«MAJ. GEN. CHARLES S. HAMILTON HISTORY of THE THIRD REGIMENT of WISCONSIN VETERAN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY 1861 — 1865. BY EDWIN E. BRYANT Late Adjutant. ...»
Major Scott and Capt. Hawley, also Sergt.-Maj. Dering, who in the charge of Gordon’s brigade had had his leg shattered below the knee, had been taken off the field the night of the battle, and were soon sent to Alexandria and the hospitals about Washington. Dabney says that while the dead were being buried, under flag of truce, the Union men and Confederates mingled freely unarmed, talked over the political situation, traded horses; and that not a few of the Union men expressed their admiration for Jackson and their wish that they had such a general.
The regiment lay in position, until August 12th, when it marched with Gordon’s brigade back to Culpepper, and there went into camp. Jackson withdrew on the 11th from his position on Cedar Run and fell back to Gordonsville. Convinced that Pope had been largely reinforced, he dared not ED. NOTE: Alonzo Hall Quint, b. Barnstead, NH (22 Mar 1828); s. of George Quint and Sally Hall; Dartmouth (1846); Andover Theological Seminary (1852); Dartmouth (D.D., 1866); m.
Rebecca P. Putnam (31 Jan 1854) Chaplain (20 Jun 61); mustered out 21 Jul 64
-80hazard another battle. He was a great and able general, bold, intrepid, and full of resources; but he invariably managed to have the most guns at any point where he chose to give or take battle.
On his part this battle has been severely criticised. [sic] The best military judgment condemns it. He brought ten of his twelve brigades into action against a force of not much more than one-third their number. He suffered a loss of 1,276 in killed and wounded and a considerable number of prisoners (reported by him at 31). He gained nothing by the movement; and on the night of the 11th, he stole away in such haste as to leave many of his wounded and stragglers by the way, nor stopped in his flight until he had crossed the Rapidan. The Compte [sic] de Paris88 in his excellent history of our civil war severely criticises [sic] Jackson for fighting this battle, and says
Jackson was humiliated by its results. To quote:
“The battle of Cedar Mountain had cost him (Jackson) too dear, and the check he had received was the more keenly felt, because he had engaged all his troops against an army far inferior in numbers. ~ ~ The Federals, who had fought with great stubborness, [sic] could therefore, notwithstanding the ground lost at the close of the day, consider the result of the battle of Cedar Mountain as an advantage on their side. Their loss amounted to about 1,800 — one-third their entire force. ~ ~ Although their forces did not amount to more than one-half the number of their adversaries, they had held him in check, compelled him to retire, leaving 232 killed and 1,000 wounded, a success which was the more creditable, in view of the fact that the adversary was the redoubtable Jackson, whose troops had already passed the ordeal of so many battles.” (History of the Civil War in America, Vol. 2, p. 260.) Greely,89 [sic] in his “American Conflict,” well says we “were not so much beaten as fairly crowded off the field.” The comments on this battle were all in high praise of the fighting of the men. Some of the generals, through their favorite correspondents, attempted to exalt themselves by throwing blame on others. Crawford complained that Gordon did not come soon enough to his support. But it is in proof and beyond controversy that he went in at the instant he was ordered, and went at the utmost speed his men could run.
This we, who were participants, well know. Crawford also complained of the Third Wisconsin, at the time, because it did not sustain his right. But his complaint only proves that he did not fully understand the movements that had been made, nor what the Third Wisconsin had encountered. It would have needed six brigades, instead of six companies, to successfully sustain his right. Then, again, it was impossible for those companies to advance as fast ED. NOTE: Louis-Philippe-Albert d’Orleans, Comte de Paris, 24 Aug 1838 - 8 Sep 1894, heir to the throne and the candidate of the Orleanists. The title of Comte de Paris was created for him. Full title of work mentioned: History of the Civil War in America: 188_.
ED. NOTE: Horace Greeley, editor, 3 Feb 1811 - 29 Nov 1872. The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 it's causes, incidents, and results intended to exhibit especially its moral and political phases with the drift and progress of American opinion respecting human slavery from 1776 to the close of the war for the union.
