Military Reminiscences of the Civil War V1
Jacob Dolson Cox

Part 7 out of 9

followed in the battle. We crossed the Antietam in front of
Keedysville, followed the hollows and byways to the East Wood, and
passed through this and the cornfields which had been the scene of
Hooker's and Mansfield's fierce fighting. We visited the Dunker
Church and then returned to camp by Bloody Lane and the central
stone bridge. The President was observant and keenly interested in
the field of battle, but made no display of sentiment. On another
day he reviewed the troops which were most accessible from
headquarters. As my own corps was among the first on the list, I did
not join the escort of the President at the general's quarters, but
was with the troops attending to the details of the parade. We were
ordered to be under arms at eight o'clock, but it was more than two
hours after that when the reviewing cortège came on the ground. The
officers were very hilarious over some grotesque story with which
Mr. Lincoln had seasoned the conversation, and which seemed to have
caused some forgetfulness of the appointment with the troops. We
were reviewed by divisions, and I met the party with my staff,
riding down the lines with them, and answering the inquiries of the
President and the general as to the history and the experience of
the different organizations as we passed them. The usual march in
review was omitted for lack of time, the President contenting
himself with riding along the lines formed in parade. I had missed
seeing the President in Washington when I paid my respects at the
White House, and this was my first meeting with him after his
inauguration. His unpretending cordiality was what first impressed
one, but you soon saw with what sharp intelligence and keen humor he
dealt with every subject which came up. He referred very pleasantly
to his knowledge of me through Secretary Chase, showing the kindly
instinct to find some compliment or evidence of recognition for all
who approached him.

This geniality in Mr. Lincoln made him avoid personal criticism of
the campaign, and gave an air of earnest satisfaction to what he
said of the work done by McClellan. There was enough to praise, and
he praised it heartily. He was also thankful that the threatened
invasion of the North had been defeated, and showed his sense of
great relief. He had adopted the rule for himself to limit his
direct influence upon his generals to the presentation of his ideas
of what was desirable, often taking pains even in his written
communications to say that he made no order, and left the definite
direction to General Halleck. McClellan gave the most favorable
interpretation to all that the President said, but could not ignore
the anxiety Mr. Lincoln showed that an energetic campaign should be
continued. He wrote home: "I incline to think that the real purpose
of his visit is to push me into a premature advance into Virginia."
[Footnote: O. S., p. 654.]

The President had coupled his earliest telegraphic congratulations
with the question, "Can't you beat them some more before they get
off?" and McClellan's private correspondence shows that he, on his
part, chafed at every suggestion of haste. As early as the 22d of
September, the general had written that he looked upon the campaign
as substantially ended, and intended to give some time to the
reorganization of the army before beginning a new one. The vicinity
of Harper's Ferry or Frederick seemed to him the proper place for
the camp meanwhile, and he wished for a rise in the Potomac River
which should make it impracticable for Lee to ford it again. He
delayed in the neighborhood of Sharpsburg, waiting for this. To
those of us with whom he talked freely, he spoke of the necessity of
incorporating into the Army of the Potomac at least a hundred
thousand of the new levies to make it really fit for an aggressive
campaign, and argued that it would save time in the end to use some
of it now in the work of reorganizing.

Mr. Lincoln was plainly troubled with the apprehension that the
delays of 1861 were to be repeated, and that the fine October
weather of that region would be again wasted and nothing done till
the next spring. There were men enough about him at Washington to
remind him of this in irritating ways, and to make him realize that
as he had personally restored McClellan to the command he would be
personally responsible for keeping him moving. McClellan rightly
understood Mr. Lincoln's visit as meaning this. He did not refuse to
move; on the other hand, he professed to be anxious to do so at the
earliest moment when it should be really practicable. His obstinacy
was of a feminine sort. He avoided open antagonism which would have
been a challenge of strength, but found constantly fresh obstacles
in the way of doing what he was determined from the first not to do.
The need of clothing for the men and of horses for the cavalry was a
fruitful subject for debate, and the debate, if sufficiently
prolonged, would itself accomplish the delay that was desired.

The official correspondence shows that the President went back to
Washington determined to cut the knot in a peremptory way, if he was
forced to do so. McClellan could not have been blind to this. His
private letters show that he thought it not improbable that he would
be relieved from command. His desire for military success was a
ruling one with him on both public and private grounds. We are
forced, therefore, to conclude that he actually lacked faith in
success, and regarded the crossing of the Potomac as too perilous
until he should reorganize the army with the additional hundred
thousand recruits. In this we see the ever-recurring effect of his
exaggeration of the enemy's force. We now know that this
over-estimate was inexcusable, but we cannot deny that he made it,
nor, altogether, that he believed in it. It constituted a
disqualification for such a command, and led to what must be
regarded as the inevitable result,--his removal. The political
questions connected with the matter cut no important figure in it.
If he had had faith in his ability to conquer Lee's army, we should
never have heard of them.

Whilst I mean what I say in speaking of McClellan's exaggeration of
his enemy as constituting incompetence for such a command, it has
reference to the necessity in which we were that our army should be
aggressively handled. Few men could excel him in strictly defensive
operations. He did not lack personal courage, nor did his
intellectual powers become obscured in the excitement of actual war.
He showed the ordinary evidences of presence of mind and coolness of
judgment under fire. His tendency to see his enemy doubled in force
was, however, a constitutional one, and no amount of experience
seemed to cure it. Had it not been so he would have devised checks
upon the reports of his secret-service agents, and corrected their
estimates by those more reliable methods which I have already spoken
of. McClellan was, even in those days, often compared to Marshal
Daun, whose fair ability but studiously defensive policy was so in
contrast with the daring strategy of the great Frederick. The
comparison was a fair one. The trouble was that we had need of a

It may seem strange that his subordinates so generally accepted his
view and supported him in his conduct; but it was a natural result
of forces always at work in an army. The old maxim that "Councils of
war never fight" is only another way of saying that an army is never
bolder than its leader. It is the same as the old Greek proverb,
"Better an army of deer with a lion for leader, than an army of
lions with a deer for leader." The body of men thus organized relies
upon its chief for the knowledge of the enemy and for the plan by
which the enemy is to be taken at a disadvantage. It will
courageously carry out his plans so long as he has faith in them
himself and has good fortune in their execution. Let doubt arise as
to either of these things and his troops raise the cry "We are
sacrificed," "We are slaughtered uselessly." McClellan's arts of
military popularity were such that his army accepted his estimate of
the enemy, and believed (in the main) that he had shown great
ability in saving them from destruction in a contest at such odds.
They were inclined, therefore, to hold the government at Washington
responsible for sacrificing them by demanding the impossible. Under
such circumstances nothing but a cautious defensive policy could be
popular with officers or men. If McClellan's data were true, he and
they were right. It would have been folly to cross the Potomac and,
with their backs to the river, fight a greatly superior enemy.
Because the data were not true there was no solution for the problem
but to give the army another commander, and painfully to undo the
military education it had for a year been receiving. The process of
disillusion was a slow one. The disasters to Burnside and Hooker
strengthened the error. Meade's standstill after Gettysburg was very
like McClellan's after Antietam, and Mr. Lincoln had to deal with it
in a very similar way. When Grant took command the army expected him
to have a similar fate, and his reputation was treated as of little
worth because he had not yet "met Bobby Lee." His terrible method of
"attrition" was a fearfully costly one, and the flower of that army
was transferred from the active roster to the casualty lists before
the prestige of its enemy was broken. But it was broken, and
Appomattox came at last.

It will not do to say that the Confederate army in Virginia was in
any sense superior to their army in the West. When the superior
force of the National army was systematically applied, General Lee
was reduced to as cautious a defensive in Virginia as was General
Johnston in Georgia. Longstreet and Hood had no better success when
transferred to the West than the men who had never belonged to the
Army of Virginia. In fact, it was with Joseph E. Johnston as his
opponent that McClellan's career was chiefly run. Yet the
Confederate army in the West was broken at Donelson and at
Vicksburg. It was driven from Stone's River to Chattanooga, and from
Missionary Ridge to Atlanta. Its remnant was destroyed at Franklin
and Nashville, and Sherman's March to the Sea nearly completed the
traverse of the whole Confederacy. His victorious army was close in
rear of Petersburg when Richmond was finally won. Now that we have
got rid of the fiction that the Confederate government gave to Lee
an enormously larger army than it gave to Bragg or to Joseph
Johnston, we have to account for the fact that with much less odds
in their favor our Western army accomplished so much more. As a
military objective Richmond was in easier reach from the Potomac
than Nashville from the Ohio. From Nashville to Chattanooga was
fully as difficult a task. The vulnerable lines of communication
multiplied in length as we went southward, and made the campaign of
Atlanta more difficult still. Vicksburg was a harder nut to crack
than Richmond. We must put away our _esprit de corps_, and squarely
face the problem as one of military art with the Official Records
and returns before us. Our Western army was of essentially the same
material as the Eastern. Regiments from nearly all the States were
mingled in both. Wisconsin men fought beside those from Maine in the
Army of the Potomac, as men who had fought at Antietam and at
Gettysburg followed Sherman through the Carolinas. The difference
was not in the rank and file, it was not in the subordinates. It was
the difference in leadership and in the education of the armies
under their leaders during their first campaigns. That mysterious
thing, the morale of an army, grows out of its belief as to what it
can do. If it is systematically taught that it is hopelessly
inferior to its adversary, it will be held in check by a fraction of
its own force. The general who indoctrinates his army with the
belief that it is required by its government to do the impossible,
may preserve his popularity with the troops and be received with
cheers as he rides down the line, but he has put any great military
success far beyond his reach. In this study of military morale, its
causes and its effects, the history of the Army of the Potomac is
one of the most important and one of the gravest lessons the world
has ever seen.

I have to confess that at Antietam I shared, more or less fully, the
opinions of those among whom I was. I accepted McClellan as the best
authority in regard to the enemy's numbers, and, assuming that he
was approximately right in that, the reasonable prudence of waiting
for reinforcements could not be denied. I saw that he had lost
valuable time in the movements of the campaign, but the general
result seemed successful enough to hide this for the time at least.
My own experience, therefore, supports the conclusion I have already
stated, that an army's enterprise is measured by its commander's,
and, by a necessary law, the army reflects his judgment as to what
it can or cannot accomplish.

Mr. Lincoln had told McClellan during his visit to the army that his
great fault was "overcautiousness." He had intimated plainly enough
that he must insist upon the continuance of the campaign. He had
discussed the plans of advance, and urged McClellan to operate upon
Lee's communications by marching south on the east side of the Blue
Ridge. He had disclaimed any purpose of forcing a movement before
the army was ready, but saw no reason why it should take longer to
get ready after Antietam than after Pope's last battle. Soon after
his return to Washington, Halleck sent a peremptory order to
McClellan to cross the Potomac. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xix. pt. i. p. 10.] It was dated October 6th, and said: "The
President directs that you cross the Potomac and give battle to the
enemy or drive him South. Your army must move now while the roads
are good. If you cross the river between the enemy and Washington,
and cover the latter by your line of operations, you can be
reinforced with 30,000 men. If you move up the valley of the
Shenandoah, not more than 12,000 or 15,000 can be sent to you. The
President advises the interior line between Washington and the
enemy, but does not order it." It also required him to report
immediately which line he adopted. Halleck, as General-in-chief,
ought to have given his own decision as to the line of operations,
but his characteristic indecision was shown in failing to do so. He
did not even express an opinion as to the relative merits of the two
lines, and limited himself to his concurrence in the order to move
in one way or the other.

McClellan replied on the 7th, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix.
pt. i. p. 11.] saying that he had determined to adopt the Shenandoah
line, though he wished to "state distinctly" that he should only use
that line till the enemy should retire beyond Winchester, as he did
not expect to be able to supply his army more than twenty or
twenty-five miles beyond a railway or canal depot. If the enemy
retreated, he would adopt some new and decisive line of operations.
He objected to the interior line because it did not cover Maryland
and Pennsylvania from a return of Lee's army, and because (as he
said) the army could not be supplied by it. He indicated three days
as the time within which he could move. At the end of that time he
complained of still lacking clothing. On the 12th he found it
"absolutely necessary" that the cavalry should have more horses. The
discussion over these things ran on till the 21st.

