch and allow his
veteran division to join the Potomac Army. [Footnote: _Id_., p.

McClellan directed me to take the two regiments with me into camp
with Franklin's corps at Annandale, three miles in front of
Alexandria, and to obey Franklin's orders if any emergency should
occur. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 692.] I found, at the
post-quartermaster's office, an officer who had served in West
Virginia a year before, and by his hearty and efficient good-will
secured some supplies for the regiments with me during the days that
were yet to pass before we got our own trains and could feel that we
had an assured means of living and moving in an independent way. We
bivouacked by the roadside without shelter of any sort, enveloped in
dense clouds of dust from the marching columns of the Army of the
Potomac, their artillery and wagons, as they passed and went into
camp just in front of us. About noon, on Thursday (28th), Colonel
Scammon joined me with the two regiments he had taken toward
Manassas, and we learned the particulars of the sharp engagement he
had at the railway bridge.

The train carrying the troops approached the bridge over Bull Run
about eight o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, and Colonel Scammon
immediately pushed forward the Twelfth Ohio (Colonel White) to the
bridge itself and the bank of the stream. He met the New Jersey
brigade of four regiments coming back in confusion and panic. The
commander, General Taylor, had taken position on the west side of
the creek, covering the bridge; but he had no artillery, and though
his advance was made with great spirit (as Jackson recognized in his
report [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. p. 644.] ),
his lines had been subjected to a heavy artillery fire from the
batteries of A. P. Hill's and Jackson's own divisions, and broke,
retreating in disorder to the eastern side of the stream. General
Taylor himself fell severely wounded whilst trying to rally them. It
was at this moment that Scammon reached the field with the Twelfth
Ohio. He had heard the artillery fire, but little or no musketry,
and was astonished at seeing the retreat. He sent his
adjutant-general, Lieutenant Robert P. Kennedy, [Footnote: Member of
Congress (1890), and recently Lieutenant-Governor of Ohio.] to
communicate with General Taylor and to try to rally the fugitives.
Meanwhile he ordered Colonel White to line the bank of the creek
with his men and try to protect the bridge structure. Kennedy found
General Taylor in a litter being carried to the rear, and the
general, though in anguish from his wound, was in great mental
distress at the rout of his men. He begged every one to rally the
flying troops if possible, and sent his own adjutant-general,
Captain Dunham, to turn over the general command to Scammon. All
efforts to rally the panic-stricken brigade were fruitless, and
Scammon resisted the advance of Hill's division through nearly a
whole day with the two regiments alone. A Lieutenant Wright of the
Fourth New Jersey, with ten men, reported to Colonel Scammon and
begged assignment in the line. Their names are honorably enrolled in
Scammon's report, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. p.
407.] and these, with Captain Dunham, did heroic service, but were
all of the brigade that took any further part in the fight. Dunham
succeeded in rallying a portion of the brigade later in the day, but
too late to enter the engagement.

Taking advantage of the bridges near the stream, Scammon kept his
men covered from the artillery fire as well as possible, driving
back with his volleys every effort to pass by the bridge or to ford
the stream in his front. Hill moved brigades considerably to right
and left, and attempted to surround White and the Twelfth Ohio. But
Coleman, with the Eleventh, had come up in support, and Scammon
ordered him to charge on the enemy's right, which was passing
White's left flank. Coleman did so in splendid style, driving his
foe before him, and crossing the bridge to the west side. The odds,
however, were far too great where a brigade could attack each
regiment of ours and others pass beyond them, so that Scammon,
having fully developed the enemy's force, had to limit himself to
delaying their advance, retiring his little command in echelon from
one ridge to another, as his wings were threatened. This he did with
perfect coolness and order, maintaining the unequal struggle without
assistance till about half-past three in the afternoon. The enemy's
efforts now relaxed, and Scammon withdrew at leisure to a position
some three miles from the bridge. Hill still showed a disposition to
surround the detachment by manoeuvres, and Scammon retired toward
Annandale in the night. He himself underestimated the enemy's force
in infantry, which Jackson's report puts at "several brigades."
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. p. 644.] His loss in
the two Ohio regiments was 106 in killed, wounded, and missing.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 262.] Those of the New Jersey brigade are not
reported. The combat was a most instructive military lesson,
teaching what audacity and skill may do with a very small force in
delaying and mystifying a much larger one, which was imposed upon by
its firm front and its able handling.

Some of Scammon's wounded being too badly hurt to be removed, he
detailed a surgeon to remain with them and care for them till they
should be exchanged or otherwise brought within our lines. This
surgeon was taken to Jackson's headquarters, where he was questioned
as to the troops which had held the Confederates at bay. General J.
E. B. Stuart was with Jackson, and on the surgeon's stating that the
fighting during most of the day had been by the two Ohio regiments
alone, Stuart's racy expressions of admiration were doubly
complimentary as coming from such an adversary, and, when repeated,
were more prized by the officers and men than any praise from their
own people. [Footnote: The history of this engagement was currently
published with curious inaccuracies. Even Mr. Ropes in his "Campaign
under Pope" does not seem to have seen the Official Records on our
side, and supposed that Taylor's brigade was all that was engaged.
See Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. pp. 405-411; also pt. iii.
pp. 698, 699; also C. W., vol. i. pp. 379-382.]

