"By our celerity and secrecy of movement, our advance and passage of the rivers was undisputed, and, on our withdrawal, not a Rebel ventured to follow.
"The events of the last week may swell with pride the heart of every officer and soldier of this army. We have added new lustre to its former renown. We have made long marches, crossed rivers, surprised the enemy in his intrenchments, and, wherever we have fought, have inflicted heavier blows than we have received. We have taken from the enemy five thousand prisoners and fifteen colors; captured and brought off seven pieces of artillery; placed hors de combat eighteen thousand of his chosen troops; destroyed his depots filled with a vast amount of stores; deranged his communications; captured prisoners within the fortifications of his capital, and filled his country with fear and consternation. We have no other regret than that caused by the loss of our brave companions; and in this we are consoled by the conviction that they have fallen in the holiest cause ever submitted to the arbitrament of battle."
This order, if not perfectly satisfactory to the country and to the authorities, was generally hailed with applause by the army, which recognized in its sagacious rendering of our difficulties and humiliations the meed of praise awarded where it was due.
General Lee's order respecting this campaign is also very modest and unique, and is worthy of a place in this record. In it he says:
"With heartfelt gratification the General commanding expresses to the army his sense of the heroic conduct displayed by officers and men during the arduous operations in which they have just been engaged.
"Under trying vicissitudes of heat and storm, you attacked the enemy strongly intrenched in the depths of a tangled wilderness, and again on the hills of Fredericksburg, fifteen miles distant, and, by the valor that has triumphed on so many fields, forced him once more to seek safety beyond the Rappahannock. While this glorious victory entitles you to the praise and gratitude of the nation, we are especially called upon to return our grateful thanks to the only Giver of victory for the signal deliverance He has wrought.
"It is, therefore, earnestly recommended that the troops unite on Sunday next in ascribing to the Lord of Hosts the glory due His name. Let us not forget in our rejoicings the brave soldiers who have fallen in defence of their country; and, while we mourn their loss, let us resolve to emulate their noble example. The army and the country alike lament the absence for a time of one [Jackson] to whose bravery, energy, and skill they are so much indebted for success."
The two great armies once more confronted each other from either bank of the river, as they had done during all the winter and spring months. On the seventh of May, President Lincoln visited the camp near Falmouth, conferred with his generalissimo on movements past and future, appeared pleased with the spirit and morale of the troops, and returned to Washington to continue his earnest toil for the nation's life and well-being.
During the month quite a depletion of the rank and file of the army took place, by the mustering out of large numbers of three months' and two years' men. And such had been the depressing influences of Chancellorsville upon the country, that the places of these men were not very easily filled. To the sagacious leaders in political and military circles this state of things was not a little alarming. But to the Rebel leaders the times were affording opportunities for grand schemes, and for the execution of movements most startling.
FROM YORKTOWN TO FALMOUTH.
1863.—Curiosity Satisfied.—Pastimes on the York River.—Religious Services; their Influence.—Raid to Mathias Court House.—Sickness and Recovery.—From Gloucester Point to Falmouth.—Exciting Details. —Correspondence of Mr. Young.—The Press.—With the Army of the Potomac again.—Cavalry Fight at Brandy Station.—Bold Charge of the First Maine Cavalry.—The Chivalry fairly Beaten.—Death of Colonel B. F. Davis, Eighth New York Cavalry.—Interesting Letter of a Rebel Chaplain.—Casualties.—What was Gained by the Reconnoissance.— Pleasonton and Kilpatrick Promoted.—Rebels Raiding in Maryland.
Long raids and general engagements or campaigns are usually followed by a few days of comparative rest. This is necessary both for animals and men. Vacancies which are generally made during such vicissitudes, in the staffs of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, have to be filled, and reorganization takes place. This was the experience of the Army of the Potomac after its Chancellorsville campaign, as well as our own after our return from Richmond.
On the eighth of May, Kilpatrick's command left Gloucester Point in the morning, and, after crossing the York River, amid the cheers of General Keyes' command, we were provided with tents in an encampment within the fortifications of Fort Yorktown. Here was a fine opportunity for repose, which we were all in a condition to relish. Like the prince of poets, we could realize that
Weariness Can snore upon the flint, when rusty sloth Finds the down-pillow hard.
On the day following our arrival here, soldiers and citizens from the town were flocking into our camp in droves, from reveille till taps, eager to learn from us the particulars of our recent raid. Groups of attentive hearers could be seen in various parts of the grounds surrounding some of our talkative comrades who discoursed eloquently to them of the sufferings and fatigue, of the daring and danger, of the stratagem and endurance which attended the expedition. No little amount of yarn was spun, and not a little imagination was employed to paint the scenes as vividly as possible.
May 10.—A dress-parade was ordered at ten o'clock this morning, at which time a complimentary order to the regiment from the Secretary of War was read by the adjutant. The occasion was very interesting, and every man seemed to feel proud of himself, his deeds, and especially of his leader. In the afternoon our cup of delight was made to run over by the appearing of our paymaster with his "stamps," as the boys call the greenbacks. "We received two months' pay. The usual scenes of pay-day were reenacted, and the occasion passed away amid the untempered follies of some and the conserving wisdom of others.
The weather is warm and beautiful. Many of us are improving the opportunity of bathing in the York. This, though not a military, is certainly a very salutary, exercise, and one which we very much enjoy. Boat-rides are occasionally participated in, and lots of sport is found in raking the river-bed for oysters. "Two birds are here killed with one stone," for there is pleasure in catching, and a double pleasure in eating, these bivalvular creatures of the brine. Some days we live on little else but oysters—a diet which is very rapidly recuperating our overtasked powers.
Sunday, May 17.—This has been a beautiful day, and this evening a large meeting for religious services was held near the spot where Lord Cornwallis surrendered his sword to General Washington. The place seemed hallowed with the memory of those events; and it certainly ought to have witnessed the surrender of many rebellious hearts to the "King of kings and Lord of lords." The exercises of the meeting were conducted by the officers of the post, and were full of interest.
Wild and rude as soldiers often are, they generally attend with pleasure all religious services when they are pleasantly invited to do so. And I think no one ever beheld more attentive audiences than here. So great is the contrast between the spirit of such a meeting and the general tenor of our work, that the transition is relieving. Then there is so much in the life and character of a true soldier that suggests the experience and principles of a soldier of the Cross, that a versatile and interesting speaker in a religions assembly here finds ample illustrations from our every-day observations for the unfolding of Christian themes. And yet the main influence of Christianity here lies back even of these statements; it is found in the ready response which memory brings from the fireside religion of our homes, and the early instructions of the Sunday-school and church. The "stirring up of our pure minds by way of remembrance," which is done so easily in the company of American soldiers, is one of the most potent elements of heroism and right discipline which can be found.
The history of this country borrows so much light from the cross which Columbus bore as an ensign, and planted here, from the prayers of the Pilgrim Fathers, and from the Christian devotion of Washington and others who laid the foundation of this great Republic, that a true American cannot be destitute of reverence for the religion of the Bible. Hence over us especially these religious assemblies cannot fail to exert a salutary influence. And yet we observe that not more than one regiment in five is provided with a chaplain, or with means of religious instruction. To a certain extent this deficiency is supplied by the benevolent agents of the Christian Commission, who, however, are not able to fill the place of a faithful chaplain. But if it were not for these, many of our sick and dying would be utterly destitute of Christian influence, and our dead would be buried more like dogs than like Christian heroes. We fear that the Government does not properly appreciate the importance of the chaplaincy in the army, and hence does not give sufficient inducement for true men to enter this difficult field of labor. Only a man of stalwart character is fit for the position—a man of physical, mental, and moral daring. And so far as our observations extend, with very few exceptions, this is the class of men who occupy the position of chaplains among us.
May 19.—Several days have been spent pleasantly within Fort Yorktown, and we are becoming somewhat eager for more lively experiences and scenes.
"Variety's the source of joy below, From which still fresh revolving pleasures flow."
During the day we abandoned Fort Yorktown, and Kilpatrick established a camp for the regiment in the old peach-orchard, famous for the battle which occurred within its limits during McClellan's Peninsular Campaign. It is a lovely spot, which, however, shows signs of the conflict above referred to. There is scarcely a tree but presents marks of the bloody drama, in broken bark and splintered trunk, and in wounded branches which hang danglingly over our heads.
RAID TO MATHIAS COURT HOUSE.
During the day a detail of the regiment, sufficient in number to mount all the serviceable horses, was ordered out in an expedition against Mathias Court House. A detachment of infantry and a battery of artillery accompany the cavalry, and Kilpatrick is in command of the entire force. The line of march is through a rich and beautiful region of country. Mathias county is a lovely peninsula, encompassed by the waters of the Piankatank River, on the north, the Chesapeake Bay, on the east, and Mob Jack Bay, on the south. The North River forms a portion of its boundary on the west, against Gloucester county, and nearly severs it from the mainland.
Kilpatrick was favored with fine weather in his expedition, and returned on the twenty-second crowned with success. A multitude of slaves was liberated, hailing our forces everywhere as their friends and protectors. Large numbers of fine horses and mules, with which that country abounds, were also captured. No Rebel force of any importance was encountered, and the boys greatly enjoyed their visit to the well-stocked plantations of the wealthy farmers, many of whom had never before seen a Yankee.
May 24.—I was taken very suddenly ill during the night. Dr. Kingston came to see me at three o'clock, and so skilfully treated my case, that I was quickly relieved of pain. In three hours from the time the surgeon came to my quarters, I was well enough to be up and on duty, so that at six o'clock I was able to call the roll of my company as usual, and to attend to other duties.
The day after my illness I began to make out muster and pay rolls for my company. This work was undertaken by all the first-sergeants of the regiment. But our task is unusually difficult, as nearly all our company-books and papers were captured by guerillas at the commencement of the spring campaign. "Patience and perseverance" is our motto; and yet many times, as we endeavor to unravel the snarls and untie the knots, we find that the above virtues almost forsake us.
