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 Research ACW US War Dept. Official Records HTML Ser. I, Vol. 5, Ch. XIV–Reports.



August 1, 1861-March 17, 1862.
(Carnifex Ferry, Ball’s Bluff)


Aug. 1, 1861.–General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding in West Virginia.**
5, 1861.–Skirmish in Virginia, opposite Point of Rocks Md.
5, 1861.–Skirmish at Lovettsville, Va.
11, 1861.–Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, C. S. Army, assumes command in the Kanawha Valley, W. Va.
13, 1861.–Skirmish near Grafton, W. Va.
17, 1861.–The Departments of Northeastern Virginia, of Washington, and of the Shenandoah merged into the Department of the Potomac.***
18, 1861.–Scout to Accotink and skirmish at Pohick Church, Va. Skirmish at Sandy Hook, Md.
20, 1861.–Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U. S. Army, assumes command of the Department, or Army, of the Potomac.
Skirmish at the Hawk’s Nest, W. Va.
Skirmish at Laurel Fork Creek, W. Va.
23, 1861.–Engagement of the U. S. steamers Yankee and Release with the batteries at the mouth of Potomac Creek, Va.
Skirmish at Springfield, W. Va.
24, 1861.–The Department of Pennsylvania absorbed in the Department of the Potomac.****
25, 1861.–Skirmish near Piggot’s Mill (Big Run?), W. Va. Scout into Virginia from Great Falls, Md.
26, 1861.–Action at Cross-Lanes, near Summersville, W. Va. Skirmish at Blue’s house, W. Va.
26-27, 1861.–Skirmishes at Wayne Court-House, W. Va.
27, 1861.–Skirmish at Antietam Iron Works, Md.
27-28, 1861.–Skirmishes at Ball’s Cross-Roads, Va. {p.2}
28-30, 1861.–Skirmishes near Bailey’s Corners (or Cross-Roads), Va.
31, 1861.–Skirmish at Munson’s Hill, or Little River Turnpike, Va.
Sept. 1, 1861.–Skirmish at Blue Creek, W. Va.
Skirmish at Boone Court-House, W. Va.
Skirmish at Burlington, W. Va.
2, 1861.–Skirmish near the Hawk’s Nest, W. Va.
Skirmish at Worthington, W. Va.
Skirmish at Beller’s Mill, near Harper’s Ferry, W. Va.
4, 1861.–Skirmish at Great Falls, Md.
6, 1861.–Skirmish at Rowell’s Run, W. Va.
9, 1861.–Skirmish at Shepherdstown, W. Va.
10, 1861.–Engagement at Carnifix Ferry, W. Va.
Skirmish near Lewinsville, Va.
11, 1861.–Reconnaissance from Chain Bridge to Lewinsville, Va., and action at that place.
11-17, 1861.–Operations in Cheat Mountain, West Virginia, including actions and skirmishes at Cheat Mountain Pass, Cheat Summit, Point Mountain Turnpike, and Elk Water.
12, 1861.–Skirmish at Petersburg, W. Va.
Skirmish near Peytona, W. Va.
12-17, 1861.–Arrest of members of the Maryland Legislature and other citizens of that State.
15, 1861.–Skirmish at Pritchard’s Mill, Va. near Antietam Ford, Md.
16, 1861.–Skirmish opposite Seneca Creek, Md.
Action at Princeton W. Va.
Skirmish at Magruder’s Ferry, Va.
18, 1861.–Skirmish near Berlin, Md.
19, 1861.–Department of Western Virginia constituted.
20, 1861.–Skirmish opposite Seneca Creek, Md.
21, 1861.–General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, in immediate command of forces in the valley of the Kanawha.
23, 1861.–Skirmish at Cassville, W. Va.
23-25, 1861.–Descent upon Romney, W. Va., including affairs at Mechanicsburg Gap and Hanging Rock Pass.
24, 1861.–Skirmish at Point of Rocks, Md.
25, 1861.–Engagement at Freestone Point, Va.
Reconnaissance to and skirmish near Lewinsville Va.
Action at Kanawha Gap, near Chapmanville, W. Va.
Brig. Gen. Henry A. Wise, C. S. Army, relieved from command in West Virginia.
Maj. Gen. Gustavus W. Smith, C. S. Army, assigned to command of Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.
28, 1861.–Affair near Vanderburgh’s house, Munson’s Hill, Va.
29, 1861.–Skirmish at Berlin, Md.
Oct. 1, 1861.–Confederate Council of War at Centreville, Va.
2, 1861.–Skirmish at Springfield Station, Va.
3, 1861.–Engagement at Greenbrier River, W. Va.
Expedition to Pohick Church, Va.
Skirmish at Springfield Station, Va.
4, 1861.–Skirmish near Edwards Ferry, Md.
11, 1861.–Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army, assumes command of the Department of Western Virginia.
Skirmish at Harper’s Ferry, W. Va.
13, 1861.–Skirmish at Cotton Hill, W. Va.
15, 1861.–Skirmish on Little River Turnpike, Va.{p.3}
16, 1861.–Skirmish at Bolivar Heights, near Harper’s Ferry, W. Va.
18, 1861.–Reconnaissance towards Occoquan River, Va.
19-Nov 16, 1861.–Operations in the Kanawha and New River region, W. Va.
20, 1861.–Reconnaissance to Hunter’s Mill and Thornton Station, Va.
21-24, 1861.–Operations on the Potomac, near Leesburg, Va., including engagement at Ball’s Bluff and skirmish on Leesburg road (October 21), and action near Edwards Ferry (October 22).
22, 1861.–Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley, U. S. Army, assigned to command of the Department of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland.
Department of Northern Virginia constituted, under command of General Joseph E. Johnston, C. S. Army. General Beauregard and Major-Generals Holmes and Jackson assigned, respectively, to command of the Potomac, Aquia, and Valley Districts.
Affairs around Budd’s Ferry, Md.
23-27, 1861.–Reconnaissance in the Kanawha Valley, W. Va.
26, 1861.–Action at Romney, W. Va.
Skirmish at South Branch Bridge, W. Va.
Skirmish near Springfield, W. Va.
28, 1861.–Skirmish near Budd’s Ferry, Md.
31, 1861.–Skirmish at Greenbrier, W. Va.
Nov. 1, 1861.–Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan supersedes Lieut. Gen. Winfield Scott in command of the Armies of the United States.
1-3, 1861.–Skirmishes near Gauley Bridge, or Cotton Hill, W. Va.
3-11, 1861.–Expedition into Lower Maryland.
4, 1861-Feb 21, 1862.–Operations in the Valley District.
5, 1861.–General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, assigned to command of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida.
9, 1861.–Expedition to Mathias Point, Va.
10, 1861.–Affair at Guyandotte, W. Va.
12, 1861.–Reconnaissance to Pohick Church and Occoquan River, Va.
13, 1861.–Skirmish near Romney, W. Va.
14, 1861.–Affair at the mouth of Mattawoman Creek, Md.
Skirmish on road from Fayetteville to Raleigh, W. Va.
Skirmish at McCoy’s Mill, W. Va.
14-22, 1861.–Expedition through Accomac and Northampton Counties, Va.
16, 1861.–Capture of Union foraging party at Doolan’s Farm, Va.
18, 1861.–Skirmish on road from Falls Church to Fairfax Court-House, Va.
26, 1861.–Skirmish near Vienna, Va.
26-27, 1861.–Expedition to Dranesville, Va., and skirmish.
27, 1861.–Skirmish near Fairfax Court-House, Va.
30, 1861.–Skirmish near mouth of Little Cacapon River, W. Va.
Dec. 2, 1861.–Skirmish at Annandale, Va.
4, 1861.–Skirmish at Burke’s Station, Va.
6, 1861.–Expedition to Gunnell’s Farm, near Dranesville, Va.
8, 1861.–Skirmish near Romney, W. Va.
Skirmish at Dam No. 5, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
11, 1861.–Skirmish at Dam No. 4, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
12, 1861.–Skirmish at Greenbrier River, W. Va.
13, 1861.–Engagement at Camp Alleghany, W. Va.
15, 1861.–Affair in Roane County, W. Va.
Capture of the sloop Victory.
15-17, 1861.–Operations on the Lower Potomac.
15-21, 1861.–Expedition to Meadow Bluff, W. Va.
17-21, 1861.–Jackson’s operations against Dam No. 5, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. {p.4}
18, 1861.–Reconnaissance to Pohick Church, Va. 19, 1861.
Skirmish at Point of Rocks, Md.
20, 1861.–Engagement at Dranesville, Va.
24-25, 1861.–Scout towards Fairfax Court-House, Va.
25, 1861.–Skirmish at Cherry Run, W. Va.
Skirmish at Fort Frederick, Md.
28, 1861.–Beckley (Raleigh Court-House), W. Va., occupied by Union forces.
29-30, 1861.–Capture of Suttonville (Braxton Court-House), and skirmishes in Clay, Braxton, and Webster Counties, W. Va.
Jan. 3, 1862.–Descent upon and skirmish at Huntersville, W. Va.
3-4, 1862.–Skirmishes at Bath, W. Va.
4, 1862.–Skirmishes at Slane’s Cross-Roads, Great Cacapon Bridge, Sir John’s Run, and Alpine Depot, W. Va.
5-6, 1862.–Bombardment of Hancock, Md.
7, 1862.–Skirmish at Hanging Rock Pass, or Blue’s Gap, W. Va.
8, 1862.–Skirmish on the Dry Fork of Cheat River, W. Va.
9, 1862.–Skirmish near Pohick Run, Va.
12-23, 1862.–Expedition to Logan Court-House and the Guyandotte Valley, W. Va.
26, 1862.–General G. T. Beauregard, C. S. Army, ordered from the Potomac District to Columbus, Ky.
29, 1862.–Affair at Lee’s house, on the Occoquan, Va.
Feb. 3, 1862.–Reconnaissance to Occoquan Village, Va.
7, 1862.–Expedition to Flint Hill and Hunter’s Mill, Va.
8, 1862.–Skirmish at the mouth of the Blue Stone, W. Va.
14, 1862.–Affair at Bloomery, W. Va.
22, 1862.–Expedition to Vienna and Flint Hill, Va.
24, 1862.–Affair at Lewis’ Chapel, near Pohick Church, Va.
25-May 6, 1862.–Operations in Loudoun County, Va.
Mar.3, 1862.–Skirmish at Martinsburg, W. Va.
5, 1862.–Skirmish at Bunker Hill, Va.
Skirmish near Pohick Church, Va.
7, 1862.–Skirmish near Winchester, Va.
7-9, 1862.–Withdrawal of the Confederate forces from Evansport, Dumfries, Manassas and Occoquan, Va.
7-11, 1862.–Advance of the Union forces to Centreville and Manassas, Va.
8, 1862.–Occupation of Leesburg Va., by the Union forces.
9, 1862.–Skirmish at Sangster’s Station, Va.
11, 1862.–Major-General McClellan relieved from command of the Armies of the United States-retaining command of the Army of the Potomac.
The Department of Western Virginia merged into the Mountain Department.
Skirmish at Stephenson’s Station, near Winchester, Va.
11-12, 1862.–Winchester, Va., abandoned by the Confederates and occupied by the Union forces.
13, 1862.–Army Corps organized in the Army of the Potomac, and Generals McDowell, Sumner, Heintzelman, Keyes, and Banks assigned as commanders.
General Robert E. Lee “charged with the conduct of military operations in the Armies of the Confederacy.”
14, 1862.–Brigadier-General Rosecrans, U. S. Army, assumes command of the Mountain Department.
14-16, 1862.–Reconnaissance to Cedar Run, Va.

* Of some of the minor conflicts noted in this “Summary” no circumstantial reports are on file, the only record of such events being references to them on muster rolls or returns.

** Neither the date when General Lee assumed command in “Western Virginia” nor the nature of that command is shown by the records; but see Davis to Johnston, August 1, 1861, in the “Correspondence, etc.,” post.

*** Better known as the Army of the Potomac.

**** Date taken from memorandum in A. G. O. See Dix to Williams,. November 19, 1861, in “Correspondence, etc.,” post.



No. 1.–Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U. S. Army, of the operations of the Army of the Potomac from July 27, 1861, to March 17, 1862.
No. 2.–Brig. Gen. William F. Barry, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac, of the organization and operations of the artillery of that army from July 25, 1861, to September 1, 1862.
No. 3.–Maj. Albert J. Myer, Chief Signal Officer U. S. Army, of the signal service in the Army of the Potomac from August 14, 1861, to March 23, 1862, and of signal detachments in other commands.
No. 4.–Surg. Charles S. Tripler, Medical Director Army of the Potomac, of the operations of the medical department of that army from August 12, 1861, to March 17, 1862.

No. 1.

Extract, embracing the “First Period ,” from Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s report of the operations of the Army of the Potomac from July 27, 1861, to November 9, 1862.


NEW YORK, August 4, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to submit herein the official report of the operations of the Army of the Potomac while under my charge. Accompanying it are the reports of the corps, division, and subordinate commanders pertaining to the various engagements, battles, and occurrences of the campaigns, and important documents connected with its organization, supply, and movements. These, with lists of maps and memoranda submitted, will be found appended, duly arranged, and marked for convenient reference.*1

Charged in the spring of 1861 with the operations in the Department of the Ohio, which included the States of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and latterly Western Virginia, it had become my duty to counteract the hostile designs of the enemy in Western Virginia, which were immediately directed to the destruction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the possession of the Kanawha Valley, with the ultimate object of gaining Wheeling and the control of the Ohio River.

The successful affairs of Philippi, Rich Mountain, Carrick’s Ford, &c., had been fought, and I had acquired possession of all Western Virginia north of the Kanawha Valley, as well as of the lower portion of that valley.

I had determined to proceed to the relief of the Upper Kanawha Valley as soon as provision was made for the permanent defense of the mountain passes leading from the east into the region under our control, when I received at Beverly, in Randolph County, on the 21st of July, 1861, intelligence of the unfortunate result of the battle of Manassas, fought on that day.


On the 22d I received an order by telegraph directing me to turn over my command to Brigadier-General Rosecrans and repair at once to Washington.*2

I had already caused reconnaissances to be made for intrenchments at the Cheat Mountain Pass, also on the Huntersville road, near Elkwater, and at Red House, near the main road from Romney to Grafton. During the afternoon and night of the 22d I gave the final instructions for the construction of these works, turned over the command to Brigadier-General Rosecrans, and started on the morning of the 23d for Washington, arriving there on the afternoon of the 26th. On the 27th I assumed command of the Division of the Potomac, comprising the troops in and around Washington, on both banks of the river.

With this brief statement of the events which immediately preceded my being called to the command of the troops at Washington I proceed to an account, from such authentic data as are at hand, of my military operations while commander of the Army of the Potomac.

The subjects to be considered naturally arrange themselves as follows:

The organization of the Army of the Potomac; the military events connected with the defenses of Washington from July, 1861, to March, 1862; the campaign on the Peninsula, and that in Maryland.

The great resources and capacity for powerful resistance of the South at the breaking out of the rebellion, and the full proportions of the great conflict about to take place, were sought to be carefully measured, and I had also endeavored by every means in my power to impress upon the authorities the necessity for such immediate and full preparation as alone would enable the Government to prosecute the war on a scale Commensurate with the resistance to be offered.

On the 4th of August, 1861, I addressed to the President the following memorandum, prepared at his request:


The object of the present war differs from those in which nations are usually engaged mainly in this, that the purpose of ordinary war is to conquer a peace and make a treaty on advantageous terms. In this contest it has become necessary to crush a population sufficiently numerous, intelligent, and warlike to constitute a nation. We have not only to defeat their armed and organized forces in the field, but to display such an overwhelming strength as will convince all our antagonists, especially those of the governing, aristocratic class, of the utter impossibility of resistance. Our late reverses make this course imperative. Had we been successful in the recent battle (Manassas), it is possible that we might have been spared the labor and expenses of a great effort.

Now we have no alternative. Their success will enable the political leaders of the rebels to convince the mass of their people that we are inferior to them in force and courage, and to command all their resources. The contest began with a class; now it is with a people. Our military success can alone restore the former issue.

By thoroughly defeating their armies, taking their strong places, and pursuing a rigidly protective policy as to private property and unarmed persons, and a lenient course as to private soldiers, we may well hope for a permanent restoration of a peaceful Union. But in the first instance the authority of the Government must be supported by overwhelming physical force.

Our foreign relations and financial credit also imperatively demand that the military action of the Government should be prompt and irresistible.

The rebels have chosen Virginia as their battle-field, and it seems proper for us to make the first great struggle there. But, while thus directing our main efforts, it is necessary to diminish the resistance there offered us by movements on other points both by land and water.

Without entering at present into details, I would advise that a strong movement be made on the Mississippi, and that the rebels be driven out of Missouri.


As soon as it becomes perfectly clear that Kentucky is cordially united with us, I would advise a movement through that State into Eastern Tennessee, for the purpose of assisting the Union men of that region and of seizing the railroads leading from Memphis to the East. The possession of those roads by us, in connection with the movement on the Mississippi, would go far towards determining the evacuation of Virginia by the rebels. In the mean time all the passes into Western Virginia from the East should be securely guarded, but I would advise no movement from that quarter towards Richmond, unless the political condition of Kentucky renders it impossible or inexpedient for us to make the movement upon Eastern Tennessee through that State. Every effort should, however, be made to organize, equip, and arm as many troops as possible in Western Virginia, in order to render the Ohio and Indiana regiments available for other operations.

At as early a day as practicable it would be well to protect and reopen the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Baltimore and Fort Monroe should be occupied by garrisons sufficient to retain them in our possession.

The importance of Harper’s Ferry and the line of the Potomac in the direction of Leesburg will be very materially diminished so soon as our force in this vicinity becomes organized, strong, and efficient, because no capable general will cross the river north of this city when we have a strong army here ready to cut off his retreat.

To revert to the West: It is probable that no very large additions to the troops now in Missouri will be necessary to secure that State.

I presume that the force required for the movement down the Mississippi will be determined by its commander and the President. If Kentucky assumes the right position, not more than 20,000 will be needed, together with those that can be raised in that State and Eastern Tennessee, to secure the latter region and its railroads, as well as ultimately to occupy Nashville.

The Western Virginia troops, with not more than 5,000 to 10,000 from Ohio and Indiana, should, under proper management, suffice for its protection.

When we have reorganized our main army here 10,000 men ought to be enough to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Potomac; 5,000 will garrison Baltimore, 3,000 Fort Monroe, and not more than 20,000 will be necessary at the utmost for the defense of Washington.

For the main army of operations I urge the following composition:

250 regiments of infantry, say225,000
100 field batteries, 600 guns15,000
28 regiments of cavalry25,500
5 regiments engineer troops7,509

The force must be supplied with the necessary engineer and pontoon trains, and with transportation for everything save tents. Its general line of operations should be so directed that water transportation can be availed of from point to point by means of the ocean and the rivers emptying into it. An essential feature of the plan of operations will be the employment of a strong naval force, to protect the movement of a fleet of transports intended to convey a considerable body of troops from point to point of the enemy’s seacoast, thus either creating diversions and rendering it necessary for them to detach largely from their main body in order to protect such of their cities as may be threatened, or else landing and forming establishments on their coast at any favorable places that opportunity might offer. This naval force should also cooperate with the main army in its efforts to seize the important seaboard towns of the rebels.

It cannot be ignored that the construction of railroads has introduced a new and very important element into war, by the great facilities thus given for concentrating at particular positions large masses of troops from remote sections, and by creating new strategic points and lines of operations.

It is intended to overcome this difficulty by the partial operations suggested, and such others as the particular case may require. We must endeavor to seize places on the railways in the rear of the enemy’s points of concentration, and we must threaten their seaboard cities, in order that each State may be forced, by the necessity of its own defense, to diminish its contingent to the Confederate army.

The proposed movement down the Mississippi will produce important results in this connection. That advance and the progress of the main army at the East will materially assist each other by diminishing the resistance to be encountered by each.

The tendency of the Mississippi movement upon all questions connected with cotton is too well understood by the President and Cabinet to need any illustration from me.

There is another independent movement that has often been suggested, and which has always recommended itself to my judgment. I refer to a movement from Kansas and Nebraska through the Indian Territory upon Red River and Western Texas, for {p.8} the purpose of protecting and developing the latent Union and free-State sentiment well known to predominate in Western Texas, and which, like a similar sentiment in Western Virginia, will, if protected, ultimately organize that section into a free State. How far it will be possible to support this movement by an advance through New Mexico from California is a matter which I have not sufficiently examined to be able to express a decided opinion. If at all practicable it is eminently desirable, as bringing into play the resources and warlike qualities of the Pacific States, as well as identifying them with our cause and cementing the bond of union between them and the General Government.

If it is not departing too far from my province, I will venture to suggest the policy of an intimate alliance and cordial understanding with Mexico; their sympathies and interests are with us-their antipathies exclusively against our enemies and their institutions. I think it would not be difficult to obtain from the Mexican Government the right to use, at least during the present contest, the road from Guaymas to New Mexico. This concession would very materially reduce the obstacles of the column moving from the Pacific. A similar permission to use their territory for the passage of troops between the Panuco and the Rio Grande would enable us to throw a column of troops by a good road from Tampico, or some of the small harbors north of it, upon and across the Rio Grande, without risk, and scarcely firing a shot.

To what extent, if any, it would be desirable to take into service and employ Mexican soldiers is a question entirely political, on which I do not venture to offer an opinion.

The force I have recommended is large; the expense is great. It is possible that a smaller force might accomplish the object in view, but I understand it to be the purpose of this great nation to re-establish the power of its Government and restore peace to its citizens in the shortest possible time.

The question to be decided is simply this: Shall we crush the rebellion at one blow, terminate the war in one campaign, or shall we leave it as a legacy for our descendants?

When the extent of the possible line of operations is considered, the force asked for for the main army under my command cannot be regarded as unduly large; every mile we advance carries us farther from our base of operations and renders detachments necessary to cover our communications, while the enemy will be constantly concentrating as he falls back. I propose, with the force which I have requested, not only to drive the enemy out of Virginia and occupy Richmond, but to occupy Charleston, Savannah, Montgomery, Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans; in other words, to move into the heart of the enemy’s country and crush the rebellion in its very heart.

By seizing and repairing the railroads as we advance the difficulties of transportation will be materially diminished. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to state that, in addition to the forces named in this memorandum, strong reserves should be formed, ready to supply any losses that may occur.

In conclusion, I would submit that the exigencies of the Treasury may be lessened by making only partial payments to our troops when in the enemy’s country, and by giving the obligations of the United States for such supplies as may there be obtained.

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General.

I do not think the events of the war have proved these views upon the method and plans of its conduct altogether incorrect. They certainly have not proved my estimate of the number of troops and scope of operations too large. It is probable that I did underestimate the time necessary for the completion of arms and equipments. It was not strange, however, that by many civilians intrusted with authority there should have been an exactly opposite opinion held on both these particulars.

The result of the first battle of Manassas had been almost to destroy the morale and organization of our Army, and to alarm Government and people. The national capital was in danger; it was necessary, besides holding the enemy in check, to build works for its defense strong and capable of being held by a small force.

It was necessary also to create a new army for active operations, and to expedite its organization, equipment, and the accumulation of the material of war, and to this not inconsiderable labor all my energies for the next three months were constantly devoted.

Time is a necessary element in the creation of armies, and I do not {p.9} therefore think it necessary to more than mention the impatience with which many regarded the delay in the arrival of new levies, though recruited and pressed forward with unexampled rapidity, the manufacture and supply of arms and equipments, or the vehemence with which an immediate advance upon the enemy’s works directly in our front was urged by a patriotic but sanguine people.

The President, too, was anxious for the speedy employment of our Army, and, although possessed of my plans through frequent conferences, desired a paper from me upon the condition of the forces under my command and the immediate measures to be taken to increase their efficiency. Accordingly, in the latter part of October I addressed the following letter to the Secretary of War:

SIR: In conformity with a personal understanding with the President yesterday, I have the honor to submit the following statement of the condition of the army under my command, and the measures required for the preservation of the Government and the suppression of the rebellion:

It will be remembered that in a memorial I had the honor to address to the President soon after my arrival in Washington, and in my communication addressed to Lieutenant-General Scott under date of 8th of August,* in my letter to the President* authorizing him, at his request, to withdraw the letter written by me to General Scott, and in my letter of the 8th of September,** answering your note of inquiry of that date, my views on the same subject are frankly and fully expressed.

In these several communications I have stated the force I regarded as necessary to enable this army to advance with a reasonable certainty of success, at the same time leaving the capital and the line of the Potomac sufficiently guarded not only to secure the retreat of the main army in the event of disaster, but to render it out of the enemy’s power to attempt a diversion in Maryland.

So much time has passed and the winter is approaching so rapidly, that but two courses are left to the Government, viz, either to go into winter quarters or to assume the offensive with forces greatly inferior in numbers to the army I regarded as desirable and necessary. If political considerations render the first course unadvisable, the second alone remains. While I regret that it has not been deemed expedient, or perhaps possible, to concentrate the forces of the nation in this vicinity (remaining on the defensive elsewhere), keeping the attention and efforts of the Government fixed upon this as the vital point where the issue of the great contest is to be decided, it may still be that, by introducing unity of action and design among the various armies of the land, by determining the courses to be pursued by the various commanders under one general plan, transferring from the other armies the superfluous strength not required for the purpose in view, and thus re-enforcing this main army, whose destiny it is to decide the controversy, we may yet be able to move with a reasonable prospect of success before the winter is fairly upon us.

The nation feels, and I share that feeling, that the Army of the Potomac holds the fate of the country in its hands. The stake is so vast the issue so momentous and the effect of the next battle will be so important throughout the future as well as the present, that I continue to urge, as I have ever done since I entered upon the command of this army, upon the Government to devote its energies and its available resources towards increasing the numbers and efficiency of the army on which its salvation depends.

A statement, carefully prepared by the chiefs of engineers and artillery of this army, gives as the necessary garrison of this city and its fortifications 33,795 men, say 35,000.

The present garrison of Baltimore and its dependencies is about 10,000. I have sent the chief of my staff to make a careful examination into the condition of these troops, and to obtain the information requisite to enable me to decide whether this number can be diminished or the reverse.

At least 5,000 men will be required to watch the river hence to Harper’s Ferry and its vicinity; probably 8,000 to guard the Lower Potomac.

As you are aware, all the information we have from spies, prisoners, &c., agrees in showing that the enemy have a force on the Potomac not less than 150,000 strong, well drilled and equipped, ably commanded, and strongly intrenched. It is plain, therefore, that to insure success, or to render it reasonably certain, the active army should not number less than 150,000 efficient troops, with 400 guns, unless some material change occurs in the force in front of us.

The requisite force for an advance movement by the Army of the Potomac may be thus estimated:

Column of active operations150,000400
Garrison of the city of Washington35,00040
To guard the Potomac to Harper’s Ferry5,00012
To guard the Lower Potomac8,00024
Garrison for Baltimore and Annapolis.10,00012
Total effective force required208 000488

or an aggregate, present and absent, of about 240,000 men, should the losses by sickness, &c., not rise to a higher percentage than at present.

Having stated what I regard as the requisite force to enable this army to advance, I now proceed to give the actual strength of the Army of the Potomac. The aggregate strength of the Army of the Potomac, by the official report on the morning of the 27th instant, was 168,318 officers and men of all grades and arms. This includes the troops at Baltimore and Annapolis, on the Upper and Lower Potomac, the sick, absent &c. The force present for duty was 147,695. Of this number 4,268 cavalry were completely unarmed, 3,163 cavalry only partially armed, 5,979 infantry unequipped, making 13,410 unfit for the field (irrespective of those not yet sufficiently drilled), and reducing the effective force to 134,285, and the number disposable for an advance to 76,285. The infantry regiments are, to a considerable extent, armed with unserviceable weapons. Quite a large number of good arms, which had been intended for this army, were ordered elsewhere, leaving the Army of the Potomac insufficiently and, in some cases, badly armed. On the 30th of September there were with this army 228 field guns ready for the field. So far as arms and equipments are concerned, some of the batteries are still quite raw, and unfit to go into action. I have intelligence that eight New York batteries are en route hither-two others are ready for the field. I will still (if the New York batteries have six guns each) be 112 guns short of the number required for the active column, saying nothing for the present of those necessary for the garrisons and corps on the Potomac, which would make a total deficiency of 200 guns.

I have thus briefly stated our present condition and wants. It remains to suggest the means of supplying the deficiencies:

First. That all the cavalry and infantry arms, as fast as procured, whether manufactured in this country or purchased abroad, be sent to this army until it is fully prepared for the field.

Second. That the two companies of the Fourth Artillery, now understood to be en route from Fort Randall to Fort Monroe, be ordered to this army, to be mounted at once; also that the companies of the Third Artillery, en route from California, be sent here. Had not the order for Smead’s battery to come here from Harrisburg to replace the battery I gave General Sherman been so often countermanded, I would again ask for it.

Third. That a more effective regulation may be made authorizing the transfer of men from the volunteers to the regular batteries, infantry and cavalry, that we may make the best possible use of the invaluable regular 'skeletons.’

Fourth. I have no official information as to the United States forces elsewhere, but from the best information I can obtain from the War Department and other sources I am led to believe that the United States troops are:

Besides these, I am informed that more than 100,000 are in progress of organization in other Northern and Western States.

I would, therefore, recommend that, not interfering with Kentucky, there should be retained in Western Virginia and Missouri a sufficient force for defensive purposes, and that the surplus troops be sent to the Army of the Potomac, to enable it to assume the offensive; that the same course be pursued in respect to Fortress Monroe, and that no further outside expeditions be attempted until we have fought the great battle in front of us.

Fifth. That every nerve be strained to hasten the enrollment, organization, and armament of new batteries and regiments of infantry.

Sixth. That all the battalions now raised for new regiments of regular infantry be at once ordered to this army, and that the old infantry and cavalry en route from California be ordered to this army immediately on their arrival in New York.

I have thus indicated in a general manner the objects to be accomplished and the means by which we may gain our ends. A vigorous employment of these means will, in my opinion, enable the Army of the Potomac to assume successfully this season the offensive operations which, ever since entering upon the command, it has been {p.11} my anxious desire and diligent effort to prepare for and prosecute. The advance should not he postponed beyond the 25th of November, if possible to avoid it.

Unity in councils, the utmost vigor and energy in action, are indispensable. The entire military field should be grasped as a whole, and not in detached parts. One plan should be agreed upon and pursued; a single will should direct and carry out these plans.

The great object to be accomplished, the crushing defeat of the rebel army (now) at Manassas should never for one instant be lost sight of, but all the intellect and means and men of the Government poured upon that point. The loyal States possess ample force to effect all this and more. The rebels have displayed energy, unanimity, and wisdom worthy of the most desperate days of the French revolution. Should we do less?

The unity of this nation, the preservation of our institutions, are so dear to me, that I have willingly sacrificed my private happiness with the single object of doing my duty to my country. When the task is accomplished, I shall be glad to return to the obscurity from which events have drawn me. Whatever the determination of the Government may be, I will do the best I can with the Army of the Potomac, and will share its fate, whatever may be the task imposed upon me.

Permit me to add that, on this occasion, as heretofore, it has been my aim neither to exaggerate nor underrate the power of the enemy, nor fail to express clearly the means by which, in my judgment, that power may be broken.

Urging the energy of preparation and action, which has ever been my choice, but with the fixed purpose by no act of mine to expose the Government to hazard by premature movement, and requesting that this communication may be laid before the President, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General.

Hon. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.

* That letter and resulting correspondence, found since this volume was stereotyped, will be printed in Series I, Vol. XI, Part III.

** See p. 587.

When I assumed command in Washington, on the 27th of July, 1861, the number of troops in and around the city was about 50,000 infantry, less than 1,000 cavalry, and 650 artillerymen, with nine imperfect field batteries, of thirty pieces. On the Virginia bank of the Potomac the brigade organization of General McDowell still existed, and the troops were stationed at and in rear of Fort Corcoran, Arlington, and Fort Albany, Fort Runyon, Roach’s Mill, Cole’s Mill, and in the vicinity of Fort Ellsworth, with a detachment at the Theological Seminary. There were no troops south of Hunting Creek, and many of the regiments were encamped on the low grounds bordering the Potomac, seldom in the best positions for defense, and entirely inadequate in numbers and condition to defend the long line from Fort Corcoran to Alexandria. On the Maryland side of the river, upon the heights overlooking the Chain Bridge, two regiments were stationed, whose commanders were independent of each other. There were no troops on the important Tennallytown road, or on the roads entering the city from the south. The camps were located without regard to purposes of defense or instruction, the roads were not picketed, and there was no attempt at an organization into brigades.

In no quarter were the dispositions for defense such as to offer a vigorous resistance to a respectable body of the enemy, either in the position and numbers of the troops or the number and character of the defensive works. Earthworks, in the nature of tetes-de-pont, looked upon the approaches to the Georgetown Aqueduct and Ferry, the Long Bridge, and Alexandria, by the Little River turnpike, and some simple defensive arrangements were made at the Chain Bridge. With the latter exception not a single defensive work had been commenced on the Maryland side. There was nothing to prevent the enemy shelling the city from heights within easy range, which could be occupied by a hostile column almost without resistance. Many soldiers had deserted, and the streets of Washington were crowded with straggling officers and men, absent from their stations without authority, whose behavior indicated the general want of discipline and organization.


I at once designated an efficient staff, afterwards adding to it as opportunity was afforded and necessity required, who zealously cooperated with me in the labor of bringing order out of confusion, reassigning troops and commands, projecting and throwing up defensive works, receiving and organizing, equipping and providing, for the new levies arriving in the city.

The valuable services of these officers in their various departments during this and throughout the subsequent periods of the history of the Army of the Potomac can hardly be sufficiently appreciated. Their names and duties will be given in another part of this report, and they are commended to the favorable notice of the War Department.

The restoration of order in the city of Washington was effected through the appointment of a provost-marshal, whose authority was supported by the few regular troops within my command. These troops were thus in position to act as a reserve, to be sent to any point of attack where their services might be most wanted. The energy and ability displayed by Col. A. Porter, the provost-marshal, and his assistants, and the strict discharge of their duty by the troops, produced the best results, and Washington soon became one of the most quiet cities in the Union.

The new levies of infantry, upon arriving in Washington, were formed into provisional brigades, and placed in camp in the suburbs of the city, for equipment, instruction, and discipline. As soon as regiments were in a fit condition for transfer to the forces across the Potomac they were assigned to the brigades serving there. Brig. Gen. F. J. Porter was at first assigned to the charge of the provisional brigades. Brig. Gen. A. E. Burnside was the next officer assigned to this duty, from which, however, he was soon relieved by Brig. Gen. S. Casey, who continued in charge of the newly-arriving regiments until the Army of the Potomac departed for the Peninsula, in March, 1862. The newly-arriving artillery troops reported to Brig. Gen. William F. Barry, the chief of artillery, and the cavalry to Brig. Gen. George Stoneman, the chief of cavalry.

By the 15th of October the number of troops in and about Washington, inclusive of the garrison of the city and Alexandria, the city guard, and the forces on the Maryland shore of the Potomac below Washington, and as far as Cumberland above, the troops under the command of General Dix at Baltimore and its dependencies, were as follows:

Total present for duty133,201
Total sick9,290
Total in confinement1,156
Aggregate present143,647
Aggregate absent8,404
Grand aggregate152,051

The following table exhibits similar data for the periods stated, including the troops in Maryland and Delaware:

Date.Present.Absent.Total present and absent.
For duty.Sick.In confinement.
December 1, 1861.169,45215,1022,18911,470198,211
January 1, 1862.191,48014,7902,26011,707219,707
February 1, 1862.190,80614,3632,91714,110222,196
March 1, 1862.193,14213,1672,10813,570221,987

For convenience of reference the strength of the Army of the Potomac at subsequent periods is given:

Date.Present.Absent.Grand aggregate present and absent.
For duty.Sick.In arrest or confinement.By authority.Without authority.
April 30.4,725104,6102335,38541356115,35011,037*126,387
June 20.4,665101,16049610,54144320117,22627,700887**145,813
July 10.3,83485,71568515,95960213106,46634,6383,782***144,886

* Including Franklin.

** Including McCall, not Dix.

*** Including two brigades of Shields’ division, absent, 5,154 men.

In organizing the Army of the Potomac and preparing it for the field, the first step taken was to organize the infantry into brigades of four regiments each, retaining the newly-arrived regiments on the Maryland side until their armament and equipment were issued and they had obtained some little elementary instruction before assigning them permanently to brigades. When the organization of the brigades was well established and the troops somewhat disciplined and instructed, divisions of three brigades each were gradually formed, as is elsewhere stated in this report. Although I was always in favor of the organization into army corps as an abstract principle, I did not desire to form them until the army had been for some little time in the field, in order to enable the general officers first to acquire the requisite experience as division commanders on active service and that I might be able to decide from actual trial who were best fitted to exercise these important commands. For a similar reason I carefully abstained from making any recommendations for the promotion of officers to the grade of major-general.

When new batteries of artillery arrived, they also were retained in Washington until their armament and equipment were completed and their instruction sufficiently advanced to justify their being assigned to divisions. The same course was pursued in regard to cavalry. I regret that circumstances have delayed the chief of cavalry, General George Stoneman, in furnishing his report upon the organization of that arm of service. It will, however, be forwarded as soon as completed, and will doubtless show that the difficult and important duties intrusted to him were efficiently performed. He encountered and overcame, as far as it was possible, continual and vexatious obstacles arising from the great deficiency of cavalry arms and equipments and the entire inefficiency of many of the regimental officers first appointed. This last difficulty was, to a considerable extent, overcome in the cavalry, as well as in the infantry and artillery, by the continual and prompt action of courts-martial and boards of examination.

As rapidly as circumstances permitted every cavalry soldier was armed with a saber and revolver, and at least two squadrons in every regiment with carbines.

It was intended to assign at least one regiment of cavalry to each division of the active army, besides forming a cavalry reserve of the regular regiments and some picked regiments of volunteer cavalry. Circumstances beyond my control rendered it impossible to carry out {p.14} this intention fully, and the cavalry force serving with the army in the field was never as large as it ought to have been.

It was determined to collect the regular infantry to form the nucleus of a reserve. The advantage of such a body of troops at a critical moment, especially in an army constituted mainly of new levies, imperfectly disciplined, has been frequently illustrated in military history, and was brought to the attention of the country at the first battle of Manassas. I have not been disappointed in the estimate formed of the value of these troops. I have always found them to be relied on. Whenever they have been brought under fire they have shown the utmost gallantry and tenacity. The regular infantry, which had been collected from distant posts and which had been recruited as rapidly as the slow progress of recruiting for the regular service would allow added to the small battalion with McDowell’s army which I found at Washington on my arrival, amounted on the 30th of August to 1,040 men; on the 28th of February, 1862, to 2,682, and on the 30th of April, to 4,603. On the 17th of May, 1862, they were assigned to General Porter’s corps for organization as a division, with the Fifth Regiment New York Volunteers, which joined May 4, and the Tenth New York Volunteers, which joined subsequently. They remained from the commencement under the command of Brig. Gen. George Sykes, major Third Infantry, U. S. Army.