Toward evening on Thursday, a thunderstorm and gale of wind came up,
adding greatly to the wretched discomfort of the troops for the
moment, but making the air clearer and laying the dust for a day or
two. I found partial shelter with my staff, on the veranda of a
small house which was occupied by ladies of the families of some
general officers of the Potomac Army, who had seized the passing
opportunity to see their husbands in the interval of the campaign.
We thought ourselves fortunate in getting even the shelter of the
veranda roof for the night. On Friday morning (29th), Captain Fitch,
my quartermaster, was able to report his train and baggage safe at
Alexandria, and we were ready for any service. Orders came from
General McClellan during the forenoon to move the four regiments now
with me into Forts Ramsey and Buffalo, on Upton's and Munson's
hills, covering Washington on the direct road to Centreville by
Aqueduct Bridge, Ball's Cross-Roads, and Fairfax C. H. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 712, 726. For this he had
Halleck's authority, in view of the danger of cavalry raids into the
city. _Id_., p. 722.] General McClellan had established his
headquarters on Seminary Ridge beyond the northern outskirts of
Alexandria, and after putting my command in motion I rode there to
get fuller instructions from him as to the duty assigned me. His
tents were pitched in a high airy situation looking toward the
Potomac on the east; indeed he had found them a little too airy in
the thunder-squall of the previous evening which had demolished part
of the canvas village. It must have been about noon when I
dismounted at his tent. The distant pounding of artillery had been
in our ears as we rode. It was Pope's battle with Jackson along the
turnpike between Bull Run and Gainesville and on the heights above
Groveton, thirty miles away.

[Illustration: Map]

General Franklin had ridden over from Annandale and was with
McClellan receiving his parting directions under the imperative
orders which Halleck had sent to push that corps out to Pope.
McClellan's words I was not likely to forget. "Go," he said, "and
whatever may happen, don't allow it to be said that the Army of the
Potomac failed to do its utmost for the country." McClellan then
explained to me the importance of the position to which I was
ordered. The heights were the outer line of defence of Washington on
the west, which had been held at one time, a year before, by the
Confederates, who had an earthwork there, notorious for a while
under the camp name of "Fort Skedaddle." From them the unfinished
dome of the Capitol was to be seen, and the rebel flag had flaunted
there, easily distinguishable by the telescopes which were daily
pointed at it from the city. McClellan had little expectation that
Pope would escape defeat, and impressed upon me the necessity of
being prepared to cover a perhaps disorderly retreat within the
lines. Some heavy artillery troops (Fourth New York Heavy Artillery)
were in garrison at one of the forts, and these with the forces at
Falls Church were ordered to report to me. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 726.] Assuring me that he would soon
visit me in my new quarters, McClellan dismissed me, and I galloped
forward to overtake my troops.

I found the position of the forts a most commanding one, overlooking
the country in every direction. Westward the ground sloped away from
us toward Fairfax Court House and Centreville. Northward, in a
pretty valley, lay the village of Falls Church, and beyond it a
wooded ridge over which a turnpike road ran to Vienna and on to
Leesburg. Behind us was the rolling country skirting the Potomac,
and from Ball's Cross-Roads, a mile or two in rear, a northward road
led to the chain bridge above Georgetown, whilst the principal way
went directly to the city by the Aqueduct Bridge. Three knolls
grouped so as to command these different directions had been crowned
with forts of strong profile. The largest of these, Fort Ramsey, on
Upton's Hill was armed with twenty-pounder Parrott rifles, and the
heavy-artillery troops occupied this work. I had a pair of guns of
the same kind and calibre in my mixed battery, and these with my
other field artillery were put in the other forts. Lines of infantry
trench connected the works and extended right and left, and my four
regiments occupied these. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. li. pt.
i. pp. 777, 779; vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 176.] A regiment of cavalry
(Eighth Illinois, joined later by the Eighth Pennsylvania) was
ordered to report to me, and this, with Schambeck's squadron which
had come with me, made a cavalry camp in front of Falls Church and
picketed and patrolled the front. [Footnote: See my order assigning
garrisons to the forts. Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 771.]

We pitched our headquarters tents on Upton's Hill, just in rear of
Fort Ramsey, and had a sense of luxury in "setting our house in
order" after the uncomfortable experience of our long journey from
West Virginia. The hurry of startling events in the past few days
made our late campaign in the mountains seem as far away in time as
it was in space. We were now in the very centre of excitement, and
had become a very small part of a great army. The isolation and the
separate responsibility of the past few months seemed like another
existence indefinitely far away. I lost no time in making a rapid
ride about my position, studying its approaches in the gathering
twilight and trying to fix in mind the leading features of the
topography with their relation to the possible retreat of our army
and advance of the enemy. And all the while the rapid though muffled
thumping of the distant cannon was in our ears, coming from the
field in front of Groveton, where Lee, having now united his whole
army against Pope, was sending part of Longstreet's divisions
against McDowell's corps along the Warrenton turnpike.

On Saturday the 30th ambulances began coming through our lines with
wounded men, and some on foot with an arm in a sling or bandages
upon the head were wearily finding their way into the city. All such
were systematically questioned, their information was collated and
corrected, and reports were made to General Halleck and General
McClellan. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. p. 405;


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