May 26.—This afternoon we had mounted regimental drill, and this was followed by dress-parade. Our time is now devoted mostly to drilling, in preparation, as we all think, for some movement.
May 29.—Orders for an advance have at length reached us. At five o'clock this afternoon we struck our tents, broke camp, and crossed the York by ferry, halting for the night near Fort Keyes, at Gloucester Point. There is much discussion among us as to the point of destination, but nearly all agree that we are to rejoin the Army of the Potomac. Soldiers seldom know the object of their movements. All we need is to receive the order or command, and we go, "asking no question for conscience' sake."
May 30.—We moved from Gloucester Point early in the morning, and made a forced march to the Piankatank River. The rising smoke announced to us that the bridge across this stream had been burnt before us. After considerable searching and sounding, a place so nearly fordable was found as to enable a portion of the command to cross over. Others meanwhile constructed a temporary bridge over which they effected a crossing. Guerillas are very numerous in these parts. One of our vedettes was fired upon and wounded by them early this evening. All our attempts to capture such culprits are in vain. The forests are so dense, and ravines so deep and dark, that a man acquainted with every secret nook and corner, can hide away in perfect security, after committing his depredations.
Sunday, May 31.—The Troy company is on picket duty to-day. A detachment from the company made a reconnoissance this morning beyond the outposts, and brought in two citizens of a suspicious character. They undoubtedly belong to the gang of bushwhackers that has hung upon our flanks and rear, and inflicted the injuries we have sustained for the past few days. Rich supplies of bacon and corn, of sorghum and honey, are found along our path. The country has never been visited by Federal troops, and is as full of provisions for us as it is filled with consternation and alarm at our approach. We have spent the day in scouting the country.
June 1.—Our march was resumed at an early hour in the morning, and we advanced to Urbanna, a town on the Rappahannock. Here several important captures were made, including Colonel E. P. Jones and Captain Brown, of the Virginia militia. Here we spent the night pleasantly. During the night Kilpatrick managed to establish communication with our gun-boats on the Rappahannock, and in the morning early we were taken across on transports, protected by the gun-boats. After a short halt to feed our horses from the corn-ricks which dot the country, we resumed our march, and with the setting sun reached a place called Litwalton, where we bivouacked for the night.
June 3.—To-day we had a very pleasant march through a pleasant country and with pleasant weather. Richmond Court House was reached for our bivouac to-night; but we left early in the morning of the fourth, and by good marching arrived at Port Conway at four o'clock P. M. Here we unsaddled our horses for the first time since leaving Yorktown, after the marches of six days.
June 5.—We reached Falmouth. Upon meeting our old acquaintances in the Army of the Potomac, cheers upon cheers were heartily vociferated for Kilpatrick and the Harris Light, and our march was a continual ovation.
The following quotations will show the consideration that was accorded to Kilpatrick's movements:
"Colonel Kilpatrick, with the Harris Light Cavalry and the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, left Yorktown at twelve o'clock Friday night, reaching Gloucester Point at one A. M., and Gloucester Court House at half-past five A. M., Saturday. They left again at eight o'clock, and at four P. M. on the same day arrived at Saluda, leaving there at half-past four Monday morning, and reaching Urbanna at half-past six A. M., where the wharves were found to be partially destroyed by fire.
"The bridge on the Piankatank River, near Dragon Ordinary, had been destroyed by the citizens, and, as there were no fords, a squadron of the Twelfth Illinois swam their horses over the river, while another portion of Kilpatrick's command—the Colonel and his staff-officers assisting—constructed a floating bridge of felled trees and fence-rails in about half an hour, over which the remainder of the cavalry crossed in safety.
"At Saluda the colors of the Twelfth Virginia Infantry were captured by the cavalry. From there the country was scoured for a distance of ten miles, resulting in the capture of horses, mules, and carriages, and in the emancipation of numerous slaves.
"Between Montague and Bowler's Ferry the Rebel pickets were driven in as far as the barricades which they had constructed of felled trees, within three miles of the ferry.
"Occasionally guerilla skirmishing was encountered on the road; but there was no fighting with any considerable force of the Rebels, though they had infantry and artillery at Kings and Queens Court House and about two hundred cavalry at Bowler's Ferry.
"A letter from Stuart was intercepted, addressed to a secessionist named Fontleroy, in Middlesex County, assuring him that he would have a sufficient force of cavalry in that neighborhood by Sunday evening to relieve the anxiety of the people of the county and stop the raids of the Yankees.
"Among the prisoners captured by Kilpatrick's cavalry was Captain Brown, of the Fifth Virginia cavalry, and the guerilla, Colonel E. P. Jones. The only man wounded was Orderly-Sergeant Northrup, of Company G, Harris Light Cavalry, who was hit with a buckshot-charge fired by a bushwhacker.
"The transports Long Branch, William N. Frazier, Star, and Tallaca, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dickinson, of General Hooker's staff, conveyed the cavalry and the captured horses and mules across the Rappahannock from Urbanna to Carter's wharf, six miles higher up than the former place, and subsequently conveyed the contrabands to Aquia Creek.
"The gun-boats Freeborn, Yankee, Anacostia, Jacob Bell, Satellite, Primrose, and Currituck, convoyed the transports up and down the river, and the Jacob Bell covered the landing at Carter's Creek. These vessels of the Potomac flotilla were under the command of Commodore Samuel Magaw.
"There was a small force of infantry under Colonel Dickinson, being picked men; and the cavalry, with the aid of this infantry at Urbanna, despoiled the Rebels between Yorktown and the Rappahannock of nearly one thousand contrabands and about three hundred horses and mules, besides depleting their granaries and poultry-yards.
"Colonel Kilpatrick, Colonel Dickinson, and Commodore Magaw, and those in their commands, are entitled to commendation for the energy exhibited, as is also the engineer corps of the Fiftieth New York, under Captain Folwell, which promptly repaired the bridge at Carter's wharf. Lieutenant-Colonel Dickinson, Captain John B. Howard, acting assistant-quartermaster, formerly of the Brooklyn Fourteenth, and other military gentlemen and civilians, rode out to Saluda, and were hospitably entertained at the residence of the Clerk of the Courts, who tendered his assurances of respect with generous plates of strawberries and cream."
From another periodical we clip the following:
"We have an account of Colonel Kilpatrick's recent successful raid back from Gloucester Point. He crossed the country between the York and Rappahannock Rivers, making an extensive circuit through the garden-spot of Virginia—a section where our troops have never before penetrated. Colonel Kilpatrick made a large haul of negroes, horses, &c., and has arrived safely at Urbanna with them. He spread general terror among the Rebels. His forces were taken across the Rappahannock by our gun-boats, and proceeded at once to our lines."
A brief item from the Troy Times will complete the journal of this important event:
"Colonel Kilpatrick is the hero of another great raid through the enemy's country. At the conclusion of Stoneman's raid, it will be remembered, Colonel Kilpatrick's command remained at Gloucester Court House. Last week he was ordered to again join the main army, and, on the thirtieth ultimo, he started on the march to Urbanna, on the Lower Rappahannock. He returned to the Army of the Potomac on the fifth instant, after travelling over a large extent of territory and destroying an immense amount of property."
A little rest was enjoyed at Falmouth. But our experience convinces us that the cavalryman must write history in haste if he would write as rapidly as it is made.
June 7.—The bugles sounded reveille at three o'clock A. M. "Boots and saddles" followed at four; "lead out" at four-and-a-quarter, and the column was in motion towards Warrenton Junction at four-and-a-half. We went via Catlett's Station, which place we reached at two o'clock P. M. Nearly every step of the march was on familiar ground, where we had passed and repassed many times. It seemed like meeting old friends, and nearly every object we saw suggested thoughts and experiences of the past.
At Warrenton Junction we rejoined the Cavalry Corps, now under the command of General Alfred Pleasonton.
June 9.—At two o'clock P. M. the whole Cavalry Corps moved from Warrenton Junction towards the Rappahannock. We are marching in two columns, one towards Beverly and the other towards Kelly's, Fords. The Harris Light moves with the latter column. Two brigades of infantry under Generals Ames and Russell accompany the expedition, each with a battery of artillery.
CAVALRY FIGHT AT BRANDY STATION.
Early on the morning of the ninth we arrived at the river, where it was evident we were not expected in force, for we found nothing but a strong picket-guard to contest our advance. A brief though brisk skirmish took place at the ford, but the Rebel pickets were soon driven back and our column began to cross over, the Harris Light being in the van. On reaching the south bank of the stream, the column was re-formed, and we advanced for some distance at a gallop.
The column at Beverly Ford, commanded by General Gregg, had been engaged since early in the morning, and the roaring of light arms and the booming of cannon clearly indicated to us that hot work was being done by our comrades below. It had been hoped that that column would be able to strike the enemy in flank at Brandy Station, in the early part of the day, giving us an opportunity to rake them furiously in front. Hence we were somewhat retarded in our movements, waiting or expecting the combinations and juxtapositions which had been planned. But, failing in this, at length we advanced towards the station, where, at ten o'clock, we engaged a regiment of Stuart's cavalry. As soon as we reached the field which they had evidently selected for the fight, we charged them in a splendid manner, routing them completely, and capturing many prisoners. Light artillery was used briskly on both sides.
By twelve o'clock Pleasonton's entire force had effected a union, after much severe fighting, on the left, and the engagement became general. The infantry fought side by side with the cavalry. There was some grand manoeuvring on that historic field, and feats were performed worthy of heroes.