Mr. Lincoln made a strong effort to save McClellan from the effects
of his mental deficiencies. He exhausted advice and exhortation. He
even ventured upon mild raillery on the idleness of the army. On the
13th he had written a remarkable letter to McClellan, in which he
reminded him of what had occurred between them at the Antietam and
argued in favor of the interior line of movement. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 13.] He showed that Lee at
Winchester supplied his army twice as far from his railway depot as
McClellan thought possible for the Army of the Potomac. He urged the
recognized advantage of operating by a line which attacked the
enemy's communications. He pointed out that if Lee should try to
cross the Potomac, our army could be in his rear and should destroy
him. He showed that McClellan at Harper's Ferry was nearer to
Richmond than Lee: "His route is the arc of a circle of which yours
is the chord." He analyzed the map and showed that the interior line
was the easier for supplying the army: "The chord line, as you see,
carries you by Aldie, Haymarket and Fredericksburg, and you see how
turnpikes, railroads, and finally the Potomac by Acquia Creek, meet
you at all points from Washington." He even gave the figures in
miles from gap to gap in the mountains, which would enable McClellan
to strike the enemy in flank or rear; and this was of course to be
done if Lee made a stand. "It is all easy," his letter concluded,
"if our troops march as well as the enemy; and it is unmanly to say
they cannot do it." Yet he expressly disclaimed making his letter an
order. [Footnote: Since writing this, I have had occasion to treat
this subject more fully, as bearing upon Mr. Lincoln's military
judgment and intelligence, in a review of Henderson's Stonewall
Jackson, "The Nation," Nov. 24, Dec. 1, 1898.]

As a mere matter of military comprehension and judgment of the
strategic situation, the letter puts Mr. Lincoln head and shoulders
above both his military subordinates. Halleck saw its force, but
would not order it to be carried out. McClellan shrank from the
decisive vigor of the plan, though he finally accepted it as the
means of getting the larger reinforcements. On the 21st of October
the discussion of cavalry horses was pretty well exhausted, and
McClellan telegraphed Halleck [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix.
pt. i. p. 81.] that in other respects he was nearly ready to move,
and inquires whether the President desired him to march on the enemy
at once or to wait the arrival of the new horses. Halleck answered
that the order of the 6th October remained unchanged. "If you have
not been and are not now in condition to obey it, you will be able
to show such want of ability. The President does not expect
impossibilities, but he is very anxious that all this good weather
should not be wasted in inactivity. Telegraph when you will move and
on what lines you propose to march." This dispatch was plainly a
notice to McClellan that he would be held responsible for the
failure to obey the order of the 6th unless he could exonerate
himself by showing that he could not obey it. In his final report,
however, he says that he treated it as authority to decide for
himself whether or not it was possible to move with safety to the
army; [Footnote: _Ibid_.] "and this responsibility," he says, "I
exercised with the more confidence in view of the strong assurance
of his trust in me, as commander of that army, with which the
President had seen fit to honor me during his last visit." Argument
is superfluous, in view of the correspondence, to show that orders
and exhortations were alike wasted.

The movement began in the last days of October, the Sixth Corps,
which was in the rear, crossing the Potomac on the 2d of November.
McClellan had accepted Mr. Lincoln's plan, but lack of vigor in its
execution broke down the President's patience, and on the 5th of
November, upon Lee's recrossing the Blue Ridge without a battle, he
ordered the general to turn over the command to Burnside, as he had
declared he would do if Lee's was allowed to regain the interior
line. The order was presented and obeyed on the 7th, and McClellan
left the army. The fallen general brooded morbidly over it all for
twenty years, and then wrote his "Own Story," a most curious piece
of self-exposure, in which he unconsciously showed that the
illusions which had misguided him in his campaigns were still
realities to him, and that he had made no use of the authentic facts
which Confederate as well as National records had brought within his
reach. He had forgotten much, but he had learned nothing.



Intimacy of McClellan and Burnside--Private letters in the official
files--Burnside's mediation--His self-forgetful devotion--The
movement to join Pope--Burnside forwards Porter's dispatches--His
double refusal of the command--McClellan suspends the organization
of wings--His relations to Porter--Lincoln's letter on the
subject--Fault-finding with Burnside--Whose work?--Burnside's
appearance and bearing in the field.

McClellan and Burnside had been classmates at West Point, and had
been associated in railway employment after they had left the army,
in the years immediately before the war. The intimacy which began at
the Academy had not only continued, but they had kept up the
demonstrative boyish friendship which made their intercourse like
that of brothers. They were "Mac" and "Burn" to each other when I
knew them, and although Fitz-John Porter, Hancock, Parker, Reno, and
Pleasonton had all been members of the same class, the two seemed to
be bosom friends in a way totally different from their intimacy with
the others. Probably there was no one outside of his own family to
whom McClellan spoke his secret thoughts in his letters, as he did
to Burnside. The characteristic lack of system in business which was
very noticeable in Burnside, made him negligent, apparently, in
discriminating between official letters and private ones, and so it
happens that there are a number in the official records which were
never meant to reach the public. They show, however, as nothing else
could, the relations which the two men sustained to each other, and
reveal strong traits in the characters of both.

After Burnside had secured his first success in the Roanoke
expedition, he had written to McClellan, then in the midst of his
campaign of the peninsula, and this was McClellan's reply on the
21st of May, 1862:--[Footnote: Official Records, vol ix. p. 392.]

"MY DEAR BURN,--Your dispatch and kind letter received. I have
instructed Seth [Williams] to reply to the official letter, and now
acknowledge the kind private note. It always does me good, in the
midst of my cares and perplexities, to see your wretched old
scrawling. I have terrible troubles to contend with, but have met
them with a good heart, like your good old self, and have thus far
struggled through successfully.... I feel very proud of Yorktown: it
and Manassas will be my brightest chaplets in history, for I know
that I accomplished everything in both places by pure military
skill. I am very proud, and very grateful to God that he allowed me
to purchase such great success at so trifling a loss of life.... The
crisis cannot long be deferred. I pray for God's blessing on our
arms, and rely far more on his goodness than I do on my own poor
intellect. I sometimes think, now, that I can almost realize that
Mahomet was sincere. When I see the hand of God guarding one so weak
as myself, I can almost think myself a chosen instrument to carry
out his schemes. Would that a better man had been selected....
Good-bye and God bless you, Burn. With the sincere hope that we may
soon shake hands, I am, as ever,

Your sincere friend, MCCLELLAN."

When McClellan reached the James River after the seven days'
battles, the first suggestion as to reinforcing him was that
Burnside should bring to his aid the bulk of his little army in
North Carolina. This was determined upon, and the Ninth Corps was
carried by sea to Fortress Monroe. As soon as the movement was
started, Burnside hastened in advance to Washington, and on
returning to the fortress wrote McClellan as follows:--[Footnote:
O. S., p. 472.]

"OLD POINT, July 15, 1862.

MY DEAR MAC,--I have just arrived from Washington, and have not time
to get ready to go up this morning, but will to-morrow. I've much to
say to you and am very anxious to see you.... The President has
ordered me to remain here for the present, and when I asked him how
long, he said five or six days. I don't know what it means; but I do
know, my dear Mac, that you have lots of enemies. But you must keep
cool; don't allow them to provoke you into a quarrel. You must come
out all right; I'll tell you all to-morrow.

Your old friend, BURN."

He went up the river to Harrison's Landing and stayed a couple of
days, consulting with McClellan as to the situation. He returned to
Old Point Comfort on the 18th, and immediately telegraphed to the
War Department for leave to go to Washington and present the results
of his conference with McClellan. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xi. pt. iii. p. 326.] This was granted, and he again presented
himself before the President and Secretary Stanton as the friend of
McClellan. He urged the increase of McClellan's army to an extent
which would make the general resume the aggressive with confidence.
Halleck visited McClellan at once after assuming command as
general-in-chief, but satisfied himself that the government could
not furnish the thirty thousand additional troops which McClellan
then demanded. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 337.] This led to the decision
to bring the Army of the Potomac back by water, and to unite it with
Pope's army on the Rappahannock.

On this visit to Washington the President and Secretary of War had
offered to Burnside himself the command of the Army of the Potomac.
He had refused it, earnestly asserting his faith that McClellan was
much fitter for the command than he, and trying hard to restore
confidence and a mutual good understanding between his friend and
the government. He was discouraged at the result, and after he
returned to his command wrote a letter, every line of which shows
his sadness and his disinterested friendship, for he does not
mention, much less take credit to himself for, the refusal to
supersede his friend. [Footnote: O. S., 472.]

"FORT MONROE, Aug. 2, 1862.

MY DEAR MAC,--I'm laid up with a lame leg, and besides am much
worried at the decision they have chosen to make in regard to your
army. From the moment I reached Washington I feared it would be so,
and I am of the opinion that your engineers [Footnote: This hints at
General Barnard's unfavorable criticisms of McClellan's management,
which led to a request by the latter to have another officer
assigned as chief engineer. See Halleck to McClellan, Aug. 7, 1862.
Official Records, vol. xi. pt. iii. p. 359.] had much to do with
bringing about the determination. When the conclusion was arrived
at, I was the only one who advocated your forward movement. I speak
now as if a positive decision had been arrived at, which I do not
know, and you of course do; my present orders indicate it. But you
know what they are and all about it, so I will accept it as
something that is ordered for the best. Let us continue to give our
undivided support to the cause and all will be well. It looks dark
sometimes, but a just God will order everything for the best. We
can't expect to have it all as we wish. I'm off for my destination,
and will write you a long letter from there. The troops are nearly
all embarked. Good-bye. God bless you!

Your old friend, A. E. BURNSIDE."

Burnside was sent with the Ninth Corps to Falmouth on the
Rappahannock. Porter's corps joined him there, and both the corps
were sent forward to Warrenton to join Pope. When Pope's
communication with Washington was cut, it was only through Burnside
that the government could hear of him for several days, and in
response to the calls for news he telegraphed copies of Porter's
dispatches to him. Like McClellan's private letters, these
dispatches told more of the writer's mind and heart than would
willingly have been made public. Burnside's careless outspoken
frankness as to his own opinions was such that he probably did not
reflect what reticences others might wish to have made. Perhaps he
also thought that Porter's sarcasms on Pope, coming from one who had
gained much reputation in the peninsula, would be powerful in
helping to reinstate McClellan. At any rate, the dispatches were the
only news from the battle-field he could send the President in
answer to his anxious inquiries, and he sent them. They were the
cause of Mr. Lincoln's request to McClellan, on September 1st, that
he would write Porter and other friends begging them to give Pope
loyal support. They were also the most damaging evidence against
Porter in his subsequent court-martial.

Before the Maryland campaign began, Mr. Lincoln again urged upon
Burnside the command of the army, and he again declined, warmly
advocating McClellan's retention as before. [Footnote: C. W., vol.
i. p. 650.] His advocacy was successful, as I have already stated.
[Footnote: _Ante_, p. 257.] The arrangement that Burnside and Sumner
were to command wings of the army of at least two corps each, was
made before we left Washington, and Burnside's subordinates, Hooker
and Reno, were, by direction of the President, assigned to corps
commands through orders from army headquarters. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 188, 197.] McClellan did not publish
to the Army of the Potomac this assignment of Burnside and Sumner
till the 14th of September, though it had been acted upon from the
beginning of the campaign. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 290.] On the evening
of the same day Porter's corps joined the army at South Mountain,
and before the advance was resumed on the following morning, the
order was again suspended and Burnside reduced to the command of a
single corps. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 297.] I have already suggested
Hooker's relation to this, and only note at this point the
coincidence, if it was nothing more, that the first evidence of any
change in McClellan's friendship toward Burnside occurs within a few
hours from Porter's arrival, and in connection with a complaint made
by the latter.