The creation of an adequate artillery establishment for an army of so large proportions was a formidable undertaking, and had it not been that the country possessed in the regular service a body of accomplished and energetic artillery officers, the task would have been almost hopeless.

The charge of organizing this most important arm was confided to Major (afterwards Brig. Gen.) William F. Barry, chief of artillery, whose industry and zeal achieved the best results. The report of General Barry is appended among the accompanying documents. By referring to it it will be observed that the following principles were adopted as the basis of organization :*3


The zeal and services of Maj. A. S. Webb, assistant to General Barry, entitle him to especial praise. At the close of the Peninsular campaign General Barry assumed the duties of chief of artillery of the defenses of Washington, and was relieved in his former position by Col. Henry J. Hunt, who had commanded the artillery reserve with marked skill, and brought to his duties as chief of artillery the highest qualifications. The services of this distinguished officer in reorganizing and refitting the batteries prior to and after the battle of Antietam, and his gallant and skillful conduct on that field, merit the highest encomium in my power to bestow. His assistant, Major Doull, deserves high credit for his services and gallantry throughout both campaigns.

The designations of the different batteries of artillery, both regular and volunteer, follow within a few pages.

The following distribution of regiments and batteries was made, as a preliminary organization of the forces at hand, shortly after my arrival in Washington. The infantry, artillery, and cavalry, as fast as collected and brought into primary organization, were assigned to brigades and divisions, as indicated in the subjoined statements:


Organization of the Division of the Potomac, August 4, 1861.

Brigadier-General Hunter’s brigade-Twenty-third, Twenty-fifth, Thirty-fifth, and Thirty-seventh Regiments New York Volunteers.

Brigadier-General Heintzelman’s brigade-Fifth Regiment Maine Volunteers, Sixteenth, Twenty-sixth, and Twenty-seventh Regiments New York Volunteers, and Tidball’s battery (A), Second U. S. Artillery.

Brig. Gen. W. T. Sherman’s brigade-Ninth and Fourteenth Regiments Massachusetts’s Volunteers, De Kalb [Forty-first] Regiment New York Volunteers, Fourth Regiment Michigan Volunteers, Hamilton’s battery (E), Third U. S. Artillery, and Company I, Second U. S. Cavalry.

Brigadier-General Kearny’s brigade-First, Second, and Third Regiments New Jersey Volunteers, Greene’s battery (G), Second U. S. Artillery, and Company G, Second U. S. Cavalry.

Brigadier-General Hooker’s brigade-First and Eleventh Regiments Massachusetts Volunteers, Second Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, and Twenty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Colonel Keyes’ brigade-Twenty-second, Twenty-fourth, and Thirtieth Regiments New York Volunteers, and Fourteenth Regiment New York State Militia [Eighty-fourth Volunteers].

Brigadier-General Franklin’s brigade-Fifteenth, Eighteenth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second Regiments New York Volunteers, Platt’s battery (M), Second U. S. Artillery, and Company C [First], New York (Lincoln) Cavalry.

Colonel Blenker’s brigade-Eighth and Twenty-ninth Regiments New York Volunteers, Twenty-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Garibaldi Guard [Thirty-ninth], New York Volunteers.

Colonel Richardson’s brigade.-Twelfth Regiment New York Volunteers and Second and Third Regiments Michigan Volunteers.

Brigadier-General Stone’s brigade-Thirty-fourth and Tammany [Forty-second] Regiments New York Volunteers, First Regiment Minnesota Volunteers, and Second Regiment New York State Militia [Eighty-second Volunteers].

Col. William F. Smith’s brigade-Second and Third Regiments Vermont Volunteers, Sixth Regiment Maine Volunteers, Thirty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, Company H, Second U. S. Cavalry, and Captain Mott’s New York battery.

Colonel Couch’s brigade-Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, Seventh and Tenth Regiments Massachusetts Volunteers, and Thirty-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers.

The Second Regiment Maine, the Second Regiment Wisconsin, and the Thirteenth Regiment New York Volunteers, stationed at Fort Corcoran.

The Twenty-first Regiment New York Volunteers, stationed at Fort Runyon.

The Seventeenth Regiment New York Volunteers, stationed at Fort Ellsworth.

By October the new levies had arrived in sufficient numbers, and the process of organization so far carried on that the construction of divisions had been effected.

The following statement exhibits the composition of the Army, October 15, 1861:

Organization of the Army of the Potomac, October 15, 1861.

1. Brig. Gen. George Stoneman’s cavalry command.–Fifth U. S. Cavalry, Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Oneida Cavalry (first company), Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry (Harlan’s), and Barker’s Illinois Cavalry (one company).

2. Col. B. J. Hunt’s artillery reserve.–Batteries L, A, and B, Second U. S. Artillery; Batteries K and F, Third U. S. Artillery; Battery K, Fourth U. S. Artillery; Battery H, First U. S. Artillery, and Battery A, Fifth U. S. Artillery.


Cavalry.–Companies A and E, Fourth U. S. Cavalry.

Artillery.–Battery K, Fifth U. S. Artillery.

Infantry.–Second and Third battalions U. S. Infantry, Company-Eighth and Company-First U. S. Infantry, and Sturges’ rifles (Illinois Volunteers).


Cavalry.–Four companies Third Regiment New York Cavalry (Van Alen’s).

Artillery.–Best’s battery (F), Fourth U. S. Artillery; detachment Ninth New York {p.16} Artillery; Matthews’ battery (F), First Pennsylvania Artillery; Tompkins’ battery (A), First Rhode Island Artillery.

Infantry.–Abercrombie’s brigade: Twelfth Massachusetts, Twelfth and Sixteenth Indiana, and Thirtieth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Stiles’ brigade: Third Wisconsin, Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, and Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, and Ninth New York State Militia [Eighty-third Volunteers]. Gordon’s brigade: Second Massachusetts, Twenty-eighth and Nineteenth New York, Fifth Connecticut, Forty-sixth and Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, and First Maryland Volunteers.


Cavalry.–Second New York Cavalry (Harris’ Light), Colonel Davies.

Artillery.–Battery M, Second, and Battery G, First, U. S. Artillery.

Infantry.–Keyes’ brigade: Fourteenth New York State Militia [Eighty-fourth Volunteers], and Twenty-second, Twenty-fourth, and Thirtieth New York Volunteers,. Wadsworth’s brigade: Twelfth, Twenty-first, Twenty-third, and Thirty-fifth New York Volunteers. King’s brigade: Second, Sixth, and Seventh Wisconsin, and Nineteenth Indiana Volunteers.


Cavalry.–First New Jersey Cavalry, Colonel Halsted.

Artillery.–Thompson’s battery (G), U. S. Artillery.

Infantry.–Richardson’s brigade: Second, Third, and Fifth Michigan, and Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers. Sedgwick’s brigade: Third and Fourth Maine and Thirty-eighth and Fortieth New York Volunteers. Jameson’s brigade: Thirty-second, Sixty-third, Sixty-first, and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Wild Cat Reserves (Pennsylvania Volunteers).


Calvary.–Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, Colonel Averell, and Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Colonel Gregg.

Artillery.–Battery E, Second, and Battery E, Third, U. S. Artillery.

Infantry.–Morell’s brigade: Thirty-third Pennsylvania, Fourth Michigan, Ninth Massachusetts, and Fourth New York Volunteers. Martindale’s brigade: Thirteenth New York, Second Maine, and Eighteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, and De Kalb [Forty-first] Regiment New York Volunteers. Butterfield’s brigade: Fiftieth New York, Eighty-third Pennsylvania, Seventeenth and Twenty-fifth New York Volunteers and Stockton’s Independent Michigan [Sixteenth] Regiment.


Cavalry.–First New York Cavalry, Colonel McReynolds.

Artillery.–Batteries D and G, Second U. S. Artillery, and Hexamer’s battery (New Jersey Volunteers).

Infantry.–Kearny’s brigade: First, Second, Third, and Fourth New Jersey Volunteers. Slocum’s brigade: Sixteenth, Twenty-sixth, and Twenty-seventh New York, and Fifth Maine Volunteers. Newton’s brigade: Fifteenth, Eighteenth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second New York Volunteers.


Cavalry.–Six companies Third New York (Van Alen) Cavalry.

Artillery.–Kirby’s battery (I), First United States; Vaughn’s battery (B), First Rhode Island Artillery, and Bunting’s Sixth New York Independent Battery.

Infantry.–Gorman’s brigade: Second New York State Militia [Eighty-second Volunteers], First Minnesota, Fifteenth Massachusetts, and Thirty-fourth New York Volunteers, and Tammany [Forty-second] Regiment New York Volunteers. Lander’s brigade: Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, and Seventh Michigan Volunteers, and a company of Massachusetts Sharpshooters. Baker’s brigade: Pennsylvania Volunteers (First, Second, and Third California).


Artillery.–Batteries D and H, First Pennsylvania Artillery.

Infantry.–Couch’s brigade: Second Rhode Island, Seventh and Tenth Massachusetts, and Thirty-sixth New York Volunteers. Graham’s brigade: Twenty-third and {p.17} Thirty-first Pennsylvania, and Sixty-seventh (First Long Island) and Sixty-fifth (First U. S. Chasseurs) New York Volunteers. Peck’s brigade: Thirteenth and Twenty-first Pennsylvania and Sixty-second (Anderson Zouaves) and Fifty-fifth New York Volunteers.


Cavalry.–First Pennsylvania Reserve Cavalry, Colonel Bayard.

Artillery.–Easton’s battery (A), Cooper’s battery (B), and Kerns’ battery (G), First Pennsylvania Artillery.

Infantry.–Meade’s brigade: First Rifles, Pennsylvania Reserves, Fourth, Third, Seventh, Eleventh, and Second Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry. - brigade: Fifth, First, and Eighth Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry. - brigade: Tenth, Sixth, Ninth, and Twelfth Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry.


Cavalry.–Eight companies Third Indiana Cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Carter. Artillery.-Elder’s battery (E), First U. S. Artillery.

Infantry.–- brigade: First and Eleventh Massachusetts, Second New Hampshire, Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, and First Michigan Volunteers. Sickles’ brigade: First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Regiments Excelsior Brigade [Seventieth Seventy-first, Seventy-second; Seventy-third, and Seventy-fourth], New York Volunteers.


Cavalry.–Fourth New York Cavalry (mounted rifles), Colonel Dickel.

Artillery.–One battery.

Infantry.–Eighth and Twenty-ninth New York, Twenty-seventh and Thirty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Garibaldi Guard, and Cameron Rifles ([Thirty-ninth and Sixty-eighth] New York Volunteers).


Cavalry.–Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry (Cameron Dragoons), Colonel Friedman.

Artillery.–Ayres’ battery (F), Fifth U. S. Artillery; Mott’s Second New York Independent battery, and Barr’s battery (El, First Pennsylvania Artillery.

Infantry.–- brigade: Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Vermont Volunteers. Stevens’ brigade: Thirty-third and Forty-ninth New York and Sixth Maine Volunteers, and Seventy-ninth New York State Militia [Seventy-ninth Volunteers]. Hancock’s brigade: Forty-seventh and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, Forty-third New York, and Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers. Companies B and E, Berdan Sharpshooters.

Casey’s Provisional Brigades.–Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh New Jersey Volunteers, Roundhead Regiment ([One hundredth] Pennsylvania Volunteers), Battalion District of Columbia Volunteers, Fortieth Pennsylvania, Eighth New Jersey, and Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers.


Alexandria.–Brigadier-General Montgomery, military governor. Cameron Guard ([Eighty-eighth] Pennsylvania Volunteers).

Fort Albany.–Fourteenth Massachusetts Volunteers.

Fort Richardson.–Fourth Connecticut Volunteers.

Fort Washington.–Company D, First U. S. Artillery; Companies H and I, Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers, and United States recruits unassigned.


Cavalry.–Company of Pennsylvania cavalry.

Artillery.–Battery I, Second U. S. Artillery, Second Massachusetts Light Battery, and a battery of New York artillery.

Infantry.–Third, Fourth, and Fifth New York, Seventeenth and Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, Twenty-first Indiana, Sixth Michigan, Fourth Wisconsin, Seventh Maine, Second Maryland Battalion, and Reading City Guard, volunteers.

[Battery E, Third U. S. Artillery, the Seventy-ninth New York State Militia, the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, and the Roundhead Regiment were transferred to General Sherman’s expedition.] {p.18}

On the 8th of March, 1862, the President directed, by the following order, the organization of the active portion of the Army of the Potomac into four army corps, and the formation of a fifth corps from the divisions of Banks and Shields.

The following is the text of the President’s order:


EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, March 8, 1862.

Ordered, I. That the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac proceed forthwith to organize that part of the said army destined to enter upon active operations (including the reserve, but excluding the troops to be left in the fortifications about Washington) into four army corps, to be commanded according to seniority of rank, as follows:

First Corps to consist of four divisions, and to be commanded by Maj. Gen. I. McDowell.

Second Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by Brig. Gen. E. V. Sumner.

Third Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by Brig. Gen. S. P. Heintzelman.

Fourth Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by Brig. Gen. E. D. Keyes.

2. That the divisions now commanded by the officers above assigned to the commands of army corps shall be embraced in and form part of their respective corps.

3. The forces left for the defense of Washington will be placed in command of Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth, who shall also be military governor of the District of Columbia.

4. That this order be executed with such promptness and dispatch as not to delay the commencement of the operations already directed to be undertaken by the Army of the Potomac.

5. A fifth army corps, to be commanded by Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks, will be formed from his own and General Shields’ date General Lander’s) divisions.


The following order, which was made as soon as circumstances permitted, exhibits the steps taken to carry out the requirements of the President’s War Order, No. 2:


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Fairfax Court-House, Va., March 13, 1862.

In compliance with the President’s War Order, No. 2, of March 8, 1862, the active portion of the Army of the Potomac is formed into army corps, as follows:

First Corps, Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell, to consist for the present of the divisions of Franklin, McCall, and Kino.

Second Corps, Brig. Gen. E. V. Sumner; divisions, Richardson, Bleaker, and Sedgwick.

Third Corps, Brig. Gen. S. P. Heintzelman; divisions, F. J. Porter, Hooker, and Hamilton.

Fourth Corps, Brig. Gen. E. D. Keyes; divisions, Couch, Smith, and Casey.

Fifth Corps, Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks; divisions, Williams and Shields.

The cavalry regiments attached to divisions will for the present remain so. Subsequent orders will provide for these regiments, as well as for the reserve artillery, regular infantry, and regular cavalry. Arrangements will be made to unite the divisions of each army corps as promptly as possible.

The commanders of divisions will at once report in person, or, where that is impossible, by letter to the commander of their army corps.

By command of Major-General McClellan:

A. V. COLBURN, Assistant Adjutant-General.

I add a statement of the organization and composition of the troops on April 1, commencing with the portion of the Army of the Potomac which went to the Peninsula, giving afterwards the regiments and batteries left on the Potomac and in Maryland and Virginia after April 1, 1862:


Troops of the Army, of the Potomac sent to the Peninsula in March and early in April, 1862.

1st. Cavalry reserve, Brig. Gen. P. St. G. Cooke.-Emory’s brigade: Fifth U. S. Cavalry; Sixth U. S. Cavalry; Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry. Blake’s brigade: First U. S. Cavalry; Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry; Barker’s squadron Illinois cavalry.

2d. Artillery reserve, Col. Henry J. Hunt: Graham’s battery (K and G), First U. S., six Napoleon guns; Randol’s battery (E), First U. S., six Napoleon guns; Carlisle’s battery (E), Second U. S., six 20-pounder Parrott guns; Robertson’s battery, Second U. S., six 3-inch ordnance guns; Benson’s battery (M), Second U. S., six 3-inch ordnance guns; Tidball’s battery (A), Second U. S., six 3-inch ordnance guns; Edwards’ battery (L and M), Third U. S., six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Gibson’s battery (C and G), Third U. S., six 3-inch ordnance guns; Livingston’s battery (F and K), Third U. S., four 10-pounder Parrott guns; Howe’s battery (G), Fourth U. S., six Napoleon guns; De Russy’s battery (K), Fourth U. S., six Napoleon guns; Weed’s battery (I), Fifth U. S., six 3-inch ordnance guns; Smead’s battery (K), Fifth U. S., four Napoleon guns; Ames’ battery (A), Fifth U. S., six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two Napoleon) guns; Diedrich’s battery (A), New York artillery battalion, six 20-pounder Parrott guns; Voegelie’s battery (B), New York artillery battalion, four 20-pounder Parrott guns; Knieriem’s battery (C), New York artillery battalion, four 20-pounder Parrott guns; Grim’s battery (D), New York artillery battalion, six 32-pounder howitzer guns; total, 100 guns.

3d. Volunteer engineer troops, General Woodbury: Fifteenth New York Volunteers, Fiftieth New York Volunteers. Regular engineer troops, Captain Duane: Companies A, B, and C, U. S. Engineers, Artillery troops, with siege trains: First Connecticut Heavy Artillery, Colonel Tyler.

4th. Infantry reserve (regular brigade), General Sykes: Nine companies Second U. S. Infantry, seven companies, Third U. S. Infantry, ten companies Fourth U. S. Infantry, ten companies Sixth U. S. Infantry, eight companies Tenth and Seventeenth U. S. Infantry, six companies Eleventh U. S. Infantry, eight companies Twelfth U. S. Infantry, nine companies Fourteenth U. S. Infantry, and Fifth New York Volunteers, Colonel Warren.


Cavalry-Eighth Illinois Cavalry, Colonel Farnsworth, and one squadron Sixth New York Cavalry.


Artillery-Clarke’s battery (A and C), Fourth U. S., six Napoleon guns; Frank’s battery (G), First New York, six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Pettit’s battery (B), First New York, six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Hogan’s battery (A), Second New York, six 10-pounder Parrott guns.

Infantry.-Howard’s brigade: Fifth New Hampshire, Eighty-first Pennsylvania, and Sixty-first and Sixty-fourth New York Volunteers. Meagher’s brigade: Sixty-ninth, Sixty-third, and Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers. French’s brigade:

Fifty-second, Fifty-seventh, and Sixty-sixth New York and Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers.


Artillery-Kirby’s battery (I), First U. S., six Napoleon guns; Tompkins’ battery (A), First Rhode Island, six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two 12-pounder howitzer) guns: Bartlett’s battery (B), First Rhode Island, six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two 12-pounder howitzer) guns; Owen’s battery (G), six 3-inch ordnance guns.

Infantry.-Gorman’s brigade: Second New York State Militia, Fifteenth Massachusetts, Thirty-fourth New York, and First Minnesota Volunteers. Burns’ brigade: Sixty-ninth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, and One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Dana’s brigade: Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, Seventh Michigan, and Forty-second New York Volunteers.

NOTE.-Blenker’s division detached, and assigned to the Mountain Department.


Cavalry-Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, Colonel Averell.


Artillery-Griffin’s battery (D), Fifth U. S., six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Weeden’s battery (C), Rhode Island; Martin’s battery (C), Massachusetts, six Napoleon guns; Allen’s battery (E), Massachusetts, six 3-inch ordnance guns.


Infantry-Martindale’s brigade: Second Maine, Eighteenth and Twenty-second Massachusetts, and Twenty-fifth and Thirteenth New York Volunteers. Morell’s brigade: Fourteenth New York, Fourth Michigan, Ninth Massachusetts, and Sixty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. Butterfield’s brigade: Seventeenth, Forty-fourth, and Twelfth New York, Eighty-third Pennsylvania, and Stockton’s [Sixteenth] Michigan Volunteers.

First Berdan Sharpshooters.


Artillery.-Hall’s battery (H), First U. S., six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two 12-pounder howitzer) guns; Smith’s battery, Fourth New York, six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Bramhall’s battery, Sixth New York, six 3-inch ordnance guns; Osborn’s battery (D), First New York Artillery, four 3-inch ordnance guns.

Infantry.-Sickles’ brigade: First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Excelsior, New York. Naglee’s brigade: First and Eleventh Massachusetts, Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, and Second New Hampshire Volunteers. Colonel Starr’s brigade: Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth New Jersey Volunteers.


Artillery-Thompson’s battery (G), Second U. S., six Napoleon guns; Beam’s battery (B), New Jersey, six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two Napoleon) guns; Randolph’s battery (E), Rhode Island, six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two Napoleon) guns.

Infantry-Jameson’s brigade: One hundred and fifth, Sixty-third, and Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania and Eighty-seventh New York Volunteers. Birney’s brigade: Thirty-eighth and Fortieth New York and Third and Fourth Maine Volunteers. - brigade: Second, Third, and Fifth Michigan and Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers.



Artillery.-McCarthy’s battery (C), First Pennsylvania, four 10-pounder Parrott guns; Flood’s battery (D), First Pennsylvania, four 10-pounder Parrott onus; Miller’s battery (E), First Pennsylvania, four Napoleon guns; Brady’s battery (F), First Pennsylvania, four 10-pounder Parrott guns.

Infantry-Graham’s brigade: Sixty-seventh (First Long Island) and Sixty-fifth (First U. S. Chasseurs) New York, and Twenty-third, Thirty-first, and Sixty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers. Peck’s brigade: Ninety-eighth, One hundred and second, and Ninety-third Pennsylvania, and Sixty-second and Fifty-fifth New York Volunteers. - brigade: Second Rhode Island, Seventh and Tenth Massachusetts, and Thirty-sixth New York Volunteers.


Artillery.-Ayres’ battery (F), Fifth U. S., six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two Napoleon) guns; Mott’s battery, Third New York, six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two Napoleon) guns; Wheeler’s battery (E), First New York, four 3-inch ordnance guns; Kennedy’s battery, First New York, six 3-inch ordnance guns.

Infantry.-Hancock’s brigade: Fifth Wisconsin, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, forty-third New York, and Sixth Maine Volunteers. Brooks’ brigade: Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Vermont Volunteers. Davidson’s brigade: Thirty-third, Seventy-seventh, and Forty-ninth New York and Seventh Maine Volunteers.


Artillery.-Regan’s battery, Seventh New York, six 3-inch ordnance guns: Fitch’s battery, Eighth New York, six 3-inch ordnance guns; Bates’ battery (A), First New York, six Napoleon guns; Spratt’s battery (H), First New York, four 3-inch ordnance guns.

Infantry.-Keim’s brigade: Eighty-fifth, One hundred and first, and One hundred and third Pennsylvania and Ninety-sixth New York Volunteers. Palmer’s brigade: Eighty-fifth, Ninety-eighth, Ninety-second, Eighty-first, and Ninety-third New York Volunteers. - brigade: One hundred and fourth and Fifty-second Pennsylvania, Fifty-sixth and One hundredth New York, and Eleventh Maine Volunteers.


5th. Provost guard: Second U. S. Cavalry; battalions Eighth and Seventeenth U. S. Infantry.

At general headquarters: Two companies Fourth U. S. cavalry one company Onedia cavalry (New York volunteers), and one company Sturges rifles (Illinois volunteers).

The following troops of the Army of the Potomac were left behind or detached on and in front of the Potomac for the defense of that line April 1, 1862. Franklin’s and McCall’s divisions, at subsequent and different dates, joined the active portion of the army on the Peninsula. Two brigades of Shields’ division joined at Harrison’s Landing:


Cavalry-First, Second, and Fourth New York, and First Pennsylvania.

Sharpshooters-Second Regiment Berdan Sharpshooters.


Artillery.-Platt’s battery (D), Second U. S., six Napoleon guns; Porter’s battery (A), Massachusetts, six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two 12-pounder howitzer) guns; Hexamer’s battery (A), New Jersey, six (four 10-pounder Parrott and two 12-pounder howitzer) guns; Wilson’s battery (F), First New York Artillery, four 3-inch ordnance guns.

Infantry-Kearny’s brigade: First, Second, Third, and Fourth New Jersey Volunteers. Slocum’s brigade: Sixteenth and Twenty-seventh New York, Fifth Maine, and Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Newton’s brigade: Eighteenth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second New York, and Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers.


Artillery.-Seymour’s battery (C), Fifth U. S., six Napoleon guns; Easton’s battery (A), First Pennsylvania, four Napoleon guns; Cooper’s battery (B), First Pennsylvania, six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Kerns’ battery (G), First Pennsylvania, six (two 10-pounder and four 12-pounder) Parrott guns.

Infantry-Reynolds’ brigade: First, Second, Fifth, and Eighth Pennsylvania Reserve Regiments. Meade’s brigade: Third, Fourth, Seventh, and Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserve Regiments. Ord’s brigade: Sixth, Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth Pennsylvania Reserve Regiments. First Pennsylvania Reserve Rifles.


Artillery-Gibbon’s battery (B), Fourth U. S., six Napoleon guns; Monroe’s battery (D), First Rhode Island, six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Gerrish’s battery (A), New Hampshire, six Napoleon guns; Durell’s battery, Pennsylvania, six 10-pounder Parrott guns.

Infantry.-- brigade: Second, Sixth, and Seventh Wisconsin, and Nineteenth Indiana Volunteers. Patrick’s brigade: Twentieth, Twenty-first, Twenty-Third, and Twenty-fifth New York State Militia. Augur’s brigade: Fourteenth New York State Militia [Eighty-fourth Volunteers], and Twenty-second, Twenty-fourth, and Thirtieth New York Volunteers.


Cavalry-First Maine, First Vermont, First Michigan, First Rhode Island, Fifth and Eighth New York, Keys’ battalion of Pennsylvania, eighteen companies of Maryland, one squadron of Virginia.

Unattached-Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers and Fourth Regiment Potomac Home Brigade (Maryland Volunteers).


Artillery-Best’s battery (F), Fourth U. S., six Napoleon guns; Hampton’s battery, Maryland, four 10-pounder Parrott guns; Thompson’s battery, Maryland, four 10-pounder Parrott guns; Matthews’ battery (F), Pennsylvania, six 3-inch ordnance guns; Cothran’s battery (M), First New York, six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Knap’s battery, Pennsylvania, six 10-pounder Parrott guns; McMahon’s battery, New York, six 3-inch ordnance guns.


Infantry.-Abercrombie’s brigade: Twelfth and Second Massachusetts, and Sixteenth Indiana, First Potomac Home Brigade (Maryland), one company Zouaves d’Afrique (Pennsylvania) Volunteers. - brigade: Ninth New York State Militia, [Eighty-third Volunteers], and Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, Twenty-seventh Indiana, and Third Wisconsin Volunteers, - brigade: Twenty-eighth New York, Fifth Connecticut, Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, First Maryland, Twelfth Indiana, and Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers.


Artillery-Clark’s battery (E), Fourth U. S., six 10-pounder Parrott guns; Jenks’ battery (A), First Virginia, four 10-pounder Parrott and two 6-pounder guns; Davey’s battery (B), First Virginia, two 10-pounder Parrott guns; Huntington’s battery (A), First Ohio, six 13-pounder James guns; Robinson’s battery (L), First Ohio, two 12-pounder howitzers and four 6-pounder guns, and - battery, Fourth Ohio Artillery.

Infantry.-- brigade: Fourteenth Indiana, Fourth, Eighth, and Sixty-seventh Ohio, Seventh Virginia, and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers. - brigade: Fifth, Sixty-second, and Sixty-sixth Ohio, Thirteenth Indiana, and Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers.-- brigade-Seventh and Twenty-ninth Ohio, Seventh Indiana, First Virginia, and One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Andrew S. S.


Cavalry-First New Jersey Cavalry at Alexandria, and Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry east of the Capitol.

Artillery and Infantry-Tenth New Jersey Volunteers, Bladensburg road; One hundred and fourth New York Volunteers, Kalorama Heights; First Wisconsin Heavy Artillery, Fort Cass, Virginia; three batteries of New York artillery, Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy; depot of New York Light Artillery, Camp Barry; Second District of Columbia Volunteers, Washington City; Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, G-street wharf; Twenty-sixth New York Volunteers, Fort Lyon; Ninety-fifth New York Volunteers, Camp Thomas; Ninety-fourth New York and detachment of Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Alexandria; Ninety-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, Franklin Square Barracks; Fourth New York Artillery, Forts Carroll and Greble; One hundred and twelfth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Fort Saratoga; Seventy-sixth New York Volunteers, Fort Massachusetts; Fifty-ninth New York Volunteers, Fort Pennsylvania; detachment of Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Fort Good Hope; Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Fort Mahon; Second New York Light Artillery, Forts Ward, Worth, and Blenker; One hundred and seventh and Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Kendall Green; Dickenson’s Light Artillery, Eighty-sixth New York, and detachment of Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, east of the Capitol; Fourteenth Massachusetts (Volunteers) Heavy Artillery and Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Forts Albany, Tillinghast, Richardson, Runyon Jackson, Barnard, Craig, and Scott; detachments of Fourth U. S. Artillery and Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers, Fort Washington; Ninety-seventh, One hundred and first, and Ninety-first New York, and Twelfth Virginia Volunteers, Fort Corcoran.

In camp near Washington-Sixth and Tenth New York, Swain’s New York, and Second Pennsylvania Cavalry, all dismounted.

These troops (3,359 men) were ordered to report to Colonel Miles, commanding the railroad guard, to relieve 3,306 older troops ordered to be sent to Manassas to report to General Abercrombie.


Cavalry.-First Maryland Cavalry and detachment of Purnell Legion Cavalry.

Artillery-Battery I, Second U. S.; battery-' Maryland; battery L, First New York, and two independent batteries of Pennsylvania artillery.

Infantry-Third, and Fourth New York, Eleventh, Eighty-seventh, and One hundred and eleventh Pennsylvania, detachment Twenty-first Massachusetts, Second Delaware, Second Maryland, First and Second Eastern Shore (Maryland) Home Guards, and Purnell Legion (two battalions) Maryland Volunteers.

In a staff charged with labors so various and important as that of the Army of the Potomac, a chief was indispensable to supervise the various departments and to relieve the commanding general of details. The office of chief of staff, well known in European armies, had not {p.23} been considered necessary in our small peace establishment. The functions of the office were not defined, and so far as exercised had been included in the Adjutant-General’s Department. The small number of officers in this department, and the necessity for their employment in other duties have obliged commanding generals during this war to resort to other branches of the service to furnish suitable chiefs of staff.

On the 4th of September, 1861, I appointed Col. R. B. Marcy, of the Inspector-General’s Department, chief of staff, and he entered upon service immediately, discharging the various and important duties with great fidelity, industry, and ability from this period until I was removed from command at Rectortown. Many improvements have been made during the war in our system of staff administration, but much remains to be done.

Our own experience and that of other armies agree in determining the necessity for an efficient and able staff. To obtain this, our staff establishment should be based on correct principles, and extended to be adequate to the necessities of the service, and should include a system of staff and line education.

The affairs of the Adjutant-General’s Department, while I commanded the Army of the Potomac, were conducted by Brig. Gen. S. Williams, assisted by Lieut. Col. James A. Hardie, aide-de-camp. Their management of the department during the organization of the Army in the fall and winter of 1861 and during its subsequent operations in the field, was excellent. They were during the entire period assisted by Capt. Richard B. Irwin, aide-de-camp, and during the organization of the Army by the following-named officers: Capts. Joseph Kirkland, Arthur McClellan, M. T. McMahon, William P. Mason, and William F. Biddle, aides-de-camp.

My personal staff, when we embarked for the Peninsula, consisted of Col. Thomas M. Key, additional aide-de-camp; Col. E. H. Wright, additional aide-de-camp and major Sixth U. S. Cavalry; Col. T. T. Gantt, additional aide-de-camp; Col. J. J. Astor, jr., volunteer aide-de-camp; Lieut. Col. A. V. Colburn, additional aide-de-camp, and captain Adjutant-General’s Department; Lieut. Col. N. B. Sweitzer, additional aide-de-camp, and captain First U. S. Cavalry; Lieut. Col. Edward McK Hudson, additional aide-de-camp, and captain Fourteenth U. S. Infantry; Lieut. Col. Paul Von Radowitz, additional aide-de-camp; Maj. H. your Hammerstein, additional aide-de-camp; Maj. W. W. Russell, U. S. Marine Corps: Maj. F. LeCompte, of the Swiss Army, volunteer aide-de-camp; Capt. George A. Custer, Joseph Kirkland, Arthur McClellan, L. P. D’Orleans, R. D’Orleans, M. T. McMahon, William P. Mason, jr., William F. Biddle, and E. A. Raymond, additional aides-de-camp.

To this number I am tempted to add the Prince de Joinville, who constantly accompanied me through the trying campaign of the Peninsula and frequently rendered important services. Of these officers Captain McMahon was assigned to the personal staff of Brigadier-General Franklin, and Captains Kirkland and Mason to that of Brig. Gen. F. J. Porter during the siege of Yorktown. They remained subsequently with those general officers. Major LeCompte left the Army during the siege of Yorktown; Colonels Gantt and Astor, Maj. Russell, Capts. L. P. D’Orleans, R. D’Orleans, and Raymond, at the close of the Peninsular campaign. Before its termination Capts. W. S. Abert and Charles R. Lowell, of the Sixth U. S. Cavalry, joined my staff as aides-de-camp, and remained with me until I was relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac. Ali of these officers served me {p.24} with great gallantry and devotion; they were ever ready to execute any service, no matter how dangerous, difficult, or fatiguing.


The highly important duties of this department were performed by Col. D. B. Sacket and Maj. N. H. Davis to my entire satisfaction. They introduced many valuable changes in the system of inspections and in the forms of reports, and so systematized the labors of the inspectors of corps and divisions that excellent results were obtained. The intelligent and energetic performance of their duties by these officers enabled me to keep myself well informed of the condition of the troops and to correct evils promptly.


When I assumed command of the Army of the Potomac I found Maj. J. G. Barnard, U. S. Engineers, subsequently brigadier-general of volunteers, occupying the position of chief engineer of that army. I continued him in the same office, and at once gave the necessary instructions for the completion of the defenses of the capital, and for the entire reorganization of the department. Under his direction the entire system of defenses was carried into execution. This was completed before the army departed for Fort Monroe, and is a sufficient evidence of the skill of the engineers and the diligent labor of the troops.

For some months after the organization of the Army of the Potomac was commenced there were no engineer troops with it. At length, however, three companies were assigned. Under the skillful management of Capt. J. C. Duane, U. S. Engineers, these new companies rapidly became efficient, and, as will be seen, rendered most valuable service during the ensuing campaigns.

The number of engineer troops being entirely inadequate to the necessities of the army, an effort was made to partially remedy this defect by detailing the Fifteenth and Fiftieth New York Volunteers, which contained many sailors and mechanics, as engineer troops. They were first placed under the immediate superintendence of Lieut. Col. B. S. Alexander, U. S. Engineers, by whom they were instructed in the duties of pontoniers, and became somewhat familiar with those of sappers and miners. Previous to the movement of the army for the Peninsula this brigade was placed under the command of Brig. Gen. D. P. Woodbury, major U. S. Engineers.

The labor of preparing the engineer and bridge trains devolved chiefly upon Captain Duane, who was instructed to procure the new model French bridge train, as I was satisfied that the India-rubber pontoon was entirely useless for the general purposes of a campaign.

The engineer department presented the following complete organization when the army moved for the Peninsula:

Brig. Gen. J. G. Barnard, chief engineer; First Lieut. H. L. Abbot, Topographical Engineers, aide-de-camp. Brigade volunteer engineers, Brigadier-General Woodbury commanding; Fifteenth New York Volunteers, Col. J. McLeod Murphy; Fiftieth New York Volunteers, Col. C. B. Stuart. Battalion three companies U. S. Engineers, Capt. J. C. Duane commanding; companies respectively commanded by First Lieuts. C. B. Reese, C. E. Cross, and O. E. Babcock, U. S. Engineers. The chief engineer was ably assisted in his duties by Lieut. Col. B. S. Alexander, and First Lieuts. C. B. Comstock, M. D. McAlester, and Merrill, U. S. {p.25} Engineers. Capt. C. S. Stewart and Second Lieut. F. U. Farquhar, U. S. Engineers, joined after the army arrived at Fort Monroe.

The necessary bridge equipage for the operations of a large army had been collected, consisting of bateaux with the anchors and flooring material (French model), trestles, and engineer’s tools, with the necessary wagons for their transportation.

The small number of officers of this corps available rendered it impracticable to detail engineers permanently at the headquarters of corps and divisions. The companies of regular engineers never had their proper number of officers, and it was necessary, as a rule, to follow the principle of detailing engineer officers temporarily whenever their services were required.


To the corps of topographical engineers was intrusted the collection of topographical information and the preparation of campaign maps. Until a short time previous to the departure of the army for Fort Monroe Lieut. Col. John N. Macomb was in charge of this department, and prepared a large amount of valuable material. He was succeeded by Brig. Gen. A. A. Humphreys, who retained the position throughout the Peninsula campaign. These officers were assisted by Lieuts. H. L. Abbot, O. G. Wagner, N. Bowen, John M. Wilson, and James H. Wilson, Topographical Engineers. This number, being the greatest available, was so small that much of the duty of the department devolved upon parties furnished by Professor Bache, Superintendent of the Coast Survey, and other gentlemen from civil life.

Owing to the entire absence of reliable topographical maps the labors of this corps were difficult and arduous in the extreme. Notwithstanding the energy and ability displayed by General Humphreys, Lieutenant-Colonel Macomb, and their subordinates, who frequently obtained the necessary information under fire, the movements of the army were sometimes unavoidably delayed by the difficulty of obtaining knowledge of the country in advance. The result of their labors has been the preparation of an excellent series of maps, which will be invaluable to any army traversing the same ground.

During the campaign it was impossible to draw a distinct line of demarkation between the duties of the two corps of engineers, so that the labors of reconnaissance of roads, of lines of intrenchments, of fields for battle, and of the position of the enemy, as well as the construction of siege and defensive works, were habitually performed by details from either corps, as the convenience of the service demanded.

I desire to express my high appreciation of the skill, gallantry, and devotion displayed by the officers of both corps of engineers, under the most trying circumstances.

During the Maryland campaign I united the two corps under Capt. J. C. Duane, U. S. Engineers, and found great advantages from the arrangement.


For the operations of the medical department I refer to the reports, transmitted herewith, of Surg. Charles S. Tripler and Surg. Jonathan Letterman, who, in turn, performed the duties of medical director of the Army of the Potomac, the former from August 12, 1861, until July 1, 1862, and the latter after that date. The difficulties to be overcome in {p.26} organizing and making effective the medical department were very great, arising principally from the inexperience of the regimental medical officers, many of whom were physicians taken suddenly from civil life, who, according to Surgeon Tripler, “had to be instructed in their duties from the very alphabet,” and from the ignorance of the line officers as to their relations with the medical officers, which gave rise to confusion and conflict of authority. Boards of examination were instituted, by which many ignorant officers were removed, and by the successive exertions of Surgeons Tripler and Letterman the medical corps was brought to a very high degree of efficiency. With regard to the sanitary condition of the army while on the Potomac, Dr. Tripler says that the records show a constantly increasing immunity from disease. “In October and November, 1861, with an army averaging 130,000 men, we had 7,932 cases of fever of all sorts-Of these about 1,000 were reported as cases of typhoid fever. I know that errors of diagnosis were frequently committed, and therefore this must be considered as the limit of typhoid cases. If any army in the world can show such a record as this, I do not know when or where it was assembled.” From September, 1861, to February, 1862, while the army was increasing, the number of sick decreased from 7 per cent, to 6.18 per cent. Of these the men sick in the regimental and general hospitals were less than one-half; the remainder were slight cases, under treatment in quarters. “During this time, so far as rumor was concerned, the army was being decimated by disease every month.” Of the sanitary condition of the army during the Peninsular campaign, up to its arrival at Harrison’s Landing, Dr. Tripler says:

During this campaign the army was favored with excellent health. No epidemic disease appeared. Those scourges of modern armies-dysentery, typhus, cholera were almost unknown. We had some typhoid fever and more malarial fevers, but even these never prevailed to such an extent as to create any alarm. The sick reports were sometimes larger than we cared to have them, but the great majority of the cases reported were such as did not threaten life or permanent disability. I regret that I have not before me the retained copies of the monthly reports, so that I might give accurate statistics. I have endeavored to recover them, but have been unsuccessful. My recollection is that the whole sick report never exceeded 8 per cent. of the force, and this including all sorts of cases, the trivial as well as the severe. The Army of the Potomac must be conceded to have been the most healthy army in the service of the United States.