OR several days after the battle, the army of Virginia remained in the F vicinity of Culpepper. General Pope established his headquarters at Cedar Mountain, and his line extended along the Rapidan from Racoon Ford westward toward the Blue Ridge. From the 12th to the 18th of August reports came in from various quarters that large forces of Confederates were advancing on many roads from Richmond in long, dusty columns towards our little army.
Meanwhile McClellan was accomplishing the gigantic task of moving his army from the peninsula down the James and up the Potomac to Washington.
The magnitude of this movement one can hardly imagine, who has not seen the immense wagon trains — extending for seventy miles along a road, and when parked covering large plantations — which are necessary to carry the munitions, material, baggage and supplies of an army of 100,000 men.
On the 18th it became evident to Pope that the enemy were massing upon him in such force that he would soon be crushed. He was too far out, and his left could easily be turned before the troops from the peninsula could reach him; and he must fall back across the Rappahannock.
The historic river which bears this name takes its rise on the eastern watersheds of the Blue Ridge some fifty miles south of Harper’s Ferry in the valleys between the Blue Ridge and the Bull Run mountains. A number of creeks — or, as they are called in the South, “runs” — combine to form this stream. Its general course is southeast through an open country. Passing east of Culpepper some twenty miles, with many windings it reaches tidewater at Fredericksburg, below which it is navigable. About ten miles above the place last names, it receives from the west the waters of the Rapidan.
Above the confluence the north branch, or Rappahannock, is fordable at nearly all points during summer, except when swollen, as it often and suddenly is, by rains. Some twelve miles above the mouth of the Rapidan is Kelly’s Ford. Six miles further up, the Orange and Alexandria railroad crosses the river at Rappahannock station. Two miles up stream at Sulphur Springs is Thompson’s Ford. Three miles upward the Luray and Warrenton turnpike crosses the river at Waterloo Bridge.
The Bull Run mountains are the most eastern of the Allegheny ridges.
They run from the Potomac near Leesburg, some twelve miles east of Harper’s Ferry, southwest parallel with the Blue Ridge, some forty miles, and then as they approach the upper waters of the Rappahannock, the range dwindles into a succession of steep, thickly wooded hills. The country est of the Bull Run mountains and the Rappahannock is a triangle with one vertex
-83on the Potomac as the Point of Rocks, the other at Aquia Creek and Fredericksburg on the south and the third and western angle is at Waterloo bridge. The eastern side is the Potomac.
The Bull Run mountains are crossed by three roads, one at Leesburg another at Aldie northwest of Fairfax Court House, the third and most southerly at Thoroughfare Gap, a long, narrow ravine, between two rocky walls.
From Alexandria on the Potomac, the Orange and Alexandria railroad runs southwest to Culpepper and further on, crossing the Rappahannock as above indicated. The principal stations within the triangle described are Fairfax Court House, another northwest to Centerville. Seven miles further southwest is Manassas Junction, and here the Manassas Gap railroad branches off running northwest, through Thoroughfare Gap, to Front Royal and beyond, some four or five miles further to Gainesville. Eight miles southwest is Catlett’s station; three miles beyond is Warrenton Junction, where a spur of the railroad runs up to the considerable village of Warrenton, which lies at the southern base of the Bull Run mountains about ten miles, miles as the crow flies, southwest of Thoroughfare Gap. Next comes Bealeton, then Rappahannock station, at the crossing of that river, then Brandy station and next Culpepper.
This region of country thus crudely outlined was to become the scene of the last and the disastrous struggle of Pope’s army of Virginia.
Jackson and Longstreet were pressing on with an army of 63,500 fighting men to assail our force which numbered — including Reno’s division of Burnside’s corps, then just arrived — only 42,000, all told.
On the 18th, Pope’s orders were given to move at once. Instantly all was activity. Our brigade — the Third — started at about midnight, moved out two miles; but the road was blocked with the long train of wagons, that we must needs march in the fields, a difficult thing to do in the dark, so we bivouacked till day break, then pushed on to the Rappahannock and crossed on the railroad bridge. General Reno’s division bore to the right and crossed at Kelly’s Ford. McDowell followed us. Sigel moved to the left, struck the river and crossed at Sulphur Springs.