McClellan and Burnside had slept in the same house the night after
the battle of South Mountain. Porter seems to have joined them
there. During the evening McClellan dictated his orders for the
movements of the 15th which were communicated to the army in the
morning. That Porter should be unfriendly to Burnside was not
strange, for it had by this time become known that the dispatches of
August 27th to 30th were relied upon by General Pope's friends to
show Porter's hostile and insubordinate spirit in that campaign. The
court-martial was still impending over Porter, and he had been
allowed to take the field only at McClellan's special request.
Although Burnside had not dreamed of doing Porter an ill service,
his transmittal of the dispatches to the President had made them
available as evidence, and Porter, not unnaturally, held him
responsible for part of his peril. The sort of favoritism which
McClellan showed to Porter was notorious in the army. Had the
position of chief of staff been given him, it would have sanctioned
his personal influence without offending the self-respect of other
general officers; but that position was held by General Marcy, the
father-in-law of McClellan, and Porter's manifest power at
headquarters consequently wore the air of discourtesy toward others.
The incident I have narrated of the examination of Lee's position at
Sharpsburg from the ridge near Pry's house was an example of this.
It was Porter who in the presence of the commandants of the wings of
the army was invited by McClellan to continue the examination when
the others were sent below the crest of the hill. Governor Sprague
testified before the Committee on the Conduct of the War to the
notoriety of this from the beginning of the peninsular campaign and
to the bad feeling it caused. [Footnote: C. W., vol. i. p. 566.]
General Rosecrans testified that in the winter of 1861-62, on his
visit to Washington, he found that Porter was regarded as the
confidential adviser of McClellan. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. vi.
(Rosecrans) p. 14.] It was matter of common fame, too well known to
be questioned by anybody who served in that army. Mr. Lincoln had
discussed it to some extent in his correspondence with McClellan in
the month of May, and had warned the general of the mischiefs likely
to ensue, even whilst authorizing provisional corps to be organized
for Porter and Franklin. He had used such exceptional plainness as
to say to the general [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xi. pt. iii.
p. 154.] that "it is looked upon as merely an effort to pamper one
or two pets and to persecute and degrade their supposed rivals. The
commanders of these corps are of course the three highest officers
with you, but I am constantly told that you have no consultation or
communication with them; that you consult and communicate with
nobody but General Fitz-John Porter and perhaps General Franklin. I
do not say these complaints are true or just, but at all events it
is proper you should know of their existence."

McClellan's dealing with the division of the army into wings was
part of the same persistent method of thwarting the purpose of the
administration while ostensibly keeping the letter. It was perfectly
easy to advance from South Mountain upon Sharpsburg, keeping
Sumner's and Burnside's commands intact. The intermingling of them
was unnecessary at the beginning, and was mischievous during the
battle of Antietam. No military reason can be given for it, and the
history of the whole year makes it plain that the reasons were

The offer of the command of the army to Burnside, though refused,
was a sufficiently plain designation of McClellan's successor in
case he should be relieved or be disabled. It needed a more
magnanimous nature than McClellan's proved to be, to bear the
obligation of Burnside's powerful friendship in securing for him
again the field command of the army. When he was in personal contact
with Burnside, the transparent sincerity of the latter's friendship
always brought McClellan to his better self, and to the eye of an
observer they were as cordially intimate as they had ever been. Yet
unfriendly things which had been done officially could not easily be
undone, and the friendship was maintained by the subordinate
condoning the sins against it. Hooker was allowed to separate
himself from Burnside's command on the morning of the 15th, against
the protest of his commander; the order announcing the assignment of
the wing command was suspended and was never renewed, though
McClellan afterward gave Burnside temporary command of several corps
when detached from the rest of the army.

Burnside spent several hours with his chief on Monday morning
(15th), and was disturbed and grieved at the course things had
taken. It is possible that his pre-occupation of mind made him
neglect the prompt issue of orders for moving the Ninth Corps,
though I know nothing definite as to this. [Footnote: My own
recollection is that part of the corps had marched without rations
on the preceding day, and had sent back during the night for them.
Burnside took the responsibility of allowing the corps to wait until
these supplies came and the men could be fed before marching again.
It will be remembered that McClellan made no effort to bring on an
engagement that day, nor during the whole of the next day.] Porter's
corps was to follow us through Fox's Gap, and when his head of
column came up the mountain at noon, we certainly were not in
motion. My own division was the rear one of the column that day, by
way of change, as I had had the advance all the way from Washington.
General Porter reported at McClellan's headquarters that the
movement of his troops was obstructed by Burnside's, and got at his
own special request an order to push by them. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 296.] The written order Porter
preserved, and put upon it an endorsement adding to what it contains
the accusation that "Burnside's corps was not moving three hours
after the hour designated for him." [Footnote: _Ibid._] No doubt
there was many a delay in that campaign in divers corps. The
significant thing in this one was the pains taken to "make a record"
of it against Burnside, and the inclusion in this of unofficial
matter by means of the endorsement.

On the 16th another vexatious incident of a similar character
occurred. After McClellan's reconnoitring on our left, he orally
directed that the divisions of the Ninth Corps should be moved to
positions designated by members of his staff. When Burnside had
taken his position on a hill-top from which the positions could be
seen and the movement accurately directed, another staff officer
from McClellan came and requested that the movement be delayed for
further consideration by the commanding general. It was this that
occasioned a halt and our subsequent march in the dusk of evening,
as has been narrated in its place. That evening the following note
was written at McClellan's headquarters, but it was not delivered to
Burnside till the next day, the day of the battle: [Footnote: _Id._,
p. 308.]--

September 16, 1862.

MAJOR-GENERAL BURNSIDE, Commanding Ninth Corps, etc.

GENERAL,--The General commanding has learned that although your
corps was ordered to be in a designated position at 12 M. to-day, at
or near sunset only one division and four batteries had reached the
ground intended for your troops. The general has also been advised
that there was a delay of some four hours in the movement of your
command yesterday. I am instructed to call upon you for explanations
of these failures on your part to comply with the orders given you,
and to add, in view of the important military operations now at
hand, the commanding general cannot lightly regard such marked
departure from the tenor of his instructions.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant-Colonel, Aide-de-camp, and Act'g Ass't Adj't. Gen'l."

To this missive Burnside dictated the following answer on the field
during the battle:--[Footnote: Official Records., vol. xix. pt. ii.
p. 314.]

"HEADQUARTERS, September 17, 1862.

BRIG. GEN. S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

GENERAL,--Your dispatch of yesterday this moment received. General
Burnside directs me to say that immediately upon the receipt of the
order of the general commanding, which was after twelve o'clock, he
ordered his corps to be in readiness to march, and instead of having
Captain Duane [Footnote: Captain Duane was senior engineer officer
in the field, on the staff of McClellan, and had conducted the
reconnoitring of the Antietam.] post the divisions in detail, and at
the suggestion of Captain Duane, he sent three aides to ascertain
the position of each of the three divisions, that they might post
them. These aides returned shortly before three o'clock, and they
immediately proceeded to post the three columns. The general then
went on an eminence above these positions to get a good view of
them, and whilst there, during the progress of the movement of his
corps, an aide from General McClellan came to him and said that
General McClellan was not sure that the proper position had been
indicated, and advised him not to hasten the movement until the aide
had communicated with the general commanding. He (General Burnside)
at once went to General McClellan's headquarters to inform him that
he had seen large bodies of the enemy moving off to the right. Not
finding the general commanding, General Burnside returned to his
command, and the movement was resumed and continued as rapidly as
possible. General Burnside directs me to say that he is sorry to
have received so severe a rebuke from the general commanding, and
particularly sorry that the general commanding feels that his
instructions have not been obeyed; but nothing can occur to prevent
the general from continuing his hearty co-operation to the best of
his ability in any movement the general commanding may direct.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient
Assistant Adjutant-General."

The answer was of course conclusive, but it leaves the difficult
problem, how came the reprimand to be written which General
McClellan could not have dictated, as the interruption of Burnside's
movement was caused by a message from himself? The blank for the
name of a staff officer who was to sign it, and the indication of
his rank and position point to Lieutenant-Colonel James A. Hardie as
the one for whom it was prepared, but Colonel Hardie must have
demurred to signing it, since Colonel Richmond's answer implies that
General Seth Williams's name was finally attached. All of us who
knew General Williams and his methods of doing business will be slow
to believe that he volunteered a paper of that kind. He afterward
served on Burnside's own staff and had his confidence. The
responsibility must fall upon General Marcy, the chief of staff, and
most of the officers of that army will be likely to conclude that he
also would act only by the direction of McClellan or of some one
whom he regarded as having decisive authority to speak for him in
his absence.

I have already referred to an error contained in General Porter's
report of the battle of Antietam, where he says that "Morell's
division in reporting to General Burnside relieved his corps, which
was at once recalled from its position in front of Antietam bridge."
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 339.] I mention it
again only to say that since this was not only contrary to the fact,
but is unsupported by the records, to accept it and to embody it in
his official report certainly indicates no friendly disposition
toward Burnside. To that extent it supports any other circumstances
which point to Porter as the hostile influence which becomes so
manifest at McClellan's headquarters after the 14th of September. I
know by many expressions uttered by Burnside during those days and
afterward, that though he was deeply grieved at some things which
had occurred, he did not waver in his loyal friendship to McClellan.
He uttered no unkind word in regard to him personally, either then
or ever in my hearing. He sometimes spoke of what he believed to be
mischievous influences about McClellan and which he thought were too
powerful with him, but was earnest and consistent in wishing for him
the permanent command of that army till success should give a
glorious end to the war. It was after the irritating incidents I
have narrated that the visit to McClellan to dine with him occurred,
and I saw them frequently together till I left the army on the 5th
of October. Their manner toward each other was more than cordial, it
was affectionately intimate. Burnside never mentioned to me,
although I was next him in command, the reprimand which is copied
above. His real unwillingness to supersede McClellan, even when the
final order came in November, is abundantly attested. McClellan only
by degrees gave outward evidence of the souring of his own feelings
toward Burnside, but his private letters show that the process began
with the battle of South Mountain. By the time that he wrote his
final report in the latter part of 1863 it had advanced far enough
to warp his memory of the campaign and to make him try to transfer
to Burnside the responsibility for some of his mishaps. When his
"Own Story" was written, the process was complete, and no kindly
remembrance dictated a word which could give any indication of the
friendship that had died.

Those who are not familiar with the customs of military service
might see little significance in the fact that the fault-finding
with Burnside was put in the form of official communications which
thus became part of the permanent documentary history of the war. To
military men, however, it would be almost conclusive proof of a
settled hostility to him, formally calling his military character in
question in a way to make it tell against him for ulterior purposes.
Nothing is more common in an active campaign than for a commanding
officer to send messages hurrying the movement of a part of his
army. These are usually oral, and even when delays are complained
of, the commander, in the interests of cordial cooperation and
cheerful alacrity, awaits a full opportunity for personal
explanation from his immediate subordinates before administering a
reprimand. It goes without saying that where intimate friendship
exists, still more delicate consideration is used. To send such a
letter as that of September 16th, and in the course of such
deliberate movements as were McClellan's during those days, would be
scarcely conceivable unless there had been a formal breach of
personal relations, and it was equivalent to notice that they were
henceforth to deal at arm's-length only.