One incident should be particularized. At a critical moment, when the formidable and ever-increasing hosts of the enemy were driving our forces from a desirable position we sought to gain, and when it seemed as though disaster to our arms would be fatal, Kilpatrick's battle-flag was seen advancing, followed by the tried squadrons of the Harris Light, the Tenth New York, and the First Maine. In echelons of squadrons his brigade was quickly formed, and he advanced like a storm-cloud upon the Rebel cavalry which filled the field before him. The Tenth New York received the first shock of the Rebel charge, but was hurled back, though not in confusion. The Harris Light met with no better success; and, notwithstanding their prestige and power, they were repulsed under the very eye of their chief, whose excitement at the scene was well-nigh uncontrollable. His flashing eye now turned to the First Maine, a regiment composed mostly of heavy, sturdy men, who had not been engaged as yet during the day; and, riding to the head of the column, he shouted, "Men of Maine, you must save the day! Follow me!" With one simultaneous war-cry these giants of the North moved forward in one solid mass upon the flank of the Rebel columns. The shock was overwhelming; and the opposing lines crumbled like a "bowing wall" before this wild rush of prancing horses, gleaming sabres, and rattling balls.
On rode Kilpatrick with the men of Maine, and, on meeting the two regiments of his brigade, which had been repulsed and were returning from the front, the General's voice sang out like clarion notes above the din of battle, "Back, the Harris Light! Back, the Tenth New York! Re-form your squadrons and charge!". With magical alacrity the order was obeyed, and the two regiments, which had been so humbled by their first reverse, now rushed into the fight with a spirit and success which redeemed them from censure, and accounted them worthy of their gallant leader. The commanding position was won; a battery lost in a previous charge was recaptured, and an effectual blow was given to the enemy, which greatly facilitated the movements which followed.
But the Rebel cavalry was greatly emboldened and strengthened by reenforcements of infantry which were brought in railroad cars. We, however, continued to press them closely until six o'clock, when, by a grand charge of our entire force, we gained an important position, which ended the contest.
Heavy columns of Rebel infantry could now be distinctly seen advancing over the plains from the direction of Culpepper, to the rescue of their fairly-beaten cavalry. But it was too late for them, for we had won a splendid victory, and had gained all the information of Rebel movements which we desired to obtain. Under cover of the night we recrossed the Rappahannock in safety.
The whole command had lost about five hundred men, and we brought over with us one hundred prisoners. In the early part of the engagement fell Colonel B. F. Davis, of the Eighth New York Cavalry, who was instantly killed. His loss was a subject of general lamentation. He had distinguished himself for great sagacity, wonderful powers of endurance, and unsurpassed bravery. He it was who led the cavalry safely from Harper's Ferry just before Miles' surrender of the place, and who, on his way to Pennsylvania, captured Longstreet's ammunition-train.
Among our wounded was Colonel Percy Wyndham. The enemy's killed included Colonel Saul Williams, of the Second North Carolina Cavalry, and Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Hampton, of the South Carolina Cavalry; General W. H. F. Lee and Colonels Butler and Harmon were among their wounded. They acknowledge a loss of six hundred men.
From the Richmond Sentinel we clip the following account of the battle, by a Rebel chaplain:
CAMP IN CULPEPPER COUNTY, June 10, 1863.
Tuesday, the ninth of June, will be memorable to General Stuart's command as the day on which was fought the longest and most hotly-contested cavalry battle of the war. At an early hour skirmishing commenced, and soon the commands of Hampton, the two Lees, Robinson, and Jones, were engaged along the whole Culpepper line, from Welford's Ford, on the Hazel, down to Stevensburg. Each command acted nobly, and the Yankees were forced, after a fight of nearly twelve hours, to recross the river with great losses. We have to lament the loss of many gallant officers and privates, some killed and others permanently disabled. The forces under W. H. F. Lee, that worthy descendant of "Old Light Horse Harry," bore no mean part in the fray. We have to regret the temporary loss of our general (W. H. F. Lee), who was wounded in the thigh, and the death of Colonel Williams (of our brigade), than whom a more elegant gentleman or braver soldier never lived.
Being connected with the Tenth Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel J. Lucius Davis, and, therefore, better cognizant of its conduct, it is not invidious to allude to it, though not claiming any superiority over other regiments, all of which did nobly. Early in the morning this regiment was dismounted for sharp-shooting, and, until ordered off, held its ground, though exposed to an incessant and galling fire from the Fifth United States Regulars, who were snugly ensconced behind a stone fence. At this point many of the casualties in our regiment occurred. In the afternoon the Tenth, led by Colonel Davis, made a splendid charge on the Second United States Regulars, who, after a hand-to-hand conflict, broke and fled incontinently. Our General (Stuart), whose praise is not to be despised, paid a high compliment on the field to the Tenth for its conduct in holding Welford's Hill, and for its dashing charge.
I append a list of casualties:
Company A (Caskie Rangers), commanded by Captain Robert Caskie.—Killed: None. Wounded: Second Lieutenant J. Doyle, slightly in head; Private, Eytel, in breast; English, in foot; Hubbell, in breast; Gill, in arm and shoulder; Wilson, in hip. Missing and taken prisoners: Privates Burton, Charles Childress, Joseph Childress, Fulcher, Hudnall, and Parker.—Total, 12.
Company B, Captain W. B. Clements.—Killed: Corporal N. B. Ellis. Wounded: Privates Anderson Foster, severely in thigh; P. J. Cape, in thigh; H. Foster, slightly in foot; R. P. Brewbaker, slightly in head; A. Caton, in hand.—Total, 6.
Company C, commanded by Lieutenant Richardson.—Killed: None. Wounded: Lieutenant N. Richardson, seriously through breast; Sergeant J. Mason, in leg; Corporal Brown, in arm; Privates J. B. King, slightly in thigh; W. B. Saw, seriously in hip; M. Potter, in hand. Missing: J. Shumate. —Total, 7.
Company D, absent on detached service.
Company E, commanded by Captain J. Tucker.—Killed: Private H. T. Bourgois. Wounded: Corporal F. S. Labit, in shoulder; S. H. Lamb, in hand. Missing: Sergeant Peter Smith (wounded and captured); Sergeant Stromburg (wounded and captured); Private Enoch Pelton.—Total, 6.
Company F, commanded by Captain J. H. Dettor.—Killed: G. Wescott. Wounded: Privates John White, in thigh; John E. Edge, in thigh; J. R. Giles, in arm; Sergeant J. Durret, arm.—Total, 5.
Company G, commanded by M. S. Kirtley.—Killed: None. Wounded: Corporal J. M. McConn, seriously in arm; Private Jonathan Shepherd, slightly in head. Missing: Private S. Hartley.—Total, 3.
Company H, commanded by Lieutenant S. K. Newham.—Killed: None. Wounded: Privates James O'Connor, mortally; M. Neff, seriously in leg. Missing: J. P. Martz, R. F. Koontz.—Total, 4.
Company I (Henrico Light Dragoons), commanded by Lieutenant J. H. T. McDowell.—Killed: Private Louis Ottenburg. Wounded: Sergeant S. L. McGruder, slightly in shoulder; Corporal J. C. Mann, slightly in leg; Privates Walter Priest, mortally in breast; George Waldrop, slightly in shoulder; B. J. Duval, slightly in head; W. T. Thomas, in shoulder slightly.—Total, 7.
Company K, commanded by Captain Dickinson.—Killed: None. Wounded: Corporal J. L. Franklin, in right shoulder; Private J. M. Craig, head, left arm severely; R. V. Griffin, right shoulder severely; C. P. Preston, slightly in nose; W. T. Arrington, breast slightly; T. R. Gilbert, left arm slightly. Missing: Sergeant T. S. Holland; Privates E. A. Haines and S. R. Gilbert.—Total, 9.
Total killed, wounded, and missing, 59.
J. B. TAYLOR, JR., Chaplain Tenth Virginia Cavalry, W. H. F. LEE'S Brigade.
Two important ends were reached by this advance, namely, first, a cavalry raid contemplated by Stuart, who had massed his forces near Culpepper, was utterly frustrated; and second, General Pleasonton ascertained conclusively that General Lee was marching his army northward, with the evident design of invading the Northern States. Indeed, it was a suspicion of such a movement that led General Hooker to order the reconnoissance.
The day following this glorious fight, in which the men of the North had proved themselves to be more than a match for the boasted Southern chivalry, and had gained a name which placed Pleasonton's command at the head of the world's cavalry forces, Pleasonton was made a Major-General, and Kilpatrick a Brigadier. Their stars were well-deserved and proudly worn.
During the day the Cavalry Corps moved to Warrenton Junction, leaving strong guards at the fords of the Rappahannock to prevent any crossing which might be attempted by the enemy.
June 11.—At two o'clock this afternoon General Gregg inspected our division. The day was beautiful, and the troopers made a splendid appearance. To heighten the interest of the occasion, the colors captured by the Harris Light at Urbanna, and those taken by the First Maine in their memorable charge at Brandy Station on the ninth instant, were displayed amid the cheers of the enthusiastic cavalrymen, whose past deeds give encouraging promise for the future.
Sunday, June 14.—We are still encamped on the plains near Warrenton Junction. On the twelfth the regiment was inspected by Captain Armstrong, of Kilpatrick's staff. The following day we had an interesting mounted-drill. We cannot keep idle. This afternoon, at two o'clock, we received orders to prepare to move at a moment's notice. Cannonading is distinctly heard in the direction of Warrenton.
For several days it has been expected that General Lee, with his forces, would make his appearance on the banks of the Potomac, somewhere below Harper's Ferry. But as they have failed to do so, the inquiry is very general among us, "Where are they?" and, "What do they intend?" To work out the answer to such interrogations is generally the work of the cavalry; so that, when our orders for readiness to move were received, we saw before us a reconnoissance in force. We understand that already Rebel cavalry is raiding more or less in Maryland, and some exciting times are expected before long.
SECOND INVASION OF MARYLAND.—GETTYSBURG.