We did not move a moment too early. Lee’s plans were carefully laid to cut off our retreat before we could reach the river. The Confederates were bitterly disappointed at our escape, and Longstreet was roundly blamed for being too slow. The cavalry of Lee’s army dogged our heels, often checked and kept at respectful distance by the bold stands of Bayard’s little body of well-fagged cavalry. The Confederate infantry soon swarmed on the southwestern bank of the river. It is not a good line of defense at best, being fordable, and its right, or southwest bank is usually the best position, and the water was now at low stage. But here Pope made his stand, under orders
-84from Halleck, the general-in-chief in Washington, “to hold the line,” “not to give an inch,” “fight like the devil;” and the assurance was given that reinforcements should soon back him up, from Washington and from the Army of the Potomac.
On the 21st, Jackson appeared on the opposite bank at Beverly Ford, threatening to cross. King’s division of McDowell’s corps was sent there to dispute his passage. At the same time, Longstreet was menacing Kelly’s Ford, down the river. It was soon observed that Jackson was moving up the right bank of the river, and this meant the turning of our right. Sigel was shoved up on the northeastern side to resist him. Gordon’s brigade was ordered to Beverly Ford on the 22d, to post batteries in position to command the ford and support them with infantry. This was done, and the brigade was concealed in a large timber, the Second Massachusetts on the right, Third Wisconsin in the center, and Twenty-seventh Indiana on the left. Longstreet was then confronting us, though this we did not know at the time. Jackson was creeping slyly further up the river, feeling for a chance to strike in flank.
While here we saw a sunset fight across the river, between Col. Bohlen’s brigade of Sigel’s corps, which was boldly crossed over, and attacked the enemy. It was a small and bloody little battle.91 Soon after sunset a violent thunder storm arose, and drenched the wounded where they lay.
The next day was quite exciting. General Gordon and Col. Ruger suspecting movements on the enemy’s part did not retire at night but remained vigilantly on watch. Before dawn they heard the well-known sound of artillery wheels and knew the enemy were planting batteries. Captain Cothran, whose battery went with us, was at once notified and had his guns ready for instant use at the earliest light. As the morning breeze blew away the mist, seven Parrott guns were seen frowning upon us from the high grounds across the river. McDowell’s troops were on our right, and while they were at breakfast, with a vapor still brooding over the camp, the enemy began a brisk dropping of shells in their midst. There was a rush, a hustling of wagons to the rear, and a call to arms. McDowell’s guns replied, and directly Cothran’s battery from our brigade began to speak. The enemy’s shells were flying about our heads and knocking the rail fence in front of our brigade quite lively, and their aim was too accurate for comfort, when Cothran with right range and fine gunnery opened on them. One of the Confederate batteries was soon knocked out of shape and fled back into the forest. Another battery on the right of the road was giving us much annoyance with spherical case.
Cothran let them play a little while on McDowell’s batters, then he opened again. This battery of the enemy also sought the shelter of the woods — what The brigades of Bohlen and Milroy had crossed the river and attacked Jackson’s rear guard, which was moving up the bank, with a view to delay his march.
-85was left of it.92 The enemy then seemed to fear that we were about to cross, for they displayed a regiment of infantry. It was a needless sacrifice. Our batteries all opened on it, and soon sent it a scattering, scampering flock into the cover of the woods, leaving many mangled victims behind.
But during the past night, in the deepest darkness, Stuart, the dashing cavalryman and bold raider of the rebels, had slipped across the river at Waterloo bridge, which he found unguarded, swooped down past our right with 1,500 horse and some flying artillery, to Warrenton, thence to Catlett’s Station, where our supply trains were parked. He did some mischief and captured Pope’s headquarters wagons and papers, from which he learned much that Pope did not wish the rebels to know.
The enemy were still working up the river. Pope was under orders to keep his line closed down toward Fredericksburg, from which flank his reinforcements from McClellan’s army were expected to come. This hampered him, and he could not conform his movements to those of the enemy as fully as strategy required.
On the 23rd, Sigel was ordered to march up to Sulphur Springs and “attack and beat the enemy.” Banks was to follow and “keep close up.” This he did, hugging Sigel’s rear so closely that the two corps were often jumbled.