His remarks at the conclusion of his report upon our system of medical administration and his suggestions for its improvement are especially worthy of attention.

The service, labors, and privations of the troops during the seven days’ battles had of course a great effect on the health of the army after it reached Harrison’s Landing, increasing the number of sick to about 20 per cent. of the whole force. The nature of the military operations had also unavoidably placed the medical department in a very unsatisfactory condition. Supplies had been almost entirely exhausted or necessarily abandoned, hospital tents abandoned or destroyed, and the medical officers deficient in numbers and broken down by fatigue. All the remarkable energy and ability of Surgeon Letterman were required to restore the efficiency of his department, but before we left Harrison’s Landing he had succeeded in fitting it out thoroughly with the supplies it required, and the health of the army was vastly improved by the sanitary measures which were enforced at his suggestion.

The great haste with which the army was removed from the Peninsula made it necessary to leave at Fort Monroe, to be forwarded afterwards, nearly all the baggage and transportation, including medical stores and ambulances, all the vessels being required to transport the {p.27} troops themselves and their ammunition; and when the Army of the Potomac returned to Washington after General Pope’s campaign, and the medical department came once more under Surgeon Letterman’s control, he found it in a deplorable condition. The officers were worn-out by the labors they had performed, and the few supplies that had been brought from the Peninsula had been exhausted or abandoned, so that the work of reorganization and resupplying had to be again performed, and this while the army was moving rapidly, and almost in the face of the enemy. That it was successfully accomplished is shown by the care and attention which the wounded received after the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.

Among the improvements introduced into his department by Surgeon Letterman, the principal are the organization of an ambulance corps, the system of field hospitals, and the method of supplying by brigades, all of which were instituted during the Maryland campaign, and have since proved very efficient.


On assuming command of the troops in and around Washington I appointed Capt. S. Van Vliet, assistant quartermaster (afterwards brigadier-general), chief quartermaster to my command, and gave him the necessary instructions for organizing his department and collecting the supplies requisite for the large army then called for.

The disaster at Manassas had but recently occurred, and the army was quite destitute of quartermaster’s stores. General Van Vliet with great energy and zeal set himself about the task of furnishing the supplies immediately necessary, and preparing to obtain the still larger amounts which would be required by the new troops, which were moving in large numbers towards the capital. The principal depot for supplies in the city of Washington was under charge of Col. D. H. Rucker, assistant quartermaster, who ably performed his duties. Lieut. Col. R. Ingalls, assistant quartermaster, was placed in charge of the department on the south side of the Potomac. I directed a large depot for transportation to be established at Perryville, on the left bank of the Susquehanna a point equally accessible by rail and water. Capt. C. G. Sawtelle, assistant quartermaster, was detailed to organize the camp, and performed his duties to my entire satisfaction. Capt. J. J. Dana, assistant quartermaster, had immediate charge of the transportation in and about Washington, as well as of the large number of horses purchased for the use of the artillery and cavalry. The principal difficulties which General Van Vliet had to encounter arose from the inexperience of the majority of the officers of his department in the new regiments and brigades. The necessity of attending personally to minor details rendered his duties arduous and harassing in the extreme. All obstacles, however, were surmounted by the untiring industry of the chief quartermaster and his immediate subordinates, and when the army was prepared to move the organization of the department was found to be admirable.

When it was determined to move the army to the Peninsula, the duties of providing water transportation were devolved by the Secretary of War upon his assistant, the Hon. John Tucker. The vessels were ordered to Alexandria, and Lieutenant-Colonel Ingalls was placed in immediate charge of the embarkation of the troops, transportation, and material of every description. Operations of this nature on so extensive a scale had no parallel in the history of our country.


The arrangements of Lieutenant-Colonel Ingalls were perfected with remarkable skill and energy, and the army and its material were embarked and transported to Fort Monroe in a very short space of time and entirely without loss.

During the operations on the Peninsula, until the arrival of troops at Harrison’s Landing, General Van Vliet retained the position of chief quartermaster, and maintained the thorough organization and efficiency of his department. The principal depots of supplies were under the immediate charge of Lieutenant-Colonels Ingalls and Sawtelle.

On the 10th of July, 1862, General Van Vliet having requested to be relieved from duty with the Army of the Potomac, I appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Ingalls chief quartermaster, and he continued to discharge the duties of that office during the remainder of the Peninsula and the Maryland campaigns in a manner which fully sustained the high reputation he had previously acquired.

The immense amount of labor accomplished, often under the most difficult circumstances, the admirable system under which the duties of the department were performed, and the entire success which attended the efforts to supply so large an army, reflect the highest credit upon the officers upon whom these onerous duties devolved. The reports of General Van Vliet and Lieutenant-Colonel Ingalls, with the accompanying documents, give in detail the history of the department from its’ organization until I was relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac.


On the 1st of August, 1861, Col. H. F. Clarke, commissary of subsistence, joined my staff and at once entered upon his duties as chief commissary of the Army of the Potomac. In order to realize the responsibilities pertaining to this office, as well as to form a proper estimate of the vast amount of labor which must necessarily devolve upon its occupant, it is only necessary to consider the unprepared state of the country to engage in a war of such magnitude as the present, and the lack of practical knowledge on the part of the officers with reference to supplying and subsisting a large and at that time unorganized army. Yet notwithstanding the existence of these great obstacles, the manner in which the duties of the commissary department were discharged was such as to merit and call forth the commendation of the entire army.

During the stay of the Army of the Potomac in the vicinity of Washington, prior to the Peninsular campaign, its subsistence was drawn chiefly from the depots which had been established by the Commissary Department at Washington, Alexandria, Forts Corcoran and Runyon. In the important task of designating and establishing depots of supplies Colonel Clarke was ably seconded by his assistants, Col. Amos Beckwith, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army; Lieut. Col. George Bell, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army; Lieut. Col. A. P. Porter, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army; Capt. Thomas Wilson, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army; Capt. Brownell Granger, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Volunteers; Capt. W. H. Bell, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Army; Capt. J. H. Woodward, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Volunteers; and Capt. W. R. Murphy, commissary of subsistence, U. S. Volunteers.

For a full knowledge of the highly creditable manner in which each and all of the above-mentioned officers discharged their duties I invite {p.29} attention to the detailed report of Colonel Clarke. The remarks and suggestions contained in his report are worthy of attention, as affording valuable rules for the future guidance of the Subsistence Department in supplying armies in the field. The success of the subsistence department of the Army of the Potomac was in a great measure attributable to the fact that the Subsistence Department at Washington made ample provision for sending supplies to the Peninsula, and that it always exercised the most intelligent foresight. It moreover gave its advice and countenance to the officers charged with its duties and reputation in the field, and those officers, I am happy to say, worked with it and together in perfect harmony for the public good. During the entire period that I was in command of the Army of the Potomac there was no instance within my knowledge where the troops were without their rations from any fault of the officers of this department.


This very important branch of the service was placed under the charge of Capt. C. P. Kingsbury, Ordnance Corps, colonel and aide-decamp. Great difficulty existed in the proper organization of the department for the want of a sufficient number of suitable officers to perform the duties at the various headquarters and depots of supply. But far greater obstacles had to be surmounted, from the fact that the supply of small-arms was totally inadequate to the demands of a large army, and a vast proportion of those furnished were of such inferior quality as to be unsatisfactory to the troops and condemned by their officers. The supply of artillery was more abundant, but of great variety. Rifled ordnance was just coming into use for the first time in this country, and the description of gun and kind of projectile which would prove most effective, and should therefore be adopted, was a mere matter of theory. To obviate these difficulties, large quantities of small-arms of foreign manufacture were contracted for; private enterprise in the construction of arms and ammunition was encouraged, and by the time the army was ordered to move to the Peninsula the amount of ordnance and ordnance stores was ample. Much also had been done to bring the quality both of arms and ammunition up to the proper standard. Boards of officers were in session continually during the autumn and winter of 1861 to test the relative merits of new arms and projectiles.

The reports of these boards, confirmed by subsequent experience in the field, have done much to establish the respective claims of different inventors and manufacturers. During the campaigns of the Peninsula and Maryland the officers connected with the department were zealous and energetic and kept the troops well supplied, notwithstanding the perplexing and arduous nature of their duties. One great source of perplexity was the fact that it had been necessary to issue arms of all varieties and calibers, giving an equal diversity in the kinds of ammunition required. Untiring watchfulness was therefore incumbent upon the officers in charge to prevent confusion and improper distribution of cartridges. Colonel Kingsbury discharged the duties of his office with great efficiency until the-day of July, 1862, when his health required that he should be relieved. First Lieut. Thomas G. Baylor, Ordnance Corps, succeeded him, and performed his duty during the remainder of the Peninsular and Maryland campaigns with marked ability and success.

The want of reports from Colonel Kingsbury and Lieutenant Baylor renders it impossible for me to enter at all into the details of the organization of the department.



Immediately after I was placed in command of the Division of the Potomac, I appointed Col. Andrew Porter, Sixteenth U. S. Infantry, provost-marshal of Washington. All the available regular infantry, a battery, and a squadron of cavalry were placed under his command, and by his energetic action he soon corrected the serious evils which existed and restored order in the city.

When the army was about to take the field General Porter was appointed provost-marshal-general of the Army of the Potomac, and held that most important position until the end of the Peninsular campaign, when sickness, contracted in the untiring discharge of his duties, compelled him to ask to be relieved from the position he had so ably and energetically filled.

The provost-marshal-general’s department had the charge of a class of duties which had not before in our service been defined and grouped under the management of a special department. The following subjects indicate the sphere of this department:

Suppression of marauding and depredations, and of all brawls and disturbances, preservation of good order, and suppression of disturbances beyond the limits of the camps.

Prevention of straggling on the march.

Suppression of gambling-houses, drinking-houses, or bar-rooms, and brothels.

Regulation of hotels, taverns, markets, and places of public amusement.

Searches, seizures, and arrests. Execution of sentences of general courts-martial involving imprisonment or capital punishment. Enforcement of orders prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors, whether by tradesmen or sutlers, and of orders respecting passes.

Deserters from the enemy.

Prisoners of war taken from the enemy.

Countersigning safeguards.

Passes to citizens within the lines and for purposes of trade.

Complaints of citizens as to the conduct of the soldiers.

General Porter was assisted by the following-named officers:

Maj. W. H. Wood, Seventeenth U. S. Infantry; Capt. James McMillan, acting assistant adjutant-general, Seventeenth U. S. Infantry; Capt. W. T. Gentry, Seventeenth U. S. Infantry; Capt. J. W. Forsyth, Eighteenth U. S. Infantry; Lieut. J. W. Jones, Twelfth U. S. Infantry; Lieut. C. F. Trowbridge, Sixteenth U. S. Infantry; and Lieut. C. D. Mehaffey, First U. S. Infantry.

The provost guard was composed of the Second U. S. Cavalry, Major Pleasonton, and a battalion of the Eighth and Seventeenth U. S. Infantry, Major Willard. After General Porter was relieved Major Wood was in charge of this department until after the battle of Antietam, when Brigadier-General Patrick was appointed provost-marshal-general.


When the army took the field, for the purpose of securing order and regularity in the camp of headquarters and facilitating its movements, the office of commandant of general headquarters was created, and assigned to Maj. G. O. Haller, Seventh U. S. Infantry. Six companies of infantry were placed under his orders for guard and police duty. Among the orders appended to this report is the one defining his duties, which were always satisfactorily performed.


From August, 1861, the position of judge-advocate was held by Col. {p.31} Thomas T. Gantt, aide-de-camp, until compelled by ill-health to retire, at Harrison’s Landing, in August, 1862. His reviews of the decisions of courts-martial during this period were of great utility in correcting the practice in military courts, diffusing true notions of discipline and subordination, and set before the army a high standard of soldierly honor. Upon the retirement of Colonel Gantt the duties of judge-advocate were ably performed by Col. Thomas M. Key, aide-de-camp.


The method of conveying intelligence and orders, invented and introduced into the service by Maj. Albert J. Myer, Signal Officer, U. S. Army, was first practically tested in large operations during the organization of the Army of the Potomac.

Under the direction of Major Myer a Signal Corps was formed by detailing officers and men from the different regiments of volunteers and instructing them in the use of the flags by day and torches by night.

The Chief Signal Officer was indefatigable in his exertions to render his corps effective, and it soon became available for service in every division of the army. In addition to the flags and torches, Major Myer introduced a portable insulated telegraph wire, which could be readily laid from point to point, and which could be used under the same general system. In front of Washington, and on the Lower Potomac, at any point within our lines not reached by the military telegraph, the great usefulness of this system of signals was made manifest. But it was not until after the arrival of the army upon the Peninsula, and during the siege and battles of that and the Maryland campaigns, that the great benefits to be derived from it on the field and under fire were fully appreciated.

There was scarcely any action or skirmish in which the Signal Corps did not render important services. Often under heavy fire of artillery, and not unfrequently while exposed to musketry the officers and men of this corps gave information of the movements of the enemy and transmitted directions for the evolutions of our own troops. The report of the Chief Signal Officer, with accompanying documents, will give the details of the services of this corps, and call attention to those members of it who were particularly distinguished.


The telegraphic operations of the Army of the Potomac were superintended by Maj. Thomas T. Eckert, and under the immediate direction of Mr. Caldwell, who was, with a corps of operators, attached to my headquarters during the entire campaigns upon the Peninsula and in Maryland. The services of this corps were arduous and efficient. Under the admirable arrangements of Major Eckert they were constantly provided with all the material for constructing new lines, which were rapidly established whenever the army changed position, and it was not unfrequently the case that the operatives worked under fire from the enemy’s guns, yet they invariably performed all the duties required of them with great alacrity and cheerfulness, and it was seldom that I was without the means of direct telegraphic communication with the War Department and with the corps commanders. From the organization of the Army of the Potomac up to November 1, 1862, including the Peninsular and Maryland campaigns, upwards of 1,200 miles of military telegraph line had been constructed in connection with the operations {p.32} of the army, and the number of operatives and builders employed was about 200.

To Professor Lowe, the intelligent and enterprising aeronaut, who had the management of the balloons, I was greatly indebted for the valuable information obtained during his ascensions.

I have more than once taken occasion to recommend the members of my staff, both general and personal, for promotion and reward. I beg leave to repeat these recommendations, and to record their names in the history of the Army of the Potomac as gallant soldiers, to whom their country owes a debt of gratitude, still unpaid, for the courage, ability, and untiring zeal they displayed during the eventful campaigns in which they bore so prominent a part.


On the 15th of October the main body of the Army of the Potomac was in the immediate vicinity of Washington, with detachments on the left bank of the Potomac as far down as Liverpool Point and as far up as Williamsport and its vicinity. The different divisions were posted as follows: Hooker at Budd’s Ferry, Lower Potomac; Heintzelman at Fort Lyon and vicinity; Franklin near the Theological Seminary; Blenker near Hunter’s Chapel; McDowell at Upton’s Hill and Arlington; F. J. Porter at Hall’s and Miner’s Hills; Smith at Mackall’s Hill; McCall at Langley; Buell at Tennallytown, Meridian Hill, Emory’s Chapel, &c., on the left bank of the river-Casey at Washington; Stoneman’s cavalry at Washington; Hunt’s artillery at Washington; Banks at Darnestown, with detachments at Point of Rocks, Sandy Hook, Williamsport, &c.; Stone at Poolesville, and Dix at Baltimore, with detachments on the Eastern Shore.

On the 19th of October, 1861, General McCall marched to Dranesville with his division, in order to cover reconnaissances to be made in all directions the next day, for the purpose of learning the position of the enemy and of covering the operations of the topographical engineers in making maps of that region.

On the 20th, acting in concert with General McCall, General Smith pushed strong parties to Freedom Hill, Vienna, Flint Hill, Peacock Hill, &c., to accomplish the same purpose in that part of the front. These reconnaissances were successful.

On the morning of the 20th I received the following telegram from General Banks’ headquarters:

DARNESTOWN, October 20, 1861.

SIR: The signal station at Sugar Loaf telegraphs that the enemy have moved away from Leesburg. All quiet here.

R. M. COPELAND, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

General MARCY.

Whereupon I sent to General Stone, at Poolesville, the following telegram:

CAMP GRIFFIN, October 20, 1861.

General McClellan desires me to inform you that General McCall occupied Dranesville yesterday and is still there. Will send out heavy reconnaissances to-day in all directions from that point. The general desires that you will keep a good lookout upon Leesburg, to see if this movement has the effect to drive them away. Perhaps a slight demonstration on your part would have the effect to move them.

A. V. COLBURN, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Brig. Gen. C. P. STONE, Poolesville.


Deeming it possible that General McCall’s movement to Dranesville together with the subsequent reconnaissances, might have the effect of inducing the enemy to abandon Leesburg, and the dispatch from Sugar Loaf appearing to confirm this view, I wished General Stone, who had only a line of pickets on the river-the mass of his troops being out of sight of and-beyond range from the Virginia bank-to make some display of an intention to cross, and also to watch the enemy more closely than usual. I did not direct him to cross, nor did I intend that he should cross the river in force for the purpose of fighting.

The above dispatch was sent on the 20th, and reached General Stone as early as 11 a.m. of that day. I expected him to accomplish all that was intended on the same day; and this he did, as will be seen from the following dispatch, received at my headquarters in Washington from Poolesville on the evening of October 20:

Made a feint of crossing at this place this afternoon, and at the same time started a reconnoitering party towards Leesburg from Harrison’s Island. The enemy’s pickets retired to intrenchments. Report of reconnoitering party not yet received. I have means of crossing 125 men once in ten minutes at each of two points. River falling slowly.

C. P. STONE, Brigadier-General.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.

As it was not foreseen or expected that General McCall would be needed to co-operate with General Stone in any attack, he was directed to fall back from Dranesville to his original camp, near Prospect Hill, as soon as the required reconnaissances were completed. Accordingly he left Dranesville on his return at about 8.30 a.m. of the 21st, reaching his old camp at about 1 p.m.

In the mean time I was surprised to hear from General Stone that a portion of his troops were engaged on the Virginia side of the river, and at once sent instructions to General McCall to remain at Dranesville, if he had not left before the order reached him. The order did not reach him until his return to his camp at Langley. He was then ordered to rest his men and hold his division in readiness to return to Dranesville at a moment’s notice, should it become necessary. Similar instructions were given to other divisions during the afternoon.

The first intimation I received from General Stone of the real nature of his movements was in a telegram, as follows:

EDWARDS FERRY, October 21-11.10 a.m.

Major-General MCCLELLAN:

The enemy have boon engaged opposite Harrison’s Island; our men behaving admirably.

C. P. STONE, Brigadier-General.

At 2 p.m. General Banks’ adjutant-general sent the following:

DARNESTOWN, October 21, 1861-2 p.m.

General R. B. MARCY:

General Stone safely crossed the river this morning. Some engagements have taken place on the other side of the river; how important is not known.

R. M. COPELAND, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

General Stone sent the following dispatches on the same day at the hours indicated:

EDWARDS FERRY, October 21, 1861-2 p.m.

Major-General MCCLELLAN:

There has been sharp firing on the right of our line, and our troops appear to be {p.34} advancing there under Baker. The left, under Gorman has advanced its skirmishers nearly 1 mile, and, if the movement continues successful, will turn the enemy’s right.

C. P. STONE, Brigadier-General.

EDWARDS FERRY, October 21, 1861-4 p.m.


Nearly all my force is across the river. Baker on the right; Gorman on the left. Right sharply engaged.

C. P. STONE, Brigadier-General.

EDWARDS FERRY, October 21, 1861-9.30 p.m.

Major-General MCCLELLAN:

I am occupied in preventing further disaster, and try to get into a position to redeem. We have lost some of our best commanders-Baker dead, Cogswell a prisoner or secreted. The wounded are being carefully and rapidly removed, and Gorman’s wing is being cautiously withdrawn. Any advance from Dranesville must be made cautiously.

All was reported going well up to Baker’s death, but in the confusion following that, the right wing was outflanked. In a few hours I shall, unless a night attack is made, be in the same position as last night, save the loss of many good men.

C. P. STONE, Brigadier-General.

Although no more fully informed of the state of affairs, I had during the afternoon, as a precautionary measure, ordered General Banks to send one brigade to the support of the troops at Harrison’s Island, and to move with the other two to Seneca Mill, ready to support General Stone if necessary. The 9.30 p.m. dispatch of General Stone did not give me an entire understanding of the state of the case.

Aware of the difficulties and perhaps fatal consequences of recrossing such a river as the Potomac after a repulse, and from these telegrams supposing his whole force to be on the Virginia side, I directed General Stone to intrench himself, and hold the Virginia side at all hazards until re-enforcements could arrive, when he could safely withdraw to the Maryland side or hold his position on the Virginia side, should that prove advisable. General Banks was instructed to move the rest of his division to Edwards Ferry, and to send over as many men as possible before daylight to re-enforce Stone. He did not arrive in time to effect this, and was instructed to collect all the canal-boats he could find and use them for crossing at Edwards Ferry in sufficient force to enable the troops already there to hold the opposite side.

On the 22d I went to the ground in person, and reaching Poolesville, learned for the first time the full details of the affair.

The following extract from the evidence of General Stone before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, on the 5th of January, 1862, will throw further light on this occurrence:

General Stone says he received the order from my headquarters to make a slight demonstration at about 11 a.m. on the 20th, and that, in obedience to that order, he made the demonstration on the evening of the same day.

In regard to the reconnaissance on the 21st, which resulted in the battle of Bail’s Bluff; he was asked the following questions:

Question. Did this reconnaissance originate with yourself or had you orders from the General-in-Chief to make it?

To which he replied: “It originated with myself-the reconnaissance.”

Question. The order did not proceed from General McClellan?

Answer. I was directed the day before to make a demonstration; that demonstration was made the day previous.


Question. Did you receive an order from the General-in-Chief to make the reconnaissance?

Answer. No, sir.

Making a personal examination on the 23d, I found that the position on the Virginia side at Edwards Ferry was not a tenable one, but did not think it wise to withdraw the troops by daylight. I therefore caused more artillery to be placed in position on the Maryland side to cover the approaches to the ground held by us, and crossed the few additional troops that the high wind permitted us to get over, so as to be as secure as possible against any attack during the day. Before nightfall all the precautions were taken to secure an orderly and quiet passage of the troops and guns. The movement was commenced soon after dark, under the personal supervision of General Stone, who received the order for the withdrawal at 7.15 p.m. By 4 a.m. of the 24th everything had reached the Maryland shore in safety.

A few days afterward I received information, which seemed to be authentic, to the effect that large bodies of the enemy had been ordered from Manassas to Leesburg to cut off our troops on the Virginia side. Their timely withdrawal had probably prevented a still more serious disaster.

I refer to General Stone’s report of this battle, furnished the War Department, and his published testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, for further details.*4

The records of the War Department show my anxiety and efforts to assume active offensive operations in the fall and early winter. It is only just to say, however, that the unprecedented condition of the roads and Virginia soil would have delayed an advance until February, had the discipline, organization, and equipment of the Army been as complete at the close of the fall as was necessary, and as I desired and labored against every impediment to make them.

While still in command only of the Army of the Potomac-namely, in early September-I proposed the formation of a corps of New Englanders for coast service in the bays and inlets of the Chesapeake and Potomac, to co-operate with my own command, from which most of its material was drawn.

On the 1st of November, however, I was called to relieve Lieutenant-General Scott in the chief and general command of the armies of the Union. The direction and nature of this coast expedition, therefore, were somewhat changed, as will soon appear in the original plan submitted to the Secretary of War and the letter of instructions later issued to General Burnside, its commander. The whole country, indeed, had now become the theater of military operations from the Potomac to beyond the Mississippi, and to assist the Navy in perfecting and sustaining the blockade it became necessary to extend these operations to points on the seacoast, Roanoke Island, Savannah, and New Orleans. It remained also to equip and organize the armies of the West, whose condition was little better than that of the Army of the Potomac had been. The direction of the campaigns in the West and of the operations on the seaboard enabled me to enter upon larger combinations and to accomplish results the necessity and advantage of which had not been unforeseen, but which had been beyond the ability of the single army formerly under my command to effect.

The following letters and a subsequent paper, addressed to the Secretary {p.36} of War, sufficiently indicate the nature of those combinations to minds accustomed to reason upon military operations:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Washington, September 6, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to suggest the following proposition, with the request that the necessary authority be at once given me to carry it out-to organize a force of two brigades, of five regiments each, of New England men, for the general service but particularly adapted to coast service, the officers and men to be sufficiently conversant with boat service to manage steamers, sailing vessels, launches, barges, surf-boats, floating batteries, &c.; to charter or buy for the command a sufficient number of propellers or tug-boats for transportation of men and supplies, the machinery of which should be amply protected by timber; the vessels to have permanent experienced officers from the merchant service, but to be manned by details from the command: a naval officer to be attached to the staff of the commanding officer; the flank companies of each regiment to be armed with Dahlgren boat guns and carbines with waterproof cartridges; the other companies to have such arms as I may hereafter designate; to be uniformed and equipped as the Rhode Island regiments are; launches and floating batteries with timber parapets of sufficient capacity to land or bring into action the entire force. The entire management and organization of the force to be under my control, and to form an integral part of the Army of the Potomac.

The immediate object of this force is for operations in the inlets of Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac. By enabling me thus to land troops at points where they are needed, this force can also be used in conjunction with a naval force operating against points on the seacoast. This coast division to be commanded by a general officer of my selection; the regiments to be organized as other land forces the disbursements for vessels, &c., to be made by the proper department of the Army upon the requisitions of the general commanding the division, with my approval.

I think the entire force can be organized in thirty days, and by no means the least of the advantages of this proposition is the fact that it will call into the service a class of men who would not otherwise enter the Army.

You will immediately perceive that the object of this force is to follow along the coast and up the inlets and rivers the movements of the main army when it advances.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Hon. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.

Owing chiefly to the difficulty in procuring the requisite vessels and adapting them to the special purposes contemplated, this expedition was not ready for service until January, 1862. Then in the chief command, I deemed it best to send it to North Carolina., with the design indicated in the following letter:

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, January 7, 1862.

GENERAL: In accordance with verbal instructions heretofore given you, you will after uniting with Flag-Officer Goldsborough, at Fort Monroe, proceed under his convoy to Hatteras Inlet, where you will, in connection with him, take the most prompt measures for crossing the fleet over the bulkhead into the waters of the sound. Under the accompanying general order, constituting the Department of North Carolina, you will assume command of the garrison at Hatteras Inlet, and make such dispositions in regard to that place as your ulterior operations may render necessary, always being careful to provide for the safety of that very important station in any contingency.

Your first point of attack will be Roanoke Island and its dependencies. It is presumed that the Navy can reduce the batteries on the marshes and cover the landing of your troops on the main island, by which, in connection with a rapid movement of the gunboats to the northern extremity as soon as the marsh battery is reduced, it may be hoped to capture the entire garrison of the place. Having occupied the island and its dependencies, you will at once proceed to the erection of the batteries and defenses necessary to hold the position with a small force. Should the flag-officer require any assistance in seizing or holding the debouches of the canal from Norfolk, you will please afford it to him.

The commodore and yourself having completed your arrangements in regard to Roanoke Island and the waters north of it, you will please at once make a descent on New Berne, having gained possession of which and the railroad passing through it, you will at once throw a sufficient force upon Beaufort, and take the steps necessary to reduce Fort Macon and open that port. When you seize New Berne, you will {p.37} endeavor to seize the railroad as far west as Goldsborough, should circumstances favor such a movement. The temper of the people, the rebel force at hand, &c., will go far towards determining the question as to how far west the railroad can be safely occupied and held. Should circumstances render it advisable to seize and hold Raleigh, the main north and south line of railroad passing through Goldsborough should be so effectually destroyed for considerable distances north and south of that point as to render it impossible for the rebels to use it to your disadvantage. A great point would be gained, in any event, by the effectual destruction of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.

I would advise great caution in moving so far into the interior as upon Raleigh. Having accomplished the objects mentioned, the next point of interest would probably be Wilmington, the reduction of which may require that additional means shall be afforded you. I would urge great caution in regard to proclamations. In no case would I go beyond a moderate joint proclamation with the naval commander, which should say as little as possible about politics or the negro; merely state that the true issue for which we are fighting is the preservation of the Union and upholding the laws of the General Government, and stating that all who conduct themselves properly will, as far as possible, be protected in their persons and property.

You will please report your operations as often as an opportunity offers itself.

With my best wishes for your success, I am, &c.,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding in Chief.

Brig. Gen. A. E. BURNSIDE, Commanding Expedition.

The following letters of instruction were sent to Generals Halleck, Buell, Sherman, and Butler; and I also communicated verbally to these officers my views in full regarding the field of operations assigned to each, and gave them their instructions as much in detail as was necessary at that time:

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, D. C., November 11, 1861.

GENERAL: In assigning you to the command of the Department of the Missouri, it is probably unnecessary for me to state that I have intrusted to you a duty which requires the utmost tact and decision. You have not merely the ordinary duties of a military commander to perform but the far more difficult task of reducing chaos to order, of changing probably the majority of the personnel of the staff of the department, and of reducing to a point of economy, consistent with the interests and necessities of the State, a system of reckless expenditure and fraud, perhaps unheard-of before in the history of the world.

You will find in your department many general and staff officers holding illegal commissions and appointments not recognized or approved by the President or Secretary of War. You will please at once inform these gentlemen of the nullity of their appointment, and see that no pay or allowances are issued to them until such time as commissions may be authorized by the President or Secretary of War.

If any of them give the slightest trouble, you will at once arrest them and send them, under guard, out of the limits of your department, informing them that if they return they will be placed in close confinement. You will please examine into the legality of the organization of the troops serving in the department. When you find any illegal, unusual, or improper organizations, you will give to the officers and men an opportunity to enter the legal military establishment under general laws and orders from the War Department, reporting in full to these headquarters any officer or organization that may decline.

You will please cause competent and reliable staff officers to examine all existing contracts immediately, and suspend all payments upon them until you receive the report in each case. Where there is the slightest doubt as to the propriety of the contract, you will be good enough to refer the matter with full explanation to these headquarters, stating in each case what would be a fair compensation for the services or materials rendered under the contract. Discontinue at once the reception of material or services under any doubtful contract. Arrest and bring to prompt trial all officers who have in any way violated their duty to the Government. In regard to the political conduct of affairs, you will please labor to impress upon the inhabitants of Missouri and the adjacent States that we are fighting solely for the integrity of the Union, to uphold the power of our National Government, and to restore to the nation the blessings of peace and good order.

With respect to military operations, it is probable, from the best information in my Possession, that the interests of the Government will be best served by fortifying and holding in considerable strength Rolla, Sedalia, and other interior points, keeping {p.38} strong patrols constantly moving from the terminal stations, and concentrating the mass of the troops on or near the Mississippi, prepared for such ulterior operations as the public interests may demand.

I would be glad to have you make, as soon as possible, a personal inspection of all the important points in your department, and report the result to me. I cannot too strongly impress upon you the absolute necessity of keeping me constantly advised of the strength, condition, and location of your troops, together with all facts that will enable me to maintain that general direction of the armies of the United States which it is my purpose to exercise. I trust to you to maintain thorough organization, discipline, and economy throughout your department. Please inform me as soon as possible of everything relating to the gunboats now in process of construction, as well as those completed.

The militia force authorized to be raised by the State of Missouri for its defense will be under your orders.

I am, general, &c.,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding U. S. Army.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK, U. S. A., Comdg. Dep’t of Missouri.

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, November 7, 1861.

GENERAL: In giving you instructions for your guidance in command of the Department of the Ohio, I do not design to fetter you. I merely wish to express plainly the general ideas which occur to me in relation to the conduct of operations there. That portion of Kentucky west of the Cumberland River is by its position so closely related to the States of Illinois and Missouri, that it has seemed best to attach it to the Department of the Missouri. Your operations, then (in Kentucky), will be confined to that portion of the State east of the Cumberland River. I trust I need not repeat to you that I regard the importance of the territory committed to your care as second only to that occupied by the army under my immediate command. It is absolutely necessary that we shall hold all the State of Kentucky; not only that, but that the majority of its inhabitants shall be warmly in favor of our cause, it being that which best subserves their interests. It is possible that the conduct of our political affairs in Kentucky is more important than that of our military operations. I certainly cannot overestimate the importance of the former. You will please constantly bear in mind the precise issue for which we are fighting. That issue is the preservation of the Union and the restoration of the full authority of the General Government over all portions of our territory. We shall most readily suppress this rebellion and restore the authority of the Government by religiously respecting the constitutional rights of all. I know that I express the feelings and opinions of the President when I say that we are fighting only to preserve the integrity of the Union and the constitutional authority of the General Government.

The inhabitants of Kentucky may rely upon it that their domestic institutions will in no manner be interfered with, and that they will receive at our hands every constitutional protection. I have only to repeat that you will in all respects carefully regard the local institutions of the region in which you command, allowing nothing but the dictates of military necessity to cause you to depart from the spirit of these instructions.

So much in regard to political considerations.

The military problem would be a simple one could it be entirely separated from political influences. Such is not the case. Were the population among which you are to operate wholly or generally hostile, it is probable that Nashville should be your first and principal objective point. It so happens that a large majority of the inhabitants of Eastern Tennessee are in favor of the Union. It therefore seems proper that you should remain on the defensive on the line from Louisville to Nashville, while you throw the mass of your forces by rapid marches, by Cumberland Gap or Walker’s Gap, on Knoxville, in order to occupy the railroad at that point, and thus enable the loyal citizens of Eastern Tennessee to rise, while you at the same time cut off the railway communication between Eastern Virginia and the Mississippi. It will be prudent to fortify the pass before leaving it in your rear.

Brig. Gen. D. C. BUELL.


HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, November 12, 1861.

GENERAL: Upon assuming command of the department I will be glad to have you make as soon as possible a careful report of the condition and situation of your troops and of the military and political condition of your command. The main point to which I desire to call your attention is the necessity of entering Eastern Tennessee as soon as it can be done with reasonable chances of success, and I hope that you will, with the least possible delay, organize a column for that purpose, sufficiently guarding {p.39} at the same time the main avenues by which the rebels may invade Kentucky. Our conversations on the subject of military operations have been so full and my confidence in your judgment is so great, that I will not dwell further upon the subject, except to urge upon you the necessity of keeping me fully informed as to the state of affairs, both military and political, and your movements. In regard to political matters, bear in mind that we are fighting only to preserve the integrity of the Union and to uphold the power of the General Government. As far as military necessity will permit, religiously respect the constitutional rights of all. Preserve the strictest discipline among the troops, and while employing the utmost energy in military movements, be careful so to treat the unarmed inhabitants as to contract, not widen, the breach existing between us and the rebels.

I mean by this that it is the desire of the Government to avoid unnecessary irritation by causeless arrests and persecution of individuals. Where there is good reason to believe that persons are actually giving aid, comfort, or information to the enemy, it is of course necessary to arrest them; but I have always found that it is the tendency of subordinates to make vexatious arrests on mere suspicion. You will find it well to direct that no arrest shall he made except by your order or that of your generals, unless in extraordinary cases, always holding the party making the arrest responsible for the propriety of his course. It should be our constant aim to make it apparent to all that their property, their comfort, and their personal safety will be best preserved by adhering to the cause of the Union.

If the military suggestions I have made in this letter prove to have been founded on erroneous data you are of course perfectly free to change the plans of operations.

Brig. Gen. D. C. BUELL, Comdg. Dep’t of the Ohio.

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, February 14, 1862.

GENERAL: Your dispatches in regard to the occupation of Dawfuskie Island, &c., were received to-day. I saw also to-day, for the first time, your requisition for a siege train for Savannah.

After giving the subject all the consideration in my power, I am forced to the conclusion that, under present circumstances, the siege and capture of Savannah do not promise results commensurate with the sacrifices necessary. When I learned that it was possible for the gunboats to reach the Savannah River above Fort Pulaski, two operations suggested themselves to my mind as its immediate results:

First. The capture of Savannah by a coup de main-the result of an instantaneous advance and attack by the Army and Navy.

The time for this has passed, and your letter indicates that you are not accountable for the failure to seize the propitious moment, but that, on the contrary, you perceived its advantages.

Second. To isolate Fort Pulaski, cut off its supplies, and at least facilitate its reduction by a bombardment.

Although we have a long delay to deplore, the second course still remains open to us; and I strongly advise a close blockade of Pulaski, and its bombardment as soon as the 13-inch mortars and heavy guns reach you. I am confident you can thus reduce it. With Pulaski you gain all that is really essential; you obtain complete control of the harbor; you relieve the blockading fleet, and render the main body of your force disposable for other operations.

I do not consider the possession of Savannah worth a siege after Pulaski is in our hands. But the possession of Pulaski is of the first importance. The expedition to Fernandina is well, and I shall be glad to learn that it is ours.

But, after all, the greatest moral effect would be produced by the reduction of Charleston and its defenses. There the rebellion had its birth-there the unnatural hatred of our Government is most intense; there is the center of the boasted power and courage of the rebels.

To gain Fort Sumter and hold Charleston is a task well worthy of our greatest efforts and considerable sacrifices. That is the problem I would be glad to have you study. Some time must elapse before we can be in all respects ready to accomplish that purpose. Fleets are en route and armies in motion which have certain preliminary objects to accomplish before we are ready to take Charleston in hand, but the time will before long arrive when I shall be prepared to make that movement. In the mean time it is my advice and wish that no attempt be made upon Savannah, unless it can be carried with certainty by a coup de main.

Please concentrate your attention and forces upon Pulaski and Fernandina. Saint Augustine might as well be taken by way of an interlude, while awaiting the preparations for Charleston. Success attends us everywhere at present.

Very truly, yours,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. T. W. SHERMAN, Comdg. at Port Royal, &c.


HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, February 23, 1862.

GENERAL: You are assigned to the command of the land forces destined to co-operate with the Navy in the attacks upon New Orleans. You will use every means to keep your destination a profound secret, even from your staff officers, with the exception of your chief of staff and Lieutenant Weitzel, of the Engineers. The force at your disposal will consist of the first thirteen regiments named in your memorandum handed to me in person, the Twenty-first Indiana, Fourth Wisconsin, and Sixth Michigan (old and good regiments from Baltimore).