1863.—Invasion of the Northern States.—Kilpatrick at Aldie.—The Bloody Battle.—Daring Deeds.—Colonel Cesnola, Fourth New York Cavalry.— Incidents.—Victory.—Advance to Ashby's Gap.—Pleasonton's Official Report.—Rebel Movements on Free Soil.—Difficulties in the North.— The Cavalry Corps Crosses the Potomac at Edward's Ferry.—General Meade succeeds Hooker.—Orders.—Changes in the Cavalry.—Movements. —Kilpatrick's Fight with Stuart at Hanover Junction.—Solemn and laughable Scenes.—Buford's Division Opens the Fight at Gettysburg. —Death of General Reynolds.—First Bay's Repulse.—Second Bay.— Rebel Advantages.—Third Bay.—Last Grand Effort.—Death of General Farnsworth.—The Republic just Saved.
For nearly two days we were prepared to march, and awaiting orders, when at last they came. At about six o'clock on the morning of the sixteenth we took up our line of march, which was mostly along the railroad in the direction of Manassas. Having arrived at these celebrated plains, we struck off a little to the left towards Centreville, where we arrived at ten o'clock, weary with the long journey. Here we ascertained that General Hooker's headquarters are at Fairfax Court House, or in the vicinity, and that his army covers the approaches to Washington.
June 17.—After a refreshing night's rest, we were up early in the morning, and resumed our march at six o'clock, taking the Warrenton Turnpike. Kilpatrick has the advance of the corps. We soon crossed the memorable fields of the two Bull Run battles, passed the famous field of Groveton, and there deflecting to the right, and pushing forward rapidly, we arrived by noon in sight of the hills which partially surround the village of Aldie, on the north side of the Bull Run Mountains. Kilpatrick had been directed to move through Aldie, and thence to and through Ashby's Gap, in the Blue Ridge, learn all he could of the enemy's movements, and, then returning, to rejoin the corps at Nolan's Ferry on the Potomac. Colonel Duffie, with his regiment, the First Rhode Island, was ordered to move through Thoroughfare Gap, and to join Kilpatrick in Pleasant Valley beyond. These plans were laid with the presumption that no very heavy force of Rebels remained north of the Blue Ridge, and none at all north of the Bull Run Mountains. But this was a great mistake.
BLOODY BATTLE OF ALDIE.
James Moore, M. D., Surgeon of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, thus describes what occurred to Kilpatrick and his command at this place:
"Scarcely had his advance reached the town of Aldie, when it came directly upon the advance-guard of W. H. F. Lee. It was entirely unexpected. No enemy was supposed to be on the Aldie side of the Bull Run Mountains.
"The general rode to the front, ran his eye over the field for a moment, and then rapidly gave his orders. He had taken in the whole field at one rapid glance, and saw the important points that must be gained. The Harris Light Cavalry was directed to charge straight down the road, through the town, gain and hold the long, low hill over which runs the road from Middleburg. With anxious eye he watched the charge, on which so much depended, saw that it was successful, and quickly and resolutely pushed in one regiment after another on the right of the Harris Light, till the high hills far on the right of Aldie were gained.
"This fine disposition was made, and important position won, before the Rebel General Fitzhugh Lee could make a single effort to prevent it, although he had a division of cavalry at his back.
"He soon recovered, however, from the temporary surprise, and for two hours made most desperate efforts to regain the position lost. He struck the right, left, and centre in quick succession, while his battery of Blakely guns thundered forth their messengers of death.
"But all in vain! Kilpatrick's gallant men—the heroes of Brandy Station—met and hurled back each charge, while Randall's battery, ignoring entirely the Rebel guns, sent his canister and shells tearing through the heavy columns of the enemy.
"On this day Kilpatrick did wonders. He fought under the eye of his chief, and where bullets flew the thickest, and where the shock came the heaviest, there rang his cheering voice and there flashed his sabre. His own regiment, the Harris Light, had failed to meet his hopes on the plains of Brandy Station. This was known to the officers of that splendid organization, and on that very morning they had petitioned their general for an opportunity to retrieve their reputation. The opportunity was at hand.
"A large force of the enemy occupied a strong position behind rail barricades encircling large stacks of hay. For a long time Rebel sharp-shooters, from this secure position, had baffled every attempt to advance our lines on the left. The general ordered up a battalion of the Harris Light. Quickly they came! Addressing a few encouraging words to the men, and then turning to Major McIrvin, the officer in command, he said, pointing to the barricades: 'Major, there is the opportunity you have asked for. Go, take that position!' Away dashed this officer and his men. In a moment the enemy was reached, and the struggle began. The horses could not leap the barricade, but the men dismounted, scaled those formidable barriers, and, with drawn sabres, rushed upon the hidden foe, who quickly asked for quarter.
"Another incident occurred worth mentioning. Colonel Cesnola, of the Fourth New York Cavalry, had that morning, through mistake, been placed under arrest, and, his sword being taken from him, was without arms. But in one of these wild charges, made early in the contest, his regiment hesitated. Forgetting that he was under arrest, and without command, he flew to the head of his regiment, reassured his men, and, without a weapon to give or ward a blow, led them to the charge. This gallant act was seen by his general, who, meeting him on his return, said: 'Colonel, you are a brave man; you are released from arrest;' and, taking his own sword from his side, handed it to the colonel, saying: 'Here is my sword; wear it in honor of this day!' In the next charge Colonel Cesnola fell, desperately wounded, and was taken prisoner.
"The Rebel general, being foiled at every point, resolved to make one more desperate effort. Silently and quickly he massed a heavy force upon our extreme right, and, led by General Rosser, made one of the most desperate and determined charges of the day. Kilpatrick was aware of this movement, and satisfied that his men, exhausted as they were, could not withstand the charge, had already sent for reenforcements.
"Before these could reach him the shock came. The First Massachusetts had the right, and fought as only brave men could to stem the tide that steadily bore them back, until the whole right gave way. Back rushed our men in wild confusion, and on came the victorious Rebel horsemen. The general saw, with anguish, his flying soldiers, yet in his extremity retained his presence of mind, and proved himself worthy the star he had won at Brandy Station.
"Sending orders for the centre and left to stand fast, he placed himself at the head of the First Maine, sent to his assistance, and coolly waited till the Rebel charging columns had advanced within fifty yards of Randall's guns. He then shouted 'Forward!' and the same regiment that saved the day at Brandy Station was destined to save the day at Aldie. Rosser's men could not withstand the charge, but broke and fled up the hill. The general's horse was killed in the charge, and here the brave Colonel Doughty fell.
"The general determined now to complete the victory, and, mounting a fresh horse, he urged on the First Maine and First Massachusetts, sent orders for his whole line to advance, and then sounded the charge. Lee struggled for a few minutes against this advance, and then ordered a retreat, which ended in a rout. His troops were driven in confusion as far as Middleburg, and night alone saved the remnant of his command.
"This was by far the most bloody cavalry battle of the war. The Rebel chivalry had again been beaten, and Kilpatrick, who was the only general on the field, at once took a proud stand among the most famous of our Union cavalry generals. The fame of our cavalry was now much enhanced, and caused the greatest joy to the nation."
June 18.—General Pleasonton was anxious to press the Rebel cavalry back upon their infantry, to ascertain minutely their movements; hence, to-day, Kilpatrick was ordered to advance through the Bull Run Mountains, and to occupy Middleburg. Jaded as we were, as well as our horses, with the fearful yet glorious labors of the previous day, with mercury up to 98 deg. Fahrenheit in the shade, and 122 deg. in the sun, with an atmosphere unusually oppressive for Virginia, and through dust which many tramping hoofs made almost intolerable, we marched into Pleasant Valley. The outpost of the Rebel cavalry was met near the town, but they were driven from the streets, and we took possession of Middleburg.
About three o'clock in the afternoon a heavy wind arose, betokening rain, which began to fall about five o'clock, mingled with hail. For this atmospheric change we had earnestly prayed. The heat had become so oppressive, and the roads so dusty, as to make our movements very unpleasant and disastrous to men and beasts, especially to the latter.
In this beautiful region of country we spent a few days very pleasantly, recruiting our strength and awaiting orders.
CAVALRY BATTLE AT UPPERVILLE.
June 21.—The Cavalry Corps, with General Pleasonton at its head, moved, at eight o'clock this morning, in the direction of Ashby's Gap, in the Blue Ridge. We had not proceeded far before we encountered the Rebel pickets, which we drove steadily before us. Their strength, however, greatly increased as we advanced. Quite a large force contested our progress when we entered Carrtown, and from this place to Upperville the engagement was a little too heavy to be called a skirmish. Nevertheless, we pushed ahead without being seriously retarded until we reached Upperville. Here our advance was met with great desperation, the enemy charging us handsomely, but with no great damage. When our forces had been properly arranged, and the right time had come, Kilpatrick was ordered to charge the town. With drawn sabres—weapons in which the general always had great confidence, and generally won success—and with yells which made the mountains and plains resound, we rushed upon the foe. The fray was terrible. Several times did the Rebels break, but, being reenforced or falling back upon some better position, again endeavored to baffle our efforts. But they were not equal to the task, and we drove them through the village of Paris, and finally through Ashby's Gap, upon their infantry columns in the Shenandoah Valley. In these charges and chase we captured two pieces of artillery, four caissons, several stand of small arms, and a large number of prisoners.
It was my misfortune, in one of those desperate encounters, to have a favorite horse shot under me. But it was also my fortune to escape from the deadly missiles which filled the air, and from my fallen horse, unhurt. Another animal was soon provided for me from the captures we had made.
Our scouts, during this engagement, had managed to gain an entrance into the Valley, where they ascertained that the Rebel army, in heavy columns, was advancing towards the Upper Potomac.
This fight was of sufficient importance to call forth from the commanding general the following official document:
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS, Camp near Upperville, 5.20 P. M., June 21.
Brigadier-General S. Williams:
GENERAL: I moved with my command this morning to Middleburg, and attacked the cavalry force of the Rebels under Stuart, and steadily drove him all day, inflicting a heavy loss at every step.
I drove him through Upperville into Ashby's Gap.