McClellan's "Own Story" shows that in regard to the alleged delay on
the morning of the 15th, he had a personal explanation from
Burnside. [Footnote: O. S., p. 586.] Yet in the night of the 16th
the same querulous inquiry was repeated as if it had not been
answered, with the addition of the new complaint of a delay on the
16th which was caused by McClellan's personal request, and the whole
accompanied by so formal a reprimand that the ordinary reply to it
would have been a demand for a court of inquiry. The occurrence was
unexampled in that campaign and stands entirely alone, although
McClellan's memoirs show that he alleged delays in other cases,
notably in Hooker's march that same afternoon to attack the enemy,
of which no recorded notice was taken. [Footnote: O. S., p.590.]
Considering the personal relations of the men before that time, and
as I myself witnessed them from day to day afterward, it is simply
incredible that McClellan dictated the letters which went from his

Before ending the discussion of matters personal to these officers I
will say a few words regarding Burnside's appearance and bearing in
the field. He was always a striking figure, and had a dashing way
with him which incited enthusiasm among his soldiers. Without
seeming to care for his costume, or even whilst affecting a little
carelessness, there was apt to be something picturesque about him.
He had a hearty and jovial manner, a good-humored cordiality toward
everybody, that beamed in his face as he rode through the camps or
along the lines. When not on parade, he often discarded his uniform
coat, wearing a light undress jacket, with no indication of his rank
except the yellow silk sash about his waist which showed that he was
a general officer. On one occasion when I accompanied him in a
change of position, we passed the Ninth Corps column in march, and
it was interesting to see how he was greeted by the troops which had
been with him in his North Carolina campaign. He wore that day a
"Norfolk jacket," a brown knit roundabout, fitting close to his
person; his hat was the stiff broad-rimmed, high-crowned regulation
hat, worn rather rakishly, with gold cord, acorn-tipped; his
pistol-belt was a loose one, allowing the holster to hang on his hip
instead of being buckled tight about the waist; his boots were the
high cavalry boots reaching to the knee; his large buckskin
gauntlets covered his forearm; he rode a large bony horse,
bob-tailed, with a wall-eye which gave him a vicious look, and
suited well the brigandish air of his rider's whole appearance.
Burnside's flashing eyes, his beard trimmed to the "Burnside cut"
with the mustache running into the side whiskers whilst the square,
clean-shaven chin and jaws gave a tone of decision and force to his
features, made up a picture that at once arrested the eye. As we
went along the roadside at a fast trot, his high-stepping horse
seemed to be keeping his white eye on the lookout for a chance to
lash out at somebody. The men evidently enjoyed the scene, cheering
him loudly. I was particularly amused with one group of soldiers at
rest by their stacked muskets. They sat upon their haunches, and
clapped their hands as he passed, exclaiming and laughing, "Just see
the old fellow! just look at him!" Burnside laughed at their fun as
jollily as they did themselves, and took no offence at the
free-and-easy way in which they showed their liking for him. There
was no affectation in all this, but an honest enjoyment in following
his own whim in style and in accoutrement. His sincere earnestness
in the cause for which he was fighting was apparent to all who met
him, and no one in his presence could question the single-hearted
honesty and unselfishness of the man. His bearing under fire was
good, and his personal courage beyond question. He shrank from
responsibility with sincere modesty, because he questioned his own
capacity to deal with affairs of great magnitude. He was not only
not ambitious to command a great army, but he honestly sought to put
it aside when it was thrust upon him, and accepted it at last from a
sense of obligation to the administration which had nominated him to
it in spite of his repeated disclaimers. It carafe to him finally,
without consulting him, as a military order he could not disobey
without causing a most awkward dead-lock in the campaign.



Ordered to the Kanawha valley again--An unwelcome surprise--Reasons
for the order--Reporting to Halleck at Washington--Affairs in the
Kanawha in September--Lightburn's positions--Enemy under Loring
advances--Affair at Fayette C. H.--Lightburn retreats--Gauley Bridge
abandoned--Charleston evacuated--Disorderly flight to the
Ohio--Enemy's cavalry raid under Jenkins--General retreat in
Tennessee and Kentucky--West Virginia not in any Department--Now
annexed to that of Ohio--Morgan's retreat from Cumberland
Gap--Ordered to join the Kanawha forces--Milroy's brigade also--My
interviews with Halleck and Stanton--Promotion--My task--My division
sent with me--District of West Virginia--Colonel Crook
promoted--Journey westward--Governor Peirpoint--Governor
Tod--General Wright--Destitution of Morgan's column--Refitting at
Portland, Ohio--Night drive to Gallipolis--An amusing
accident--Inspection at Point Pleasant--Milroy ordered to
Parkersburg--Milroy's qualities--Interruptions to movement of
troops--No wagons--Supplies delayed--Confederate retreat--Loring
relieved--Echols in command--Our march up the valley--Echols
retreats--We occupy Charleston and Gauley Bridge--Further advance
stopped--Our forces reduced--Distribution of remaining
troops--Alarms and minor movements--Case of Mr. Summers--His
treatment by the Confederates.

In war it is the unexpected that happens. On the 4th of October my
permanent connection with the Army of the Potomac seemed assured. I
was in command of the Ninth Corps, encamped in Pleasant Valley,
awaiting the renewal of active operations. My promotion to the rank
of Major-General had been recommended by McClellan and Burnside,
with the assurance that the permanent command of the corps would be
added. On that evening an order came from Washington directing me to
return to the Kanawha valley, from which our troops had been driven.
I was to report in person at Washington immediately, and would there
get detailed directions. The order was as much a surprise to my
immediate superiors as it was to me, and apparently as little
welcome. We all recognized the necessity of sending some one to the
Kanawha who knew the country, and the reasonableness, therefore, of
assigning the duty to me. McClellan and Burnside both promised that
when matters should be restored to a good footing in West Virginia
they would co-operate in an effort to bring me back, and as this was
coupled with a strong request to the War Department that my
promotion should be made immediate, [Footnote: McClellan to Halleck,
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 383.] acquiesced with
reasonably good grace.

Going to Washington on the eth, I received my orders and
instructions from Halleck, the General-in-Chief. They were based
upon the events which had occurred in the Kanawha valley since I
left it in August. The information got by General Stuart from Pope's
captured quartermaster had led to a careful examination of the
letter-books captured at the same time, and Lee thus learned that I
had left 5000 men, under Colonel Lightburn, to garrison the posts
about Gauley Bridge. The Confederate forces were therefore greater
than ours in that region, and General Loring, who was in command,
was ordered to make at once a vigorous aggressive campaign against
Lightburn, to "clear the valley of the Kanawha and operate
northwardly to a junction" with the army of Lee in the Shenandoah
valley. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 1069;
_Id._, vol. xii. pp. 940-943, 946. This correspondence fully
justifies Pope's suspicion that Lee then planned to operate by the
Valley of Virginia.] Loring marched, on the 6th of September, with a
column which he reported about 5000 strong, expecting to add to it
by organizing recruits and militia as Floyd had done in the previous
year. His line of operations was by way of Princeton, Flat-top
Mountain and Raleigh C. II. to Fayette C. H. His forces do not seem
to have been noticeably increased by recruiting till ours had
retreated out of the valley.

Lightburn's advanced positions were two,--a brigade under Colonel
Siber of the Thirty-seventh Ohio being at Raleigh C. H. and another
under Colonel Gilbert of the Forty-fourth Ohio, near the Hawk's
Nest, and at Alderson's on the Lewisburg road. A small post was kept
up at Summersville and one at Gauley Bridge, where Lightburn had his
headquarters, and some detachments guarded trains and steamboats in
the lower valley. Gauley Bridge was, as in the preceding year, the
central point, and though it was necessary to guard both the
Lewisburg and the Raleigh roads on the opposite sides of the New
River gorge, a concentration on the line the enemy should take was
the plain rule of action when the opposing armies were about equal.
Or, by concentrating at Gauley Bridge, my experience had proved that
we could hold at bay three or four times our numbers. In either
case, fighting in detail was to be avoided, and rapid concentration
under one leader to be effected.

On the approach of the enemy Siber was withdrawn from Raleigh C. H.
to Fayette, and Gilbert to Tompkins farm, three miles from Gauley
Bridge, but the brigades were not united. On the 10th of September
Loring attacked Siber at Fayette, in the intrenchments made by
Scammon in the winter. Siber repulsed the efforts of Loring to drive
him out of his position, and held it during the day. Three companies
of the Fourth Virginia under Captain Vance, and a squad of horse
were sent by Lightburn from Gauley Bridge to Siber's assistance, but
the latter, being without definite orders and thinking he could not
hold the position another day, retreated in the night, setting fire
to a large accumulation of stores and abandoning part of his wagons.
He halted on the ridge of Cotton Hill, covering the road to Gauley
Bridge, and was there joined by five companies of the Forty-seventh
Ohio, also sent to his assistance by Lightburn. Loring followed and
made a partial attack, which was met by the rear-guard under Captain
Vance and repulsed, whilst Siber's principal column marched on to
Montgomery's ferry on the Kanawha.

Meanwhile Lightburn had called in Gilbert's force to Gauley Bridge
during the night of the both, and placed them opposite the ferry
connecting with Siber, which was just below Kanawha Falls and in the
lower part of the Gauley Bridge camp. On Siber's appearance at the
ferry, Lightburn seems to have despaired of having time to get him
over, and directed him to march down the left bank of the river,
burning the sheds full of stores which were on that side of the
stream. When Captain Vance with the rear-guard reached the ferry,
the buildings were blazing on both sides of the narrow pass under
the bluff, and his men ran the gantlet of fire, protecting their
heads with extra blankets which they found scattered near the
stores. Vance easily held the enemy at bay at Armstrong's Creek, and
Siber marched his column, next morning, to Brownstown, some
twenty-five miles below Kanawha Falls, where steamboats met him and
ferried him over to Camp Piatt. There he rejoined Lightburn.

Gilbert's artillery was put in position on the right bank at
Montgomery's Ferry, and checked the head of Loring's column when it
approached the Kanawha in pursuit of Siber. Lightburn had ordered
the detachment in post at Summersville to join him at Gauley, and
Colonel Elliot of the Forty-seventh Ohio, who commanded it, marched
down the Gauley with his ten companies (parts of three regiments)
and a small wagon train. He approached Gauley Bridge on the 11th,
but Lightburn had not waited for him, and the enemy were in
possession. Elliot burned his wagons and took to the hills with his
men, cutting across the angle between the Gauley and the Kanawha and
joining Gilbert's column near Cannelton. A smaller detachment, only
a little way up the Gauley, was also left to its fate in the
precipitate retreat, and it also took to the hills and woods and
succeeded in evading the enemy. It was about ten o'clock in the
morning when Loring's head of column approached the Kanawha and drew
the fire of Gilbert's guns. After about an hour's cannonade across
the river, Lightburn gave the order to retreat down the right bank,
after burning the stores and blowing up the magazine at Gauley
Bridge. Loring found men to swim across the river and extinguish the
fires kindled on the ferry-boats, which were soon put in use to
ferry Echols's brigade across. This followed Lightburn down the
right bank, whilst Loring himself, with Williams's and Wharton's
brigades, marched after Siber down the left. The over-hanging cliffs
and hills echoed with the cannonade, and the skirmishers exchanged
rifle-shots across the rapid stream; but few casualties occurred,
and after Elliot joined the column, it marched with little
interruption to Camp Piatt, thirteen miles from Charleston, where
Siber met them, and the steamboats he had used passed down the river
to the Ohio.

Siber's brigade continued its retreat rapidly to Charleston, passed
through the town and crossed the Elk River. Gilbert's brigade also
retired, but in better order, and it kept up a skirmish with the
advance-guard of Echols's column which was following them. When
Gilbert reached the outskirts of Charleston, he checked the advance
of the enemy long enough to enable the quartermasters at the post to
move their trains across the Elk; but the haste of the evacuation
was so great that the stores in depot there were not removed, and
were burned to prevent their falling into the enemy's hands. Gilbert
retired across the Elk, and the suspension bridge was destroyed.
Loring's artillery made a dash for a hill on the left bank of the
Kanawha, which commanded the new position taken up by Lightburn's
troops, and the Confederate battery soon opened an enfilade fire
across the river, taking the line of breastworks along the Elk in
flank and in reverse. The trains and the stragglers started in
direst confusion on the road to Ravenswood on the Ohio, which
offered a line of retreat not subject to the enemy's fire. Siber's
brigade followed, Gilbert's continued to bring up the rear. The road
down the Kanawha was abandoned because it was in range of artillery
from the opposite side of the river throughout its whole course down
the valley. The road to Ripley and Ravenswood was therefore taken,
and the flying troops were met at those towns on the Ohio by
steamboats which conveyed part of them to Point Pleasant at the
mouth of the Kanawha, where the whole command was concentrated in
the course of a few days. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt.
i. pp. 1058-1060.] Siber's loss was 16 killed, 87 wounded, and over
100 missing. Gilbert reported 9 men killed and 8 wounded, with about
75 missing; but as the enemy do not enumerate any captured prisoners
in their reports except a lieutenant and 10 men, it is evident that
the missing were mostly men who outran the others. Loring's losses
as reported by his surgeon were 18 killed and 89 wounded. The enemy
claim to have captured large numbers of wagons, horses, mules, and
stores of all kinds which Loring estimated at a million dollars'
worth, besides all that were burned.