The Twenty-first Indiana, Fourth Wisconsin, and sixth Michigan will await your orders at Fort Monroe.

Two companies of the Twenty-first Indiana are well drilled as heavy artillery. The cavalry force already en route for Ship Island will be sufficient for your purposes.

After full consultation with officers well acquainted with the country in which it is proposed to operate, I have arrived at the conclusion that two light batteries fully equipped and one without horses will be all that are necessary. This will make your force about 14,400 infantry, 275 cavalry, 550 artillery; total, 15,255 men. The commanding general of the Department of Key West is authorized to loan you, temporarily, two regiments; Fort Pickens can, probably, give you another, which will bring your force to near 18,000.

The object of your expedition is one of vital importance-the capture of New Orleans. The route selected is up the Mississippi River, and the first obstacle to be encountered (perhaps the only one) is in the resistance offered by Forts Saint Philip and Jackson. It is expected that the Navy can reduce these works; in that case you will, after their capture, leave a sufficient garrison in them to render them perfectly secure; and it is recommended that, on the upward passage, a few heavy guns and some troops be left at the pilot station (at the forks of the river) to cover a retreat in the event of a disaster. These troops and guns will of course be removed as soon as the forts are captured. Should the Navy fail to reduce the works, you will land your forces and siege train, and endeavor to breach the works, silence their fire, and carry them by assault.

The next resistance will be near the English Bend, where there are some earthen batteries. Here it may be necessary for you to land your troops and co-operate with the naval attack, although it is more than probable that the Navy unassisted can accomplish the result. If these works are taken, the city of New Orleans necessarily falls. In that event, it will probably be best to occupy Algiers with the mass of your troops, also the eastern bank of the river above the city. It may be necessary to place some troops in the city to preserve order, but if there appears to be sufficient Union sentiment to control the city, it may he best for purposes of discipline to keep your men out of the city.

After obtaining possession of New Orleans, it will be necessary to reduce all the works guarding its approaches from the east, and particularly to gain the Manchac Pass.

Baton Rouge, Berwick Bay, and Fort Livingston will next claim your attention.

A feint on Galveston may facilitate the objects we have in view. I need not call your attention to the necessity of gaining possession of all the rolling stock you can on the different railways and of obtaining control of the roads themselves. The occupation of Baton Rouge by a combined naval and land force should be accomplished as soon as possible after you have gained New Orleans. Then endeavor to open your communication with the northern column by the Mississippi, always bearing in mind the necessity of occupying Jackson, Miss., as soon as you can safely do so, either after or before you have effected the junction. Allow nothing to divert you from obtaining full possession of all the approaches to New Orleans. When that object is accomplished to its fullest extent, it will be necessary to make a combined attack on Mobile, in order to gain possession of the harbor and works, as well as to control the railway terminus at the city. In regard to this I will send more detailed instructions as the operations of the northern column develop themselves.

I may briefly state that the general objects of the expedition are, first the reduction of New Orleans and all its approaches; then Mobile and its defenses; then Pensacola, Galveston, &c. It is probable that by the time New Orleans is reduced it will be in the power of the Government to re-enforce the land forces sufficiently to accomplish all these objects. In the mean time you will please give all the assistance in your power to the army and navy commanders in your vicinity, never losing sight of the fact that the great object to be achieved is the capture and firm retention of New Orleans.

I am, &c.,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding U. S. Army.

Maj. Gen. B. F. BUTLER, U. S. Volunteers.


The plan indicated in the above letters comprehended in its scope the operations of all the armies of the Union, the Army of the Potomac as well. It was my intention, for reasons easy to be seen, that its various parts should be carried out simultaneously, or nearly so, and in co-operation along the whole line. If this plan was wise, and events have failed to prove that it was not, then it is unnecessary to defend any delay which would have enabled the Army of the Potomac to perform its share in the execution of the whole work. But about the middle of January, 1862, upon recovering from a severe illness, I found that excessive anxiety for an immediate movement of the Army of the Potomac had taken possession of the minds of the administration. A change had just been made in the War Department, and I was soon urged by the new Secretary, Mr. Stanton, to take immediate steps to secure the reopening of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and to free the banks of the Lower Potomac from the rebel batteries, which annoyed passing vessels. Very soon after his entrance upon office I laid before him verbally my design as to the part of the plan of campaign to be executed by the Army of the Potomac, which was to attack Richmond by the Lower Chesapeake. He instructed me to develop it to the President, which I did. The result was that the President disapproved it, and by an order of January 31, 1862, substituted one of his own. On the 27th of January, 1862, the following order was issued, without consultation with me:


EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, January 27, 1862.

Ordered, That the 22d day of February, 1862, be the day for a general movement of the land and naval forces of the United States against the insurgent forces. That especially the army at and about Fortress Monroe; the Army of the Potomac; the Army of Western Virginia; the army near Munfordville, Ky.; the army and flotilla at Cairo, and a naval force in the Gulf of Mexico, be ready to move on that day.

That all other forces, both land and naval, with their respective commanders, obey existing orders for the time, and be ready to obey additional orders when duly given.

That the heads of Departments, and especially the Secretaries of War and of the Navy, with all their subordinates, and the General-in-Chief; with all other commanders and subordinates of land and naval forces, will severally be held to their strict and full responsibilities for prompt execution of this order.


The order of January 31, 1862, was as follows:


EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, January 31, 1862.

Ordered, That all the disposable force of the Army of the Potomac, after providing safely for the defense of Washington, be formed into an expedition for the immediate object of seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad southwestward of what is known as Manassas Junction, all details to be in the discretion of the Commander-in-Chief; and the expedition to move before or on the 22d day of February next.


I asked his excellency whether this order was to be regarded as final, or whether I could be permitted to submit in writing my objections to his plan and my reasons for preferring my own. Permission was accorded, and I therefore prepared the letter to the Secretary of War which is given below.

Before this had been submitted to the President he addressed me the following note:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, February 3, 1862.

MY DEAR SIR: You and I have distinct and different plans for a movement of the Army of the Potomac-yours to be down the Chesapeake, up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and across land to the terminus of the railroad on the York River-mine to move directly to a point on the railroads southwest of Manassas.*


If you will give me satisfactory answers to the following questions I shall gladly yield my plan to yours:

1st. Does not your plan involve a greatly larger expenditure of time and money than mine?

2d. Wherein is a victory more certain by your plan than mine?

3d. Wherein is a victory more valuable by your plan than mine?

4th. In fact, would it not be less valuable in this, that it would break no great line of the enemy’s communications, while mine would?

5th. In case of disaster, would not a retreat be more difficult by your plan than mine?

Yours, truly,


Major-General MCCLELLAN.

* For the President’s memorandum accompanying this note, see under same date in “Correspondence, etc.,” post.

These questions were substantially answered by the following letter of the same date to the Secretary of War:

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, February 3, 1862.

SIR: I ask your indulgence for the following paper, rendered necessary by circumstances.

I assumed command of the troops in the vicinity of Washington on Saturday, July 27, 1861, six days after the battle of Bull Run.

I found no army to command-a mere collection of regiments cowering on the banks of the Potomac, some perfectly raw, others dispirited by the recent defeat.

Nothing of any consequence had been done to secure the southern approaches to the capital by means of defensive works; nothing whatever had been undertaken to defend the avenues to the city on the northern side of the Potomac. The troops were not only undisciplined, undrilled, and dispirited; they were not even placed in military positions. The city was almost in a condition to have been taken by a dash of a regiment of cavalry.

Without one day’s delay I undertook the difficult task assigned to me; that task the honorable Secretary knows was given to me without my solicitation or foreknowledge. How far I have accomplished it will best be shown by the past and the present.

The capital is secure against attack, the extensive fortifications erected by the labor of our troops enable a small garrison to hold it against a numerous army, the enemy have been held in check, the State of Maryland is securely in our possession, the detached counties of Virginia are again within the pale of our laws, and all apprehension of trouble in Delaware is at an end; the enemy are confined to the positions they occupied before the disaster of the 21st July. More than all this, I have now under my command a well-drilled and reliable army, to which the destinies of the country may be confidently committed. This army is young and untried in battle, but it is animated by the highest spirit and is capable of great deeds.

That so much has been accomplished, and such an army created in so short a time from nothing, will hereafter be regarded as one of the highest glories of the administration and the nation.

Many weeks, I may say many months, ago, this Army of the Potomac was fully in condition to repel any attack; but there is a vast difference between that and the efficiency required to enable troops to attack successfully an army elated by victory and intrenched in a position long since selected, studied, and fortified.

In the earliest papers I submitted to the President I asked for an effective and movable force far exceeding the aggregate now on the banks of the Potomac. I have not the force I asked for.

Even when in a subordinate position I always looked beyond the operations of the Army of the Potomac. I was never satisfied in my own mind with a barren victory, but looked to combined and decisive operations. When I was placed in command of the Armies of the United States I immediately turned my attention to the whole field of operations, regarding the Army of the Potomac as only one, while the most important, of the masses under my command. I confess that I did not then appreciate the total absence of a general plan which had before existed, nor did I know that utter disorganization and want of preparation pervaded the Western armies. I took it for granted that they were nearly, if not quite, in condition to move towards the fulfillment of my plans. I acknowledge that I made a great mistake.

I sent at once, with the approval of the Executive, officers I considered competent to command in Kentucky and Missouri. Their instructions looked to prompt movements. I soon found that the labor of creation and organization had to be performed there; transportation, arms, clothing, artillery, discipline, all were wanting. These things required time to procure them.

The generals in command have done their work most creditably, but we are still delayed. {p.43} I had hoped that a general advance could be made during the good weather of December. I was mistaken. My wish was to gain possession of the Eastern Tennessee Railroad as a preliminary movement, then to follow it up immediately by an attack on Nashville and Richmond, as nearly at the same time as possible.

I have ever regarded our true policy as being that of fully preparing ourselves, and then seeking for the most decisive results. I do not wish to waste life in useless battles, but prefer to strike at the heart.

Two bases of operation seem to present themselves for the advance of the Army of the Potomac:

I. That of Washington-its present position-involving a direct attack upon the intrenched positions of the enemy at Centreville, Manassas &c., or else a movement to turn one or both flanks of those positions, or a combination of the two plans.

The relative force of the two armies will not justify an attack on both flanks; an attack on his left flank alone involves a long line of wagon communication, and cannot prevent him from collecting for the decisive baffle all the detachments now on his extreme right and left.

Should we attack his right flank by the line of the Occoquan, and a crossing of the Potomac below that river, and near his batteries, we could perhaps prevent the junction of the enemy’s right with his center (we might destroy the former); we would remove the obstructions to the navigation of the Potomac, reduce the length of wagon transportation by establishing new depots at the nearest points of the Potomac, and strike more directly his main railway communication.

The fords of the Occoquan below the mouth of the Bull Run are watched by the rebels; batteries are said to be placed on the heights in the rear (concealed by the woods), and the arrangement of his troops is such that he can oppose some considerable resistance to a passage of that stream. Information has just been received to the effect that the enemy are intrenching a line of heights extending from the vicinity of Sangster’s (Union Mills) towards Evansport. Early in January Spriggs’ Ford was occupied by General Rodes with 3,600 men and eight guns. There are strong reasons for believing that Davis’ Ford is occupied. These circumstances indicate or prove that the enemy anticipates the movement in question and is prepared to resist it. Assuming for the present that this operation is determined upon, it may be well to examine briefly its probable progress. In the present state of affairs our column (for the movement of so large a force must be made in several columns, at least five or six) can reach the Accotink without danger. During the march thence to the Occoquan our right flank becomes exposed to an attack from Fairfax Station, Sangster’s and Union Mills. This danger must be met by occupying in some force either the two first-named places, or, better, the point of junction of the roads leading thence to the village of Occoquan. This occupation must be continued so long as we continue to draw supplies by the roads from this city or until a battle is won.

The crossing of the Occoquan should be made at all the fords from Wolf Run to the mouth, the points of crossing not being necessarily confined to the fords themselves. Should the enemy occupy this line in force, we must, with what assistance the flotilla can afford, endeavor to force the passage near the mouth, thus forcing the enemy to abandon the whole line, or be taken in flank himself.

Having gained the line of the Occoquan, it would be necessary to throw a column by the shortest route to Dumfries partly to force the enemy to abandon his batteries on the Potomac, partly to cover our left flank against an attack from the direction of Aquia, and lastly, to establish our communications with the river by the best roads, and thus give us new depots. The enemy would by this time have occupied the line of the Occoquan above Bull Run, holding Brentsville in force, and perhaps extending his lines somewhat farther to the southwest.

Our next step would then be to prevent the enemy from crossing the Occoquan between Bull Run and Broad Run, to fall upon our right flank while moving on Brentsville. This might be effected by occupying Bacon Race Church and the cross-roads near the mouth of Bull Run, or still more effectually by moving to the fords themselves, and preventing him from debouching on our side.

These operations would possibly be resisted, and it would require some time to effect them, as nearly at the same time as possible we should gain the fords necessary to our purposes above Broad Run. Having secured our right flank, it would become necessary to carry Brentsville at any cost; for we could not leave it between our right flank and the main body. The final movement on the railroad must be determined by circumstances existing at the time.

This brief sketch brings out in bold relief the great advantage possessed by the enemy in the strong central position he occupies, with roads diverging in every direction, and a strong line of defense enabling him to remain on the defensive, with a small force on one flank while he concentrates everything on the other for a decisive action. Should we place a portion of our force in front of Centreville, while the rest crosses the Occoquan, we commit the error of dividing our army by a very difficult obstacle, {p.44} and by a distance too great to enable the two parts to support each other, should either be attacked by the masses of the enemy while the other is held in check.

I should perhaps have dwelt more decidedly on the fact that the force left near Sangster’s must be allowed to remain somewhere on that side of the Occoquan until the decisive battle is over so as to cover our retreat in the event of disaster, unless it should be decided to select and intrench a new base somewhere near Dumfries, a proceeding involving much time.

After the passage of the Occoquan by the main army, this covering force could be drawn into a more central and less exposed position-say Brimstone Hill or nearer the Occoquan. In this latitude the weather will for a considerable period be very uncertain, and a movement commenced in force on roads in tolerably firm condition will be liable, almost certain, to be much delayed by rains and snow. It will therefore be next to impossible to surprise the enemy or take him at a disadvantage by rapid maneuvers. Our slow progress will enable him to divine our purposes and take his measures accordingly. The probability is, from the best information we possess, that the enemy has improved the roads leading to his lines of defense, while we will have to work as we advance.

Bearing in mind what has been said, and the present unprecedented and impassable condition of the roads, it will be evident that no precise period can be fixed upon for the movement on this line, nor can its duration be closely calculated; it seems certain that many weeks may elapse before it is possible to commence the march. Assuming the success of this operation, and the defeat of the enemy as certain, the question at once arises as to the importance of the results gained. I think these results would be confined to the possession of the field of battle, the evacuation of the line of the Upper Potomac by the enemy, and the moral effect of the victory-important results, it is true, but not decisive of the war, nor securing the destruction of the enemy’s main army; for he could fall back upon other positions and fight us again and again, should the condition of his troops permit. If he is in no condition to fight us again out of the range of the intrenchments at Richmond, we would find it a very difficult and tedious matter to follow him up there, for he would destroy his railroad bridges and otherwise impede our progress through a region where the roads are as bad as they well can be, and we would probably find ourselves forced at last to change the whole theater of war, or to seek a shorter land route to Richmond, with a smaller available force, and at an expenditure of much more time than were we to adopt the short line at once. We would also have forced the enemy to concentrate his forces and perfect his defensive measures at the very points where it is desirable to strike him when least prepared.

II. The second base of operations available for the Army of the Potomac is that of the Lower Chesapeake Bay, which affords the shortest possible land route to Richmond, and strikes directly at the heart of the enemy’s power in the east.

The roads in that region are passable at all seasons of the year. The country now alluded to is much more favorable for offensive operations than that in front of Washington (which is very unfavorable), much more level, more cleared land, the woods less dense, the soil more sandy, and the spring some two or three weeks earlier. A movement in force on that line obliges the enemy to abandon his intrenched position at Manassas, in order to hasten to cover Richmond and Norfolk. He must do this; for should he permit us to occupy Richmond; his destruction can be averted only by entirely defeating us in battle, in which he must be the assailant. This movement, if successful, gives us the capital, the communications, the supplies of the rebels. Norfolk would fall, all the waters of the Chesapeake would be ours, all Virginia would be in our power, and the enemy forced to abandon Tennessee and North Carolina. The alternative presented to the enemy would be to beat us in a position selected by ourselves, disperse, or pass beneath the Caudine Forks.

Should we be beaten in battle, we have a perfectly secure retreat down the Peninsula upon Fort Monroe, with our flanks perfectly covered by the fleet. During the whole movement our left flank is covered by the water. Our right is secure, for the reason that the enemy is too distant to reach us in time. He can only oppose us in front. We bring our fleet into full play.

After a successful battle our position would be: Burnside forming our left, Norfolk held securely; our center connecting Burnside with Buell, both by Raleigh and Lynchburg; Buell in Eastern Tennessee and North Alabama; Halleck at Nashville and Memphis. The next movement would be to connect with Sherman on the left, by reducing Wilmington and Charleston; to advance our center into South Carolina and Georgia; to push Buell either towards Montgomery or to unite with the main army in Georgia; to throw Halleck southward to meet the naval expedition from New Orleans. We should then be in a condition to reduce at our leisure all the Southern sea ports; to occupy all the avenues of communication; to use the great outlet of the Mississippi; to re-establish our Government and arms in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas; to force the slaves to labor for our subsistence instead of that of the rebels; to bid defiance to all foreign interference. Such is the object I have ever had in view; this is the general plan which I hope to accomplish.


For many long months I have labored to prepare the Army of the Potomac to play its part in the programme. From the day when I was placed in command of all our armies I have exerted myself to place all the other armies in such a condition that they, too, could perform their allotted duties.

Should it be determined to operate from the Lower Chesapeake, the point of landing which promises the most brilliant result is Urbana, on the Lower Rappahannock. This point is easily reached by vessels of heavy draught; it is neither occupied nor observed by the enemy; it is but one march from West Point, the key of that region, and thence but two marches to Richmond. A rapid movement from Urbana would probably cut off Magruder in the Peninsula, and enable us to occupy Richmond before it could be strongly re-enforced. Should we fail in that, we could, with the co-operation of the Navy, cross the James and throw ourselves in the rear of Richmond thus forcing the enemy to come out and attack us, for his position would be untenable with us on the southern bank of the river. Should circumstances render it not advisable to land at Urbana, we can use Mob Jack Bay; or, the worst coming to the worst, we can take Fort Monroe as a base, and operate with complete security, although with less celerity and brilliancy of results, up the Peninsula.

To reach whatever point may be selected as a base a large amount of cheap water transportation must be collected, consisting mainly of canal-boats, barges, wood boats, schooners, &c., towed by small steamers, all of a very different character from those required for all previous expeditions. This can certainly be accomplished within thirty days from the time the order is given. I propose, as the best possible plan that can, in my judgment, be adopted, to select Urbana as a landing place for the first detachments; to transport by water four divisions of infantry with their batteries, the regular infantry, a few wagons, one bridge train, and a few squadrons of cavalry, making the vicinity of Hooker’s position the place of embarkation for as many as possible; to move the regular cavalry and reserve artillery, the remaining bridge trains and wagons, to a point somewhere near Cape Lookout; then ferry them over the river by means of North River ferry-boats, march them over to the Rappahannock (covering the movement by an infantry force near Heathsville), and to cross the Rappahannock in a similar way. The expense and difficulty of the movement will then be very much diminished (a saving of transportation of about 10,000 horses), and the result none the less certain.

The concentration of the cavalry, &c., on the lower counties of Maryland can be effected without exciting suspicion, and the movement made without delay from that cause.

This movement, if adopted, will not at all expose the city of Washington to danger. The total force to be thrown upon the new line would be, according to circumstances, from 110,000 to 140,000. I hope to use the latter number by bringing fresh troops into Washington and still leaving it quite safe. I fully realize that in all projects offered time will probably be the most valuable consideration. It is my decided opinion that, in that point of view, the second plan should be adopted. It is possible, nay, highly probable, that the weather and state of the roads maybe such as to delay the direct movement from Washington, with its unsatisfactory results and great risks, far beyond the time required to complete the second plan. In the first case we can fix no definite time for an advance; The roads have gone from bad to worse. Nothing like their present condition was ever known here before; they are impassable at present. We are entirely at the mercy of the weather. It is by no means certain that we can beat them at Manassas. On the other line I regard success as certain by all the chances of war. We demoralize the enemy by forcing him to abandon his prepared position for one which we have chosen, in which all is in our favor, and where success must produce immense results.

My judgment as a general is clearly in favor of this project. Nothing is certain in war, but all the chances are in favor of this movement. So much am I in favor of the southern line of operations, that I would prefer the move from Fortress Monroe as a base as a certain though less brilliant movement than that from Urbana to an attack upon Manassas.

I know that his excellency the President, you, and I all agree in our wishes; and that these wishes are to bring this war to a close as promptly as the means in our possession will permit. I believe that the mass of the people have entire confidence in us. I am sure of it. Let us then look only to the great result to be accomplished and disregard everything else.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

This letter must have produced some effect upon the mind of the President, since the execution of his order was not required, although it was not revoked as formally as it had been issued. Many verbal {p.46} conferences ensued, in which, among other things, it was determined to collect as many canal-boats as possible, with a view to employ them largely in the transportation of the army to the Lower Chesapeake. The idea was at one time entertained by the President to use them in forming a bridge across the Potomac near Liverpool Point, in order to throw the army over at that point; but this was subsequently abandoned. It was also found by experience that it would require much time to prepare the canal-boats for use in transportation to the extent that had been anticipated.

Finally, on the 27th of February, 1862, the Secretary of War, by the authority of the President, instructed Mr. John Tucker, Assistant Secretary of War, to procure at once the necessary steamers and sailing craft to transport the Army of the Potomac to its new field of operations.

The following extract from the report of Mr. Tucker, dated April 5, will show the nature and progress of this well-executed service:


I was called to Washington by telegraph on 17th January last by Assistant Secretary of War Thomas A. Scott. I was informed that Major-General McClellan wished to see me From him I learned that he desired to know if transportation on smooth water could be obtained to move at one time, for a short distance, about 50,000 troops, 10,000 horses, 1,000 wagons, 13 batteries, and the usual equipment of such an army. He frankly stated to me that he had always supposed such a movement entirely feasible until two experienced quartermasters had recently reported it impracticable in their judgment. A few days afterwards I reported to General McClellan that I was entirely confident the transports could be commanded, and stated the mode by which his object could be accomplished. A week or two afterwards I had the honor of an interview with the President and General McClellan, when the subject was further discussed, and especially as to the time required.

I expressed the opinion that as the movement of the horses and wagons would have to be made chiefly by schooners and barges; that as each schooner would require to be properly fitted for the protection of the horses and furnished with a supply of water and forage, and each transport for the troops provided with water, I did not deem it prudent to assume that such an expedition could start within thirty days from the time the order was given.

The President and General McClellan both urgently stated the vast importance of an earlier movement. I replied that if favorable winds prevailed, and there was great dispatch in loading, the time might be materially diminished.

On the 14th of February you (Secretary of War) advertised for transports of various descriptions, inviting bids. On the 27th February I was informed that the proposed movement by water was decided upon. That evening the Quartermaster-General was informed of the decision. Directions were given to secure the transportation, and any assistance was tendered. He promptly detailed to this duty two most efficient assistants in his department. Col. Rufus Ingalls was stationed at Annapolis, where it was then proposed to embark the troops, and Capt. Henry C. Hodges was directed to meet me in Philadelphia, to attend to chartering the vessels. With these arrangements I left Washington on the 28th February.


I beg to hand herewith a statement, prepared by Captain Hodges, of the vessels chartered, which exhibits the prices paid and parties from whom they were taken:

In thirty-seven days from the time I received the order in Washington (and most of it was accomplished in thirty days) these vessels transported from Perryville, Alexandria, and Washington to Fort Monroe (the place of departure having been changed, which caused delay) 121,500 men, 14,592 animals, 1,150 wagons, 44 batteries, 74 ambulances, besides pontoon bridges, telegraph materials, and the enormous quantity of equipage, &c., required for an army of such magnitude. The only loss of which I have heard is eight mules and nine barges, which latter went ashore in a gale within a few miles of Fort Monroe, the cargoes being saved. With this trifling exception not the slightest accident has occurred, to my knowledge.

I respectfully but confidently submit that, for economy and celerity of movement, this expedition is without a parallel on record.


JOHN TUCKER, Assistant Secretary of War.


In the mean time the destruction of the batteries on the Lower Potomac, by crossing our troops opposite them, was considered, and preparations were even made for throwing Hooker’s division across the river, to carry them by assault. Finally, however, after an adverse report from Brig. Gen. J. G. Barnard, chief engineer, given below, who made a reconnaissance of the positions, and in view of the fact that it was still out of the power of the Navy Department to furnish suitable vessels to co-operate with land troops, this plan was abandoned as impracticable. A close examination of the enemy’s works and their approaches, made after they were evacuated, showed that the decision was a wise one. The only means, therefore, of accomplishing the capture of these works, so much desired by the President, was by a movement by land, from the left of our lines, on the right bank of the Potomac-a movement obviously unwise.

The attention of the Navy Department, as early as August 12, 1861, had been called to the necessity of maintaining a strong force of efficient war vessels on the Potomac:


SIR: I have to-day received additional information which convinces me that it is more than probable that the enemy will, within a very short time, attempt to throw a respectable force from the mouth of Aquia Creek into Maryland. This attempt will probably be preceded by the erection of batteries at Mathias and White House Points. Such a movement on the part of the enemy, in connection with others probably designed, would place Washington in great jeopardy. I most earnestly urge that the strongest possible naval force be at once concentrated near the mouth of Aquia Creek, and that the most vigilant watch be maintained day and night, so as to render such passage of the river absolutely impossible.

I recommend that the Minnesota and any other vessels available from Hampton Roads be at once ordered up there, and that a great quantity of coal be sent to that vicinity, sufficient for several weeks’ supply. At least one strong war vessel should be kept at Alexandria, and I again urge the concentration of a strong naval force on the Potomac without delay.

If the Naval Department will render it absolutely impossible for the enemy to cross the river below Washington, the security of the capital will be greatly increased.

I cannot too earnestly urge an immediate compliance with these requests. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the United States Navy.

It was on the 27th of September, 1861, that General Barnard, chief engineer, in company with Captain Wyman, of the Potomac flotilla, had been instructed to make a reconnaissance of the enemy’s batteries as far as Mathias Point. In his report of his observations he says:

Batteries at High Point and Cockpit Point, and thence down to Chopawamsic, cannot be prevented. We may, indeed, prevent their construction on certain points, but along here somewhere the enemy can establish, in spite of us, as many batteries as he chooses. What is the remedy? Favorable circumstances, not to be anticipated nor made the basis of any calculations, might justify and render successful the attack of a particular battery. To suppose that we can capture all, and by mere attacks of this kind prevent the navigation being molested, is very much the same as to suppose that the hostile army in our own front can prevent us building and maintaining field works to protect Arlington and Alexandria by capturing them, one and all, as fast as they are built.

In another communication upon the subject of crossing troops for the purpose of destroying the batteries on the Virginia side of the Potomac General Barnard says:

The operation involves the forcing of a very strong line of defense of the enemy and all that we would have to do if we were really opening a campaign against them there.


It is true we hope to force this line by turning it, by landing on Freestone Point. With reason to believe that this may be successful it cannot be denied that it involves a risk of failure. Should we, then, considering all the consequences which may be involved, enter into the operation merely to capture the Potomac batteries I think not. Will not the Ericsson, assisted by one other gunboat capable of keeping alongside these batteries, so far control their fire as to keep the navigation sufficiently free as long as we require it? Captain Wyman says yes.

It was the opinion of competent naval officers, and I concur with them, that had an adequate force of strong and well-armed vessels been acting on the Potomac from the beginning of August, it would have been next to impossible for the rebels to have constructed or maintained batteries upon the banks of the river. The enemy never occupied Mathias Point nor any other point on the river which was out of supporting distance from their main army.

When the enemy commenced the construction of these batteries the Army of the Potomac was not in a condition to prevent it. Their destruction by our army would have afforded but a temporary relief, unless we had been strong enough to hold the entire line of the Potomac. This could be done either by driving the enemy from Manassas and Aquia Creek by main force or by maneuvering to compel them to evacuate their positions. The latter course was finally pursued, and with success.

About the 20th of February, 1862, additional measures were taken to secure the reopening of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The preliminary operations of General Lander for this object are elsewhere described.

I had often observed to the President and to members of the Cabinet that the reconstruction of this railway could not be undertaken until we were in a condition to fight a battle to secure it. I regarded the possession of Winchester and Strasburg as necessary to cover the railway in the rear, and it was not until the month of February that I felt prepared to accomplish this very desirable but not vital purpose.

The whole of Banks’ division and two brigades of Sedgwick’s division were thrown across the river at Harper’s Ferry, leaving one brigade of Sedgwick’s division to observe and guard the Potomac from Great Falls to the mouth of the Monocacy. A sufficient number of troops of all arms were held in readiness in the vicinity of Washington, either to march via Leesburg or to move by rail to Harper’s Ferry, should this become necessary in carrying out the objects in view.

The subjoined notes from a communication subsequently addressed to the War Department will sufficiently explain the conduct of these operations:


When I started for Harper’s Ferry I plainly stated to the President and Secretary of War that the chief object of the operation would be to open the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad by crossing the river in force at Harper’s Ferry; that I had collected the material for making a permanent bridge by means of canal-boats; that from the nature of the river it was doubtful whether such a bridge could be constructed; that if it could not, I would at least occupy the ground in front of Harper’s Ferry, in order to cover the rebuilding of the railroad bridge, and finally, when the communications were perfectly secure, move on Winchester.

When I arrived at the place I found the batteau bridge nearly completed; the holding ground proved better than had been anticipated; the weather was favorable there being no wind. I at once crossed over the two brigades which had arrived, and took steps to hurry up the other two, belonging respectively to Banks’ and Sedgwick’s divisions. The difficulty of crossing supplies had not then become apparent. That night I telegraphed for a regiment of regular cavalry and four batteries of heavy artillery to come up the next day (Thursday), besides directing Keyes’ division of infantry to be moved up on Friday.


Next morning the attempt was made to pass the canal-boats through the lift-lock, in order to commence at once the construction of a permanent bridge. It was then found for the first time that the lock was too small to permit the passage of the boats, it having been built for a class of boats running on the Shenandoah Canal, and too narrow by some four or six inches for the canal-boats. The lift-locks above and below are all large enough for the ordinary boats. I had seen them at Edwards Ferry thus used. It had always been represented to the engineers by the military railroad employés and others that the lock was large enough, and, the difference being too small to be detected by the eye, no one had thought of measuring it or suspecting any difficulty. I thus suddenly found myself unable to build the permanent bridge. A violent gale had arisen, which threatened the safety of our only means of communication. The narrow approach to the bridge was so crowded and clogged with wagons, that it was very clear that, under existing circumstances, nothing more could be done than to cross over the baggage and supplies of the two brigades. Of the others, instead of being able to cross both during the morning, the last arrived only in time to go over just before dark. It was evident that the troops under orders would only be in the way should they arrive, and that it would not be possible to subsist them for a rapid march on Winchester. It was therefore deemed necessary to countermand the order, content ourselves with covering the reopening of the railroad for the present, and in the mean time use every exertion to establish as promptly as possible depots of forage and subsistence on the Virginia side, to supply the troops, and enable them to move on Winchester independently of the bridge. The next day (Friday) I sent a strong, reconnaissance to Charlestown, and under its protection went there myself. I then determined to hold that place, and to move the troops composing Lander’s and Williams’ commands at once on Martinsburg and Bunker Hill, thus effectually covering the reconstruction of the railroad. Having done this, and taken all the steps in my power to insure the rapid transmission of supplies over the river, I returned to this city, well satisfied with what had been accomplished. While up the river I learned that the President was dissatisfied with the state of affairs, but on my return here understood from the Secretary of War that upon learning the whole state of the case the President was fully satisfied-I contented myself, therefore, with giving to the Secretary a brief statement, as I have written here.

The design aimed at was entirely compassed, and before the 1st of April, the date of my departure for the Peninsula, the railroad was in running order. As a demonstration upon the left flank of the enemy, this movement no doubt assisted in determining the evacuation of his lines on the 8th and 9th of March.

On my return from Harper’s Ferry, on the 28th of February, the preparations necessary to carry out the wishes of the President and Secretary of War in regard to destroying the batteries on the Lower Potomac were at once undertaken. Mature reflection convinced me that this operation would require the movement of the entire army, for I felt sure that the enemy would resist it with his whole strength. I undertook it with great reluctance, both on account of the extremely unfavorable condition of the roads and my firm conviction that the proposed movement to the Lower Chesapeake would necessarily, as it subsequently did, force the enemy to abandon all his positions in front of Washington. Besides, it did not forward my plan of campaign to precipitate this evacuation by any direct attack, nor to subject the army to any needless loss of life and material by a battle near Washington, which could produce no decisive results. The preparations for a movement towards the Occoquan to carry the batteries were, however, advanced as rapidly as the season permitted, and I had invited the commanders of divisions to meet at headquarters on the 8th of March, for the purpose of giving them their instructions and receiving their advice and opinion in regard to their commands, when an interview with the President indicated to me the possibility of a change in my orders.

His excellency sent for me at a very early hour 011 the morning of the 8th, and renewed his expressions of dissatisfaction with the affair at Harper’s Ferry and with my plans for the new movement down the Chesapeake. Another recital of the same facts which had before given {p.50} satisfaction to his excellency again produced, as I supposed, the same result. The views which I expressed to the President were re-enforced by the result of a meeting of my general officers at headquarters. At that meeting my plans were laid before the division commanders, and were approved by a majority of those present. Nevertheless, on the same day two important orders were issued by the President, without consultation with me. The first of these was the General War Order, No. 2, directing the formation of army corps and assigning their commanders.*5

I had always been in favor of the principle of an organization into army corps, but preferred deferring its practical execution until some little experience in campaign and on the field of battle should show what general officers were most competent to exercise these high commands; for it must be remembered that we then had no officers whose experience in war on a large scale was sufficient to prove that they possessed the necessary qualifications. An incompetent commander of an army corps might cause irreparable damage, while it is not probable that an incompetent division commander could cause any very serious mischief. These views had frequently been expressed by me to the President and members of the Cabinet. It was therefore with as much regret as surprise that I learned the existence of this order.

The first order has been given above; the second order was as follows:


EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, March 5, 1862.

Ordered, That no change of the base of operations of the Army of the Potomac shall be made without leaving in and about Washington such a force as, In the opinion of the General-in-Chief and the commanders of army corps, shall leave said city entirely secure.

That no more than two army corps (about fifty thousand troops) of said Army of the Potomac shall be moved en route for a new base of operations until the navigation of the Potomac from Washington to the Chesapeake Bay shall be freed from enemy batteries and other obstructions, or until the President shall hereafter give express permission.

That any movement as aforesaid, en route for a new base of operations, which may be ordered by the General-in-Chief; and which may be intended to move upon the Chesapeake Bay, shall begin to move upon the bay as early as the 18th March instant, and the General-in-Chief shall be responsible that it moves as early as that day.

Ordered, That the Army and Navy co-operate in an immediate effort to capture the enemy’s batteries upon the Potomac between Washington and the Chesapeake Bay.


L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General.

After what has been said already in regard to the effect of a movement to the Lower Chesapeake, it is unnecessary for me to comment upon this document, further than to say that the time of beginning the movement depended upon the state of readiness of the transports, the entire control of which had been placed by the Secretary of War in the hands of one of the Assistant Secretaries, and not under the Quartermaster-General, so that, even if the movement were not impeded by the condition imposed in regard to the batteries on the Potomac, it could not have been in my power to begin it before the 18th of March, unless the Assistant Secretary of War had completed his arrangements by that time.

Meanwhile important events were occurring which materially modified the designs for the subsequent campaign. The appearance of the Merrimac off Old Point Comfort, and the encounter with the United States squadron on the 8th of March, threatened serious derangement {p.51} of the plan for the Peninsula movement. But the engagement between the Monitor and Merrimac on the 9th of March demonstrated so satisfactorily the power of the former, and the other naval preparations were so extensive and formidable, that the security of Fort Monroe as a base of operations was placed beyond a doubt, and although the James River was closed to us, the York River with its tributaries was still open as a line of water communication with the Fortress. The general plan, therefore, remained undisturbed, although less promising in its details than when the James River was in our control.

On Sunday, the 9th of March, information from various sources made it apparent that the enemy was evacuating his positions at Centreville and Manassas as well as on the Upper and Lower Potomac. The President and Secretary of War were present when the most positive information reached me, and I expressed to them my intention to cross the river immediately, and there gain the most authentic information prior to determining what course to pursue.

The retirement of the enemy towards Richmond had been expected as the natural consequence of the movement to the Peninsula, but their adoption of this course immediately on ascertaining that such a movement was intended, while it relieved me from the results of the undue anxiety of my superiors and attested the character of the design, was unfortunate in that the then almost impassable roads between our positions and theirs deprived us of the opportunity for inflicting damage usually afforded by the withdrawal of a large army in the face of a powerful adversary.

The retirement of the enemy and the occupation of the abandoned positions which necessarily followed presented an opportunity for the troops to gain some experience on the march and bivouac preparatory to the campaign, and to get rid of the superfluous baggage and other “impedimenta” which accumulates so easily around an army encamped for a long time in one locality.

A march to Manassas and back could produce no delay in embarking for the Lower Chesapeake, as the transports could not be ready for some time, and it afforded a good intermediate step between the quiet and comparative comfort of the camps around Washington and the rigors of active operations, besides accomplishing the important object of determining the positions, and perhaps the future designs, of the enemy, with the possibility of being able to harass their rear.

I therefore issued orders during the night of the 9th of March for a general movement of the army the next morning towards Centreville and Manassas, sending in advance two regiments of cavalry under Colonel Averell, with orders to reach Manassas if possible, ascertain the exact condition of affairs, and do whatever he could to retard and annoy the enemy if really in retreat; at the same time I telegraphed to the Secretary of War that it would be necessary to defer the organization of the army corps until the completion of the projected advance upon Manassas, as the divisions could not be brought together in time. The Secretary replied, requiring immediate compliance with the President’s order; but on my again representing that this would compel the abandonment or postponement of the movement to Manassas, he finally consented to its postponement.

At noon on the 10th of March the cavalry advance reached the enemy’s lines at Centreville, passing through his recently-occupied camps and works, and finding still burning heaps of military stores and much valuable property.

Immediately after being assigned to the command of the troops around {p.52} Washington I organized a secret-service force, under Mr. E. J. Allen, a very experienced and efficient person. This force, up to the time I was relieved from command, was continually occupied in procuring from all possible sources information regarding the strength, positions, and movements of the enemy. (Mr. Allen Pinkerton was the trustworthy and efficient chief of the secret-service corps mentioned under the assumed name of E. J. Allen.)