We took two pieces of artillery, one being a Blakely gun, and three caissons, besides blowing up one; also, upwards of sixty prisoners, and more are coming; a lieutenant-colonel, major, and five other officers, besides a wounded colonel and a large number of wounded Rebels left in the town of Upperville.
They left their dead and wounded upon the field; of the former I saw upward of twenty.
We also took a large number of carbines, pistols, and sabres. In fact, it was a most disastrous day to the Rebel cavalry.
Our loss has been very small both in men and horses.
I never saw the troops behave better, or under more difficult circumstances.
Very heavy charges were made, and the sabre used freely, but always with great advantage to us.
A. PLEASONTON, Brigadier-General.
The day following this decided victory by force of arms, and by the stratagem of scouts, who obtained all needful information as to the intentions of the enemy, the Cavalry Corps retired from Ashby's Gap and established its headquarters at Aldie. Our outposts are near Middleburg. We are now receiving some exciting news from Maryland and the North. It appears that Rebel cavalry was raiding through Maryland, destroying railroads and bridges, telegraph lines and depots, and making havoc on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal as early as the fifteenth instant; and that General Ewell, with a corps of infantry, crossed the Potomac at Williamsport on the sixteenth, and advanced via Hagerstown towards Pennsylvania.
A sad and distressing alarm seems to have aroused the North. General Lee's advance thus far, excepting the repulses of his cavalry on his right flank, has been a perfect success. It is true that Washington, the glittering prize before him, has been protected by General Hooker's cautious movements. But this protection of the Capital has consumed time and given the enemy a decided advantage in other quarters. He had already entered the Free States before we fairly understood his intentions.
Winchester, an important post in the Shenandoah Valley, guarded by General Milroy, was nearly surrounded by the advancing Rebel hordes, before our general even dreamed that he was in jeopardy. The few of our men who escaped from that garrison, were greatly demoralized, while about four thousand were made prisoners, and many heavy guns, small arms, wagons, horses, and stores of all kinds fell into the enemy's hands.
These blunders on our part and losses, together with the prowess and boast of the Rebel legions, gave the malcontents of the North, and political tricksters, a coveted opportunity to rail against the Administration, and to weaken, as far as their influence could be felt, the confidence which had been reposed in it. The President was represented as an imbecile, utterly devoid of statesmanship. The army was berated with no measured terms. Every reverse of fortune was attributed to a want of brains and heart in the heads of departments. The Republic had certainly fallen upon dark days.
General Lee, undoubtedly, expected to make capital out of this state of things, and hoped that by winning a grand victory on Northern soil, so to cripple the Administration and to demoralize the political party in power, that he could secure the aid and comfort of the opposing party, and thus compel the North to submit to any terms of peace which the anomalous Confederacy might dictate.
Notwithstanding the threatening posture of military affairs, and that the Government was thoroughly alarmed and ordered out the militia of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and other States, the call being faithfully reechoed by the Governors of those States, the responses were comparatively faint and fell far short of the numbers which had been demanded. New York City alone responded generously. The uniformed and disciplined regiments there generally and promptly went to the contest, and appeared where they were needed. For this the Governor of the State was publicly thanked by the Secretary of War.
June 25.—We are informed that our infantry and artillery, with small detachments of cavalry, are advancing through Maryland to meet and repel the invaders, who are reported to be crossing the Potomac in two heavy columns at Shepherdstown and Williamsport. Every department of the service seems to be in commotion, and great things are expected. A heavy rain set in early this evening.
June 26.—At six o'clock this morning we broke camp at Aldie and advanced towards Leesburg, spending the night near this place. Most of our time has been spent in the saddle. This is becoming not only our seat, but also our bed and pillow.
June 27.—At five o'clock A. M. our corps commenced its march towards Edward's Ferry, on the Potomac. On our way to the ferry we crossed the famous battle-field of Ball's Bluff, where Colonel Baker and many of his gallant Californians became an early and costly sacrifice to the cause of the Union.
On reaching the river we found the two pontoon bridges over which already a large portion of our army had passed on before us. They had been much retarded by the heavy rains and mud. The approaches to the pontoons had been so trodden by the myriad feet of men and beasts, and cut by the heavy wheels of laden wagons and artillery, that we found the roads almost bottomless. But as we had seen mud many times before, we moved forward undismayed, though somewhat retarded, and were soon on Northern soil. A somewhat strange feeling came over us on finding ourselves marching mainly towards the North Star to meet the enemy, whereas we had so long been accustomed to look and march only southward for this purpose.
Our march lay through a fine and fertile section of country. The vast fields of grain are ripening for the harvest, and their appearance indicates that thus far the labors of the husbandman have not been in vain. The peacefulness of the fields and flocks presents a striking contrast to the warlike preparations which are now being made for what must be the most decisive and bloody contest of the war. The rebellion seems to have risked its very existence in the coming conflict, which cannot be many days hence. Determination and desperation seem foremost in the movement. On our side a solemn decision seems to be actuating the masses. We know that should the "Stars and Bars" be victorious again, and at this crisis of our national affairs, as they were at the two Bull Run battles, and at Chancellorsville, our "Stars and Stripes" will not only be shamefully humbled, but suffer cruel elimination. In such an event some of our stars must fall and some of the beams of our light must be obscured.
"But conquer we must, for our cause it is just, And this be our motto, 'In God is our trust.' And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Sunday, June 28.—All night long we were on the march, arriving in the vicinity of Frederick City early in the morning. The whole country for miles seems to be covered with soldiers. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. However, the city does not show the thrift and prosperity which are evidenced in Northern cities enjoying similar advantages. This is the capital of Frederick County, one of the richest in the State. Looking southward from the city we behold an almost interminable stretch of beautiful rolling land, nearly every inch of which is not only arable but richly productive. On the east, at a distance of several miles, the eye rests upon a range of hills which sweep downward toward the Potomac, terminating in the lofty peak called Sugarloaf. Westward rises the loftier chain of the Catoctin, which is but a continuation of the Bull Run Mountains, severed by the river at Point of Rocks. All the highest peaks of these hills and mountains are now used for signal stations, where wave the signal flags by day and flash the signal fires by night. One seldom wearies in watching these operations, though he may not understand their significance.
CHANGE OF COMMANDERS.
This has been a day of much interest among us and of no little excitement—a day of changes and reorganization. An exciting rumor was bandied from man to man this morning, that General Hooker was about to be relieved from the command of the grand army; and the day was only partly spent when the strange rumor resolved itself into the astounding truth. The facts which led to this result may not be perfectly understood among us, but appear to be about as follows: On discovering that the enemy had actually invaded the Northern States, General Hooker requested the authorities to send him all the forces which could be spared from General Heintzelman's command in and about the Defenses of Washington. This was done. But, having crossed the Potomac, General Hooker visited Harper's Ferry with its strong garrison, and immediately urged upon the Government the importance of placing this force also under his command. Upon this subject there sprang up a sharp controversy between Hooker and Halleck. The latter rejoined to the former in these words:
"Maryland Heights have always been regarded as an important point to be held by us, and much expense and labor incurred in fortifying them. I cannot approve of their abandonment, except in case of absolute necessity."
General Hooker's reply to this shows him to have been in the right, and to have comprehended the relative importance of the position in question:
"I have received your telegram in regard to Harper's Ferry. I find ten thousand men here in condition to take the field. Here they are of no earthly account. They cannot defend a ford of the river; and, so far as Harper's Ferry is concerned, there is nothing of it. As for the fortifications, the work of the troops, they remain when the troops are withdrawn. This is my opinion. All the public property could have been secured to-night, and the troops marched to where they could have been of some service. Now they are but a bait for the Rebels, should they return. I beg that this may be presented to the Secretary of War, and his Excellency, the President."
Receiving no direct reply to this announcement, and goaded by the pressure of fast-moving events, our General yielded to do what many of us heartily condemn, by sending the following message:
SANDY HOOK, MD., June 27, 1863.
Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:
My original instructions require me to cover Harper's Ferry and Washington. I have now imposed upon me, in addition, an enemy in my front of more than my numbers. I beg to be understood respectfully, but firmly, that I am unable to comply with this condition, with the means at my disposal, and earnestly request that I may at once be relieved from the position I occupy.
JOSEPH HOOKER, Major-General.
To-day came the order relieving General Hooker, who issued the following characteristic farewell address to the troops, many of whom were taken, wholly by surprise, and all of them appeared greatly afflicted:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Frederick, Md., June 28, 1863.
In conformity with the orders of the War Department, dated June 27, 1863, I relinquish the command of the Army of the Potomac. It is transferred to Major-General George G. Meade, a brave and accomplished officer, who has nobly earned the confidence and esteem of the army on many a well-fought field. Impressed with the belief that, my usefulness as the commander of the Army of the Potomac is impaired, I part from it, yet not without the deepest emotions. The sorrow of parting with the comrades of so many battles is relieved by the conviction that the courage and devotion of this army will never cease nor fail; that it will yield to my successor, as it has to me, a willing and hearty support. With the earnest prayer that the triumph of this army may bring successes worthy of it and the nation, I bid it farewell.
JOSEPH HOOKER, Major-General.
Such a change of regime on the eve of a great battle, with the command in the hands of one less known and trusted, at first seemed to threaten disaster. But the modest, earnest words with which the new commander framed his first order to the troops allayed all fears, renewed confidence, and greatly attached to him the hearts of his subordinates.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, June 28, 1863.
By direction of the President of the United States I hereby assume command of the Army of the Potomac. As a soldier, in obeying this order —an order totally unexpected and unsolicited—I have no promises or pledges to make. The country looks to this army to relieve it from the devastation and disgrace of a hostile invasion. Whatever fatigues and sacrifices we may be called to undergo, let us have in view constantly the magnitude of the interests involved, and let each man determine to do his duty, leaving to an all-controlling Providence the decision of the contest. It is with just diffidence that I relieved, in the command of this army, an eminent and accomplished soldier, whose name must ever appear conspicuous in the history of its achievements; but I rely upon the hearty support of my companions in arms to assist me in the discharge of the duties of the important trust which has been confided to me.