It was a panicky retreat after the hot little fight by Siber's
brigade at Fayette C. H., and it is not worth while to apply to it
any military criticism, further than to say that either of the
brigades intrenched at Gauley Bridge could have laughed at Loring.
The river would have been impassable, for all the ferry-boats were
in the keeping of our men on the right bank, and Loring would not
dare pass down the valley leaving a fortified post on the line of
communications by which he must return. The topography of the wild
mountain region was such that an army could only pass from the lower
Kanawha to the headwaters of the James River by the road Loring had
used in his advance, or by that leading through the post of Gauley
Bridge to Lewisburg and beyond. The Confederate War Department seem
to have thought that their forces might have passed from Charleston
to the Ohio, thence to Parkersburg, and turning east from this town,
have made their way to Beverly and to the Valley of Virginia by the
route Garnett had used in the previous year. They would have found,
however, as Loring told them, that it would have been easy for the
National forces to overwhelm them with numbers while they were
making so long and so difficult a march in a vast region most of
which was a wilderness.

Lightburn's position had been made more embarrassing by the fact
that a cavalry raid under Brigadier-General Jenkins was passing
around his left flank while Loring came upon him in front. Jenkins
with a light column of horse moved from Lewisburg by way of the
Wilderness Road to northwestern Virginia, captured posts and
destroyed stores at Weston, Buckhannon, and Roane C. H., and made a
circuit to the lower Kanawha, rejoining Loring after Lightburn's
retreat. Little real mischief was done by this raid, but it added to
the confusion, and helped to disturb the self-possession of the
commanding officer. In this way it was one of the causes of the
precipitate retreat.

Several circumstances combined to make Lightburn's disaster
embarrassing to the government. West Virginia had not been connected
with any military department after Pope's command had been broken
up. McClellan's authority did not extend beyond his own army and its
theatre of operations. Halleck could hardly take personal charge of
the affairs of remote districts. Thus the Kanawha valley had dropped
out of the usual system and was an omitted case. The embarrassment
was increased by the fact that Buell was retreating out of Tennessee
before Bragg, Morgan had evacuated Cumberland Gap and was making a
painful and hazardous retreat to the Ohio, and the Confederate
forces under Kirby Smith were moving directly upon Cincinnati.
Lightburn's mishap, therefore, was only the northern extremity of a
line of defeats extending through the whole length of the Ohio
valley from Parkersburg to Louisville. The governors of West
Virginia and Ohio were naturally alarmed at the events in the
Kanawha valley, and were earnest in their calls upon the War
Department for troops to drive Loring back beyond the mountains and
for an officer to command them who knew something of the country.

Halleck seems to have been puzzled at the condition of things, not
having realized that Pope's retirement had left West Virginia "in
the air." It took a week, apparently, to get satisfactory details of
the actual situation, and on the 19th of September the first
important step was taken by annexing the region to the Department of
the Ohio, then commanded by Major-General Horatio G. Wright, whose
headquarters were at Cincinnati. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xvi. pt. ii. p. 328.] Wright was directed to provide for the
recovery of lost ground in West Virginia as rapidly as possible, but
the campaign in Kentucky was the more important and urgent, so that
no troops could be spared for secondary operations until the
Confederates had ceased to threaten Cincinnati and Louisville.

On the 1st of October Halleck again called General Wright's
attention to the need of doing something for West Virginia. Governor
Peirpoint, of that State, represented the Confederates under Loring
as about 10,000 in number, and this reflected the opinion which
Lightburn had formed during his retreat. It became the basis of
calculation in the campaign which followed, though it greatly
exaggerated Loring's force. Three days later Brigadier-General
George W. Morgan was known to have reached the Ohio River with the
division he had brought from Cumberland Gap, and General Halleck
outlined a plan of action. He ordered Morgan's division to be sent
to Gallipolis to take part in the advance into the Kanawha valley,
where some new Ohio regiments were also to join them. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 381.] He at the same time
called me to Washington to receive instructions under which I was to
take command of the whole force operating on the Kanawha line.
Brigadier-General Milroy had already (September 25th) been ordered
to proceed thither with his brigade, which was in Washington and was
part of Banks's forces garrisoning the capital. [Footnote: _Id._,
pp. 355, 359.] He was moved through Pennsylvania to Wheeling by
rail, and thence down the Ohio River to Point Pleasant at the mouth
of the Kanawha.

My order to leave the Army of the Potomac reached me on Saturday
evening. Much business had to be closed up before I could properly
turn over the command of the Ninth Corps, but I was able to complete
it and make the journey to Washington so as to report to General
Halleck on Monday morning. He received me very kindly, and explained
the necessity they were under to send some one to the Kanawha valley
who knew the country. He was complimentary as to my former service
there, and said my return to that region would meet the earnest
wishes of the governors of West Virginia and Ohio, as well as the
judgment of the War Department and of himself. To compensate for
separating me from the command of the Ninth Corps, it had been
decided to make my promotion at once and to put the whole of West
Virginia under my command as a territorial district. He inquired
into some details of the topography of the Kanawha valley and of my
experience there, and concluded by saying that reinforcements would
be sent to make the column I should lead in person stronger than the
10,000 attributed to Loring. My task would then be to drive back the
enemy beyond the mountains. When that was accomplished, part of the
troops would probably be withdrawn. The actual position of Milroy's
brigade was not definitely known, and Governor Peirpoint of West
Virginia had asked to have it sent to Clarksburg. This gave me the
opportunity to urge that my own Kanawha division be detached from
the Ninth Corps and sent back to Clarksburg, where with Milroy they
would make a force strong enough to take care of that part of the
State and to make a co-operative movement toward Gauley Bridge. This
also was granted, and immediate promotion was given to Colonel Crook
so that he might command the division, and a promise was made to do
the like for Colonel Scammon, who would then be available for the
command of the division still under Lightburn, whose retreat was
strongly condemned as precipitate. No soldier could object to an
arrangement so satisfactory as this, and though I still preferred to
remain with the Army of the Potomac, I could only accept the new
duty with sincere thanks for the consideration shown me. The
General-in-Chief accompanied me to the room of the Secretary of War,
and Mr. Stanton added to my sense of obligation by warm expressions
of personal good-will. His manner was so different from the brusque
one commonly attributed to him that I have nothing but pleasant
remembrances of my relations to him, both then and later. My own
appointment as major-general was handed me by him, the usual
promotions of my personal staff were also made, and directions were
given for the immediate appointment of Crook to be brigadier.

I called to pay my respects to the President, but he was in Cabinet
meeting and could not be seen. I had a short but warmly friendly
visit with Mr. Chase later in the day, and was ready to leave town
for my new post of duty by the evening train. The Secretary of War
directed me to visit Wheeling and Columbus on my way, and then to
report to General Wright at Cincinnati before going to the Kanawha
valley. This was in fact the quickest way to reach the mouth of the
Kanawha River, for the fall rains had not yet come to make the Ohio
navigable, and from Columbus to Cincinnati, and thence by the
Marietta Railway eastward, was, as the railway routes then ran, the
best method of joining my command. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
was interrupted between Harper's Ferry and Hancock (about fifty
miles) by the Confederate occupation of that part of Virginia.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 393, 394.]
General Crook was ordered to march the division from its camp in
Pleasant Valley to Hancock, where trains on the western division of
the railway would meet him and transport the troops to Clarksburg.
For myself and staff, we took the uninterrupted railway line from
Washington to Pittsburg, and thence to Wheeling, where we arrived on
the evening of October 8th. The 9th was given to consultation with
Governor Peirpoint and to communication with such military officers
as were within reach. We reached Columbus on the both, when I had a
similar consultation with Governor Tod and his military staff in
regard to new regiments available for my use. Leaving Columbus in
the afternoon, we arrived at Cincinnati late the same night, and on
Saturday, the 11th, I reported to General Wright.

He was an officer of the engineer corps of the regular army, a man
of fine acquirements and of a serious and earnest character, whose
military service throughout the war was marked by solidity and
modesty. If there seemed at first a little _hauteur_ in his manner,
one soon saw that it was a natural reserve free from arrogance. The
sort of confusion in which everything was, is indicated by the fact
that he knew nothing of my whereabouts when informed from Washington
that I would be ordered to the Kanawha, and on the same day (6th
October) addressed a dispatch to me at Point Pleasant whilst I was
receiving instructions from General Halleck in Washington.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xvi. pt. ii. p. 579.] Our personal
consultation established a thoroughly good understanding at once,
and as long as I remained under his orders, I found him thoroughly
considerate of my wishes and appreciative of my suggestions and of
the conduct of my own part of the work to be done.

Morgan's division, after reaching the Ohio River, had been moved to
Portland on the Marietta Railroad, the nearest point to Gallipolis,
which was twenty-five miles away and nearly opposite the mouth of
the Great Kanawha. His retreat had been through a sparsely settled
country, much of which was a wilderness, rugged and broken in the
extreme. His wagons had broken down, his teams were used up, his
soldiers were worn out, ragged, and barefoot. [Footnote: _Id._, pt.
i. p. 990.] Many arms and accoutrements had been lost, and the
command was imperatively in need of complete refitting and a little
rest. The men had been largely recruited in East Tennessee and
Kentucky, and were unwilling to serve in any other theatre of war.
The Tennesseans, indeed, were reported to be mutinous at the news
that they were to be sent to the Kanawha valley. General Wright
issued orders for the refitting of the command, and promised such
delay and rest as might be found practicable. He detached three
regiments to serve in Kentucky, and directed their place to be made
good by three new Ohio regiments then organizing. The division was
permitted to remain at Portland till imperatively needed for my

There were no trains running on the railroad on Sunday, and Monday
morning, the 13th October, was the earliest possible start on the
remainder of my journey. I left Cincinnati at that time, and with my
personal staff reached Portland in the afternoon. Morgan's division
was found to be in quite as bad condition as had been reported, but
he was in daily expectation of the new equipments and clothing, as
well as wagons for his baggage-train and fresh horses for his
artillery. It was stated also that a paymaster had been ordered to
join the division, with funds to pay part at least of the large
arrears of pay due to the men. This looked hopeful, but still
implied some further delay. Uneasy to learn the actual condition of
affairs with Lightburn's command, I determined to reach Gallipolis
the same night. Our horses had been left behind, and being thus
dismounted, we took passage in a four-horse hack, a square wagon on
springs, enclosed with rubber-cloth curtains. Night fell soon after
we began our journey, and as we were pushing on in the dark, the
driver blundered and upset us off the end of a little sluiceway
bridge into a mud-hole. He managed to jump from his seat and hold
his team, but there was no help for us who were buttoned in. The mud
was soft and deep, and as the wagon settled on its side, we were
tumbled in a promiscuous heap into the ooze and slime, which
completely covered us. We were not long in climbing out, and seeing
lights in a farm-house, made our way to it. As we came into the
light of the lamps and of a brisk fire burning on the open hearth,
we were certainly as sorry a military spectacle as could be
imagined. We were most kindly received, the men taking lanterns and
going to our driver's help, whilst we stood before the fire, and
scraped the thick mud from our uniforms with chips from the farmer's
woodyard, making rather boisterous sport of our mishap. Before the
wagon had been righted and partly cleaned, we had scraped and
sponged each other off and were ready to go on. We noticed, however,
that the room had filled with men, women, and children from the
neighborhood, who stood bashfully back in the shadows, and who
modestly explained that they had heard there was a "live general"
there, and as they had never seen one, they had "come over." They
must have formed some amusing ideas of military personages, and we
found at least as much sport in being the menagerie as they did in
visiting it. Our mishap made us wait for the moon, which rose in an
hour or so, and we then took leave of our entertainers and our
audience and drove on, with no desire, however, to repeat the
performance. We made some ten miles more of the road, but found it
so rough, and our progress so slow, that we were glad to find
quarters for the rest of the night, finishing the journey in the

On reaching my field of duty, my first task was to inspect the
forces at Point Pleasant, and learn what was necessary to make a
forward movement as soon as Morgan's troops should reach me. General
Wright had originally expected that inclusive of Milroy's and
Morgan's troops, I should find at the mouth of the Kanawha, on
arriving there, some 20,000 men. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xix. pt. ii. p. 402.] In fact, however, Lightburn's diminished
command had only been reinforced by three new Ohio regiments (the
Eighty-ninth, Ninety-first, and Ninety-second) and a new one from
West Virginia (the Thirteenth), and with these his strength was less
than 7300, officers and men, showing that his original command was
sadly reduced by straggling and desertion during his retreat.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 522.] The new regiments were made up of good
material, but as they were raw recruits, their usefulness must for
some time be greatly limited.