All spies, “contrabands,” deserters, refugees, and many prisoners of war coming into our lines from the front were carefully examined, first by the outpost and division commanders, and then by my chief of staff and the provost-marshal-general. Their statements, taken in writing, and in many cases under oath, from day to day, for a long period, previous to the evacuation of Manassas, comprised a mass of evidence which, by careful digests and collations, enabled me to estimate with considerable accuracy the strength of the enemy before us. Summaries showing the character and results of the labors of the secret-service force accompany this report, and I refer to them for the facts they contain, and as a measure of the ignorance which led some journals at that time, and persons in high office, unwittingly to-trifle with the reputation of an army, and to delude the country with quaker-gun stories of the defenses and gross understatements of the numbers of the enemy.

The following orders were issued for the examination of persons coming from the direction of the enemy:


HEADQUARTERS ARMY or THE POTOMAC, Washington, December 16, 1861.

The Major-General Commanding directs that hereafter all deserters, prisoners, spies, 'contrabands,' and all other persons whatever coming or brought within our lines from Virginia shall be taken immediately to the quarters of the commander of the division within whose lines they may come or be brought, without previous examination by anyone, except so far as maybe necessary for the officer commanding the advance guard to elicit information regarding his particular post; that the division commander examine all such persons himself; or delegate such duty to a proper officer of his staff, and allow no other persons to hold any communication with them; that he then immediately send them, with a sufficient guard, to the provost-marshal in this city for further examination and safe-keeping, and that stringent orders be given to all guards having such persons in charge not to hold any communication with them whatever; and, further, that the information elicited from such persons shall be immediately communicated to the major-general commanding or to the chief of staff; and to no other person whatever.

The Major-General Commanding further directs that a sufficient guard be placed around every telegraph station pertaining to this army, and that such guards be instructed not to allow any person, except the regular telegraph corps, general officers, and such staff officers as may be authorized by their chief; to enter or loiter around said stations within hearing of the sound of the telegraph instruments.

By command of Major-General McClellan:

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Washington, February 26, 1862.


All deserters from the enemy, prisoners, and other persons coming within our lines will be taken at once to the provost-marshal of the nearest division, who will examine them in presence of the division commander, or an officer of his staff designated for the purpose. This examination will only refer to such information as may affect the division and those near it, especially those remote from general headquarters.

As soon as this examination is completed-and it must be made as rapidly as possible-the person will be sent, under proper guard, to the provost-marshal-general, with a statement of his replies to the questions asked. Upon receiving him the provost-marshal-general will at once send him, with his statement, to the chief of staff {p.53} of the Army of the Potomac, who will cause the necessary examination to be made. The provost-marshal-general will have the custody of all such persons. Division commanders will at once communicate to other division commanders all information thus obtained which affects them.


By command of Major-General McClellan:

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

In addition to the foregoing orders the division commanders were instructed, whenever they desired to send out scouts towards the enemy, to make known the object at headquarters, in order that I might determine whether we had the information it was proposed to obtain, and that I might give the necessary orders to other commanders, so that the scouts should not be molested by the guards.

It will be seen from the report of the chief of the secret-service corps, dated March 8, that the forces of the rebel Army of the Potomac, at that date, were as follows:

At Manassas Centreville, Bull Run, Upper Occoquan, and vicinity80,000
At Brooks’ Station, Dumfries, Lower Occoquan, and vicinity18,000
At Leesburg and vicinity4,500
In the Shenandoah Valley13,000

About 300 field guns and from 26 to 30 siege guns were with the rebel army in front of Washington. The report made on the 17th of March, after the evacuation of Manassas and Centreville, corroborates the statements contained in the report of the 8th, and is fortified by the affidavits of several railroad engineers, conductors, baggage-masters, &c., whose opportunities for forming correct estimates were unusually good. These affidavits will be found in the accompanying reports of the chief of the secret-service corps.

A reconnaissance of the works at Centreville, made by Lieutenant McAlester, U. S. Engineers, on March 14, 1862, and a survey of those at Manassas, made by a party of the U. S. Coast Survey, in April, 1862, confirmed also my conclusions as to the strength of the enemy’s defenses. Those at Centreville consisted of two lines, one facing east and the other north. The former consisted of seven works, viz: one bastion fort, two redoubts, two lunettes, and two batteries, all containing embrasures for 40 guns, and connected by infantry parapets and double caponnieres. It extended along the crest of the ridge a mile and three-quarters from its junction with the northern front to ground thickly wooded and impassable to an attacking column.

The northern front extended about one and one-fourth miles to Great Rocky Run, and thence three-fourths of a mile farther to thickly-wooded, impassable ground in the valley of Cub Run. It consisted of six lunettes and batteries, with embrasures for 31 guns, connected by an infantry parapet in the form of a crémaillère line with redans. At the town of Centreville, on a high hill commanding the rear of all the works within range, was a large hexagonal redoubt with ten embrasures.

Manassas Station was defended in all directions by a system of detached works, with platforms for heavy guns arranged for marine carriages, and often connected by infantry parapets. This system was rendered complete by a very large work, with sixteen embrasures, which commanded the highest of the other works by about 50 feet.

Sketches of the reconnaissances above referred to will be found among the maps appended to this report.


From this it will be seen that the positions selected by the enemy at Centreville and Manassas were naturally very strong, with impassable streams and broken ground, affording ample protection for their flanks, and that strong lines of intrenchments swept all the available approaches.

Although the history of every former war has conclusively shown the great advantages which are possessed by an army acting on the defensive and occupying strong positions, defended by heavy earthworks, yet at the commencement of this war but few civilians in our country, and indeed not all military men of rank, had a just appreciation of the fact.

New levies that have never been in battle cannot be expected to advance without cover under the murderous fire from such defenses and carry them by assault. This is work in which veteran troops frequently falter and are repulsed with loss. That an assault of the enemy’s positions in front of Washington, with the new troops composing the Army of the Potomac, during the winter of 1861-'62, would have resulted in defeat and demoralization, was too probable.

The same army, though inured to war in many battles, hard-fought and bravely won, has twice, under other generals, suffered such disasters as it was no excess of prudence then to avoid. My letter to the Secretary of War, dated February 3, 1862, and given above, expressed the opinion that the movement to the Peninsula would compel the enemy to retire from his position at Manassas and free Washington from danger, When the enemy first learned of that plan, they did thus evacuate Manassas. During the Peninsular campaign, as at no former period, Northern Virginia was completely in our possession and the vicinity of Washington free from the presence of the enemy. The ground so gained was not lost, nor Washington again put in danger, until the enemy learned of the orders for the evacuation of the Peninsula, sent to me at Harrison’s Bar, and were again left free to advance northward and menace the national capital. Perhaps no one now doubts that the best defense of Washington is a Peninsula attack on Richmond.

My order for the organization of the army corps was issued on the 13th of March. It has been given above.

While at Fairfax Court-House, on March 12, I was informed through the telegraph by a member of my staff that the following document had appeared in the National Intelligencer of that morning:


EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, March 11, 1862.

Major-General McClellan having personally taken the field at the head of the Army of the Potomac, until otherwise ordered he is relieved from the command of the other military departments, he retaining command of the Department of the Potomac.

Ordered further, That the departments now under the respective commands of Generals Halleck and Hunter, together with so much of that under General Buell as lies west of a north and south line indefinitely drawn through Knoxville, Tenn., be consolidated and designated the Department of the Mississippi, and that, until otherwise ordered, Major-General Halleck have command of said department.

Ordered also, That the country west of the Department of the Potomac and east of the Department of the Mississippi be a military department, to be called the Mountain Department, and that the same be commanded by Major-General Frémont.

That all the commanders of departments, after the receipt of this order by them, respectively report severally and directly to the Secretary of War, and that prompt, full, and frequent reports will be expected of all and each of them.


Though unaware of the President’s intention to remove me from the position of General-in-Chief, I cheerfully acceded to the disposition he {p.55} saw fit to make of my services, and so informed him in a note on the 12th of March, in which occur these words:

I believe I said to you some weeks since, in connection with some Western matters, that no feeling of self-interest or ammunition should ever prevent me from devoting myself to the service. I am glad to have the opportunity to prove it, and you will find that, under present circumstances, I shall work just as cheerfully as before, and that no consideration of self will in any manner interfere with the discharge of my public duties. Again thanking you for the official and personal kindness you have so often evinced towards me, I am, &c.

On the 14th of March a reconnaissance of a large body of cavalry, with some infantry, under command of General Stoneman, was sent along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to determine the position of the enemy, and, if possible, force his rear across the Rappahannock, but the roads were in such condition that, finding it impossible to subsist his men, General Stoneman was forced to return after reaching Cedar Run.

The following dispatch from him recites the result of this expedition :*6


The main body of the army was on the 15th of March moved back to the vicinity of Alexandria, to be embarked, leaving a part of General Sumner’s corps at Manassas until other troops could be sent to relieve it. Before it was withdrawn a strong reconnaissance, under General Howard, was sent towards the Rappahannock, the result of which appears in the following dispatch:


General S. WILLIAMS:

Express just received from General Howard. He drove the enemy across the Rappahannock Bridge, and is now in camp on this bank of and near the Rappahannock River. The enemy blew up the bridge in his retreat. There was skirmishing during the march, and a few shots exchanged by the artillery, without any loss on our part. Their loss, if any, is not known. General Howard will return to this camp to-morrow morning.

E. V. SUMNER, Brigadier-General.

The line of the Rappahannock and the Manassas Gap Railroad was thus left reasonably secure from menace by any considerable body of the enemy.

On the 13th of March a council of war was assembled at Fairfax Court-House to discuss the military status. The President’s Order, No. 3, of March 8, was considered. The following is a memorandum of the proceedings of the council:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Fairfax Court-House, March 13, 1862.

A council of the generals commanding army corps at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac were of the opinion:

I. That the enemy having retreated from Manassas to Gordonsville, behind the Rappahannock and Rapidan, it is the opinion of the generals commanding army corps that the operations to be carried on will be best undertaken from Old Point Comfort, between the York and James Rivers; provided-

1st. That the enemy’s vessel, Merrimac, can be neutralized;

2d. That the means of transportation sufficient for an immediate transfer of the force to its new base can be ready at Washington and Alexandria to move down the Potomac; and

3d. That a naval auxiliary force can be had to silence, or aid in silencing, the enemy’s batteries on the York River.


4th. That the force to be left to cover Washington shall be such as to give an entire feeling of security for its safety from menace. (Unanimous.)

II. If the foregoing cannot be, the army should then be moved against the enemy, behind the Rappahannock, at the earliest possible moment, and the means for reconstructing bridges, repairing railroads, and stocking them with materials sufficient for supplying the army should at once be collected for both the Orange and Alexandria and Aquia and Richmond Railroads. (Unanimous.)

N. B.-That with the forts on the right bank of the Potomac fully garrisoned and those on the left bank occupied a covering force in front of the Virginia line of 25,000 men would suffice. (Keyes, Heintzelman, and McDowell.) A total of 40,000 men for the defense of the city would suffice. (Sumner.)

This was assented to by myself and immediately communicated to the War Department. The following reply was received the same day:

WAR DEPARTMENT, March 13, 1862.

The President having considered the plan of operations agreed upon by yourself and the commanders of army corps, makes no objection to the same, but gives the following directions as to its execution:

1. Leave such force at Manassas Junction as shall make it entirely certain that the enemy shall not repossess himself of that position and line of communication.

2. Leave Washington entirely secure.

3. Move the remainder of the force down the Potomac, choosing a new base at Fortress Monroe, or anywhere between here and there, or, at all events, move such remainder of the army at once in pursuit of the enemy by some route.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.


My preparations were at once begun in accordance with these directions, and on the 16th of March the following instructions were sent to Generals Banks and Wadsworth:


SIR: You will post your command in the vicinity of Manassas, intrench yourself strongly, and throw cavalry pickets well out to the front.

Your first care will be the rebuilding of the railway from Washington to Manassas and to Strasburg, in order to open your communications with the valley of the Shenandoah. As soon as the Manassas Gap Railway is in running order, intrench a brigade of infantry, say four regiments, with two batteries, at or near the point where the railway crosses the Shenandoah. Something like two regiments of cavalry should be left in that vicinity to occupy Winchester and thoroughly scour the country south of the railway and up the Shenandoah Valley, as well as through Chester Gap, which might perhaps be advantageously occupied by a detachment of infantry; well intrenched. Block-houses should be built at all the railway bridges. Occupy by grand guards Warrenton Junction and Warrenton itself; and also some little more advanced point on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad as soon as the railway bridge is repaired.

Great activity should be observed by the cavalry. Besides the two regiments at Manassas, another regiment of cavalry will be at your disposal to scout towards the Occoquan, and probably a fourth towards Leesburg.

To recapitulate, the most important points which should engage your attention are as follows:

1. A strong force, well intrenched, in the vicinity of Manassas-perhaps even Centreville; and another force (a brigade), also well intrenched, near Strasburg.

2. Block-houses at the railway bridges.

3. Constant employment of the cavalry well to the front.

4. Grand guards at Warrenton Junction, and in advance as far as the Rappahannock, if possible.

5. Great care to be exercised to obtain full and early information as to the enemy.

6. The general object is to cover the line of the Potomac and Washington.

The above is communicated by command of Major-General McClellan.

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Maj. Gen. N. P. BANKS, Commanding Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac.



SIR: The command to which you have been assigned, by instructions of the President, as military governor of the District of Columbia, embraces the geographical limits of the District, and will also include the city of Alexandria, the defensive works south of the Potomac from the Occoquan to Difficult Creek, and the post of Fort Washington. I inclose a list of the troops and of the defenses embraced in these limits.

General Banks will command at Manassas Junction, with the divisions of Williams and Shields, composing the Fifth Corps, but you should nevertheless exercise vigilance in your front, carefully guard the approaches in that quarter, and maintain the duties of advance guards. You will use the same precautions on either flank.

All troops not actually needed for the police of Washington and Georgetown, for the garrisons north of the Potomac, and for other indicated special duties, should be moved to the south side of the river.

In the center of your front you should post the main body of your troops, and proper proportions at suitable distances towards your right and left flanks. Careful patrols will be made, in order thoroughly to scour the country in front from right to left.

It is specially enjoined upon you to maintain the forts and their armaments in the best possible order, to look carefully to the instruction and discipline of their garrisons, as well as all other troops under your command, and by frequent and rigid inspections to insure the attainment of these ends.

The care of the railways, canals, depots, bridges, and ferries within the above-named limits will devolve upon you, and you are to insure their security and provide for their protection by every means in your power. You will also protect the depots of the public stores and the transit of stores to troops in active service.

By means of patrols you will thoroughly scour the neighboring country south of the Eastern Branch, and also on your right; and you will use every possible precaution to intercept mails, goods, and persons passing unauthorized to the enemy’s lines.

The necessity of maintaining good order within your limits, and especially in the capital of the nation, cannot be too strongly enforced.

You will forward and facilitate the movement of all troops destined for the active part of the Army of the Potomac, and especially the transit of detachments to their proper regiments and corps.

The charge of the new troops arriving in Washington and of all troops temporarily there will devolve upon you. You will form them into provisional brigades, promote their instruction and discipline, and facilitate their equipment. Report all arrivals of troops, their strength, composition, and equipment, by every opportunity.

Besides the regular reports and returns which you will be required to render to the Adjutant-General of the Army, you will make to these headquarters a consolidated report of your command every Sunday morning and monthly returns on the first day of each month.

The foregoing instructions are communicated by command of Major-General McClellan.

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Brig. Gen. J. S. WADSWORTH, Military Governor of the District of Columbia.

The Secretary of War had expressed a desire that I should communicate to the War Department my designs with regard to the employment of the Army of the Potomac in an official form. I submitted, on the 19th of March, the following:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Theological Seminary, Va., March 19, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following notes on the proposed operations of the active portion of the Army of the Potomac.

The proposed plan of campaign is to assume Fort Monroe as the first base of operations, taking the line of Yorktown and West Point upon Richmond as the line of operations, Richmond being the objective point. It is assumed that the fall of Richmond involves that of Norfolk and the whole of Virginia; also that we shall fight a decisive battle between West Point and Richmond, to give which battle the rebels will concentrate all their available forces, understanding, as they will, that it involves the fate of their cause. It therefore follows-

1st. That we should collect all our available forces and operate upon adjacent lines, maintaining perfect communication between our columns.

2d. That no time should be lost in reaching the field of battle.

The advantages of the Peninsula between York and James Rivers are too obvious {p.58} to need explanation. It is also clear that West Point should as soon as possible be reached and used as our main depot, that we may have the shortest line of land transportation for our supplies and the use of the York River.

There are two methods of reaching this point:

1st: By moving directly from Fort Monroe as a base, and trusting to the roads for our supplies, at the same time landing a strong corps as near Yorktown as possible, in order to turn the rebel lines of defense south of Yorktown; then to reduce Yorktown and Gloucester by a siege, in all probability involving a delay of weeks, perhaps.

2d. To make a combined naval and land attack upon Yorktown the first object of the campaign. This leads to the most rapid and decisive results. To accomplish this, the Navy should at once concentrate upon the York River all their available and most powerful batteries. Its reduction should not in that case require many hours. A strong corps would be pushed up the York, under cover of the Navy, directly upon West Point, immediately upon the fall of Yorktown, and we could at once establish our new base of operations at a distance of some 25 miles from Richmond, with every facility for developing and bringing into play the whole of our available force on either or both banks of the James.

It is impossible to urge too strongly the absolute necessity of the full co-operation of the Navy as a part of this programme. Without it the operations may be prolonged for many weeks, and we may be forced to carry in front several strong positions, which by their aid could be turned without serious loss of either time or men.

It is also of first importance to bear in mind the fact, already alluded to, that the capture of Richmond necessarily involves the prompt fall of Norfolk, while an operation against Norfolk, if successful, as the beginning of the campaign, facilitates the reduction of Richmond merely by the demoralization of the rebel troops involved, and that after the fall of Norfolk we should be obliged to undertake the capture of Richmond by the same means which would have accomplished it in the beginning, having meanwhile afforded the rebels ample time to perfect their defensive arrangements; for they would well know, from the moment the Army of the Potomac changed its base to Fort Monroe, that Richmond must be its ultimate object.

It may be summed up in few words, that for the prompt success of this campaign it is absolutely necessary that the Navy should at once throw its whole available force, its most powerful vessels, against Yorktown. There is the most important point-there the knot to be cut. An immediate decision upon the subject-matter of this communication is highly desirable, and seems called for by the exigencies of the occasion.

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

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

In the mean time the troops destined to form the active army were collected in camps convenient to the points of embarkation, and every preparation made to embark them as rapidly as possible when the transports were ready.

A few days before sailing for Fort Monroe, while still encamped near Alexandria, I met the President by appointment on a steamer. He there informed me that he had been strongly pressed to take General Blenker’s division from my command and give it to General Frémont. His excellency was good enough to suggest several reasons for not taking Blenker’s division from me. I assented to the force of his suggestions, and was extremely gratified by his decision to allow the division to remain with the Army of the Potomac. It was therefore with surprise that I received on the 31st the following note:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, March 31, 1862.

MY DEAR SIR: This morning I felt constrained to order Blenker’s division to Frémont, and I write this to assure you that I did so with great pain, understanding that you would wish it otherwise. If you could know the full pressure of the case I am confident you would justify it, even beyond a mere acknowledgment that the Commander-in-Chief may order what he pleases.

Yours, very truly,


Major-General MCCLELLAN.

To this I replied in substance that I regretted the order, and could {p.59} ill afford to lose 10,000 troops which had been counted upon in forming my plan of campaign, but as there was no remedy, I would yield, and do the best I could without them. In a conversation with the President a few hours afterwards I repeated verbally the same thing, and expressed my regret that Blenker’s division had been given to General Frémont from any pressure other than the requirements of the national exigency. I was partially relieved, however, by the President’s positive and emphatic assurance that I might be confident that no more troops beyond these 10,000 should in any event be taken from me or in any way detached from my command.

At the time of the evacuation of Manassas by the enemy Jackson was at Winchester, our forces occupying Charlestown, and Shields’ reaching Bunker Hill on the 11th. On the morning of the 12th a brigade of General Banks’ troops, under General Hamilton, entered Winchester, the enemy having left at 5 o’clock the evening before, his rear guard of cavalry leaving an hour before our advance entered the Place. The enemy having made his preparations for evacuation some days before, it was not possible to intercept his retreat. On the 13th the mass of Banks’ corps was concentrated in the immediate vicinity of Winchester, the enemy being in the rear of Strasburg. On the 19th General Shields occupied Strasburg, driving the enemy 20 miles south to Mount Jackson. On the 20th the first division of Banks’ corps commenced its movement towards Manassas, in compliance with my letter of instructions of the 16th. Jackson probably received information of this movement, and supposed that no force of any consequence was left in the vicinity of Winchester, and upon the falling back of Shields to that place, for the purpose of enticing Jackson in pursuit, the latter promptly followed, whereupon ensued a skirmish on the 22d, in which General Shields was wounded, and an affair at Winchester on the 23d, resulting in the defeat of Jackson, who was pursued as rapidly as the exhaustion of our troops and the difficulty of obtaining supplies permitted. It is presumed that the full reports of the battle of Winchester were forwarded direct to the War Department by General Banks.

It being now clear that the enemy had no intention of returning by the Manassas route, the following letter of April 1 was written to General Banks:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, On Board the Commodore, April 1, 1862.

GENERAL: The change in affairs in the valley of the Shenandoah has rendered necessary a corresponding departure, temporarily at least, from the plan we some days since agreed upon.

In my arrangements I assume that you have with you a force amply sufficient to drive Jackson before you, provided he is not re-enforced largely. I also assume that you may find it impossible to detach anything towards Manassas for some days, probably not until the operations of the main army have drawn all the rebel force towards Richmond.

You are aware that General Sumner has for some days been at Manassas Junction with two divisions of infantry, six batteries, and two regiments of cavalry, and that a reconnaissance to the Rappahannock forced the enemy to destroy the railway bridge at Rappahannock Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Since that time our cavalry have found nothing on this side the Rappahannock in that direction and it seems clear that we have no reason to fear any return of the rebels in that quarter. Their movements near Fredericksburg also indicate a final abandonment of that neighborhood. I doubt whether Johnston will now re-enforce Jackson with a view of offensive operations. The time is probably past when he could have gained anything by doing so. I have ordered in one of Sumner’s divisions (that of Richardson, late Sumner’s) to Alexandria for embarkation. Blenker’s has been detached from the Army of the Potomac and ordered to report to General Frémont. Abercrombie is probably at Warrenton Junction to-day. Geary is at White Plains. Two regiments of cavalry have been ordered out and are now on the way to relieve the two regiments of Sumner. {p.60} Four thousand infantry and one battery leave Washington at once for Manassas. Some 3,000 more will move in one or two days, and soon after some 3,000 additional. I will order Blenker to march on Strasburg and to report to you for temporary duty, so that, should you find a large force in your front, you can avail yourself of his aid as soon as possible. Please direct him to Winchester, thence to report to the Adjutant-General of the Army for orders; but keep him until you are sure what you have in front.

In regard to your own movements, the most important thing at present is to throw Jackson well back, and then to assume such a position as to enable you to prevent his return. As soon as the railway communications are re-established it will be probably important and advisable to move on Staunton, but this would require secure communications and a force of from 25,000 to 30,000 for active operations. It should also be nearly coincident with my own move on Richmond; at all events, not so long before it as to enable the rebels to concentrate on you and then return on me. I fear that you cannot be ready in time, although it may come in very well with a force less than that I have mentioned, after the main battle near Richmond. When General Sumner leaves Warrenton Junction, General Abercrombie will he placed in immediate command of Manassas and Warrenton Junction under your general orders. Please inform me frequently by telegraph and otherwise as to the state of things in your front.

I am, very truly, yours,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

P. S.-From what I have just learned it would seem that the regiments of cavalry intended for Warrenton Junction have gone to Harper’s Ferry. Of the four additional regiments placed under your orders, two should as promptly as possible move by the shortest route on Warrenton Junction.

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

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Maj. Gen. N. P. BANKS, Commanding Fifth Corps.

This letter needs no further explanation than to say that it was my intention, had the operations in that quarter remained under my charge, either to have resumed the defensive positions marked out in the letter of March 16, or to have advanced General Banks upon Staunton, as might in the progress of events seem advisable.

It is to be remembered that when I wrote the preceding and following letters of April 1 I had no expectation of being relieved from the charge of the operations in the Shenandoah Valley, the President’s War Order, No. 3, giving no intimation of such an intention, and that so far as reference was made to final operations after driving Jackson back and taking such a position as to prevent his return, no positive orders were given in the letter, the matter being left for future consideration when the proper time arrived for a decision.

From the following letter to the Adjutant-General, dated April 1, 1862, it will be seen that I left for the defenses of the national capital and its approaches, when I sailed for the Peninsula, 73,456 men, with 109 pieces of light artillery, including the 32 pieces in Washington alluded to but not enumerated in my letter to the Adjutant-General. It will also be seen that I recommended other available troops in New York (more than 4,000) to be at once ordered forward to re-enforce them:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Steamer Commodore, April 1, 1862.

GENERAL: I have to request that you will lay the following communication before the honorable Secretary of War:

The approximate numbers and positions of the troops left near and in rear of the Potomac are as follows:

General Dix has, after guarding the railroads under his charge, sufficient to give him 5,000 for the defense of Baltimore and 1,988 available for the Eastern Shore, Annapolis, &c. Fort Delaware is very well garrisoned by about 400 men.

The garrisons of the forts around Washington amount to 10,600 men; other disposable troops now with General Wadsworth about 11,400 men.


The troops employed in guarding the various railways in Maryland amount to some 3,359 men. These it is designed to relieve, being old regiments, by dismounted cavalry, and to send forward to Manassas.

General Abercrombie occupies Warrenton with a force which, including Colonel Geary at White Plains and the cavalry to be at his disposal, will amount to some 7.780 men, with 12 pieces of artillery.

I have the honor to request that all the troops organized for service in Pennsylvania and New York and in any of the Eastern States may be ordered to Washington. I learn from Governor Curtin that there are some 3,500 men now ready in Pennsylvania. This force I should be glad to have sent to Manassas Four thousand men from General Wadsworth I desire to be ordered to Manassas. These troops, with the railroad guards above alluded to, will make up a force under the command of General Abercrombie of something like 18,639 men.

It is my design to push General Blenker’s division from Warrenton upon Strasburg. He should remain at Strasburg long enough to allow matters to assume a definite form in that region before proceeding to his ultimate destination.

The troops in the valley of the Shenandoah will thus, including Blenker’s division, 10,028 strong, with 24 pieces of artillery; Banks’ Fifth Corps, which embraces the command of General Shields, 19,687 strong, with 41 guns; some 3,652 disposable cavalry and the railroad guards, about 2,100 men, amount to about 35,467 men.

It is designed to relieve General Hooker by one regiment, say 850 men, being, with some 500 cavalry, 1,350 men on the Lower Potomac.

To recapitulate-

At Warrenton there is to be7,780
At Manassas say10,859
In the valley of the Shenandoah35,467
On the Lower Potomac1,350
In all55,456

There would thus be left for the garrisons and the front of Washington, under General Wadsworth, some 18,000, inclusive of the batteries under instruction. The troops organizing or ready for service in New York, I learn, will probably number more than 4,000. These should be assembled at Washington, subject to disposition where their services may be most required.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, U. S. Army.

The following letter from General Barry shows that thirty-two field guns, with men, horses, and equipments, were also left in Washington City when the army sailed. These were the batteries under instruction referred to above:


GENERAL: It having been stated in various public prints, and in a speech of Senator Chandler, of Michigan, in his place in the United States Senate, quoting what he stated to be a portion of the testimony of Brigadier-General Wadsworth, military governor of Washington, before the joint Senate and House Committee on the Conduct of the War, that Major-General McClellan had left an insufficient force for the defense of Washington, and not a gun on wheels-I have to contradict this charge as follows:

From official reports made at the time to me (the chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac), and now in my possession, by the commanding officer of the light artillery troops left in camp in the city of Washington by your order, it appears that the following-named field batteries were left:

Battery C, First New York Artillery, Captain Barnes, two guns; Battery K, First New York Artillery, Captain Crounse, six guns; Battery L, Second New York Artillery, Captain Robinson, six guns; Ninth New York Independent Battery, Captain Morozowicz, six guns; Sixteenth New York Independent Battery, Captain Locke; Battery A, Second Battalion New York Artillery, Captain Hogan, six guns; Battery B, Second Battalion New York Artillery, Captain McMahon, six guns; total, seven batteries, thirty-two guns.

With the exception of a few horses, which could have been procured from the Quartermaster’s Department in a few hours, the batteries were all fit for immediate service, excepting the Sixteenth New York Battery, which having been previously ordered, {p.62} on General Wadsworth’s application, to report to him for special service, was unequipped with either guns or horses.

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

W. F. BARRY, Brigadier-General, inspector of Artillery, U. S. Army.

Major-General MCCLELLAN, U. S. Army.

It is true that Blenker’s division, which is included in the force enumerated by me, was under orders to re-enforce General Frémont, but the following dispatch from the Secretary of War, dated March 31, 1862, will show that I was authorized to detain him at Strasburg until matters assumed a definite form in that region, before proceeding to his ultimate destination; in other words, until Jackson was disposed of. And had he been detained there, instead of moving on to Harper’s Ferry and Franklin, under other orders, it is probable that General Banks would have defeated Jackson, instead of being himself obliged subsequently to retreat to Williamsport:

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, D. C., March 31, 1862.

The order in respect to Blenker is not designed to hinder or delay the movement of Richardson or any other force. He can remain wherever you desire him as long as required for your movements and in any position you desire. The order is simply to place him in position for re-enforcing Frémont as soon as your dispositions will permit, and he may go to Harper’s Ferry by such route and at such time as you shall direct. State your own wishes as to the movement, when and how it shall be made.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.

Without including General Blenker’s division, there were left 67,428 men and eighty-five pieces of light artillery, which, under existing circumstances, I deemed more than adequate to insure the perfect security of Washington against any force the enemy could bring against it, for the following reasons:

The light troops I had thrown forward under General Stoneman in pursuit of the rebel army, after the evacuation of Manassas and Centreville had driven their rear guard across Cedar Run, and subsequent expeditions from Sumner’s corps had forced them beyond the Rappahannock. They had destroyed all the railroad bridges behind them, thereby indicating that they did not intend to return over that route. Indeed, if they had attempted such a movement, their progress must have been slow and difficult, as it would have involved the reconstruction of the bridges; and if my orders for keeping numerous cavalry patrols well out to the front, to give timely notice of any approach of the enemy, had been strictly enforced (and I left seven regiments of cavalry for this express purpose), they could not by any possibility have reached Washington before there would have been ample time to concentrate the entire forces left for its defense, as well as those at Baltimore, at any necessary point.

It was clear to my mind, as I reiterated to the authorities, that the movement of the Army of the Potomac would have the effect to draw off the hostile army from Manassas to the defense of their capital, and thus free Washington from menace. This opinion was confirmed the moment the movement commenced, or rather as soon as the enemy became aware of our intentions, for with the exception of Jackson’s force of some 15,000, which his instructions show to have been intended to operate in such a way as to prevent McDowell’s corps from being sent to re-enforce me, no rebel force of any magnitude made its appearance in front of Washington during the progress of our operations on {p.63} the Peninsula, nor until the order was given for my return from Harrison’s landing was Washington again threatened.

Surrounded as Washington was with numerous and strong fortifications, well garrisoned, it was manifest that the enemy could not afford to detach from his main army a force sufficient to assail them.

It is proper to remark, that just previous to my departure for Fort Monroe I sent my chief of staff to General Hitchcock, who at that time held staff relations with his excellency the President and the Secretary of War, to submit to him a list of the troops I proposed to leave for the defense of Washington, and the positions in which I designed posting them. General Hitchcock, after glancing his eye over the list, observed that he was not the judge of what was required for defending the capital; that General McClellan’s position was such as to enable him to understand the subject much better than he did, and he presumed that if the force designated was in his judgment sufficient, nothing more would be required. He was then told by the chief of staff that I would be glad to have his opinion, as an old and experienced officer. To this he replied, that as I had had the entire control of the defenses for a long time, I was the best judge of what was needed, and he declined to give any other expression of opinion at that time.

On the 2d of April, the day following my departure for Fort Monroe, Generals Hitchcock and Thomas were directed by the Secretary of War to examine and report whether the President’s instructions to me of March 8 and 13 had been complied with. On the same day their report was submitted, and their decision was-

That the requirement of the President that this city (Washington) shall be left entirely secure has not been fully complied with.

The President, in his letter to me on the 9th of April, says:

And now allow me to ask, do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond via Manassas Junction to this city to be entirely open except what resistance could be presented by less than 20,000 unorganized troops?

In the report of Generals Hitchcock and Thomas, alluded to, it is acknowledged that there was no danger of an attack from the direction of Manassas, in these words:

In regard to occupying Manassas Junction, as the enemy have destroyed the railroads leading to it, it may be fair to assume that they have no intention of returning for the reoccupation of their late position, and therefore no large force would be necessary to hold that position.

That, as remarked before, was precisely the view I took of it, and this was enforced by the subsequent movements of the enemy.

In another paragraph of the report it is stated that 55,000 men was the number considered adequate for the defense of the capital. That General McClellan, in his enumeration of the forces left, had included Banks’ army corps, operating in the Shenandoah Valley, but whether this corps should be regarded as available for the protection of Washington they decline to express an Opinion. At the time this report was made the only enemy on any approach to Washington was Jackson’s force, in front of Banks, in the Shenandoah Valley, with the Manassas Gap Railroad leading from this valley to Washington; and it will be admitted, I presume, that Banks, occupying the Shenandoah Valley, was in the best position to defend, not only that approach to Washington, but the road to Harper’s Ferry and above. The number of troops left by me for the defense of Washington, as given in my letter to the Adjutant-General, were taken from the latest official returns of that {p.64} date, and these, of course, constituted the most trustworthy and authentic source from which such information could be obtained.

Another statement made by General Hitchcock before the Committee on the Conduct of the War in reference to this same order should be noticed. He was asked the following question:

Do you understand now that the movement made by General McClellan to Fort Monroe and up the York River was in compliance with the recommendation of the council of generals commanding corps and held at Fairfax Court-House on the 13th of March last, or in violation of it?

To which he replied as follows:

I have considered, and do now consider, that it was in violation of the recommendation of that council in two important particulars, one particular being that portion of this report which represents the council as agreeing to the expedition by way of the Peninsula, provided the rebel steamer Merrimac could first be neutralized. That important provision General McClellan disregarded.


The second particular alluded to by General Hitchcock was in reference to the troops left for the defense of Washington, which has been disposed of above.

In regard to the steamer Merrimac I have also stated that so far as our operations on York River were concerned the power of this vessel was neutralized. I now proceed to give some of the evidence which influenced me in coming to that conclusion.

Previous to our departure for the Peninsula, Mr. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War, was sent by the President to Fort Monroe to consult with Flag-Officer Goldsborough upon this subject. The result of that consultation is contained in the following extract from the evidence of Admiral Goldsborough before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, viz:

I told Mr. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War, that the President might make his mind perfectly easy about the Merrimac going up York River; that she could never get there, for I had ample means to prevent that.

Capt. G. V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, testifies before the committee as follows:

General McClellan expected the Navy to neutralize the Merrimac, and I promised that it should be done.

General Keyes, commanding Fourth Army Corps, testifies as follows before the committee:

During the time that the subject of the change of base was discussed I had refused to consent to the Peninsula line of operations until I had sent word to the Navy Department and asked two questions: First, whether the Merrimac was certainly neutralized or not. Second, whether the Navy was in a condition to co-operate efficiently with the Army to break through between Yorktown and Gloucester Point. To both of these answers were returned in the affirmative; that is, the Merrimac was neutralized, and the Navy was in a condition to co-operate efficiently to break through between Yorktown and Gloucester Point.

Before starting for the Peninsula I instructed Lieut. Col. B. S. Alexander, of the U. S. Corps of Engineers, to visit Manassas Junction and its vicinity, for the purpose of determining upon the defensive works necessary to enable us to hold that place with a small force. The accompanying letters from Colonel Alexander will show what steps were taken by him to carry into effect this important order. I regret to say that those who succeeded me in command of the region in front of Washington, whatever were the fears for its safety, did not deem it necessary to carry out my plans and instructions to them. Had Manassas been placed in condition for a strong defense and its communications {p.65} secured, as recommended by Colonel Alexander, the result of General Pope’s campaign would probably have been different:

WASHINGTON, D. C., April 2, 1862.

SIR You will proceed to Manassas at as early a moment as practicable, and mark on the ground the works for the defense of that place on the positions which I indicated to you yesterday. You will find two carpenters experienced in this kind of work ready to accompany you, by calling on Mr. Dougherty, the master carpenter of the Treasury Extension. The general idea of the defense of this position is to occupy the fringe of elevation which lies about half way between Manassas depot and the junction of the railroad with a series of works open to the rear, so that they may be commanded by the work hereafter to be described. There will he at least four of these works, three of them being on the left of the railroad leading from Alexandria at the positions occupied by the enemy’s works; the other on the right of this road, on the position we examined yesterday. The works of the enemy to the north of this latter position, numbered 1 and 2 on Lieutenant Comstock’s sketch, may also form a part of the front line of our defense, but the sides of these works looking towards Manassas Station should be leveled, so that the interior of the works maybe seen from the latter position. Embrasures should be arranged in all these works for field artillery. The approaches should be such that a battery can drive into the works. The number of embrasures in each battery will depend upon its size and the ground to be commanded. It is supposed there will be from four to eight embrasures in each battery.

The other works of the enemy looking towards the east and south may be strengthened, so as to afford sufficient defense in these directions. The work No. 3 in Lieutenant Comstock’s sketch may be also strengthened and arranged for field artillery when time will permit. This work is in a good position to cover a retreat, which would be made down the valley in which the railroad runs towards Bull Run. At Manassas Station there should be a fort constructed. The railroad will pass through this fort, and the depot, if there should be one built, should be placed in its rear. This latter work should be regarded as the key to the position. It should be as large as the nature of the ground will permit.

By going down the slopes, which are not steep, it may be made large enough to accommodate 2,000 or 3,000 men. The top of the position need not be cut away; it will be better to throw up the earth into a large traverse, which may also be a bombproof. Its profile should be strong and its ditches should be flanked. It should receive a heavy armament of 24 or 32 pounders, with some rifled (Parrott) 20 or 30 pounders. Its guns should command all the exterior works, so that these works could be of no use to the enemy should he take them. In accommodating the fort to the ground this consideration should not be lost sight of.

After tracing these works on the ground you will make a sketch embracing the whole of them, showing their relative positions and size. This sketch should embrace the junction of the railroads and the ground for some distance around the main work. It need not be made with extreme accuracy. The distances may be paced or measured with a tape-line. The bearings may be taken by compass.

Having located the works and prepared your sketch, you will report to Capt. Frederick E. Prime, of the Corps of Engineers, who will furnish you the means of construction.

It is important that these works should be built with the least possible delay. You will therefore expedite matters as fast as possible.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. S. ALEXANDER, Lieutenant-Colonel, Aide-de-Camp.

Capt. FRED. R. MUNTHER, Present.