GEORGE G. MEADE, Major-General Commanding.
This change of commanders was followed by others in various branches of the service, not excepting the Cavalry Corps. Our force has been increased by General Julius Stahel's division, which has been employed for some time in the vicinity of Fairfax Court House, and along the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. In the reorganization, the corps, which continues under the efficient command of General Pleasonton, is arranged into three divisions, the First, Second, and Third, commanded respectively by Generals Buford, Gregg, and Kilpatrick. A more effective cavalry force was never organized on this continent, and probably on no other.
The Harris Light is assigned to General Gregg's division, which separates us, for the first time, from our former beloved commander. But we are not among those who desire to shirk responsibility for any such cause as this. After the division had been reorganized and reviewed, in the afternoon we took up our line of march to New Market. Some rain fell towards night, which laid the dust and allayed the heat. Men and horses are living well upon the rich products of the country. Upon such supplies we rely mainly, though our trains are not wholly destitute.
We are received with more or less enthusiasm and demonstrations of patriotism in nearly all the towns we visit, making a very striking contrast with our former receptions in cities and towns of Virginia. This gives our men additional courage, and nerves us for the conflicts impending.
June 29.—We have been in the saddle nearly all day, scouting the country in the neighborhood of Westminster. On the morning of the thirtieth, about nine o'clock, the regiment entered this pleasant town, the citizens flocking from all directions to pay us their respects, and to show their devotion to the cause of the Union. After a short halt we advanced to Manchester.
July 1.—To-day we marched to Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, where we met the enemy's cavalry under General John Jenkins, and, after a spirited skirmish, they were forced to retire.
The Pennsylvanians welcomed us with glad cheers, and showed their appreciation of our presence and services by driving several "huckster's wagons" into our midst, well laden with a great variety of eatables, which were donated to us by the good citizens of the surrounding country. It is true that some of the inhabitants made their gifts very sparingly and not without grudging, while others charged enormous prices for such articles as we were willing to purchase; but justice demands that we state that such inhospitable, unpatriotic, and niggardly souls were the exception.
While here we learned the particulars of important movements made by other portions of our cavalry. Kilpatrick, with his vigorous division, left the vicinity of Frederick on Monday; and, striking northward, he passed through Taneytown, reaching Littletown about ten o'clock at night, where he was received in the midst of great rejoicing. A large group of children and young ladies, gayly attired, on the balcony of a hotel, waving handkerchiefs and flags, greeted their defenders with patriotic songs, while the heroic troopers responded with cheers which made the welkin ring. The command bivouacked in the vicinity of the village, where the citizens brought abundant forage for the horses, and the cavalrymen rested till morning. The march was then resumed in the direction of Hanover.
The column, which was several miles in length, entered this beautiful town, and was passing through, while the citizens were regaling the men sumptuously from their bountifully provided larders, and interchanging friendly and patriotic greetings, neither party suspecting the presence of the enemy. Nearly one half the column had already passed through, when suddenly the quiet, social scene was disturbed by the opening of a Rebel battery concealed on a wood-crowned hill, and so posted as to rake a portion of the road upon which the Union forces entered the town. This was immediately followed by a charge of Rebel cavalry, which had been drawn up in line of battle just behind a chain of hills which ran near and parallel to the highway. There they had quietly waited until the train was passing before them, with the hope that this might be captured or stampeded, and a glorious victory be won. General Stuart commanded in person, and the attack was certainly well planned. But Kilpatrick's boys were not to be disconcerted nor panic-stricken by any such or any other trap. The main force of the charging column happened to be in the rear of the Fifth New York, commanded by Major Hammond. Quick work was necessary. Rapidly moving out of the street into the open park near the railroad depot, Major Hammond drew his regiment in line of battle, and in nearly as short time as it takes to record it, charged with drawn sabres the Rebels, who then possessed the town. The charging columns met on Frederick street, where a fierce and bloody hand-to-hand contest ensued. For a few moments the enemy made heroic resistance, but soon broke and fled, closely pursued. They rallied again and again as fresh regiments came to their aid, but they were met, hurled back, and pursued with irresistible onsets, which compelled them to retire not only from the town, but also behind the hills under cover of their batteries.
In less than fifteen minutes from the time the Rebels charged into the village they were driven from it, leaving the streets strewn with their dead men and horses, and the debris which always accompanies such a conflict. The dead of both parties lay promiscuously about the street, so covered with blood and dust as to render identification in some cases very difficult. The blue of the Union and the gray of Rebellion were almost entirely obliterated, and, in many instances, the contending parties mingled their blood in one common pool.
This work of destruction had but just commenced when Generals Kilpatrick and Farnsworth, who, though some miles distant at the head of the column when the booming cannon announced the bloody fray, arrived in hot haste and took personal charge of the movements. These were ordered with consummate skill, and executed with promptness and success. Elder's battery, well posted on the hills facing the Rebels, and well supported, soon silenced the guns of the enemy, and drove him in the direction of Lee's main army. He was thoroughly punished for his audacious attack, and left many dead, wounded, and captured. The colors of the Thirteenth Virginia Cavalry were captured by a sergeant of the Fifth New York. About seventy-five prisoners, beside the wounded, fell into our hands, including Lieutenant-Colonel Payne, who commanded a brigade.
The particulars of his capture are worthy of historic record. In one of the charges made in the edge of the town, one of our boys, by the name of Abram Folger, was captured by Colonel Payne, and marched toward the rear. Just outside the town was a large brick tannery, the vats of which were not under cover, and close alongside of the highway. Folger was walking beside the Colonel's orderly. As they approached the tan-vats he espied a carbine lying on the ground. Quick as thought he seized it, fired, and killed Payne's horse. The animal, in his death-struggle, plunged over towards the vats, and Payne was thrown headlong into one of them, being completely submerged in the tan-liquid. Folger, feeling that the Colonel was secure enough for the moment, levelled his piece on the orderly, who, finding that his pistol was fouled and hence useless, attempted to jump his horse over the fence, but not succeeding, surrendered. It happened, however, that Folger had expended the last shot in the carbine on the Colonel's horse; but, as the orderly did not know it, it was just as well for Folger as though more ammunition had been on hand.
The recently-made prisoner was compelled to assist his Colonel from the vat. His gray uniform, with white velvet trimmings, his white gauntlets, and his face and hair had received a brief but thorough tanning. Folger marched the two in front of him to the market-place in the centre of the village, where he delivered his captives to the authorities. In one hand the brave soldier-boy carried his empty carbine, and in the other a good strong stick. It was a most ludicrous and interesting scene. Folger was captured by Payne's command, in Virginia, the winter before this affair, and his feelings may be imagined at having so nicely returned the compliment.
The citizens of Hanover, who so nobly cared for our wounded in the hospitals during and after the battle, and assisted us in burying our dead, will not soon forget that terrible last day of June. Our brave boys, who, though taken by surprise, had so valiantly defeated the enemy, built their bivouac fires and rested for the night on the field of their recent victory. Stuart's cavalry was now losing caste, while our troopers were not only adding fresh laurels to their chaplet of renown, but also new fibres of vitality to the hearts and hands which loved and defended the sacred Tree of Liberty.
FIRST DAY AT GETTYSBURG.
General Buford, with his division, had moved from Frederick City directly to Gettysburg, the capital of Adams County, a rural village of about three thousand inhabitants, beautifully situated among the hills, which, though quite lofty, are generally well cultivated. The general found the borough very quiet, and passed through; but he had not proceeded far beyond before he met the van of the Rebel army under General Heth, of Hill's Corps. The dauntless troopers charged furiously the invading hordes, and drove them back upon their supports, where our boys were driven back in their turn before overwhelming numbers. As Providence would have it, our infantry advance, under General James S. Wadsworth, marching from the village of Emmitsburg, hearing the familiar sound of battle, went into a double-quick, and, hastening through Gettysburg, struck the advancing Rebel column just in time to seize and occupy the range of hills that overlooks the place from the north-west, in the direction of Chambersburg.
General John F. Reynolds, a true Pennsylvanian, was in command of our entire advance, which consisted of the First and Eleventh Corps, about twenty-two thousand strong. As General Wadsworth was placing his division in position, General Reynolds went forward quite alone to reconnoitre, when he discovered a heavy force of the enemy in a grove not far distant. Dismounting quickly he crouched down by a fence through which he sought to survey the force and its position by means of his field-glass, when a whistling ball from a sharpshooter's musket struck him in the neck. He fell on his face and baptized with his life-blood the soil which had given him birth. His untimely fall, especially at this crisis and almost in sight of his childhood's home, was generally lamented. His lifeless form was borne away to the rear just as the Rebels in heavy force advanced upon not more than one-third their number.
General Abner Doubleday had to assume command of our forces under this galling fire, having arrived with a portion of the First Corps, the remainder of which and the Eleventh Corps, not being able to join them until two hours of fearful destruction had gone on. Our feeble advance was compelled to fall quickly back upon Seminary Hill, just west of the village, and were pursued very closely, so much so that one portion of our line, seeing its opportunity, swung around rapidly, enveloping the Rebel advance and capturing General Archer the leader and about eight hundred prisoners. On the arrival of the Eleventh Corps, General O. O. Howard, being the ranking officer present, assumed command, giving his place to General Carl Schurz. Our men, now emboldened by these fresh arrivals of helpers, and having alighted upon a fine commanding position, renewed the fight with spirit and wonderful success. This prosperous tide of things continued until about one o'clock P. M., when their right wing was assailed furiously by fresh troops, which proved to be General Ewell's Corps, which had been marching from York, directed by the thunder of battle.