Two regiments of infantry and a squadron of cavalry with a howitzer
battery were at Guyandotte, under Colonel Jonathan Cranor of the
Fortieth Ohio, and the Fifth West Virginia was at Ceredo near the
mouth of the Big Sandy River. They had been stationed at these
points to protect the navigation of the Ohio and to repel the
efforts of the Confederate Cavalry General Jenkins to "raid" that
region in which was his old home. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xix. pt. ii. pp. 459, 522.] They formed, a little later, the Third
Brigade of the Kanawha division under Crook.

I found General Milroy in command as the ranking officer present,
and he had sent Cranor's command down the river. When Governor
Peirpoint learned that Milroy's brigade had passed Wheeling on his
way to the Kanawha, he applied urgently to General Wright to send
him, instead, from Parkersburg by rail to Clarksburg to form the
nucleus of a column to move southward from that point upon the rear
of Loring's forces. Wright assented, for both he and Halleck
accepted the plan of converging columns from Clarksburg and Point
Pleasant, and regarded that from the former place as the more
important. [Footnote: _Id_. p. 402.] If directions were sent to
Milroy to this effect, they seem to have miscarried. Besides his
original brigade, some new Indiana regiments were ordered to report
to him. He had, with characteristic lack of reflection and without
authority, furloughed the Fifth West Virginia regiment in mass and
sent the men home. I gave him a new one in place of this, ordered
him to reassemble the other as soon as possible, and to march at
once to Parkersburg, proceeding thence to Clarksburg by rail. The
new troops added to his command enabled him to organize them into a
division of two brigades, and still other regiments were added to
him later. Milroy was a picturesque character, with some excellent
qualities. A tall man, with trenchant features, bright eyes, a great
shock of gray hair standing out from his head, he was a marked
personal figure. He was brave, but his bravery was of the excitable
kind that made him unbalanced and nearly wild on the battle-field.
His impulsiveness made him erratic in all performances of duty, and
negligent of the system without which the business of an army cannot
go on. This was shown in his furlough of a regiment whilst _en
route_ to reinforce Lightburn, who was supposed to be in desperate
straits. It is also seen in the absence of Official Records of the
organization of his command at this time, so that we cannot tell
what regiments constituted it when his division was assembled at
Clarksburg. He is described, in the second Battle of Bull Run, as
crazily careering over the field, shouting advice to other officers
instead of gathering and leading his own command, which he said was
routed and scattered. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii.
pp. 342, 362-364.] Under the immediate control of a firm and steady
hand he could do good service, but was wholly unfit for independent
responsibility. His demonstrative manner, his boiling patriotism,
and his political zeal gave him prominence and made him a favorite
with the influential war-governor of Indiana, Oliver P. Morton, who
pushed his military advancement.

The Kanawha division left the Army of the Potomac on the 8th of
October and reached Hancock on the 10th. There it crossed the track
of a raid of the Confederate cavalry into Pennsylvania, under
Stuart. By McClellan's order one brigade was sent to McConnelsville
to intercept the enemy, and the other was halted. [Footnote: _Id_.,
vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 62-78.] By the 13th Crook had been allowed to
concentrate the division at Hancock again, but was kept waiting for
orders, so that he was not able to report to me his arrival at
Clarksburg till the 20th. Colonel Scammon was on a short leave of
absence during this march, and was promoted. [Footnote: His new rank
dated from 15th October, that of Crook from 7th September. Army
Register, 1863.] He reported to me in person in his new rank of
brigadier a little later. The brigades of the Kanawha division were
commanded by the senior colonels present.

The increase of troops in the district made immediate need of
transportation and munitions and supplies of all kinds. The Kanawha
division had not been allowed to bring away with it its admirably
equipped supply train, but its energetic quartermaster, Captain
Fitch, came with the troops, and I immediately made him chief
quartermaster of the district. Milroy's division had no wagons,
neither had Morgan's. The fall rains had not yet raised the rivers,
and only boats of lightest draught could move on the Ohio, whilst
navigation on the Kanawha was wholly suspended. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 433.] Four hundred wagons and two
thousand mules were estimated as necessary to supply two moving
columns of ten thousand men each, in addition to such trains as were
still available in the district. Only one hundred wagons could be
promised from the depot at Cincinnati, none of which reached me
before the enemy was driven out of the Kanawha valley. I was
authorized to contract for one hundred more to be built at Wheeling,
where, however, the shops could only construct thirty-five per week,
and these began to reach the troops only after the 1st of November.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 535-537.] We hoped for rains which would give
us navigation in the Kanawha in spite of the suffering which wet
weather at that season must produce, and I ordered wagons and teams
to be hired from the country people as far as this could be done.
Similar delays and trouble occurred in procuring advance stores and
equipments. Part of Morgan's men were delayed at the last moment by
their new knapsacks coming to them without the straps which fasten
them to the shoulders. General Wright blamed the depot officers for
this, and took from me and my subordinates all responsibility for
the delays; [Footnote: ., pp. 438, 475.] but the incidents make an
instructive lesson in the difficulty of suddenly organizing a new
and strong military column in a region distant from large depots of
supply. It also shows the endless cost and mischief that may result
from an ill-advised retreat and destruction of property at such
posts as Gauley Bridge and Charleston. To put the local
quartermasters at Gallipolis and other towns on the Ohio side of the
river under my command, General Wright enlarged the boundaries of my
district so as to include the line of Ohio counties bordering on the
river. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 381, 421.]

On visiting Lightburn's command at Point Pleasant, I ordered a
brigade to be sent forward next day (15th) to Ten-mile Creek,
repairing the road and bridges, whilst a scouting party of
experienced men started out at once to penetrate the country by
circuitous ways and to collect information. [Footnote: _Id_., p.
433.] In two or three days bits of news began to arrive, with rumors
that Loring was retreating. The truth was that he in fact withdrew
his infantry, leaving Jenkins with the cavalry and irregular forces
to hold the valley for a time, and then to make a circuit northward
by way of Bulltown, Sutton, etc., gaining the Beverly turnpike near
the mountains and rejoining the infantry, which would march to join
Lee by roads intersecting that highway at Monterey. Such at least
was the purpose Loring communicated to the Confederate War
Department; but he was not allowed to attempt it. His instructions
had been to march his whole command by the route Jenkins was taking
and at least to hold the valley stubbornly as far as Charleston. On
receipt of the news that he was retreating, orders were sent him to
turn over the command to Brigadier-General John Echols, the next in
rank, and to report in person at Richmond. [Footnote: ., pp. 661,
667.] Echols was ordered immediately to resume the positions which
had been abandoned, and did so as rapidly as possible. Loring had in
fact begun his retreat on the 11th, three days before I reached
Gallipolis, but the first information of it was got after the
scouting had been begun which is mentioned above. By the 18th I was
able to give General Wright confirmation of the news and a correct
outline of Loring's plan, though we had not then learned that Echols
was marching back to Charleston. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xix. pt. ii. p. 449.] We heard of his return two or three days
later. As evidence of the rapidity with which information reached
the enemy, it is noteworthy that Lee knew my command had left the
Army of the Potomac for West Virginia on the 11th October, three
days after Crook marched from camp in Pleasant Valley. He reported
to Richmond that four brigades had gone to that region, which was
accurate as to the number, though only half right as to
identification of the brigades. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 662, 663.] On
the 13th he sent further information that I had been promoted and
assigned to command the district.

By the 20th there had been a slight rise in the Kanawha River, so
that it was possible to use small steamboats to carry supplies for
the troops, and Lightburn was ordered to advance his whole division
to Red House, twenty-five miles, and to remove obstructions to
navigation which had been planted there. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 456,
459.] One brigade of Morgan's division was in condition to move, and
it was ordered from Portland to Gallipolis. The rest were to follow
at the earliest possible moment. The discontent of the East
Tennessee regiments had not been lessened by the knowledge they had
that powerful political influences were at work to second their
desire to be moved back into the neighborhood of their home. On the
10th of October a protest against their being sent into West
Virginia was made by Horace Maynard, the loyal representative of
East Tennessee in Congress, a man of marked character and ability
and deservedly very influential with the government. [Footnote:
_Id_., vol. xvi. pt. ii. pp. 604, 635, 651.] Maynard addressed
Halleck a second time on the subject on the 22d, and on the 29th
Andrew Johnson, then military governor of Tennessee, wrote to
President Lincoln for the same purpose. It hardly need be said that
the preparation of those regiments would proceed slowly, pending
such negotiations. Their distant homes and families were at the
mercy of the enemy, and it seemed to them intolerable that their
faces should be turned in any other direction. I suggested an
exchange for new Ohio regiments, but as these were not yet filled
up, it could not be done. General Wright assured them that they
should be sent to Kentucky as soon as we were again in possession of
West Virginia. Most of these regiments came under my command again
later in the war, and I became warmly attached to them. Their drill
and discipline were always lax, but their courage and devotion to
the national cause could not be excelled.

It was not till the 23d that any of Morgan's men really entered into
the forward movement in the valley. [Footnote: Official Records,
vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 474, 475.] On that day the brigade of Colonel
John F. DeCourcey (Sixteenth Ohio), composed of Ohio and Kentucky
troops, reached Ten-mile Creek and was ordered to march to Red House
the day after. [Footnote: Colonel DeCourcey was an Irishman of good
family, who took service in our army, and was a good officer. He
afterwards inherited an Irish baronage.] Lightburn was busy clearing
the river of obstructions and preparing to move to Pocataligo River
as the next step in advance. Of the other brigades belonging to
Morgan, that of Brigadier-General Samuel P. Carter, composed partly
of Tennesseans, was at Gallipolis, intending to enter the valley on
the 24th. The remaining brigade, under Brigadier-General James G.
Spears, was entirely Tennessean, and was still at Portland where the
paymaster had just arrived and was giving the regiments part

My purpose was to concentrate the force at Pocataligo, assume the
command in person, and attack the enemy in the positions in front of
Charleston, in which Wise had resisted me in the previous year. I
should have been glad to make the expected movement of a column from
Clarksburg under Crook and Milroy co-operate directly with my own,
but circumstances made it impracticable. The operations of the
Confederate cavalry under Jenkins were keeping the country north of
the Kanawha in a turmoil, and reports had become rife that he would
work his way out toward Beverly. The country was also full of rumors
of a new invasion from East Virginia. Milroy's forces were not yet
fully assembled at Clarksburg on the 20th, but he was ordered to
operate toward Beverly, whilst Crook, with the old Kanawha division,
should move on Summersville and Gauley Bridge. Both had to depend on
hiring wagons for transportation of supplies. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 459, 481, 482.] Separated as they
were, they would necessarily be cautious in their movements, making
the suppression of guerillas, the driving out of raiders, and the
general quieting of the country their principal task. Their rôle was
thus, of course, made subordinate to the movement of my own column,
which must force its own way without waiting for results from other

Half of Carter's brigade was, at the last moment, delayed at
Gallipolis, the clothing and equipments sent to them there being
found incomplete. Just half of Morgan's division with two batteries
of artillery were in motion on the 24th. On that day Lightburn was
moved to Pocataligo, about forty miles from the river mouth, where I
joined him in person on the 27th. A cold storm of mingled rain and
snow had made the march and bivouac very uncomfortable for a couple
of days. General Morgan accompanied me, and during the 28th the
active column of three and a half brigades was concentrated, two or
three other regiments being in echelon along the river below. Tyler
Mountain behind Tyler Creek was, as formerly, the place at which the
enemy was posted to make a stand against our further progress,
though he had no considerable force on the south side of the river
at the mouth of Scary Creek. Reconnoissances showed nothing but
cavalry in our immediate front, and it afterwards appeared that
Echols began a rapid retreat from Charleston on that day. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 685.] He had called to him
Jenkins with the greater part of the cavalry, and entrusted to the
latter the duty of holding us back as much as possible. Suspecting
this from evidence collected at Pocataligo, I determined to put
Siber's brigade and a battery, all in light marching order, on the
south side of the river, accompanied by a light-draught steamboat,
which the rise in the river after the storm enabled us to use as far
as Charleston. This brigade could turn the strong position at Tyler
Mountain, and passing beyond this promontory on the opposite side of
the river, could command with artillery fire the river road on the
other bank behind the enemy in our front. The steamboat would enable
them to make a rapid retreat if the belief that no great force was
on that side of the river should prove to be a mistake. Siber was
also furnished with a battery of four mountain howitzers, which
could be carried to the edge of the water or anywhere that men could
march. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 504, 509, 530.]