WASHINGTON, April 6, 1862.

SIR: I inclose you herewith a copy of the instructions which I gave to Captain Munther in reference to the defenses of Manassas.

As there has been a new department created (that of the Rappahannock), it is possible that you and I, as well as General McClellan are relieved from the further consideration of this subject at the present time.

I will, however, state for your information, should the subject ever come before you again, that in my opinion the communication with Manassas by land should be secured.

To effect this in the best manner, so far as my observations extend, I think the bridge over Bull Run near Union Mills and just above the railroad bridge should be rebuilt or thoroughly repaired, and that a small work or two or three open batteries should be erected on the adjacent heights to protect it as well as the railroad bridge.

The communication by land would then be through or near Centreville, over the road used by the enemy. {p.66}

I write tins for fear something should detain me here, but I hope to leave here to join you to-morrow. My health is much improved.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. S. ALEXANDER, Lieutenant-Colonel, Aide-de-Camp.

Brig. Gen. J. G. BARNARD, Chief Engineer, Army of the Potomac.

I may be permitted also to mention that the plans (also unexecuted by my successor) indicated in my letter of instructions to General Banks, dated March 16, 1862, for intrenching Chester Gap and the point where the Manassas Railroad crosses the Shenandoah, were for the purpose of preventing even the attempt of such a raid as that of Jackson in the month of May following.


Before taking up the history of the embarkation and Peninsula campaign, I should remark that during the fall and winter of 1861-'62, while the Army of the Potomac was in position in front of Washington, reconnaissances were made from time to time, and skirmishes frequently occurred, which were of great importance to the education of the troops, accustoming them to the presence of the enemy, and giving them confidence under fire. There were many instances of individual gallantry displayed in these affairs. The reports of them will be found among the documents which accompany this report.

One of the most brilliant of these affairs was that which took place at Dranesville, on December 20, 1861, when the third brigade of McCall’s division, under Brig. Gen. E. O. C. Ord, with Easton’s battery, routed and pursued four regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and a battery of six pieces.

The operations of Brig. Gen. F. W. Lander, on the Upper Potomac, during the months of January and February, 1862, frustrated the attempts of General Jackson against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Cumberland, &c., and obliged him to fall back to Winchester. His constitution was impaired by the hardships he had experienced, and on the 2d March the fearless General Lander expired, a victim to the excessive fatigue of the campaign.


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

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army.

*1 Only such of the subordinate reports, &c., as relate more particularly to operations from August 1, 1861, to March 17, 1862, will be found in this volume. The others will appear in the chapters embracing the operations covered by the second and third and by the fourth periods of General McClellan’s report, viz, the Peninsular and the first Maryland campaigns.

*2 See Vol. II. of this series, p. 753.

*3 For portion here omitted see Report No. 2, paragraphs numbered 1 to 7, and [13], 115], and [16], pp. 67-69.

*4 See” Operations on the Potomac,” etc., October 21-24, post; and Fry to McDowell, October 24, 1861, etc., in “Correspondence, etc.,” post.

*5 See p. 18.

*6 For report here omitted see “Reconnaissance to Cedar Run,” March 14-16, in Reports, post.


No. 2.

Report of Brig. Gen. William F. Barry, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac, of the organization and operations of the artillery of that army from July 25, 1861, to September 1, 1862.

WASHINGTON, September 1, 1862.

GENERAL: In compliance with the orders of Major-General McClellan, I have the honor to give some account of the history, organization, and operations of the artillery of the Army of the Potomac from July, 1861, to September, 1862, the period during which I was its chief.


When Major-General McClellan was appointed to the command of the Division of the Potomac (July 25, 1861), a few days after the first battle of Bull Run, the whole field artillery of his command consisted of no more than parts of nine batteries or thirty pieces of various and in some instances unusual and unserviceable calibers. Most of these batteries were also of mixed calibers, and they were insufficiently equipped in officers and men, and in horses, harness, and material generally.

My calculations were based upon the expected immediate expansion of the “Division of the Potomac” into the “Army of the Potomac,” to consist of at least 100,000 infantry. Considerations of the peculiar character and extent of the force to be employed, of the probable field and character of operations, of the utmost efficiency of the arm, and of the limits imposed by the as yet undeveloped resources of the nation, led to the following general propositions offered by me to Major-General McClellan, and which received his full approval:

1st. That the proportion of artillery should be in the ratio of at least two and a half pieces to 1,000 men, to be expanded if possible to three pieces to 1,000 men.

2d. That the proportion of rifled guns should be restricted to the system of the U. S. Ordnance Department, and of Parrott and the smooth bore (with the exception of a few howitzers for special service) to be exclusively the 12-pounder gun of the model of 1857, variously called the 'gun howitzer,' the 'light 12-pounder,' or the 'Napoleon.’

3d. That each field battery should, if practicable, be composed of six guns, and none to be less than four guns, and in all cases the guns of each battery should be of uniform caliber.

4th. That the field batteries were to be assigned to divisions and not to brigades, and in the proportion of four to each division, of which one was to be a battery of regulars, the remainder of volunteers; the captain of the regular battery to be the commander of artillery of the division. In the event of several divisions constituting an army corps, at least one-half of the divisional artillery was to constitute the reserve artillery of the corps.

5th. That the artillery reserve of the whole army should consist of 100 guns, and should comprise, besides a sufficient number of light mounted batteries, all of the guns of position, and until the cavalry was massed all the horse artillery.

6th. That the amount of ammunition to accompany the field batteries was not to be less than 400 rounds per gun.

7th. A siege train of fifty pieces. This was subsequently expanded (for special service at the siege of Yorktown) to very nearly 100 pieces, and comprised the unusual calibers and enormously heavy weight of metal of two 200-pounders, five 100-pounders, and ten 13-inch seacoast mortars.

8th. That instruction in the theory and practice of gunnery, as well as in the tactics of the arm, was to be given to the officers and non-commissioned officers of the volunteer batteries by the study of suitable text-books and by actual recitations in each division, under the direction of the regular officer commanding the divisional artillery.

9th. That personal inspections, as frequent as the nature of circumstances would permit, should be made by me, to be assured of the strict observance of the established organization and drill and of the special regulations and orders issued from time to time under the authority of the commanding general, and to note the progressive improvement of the officers and enlisted men of the volunteer batteries, and the actual fitness for field service of the whole, both regular and volunteer.

[10th.] A variety of unexpected circumstances conspired to compel in some degree trifling modifications of these general propositions, but in the main they scrupulously formed the basis of the organization of the artillery of the Army of the Potomac. This sudden and extensive expansion of the artillery arm of the nation taxed far beyond their capacities the various arsenals and private founderies which had hitherto exclusively supplied to the United States the requisite ordnance material. The Ordnance Department promptly met my requisitions by enlarging as far as possible the operations of the arsenals of supply and construction and by the extensive employment of private contractors. The use of contract work, while it gave increased facility in meeting {p.68} promptly the suddenly-increased demand, was the unavoidable cause of introducing into the service much inferior ordnance material. The gun-carriages were particularly open to this objection, and their bad construction was in more than one instance the unfortunate occasion of the loss of field guns.

[11th.] It affords me great satisfaction to state that the Ordnance Department in the main kept the supply constantly up to the demand, and by cheerful and ready attention to complaints and the prompt creation of the requisite means enabled me to withdraw inferior material and substitute such as was found to be more reliable.

[12th.] To Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay, in command of Washington Arsenal, to Lieutenant Bradford, his assistant, and to Captain Benton, in the office of the Chief of Ordnance, these remarks in particular apply. To their promptness, industry, and active general co-operation am I indebted in a great degree for the means which enabled me to organize such an immense artillery force in so short a time.

[13th.] As has been before stated, the whole of the field artillery of the Army of the Potomac July 25, 1861, was comprised in nine imperfectly-equipped batteries of 30 guns, 650 men, and 400 horses. In March, 1862, when the whole army took the field, it consisted of ninety-two batteries of 520 guns, 12,500 men, and 11,000 horses, fully equipped and in readiness for active field service. Of the whole force thirty batteries were regulars and sixty-two batteries volunteers. During this short period of seven months all of this immense amount of material was issued to me and placed in the hands of the artillery troops after their arrival in Washington. About one-quarter of all the volunteer batteries brought with them from their respective States a few guns and carriages, but they were nearly all of such peculiar caliber as to lack uniformity with the more modern and more serviceable ordnance with which I was arming the other batteries, and they therefore had to be withdrawn and replaced by more suitable material. While about one-sixth came supplied with horses and harness, less than one-tenth were apparently fully equipped for service when they reported to me, and every one of those required the supply of many deficiencies of material and very extensive instruction in the theory and practice of their special arm.

[14th.] When the Army of the Potomac on the 1st of April embarked for Fort Monroe and the Virginia Peninsula the field-artillery force which had been organized was disposed of as follows, viz:

Detached for service in the Department of South Carolina212
Detached for service in the Department of North Carolina16
Detached for service in the Department of the Gulf16
Detached for service in the command of Major-General Dix320
Detached for service in the Mountain Department (division Blenker)318
First Corps (Major-General McDowell)1268
Fifth Corps (Major-General Banks)1359
Defenses of Washington (Brigadier-General Wadsworth)732
Embarked March 15 to April 1, 1862, for the Peninsula52299

[15th.] The operations on the Peninsula by the Army of the Potomac commenced with a field-artillery force of fifty-two batteries, of 299 guns. To this must be added the field artillery of Franklin’s division of McDowell’s corps, which joined a few days before the capture of Yorktown, but was not disembarked from its transports for service until after the {p.69} battle of Williamsburg, and the field artillery of McCall’s division of McDowell’s corps (four batteries, 22 guns), which joined in June, a few days before the battle of Mechanicsville, June 26, 1862, making a grand total of field artillery at any time with the army on the Peninsula of sixty batteries, of 343 guns. With this large force, serving in six corps d’armee of eleven divisions and the artillery reserve, the only general and field officers were 1 brigadier-general, 4 colonels, 3 lieutenant-colonels, and 3 majors, a number obviously insufficient, and which impaired to a great degree (in consequence of the want of rank and official influence of the commanders of corps and divisional artillery) the efficiency of the arms. As this faulty organization can be suitably corrected only by legislative action, it is earnestly hoped that the attention of the proper authorities may be at an early day invited to it.

[16th.] When there were so many newly-organized volunteer field batteries, many of whom received their first and only instruction in the intrenched camps covering Washington during the three or four inclement months of the winter of 1861-'62, there was, of course, much to be improved. Many of the volunteer batteries, however, evinced such zeal and intelligence and availed themselves so industriously of the instructions of the regular officer, their commander, and of the example of the regular battery, their associate, that they made rapid progress and attained a degree of proficiency highly creditable.

[17th.] Special detailed reports have been made and transmitted by me of the general artillery operations at the siege of Yorktown, and by their immediate commanders of the services of the field batteries at the battles of Williamsburg, Hanover Court-House, and those severely contested ones comprised in the operations in front of Richmond. To these several reports I respectfully refer the commanding general for details of services as creditable to the artillery of the United States as they are honorable to the gallant officers and brave and patient enlisted men, who with but few exceptions, struggling through difficulties, overcoming obstacles, and bearing themselves nobly on the field of battle, stood faithfully to their guns, performing their various duties with a steadiness, a devotion, and a gallantry worthy of all commendation.

[18th.] For the artillery of the Army of the Potomac it is but simple justice to claim that, in contributing its aid to the other two arms as far as lay in its power, it did its whole duty faithfully and intelligently, and that on more than one occasion (the battle of Malvern particularly) it confessedly saved the army from serious disaster.

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

WILLIAM F. BARRY, Brigadier-General, late Chief of Artillery Army of the Potomac.

Brig. Gen. S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant-General.


No. 3.

Report of Maj. Albert J. Myer, Chief Signal Officer, U. S. Army, of the signal service in the Army of the Potomac, from A gust 14, 1861, to March 23, 1862, and of signal detachments in other commands.

OFFICE OF THE SIGNAL OFFICER, Washington, D. C., October 21, 1862.

GENERAL: The Chief Signal Officer, then serving-at headquarters Department of Virginia, was, by Special Orders, No. 26, directed to {p.70} report for duty at the headquarters of the then Division of the Potomac, on August 14, 1861. This order was consequent upon information which had been received that our forces on the Upper Potomac needed intercommunication between the different divisions, and also to the fact that attention had been called at that part of our lines and along our front before Washington to the telegraphic field signals of the enemy. The general commanding the then Division of the Potomac required a signal line to connect the right of his army with the forces surrounding Washington. Orders to this effect were received on the same day, verbally, from the general commanding the army and by the letter herewith from the Assistant Secretary of War.

The organization of the signal corps of the Army of the Potomac was commenced on the issue of the order herewith. On this order officers and men were collected from various regiments and were gathered at small camps of instruction, which were formed at Poolesville, Md., then the headquarters of General Stone; on the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, a prominent mountain in Maryland, and at Hyattstown, then the headquarters of General Banks. These camps were respectively in charge of Lieuts. Theodore S. Dumont, Fifth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer; Evan Thomas, Fourth Artillery, U. S. Army, and acting signal officer, and Leonard F. Hepburn, Fourth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer, who, instructed and previously serving at Fortress Monroe, Va., had been ordered to aid in the formation of this party. The course of instruction in signal duty was Commenced at the camps mentioned while the officers there stationed had communication by signals between them.

On the 31st August, 1861, the central signal camp of instruction was established at Red Hill, Georgetown, D. C. The detachment of officers and men detailed for signal duty from the Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps and on examination approved for instruction was the first received at this camp.

On the 12th of September, 1861, the approved officers and men of the detachments from the Upper Potomac were here concentrated. The next day the new camp was organized, the courses of instruction were decided upon, and the central signal camp of instruction in Georgetown became the school for all the acting signal officers of the Army.

For the successful management and control of this camp of instruction much credit is due to the efficient co-operation of the then First Lieutenant Samuel T. Cushing, Second Infantry, U. S. Army, acting signal officer, who, from the day of its formation until it was abandoned, associated with the Chief Signal Officer, labored zealously and with perseverance to fit the officers and men there under instruction to honorably bear their parts in the campaigns of the war then just Opening.

The organizing, instructing, disciplining, and retaining for service the signal corps of the Army of the Potomac (from which all other detachments of the signal corps in the United states have directly or indirectly sprung) was attended with many circumstances of interest and many of difficulty. It was a work of no ordinary toil to originate and to put in the field in the time of such a war a corps before unknown. There were duties to be performed in the face of prejudices which were childish, and in spite of oppositions born of ignorance. The narrative of these early days and the recital of the modes in which step by step the signal corps won its way will form a part of a general report to the Chief Signal Officer.

At the signal camp of instruction the officers and men were taught {p.71} the manual of the signal apparatus, and they were practiced to send messages of any kind and of any number of words by telegraphic signals. The apparatus used is now well known to the general commanding. It is sufficient, therefore, to say that, by the motions of a single flag, attached to a staff, held and worked by the hands of one man, in the day, or by the similar motions of a lighted torch, fastened to the staff instead of a flag, at night, a single man is converted into a semaphore, useful for any distances at which the signs made are visible either with the naked eye or with telescopes.

The officers were instructed in countersign signals, by which to distinguish friendly regiments, and in the employment of colored lights and rockets as signals. They were habituated by constant use to the management of the telescope. They were taught the drill of the flagman. They learned to ride, and were instructed how to provide for themselves and their parties in the held. They were taught some duties of reconnaissance. They were fresh from civil life it was aimed to give them something of the feeling and habits of soldiers.

It was from the beginning the intention to place in charge of this corps the flying or field electric telegraphs, for use upon the field of battle or in the immediate presence of the enemy. These were to be similar in their general construction to those telegraphic trains at a later day brought into use on the Peninsula. The efforts to procure these trains were thwarted to some extent by the actions of persons who seemed to greatly desire that all the duties of electric telegraphy should be in the hands of civilians, and in part, perhaps, by the hesitation of officers in authority to become responsible by favoring it for the success of what was then an experiment in our service. I did all I could to obtain authority and the means to properly fit such trains to accompany the army on the march. In the early days of the war I could not obtain the asked permission to organize a party or to draw on the Departments for supplies. Later, when I submitted plans and further requests on this subject, they were either not answered or received non-committal replies. Estimates accompanying my annual report of November 10, 1862, were not acted upon.

With embarrassments of this nature the work could not be successfully carried on. It was only when the Army was fairly in the field that the plans began to receive some favorable attention and some support. One train was, however, partially completed, and the officers of the corps were familiarized with its use. This was the first movable telegraphic train of which there is record, as made for the United States Army.


On October 17, 1861, the order for the adoption of countersign signals in the Army of the Potomac was issued at the suggestion of the Chief Signal Officer. To acquire a thorough knowledge of the use of these signals, to procure and issue the necessary supplies, and to instruct the designated officers in the two hundred and fifty regiments and organizations comprised in the Army of the Potomac occupied much of the attention and employed much of the time of the forming corps until late in December. The theory of these signals was good; the apparatus was convenient; the modes of making the signals were practicable. Experience has shown, however, that in a new army these signals will not be safely used unless an organized corps of signal officers accompany such an army. The failure of Congress to organize a signal corps {p.72} during the session of 1861-'62 led, on the recommendation of the Chief Signal Officer, to the suspension, in October, 1862, of the use of countersign signals in the Army of the Potomac. They were of practical use on some few occasions, and it is probable beneficially influenced the army, in so far as, by leading the men to presume that signals would always distinguish their enemies from their friends, they prevented the stampedes and panic firings which by their sad results had early in the war so moved the nation. I am of the opinion that, with the improving organization of the armies of the United States, this use, first tested in the Army of the Potomac, will be perfected and made general.


In December, 1861, the Chief Signal Officer was ordered to prepare a plan for outpost and scout signals, or signs by which troops upon outposts and with scouting parties might recognize friendly forces. These signals were for some months used along the lines in front of and near Washington and after the army had taken the field on the Peninsula. The very general use attempted to be made of them in so great an army was always of doubtful value. There was danger that troops widely separated, of different intelligence and of different nations, could not be rightly instructed. The proper employment of signals of this character is for especial occasions and for especial troops. Their use (from the beginning neglected) was formally abandoned while the army was upon the Chickahominy, in June, 1862.

Early in January, 1862, the force at the signal camp of instruction, at Georgetown, D. C., was largely increased by a detail of 3 officers and 6 men, ordered from each brigade of the Army of the Potomac, which had not previously furnished its quota. Fifty per cent. of the officers thus ordered failed to report.


The officers and men detailed for signal service manifested interest in the study of their duties, and as a corps early attained an advanced preparation. The character of their employment attracted much attention. Small signal parties had been left stationed at Poolesville, on Sugar Loaf Mountain, and at Seneca, Md. These points were in daily communication. The simplicity of the apparatus with which the officers conversed; their power of communicating at distances of many miles and in the night as well as in the day; the incomprehensible orders given by the officers to the flagmen, and the seemingly more incomprehensible evolutions with flags and torches, were, in and out of the army, subjects of ceaseless comment.

Like comment was elicited by the work of officers sent out to practice in the vicinity of Washington, and who were found at all hours of the night as well as day scattered about the country, miles from camp, on towers or on prominent heights, busily telegraphing, and with airs of sage importance and mystery, messages as lessons of practice. In the newspaper histories of the war the signal camp of instruction will be found to have a special mention.

The organization of the signal corps of the Army of the Potomac (then the grand army of the United States) became a fact of general knowledge. As other armies were formed or expeditions were prepared, skilled officers and men sent from the parent camp formed with these armies, with other officers and men by them instructed, the different {p.73} detachments of the acting signal corps which, serving in the various geographical departments, have carried the signal flag on so many fields in this war. The details for this purpose from the Army of the Potomac were as follows, viz:


Early in the month of October, 1861, the expedition of the combined land and naval forces, afterwards styled the “Port Royal Expedition,” was contemplated. On the application of General Thomas W. Sherman, commanding the expedition, the Chief Signal Officer was ordered to detail signal officers to accompany it. A party of 7 signal officers, with 14 men, equipped, commanded by Lieut. E. J. Keenan, Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, joined the expedition for duty a few days before it sailed from Annapolis. The brilliant success of this party, achieved by the gallantry and the labor of the officers and men composing it, contributed to the success of the expedition and to the advancement of the corps. The detachment of the signal corps now serving in South Carolina had hence its origin.

In December, 1861, an application was made by Major-General Buell then commanding the Department of the Ohio, for a detail of signal officers to be sent to him. There was some vacillation about the movement of this party, the order to send and to retain it being for a time alternated. At last, however, a detachment of 5 officers and 10 men equipped, was sent to General Buell. The signal party now commanded by Capt. Jesse Merrill, Seventh Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, and serving with General Rosecrans in the Department of the Cumberland, took its origin from this detail. The difficulties encountered by this party, in the unfavorable character of the country, the situation and condition of the forces, the want of experience of the officers composing it, and the semi-official opposition of other officers, who knew nothing of its duties, have not been surpassed. That the corps through all its difficulties maintained its organization and has attained the position it now holds under General Rosecrans has proven some intrinsic value in its duties and much merit in the officers who organized and have composed it.

A few days before the sailing of the Burnside expedition for North Carolina there was received the application, made by General Burnside, for a signal party to be detailed to his army, and the order to make the detail. Three officers and 6 men, equipped, and commanded by Lieut. Joseph Fricker, Eighth Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, reported at Annapolis to accompany this expedition. A class of 22 officers was there detailed and its instruction commenced. At this time there was in the hands of the signal officer, to supply the whole Army of the United States, the sum of $208.94. Such scanty equipment as could be gathered was hurried to this party as it was embarking from Annapolis. It accompanied the expedition. Twenty-five officers, with their men, were crowded in one small schooner. They were driven off the coast in the gale which so severely damaged the Burnside fleet, and among their earliest experiences in the service was that of a sea voyage of three weeks’ duration from Fortress Monroe to Hatteras. Arriving at last at Hatteras, they were at once in action at Roanoke Island. The care with which the usefulness of this party was developed by General Burnside was repaid by their services in every engagement in his department. They originated the detachment of the signal corps now in North Carolina.


On the 10th of March, 1862, after the return of the Army of the Potomac to Alexandria, following the evacuation of Manassas, two detachments, each of 3 officers and 6 men, equipped and supplied with extra stores, were ordered to report, the one in charge of Lieut. J. B. Ludwick, Ninth Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, to Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck, then commanding the Department of the Mississippi at Saint Louis, the other in charge of Lieut. E. H. Russell, Ninth Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, to Maj. Gen. B. F. Butler, commanding the Department of the Gulf.

The party reporting to General Halleck formed under the orders of that officer a class of 20 officers and 40 men. This party was instructed equipped, and prepared to take the field. A detachment from it served at Fort Saint Charles, White River.

At-the time the whole party was reported for duty in the field and for some weeks after the Army of the Mississippi lay before Corinth. The country was unfavorable for their operations, and it was, perhaps, not contemplated that that army was to move, or that there might be service on the banks of the Mississippi and the incurrent rivers. The officers composing the party were ordered by the general commanding to rejoin their regiments, and the organization was thus on the 30th of June, 1862, broken up. The operations of the fall and winter of 1862-'63 have made it necessary to repeat the labor of the past spring, and to instruct and form anew the party of the Mississippi Valley.

The detachment detailed for the Department of the Gulf reached, after many delays, the headquarters of General Butler after the capture of New Orleans. A party was organized and instructed for service in this department. It served successfully at the battle of Bayou La Fourche. It constitutes now a part of the corps serving under General N. P. Banks.

From the date of the first order, in August, 1861, a party of 8 officers and 16 men, commanded by Lieut. W. W. Rowley, Twenty-eighth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer, was left to serve with the forces under General Banks. During the fall and through the winter and until the advance of the force of that general into the valley of the Shenandoah, this party held stations of observation and communication on Maryland Heights, on the heights at Point of Rocks, on Sugar Loaf Mountain, at Poolesville, Md., and on the ridge at Seneca. The labors and the usefulness of this party elicited the thanks of the general under whom it served.

Early in February, 1862, a movement of the forces under General Hooker on the Lower Potomac was contemplated. They were, it was said, to cross the river for an advance upon the enemy. A detachment of 8 officers and 25 men, equipped and mounted, commanded by Lieut. B. F. Fisher, Third Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, reported to General Hooker for service in the expected engagement. The enemy abandoned their batteries before an attack was made, and the river was crossed without opposition. The party rejoined the main Army of the Potomac in Alexandria in April, and accompanied it to the Peninsula.


In the early days of March, 1862, the improving condition of the roads indicating that a movement of the army would be soon practicable, the corps was mobilized.


At midnight on the 9th of March, 1862, the order of the general commanding the army, directing the corps to take the field, was received at the signal camp of instruction.

At 1 a.m. on the 10th of March an order was received directing the field telegraphic train to be on the Little River turnpike, ready to move with the commanding general at daylight. This train had not been completed and was not ready for the field.

The camp was struck before daylight. On the evening of the 10th of March the different sections had either arrived at the points indicated in Special Orders, No. 41, or were so near those positions that the chiefs of sections had reported in person to the different generals. One section alone was prevented by impassable roads from reporting before daylight on the morning of the 11th. The headquarters of the signal corps were established on the night of the 10th at Fairfax Court-House, Va.

On the morning of the 11th information was received that the enemy had evacuated Manassas and were rapidly falling back towards the Rappahannock. On the morning of the 12th signal stations were established on the heights at Centreville and among the ruins, yet smoking, at Manassas. The advance station at Manassas, in charge of Lieut. J. R. Ludwick, acting signal officer, was some miles beyond our pickets, and with no guard. These stations were held with some risk and much labor while the army lay at Fairfax Court-House.

An effort was made to connect Manassas Junction and Union Mills by a line of signals. The attempt failed because it was found that to do so would require more stations than officers could be spared to command.

In the reconnaissances made by signal officers of our army there was found a station occupied by the signal officers of the rebel army before and at the time of the first battle of Manassas. There is perhaps no country better formed by nature for the successful use of signal communication than on and near this battle-field. It was a subject of regretful remembrance that the Army of the United States had not secured for it in that battle such aid as signals might have given it.

On the 14th of March headquarters of the Army of the Potomac were established near Alexandria, Va. The detachments of the signal corps were quartered in that village.


While the army ]ay here the report of the battle of Winchester, fought by General Banks in the valley of the Shenandoah, was received. Mention of this battle is made in this report for the reason that the corps commanded by General Banks was at that time a part of the Army of the Potomac, and that the signal corps serving with him was a part of that originally formed for that army. Stations were established in this action on the right, the left, and the center of the line engaged, and also to the rear, communicating with the general commanding at Winchester. The full reports of Lieut. W. W. Rowley, Twenty-eighth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer, and his officers, clearly define the positions taken by them on that field and the services they rendered. Lieutenant Rowley has mentioned in his report the names of Lieuts. D. A. Taylor, Third New York Artillery, and acting signal officer; S. D. Byram, Sixteenth Indiana Volunteers, and acting signal officer; W. L. Lamed, First Minnesota Volunteers, and acting signal officer; J. H. Spencer, First Minnesota Volunteers, and acting signal officer; J. H. {p.76} Fralick, Thirty-fourth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer F. N. Wicker, Twenty-eighth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer; I. J. Harvey, Second Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer; B. N. Miner, Thirty-fourth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer; E. A. Briggs, Forty-third New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer; E. L. Halsted, Fortieth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer, for their parts at this battle.

The officers and men of this detachment again elicited the official commendation of General Banks on the retreat from the valley of the Shenandoah. This signal party, as was the case of that commanded by Lieutenant Wilson, acting signal officer, detailed to the corps commanded by General McDowell, served with the army corps to which they were attached throughout the summer and until (in September) the forces in front of Washington were consolidated in the Army of the Potomac for the defense of that city.*


Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,

ALBERT J. MYER, Signal Officer, Major U. S. Army, and Chief Signal Officer Army of Potomac.


* Continuation of the report in operations of March 17-September 2, 1852.


No. 4.

Report of Surg. Charles S. Tripler, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, of the operations of the medical department of that Army from August 12, 1861, to March 17, 1862.

DETROIT, MICH., February 7, 1863.

GENERAL: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the medical department of the Army of the Potomac during the time I was connected with it as medical direction:

This time naturally divides itself into two periods: the first embracing the time from the beginning of the organization of that army to that of its taking the field; the second from the latter time to the completion of the change of base to Harrison’s Landing, on the James River.

I joined the Army of the Potomac August 12, 1861, and was immediately charged with the organization of the medical department. At that time the three months’ volunteers were mustered out of service, and the new levies were being rapidly assembled in Washington and its vicinity. A number of camps were formed on both sides of the Potomac, and the construction of the field works had been commenced. There were some five or six hotels, seminaries, and infirmaries in Washington and Georgetown occupied as general hospitals, and one or two in Alexandria, the fruits of the exigencies of the three-months’ campaign. These were under capable officers, well regulated and well conducted, but with no system in reference to the admission or discharge of patients. Every regimental surgeon sent what men he pleased to the general hospitals, without knowing whether there was room for them or not, and men were discharged from the hospitals with no means provided {p.77} to insure their return to their regiments. It was not an unusual circumstance for sick men to pass the night in the ambulances, wandering about the streets from hospital to hospital seeking admission. I could find no information anywhere as to what regiments were present or whether they had medical officers or not.

My first effort was to endeavor to find out who were the medical officers of the several regiments, how the hospital departments were supplied, what was the strength of the regiments, how many of the men were sick, and what were the prevailing diseases. For this purpose I applied for and had an order issued directing all the medical officers to report to me in person without delay. From them I required the other items of information I have indicated. A singular state of things was revealed. In General Orders, No. 25, War Department, May 25, 1861, the President had directed that a surgeon and an assistant surgeon should be appointed for each regiment of volunteers by the governors of their respective States, and that these officers should be examined by a board, to be appointed by the governors, as to their qualifications; the appointments to be subject to the approval of the Secretary of War. The third section of the act of August 6, 1861, required vacancies among the volunteer officers to be filled by the governors in the same manner as the original appointment. Some of the States had promptly appointed these boards, but many others had entirely neglected it. The Secretary of War had also accepted what were termed independent regiments, the colonels of which asserted a right to appoint their own medical officers, and, notwithstanding the act of Congress, to fill vacancies. In other instances colonels of State regiments refused to receive the medical officers appointed in conformity with the law and the orders of the President, and went so far as to put these gentlemen out of their camps by force when they reported in obedience to the orders of the governors and of the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. The State authorities, especially of New York and Pennsylvania, remonstrated strongly against this course, and I used every effort to arrest it, but in vain. I was at last officially notified, on the 19th of November, 1861, that the medical officers of regiments accepted directly by the Secretary of War had acquired rights that could not be set aside by the governors of the States. These irregularities created great embarrassment and confusion in organizing my department, and many regiments were thus left to take their chances with surgeons as to whose competency nothing was known.

In other instances regiments or parts of regiments were sent on without their medical officers, the colonels assuming authority to leave them at home under various pretexts. To meet a case of this kind I addressed the following letter to the surgeon-general of Pennsylvania:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, Washington, September 7, 1861.

SIR: The First Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry has sent seven companies to this city without a medical officer. I have the honor to request you will send a duly-commissioned surgeon and assistant to this regiment immediately. I am informed a Dr. Harlan is surgeon, but has never joined the regiment. The surgeons of regiments in the field are intended for service and not for ornament. The Government cannot wait the convenience of Dr. Harlan.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon and-Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

H. H. SMITH, M. D., Surgeon-General of Pennsylvania.

Another source of embarrassment was, that neither the law nor orders had provided medical officers for batteries or detachments of cavalry. {p.78} In these cases I could only direct that such bodies should be attended to by the medical officers of the regiments nearest to them.

To remedy the irregular and doubtful appointments made by colonels, and to give the troops confidence in their medical officers, I determined to assemble boards for the examination of all such as rapidly as their cases were brought to my notice. This I did under authority of General Orders, No. 35, War Department, June 20, 1861. September 7, 1861, I assembled such a board and ordered twelve medical officers before it for examination. From that time forward, whenever a medical officer was complained of for incompetency, a board was ordered. In many cases the complaints were ascertained to be well founded and the officers were discharged.

The third section of the act of July 22, 1861, having provided for a surgeon to each brigade, a board was assembled in Washington to examine candidates for that appointment. A number of the appointees under that act were assigned to duty with the Army of the Potomac. The act had not defined the duties of these officers, nor had any regulation in reference to them emanated from the War Department. Their position was doubtful, and it was necessary to define it. The regimental medical officers were for the most part physicians taken suddenly from civil life with no conception whatever of their duties. These had to be taught them from the very alphabet. The line officers were equally ignorant with themselves in this respect, and hence confusion conflicts of authority, discontent, and very seriously impaired efficiencies in the medical department. The general idea seemed to be that it was the duty of the doctor to physic every man who chose to report sick and to sign such papers as the colonel directed him to sign. To superintend the sanitary condition of the regiment, to call upon the commanding officers to abate nuisances, to take measures for the prevention of disease was in many instances considered impertinent and obtrusive, and the suggestion of the medical officers to those ends were too frequently disregarded and ignored.

It occurred to me that the brigade surgeons, being very generally taken from those who had seen some service in the three-months’ campaign, might be made useful in remedying these evils and in carrying out my views for increasing the efficiency of the department. Bearing the commission of the President, I was of opinion that they were the superior officers of the State surgeons, and had authority to control them in their own department; I therefore assigned these gentlemen to the staffs of the several brigadiers, and prepared an order defining their duties. (See Appendix A.)

By conversation with the brigade surgeons I endeavored to impress upon them the importance of the trust confided to them, and show them how much the efficiency of the army depended upon the fidelity and success with which they should discharge their duties. Every item of the order was explained to them, and they were urged to be active and zealous in imbuing the regimental surgeons with a thorough understanding and just appreciation of the hygienic suggestions it contained. It was impossible for me to see and instruct such a number of regimental officers as our army included, and I was therefore obliged to rely upon the brigade surgeons to attend to the training of these officers in their routine duties. This arrangement was the most promising I could command, and I hoped its advantages would be readily seen and appreciated; still some were found to place impediments in the way of these officers in the performance of their duties. In reply to a complaint made by one of them I wrote him as follows:


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Directors Office, Washington. September 20, 1861.

SIR: Your duplicate report, which was very properly made, has been received. The brigade commander will no doubt issue the proper orders to correct the evils which your represent. In relation to your complaint that the colonel of the Thirty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers does not recognize your official relations to him, I have to say that those relations depend upon your commission from the President of the United States and not upon the recognition or non-recognition of any individual officer under the President’s command.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

Brigade Surgeon PRINCE, Graham’s Brigade.

I had thus established a hierarchy, which, though imperfect, enabled me to keep myself tolerably well informed of the condition of the medical department of the army. The irregularities prevailing in relation to the sending of men to the general hospitals and discharging them therefrom were corrected by paragraphs 4 to 9 of General Orders, No. 9, Army of Potomac, September 9, 1861. (See Appendix B.)

In suggesting this order I had also another object in view, to control and to diminish as far as possible the number of men sent from the regimental to the general hospitals. The experience of all armies has shown, and my personal observation has convinced me of the fact, that the sick do much better in these regimental than in the general hospitals. I consider general hospitals general nuisances, to be tolerated only because there are occasions when they are absolutely necessary, as, for instance, when an army is put in motion and cannot transport its sick. It is a singular fact, but one as to which I believe all military surgeons of experience will agree with me, that the sick report of a regiment under ordinary circumstances is a constant quantity; that after a regiment has been in the field a month that quantity will be ascertained and that if the regimental hospital is evacuated in a short time, it will be found to contain again its habitual number of inmates; so that we may have as many successive crops of sick as we choose by repeating the process of evacuating the regimental upon the general hospitals. A leading object with me was to keep up the fighting-force to its maximum, and therefore, as well as for the more speedy recovery of the men themselves, I discouraged the practice of sending them to the general hospitals. If I had permitted the practice I found existing to continue-that of sending men promiscuously and without restraint to the general hospitals-the only limit to the number and extent of these would have been what was required to contain the whole army. I stopped it, and thus kept a healthy army in the field.

Having thus established some order and system in the personnel of the medical department and some method in instructing the officers in their duties, my attention was turned to the means of keeping them supplied with medicines, instruments, stores, &c. In this I met with many difficulties. The volunteer medical officers being many of them country doctors, accustomed to a village nostrum practice, could not readily change their habits and accommodate themselves to the rigid system of the army in regard to their supplies. To meet this difficulty I attempted within reasonable limits to disregard supply tables, and to give the surgeons articles of medicine and hospital stores to suit even their caprices, if in my judgment such articles could be of any avail in the treatment of disease. In this effort I first felt the inconvenience of being in Washington. The medical purveyor was bound by the regulations, and although my order ought to have been sufficient to have relieved him from all responsibility, still, to be perfectly safe, he would {p.80} refer such requisitions to the Surgeon-General. The consequence was my orders were countermanded, and I was finally ordered by the Surgeon-General not to issue anything not allowed by the supply table without his sanction, previously obtained.

The pressure upon the purveyor consequent upon the influx of so large a body of troops caused great delay in the issuing of supplies. Complaints of this delay were made to me as early as the beginning of September. I offered the purveyor more assistance if it would expedite his issues. That officer replied on the 6th of September that “any additional aid to that now employed is unnecessary, and would in nowise facilitate the matter.” Subsequently a different conclusion was arrived at, and additional aid was furnished.

Another difficulty was encountered in getting the supplies to the regiments after they were put up. Ordinarily the purveyor turns over his supplies to the quartermaster, and it is the duty of that officer to transport them to their destination. It was soon perceived that this mode would not answer in the confusion then reigning in Washington. The regular quartermasters were charged with duties considered of more importance, and the volunteer quartermasters did not know how to perform what we required. We were therefore obliged to require the medical officers to call for and transport their own supplies to their camps. Much was accomplished in this way, though in many instances great negligence and indifference were manifested on the part of the surgeons themselves. Another difficulty to overcome was the supplying the regiments with hospital tents. I determined to issue three of these tents to a regiment. These would accommodate comfortably thirty men. The demand for tents and the scarcity of canvas made it necessary to reduce the allowance to the minimum that could be made to suffice. I approved of requisitions for this number whenever they were presented, and I ordered requisitions to be made in all cases where I discovered it had been neglected. These tents, however, were frequently taken by arbitrary authority for other purposes, such as store tents, guard tents, and the like. Whenever an abuse of this sort was brought to my notice I took every means in my power to correct it, and I believe, from the best information I could get, that when the army moved to Fairfax Court-House every regiment in it had its full supply of hospital tents. When the medical officers reported to me I required them to submit to me an inventory of the supplies of all sorts they had on hand. These were carefully revised, and whenever they were defective, requisitions were immediately called to meet the deficiencies. Great difficulty was experienced in enforcing obedience to this simple requirement. By firmness and patience I believe it was overcome, so that I had every assurance short of personal inspection, which was impossible, that nearly every regiment in the army was fully supplied for three months at the time we moved. A few had succeeded in neglecting this duty and escaping the vigilance of the inspectors and brigade surgeons. These applied for issues during the few days we remained at Alexandria after our return from Fairfax. My purveyor was then engaged in packing and shipping his stores for Fort Monroe. Of course I could not arrest this work to remedy the faults of half a dozen idlers.