Thus flanked and outnumbered by the gathering hosts, the Eleventh Corps, which was most exposed to the enfilading fire of the newly arrived columns, began to waver, then to break, and soon fled in perfect rout. The First Corps was thus compelled to follow, or be annihilated. The two retreating columns met and mingled in more or less confusion in the streets of the town, where they greatly obstructed each other, though the First Corps retained its organization quite unbroken. In passing through the town the Eleventh Corps was especially exposed to the fire of the enemy, who pressed his advantage and captured thousands of prisoners. Our wounded, who, up to this time, had been quartered in Gettysburg, fell into the enemy's hands, and scarcely one-half of our brave boys, who had so recently and proudly passed through the streets to the battle lines, had the privilege of returning, but either lay dead or dying on the well-fought fields, or were captives with a cruel foe. The number of killed and wounded showed how desperately they had fought, and the large number captured was evidence of the overwhelming numbers with which they had contended.
General Buford, with his troopers, covered our retreat, showing as bold a front as possible to the enemy, who, it was feared, would follow fiercely, as they were very strong and several hours of daylight yet remained. But doubtless fearing that a trap might be laid for them if they advanced too far, they contented themselves with only a portion of the borough, their main force occupying the hills which form a grand amphitheatre on the north and west. It would be difficult to refrain from saying, that those Rebel forces were prevented from advancing by some mighty unseen hand—the hand of Him who "watches over the destiny of nations."
Our feeble and decimated forces took possession of Cemetery Hill, south of the town, and being reenforced by General Sickles' Corps, they began to intrench themselves with earthworks and rifle-pits, to extend their lines to right and left, and to select the best positions for our batteries. This work was continued quite late into the evening, the broad moonlight greatly facilitating the operations.
General Meade, who had selected his ground for the impending battle along the banks of Pipe Creek, and who at one o'clock P. M. was at Taneytown when the news of the fight, and the death of the brave Reynolds at Gettysburg, reached him, despatched General Hancock to the scene of conflict to take command, and to ascertain whether Gettysburg afforded better ground than that which had been selected. Hancock arrived at Cemetery Hill just as our broken lines were hastily and confusedly retreating from the village; our advance, however, had already taken this commanding position and was making some preparation for resistance. The newly arrived general began at once to order the forces which had been engaged and others which were occasionally arriving. He ordered the occupancy of Culp's Hill on our extreme right, and extended the lines to our left well up the high ground in the vicinity of Round Top, a rocky eminence about two miles from Gettysburg, and nearly equi-distant from the Emmitsburg and Taneytown roads. The line having been made as secure as possible, Hancock wrote to Meade that the position was excellent. His despatch had scarcely gone, when he was relieved by General Slocum, a ranking officer, and so, leaving the field, Hancock hastened to report in person to his chief the condition of things at Gettysburg. On arriving, Meade informed him that he had decided to fight at Gettysburg, and had sent orders to the various commands to that effect; then together they rode to Gettysburg, arriving about eleven o'clock at night.
All night long our forces were concentrating before this historic village, where they were all found on the morning of the second of July, except the Sixth Corps, General Sedgwick's, which did not arrive until two o'clock in the afternoon, after marching nearly all the previous night.
SECOND DAY'S FIGHT.
Until three o'clock all was quiet along the battle lines, except an occasional picket or sharpshooter's fire. However, there had been considerable manoeuvring. On our left General Sickles, in his eagerness for a fight, had advanced his corps across the Emmitsburg road, and on a wood-crowned ridge in the immediate vicinity of the main portion of the Rebel army. General Meade, in his inspection of the lines, remonstrated against the perilous position which Sickles had taken the liberty to gain. He, however, intimated that, if desired, he would withdraw to the ridge which Meade had justly indicated as the proper place where our forces would be better protected, and would be able to cover Round Top, a point which it was considered essential to retain. General Meade thereupon expressed his fear to Sickles that the enemy would not permit him quietly to retire from the trap in which he had placed his foot; and the last words had scarcely fallen from his lips, when the Rebel batteries were opened with fearful accuracy and at short range, and the infantry came on with their fierce charging yell. General Longstreet was in command.
With so long and strong lines of infantry in his front, which lapped over his flanks on either side, and a fearful enfilading fire from the heavy batteries on Seminary Hill, Sickles and his brave men were torn, shattered, overwhelmed, and with terrible loss and in great confusion, fell back to the ridge from which he ought not to have advanced. In the struggle the Rebels made a desperate attempt to reach and possess Round Top, which they came near doing before General Sykes, who had been ordered to advance and hold it, had gained the elevation. But their failure to possess this coveted prize proved a great disaster; for before they could withdraw their charging columns across the plain between Round Top and the ridge where Sickles stood at the beginning of the fray, they were attacked by General Hancock with a heavy force, and driven almost like chaff before the wind. Their loss was terrible. At the close of this encounter our lines stood precisely where General Meade desired they should be before the fight commenced, with Round Top fully in our possession and now strongly fortified with heavy artillery and good infantry support.
On our right General Ewell had succeeded in pushing back some portions of our lines under Slocum, who occupied Culp's Hill, and some of our fortified lines and rifle-pits were occupied by the Rebels. Night came on to close the dreadful day. Thus far the battle had been mostly in the advantage of the Rebels. They held the ground where Reynolds had fallen, also Seminary Ridge, and the elevation whence the Eleventh Corps had been driven. They also occupied the ridge on which Sickles had commenced to fight. Sickles himself was hors de combat, with a shattered leg which had to be amputated, and not far from twenty thousand of our men had been killed, wounded, and captured! The Rebels had also lost heavily; but, as they themselves believed, they were the winners.
General Lee, in his official report, says: "After a severe struggle, Longstreet succeeded in getting possession of and holding the desired ground. Ewell also carried some of the strong positions which he assailed; and the result was such as to lead to the belief that he would ultimately be able to dislodge the enemy. The battle ceased at dark. These partial successes determined me to continue the assault next day."
During these days of deadly strife and of unprecedented slaughter, our cavalry was by no means idle. On the morning of the first, Kilpatrick advanced his victorious squadrons to the vicinity of Abbottstown, where they struck a force of Rebel cavalry, which they scattered, capturing several prisoners, and then rested. To the ears of the alert chieftain came the sound of battle at Gettysburg, accompanied with the intelligence, from prisoners mostly, that Stuart's main force was bent on doing mischief on the right of our infantry lines, which were not far from the night's bivouac.
He appeared instinctively to know where he was most needed; so in the absence of orders, early the next morning he advanced to Hunterstown. At this point were the extreme wings of the infantry lines, and as Kilpatrick expected, he encountered the Rebel cavalry, commanded by his old antagonists, Stuart, Lee, and Hampton. The early part of the day was spent mostly in reconnoitring; but all the latter part of the day was occupied in hard, bold, and bloody work. Charges and counter-charges were made; the carbine, pistol, and sabre were used by turns, and the artillery thundered even late after the infantry around Gettysburg had sunk to rest, well-nigh exhausted with the bloody carnage of the weary day. But Stuart, who had hoped to break in upon our flank and rear, and to pounce upon our trains, was not only foiled in his endeavor by the gallant Kilpatrick, but also driven back upon his infantry supports, and badly beaten.
In the night, Kilpatrick, after leaving a sufficient force to prevent Stuart from doing any special damage on our right, swung around with the rest of his troopers to the left of our line, near Round Top, and was there prepared for any work which might be assigned him.
THE LAST EFFORT.
Friday, July 3.—The sun rose bright and warm, and looked down upon the blackened corpses of the dead, which were strewn over the bloody earth; upon the wounded who had not been cared for, and upon long glistening lines of armed men, ready to renew the conflict. Each antagonist, rousing every slumbering element of power, seemed to be resolved upon victory or death. The fight commenced early by an attack of General Slocum's men, who, determined to regain the rifle-pits they had lost the evening before, descended like an avalanche upon the foe. The attack met with a prompt response from General Ewell. But after several hours of desperate fighting, victory perched upon the Union banners, and with great loss and slaughter the Rebels were driven out of the breastworks, and fell back upon their main lines near Benner's Hill.
This successful move on the part of our boys in blue was followed by ominous lull or quiet, which continued about three hours. Meanwhile the silence was fitfully broken by an occasional spit of fire, while every preparation was being made for a last, supreme effort, which, it was expected, would decide the mighty contest. The scales were being poised for the last time, and upon the one side or the other was soon to be written the "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin." Hearts either trembled or waxed strong in the awful presence of this responsibility.
At length one o'clock arrived; a signal-gun was fired, and then at least one hundred and twenty-five guns from Hill and Longstreet concentrated and crossed their fires upon Cemetery Hill, the centre and key of our position. Just behind this crest, though much exposed, were General Meade's headquarters. For nearly two hours this hill was ploughed and torn by solid shot and bursting shell, while about one hundred guns on our side, mainly from this crest and Round Top, made sharp response. The earth and the air shook for miles around with the terrific concussion, which came no longer in volleys, but in a continual roar. So long and fearful a cannonade was never before witnessed on this continent. As the range was short and the aim accurate, the destruction was terrible. But the advantage was decidedly in favor of the Rebels, whose guns were superior in number to ours, and of heavier calibre, and had been concentrated for the attack. A spectator of the Union army thus describes the scene:
"The storm broke upon us so suddenly, that soldiers and officers—who leaped, as it began, from their tents, or from lazy siestas on the grass—were stricken in their rising with mortal wounds, and died, some with cigars between their teeth, some with pieces of food in their fingers, and one at least—a pale young German, from Pennsylvania—with a miniature of his sister in his hands. Horses fell, shrieking such awful cries as Cooper told of, and writhing themselves about in hopeless agony. The boards of fences, scattered by explosion, flew in splinters through the air. The earth, torn up in clouds, blinded the eyes of hurrying men; and through the branches of trees and among the gravestones of the cemetery a shower of destruction crashed ceaselessly. As, with hundreds of others, I groped through this tempest of death for the shelter of the bluff, an old man, a private in a company belonging to the Twenty-fourth Michigan, was struck, scarcely ten feet away, by a cannon-ball, which tore through him, extorting such a low, intense cry of mortal pain as I pray God I may never again hear. The hill, which seemed alone devoted to this rain of death, was clear in nearly all its unsheltered places within five minutes after the fire began."