On the right bank of the river (north side) the principal column of
two brigades (Toland's and DeCourcey's) advanced on the turnpike near
the stream, having one six-gun battery and a section of
twenty-pounder Parrots with them. What was present of Carter's
brigade was sent by the mountain road further from the stream, to
cover our left and to turn the flank of the Tyler Mountain position,
if a stubborn stand should be made there. A light six-gun battery
accompanied it. All moved forward simultaneously on the morning of
the 29th. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] The dispositions thus made rendered it
vain for the enemy's cavalry to offer any stubborn resistance, and
Jenkins abandoned Tyler Mountain on our approach, thus giving us
certain knowledge that he was not closely supported by the infantry.
Our advance-guard reached the Elk River opposite Charleston in the
afternoon, and I made personal reconnoissance of the means of
crossing. The suspension bridge had been ruined in Lightburn's
retreat, and the enemy had depended upon a bridge of boats for
communication with their troops in the lower valley. These boats had
been taken to the further bank of the river and partly destroyed,
but as the enemy had continued his retreat, we soon had a party over
collecting those that could be used, and other flatboats used in the
coal trade, and a practicable bridge was reconstructed before night
of the 30th. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 530.]
Meanwhile I entered the town with the advance-guard as soon as we
had a boat to use for a ferry, and spent the night of the 29th
there. We had friends enough in the place to put us quickly in
possession of all the news, and I was soon satisfied that Echols had
no thought of trying to remain on the western side of the mountains.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 515, 520.]

The column crossed the Elk late in the afternoon of the 30th, and I
pushed Toland's and Carter's brigades to Malden and Camp Piatt that
evening, Siber's brigade advancing to Brownstown on the other side
of the Kanawha River. Lightburn's division was ordered forward next
day to Gauley Bridge, Carter's brigade at Malden was ordered to send
strong parties southward into Boone County, to reconnoitre and to
put down guerilla bands. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 530.] DeCourcey's
brigade was halted at Charleston, and Spears' Tennessee brigade was
directed to remain at Gallipolis till further orders. Communication
was opened with Crook, who was ordered to press forward via
Summersville to Gauley Bridge as quickly as possible. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 520.] The retreating enemy
had burned the bridges, obstructed the roads with fallen timber, and
cut and destroyed the flatboats along the river; so that the first
and most pressing task was to reopen roads, make ferries and
bridges, and thus renew the means of getting supplies to the troops.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 536.] The river was still low, unusually so for
the season, and the water was falling. Every energy was therefore
necessary to get forward supplies to Gauley Bridge and the other
up-river posts, for if the river should freeze whilst low, the
winter transportation would be confined to the almost impassable
roads. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 537.] I reported to General Wright the
re-occupation of the valley, our lack of wagon-trains for further
advance, and all the facts which would assist in deciding whether
anything further should be attempted. I did not conceal the opinion
which all my experience had confirmed, that no military advantage
could be secured by trying to extend operation by this route across
the mountains into the James River valley.

On the 2d of November Brigadier-General Scammon reported for duty,
and I ordered him to Gauley Bridge to assume command of the division
which was then under Colonel Lightburn, who resumed the command of
his brigade. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] Scammon was directed to inspect
carefully all our old positions as far as Raleigh C. H., to report
whether the recent retreat of troops from Fayetteville had been due
to any improper location of the fortifications there, to examine the
road up Loup Creek, and any others which might be used by the enemy
to turn our position at Gauley Bridge, to state the present
conditions of buildings at all the upper posts, and whether any
storehouses had escaped destruction. In short, we needed the
material on which to base intelligent plans for a more secure
holding of the region about the falls of the Kanawha, or for a
further advance to the eastward if it should be ordered.

The information which came to me as soon as I was in actual contact
with the enemy, not only satisfied me that Loring's forces had been
greatly exaggerated, but led me to estimate them at a lower figure
than the true one. In reporting to General Wright on 1st November, I
gave the opinion that they amounted to about 3500 infantry, but with
a disproportionate amount of artillery, some twenty pieces. The
cavalry under Jenkins numbered probably 1000 or 1500 horse.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 531.] About the
first of October Loring, in a dispatch to Richmond, stated his force
at "only a little more than 4000," [Footnote: _Id_., p. 635.] which
probably means that the 5000 with which he entered the valley were
somewhat reduced by the sick and by desertions. He seems to refer to
his infantry, for Jenkins's command had been an independent one. It
would be reasonable, therefore, to put his total strength at some
6000 or a little higher. On our side, the column with which I
actually advanced was just about 9000 men, with 2000 more of
Morgan's command within reach, had there been need to call them up
from the Ohio River.

On the 8th of November Halleck telegraphed to General Wright that no
posts need be established beyond Gauley Bridge, and that about half
of my command should be sent to Tennessee and the Mississippi
valley. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 556, 557.] On the same day General
Wright formally approved my views as submitted to him, and ordered
Morgan's division to be sent to Cincinnati at once. [Footnote:
_Id_., p. 537.] It was thus definitively settled that my task for
the winter would be to restore the condition of affairs in West
Virginia which had existed before Loring's invasion, and organize my
district with a view to prompt and easy supply of my posts, the
suppression of lawlessness and bushwhacking, the support of the
State authorities, and the instruction and discipline of officers
and men. My first attention was given to the question of
transportation, for the winter was upon us and wagons were very
scarce. The plan of using the river to the utmost was an economy as
well as a necessity, and I returned to my former arrangement of
using batteaux for the shallow and swift waters of the upper river,
connecting with the movable head of steamboat navigation. A tour of
inspection to Gauley Bridge and the posts in that vicinity satisfied
me that they were in good condition for mutual support, and for
carrying on a system of scouting which could be made a useful
discipline and instruction to the troops, as well as the means of
keeping thoroughly informed of the movements of the enemy.

The line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was kept under the
control of General Kelley, and his authority extended to active
co-operation with the Army of the Potomac in keeping open
communication with Washington. In case of need, the commander of
that army was authorized to give orders to General Kelley direct,
without waiting to transmit them through my headquarters. General
Milroy was established on the Beverly front, communicating on his
left with General Kelley and on his right with General Crook, at
Gauley Bridge. General Scammon had his station at Fayette C. H.,
covering the front on the south side of New River, whilst Crook
watched the north side and extended his posts in Milroy's direction
as far as Summersville. Colonel Cranor remained on the Ohio near
Guyandotte, scouting the valley of the Guyandotte River and
communicating with Charleston and other posts on the Kanawha.

On the 12th of November reports were received from General Kelley
that authentic information showed that Jackson was advancing from
the Shenandoah valley upon West Virginia. Similar information
reached army headquarters at Washington, and in anticipation of
possible necessity for it, I directed Milroy to hold himself in
readiness to march at once to join Kelley, if the latter should call
upon him. I telegraphed General Wright that I did not think the
report would prove well founded, but it put everybody upon the alert
for a little while. Kelley had beaten up a camp of Confederates
under Imboden about eighteen miles above Moorefield on the south
branch of the Potomac, causing considerable loss to the enemy in
killed and wounded and capturing fifty prisoners. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 572, 573, 578, 585, 586.]
Some movement to support Imboden probably gave rise to the story of
Jackson's advance, but Lee kept both corps of his army in hand and
moved the whole down the Rappahannock soon afterward, to meet
Burnside's advance upon Fredericksburg.

The invasion of the Kanawha valley by Loring had stirred up much
bitter feeling again between Union men and Confederates, and was
followed by the usual quarrels and recriminations among neighbors.
The Secessionists were stimulated to drop the prudent reserve they
had practised before, and some of them, in the hope that the
Confederate occupation would be permanent, persecuted loyal men who
were in their power. The retreat of the enemy brought its day of
reckoning, and was accompanied by a fresh emigration to eastern
Virginia of a considerable number of the more pronounced
Secessionists. I have said [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 154.] that Mr.
George Summers, formerly the leading man of the valley, had
studiously avoided political activity after the war began; but this
did not save him from the hostility of his disloyal neighbors. Very
shortly after my re-occupation of Charleston he called upon me one
evening and asked for a private interview. He had gone through a
painful experience, he said, and as it would pretty surely come to
my ears, he preferred I should hear it from himself, before enemies
or tale-bearers should present it with such coloring as they might
choose. During the Confederate occupation he had maintained his
secluded life and kept aloof from contact with the military
authorities. Their officers, however, summoned him before them,
charged him with treason to Virginia and to the Confederate States,
and demanded of him that he take the oath of allegiance to the
Southern government. He demurred to this, and urged that as he had
scrupulously avoided public activity, it would be harsh and unjust
to force him to a test which he could not conscientiously take. They
were in no mood to listen to argument, and charged that his
acquiescence in the rule of the new state government of West
Virginia was, in his case, more injurious to the Confederate cause
than many another man's active unionism. Finding Mr. Summers
disposed to be firm, they held him in arrest; and as he still
refused to yield, he was told that he should be tied by a rope to
the tail of a wagon and forced to march in that condition, as a
prisoner, over the mountains to Richmond.

He was an elderly man, used to a refined and easy life, somewhat
portly in person, and, as he said, he fully believed such treatment
would kill him. The fierceness of their manner convinced him that
they meant to execute the threat, and looking upon it as a sentence
of death, he yielded and took the oath. He said that being in duress
of such a sort, and himself a lawyer, he considered that he had a
moral right to escape from his captors in this way, though he would
not have yielded to anything short of what seemed to him an imminent
danger of his life. The obligation, he declared, was utterly odious
to him and was not binding on his conscience; but he had lost no
time in putting himself into my hands, and would submit to whatever
I should decide in the matter. It would be humiliating and subject
him to misconstruction by others if he took conflicting oaths, but
he was willing to abjure the obligation he had taken, if I demanded
it, and would voluntarily renew his allegiance to the United States
with full purpose to keep it.

He was deeply agitated, and I thoroughly pitied him. My acquaintance
with him in my former campaign gave me entire confidence in his
sincerity, and made me wish to spare him any fresh embarrassment or
pain. After a moment's reflection, I replied that I did not doubt
anything he had told me of the facts or of his own sentiments in
regard to them. His experience only confirmed my distrust of all
test oaths. Either his conscience already bound him to the National
government, or it did not. In either case I could not make his
loyalty more sure by a fresh oath, and believing that the one he had
taken under duress was void in fact as well as in his own
conscience, I would leave the matter there and ask nothing more of
him. He was greatly relieved by my decision, but bore himself with
dignity. I never saw any reason to be sorry for the course I took,
and believe that he was always afterward consistent and steady in
his loyalty to the United States.