My next step was an attempt to improve the condition of the camps, so as to promote the health of the army, by correcting hygienic errors and by removing as far as practicable the causes of disease. On the 19th of August I directed all the prisoners at the Capitol Prison to be vaccinated, a bath to be fitted up for their use, and such outdoor exercise {p.81} to be allowed them as was consistent with their safe-keeping. On the 22d of August I sent a surgeon to remedy the defects in the police of the camp of the Pennsylvania cavalry, on Seventh street. This camp at the time was a nuisance. On the same day I recommended the removal of the troops encamped upon the flats near Arlington to the higher grounds, if practicable. Thirty-three per cent. of some of the regiments there were reported sick with diarrhea, intermittent, and typhoid fevers. The chief surgeon of McDowell’s division, who had been some weeks at Arlington, expressed his doubts to me, in a report on the subject, whether the flats were more insalubrious than the high woodlands of that district. I represented to the Adjutant-General that I acknowledged these doubts to be well founded within certain limits-that malarial fevers do prevail on the slope towards the river-but I thought it practicable to remove the camps beyond the first crest, so as to afford the protection of the hills against infected currents of air. Ascertaining by personal inquiry and inspection that the men were turned out long before sunrise and were hours waiting for their breakfasts, and feeling persuaded that this had much to do with the prevalence of malarial fevers, I asked for and obtained an order that reveille should not be beat till after sunrise, and that hot coffee should be issued to the men immediately after roll-call. Soon after this you directed me to provide a reasonable allowance of cots for the sick in the regimental hospitals. I ordered them to be purchased immediately, and as soon as they were procured I directed the regimental surgeons to send to the purveyor for their quota. Strange to say, I experienced a good deal of difficulty in making these officers send in. As late as December 27 I was obliged to compel some of the surgeons to supply themselves.

The want of military experience of the medical officers and their consequent helplessness made it extremely difficult to discover the real causes of disease, sometimes the nature of the diseases themselves, and to enforce the means of preventing these when discovered. A week after the hot coffee was ordered a regimental surgeon complained to me that green coffee was issued to his men, without the means of properly roasting it, and that they could not get the “extra” rations ordered. Colonel Clarke, to whom I referred the complaint, promptly replied that green coffee was always issued; that it should be roasted in a mess-pan, or a Dutch-oven, or other vessel, purchased with the company fund; that the quantity issued was fixed by law, and was deemed ample; and so it was, but it required the exercise of a little judgment to discover it. I made constant and diligent inquiries of the surgeons as to their opinion of the causes of disease in their regiments, and whenever an undue proportion of sick was reported in any regiment a special report was invariably called for. If I had had competent inspectors at that time the health of the army might have been more rapidly improved and myself saved much labor and anxiety.

First among the causes assigned for the numbers on the sick report, and the one as to which there was a general concurrence of opinion, was the recklessness with which the men had been enlisted. General Orders, No. 51, War Department, August 3, 1861, commanded that when volunteers were mustered in they should be minutely examined by the surgeon and assistant surgeon of the regiment as to their physical qualifications. I doubt whether this most important order has ever received the slightest attention from the persons whose duty it was to execute it. So notorious was the neglect of its behests, or {p.82} the incompetency of those who pretended to obey it, that another general order from the same authority was demanded and issued December 3 of the same year, which declares that the evidence was abundant that this duty was neglected, and threatens to make the derelict officers pecuniarily responsible for it if not amended. The effect of this neglect, incompetency, or dishonesty has been always to swell essentially the ratio of the sick to the whole force. The surgeon of the Sixty-first New York reported to me as a reason for his large sick report that he had a large number of broken-down men-many 60 to 70 years old, many affected with hernia, old ulcers, epilepsy, and the like. Another brigade surgeon reports that there had been no medical examination of many of the regiments before they were enrolled. Another that there were eighty men with hernia and epilepsy in the Fifth New York Cavalry.

During the months of October, November, and December 3, 939 men were discharged from the Army of the Potomac upon certificates of disability. Of these 2,881 were for disabilities that existed at the time the men were enlisted. These men cost the Government not less than $200 each, making nearly $200,000 a month out of which the people had been defrauded in a single army through the faithlessness of those to whom the duty of bringing none but able-bodied men into the field had been confided. It seemed as if the army called out to defend the life of the nation had been made use of as a grand eleemosynary institution for the reception of the aged and infirm, the blind, the lame, and the deaf, where they might be housed, fed, paid, clothed, and pensioned, and their townships relieved of the burden of their support.

The general prevalence of the measles was another accident increasing the ratio of the sick. I know of no means of preventing the occurrence of this disease. In more than thirty years’ experience and observation I can only say that I have rarely seen a regiment of irregular troops in which it did not appear sooner or later after they had been assembled in camp. In many of our regiments it broke out before they left their homes. Some were more severely scourged than others, but nearly all suffered to some extent. Among regular soldiers it is rarely seen. I do not doubt that it is due to the difficulty of securing the same attention to police, to cooking, to clothing, to ventilation of tents, &c., among volunteers that is habitual with regular soldiers.

Complaints were made to me in several instances of the inferior quality of the blankets issued to the men. This was perhaps to some degree a cause of disease, but I knew it to be irremediable. It was impossible for the clothing department to furnish the heavy army blankets instantaneously to 600,000 men. The same remarks apply to a considerable proportion of the tents in use. Some regiments suffered for want of good and sufficient clothing. A singular circumstance presents itself in this connection. On the 8th of November, 1861, the surgeon of the Eighth Illinois Cavalry reported to me that 200 of the men had received no overalls from the United States. Many of them were reduced to their drawers. He had three hospital tents floored and furnished with stoves. His regiment was unusually healthy; no death had occurred in it for three months. The location of the regiment was afterwards changed. It was encamped in low grounds, that became intolerably muddy in the course of the winter. The part occupied by the horses was a perfect quagmire, never policed at all. The men became discouraged and careless, and in January, 1862, there were 207 cases of typhoid fever among them. These were removed to the general hospital in Alexandria, but the sick list remained large, and in {p.83} March, when preparing to take the field 139 men of that regiment were reported unfit for duty.

Another cause of disease was the heavy details for labor in the field works and the severe nature of the labor; another, the exposure incident to picket duty. Regular officers and soldiers know how to make themselves comfortable on picket duty; volunteers do not. The frequent alarms in some portions of our lines were considered by some of the medical officers as a cause of disease. This was particularly the case in front of some of the Vermont troops in Brooks’ brigade. It is possible this may have had an unfavorable effect upon men predisposed to disease from other causes.

The principal causes of disease, however, in our camps were the same that we have always to deplore and find it so difficult to remedy, simply because citizens suddenly called to the field cannot comprehend that men in masses require the attention of their officers to enforce certain hygienic conditions without which health cannot be preserved. The individual man at home finds his meals well cooked and punctually served, his bed made, his quarters policed and ventilated, his clothing washed and kept in order without any agency of his own, and without his ever having bestowed a thought upon the matter. The officer in ninety-nine cases in a hundred has given no more reflection than the private to these important subjects. When the necessity for looking after these things is forced upon his attention, he is at a loss how to proceed. Too frequently he lacks the moral courage and the energy to make his men do what neither he nor they stipulated for or understood when they entered the service. To bad cooking, bad police, bad ventilation of tents, inattention to personal cleanliness, and unnecessarily irregular habits we are to attribute the greater proportion of the diseases that actually occurred in the army.

My attention was given to these evils from the beginning. By precept and by orders the necessity and the methods of correcting them were urged upon the commanders and the medical officers of the several regiments. When the brigade surgeons were assigned, the first paragraph of the order defining their duties impressed the paramount importance of hygienic morality upon their consciences, and no occasion was let slip by me of urging upon both commanders and surgeons their obligations in this respect. Some of the regimental surgeons I know faithfully performed this duty. Copies of reports made to their commanding officers, creditable alike to their intelligence and their zeal, were sent to me. The attention of commanding officers is earnestly called in these reports to the drainage of their camps, the clothing and cleanliness of their men, to the situation of their sinks, and the like. One surgeon reports that he cannot strike the tents as I had enjoined, because they were too old, and urges his colonel to get new ones, if possible.

The prophylactic use of quinine and whisky having been suggested as a means of preventing malarial disease, I determined to try its efficacy. There being no warrant for such an issue in the Regulations of the Army, I procured a small quantity from the Sanitary Commission, and received favorable reports of its effects. Upon representing this to the Surgeon-General, I was authorized to issue it in reasonable quantities to regiments whose condition seemed most to demand it. I required reports as to the effect. These reports were generally favorable; so much so, that I was induced to keep it constantly on hand afterwards in the purveyor’s store. The surgeon of the Cameron Dragoons reported that by its use he had reduced his sick report from 126 {p.84} to 74 in two weeks. The surgeon of the Sixty-second Pennsylvania reported equally favorably, and stated that two companies of the regiment-who had used it faithfully for two weeks presented a sick report of only four men. Much prejudice and aversion, however, had to be overcome in inducing the men to take it, and I scarcely think it would have been practicable to have forced it upon the whole army. Fortunately there was no necessity for this.

In order to secure some comforts for the sick in the regimental hospitals I attempted to show the surgeons how to create and to use a hospital fund. The regimental commissaries strenuously opposed this, on account of the inconvenience to themselves. The first paragraph of General Orders, No. 9, Army of the Potomac, September 9, 1861, however, enjoined this upon them as a duty, and in the course of some four or five months we succeeded in getting the system pretty generally established.

As cold weather came on I judged it necessary to make some provision for warming the tents. A very ingenious plan having been proposed by Brigade Surgeon McRuer, which had received the approval of General Heintzelman and other officers of experience, I directed Dr. McRuer to visit every division of the army, and to construct one of his furnaces for a model. This duty he performed. Some of course were found to object to it, but it was generally well received and found to contribute much to the comfort of the men. Some, however, still used the Crimean pit, and others succeeded in getting stoves. A cheap and convenient stove, and one readily transported, the make of Mr. Hainsworth, of Newport, Ky., was introduced into the army and found to answer well. It was the general understanding that the army was not to go into winter quarters, and therefore I did not recommend the housing of the men until the middle of January, 1862; but in December, 1861, learning that some of the regiments were excavating pits in the ground and covering them with their tents, I hastened to object strenuously to this plan. I suggested inclosures of rails or palisades some three feet high, to be roofed over with the tents. The excavations could not be kept dry or well ventilated, and certainly would not be kept in good police; all of which objections would be obviated by the above-ground inclosure. This plan was adopted in a number of camps I visited, and they presented an air of comfort that was very gratifying. Later in the season I recommended the Chester hut, with roof ventilation, as used so successfully at Balaklava.

Protection of the men against the contagion of small-pox of course received constant attention. While the Army of the Potomac was in process of organization small-pox was prevailing rather extensively in several of the districts from which the troops were being drawn. It was unsafe to travel without protection over any railway in the country. The city of Washington was infected, as I knew from the number of applications made to me by the authorities for the use of our small-pox ambulances to convey city patients to the pest-house. An eruptive-fever hospital had been established before I took charge of the army. Under the excellent arrangements made in that establishment by Dr. Thomas, the surgeon in charge, but little risk was incurred of the propagation of the disease to the camps. Orders were issued and reiterated for the vaccination of all volunteers unprotected. I also recommended that an order should be published requiring that all recruits for the Army of the Potomac should be vaccinated before they were put en route from their rendezvous, and that they should be carefully inspected as to this immediately upon their arrival. Not satisfied with what had been done, I {p.85} asked for and obtained another order, in December, 1861, requiring the division and brigade commanders to cause the brigade surgeons to reinspect all the men, vaccinating such as were still unprotected, and to report the results to me. At this late period most of the brigades were found to have some men unprotected; in a few the number was serious. In Slocum’s brigade there were 1,500, in Blenker’s 1,250, and in Sickles’ 750. Crusts were furnished and the vaccination completed. As the result, small-pox, though rife in the community, never gained any foothold in the army. A sporadic case would occasionally occur, sometimes in the most unaccountable way. There are individuals so susceptible, that neither vaccination nor a former attack of small-pox secures them against the disease. An alarming report of the dangers to which the army was exposed from the system adopted at the hospital, having been made by the Sanitary Commission, with suggestions of some few modifications to suit their views, I inquired into the statistics of the disease in our army up to that time, and found that in seven months we had had but 168 cases, the majority of whom were ill with the disease when they reached Washington. I adopted such of the suggestions of the Commission as were not already in use, but with no perceptible effect. In fact, the precautions always adopted had made the cases, considered in reference to the size of the army, too insignificant to give the least uneasiness to any one at all informed on the subject.

I had always been solicitous to get possession of a few experienced regular medical officers, to be employed as inspectors of the field hospitals, through whom I might be assured that the measures devised for the preservation of the health of the men were faithfully and intelligently carried out. This was accomplished at last. In the middle of November, 1861, two officers were assigned to me for that purpose and some weeks afterwards a third. I prepared instructions for them and set them at work at once. (See Appendix C.) These inspections extended from Budd’s Ferry to Cumberland. They included Lander’s division at Cumberland and Burnside’s expedition fitting out at Annapolis. From the reports made by these officers I was enabled to correct many errors in hygiene, as well as to improve the discipline of my department and to keep it always in readiness for an advance. All faults in police, cooking, clothing, location of camps, &c., were promptly reported by me to the Adjutant-General, and by him as promptly ordered to be corrected.

I come now to speak of the regimental and brigade hospitals. The Regulations of the Army recognized only regimental and general hospitals. The regimental hospitals in the field were established in tents or in such buildings as might chance to be within the limits or in the immediate vicinity of each camp. The general hospitals available for the Army of the Potomac were the few old hotels or other similar buildings occupied as hospitals in the cities of Alexandria, Washington, Georgetown, and a small portion of the Naval Academy building at Annapolis. There was no authority for any hospital establishments in the vicinity of the divisions or brigades that might relieve the hospital tents if crowded or that might keep the men near their camps, so that they could be readily returned to duty when sufficiently recovered. It is true I might have authorized such establishments, but I was dependent upon the provisions of the regulations for the necessary stewards, cooks, and nurses for the service. Several intelligent and zealous brigade surgeons pressed these hospitals upon my attention. Their advantages were obvious, and I determined, when I could get the buildings, to put them in operation. I required, however, that the necessary personnel {p.86} should be furnished from the regimental details authorized by the regulations, and that the brigade hospitals should be considered and conducted as aggregations of the regimental hospitals; that their stewards, &c., should be mustered on the regimental rolls. In this way a number of them were organized and served. Brigade Surgeon Suckley organized one for Kearny’s brigade near Alexandria, another was fitted up for Blenker’s brigade at Hunter’s Chapel, another in Hooker’s division at Budd’s Ferry, afterwards others in Fitz-John Porter’s division, and several more. A very nice building was put up at Poolesville for Stone’s command, upon plans furnished by Brigade Surgeon Crosby and approved by yourself.

About the 1st of February, 1862, my attention was called by General Williams to the condition of Lander’s division at Cumberland. This was the first intimation I had had that there were any troops there. I sent one of my inspectors immediately to examine into the facts, with authority to provide at once for their necessities, to hire buildings, or to put up hospital huts if required.

On the 5th of February Brigade Surgeon Suckley was assigned to Lander’s division, and instructed to use every exertion to put things in order. He was informed that the condition of the sick in that division was represented as scandalous, and that no effort must be spared to reform it. On the 8th I received the report of the inspector. It confirmed all that had been reported as to the shocking state of affairs. The regiments composing the command were scattered in all directions for some 40 miles over the hills. The sick, numbering 1,200, were abandoned in the city of Cumberland, and were in a wretched condition. They were “quartered in close, compact, ill-ventilated rooms, where the police is bad, food badly cooked and improperly served out; men of different regiments reeling and staggering through the streets with fevers, seeking shelter and medical attendance.” The inspector had succeeded in getting comfortable and roomy quarters for 500 of the sick at the time of his report, had employed a number of women in making bed-sacks, and had contracted for some hundred bunks.

Dr. Suckley was in position on the 7th. On the 9th he had collected 1,079 of the sick; on the 11th he had 1,400. He found things in the town in a wretched condition; no discipline, no system. The commissary had no funds. There were nineteen regiments of infantry, besides cavalry and artillery, in the division. On the 18th he asked authority to build two shanties, to contain 50 patients each. This was immediately granted. On the 20th he had succeeded in making things more comfortable, had procured eight Sisters of Charity for nurses, had classified his patients, and had provided proper medical attendance. He reported also that the mortality and the gravity of disease were diminishing. He had received authority to build as many shanties as were necessary.

Measures were taken by me upon receipt of these reports to provide instantly for all the necessities of the case. I applied to the Commissary-General to place funds in the hand of the commissary. On the 19th Colonel Taylor informed me he had sent $5,000. I ordered a supply of ambulances to be forwarded, loaded with bedding, from Baltimore. Medical and hospital stores were also forwarded by myself as well as the Surgeon-General. March 3 I received a telegram from the railroad agent at Wheeling, informing me that 149 boxes of hospital stores would be at Cumberland the next day. There was no mole trouble with that establishment. The brigade and field hospitals of the Army of the Potomac were at last organized and in working order.


The next subject I shall glance at is that of ambulance transportation. Previously to this war the Army of the United States had never been supplied with carriages expressly designed for the transportation of the sick and wounded. A board assembled by the Secretary of War some two years before the rebellion had adopted a four-wheeled carriage and two models of two-wheeled carriages for experiment. The four-wheeled carriage had been tested upon the plains in an expedition to New Mexico, and had been favorably reported upon by the medical officer in charge of it. The two-wheeled carriages, though a few had been built, had never been tried. Some doubts were entertained as to their suitableness for their purposes, but they were adopted and recommended as the-best for “badly-wounded men.” Experience, however, has shown that they are utterly unfit for any such purpose. When the present exigencies came upon us, the Quartermaster’s Department lost no time in having the carriages built as rapidly as possible. They were of course ordered in the proportions recommended by the board-i.e., 5 two-wheeled to 1 four-wheeled. The two-wheeled were the basis of the system-a most unfortunate decision. It was my duty, however, to supply the Army of the Potomac with as many of these carriages as would suffice for probable necessities if they could be had. A considerable number of the two-wheeled had already been accumulated in Washington before my arrival and had been distributed to the several camps. I found them in general use as pleasure carriages for idlers and accommodation cabs for conveying officers and men from their camps to the city of Washington. A large number of them had already been broken down in this service. This was immediately stopped. An order was promulgated directing all ambulances, with the exception of 1 two-wheeled to each regiment, to be turned in to the Quartermaster’s Department in Washington, and the use of that one was strictly limited to the service for which it was intended. We were enabled by this means to find out what we had and to keep most of them in order.

October 5, 1861, the depot quartermaster reported 109 two-wheeled and 12 four-wheeled ambulances in use, and 224 two-wheeled and 38 four-wheeled not in use. The unphilosophical idea of a two-wheeled being an easier carriage than a four-wheeled had been exaggerated in providing the vehicles. The quartermaster had issued 228 two-wheeled since July 1; 119 of these carriages had disappeared in a little more than three months, showing both how recklessly they had been used and how incapable they were of standing the hard work of our campaigns. December 31, 1861, there were in Washington 314 two-wheeled and 71 four-wheeled ambulances. Each regiment had its own two-wheeled in addition to these.

The two-wheeled carriages being so generally condemned, I endeavored to have a number of cacolets collected to replace them in the Army of the Potomac. The Quartermaster-General had already procured some of them, made after the French model. They weigh 140 pounds. I thought this too heavy, and that their weight might be materially reduced without compromising their strength or durability. This I recommended to be done. Several other models were presented to me afterwards that were much lighter, and I requested the Quartermaster’s Department to procure a limited number of 2 of them. I thought I had secured 200 altogether for our army, but I received but 40, and most of these not until we had reached the Chickahominy. As early as August 21, 1861, I requested the Quartermaster-General to introduce these litters in the proportion of 1 to a regiment. On the 8th of {p.88} October I asked for 50 of Davies’ plan, and on the 19th of November I recommended Kohlen’s to the attention of General Van Vliet. I instituted some experiments with these, from which I was led to doubt whether they could entirely replace the two-wheeled ambulances. There was more motion than I expected when the litters were placed horizontally; in a sitting posture the wounded man could ride very comfortably. They have the advantage of being readily carried wherever a horse or mule can be led, and the disadvantage of affording no protection against the weather.

In a report upon the distribution of ambulances, dated January 7, 1862, I recommended that a suitable number of horses should be trained to carry these litters, and February 13 I repeated this suggestion. This was approved and ordered to be carried into effect, but for some reason it was not done.

I append my report of January 7 to show the policy pursued in relation to ambulances while we were in Washington and the reasons for it. This report was approved by yourself, and its suggestions directed to be observed. (See Appendix D.)

In estimating the number of ambulances required for the Army of the Potomac it was at once apparent that the army allowance was altogether in excess of what could be obtained or what could be managed, even if it were to be had. This allowance would have made a train of four-wheeled ambulances 5 miles in length, and of two-wheeled ambulances about 20, making a total train of 25 miles. To mention this shows how preposterous the thing would be. The schedule was never intended for an army of 100,000 men, but for a regiment or detachment, making a long march over the plains or in an Indian country. Still, great discontent was manifested by a number of officers, whose responsibilities were limited to a single regiment or brigade, that the whole number was not furnished. After a careful consideration of the matter I made a report on the subject which will be found in the appendix marked E. Here I estimated for 250 four-wheeled. I hoped this number might be obtained. It was, however, never reached; and I was obliged afterwards to contrive the best I could to make the number actually furnished go as far as possible. The events on the Peninsula convinced me that my original estimate was the minimum that would have enabled us to get along without serious discomfort. The atrocious roads in that region destroyed a considerable portion of those we had, embarrassing the operations of my department very materially.

General Van Vliet having reported the number of ambulances of both sorts he had in depot and in the possession of the troops, after comparing the latter with the reports of my inspectors I found he could furnish only 12 of the four-wheeled and 22 of the two-wheeled to each division of the army, with a proportionate number to commands of less size. I accordingly submitted that plan of distribution to General Williams on the 5th of March, and in the same letter I repeated an estimate I had made on the 27th of February for 1 ordinary transportation wagon to each regiment, for the conveyance of medicines, stores, mess-chests, and hospital tents. The latter was ordered and very generally furnished. On the 10th of March, 1862, having received orders to move the ambulances to Fairfax Court-House, I called upon General Van Vliet to make the distribution according to my plan, and inclosed him a copy of my letter to General Williams as his guide. I moved with the headquarters to Fairfax Court-House the next day. When the army was assembled there the ambulances were not in position.

The army being ordered to fall back upon Alexandria, I hastened to {p.89} Washington, and had an interview with General Van Vliet on this subject. He informed me he had ordered 36 four-wheeled ambulances from Perryville to Fort Monroe, and that he would send on 86 more from Washington. That would have given us 177 for the whole army, including McDowell’s corps and Blenker’s division. This was too few, but it was the best that could be done with the number reported on hand. Colonel Ingalls being under the impression that there was still a large number at Perryville, I telegraphed to Washington to have 50 more added to our allotment, but I did not get them. In fact, the last of the original 86 did not reach us till the 1st of May; 12 were received April 9, 16 April 15, and 58 May 1.

In the mean time the divisions of Stone at Poolesville, Banks at Sandy Hook, Lockwood on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and Lander at Cumberland, had been furnished with as many carriages of each sort as we could spare and they were likely to need. Stone had 59 two-wheeled, 7 four-wheeled, and 67 transport carts. They proved amply sufficient to remove his wounded after the action at Ball’s Bluff with the greatest speed and safety to his hospitals. This affair was misrepresented by some volunteer philanthropist to the Sanitary Commission. My report from Brigade Surgeon Crosby, who conducted the hospital administration on that occasion-an officer who has no superiors in the corps to which he belongs-shows that his carriages were promptly as near the field as they could be brought. He could not very well cross either the canal or the Potomac River with his train.

The most feasible plan for organizing a force to act as an ambulance corps engaged my attention at an early period. Several propositions were made by foreigners to raise and command such a corps. They were mere repetitions of the Continental systems, and however serviceable they might have promised to be, they could not under the then existing laws have been raised for our army. The only plan that appeared to be within my reach was that adopted and established by the sixth paragraph of Orders No. 20. The regulations of the army authorized a detail of 10 men from each regiment for hospital attendants. The bands of regiments had long been used for the purpose I wanted them for in time of action in our service, and I could by the plans indicated expect to command about 25 men to a regiment to serve as ambulance attendants when wanted. They required, however, to be instructed in that duty, and with that view they were ordered to be drilled regularly every day by the medical officers under the superintendence of the brigade surgeons. Whenever this order was obeyed, the progress of the men in the drill was quite satisfactory. It was at least a beginning of an ambulance corps. Perhaps a distinct ambulance corps may yet be made a part of our military establishment. I am satisfied it would contribute essentially to the efficiency of the hospital department. The surgeon-general of Pennsylvania, under date of September 19, 1861, requested authority to organize such a corps at Camp Curtin for the troops of his State. I indorsed his proposal favorably and referred it to the Secretary of War, but no action was taken upon it. An elaborate project for an ambulance corps was submitted to the Surgeon-General by a Mr. Pfersching, and by him referred to me for examination in March, 1862. Upon this plan I made the report marked F in the appendix.


When I took charge of the Army of the Potomac I supposed that the general hospitals within the limits of that army were under my control, {p.90} and that it devolved-upon me so to extend their capacity as to provide accommodation for the number of sick and wounded that we should be likely to have. The buildings already provided and occupied were seen at once to be totally inadequate. The entire hospital establishment in Washington, Georgetown, Alexandria Baltimore, and Annapolis contained but 2,700 beds. The Sanitary Commission being in session in Washington about the 1st of September, an invitation was extended to me to assist, which I accepted. They were then discussing the subject of general hospitals. They seemed to be of the opinion that there should be as many as 5,000 beds in Washington. I explained to the gentlemen at some length my views on the subject, and endeavored to show them that 20,000 beds at least would be required. After several days’ consideration the Commission appointed a committee to wait upon the Secretary of War, to request him to have frame buildings erected sufficient to accommodate 15,000 men, and to request your approval of the same. The subject was brought to your notice in a letter from Mr. Gibbs, one of the Commission, which letter was referred to me, and was the occasion of my first report to you in reference to general hospitals. This report, dated September 9, 1861, will be found in the appendix, marked G.

I had at that time taken some steps to increase the existing establishment to meet immediate wants, when I was informed by the Surgeon-General that the Secretary of War had charged him with the superintendence and control of this matter, and that he should have all that was necessary provided in due season. My report, however, with a letter from the Sanitary Commission, was submitted by you to the Secretary of War, accompanied by a letter from yourself. In the course of the month it was returned to you, with authority to make your own arrangement for providing hospitals. I was then directed by you to go on with this work, but first to submit my plans to you. I was, as I stated in my first report, decidedly in favor of putting up cheap frame buildings, expressly designed for hospitals, in preference to relying upon hotels, schoolhouses, and the like, as seemed to be the existing plan. I fully believed suitable buildings could be erected at a cost not exceeding $25 per bed. I had seen such a plan in the possession of Dr. Harris, of the Commission, and had been promised a copy of it. The Commission, however, objected to his furnishing it, agreeing to send me a much better plan, and one sufficiently economical to suit my views. After tedious delays their drawings were at last sent to Washington. They were the design of an architect in New York, taken from the general plan of the Lariboisiere in Paris, excellent in itself but too costly I feared for our purposes. The expense, as estimated by the architect, was $75 per bed. Time pressing, and it being too late to wait for other plans, I reluctantly determined to adopt it, after having made certain modifications that would not impair its advantages, but would reduce the cost to about $60 per bed-i.e., if the architect’s estimate could be relied on. I submitted the plan to you, accompanied with a report. (See Appendix H.) I adhered in this report to my original estimate for 20,000 men as a minimum. To the plan proposed you objected on account of the expense in the then condition of the Treasury, but you thought that one-fourth of the buildings I had recommended might be put up. I then proposed to go to Annapolis, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, to see what could be done there to increase our accommodations, hoping that by evacuating all our hospitals in the vicinity of Washington, with the addition of the 5,000 beds to be provided in the new buildings, we might be able to get along with tolerable comfort in the event of a battle. Upon my return I submitted the report in Appendix I.


When the Quartermaster-General advertised for proposals to put up the new buildings, instead of $15,000 for each 200 beds, as estimated by the architect, the bids ranged from about $30,000 to $80,000. This expense could not be incurred, and two only of the buildings, sufficient for 400 men, were attempted, and it was many months before they were completed. In the mean time some of the Philadelphia hospitals were put in order. In February, 1862, 900 beds were ready in that city. In November, 1861, a new hospital in Alexandria was prepared, capable of receiving 900 patients. In the same month Minnesota Row was taken and ordered to be fitted up, and I succeeded in securing 200 beds in the Saint Elizabeth Asylum. These hospitals were fitted up with great care, and made as comfortable as such buildings could be made. They were well organized, and provided with competent medical staffs and good nurses. They gave us a total accommodation of about 6,000 beds, and were sufficient to receive the sick of the Army of the Potomac when it was put en route for the Peninsula. It was a source of deep regret to me that I was unable to accomplish at least so much of my original plan as had received your approval, but at that time such a thing was impossible in Washington. Anywhere else it could and would have been done. Subsequent events have shown that if it had been done, much inconvenience and suffering might have been spared.

The sanitary condition of the army during this period was very satisfactory. My records show a constantly-increasing immunity from disease. I regret that I am not in possession of the retained copies of my monthly reports of sick and wounded made to the Surgeon-General. I left a locked chest, containing my official documents and correspondence, in one of the military stores in Washington when we took the field. Through the kindness of General Meigs what remains of those records has been transmitted to me. The assistant quartermaster in whose care the chest was left informs me it was ordered to the Surgeon-General’s Office, opened, and some of the papers removed. I miss from it the reports of my inspectors, the duplicates of my sick reports, my records of killed and wounded in the skirmishes in front of Washington, and various other papers. Fortunately what has been permitted to remain will suffice to give a very good idea of the sanitary history of your army up to March 1, 1862.

The Army of the Potomac during this period included the divisions of Stone at Poolesville, Banks at Harper’s Ferry and Frederick, Dix at Baltimore, and the forces in the vicinity of Washington. August 22, 1861, 33 per cent. of the troops encamped on the flats near Arlington were reported sick with diarrhea and malarial fever. I have already alluded to the action taken in reference to these men; they belonged to McDowell’s division. On the 13th February, 1862, this same division had but 9 serious cases in a force of 10,000 men; there were, in addition, some 200 cases of catarrh and a few of measles. There had been in the mean time, as in other portions of the army, some typhoid fever, but at the last date it had almost entirely disappeared.

I have already remarked upon the constantly-recurring outbreaks of measles among the volunteers. We had more or less of it among different commands during this whole period. In February, 1862, it was Prevailing in the Railroad Brigade. In January it was rife in Dix’s division, in Baltimore. September 14, 1861, Stone had 6,000 men at Poolesville, with but 54 sick in hospital, one-fifth of whom had measles, the remainder typhoid and intermittent fever. September 21, 9,000 men are reported at Poolesville, with 91 in hospital and 254 in quarters. February 3, 1862, measles alone kept up the number of men in hospitals {p.92} in Fitz-John Porter’s division. On the 8th of the same month measles are reported as having disappeared, while the number of sick in quarters is reported as materially reduced, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather. Typhoid fever appeared in some of the camps during the autumn, but gradually disappeared as winter advanced. This disease is now and has been for years endemic in the United States. We could not hope to escape it altogether. In some few regiments, under peculiar circumstances, there were a good many cases, but taken as a whole, and considering the number of men in the camps, the cases were so few, we might almost ignore it altogether. In Hunt’s artillery reserve during the last quarter of 1861 it prevailed to some extent, but in January it had entirely disappeared. This command had during this time one of the largest sick reports in the army. On the 31st January, 1862, the prevalent diseases in it were reported to be catarrh and bronchitis, attributed to the effects of the rains and thaws.

In October and November, 1861, with an army averaging 130,000 men, we had 7,932 cases of fevers of all sorts. Of these about 1,000 were reported as cases of typhoid fever. I know that errors of diagnosis were frequently committed, and therefore this must be considered as the limit of typhoid cases. If any army in the world can show such a record as this, I do not know when and where it was assembled.

The most striking contrasts were exhibited in the relative health of the troops from different States and sometimes among regiments from the same State. Thus, in November, 1861, with a mean ratio of 6.5 per cent, sick in the whole army, twelve Massachusetts regiments gave an average of 50 sick each; five Vermont, an average of 144 each, and thirty-five Pennsylvania, an average of 61 each. In January, 1862, the Twelfth Massachusetts, 1,005 strong, had but 4 sick; the Thirteenth, 1,008 strong, but 11; while the Fifteenth, 809 strong, had 68. In the same month the Fifth Vermont, 1,000 strong, had 271 sick; the Fourth, 1,047 strong, had 244 sick; while the Second, 1,021 strong, had but 87, and the Third, 900 strong, had but 84. All these regiments were in the same brigade and encamped side by side. The Tenth Pennsylvania Reserves, 965 strong, had 7 sick; the First Pennsylvania Rifles, 889 strong, had 67 sick; and the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, 890 strong, had 96 sick.

The health of some of the regiments, under adverse hygienic circumstances, seemed to set all reasoning at defiance. Thus, in February, 1862 Colonel Geary’s Pennsylvania regiment, of Banks’ division, that had been serving all summer upon the banks of the Potomac and the canal, had but 2.5 per cent. sick. There was a constant improvement in the health of the whole army as the season progressed, and at the time the march to Fairfax Court-House was ordered, with a very few exceptions, every regiment in it was in the most satisfactory condition. Some of them showed a most extraordinary improvement. Thus, in four regiments of Pennsylvania troops in McCall’s division, there were but 68 men on the sick report on the 1st of March, 1862.

The records in my possession show that in-

September, 1861, among 84,788 men, we had 6,007 sick=7 per cent.

October, 1861, among 116,763 men, we had 7,443 sick=6.07 per cent.

November, 1861, among 142,577 men, we had 9,281 sick=6.50 per cent.

January, 1862, among 181,082 men, we had 11,225 sick= 6.18 per cent.

Of these the men sick in the regimental and general hospitals were less than one-half-the remainder were slight cases, under treatment in quarters. The health of particular regiments was at this time very remarkable. {p.93} Thus, the Second Rhode Island had but .45 per cent. sick, the Seventh Massachusetts 1.99, the Ninety-eighth Pennsylvania 1.21, the First Long Island 1.46, and the mean of Keyes’ division was but 3.29. During this time, so far as rumor was concerned, the Army of the Potomac was being decimated by disease every month. The reports from the regimental headquarters were only less erroneous than rumor. The statistics I have given are from the weekly and monthly reports of medical officers. It was ascertained to be the general habit of the captains to report every man sick who found it convenient to report himself so. The difference between these reports and the facts is illustrated in my letter to General Williams of January 28, 1862, a copy of which is appended, marked K. I append also a report in relation to that subject made to the Surgeon-General of the Army January 4, 1862 (L).

During this period there were frequent skirmishes, giving a number of wounded men. Two affairs of importance took place: On the 21st of October, 1861, the battle of Ball’s Bluff; and on the 20th of December, General Ord’s affair at Dranesville. In the former, 280 men were reported wounded; in the latter, 34. Of the wounds at Ball’s Bluff 93 were in the head and face-a very large proportion-showing the accuracy of fire of the enemy, as well as the skill with which they availed themselves of the advantage they possessed on that occasion.

This concludes the first period. I hope to resume the subject and to report upon the second period in a few days.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant.

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon, U. S. Army.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, U. S. Army.

[Appendix A.]


HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Washington, October 3, 1861.

The following regulations respecting the duties of brigade surgeons are published for the government of all concerned:

I. The brigade surgeons will frequently inspect the police, cooking, clothing, and cleanliness of the camps and men in their respective brigades; the position and condition of the sinks, the drainage of the camp grounds, the ventilation of the tents, &c.; making written reports to the brigade commanders whenever, in their opinion, any errors in these respects require correction, and sending duplicates of these reports to the medical director of the army.

II. They will see that the medicines, hospital stores, instruments, and dressings of the several regimental surgeons are kept constantly sufficient in quantity in good order, and always ready for active service.

III. They will collect from the several regimental surgeons and transmit every Saturday morning to the medical director a copy of their morning report made to the commanding officer of their regiment, and will accompany these with remarks showing the character of the principal diseases prevailing.

IV. They will promptly report to the medical director all changes in Station or location of themselves or of any of the medical officers in their brigades, with the number, date, and authority of the order by which such changes were made.

V. They will inspect carefully all men receiving certificates of disability for discharge, and if they approve, they will countersign such certificates.


VI. The hospital attendants, to the number of 10 men to a regiment, and the regimental bands, will be assembled under the supervision of the brigade surgeons, and will be drilled one hour each day, except Sunday, by the regimental medical officers, in setting up and dismantling the hand-stretchers, litters, and ambulances; in handling men carefully; placing them upon the litters and ambulance beds; putting them into the ambulances, taking them out, &c.; carrying men upon the hand-stretchers (observing that the leading hearer steps off with the left foot and the rear bearer with the right); in short, in everything that can render this service effective and the most comfortable for the wounded who are to be transported.

VII. Brigade surgeons will see that the orders of the commanding general in relation to the uses to which ambulances are to be applied are strictly obeyed, and they wilt report promptly to the brigade commanders all infractions of these orders.

VIII. Whenever a skirmish or affair of outposts occurs in which any portion of their brigades is engaged, they will see that the ambulances and stretchers, properly manned with the drilled men, are in immediate attendance to bring off the wounded, and that the regimental medical officers are at their posts, with their instruments, dressings, and hospital knapsacks in complete order and ready for immediate use, so that no delay may occur in rendering the necessary surgical aid to the wounded.

IX. They will report in writing to the medical director, within twenty-four hours after any affair with the enemy, the name, rank, and regiment of each of the wounded, the nature and situation of the wound, and the surgical means adopted in the case.

X. Brigade surgeons will be held responsible that the hospital service in their brigades is kept constantly effective and in readiness for any emergency. No remissness in this respect will be tolerated or overlooked.

By command of Major-General McClellan:

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

NOTE.-The medical director desires that exsection of the shoulder and elbow joint shall be resorted to in preference to amputation in all cases offering a reasonable hope of success, and that Pirigoff’s operation at the ankle should be preferred to Chopart’s or to amputation above the ankle, in cases that might admit of a choice.

[Appendix B.]



I. The attention of brigade and regimental commissaries of subsistence and of officers acting as such is directed to paragraphs 20, 21, and 22, Subsistence Regulations, or paragraphs 1073, 1074, and 1075, Army Regulations, 1857. Subsistence officers must make issues to the hospital, and keep the accounts of the hospital funds in strict conformity with the requirements of the regulations cited.

II. All changes of station of medical officers are to be promptly reported to the medical director at these headquarters, and the authority given by which the change was made.