A correspondent from the Confederate army thus describes this artillery contest: "I have never yet heard such tremendous artillery-firing. The enemy must have had over one hundred guns, which, in addition to our one hundred and fifteen, made the air hideous with most discordant noise. The very earth shook beneath our feet, and the hills and rocks seemed to reel like a drunken man. For one hour and a half this most terrific fire was continued, during which time the shrieking of shell, the crash of fallen timbers, the fragments of rocks flying through the air, shattered from the cliffs by solid shot, the heavy mutterings from the valley between the opposing armies, the splash of bursting shrapnel, and the fierce neighing of wounded artillery-horses, made a picture terribly grand and sublime, but which my pen utterly fails to describe."
Gradually the fire on our side began to slacken, and General Meade, learning that our guns were becoming hot, gave orders to cease firing and to let the guns cool, though the Rebel balls were making fearful havoc among our gunners, while our infantry sought poor shelter behind every projection, anxiously awaiting the expected charge. At length the enemy, supposing that our guns were silenced, deemed that the moment for an irresistible attack had come. Accordingly, as a lion emerges from his lair, he sallied forth, when strong lines of infantry, nearly three miles in length, with double lines of skirmishers in front, and heavy reserves in rear, advanced with desperation to the final effort. They moved with steady, measured tread over the plain below, and began the ascent of the hills occupied by our forces, concentrating somewhat upon General Hancock, though stretching across our entire front.
Says a correspondent of the Richmond Enquirer: "Just as Pickett was getting well under the enemy's fire, our batteries ceased firing. This was a fearful moment for Pickett and his brave command. Why do not our guns reopen their fire? is the inquiry that rises upon every lip. Still, our batteries are silent as death!" And this undoubtedly decided the issue—was God's handwriting on the wall. The Rebel guns had been thundering so long and ceaselessly that they were now unfit for use, and ceased firing from very necessity.
"Agate," correspondent of The Cincinnati Gazette, gives the following graphic description of the struggle:
"The great, desperate, final charge came at four. The Rebels seemed to have gathered up all their strength and desperation for one fierce, convulsive effort, that should sweep over and wash out our obstinate resistance. They swept up as before: the flower of their army to the front, victory staked upon the issue. In some places they literally lifted up and pushed back our lines; but, that terrible position of ours!—wherever they entered it, enfilading fires from half a score of crests swept away their columns like merest chaff. Broken and hurled back, they easily fell into our hands; and, on the centre and left, the last half hour brought more prisoners than all the rest.
"So it was along the whole line; but it was on the Second Corps that the flower of the Rebel army was concentrated; it was there that the heaviest shock beat upon, and shook, and even sometimes crumbled, our lines.
"We had some shallow rifle-pits, with barricades of rails from the fences. The Rebel line, stretching away miles to the left, in magnificent array, but strongest here—Pickett's splendid division of Longstreet's corps in front, the best of A. P. Hill's veterans in support—came steadily, and as it seemed resistlessly, sweeping up. Our skirmishers retired slowly from the Emmitsburg road, holding their ground tenaciously to the last. The Rebels reserved their fire till they reached this same Emmitsburg road, then opened with a terrific crash. From a hundred iron throats, meantime, their artillery had been thundering on our barricades.
"Hancock was wounded; Gibbon succeeded to the command—an approved soldier, and ready for the crisis. As the tempest of fire approached its height, he walked along the line, and renewed his orders to the men to reserve their fire. The Rebels—three lines deep—came steadily up. They were in point-blank range.
"At last the order came! From thrice six thousand guns there came a sheet of smoky flame, a crash, a rush of leaden death. The line literally melted away; but there came the second, resistless still. It had been our supreme effort; on the moment we were not equal to another.
"Up to the rifle-pits, across them, over the barricades—the momentum of their charge, the mere machine-strength of their combined action, swept them on. Our thin line could fight, but it had not weight enough to oppose to this momentum. It was pushed behind the guns. Right on came the Rebels. They were upon our guns—were bayoneting the gunners—were waving their flags over our pieces.
"But they had penetrated to the fatal point. A storm of grape and canister tore its way from man to man, and marked its track with corpses straight down their line! They had exposed themselves to the enfilading fire of the guns on the western slope of Cemetery Hill; that exposure sealed their fate.
"The line reeled back—disjointed already—in an instant in fragments. Our men were just behind the guns. They leaped forward upon the disordered mass; but there was little need of fighting now. A regiment threw down its arms, and, with colors at its head, rushed over and surrendered. All along the field smaller detachments did the same. Webb's brigade brought in eight hundred: taken in as little time as it requires to write the simple sentence that tells it. Gibbon's old division took fifteen stand of colors.
"Over the fields the escaped fragments of the charging line fell back—the battle there was over. A single brigade, Harrow's (of which the Seventh Michigan is part), came out with fifty-four less officers, and seven hundred and ninety-three less men, than it took in! So the whole corps fought; so, too, they fought farther down the line.
"It was fruitless sacrifice. They gathered up their broken fragments, formed their lines, and slowly marched away. It was not a rout; it was a bitter, crushing defeat. For once the Army of the Potomac had won a clean, honest, acknowledged victory."
General Pickett's division was nearly annihilated. One of his officers recounted, that, as they were charging over the grassy plain, he threw himself down before a murderous discharge of grape and canister, which mowed the grass and men all around him, as though a scythe had been swung just above his prostrate form.
During the terrific cannonade and subsequent charges, our ammunition and other trains had been parked in rear of Round Top, which gave them splendid shelter. Partly to possess this train, but mainly to secure this commanding position, General Longstreet sent two strong divisions of infantry, with heavy artillery, to turn our flank, and to drive us from this ground. Kilpatrick, with his division, which had been strengthened by Merritt's Regular brigade, was watching this point, and waiting for an opportunity to strike the foe. It came at last. Emerging from the woods in front of him came a strong battle-line followed by others.
FALL OF GENERAL FARNSWORTH.
To the young Farnsworth was committed the task of meeting infantry with cavalry in an open field. Placing the Fifth New York in support of Elder's battery, which was exposed to a galling fire, but made reply with characteristic rapidity, precision, and slaughter, Farnsworth quickly ordered the First Virginia, First Vermont, and Eighteenth Pennsylvania in line of battle, and galloped away and charged upon the flank of the advancing columns. The attack was sharp, brief, and successful, though attended with great slaughter. But the Rebels were driven upon their main lines, and the flank movement was prevented. Thus the cavalry added another dearly-earned laurel to its chaplet of honor—dearly earned, because many of their bravest champions fell upon that bloody field.
Kilpatrick, in his official report of this sanguinary contest, says: "In this charge fell the brave Farnsworth. Short and brilliant was his career. On the twenty-ninth of June a general; on the first of July he baptized his star in blood; and on the third, for the honor of his young brigade and the glory of his corps, he yielded up his noble life."
Thus ended the battle of Gettysburg—the bloody turning-point of the Rebellion—the bloody baptism of the redeemed Republic. Nearly twenty thousand men from the Union ranks had been killed and wounded, and a larger number of the Rebels, making the enormous aggregate of at least forty thousand, whose blood was shed to fertilize the Tree of Liberty.
In the evening twilight of that eventful day General Meade penned the following interesting despatch to the Government:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Near Gettysburg, July 3, 8.30 P. M.
To Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief:
The enemy opened at one o'clock P. M., from about one hundred and fifty guns. They concentrated upon my left centre, continuing without intermission for about three hours, at the expiration of which time he assaulted my left centre twice, being, upon both occasions, handsomely repulsed with severe loss to them, leaving in our hands nearly three thousand prisoners. Among the prisoners are Major-General Armistead, and many colonels and officers of lesser note. The enemy left many dead upon the field, and a large number of wounded in our hands. The loss upon our side has been considerable. Major-General Hancock and Brigadier-General Gibbon were wounded.
After the repelling of the assault, indications leading to the belief that the enemy might be withdrawing, an armed reconnoissance was pushed forward from the left, and the enemy found to be in force. At the present hour all is quiet.
The New York cavalry have been engaged all day on both flanks of the enemy, harassing and vigorously attacking him with great success, notwithstanding they encountered superior numbers, both of cavalry and artillery. The army is in fine spirits.
GEORGE G. MEADE, Major-General Commanding.
On the morning of the Fourth of July, General Meade issued an address to the army:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Near Gettysburg, July 4.
The commanding general, in behalf of the country, thanks the Army of the Potomac for the glorious result of the recent operations. Our enemy, superior in numbers and flushed with the pride of a successful invasion, attempted to overcome or destroy this army. Utterly baffled and defeated, he has now withdrawn from the contest.
The privations and fatigues the army has endured, and the heroic courage and gallantry it has displayed, will be matters of history to be ever remembered.
Our task is not yet accomplished, and the commanding general looks to the army for greater efforts, to drive from our soil every vestige of the presence of the invader.
It is right and proper that we should, on suitable occasions, return our grateful thanks to the Almighty Disposer of events, that, in the goodness of His providence, He has thought fit to give victory to the cause of the just.
By command of MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE. S. WILLIAMS, A. A.-General.
It is fitting we should close this chapter with President Lincoln's brief yet comprehensive announcement to the country:
WASHINGTON, D. C., July 4, 1863, 10 A. M.
The President of the United States announces to the country, that the news from the Army of the Potomac, up to ten o'clock P. M. of the third, is such as to cover the army with the highest honor—to promise great success to the cause of the Union—and to claim the condolence of all for the many gallant fallen; and that for this he especially desires that on this day, "He whose will, not ours, should ever be done," be everywhere remembered and reverenced with the profoundest gratitude.