Central position of Marietta, Ohio--Connection with all parts of
West Virginia--Drill and instruction of troops--Guerilla
warfare--Partisan Rangers--Confederate laws--Disposal of
plunder--Mosby's Rangers as a type--Opinions of Lee, Stuart, and
Rosser--Effect on other troops--Rangers finally abolished--Rival
home-guards and militia--Horrors of neighborhood war--Staff and
staff duties--Reduction of forces--General Cluseret--Later
connection with the Paris Commune--His relations with Milroy--He
resigns--Political situation--Congressmen distrust Lincoln--Cutler's
diary--Resolutions regarding appointments of general officers--The
number authorized by law--Stanton's report--Effect of Act of July,
1862--An excess of nine major-generals--The legal questions
involved--Congressional patronage and local distribution--Ready for
a "deal"--Bill to increase the number of generals--A "slate" made up
to exhaust the number--Senate and House
disagree--Conference--Agreement in last hours of the session--The
new list--A few vacancies by resignation, etc.--List of those
dropped--My own case--Faults of the method--Lincoln's humorous
comments--Curious case of General Turchin--Congestion in the highest
grades--Effects--Confederate grades of general and
lieutenant-general--Superiority of our system--Cotemporaneous
reports and criticisms--New regiments instead of recruiting old
ones--Sherman's trenchant opinion.

Early in December I established my winter headquarters at Marietta
on the Ohio River, a central position from which communication could
be had most easily with all parts of the district and with
department headquarters. It was situated at the end of the railway
line from Cincinnati to the Ohio River near Parkersburg, where the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad met the Cincinnati line. The Baltimore
road, coming from the east, forked at Grafton in West Virginia and
reached Wheeling, as has been described in an earlier chapter.
[Footnote: _Ante_, pp. 40, 42.] The river was usually navigable
during the winter and made an easy communication with Wheeling as
with the lower towns. I was thus conveniently situated for most
speedily reaching every part of my command, in person or otherwise.
It took but a little while to get affairs so organized that the
routine of work ran on quietly and pleasantly. No serious effort was
made by the enemy to re-enter the district during the winter, and
except some local outbreaks of "bush-whacking" and petty guerilla
warfare, there was nothing to interrupt the progress of the troops
in drill and instruction.

A good deal of obscurity still hangs about the subject of guerilla
warfare, and the relation of the Confederate government to it. There
was, no doubt, a good deal of loose talk that found its way into
print and helped form a popular opinion, which treated almost every
scouting party as if it were a lawless organization of
"bush-whackers." But there was an authoritative and systematic
effort of the Richmond government to keep up partisan bodies within
our lines which should be soldiers when they had a chance to do us a
mischief, and citizens when they were in danger of capture and
punishment. When Fremont assumed command of the Mountain Department,
he very early called the attention of the Secretary of War to the
fact that Governor Letcher was sending commissions into West
Virginia, authorizing the recipients to enlist companies to be used
against us in irregular warfare. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xii. pt. iii. p. 75.]

The bands which were organized by the Confederate Government under
authority of law, but which were free from the control of army
commanders and unrestrained by the checks upon lawlessness which are
found in subordination to the operations of organized armies, were
called "Partisan Rangers," and protection as legitimate soldiers was
promised them. They were not required to camp with the army, or to
remain together as troops or regiments. They wore uniforms or not,
as the whim might take them. They remained, as much as they dared,
in their home region, and assembled, usually at night, at a
preconcerted signal from their leaders, to make a "raid." They were
not paid as the more regular troops were, but were allowed to keep
the horses which they captured or "lifted." They were nominally
required to turn over the beef-cattle and army stores to the
Confederate commissariat, but after a captured wagon-train had been
looted by them, not much of value would be found in it. Their raids
were made by such numbers as might chance to be got together.
Stuart, the brilliant Confederate cavalry commander, whilst
crediting Mosby with being the best of the partisans, said of him,
"he usually operates with only one-fourth of his nominal strength.
Such organizations, as a rule, are detrimental to the best interests
of the army at large." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxiii. p.
1082.] General Lee, in forwarding one of Mosby's reports, commended
his boldness and good management, but added: "I have heard that he
has now with him a large number of men, yet his expeditions are
undertaken with very few, and his attention seems more directed to
the capture of sutlers' wagons, etc., than to the injury of the
enemy's communications and outposts.... I do not know the cause for
undertaking his expeditions with so few men; whether it is from
policy or the difficulty of collecting them. I have heard of his
men, among them officers, being in rear of this army, selling
captured goods, sutlers' stores, etc. This had better be attended to
by others. It has also been reported to me that many deserters from
this army have joined him. Among them have been seen members of the
Eighth Virginia Regiment." [Footnote: _Id_., vol xxix. pt. ii.
p.652.] In the "Richmond Examiner" of August 18, 1863 (the same date
as General Lee's letter), was the statement that "At a sale of
Yankee plunder taken by Mosby and his men, held at Charlottesville
last week, thirty-odd thousand dollars were realized, to be divided
among the gallant band." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxix. pt.
ii. p. 653.]

The injury to the discipline of their own army gradually brought
leading officers of the Confederates to the conviction that the
"Partisan Rangers" cost more than they were worth. In January, 1864,
General Rosser, one of the most distinguished cavalry officers of
the South, made a formal communication to General Lee on the
subject. "During the time I have been in the valley," he said, "I
have had ample opportunity of judging of the efficiency and
usefulness of the many irregular bodies of troops which occupy this
country, known as partisans, etc., and am prompted by no other
feeling than a desire to serve my country, to inform you that they
are a nuisance and an evil to the service. Without discipline,
order, or organization, they roam broadcast over the country, a band
of thieves, stealing, pillaging, plundering, and doing every manner
of mischief and crime. They are a terror to the citizens and an
injury to the cause. They never fight; can't be made to fight. Their
leaders are generally brave, but few of the men are good soldiers,
and have engaged in this business for the sake of gain." [Footnote:
_Id_., vol. xxxiii. p. 1081.] After classifying the mischiefs to the
regular service, he continues: "It is almost impossible to manage
the different companies of my brigade that are from Loudoun,
Fauquier, Fairfax, etc., the region occupied by Mosby. They see
these men living at their ease and enjoying the comforts of home,
allowed to possess all that they capture, and their duties mere
pastime pleasures compared with their own arduous ones, and it is a
natural consequence, in the nature of man, that he should become
dissatisfied under these circumstances. Patriotism fails, in a long
and tedious war like this, to sustain the ponderous burdens which
bear heavily and cruelly upon the heart and soul of man." [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xxxiii. p. 1081.] General Rosser recommended
the absorption of the partisan bodies into the ordinary brigades,
using their supposed talents for scouting by sending them on
expeditions as regular patrols and reconnoitring parties, reporting
to their proper command as soon as the duty was done.

It was upon Rosser's communication that Stuart made the endorsement
already quoted, and Lee sent it forward to the War Department,
further endorsed thus: "As far as my knowledge and experience
extend, there is much truth in the statement of General Rosser. I
recommend that the law authorizing these partisan corps be
abolished. The evils resulting from their organization more than
counterbalance the good they accomplish." The Secretary of War, Mr.
Siddon, drafted a bill to abolish them, and it passed the
Confederate House. Delay occurring in the Senate, the matter was
compromised by transferring all the Rangers except Mosby's and
McNeill's to the line. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1082, 1253.] As it was
to Mosby's that the reported facts applied, and all agreed that his
was the best of the lot, we may imagine what must have been the
character of the rest.

In the first two winters of the war, these organizations were in the
height of their pernicious activity, and the loyal West Virginians
were their favorite victims. We knew almost nothing of their
organization, except that they claimed some Confederate law for
their being. We seldom found them in uniform, and had no means of
distinguishing them from any other armed horse-stealers and
"bush-whackers." We were, however, made unpleasantly certain of the
fact that in every neighborhood where secession sentiments were
rife, our messengers were waylaid and killed, small parties were
ambushed, and all the exasperating forms of guerilla warfare were
abundant. Besides all this, the Confederate authorities assumed to
call out the militia of counties into which they were intending to
make an expedition, so that they might have the temporary
co-operation of local troops. They claimed the right to do this
because they had not recognized the separation of West Virginia, and
insisted that the whole was subject to the laws of Virginia. The
result was that the Union men formed companies of "Home Guards" for
self-protection, and the conflict of arms was carried into every
settlement in the mountain nooks and along the valleys. In this kind
of fighting there was no quarter given, or if prisoners were taken,
they were too often reported as having met with fatal accidents
before they could be handed over to the regular authorities. As all
this could have no effect upon the progress of the war, the more
cool and intelligent heads of both sides opposed it, and gradually
diminished it. Severe measures against it were in fact merciful, for
the horrors of war are always least when the fighting is left to the
armies of responsible belligerents, unprovoked by the petty but
exasperating hostilities of irregulars. The trouble from this source
was less during the winter of 1862-63 than it had been the year
before, but it still gave occupation to small movable columns of our
troops from time to time.

The organization of my staff was somewhat increased with the
enlargement of responsibilities. Lieutenant-Colonel McElroy, who had
been my adjutant-general in the campaign of 1861, returned to me as
inspector-general and took the whole supervision of the equipment,
drill, and instruction of the troops of the district. Major Bascom,
who had received his promotion at the same time with mine, continued
to be adjutant-general. The increased work in looking after supplies
made more force in the commissariat a necessity, and Captain
Barriger of the regular army was sent to me, my former commissary,
Captain Treat, continuing on the staff. Barriger was a modest,
clear-headed officer of admirable business qualifications, whom I
had the good fortune to be again associated with late in the war.
Three principal depots of supply were established at the bases of
the principal lines of communication in the district,--Wheeling,
Parkersburg, and Gallipolis. At each of these, depot commissaries
and quartermasters were located, and the posts and commands at the
front drew their supplies from them. Captain Fitch, my
quartermaster, supervised his department in a similar way to that of
the commissariat. My aides were Captain Christie and Lieutenant
Conine, as before, and I added to them my brother, Theodore Cox, who
served with me as volunteer aide without rank in the battles of
South Mountain and Antietam, and was then appointed lieutenant in
the Eleventh Ohio Infantry. He was my constant companion from this
time till peace was established. The medical department remained
under the care of Major Holmes, Brigade-Surgeon, who combined
scientific with administrative qualities in a rare measure.

There was no military movement during the winter of sufficient
importance to be told at length. Constant scouting and
reconnoissances were kept up, slight skirmishes were not infrequent,
but these did not prevent our sense of rest and of preparation for
the work of the next spring. General Crook, with a brigade, was
transferred temporarily to the command of Rosecrans in Tennessee,
and Kelley, Milroy, and Scammon divided the care of the three
hundred miles of mountain ranges which made our front. My own
leisure gave me the opportunity for some systematic and useful
reading in military history and art. An amusing interlude occurred
in a hot controversy which arose between General Milroy and one of
his subordinates which would not be worth mentioning except for the
fact that the subordinate had afterward a world-wide notoriety as
military chief of the Paris Commune in 1870.

Gustave Cluseret was a Frenchman, who was appointed in the spring of
1862 an aide-de-camp with the rank of colonel upon the staff of
General Frémont, who (with questionable legality) assigned him to
command a brigade, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. i. pp.
9, 35.] and recommended his appointment as brigadier for good
conduct in the May and June campaign against Jackson. The
appointment was made on October 14th, [Footnote: Army Register,
1863, p. 95.] and during the fall and winter he had a brigade in
Milroy's division. Milroy was, for a time, loud in his praises of
Cluseret as the _beau ideal_ of an officer, and their friendship was
fraternal. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxi. p. 779.] In the
winter, however, their mutual admiration was nipped by a killing
frost, and a controversy sprung up between them which soon led to
mutual recrimination also in the superlative degree. They addressed
their complaints to General Halleck, and as the papers passed
through my headquarters, I was a witness of their berating of each
other. They made a terrible din, on paper, for a while, but I cannot
recall anything very serious in their accusations. Halleck
pigeon-holed their correspondence, but Milroy had powerful political
friends, and Cluseret, learning that his appointment would not be
confirmed by the Senate, anticipated their action, and terminated
his military career in the United States by resigning two days
before the close of the session of Congress. [Footnote: Army
Register, 1863, p. 101. His name does not appear in the lists in the
body of the Register, because he was not in the Army April 1, 1863,
the date of publication.]


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