III. Leaves of absence to medical officers are prohibited, unless granted at these headquarters.

IV. Patients will not be sent from the regimental to the general {p.95} hospitals without the authority of the medical director. Applications for this authority must be made in writing, specifying the names and diseases of the patients, and be handed in to the office of the medical director between the hours of 9 and 10 a.m.

V. When a soldier is sent to general hospital, his company commander shall certify and send with him his descriptive list and account of pay and clothing.

VI. Male nurses and cooks for general hospitals are to be detailed from the privates of the army, regular and volunteer. The allowance will be 1 nurse to 10 patients, and 1 cook to 30. Where women are employed, the number of men to be called for will not exceed the number sufficient to make up the whole force to the allowance above authorized. Hired nurses and cooks will be forthwith discharged.

VII. Men reported at the general hospitals for duty will be sent by the surgeons in charge to the office of the medical director at 10 a.m. for the passes necessary for them to rejoin their regiments.

VIII. Medical officers joining this army for duty, with or without troops, will report promptly to the medical director in person. If with troops, they will report the number of men, the state of their supplies, and ambulance transportation.

IX. Ambulances will not be used for any other than the specific purpose for which they are designed, viz, the transportation of the sick and wounded, except by the written authority of the brigade commander, the medical director of the army, and the quartermasters in charge of them in the city of Washington. The provost-marshal is directed to see that the provisions of this order are carried out, and will arrest every officer and confine every private and non-commissioned officer who is found violating it.

X. All Government ambulances now in possession of regiments or separate corps will be turned in to the chief quartermaster, with the exception of 1 two-wheeled ambulance to each regiment. One two-wheeled transport cart will be allowed to each general hospital for the conveyance of marketing and hospital stores.

XI. The reveille will not be beaten until after sunrise, and hot coffee will be issued to the troops immediately after reveille roll-call, as a preventive of the effects of malaria.

By command of Major-General McClellan:

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Appendix C.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, Washington, November 25, 1861.

The inspectors of hospitals assigned to duty with the Army of the Potomac will proceed to the camps of such divisions of the army as they may be directed to visit from time to time, and will institute careful and rigid inspections as to the following points:

I. Whether there is a brigade surgeon on duty with the brigade; what is his name and date of commission; whether he is active, competent, and attentive to his duties; whether the duties assigned to brigade surgeons in General Orders, No. 20, are fully comprehended and faithfully carried out.

II. Whether each regiment in any brigade is provided with a surgeon and assistant surgeon; what are their names, dates of commission, and dates of mustering in; whether they are present and for duty {p.96} with their regiments; if absent, by what authority, for what reasons, and how long.

III. The number of hospital tents; how many have been received, and from what source; whether they are used for the sick; if diverted to any other use, by what authority this was done; whether the hospital tents are properly located, sufficiently warmed and ventilated, furnished with bunks and bedding, and kept in good police.

IV. Whether there is a competent hospital steward and a sufficient number of hospital attendants; whether these men are well selected, and attentive to their duties.

V. How many men are sick in hospital; how many in quarters? What are the prevailing diseases in each?

VI. Whether there is a brigade hospital; if so, how is it situated; how served; stewards, attendants, &c. What kind of building is it? Is it comfortable, in good repair, and sufficiently provided with bunks and bedding Can it be advantageously dispensed with? Should any of the patients be sent to the general hospitals? How many patients does it contain, and what are the diseases? Is the building sufficiently ventilated and warmed?

VII. What is the condition of medicines, hospital stores, instruments, and dressings? Are they sufficient to enable the regiment to take the field? If deficient, in what respect? Has any record been kept of the supply received? Have they been judiciously and faithfully used?

VIII. Has the hospital fund been kept in accordance with paragraph 1, General Orders, No. 9; if not, who is responsible for the neglect?

IX. How many and what kind of ambulances are on hand; what is their condition; from what source were they received? Is their use strictly confined to the transportation of the sick and the ambulance drills; if not, who is to blame?

X. Are the records of the hospitals properly kept? Do the surgeons send in their weekly reports to the brigade surgeons for the medical director?

XI. What is the condition of the camp? Is it well located; if not, can its location be advantageously changed? Is it well drained and well policed? Are the tents in good order and well ventilated?

XII. Are the men well clothed? Are their persons kept clean?

XLII. How is the cooking done? Are the messes inspected, and by whom? Are the provisions good?

XIV. Are the men’s sinks properly located and attended to.

XV. What means are resorted to for warming the camps and are they effective?

XVI. What is the strength of the regiments?

XVII. What is the general sanitary condition of the regiment? How many would have to be sent to the general hospitals if the regiment were ordered to march?

Upon all these points a systematic report will be made to the medical director immediately after each inspection. Where the inspectors perceive hygienic errors to exist, they will call the attention of the proper authority to them at once, and state in the report of the inspection that they have done so. The inspectors will also examine the medical officers upon their duties, to ascertain whether they understand them, taking the regulations as their guide. They will instruct the medical officers in their duties, being careful to correct any errors they may have imbibed, and to point out to them the scope and correct manner of performing their duties.


The surgeon’s call should be beaten in the presence of the inspector, to enable him to judge whether the men understand it, whether the men attending it correspond with the official reports, and whether they are judiciously treated. The inspectors will also institute an inquiry into the cases of the men who are recommended for discharge. The number of certificates sent to headquarters indicates either great facility in granting these discharges or great carelessness in the inspection of the men at the time of their enlistment. It is the desire of the general that a thorough medical inspection of the army be made as speedily as possible, that no possible deficiency may exist in the medical department when it advances upon the enemy, and to this end he commands all officers, of whatever rank, to afford to the inspectors of hospitals every facility in conducting their inspections.

CHAS. S. TRIFLER, Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

[Appendix D.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office. January 7, 1862.

GENERAL: In reference to the letter of Brigade Surgeon Stocker, inclosing requisitions for ambulances and transport carts furnished by the State of Pennsylvania for McCall’s brigade, I have the honor to report that the quartermaster in charge of these carriages informs me he has receipted to Lieutenant-Colonel Crosman for all that have arrived here up to December 31, 1861. I am further informed upon inquiry that he has no transport carts on hand. Upon the inspection of General McCall’s division by Dr. Milhau, inspector of hospitals, on the 5th of December, they had 22 two-wheeled and 2 four-wheeled ambulances and 1 transport cart. Four of the two-wheeled are reported broken at this date, but as fifteen days elapsed before they were wanted, they must have been repaired if proper attention was given to their condition. There have been reported to me 34 men wounded in General Ord’s late action. I suppose this to be correct, as the brigade surgeons are required by General Orders, No. 20, of 1861, to report to me within twenty-four hours after an action the names, &c., of the wounded, and I have always found General McCall’s brigade surgeons very punctual in the performance of their duties. There was then in General McCall’s camp sufficient transportation for the wounded. Why it was not sent to the battle-field I don’t know.

We have at this point 48 four-wheeled ambulances in use and 23 in depot, and 84 two-wheeled in use and 230 in depot. Of the four-wheeled we want 20 here constantly. That will leave 28 for distribution, if it should be decided upon.

But it has been the policy to withdraw these carriages from distribution to the camps in this vicinity, because in case of an action in front they can be readily sent in a few hours to any point or points where they may be required and in suitable numbers to different points. If distributed, those on the extreme right might be wanted on the extreme left or the reverse, and thus delay would be incurred in commanding them; whereas if kept here a telegram or a mounted orderly would put them in their proper position in a few hours. Again, if distributed, for want of shelter and want of care they would inevitably get out of order in a short time. I am confirmed in this opinion by Dr. Stocker’s letter. With all his care he reports them as being uncomfortable for {p.98} the wounded, because they have been used to carry articles never intended to go in them. Because we have now for the first time ambulances in the army it does not follow that they are to be used, or rather abused, by employing them as baggage-wagons. For carrying tents, cooking utensils, and provisions ordinary wagons should be used. Transport carts are intended for the field supply of medicines and stores and stretchers on a march. If there are no transport carts, these articles must be transported in common wagons. Ambulances should never be used for this purpose. The sooner the volunteer medical officers learn this the better. I cannot advise any increased ambulance transportation to be issued to divisions within reach of me in a few hours until this lesson is learned. It must be observed that whatever indulgences are accorded to one division must be accorded to another, and however careful General McCall’s officers may be, it is possible even they may not be able to prevent the abuses I have adverted to above. I know that in one of the best divisions of the army an ambulance was loaded with ammunition by order of a colonel of a regiment of volunteers to go to a sham fight. We shall want all our ambulances, and want them in good order, at some not distant day, and if I can preserve them in such order I will endeavor to do it.

For troops at a greater distance from this center I think a greater issue of ambulance transportation is necessary; accordingly General Banks’ and General Stone’s divisions have been supplied. On the 11th of December, in a letter to you, I recommended an increased issue to Hooker’s division. I have not been informed if it was ordered. If not, I beg leave to repeat that recommendation. For the brigades in our front I should prefer the present arrangement, with orders that when an action occurs I should be called upon by telegraph or by a mounted orderly to send any additional supply of ambulances that may be needed; but if the general commanding should disagree with me in opinion, then I propose the issue of one four-wheeled ambulance to each brigade and one additional two-wheeled ambulance to each regiment.

In this connection I would mention that we now have a number of cacolets, or horse-litters, on hand. To render these serviceable, it is necessary that a suitable number of good horses should be trained to carry them. I would, therefore respectfully and earnestly recommend that this should be undertaken by careful and competent men without delay. After the horses are properly trained, one cacolet and horse should be sent to each brigade for the ambulance drill.

Very respectfully,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Medical Director.

General S. WILLIAMS.

[Appendix E.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, February 22, 1862.

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the statement of four-wheeled ambulances in the Army of the Potomac, referred by you to me for my opinion as to the sufficiency of the supply. The statement does not agree with the reports made to me by the inspectors of hospitals in several instances, but that may be accounted for by the wagons being in possession of the quartermaster and not brought to the notice of the inspectors, and, further, it is probable that many of these {p.99} ambulances are wagons furnished by the several States and claimed as regimental property. If, however, they are available as ambulances, this is of little consequence; but there are other inaccuracies, as, for instance, in General Banks’ division, where I know that 10 four-wheeled ambulances, new and of the army pattern, are or ought to be in possession of the quartermaster. In addition to this, I know that some of his regiments have four-wheeled ambulances furnished by their States. I regret that we have not received the returns of casualties at Fort Donelson, as they would assist me in estimating for the probable wants of this army. My estimate should be a minimum for several obvious reasons; still it would not be prudent to make it too small. The ambulance board estimated for 2 four-wheeled and 10 two-wheeled ambulances for a regiment. These would give transportation for 40 men, or 4 per cent, of the assumed force. At this rate we should have 500 four-wheeled ambulances for this army and 2,500 two-wheeled. This would require a train of four-wheeled ambulances 5 miles long, and yet it would carry but 5,000 wounded; whereas in a general engagement, with a force of 200,000 men, we might expect 60,000 wounded. If one-half of these require ambulance transportation, it would take 3,000 four-wheeled army ambulances to carry them, and the train would be 30 miles long. I mention all this to show how inadequate any attainable train must be to provide for possible wants. Let us have a reasonable train, and if needs be it must be sent back and forth as often as may be necessary to remove the wounded from the field to the hospital.

The two-wheeled ambulances are universally condemned, and we cannot rely upon them for the road. They are in my opinion indispensable as tenders to the four-wheeled ambulances. They can be run with comparative ease where it would be impracticable to carry a four-wheeled ambulance; therefore, to bring men off the field to the road or to the hospitals on the field or for any distance not exceeding 2 miles, they will be found very useful. Combined with the cacolets and the hand-stretchers they will and must suffice for field purposes during an action. We have some 250 of these two-wheeled ambulances and about 200 cacolets. These in my opinion are sufficient of that kind of transportation for the army. The cacolet will answer for the road in case of necessity, and perhaps some classes of wounds might be transported to the hospitals in the two-wheeled carts.

I am furnished, then, with a basis of 250 regiments on which to found my estimate for the four-wheeled ambulances. After much reflection I have concluded that one of these of the army pattern should be provided for each regiment or separate battalion. These would give transportation for 2,500 men (if 250 in number), and would make a train 2 1/2 miles in length. Upon the advance of course they would not be assembled in one body, but in sending the wounded back to the general hospitals it is possible they may be, and the train would then be as long and convey as many people as would probably be sent at one time to the hospitals. I would therefore respectfully recommend that the number of four-wheeled ambulances to be provided for the army be one to a regiment or separate corps, and that it be of the army pattern.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

General S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.


[Appendix F.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, Washington, March 6, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your instructions, I have examined the plan of organization of an ambulance corps submitted by Ch. Pfersching. However desirable a regularly-organized ambulance corps may be for an army, it is now too late to raise, drill, and equip so elaborate an establishment as this for our service. There is nothing new in the plan, nothing that has not been thought of and even weighed years ago in connection with our own organization, unless it be the arsenal of pistols and hatchets with which the men are to be loaded. As we have no ambulance corps proper, an attempt has been made to instruct a certain number of men in each regiment in the duties appertaining to such a corps. An order providing for the drilling of ten men and the baud of each regiment to the ambulance service was issued from these headquarters on the 3d October, 1861. This has been generally faithfully done, and we now have a tolerably well-instructed body of men for this duty. Instructions for the distribution and employment of these men during an action have been prepared by me, and were submitted to General Williams, adjutant-general of the Army of the Potomac, for the action of General McClellan, some ten days ago. I hope they will soon be printed and circulated. When that is done, all necessary and practicable arrangements for the transportation of our wounded will have been made. I am therefore of opinion that the plan of Mr. Pfersching is neither needed nor available for our service at the present time.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. TRIPLER, Surgeon and Medical Director.

Surg. Gen. C. A. FINLEY, U. S. A.

[Appendix G.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, Washington, September 9, 1861.

MAJOR: In reference to the letter of Mr. George Gibbs, referred to me by direction of Major-General McClellan, I have to state that the subject of suitable provision for the reception of the wounded at this position has engaged my attention for the last three weeks. I had commenced arrangements by providing a hotel in Baltimore and ordering it to be fitted up. I had also asked authority to take the Riggs house, near the Circle, with the purpose of converting it into a hospital. I had also other arrangements in view, when I was informed by the Surgeon-General that under the direction of the Secretary of War he had taken all the general hospitals under his exclusive supervision and control, and that he intended making extensive arrangements for the reception of all the sick and wounded that this army would afford; that in case of an action I would find accommodations in readiness for the wounded.

At a meeting of the Sanitary Commission, at which I was present, last week, a resolution was passed appointing a committee to wait upon the Secretary of War, to request him to have frame buildings erected sufficient for the reception of 15,000 men, and also to request General McClellan’s approval of the same. The committee had not been able to see General McClellan up to last night. I have now the honor to say {p.101} that, in my opinion, frame huts, such as were finally constructed in the Crimea, are much better adapted to hospital purposes than large buildings of masonry, such as hotels, colleges, and the like. They admit of more perfect ventilation, can be kept in better police, are more convenient for the sick and wounded and their attendants, admit of a ready distribution of patients into proper classes, and are cheaper. The Quartermaster-General informed me some time since that he would put up any buildings that might be required. So far as I am informed, there are about 2,700 beds in the general hospitals on the Potomac and in Maryland. Notwithstanding unremitted efforts, I have not been able to get reports of the number of sick in all the regiments of the army, but in forty-eight regiments that have reported there were on the 31st August 916 sick in hospital and 1,546 in quarters. Of the strength of these regiments I have no accurate information. Assuming them to average 800, we have an aggregate of 38,400. Again, assuming that all the sick in hospitals and one-half of those in quarters would require to be sent to a general hospital in case of an advance on our part, we should require 1,689 beds for their accommodation. This gives a ratio of 1 to 23.33 nearly, or between 4 or 5 per cent. I think we may estimate for 5 per cent. of any force intended to leave here as sure to require hospital accommodation. If this army attains a strength of 200,000, we shall then want 10,000 beds immediately available.

Again, should this army of 200,000 men have a general engagement with anything like equal numbers, and the action be well contested upon the side of the enemy, we may calculate upon casualties reaching 60,000 as a maximum. Of these, should the battle be fought principally with artillery, one-half would be killed or mortally wounded. It is scarcely to be expected or apprehended that anything like so great a slaughter will really be endured by the troops on either side, but I do not think it an unreasonable estimate to say that we should have hospital accommodation for 20,000 wounded. This number ought to be reached of our own men and those of the enemy that will fall into our hands.

Now, if this estimate is at all reasonable, it is easily seen that there are not buildings enough in Washington that are likely to or can be procured to meet our wants. There is no question in my mind as to the absolute superiority of temporary huts of suitable size and properly constructed over all other buildings that can be had for our purposes. The cost of the buildings will be about one-half or less of what we are now paying for rents of hotels, colleges, and seminaries. If the matter were in my hands, I should recommend the building of these huts at once.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

Maj. S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Army of Potomac.

[Appendix H.]


GENERAL: In obedience to the instructions of Major-General McClellan, I have the honor to report that I have carefully considered the subjects referred to me, and now submit the following plans:

My attention having been invited to the views of the general commanding {p.102} and those of the honorable Secretary of War, as conveyed in his indorsement upon Major-General McClellan’s letter, it seems to me I am required to submit my views upon the organization of an ambulance corps as well as upon an increase of hospital accommodation.

1. The immediate organization of an ambulance corps, to act under the medical director’s command.-I submitted some weeks since for the action of the General a plan for the only kind of ambulance corps I think we can raise under existing laws. That plan was to take the hospital attendants to the number of 10 men to each regiment and the baud, and have them drilled daily for one hour under the medical officers, in the whole manipulation of ambulances of all sorts, the handling of men, the carrying of them upon litters, placing them in the carriages and taking them out, and the like. I propose that these men shall accompany the ambulances upon the march, and in time of action shall man the litters to bear the wounded to the rear, and act as guides to such of the wounded as can walk to the field or principal hospitals. These men should carry upon their persons a suitable supply of lint, a few bandages and pins, a field tourniquet, and a small canteen of whisky or brandy, and should be instructed in the proper use of all these articles, that they may be ready to apply them judiciously in case of emergency. This is not such an ambulance corps as I would prefer, but it is the best I can devise under existing laws and circumstances. An efficient ambulance corps should be composed of men enlisted for that purpose, and should be organized into companies and battalions, with commissioned and non-commissioned officers. They should be uniformed so that they might be known, armed with revolvers, and drilled under the direction of the medical officers in all duties pertaining to their corps. Companies or detachments of the corps could then be assigned to brigades, divisions, or corps d’armée as occasion might require. They would move under command of their own officers, could perform their duties promptly, intelligently, and efficiently, and obviate all necessity or excuse for the men in the ranks to fall out to assist the wounded.

But it is obvious these detachments should be under the command of the principal medical officer, and such is the plan proposed by Major-General McClellan. To effect this, it will be necessary to modify the law in relation to the rank of medical officers. I would suggest that the Medical Department of the Army be placed upon the same military footing precisely as the Quartermaster’s Department, with the same grades, titles, and ranks, simply substituting the word “surgeon” for “quartermaster” wherever it occurs. If this were done, it would clear away at once the rubbish that has so long embarrassed the operations of the department, and now stands in the way of its efficiency at a time when every energy of every man’s mind and body is called into requisition to meet the pressing necessities of the public service.

2. The employment of an adequate corps of male and female nurses by the medical director, to act under his supervision. This being another important suggestion of the Sanitary Commission, and recommended by Major-General McClellan, I have to remark upon it that the sixth section of the act approved August 3, 1861, has provided for the employment of female nurses whenever desired by the medical director or the surgeon in charge of a permanent hospital. In the plan to be submitted for hospitals it will be seen that a due proportion of male and female nurses is provided for. We can get female nurses through Miss Dix and from among the Sisters of Charity. It is a very damaging position for any one to take and avow, but in the honest discharge of {p.103} my duties, though a Protestant myself, I do not hesitate to declare that in my opinion the latter are far preferable to the former, being better disciplined, more discreet and judicious, and more reliable. In the arrangement of the hospitals it might be judicious to assign one section to the Sisters of Charity and the other to the Protestant nurses.

Male nurses are most readily obtained by detail from the troops. There are many men in the ranks who are the subjects of infirmities, disqualifying them for the active duties of the field, who could be usefully employed as nurses in the hospitals. Numbers have been enlisted with hernia and cirsocele, and are being discharged on account of these, who would be very capable of doing the duties of nurses.

3. Plan for the extension of hospital accommodations at Washington, D. C.-I assume that this army will number 200,000 men, of whom 30,000 will garrison Washington and its defenses, and 170,000 will be mobilized. We had on the 18th September 84,778, of whom 6,007 were reported sick; this is a little in excess of 6 per cent. of the whole force. The sanitary condition of the army has been constantly improving for the last six weeks. The ratio of sick is increased by the condition of a few corps. Some of the regiments arrived with large sick reports; others have suffered from being encamped in unhealthy locations; but even these are improving, and I am confident we shall not have to leave in hospital more than five per cent. when the grand army is put in motion. This would require 8,500 beds for the 170,000. We have now 1,163 beds, exclusive of the eruptive-fever hospital, leaving 7,337 to be provided for. I have not estimated for the sick of the garrison of Washington, as they can be taken care of in their field hospitals. Many of those left sick in the general hospitals would be able in a short time to serve in the works in case of an attack upon Washington, and they might be considered as forming a part of the garrison to be left; so that we estimate that the whole complement of 170,000 will be put in motion.

If the 170,000 should fight anywhere within seventy-two hours’ transportation of Washington, I should recommend that the wounded be sent back to this city. If we have a well-contested series of battles within that time of Washington we may have 56,666 casualties. The Army of Mexico left Pueblo 10,500 strong, and the killed and wounded in the valley exceeded 3,000. We have no right to rely upon a less proportionate loss, though no one expects it to occur.

The proportion of the killed to the whole loss is a difficult problem to investigate. We are yet to experience the destructive power of rifled muskets and cannon. I do not know how well the enemy may be supplied with either, or how well they may be able to serve them if they have them. We used to estimate the proportion of the killed with the old weapons to be 25 per cent. of the whole loss. It has been estimated since the introduction of the new arms that that proportion is now inverted-i.e., that of 100 casualties 75 will now be fatal. I think that extravagant. But let us estimate one-half of the loss as likely to require hospital accommodation, and we shall then want 28,333 beds for the wounded, making, with the sick, a grand total of 35,670.

Now, the General knows his own plans and I am ignorant of them. It may be the great battle may be fought nearer Fort Monroe than Washington, or nearer Richmond than either. Our hospitals at Washington in either case would be to a great extent unavailable. I cannot, therefore, make more than an approximate estimate of what will be required here. From the data I have adduced the General can form a better judgment than myself. I think, however, assuming 200,000 as {p.104} the strength of the army, that 10 per cent., or 20,000 men, ought to be provided for in the hospitals.

But 20,000 patients will require 2,000 nurses, 666 cooks, and 1,000 matrons; 200 medical officers, and as many stewards and ward-masters, will also be required. The number of cooks may be reduced materially, but the number of matrons cannot, as I include the laundresses under that head. I think 300 cooks will be sufficient. Whatever extent of hospital establishment may be determined upon finally may find its administrative force adjusted by this scale. For the medical officers required as internes, I rely upon the States that have appointed medical boards of examiners. They must be employed by contract. The commissioned medical officers of the army or volunteers cannot supply the necessary force.

The buildings for this establishment will necessarily be large and expensive, but I am satisfied the demands of economy and humanity will be met by the adoption of the plans herewith submitted. All experience has shown that dwelling-houses, hotels, and the like are unfit for military hospitals. It is impossible to ventilate them properly, and their interior is always so arranged that, while there is great waste of space, the sick are always crowded, and at the same time a larger number of surgeons, cooks, stewards, &c., are required for their administration than in the well-arranged hospitals that modern science and experience have devised. The single-floor pavilion hospital is the one that now unites the opinions of the scientific and humane throughout the world in its favor. Such a plan has been prepared by an architect under the supervision of the Sanitary Commission, and is herewith submitted. This is a design for one building, and is calculated to accommodate 200 patients, with the necessary administrative force. It will require 100 of these buildings for the number of patients I have supposed we shall have. The accompanying memoir of the Sanitary Commission contains the specifications for the building.*

Under ordinary circumstances I would not undertake to modify this plan in any way. It meets my views fully as it stands. But as I think we may save both time and money in the construction by some modifications, I would suggest-

1. That the buildings should rest upon timber instead of masonry supports.

2. That the wards should be but 12 instead of 14 feet high.

This will give each man 1,260 cubic feet, an ample space, considering the excellent arrangements for ventilation in the plan.

3. The upper windows in the plan may be dispensed with if we make the other windows 8 feet high, and reaching from within 1 foot of the ceiling to 3 feet of the floor. The upper sash should let down. The lower sash may be made “French fashion,” or to lift, but it should be furnished with a lock, so that it could not be opened without the orders of the surgeon.

4. The administration building may be reduced in size by omitting two of the 14 by 20 rooms on each floor. The remaining rooms will be sufficient for the necessary personnel of the building. For sites for these buildings I propose to occupy the grounds of Mr. Stone on Fourteenth street, opposite Columbian College. He has two lots, one of 87 acres, the other of 40, both of which he has placed at the disposal of the Government for this purpose. The grounds lie well, are well drained, and well supplied with excellent water. There are three springs upon {p.105} the place, at present furnished with pumps, and as many more may readily be sunk as the necessities of the buildings may require. These lots will afford room for about one-fourth of the proposed buildings. We have a lease of 100 acres at Kalorama. This land is similarly circumstanced with that of Mr. Stone as to its general features and the water supply. It will afford room for 20 buildings. We shall want about 250 acres more for the remaining buildings. There is plenty of unoccupied land upon the heights about Washington that might be procured for this purpose. I apprehend the Quartermaster’s Department will find little difficulty in effecting leases of as much as will be required.

There will thus be some three or four large hospital towns at some distance from each other. Each assemblage of buildings or hospital section will require one experienced, active, and energetic surgeon of the Army as superintendent; one assistant commissary of subsistence, and one assistant quartermaster at least will be required, and perhaps more. The guards can be furnished by the troops occupying this military position. They should be required to enforce the orders of the chief surgeon.

There being no fund within the control of the Medical Department from which suitable hospital clothing can be furnished for the inmates of this establishment, we must rely for a time upon the contributions of the Sanitary Commission for that purpose, and I am happy to say they are now taking measures to meet this demand. But it is reasonable to suppose that the time during which they will be called upon to supply this want will be limited; for the hospital fund, well managed, ought to be sufficient in the course of two months to provide all necessary comforts for the sick.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

* Not found.

[Appendix I.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, October 29, 1861.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to the orders of Major-Genera] McClellan, I proceeded to Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York for the purpose of making arrangements for the sick of the Army of the Potomac. I wished, if possible, to evacuate all the hospitals upon the Potomac, at Annapolis, and Baltimore upon Philadelphia and New York, and also to ascertain how much hospital accommodation could be depended upon at Annapolis and Baltimore. At Annapolis a portion only of the public buildings is at present occupied for hospital purposes. I would recommend that all the buildings at that point should be fitted up as hospitals, and the establishment could then accommodate 1,200 patients. At Baltimore there are two hotels and three dwelling-houses now occupied. These buildings can receive in cold weather, when windows and doors are to be kept closed, but 310 patients. The rents paid for them-amount to 12,900. At such an extravagant rate I did not think it advisable to negotiate for any extension of hospital accommodation in Baltimore.

I then proceeded to Philadelphia and made inquiries for buildings suitable for our purposes. Several large and small buildings were {p.106} suggested to me as available. I estimated for about 4,000 beds as likely to be wanted in Philadelphia and New York, and therefore, after procuring the assistance of the quartermaster and some of my professional friends in looking up convenient buildings, I went to New York to see what could be done there. In that city I was unable to accomplish anything. After several days’ delay, I could only procure one offer, and that was to accommodate 250 men in the New York Hospital at $5 per week each. This I considered altogether too high. The commissioners of emigration have six buildings on Staten Island, capable of accommodating 125 men each, that they have placed at the disposal of the governor of the State for barracks for volunteers. These buildings the quartermaster-general of the State told me we might occupy, provided the United States would put up rough board barracks for the accommodation of the volunteers. I did not think it best to accept this offer. If we are to build, it would be better to build here than there. It would be both hazardous to the men and expensive to the Treasury to send patients to Staten Island. It would involve the increased cost of transportation from Philadelphia to New York and back in each case, and the additional cost of a steamer to convey the men from the depot at Jersey City to the island. The distance of the island from the city also would create great difficulty in subsisting the men there. For these reasons I felt obliged to give up the idea of availing ourselves of any assistance from New York. Upon my return to Philadelphia I visited, examined, and requested the quartermaster to hire the following buildings and to fit them up for hospitals:

1st. The National Hall, on Market, below Thirteenth street. It will accommodate 350 patients. The rent is $425 per month.

2d. The Reading Railroad Depot, corner of Broad and Arch streets. It will accommodate 400 patients. The rent is $1,750 per annum.

3d. A paper factory, corner of Twenty-second and Wood streets. Will accommodate 275 patients. Rent not ascertained.

4th. The State Arsenal. Will accommodate 350 patients. For this I think no rent will be demanded. It is under the control of General Patterson, who told me he would write to the governor on the subject, and that I might rely upon having it.

5th. A silk factory, corner of Twenty-second and South streets. It will accommodate 160 patients. Rent, $150 per month.

6th. The Summit House. It will accommodate 100 patients. Rent, $150 per month.

In addition to these accommodations, we are offered 150 beds at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and 150 at the Pennsylvania Hospital, at $3.50 per week each. This, after a careful calculation, I find to be about what it costs to furnish any hospital accommodation to our men. The sum asked includes everything-medicines, stores, fuel, lights, medical attendance, &c. I therefore earnestly recommend that these offers be accepted immediately. We can avail ourselves of them at once, to relieve our crowded hospitals in Washington.

This gives a total accommodation of 1,935 beds. When prepared, this will just about relieve the present general hospitals on the Potomac, in Annapolis, and Baltimore. The rents are very reasonable, averaging about $9 per man per annum, whereas in Baltimore the average is more than $40.

To carry out these plans the authority of the Quartermaster-General for hiring the buildings and making the necessary improvements is required. I respectfully ask that it may be obtained.

For the bedding, furniture, and medical attendance the action of the {p.107} Surgeon-General will be necessary. It was my intention to ask for the appointment of Dr. John Neill, of Philadelphia, as brigade surgeon, and to place him in charge of the whole Philadelphia establishment, giving him for assistants a suitable number of young physicians, to be employed by contract. These can be procured in Philadelphia at $50 per month each. The economy and efficiency of the whole arrangement I hope will be perceived. ...

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

General S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

[Appendix K.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, January 28, 1862.

GENERAL: In obedience to instructions in your letter of January 21 I have the honor to submit the following report:

Having the reports of the inspectors of hospitals as to the sanitary condition of nearly all the divisions of the army in this vicinity, showing their conditions at periods varying from December 5 to the present date, and having also the weekly reports of the brigade surgeons of nearly all the brigades up to January 18, for the purpose of laying before the general what I conceive to be the true state of the hospitals of this army, I hasten to present this letter in anticipation of the completion of all the inspections ordered. The importance of the subject seems to me to demand this, in order to allay unnecessary apprehensions and to afford an opportunity for correcting certain existing irregularities, as well as to offer suggestions as to the means of preventing as far as practicable any increase of disease during the winter and spring.

I am able from the reports in my hands to compare the true sick lists in brigades with those sent in to the Adjutant-General’s Office. Among the brigades to which my attention was directed are the following. I arrange them in tabular form, to show how widely the reports of the brigade surgeons differ from those in the table appended to your letter:

Brigades.General William’s table, January 10.Brigade surgeon’s report. Date.
Per cent.Per cent.
Slocum’s14.346.8January 21
Howard’s12.449.3January 18
Richardson’s11.196.7January 18
Jameson’s10.956.4January 18
French’s9.66.3January 11
Morell’s9.173.4January 18
Hancock’s17.110.9January 18
Brooks’29.7514.52January 11
Brannan’s9.365.82January 11
Steinwehr’s11.85.2January 18
Palmer’s12.566.5January 22
Sykes’9.956.5January 25

The above are sufficient for my present purpose, which is to show {p.108} that numbers of men are reported sick by their captains who are not found upon the reports of the medical officers of their regiments. The true number of the sick is large enough to give me much concern, but I am unwilling it should be represented to be larger than it really is through the careless manner in which company reports are too frequently made out. Considering the season of the year and the unfavorable state of the weather it cannot be disputed that this is the most healthy army the world has ever seen. The general health of the whole force is rather improving than deteriorating; still, certain corps are at a stand-still, while others are sadly falling off.

I have observed in several instances that regiments after arriving here speedily exhibited a wretched sanitary condition. The maximum, however, was soon reached, and they have steadily improved until their sick lists would compare favorably with the rest. This might be accounted for by acclimation, by gradual improvement in discipline and police, by becoming better acquainted with the wants of a soldier in camp, and with the means of meeting those wants. But other troops, and those, too, from particular sections of country, have not improved. The Vermont regiments in Brooks’ brigade are examples of this. They give us the largest ratio of sick of all the troops in this army, and that ratio has not essentially varied for the last three months. They suffered in the first place from measles. In this they simply shared the lot of all irregular troops. Since then they have been and are the subjects of fevers (remittent and typhoid).

The inspector of hospitals (Surgeon Keeney) reports the police of all these regiments as good, their clothing good, their tents good, with the exception of the Second and Third Regiments, and, strange to say, those two regiments are in decidedly the best sanitary condition. The locations of the camps of the Fifth and Sixth are reported as bad, but that of the Third is also bad. The soil is clay; the face of the country rolling, but presenting many plains sufficiently extensive for camps. These plains have been selected, and in consequence the difficulties of drainage, always great in a clay soil, have been increased.

While writing I have received another weekly report from the Vermont brigade, which shows a large increase of sick over that of the preceding week. The Berdan Sharpshooters are also in a bad sanitary condition, and not improving. Their camp, however, is badly located. I shall visit this brigade personally.

We have now successfully passed through the season of malarious fevers. The sanitary arrangements of this army have been successful in warding off the diseases of summer and autumn. We are now called upon to guard against those of winter and spring. The principal diseases we have to fear are typhus and typhoid fevers and pneumonia. These diseases prevail in this district during the present and approaching season. Already a number of cases have occurred, some of which have been fatal. These diseases arise from foul air, bad clothing, imperfect shelter, exposure to cold and wet, imperfectly-drained and badly-policed camps, &c. The indispensable conditions for securing the health of men in the field are good shelter, good clothing, good food, and good water, dry camp grounds, and an abundant supply of pure air.

For the shelter of our men we are to choose between tents and huts. There are clusters of buildings at several places within our limits that might be occupied by our troops, but having been erected for a different purpose, they are in nowise adapted to this. They are ill-constructed, ill-ventilated, too crowded, and generally out of position. I should prefer, if it is practicable, the “Chester hut,” as used at Balaklava {p.109} the plans for which will be found in the Report of the English Sanitary Commission. These huts, with the independent roof ventilation, were found well adapted for hospitals as well as quarters, and the results of their employment were altogether satisfactory; but it will take time to erect them, and our necessities seem to be too pressing to admit of this delay. They might, however, be put up to some extent in the worst of our camping grounds, if military necessity requires that our men shall be kept in those positions.

Next to these huts I would invite attention again to the plan of improving our tents that I recommended in mine of the 11th December last, and perhaps in other letters, i.e., to build a pen of logs and slabs the size of the base of the tent, some 3 feet high, and then to secure the tent upon this for a roof. This plan is now in use in several camps, and wherever it has been adopted it has been found to contribute very much to the comfort of the men. In some of the camps the pit has been dug, as in the Crimea, and the tent placed over that. This I condemned emphatically in the letter alluded to, and I repeat it, it is totally inadmissible. I should add to what I said before that in my opinion board floors should be furnished to all the tents and fresh straw or hay for the men to sleep upon. These tents must not be overcrowded. This is the tendency of all armies, and is a pernicious practice. The ventilation of tents, again, is a more difficult matter than is generally supposed. This should be secured by windows, as they are termed, in the tent, and by frequently opening the tent doors or keeping then open during the day.

Most of the subsoil upon the Potomac is of clay. This is particularly so in the camps presenting the largest sick reports, and therefore the greater attention is required to be paid to its drainage. I do not believe such a soil can be sufficiently will drained in a wet season to enable us to dispense with floors to the tents, but to secure as good a drainage as practicable I would recommend each company ground should be surrounded by a ditch not less than 12 inches deep at its shallowest parts; this ditch to be 4 feet from the outside border of the tents, and to be laid out and dug under the superintendence of a competent engineer; otherwise it will be imperfectly done, and be productive of more harm than good. Supplementary ditches a few inches in depth should also surround the tents, and be carefully conducted into the main ditch. I would further suggest that the floors of the tents should be raised some three inches from the ground; that lime or charcoal should be strewed over the surface of the ground, and then the floor laid without pinning, that it may be readily taken up and the ground under it policed.

Pure air cannot exist without good police. To secure this as much as possible I recommend that all impurities collected in the camps and all other impurities shall be buried not less than 12 inches below the surface, In cavalry camps the manure must be got rid of in some way, or the men will get sick. Camping grounds long occupied seem frequently to get saturated with putrescent exhalations that engender and aggravate disease. A change of ground will often be found to arrest or diminish an endemic for a while until a new saturation of the new soil sets it in motion again. This was exemplified in Brooks’ brigade. A change of camp seemed to have checked the endemic in one of his worst regiments. Gradually, however, it reappeared.

The camping ground of Berdan Sharpshooters I think should be changed on this principle, as well as that its drainage is bad. This regiment is suffering from measles, and lately severe lung complicationshave {p.110} accompanied the disease. A fresh and a dry camp, therefore, is in my opinion decidedly necessary for the command. If a suitable ground is selected and the tents put up in the way I have suggested, I should look for favorable results.

Allow me to insert here what I have omitted in its proper place, that the tent foundations should not be permitted to be banked up with dirt. You can never have a dry soil under the tent floors where this practice obtains.

I respectfully recommend an immediate change of the camping grounds of all the brigades that show an undue proportion of sick; that these grounds shall be selected upon proper principles in relation to their drainage capabilities, their exposure to storms, and the vicinity of marshes; that they shall be ditched in the model have pointed out, and that the tents shall be fitted up as I have suggested.

The food of our men is now good, and they are gradually improving in their cooking. We have no pernicious dysenteries or diarrheas in our camps. The clothing of the men is generally good. I do not think any deficiency in this respect has anything to do with the fevers that scourge our Vermont troops. If it were practicable, it would be desirable that our men should be furnished with the high water-proof boots, that their feet and legs might be kept dry when compelled to walk through the deep mud of the Virginia side of the Potomac.

I recommended in September that hot coffee should be issued to the men immediately after reveille. This was enjoined in general orders. I doubt whether it is now observed, but I think it important, and it should be reiterated. Picket duty is very severe at this season. The tente d’abris, if not used, might be used much to the comfort of the men exposed. I would give a whisky ration twice a day to men thus exposed, and they certainly should be furnished with the long boots I have suggested.

A little contrivance might provide them a comparatively dry bivouac. India-rubber blankets to spread upon the ground would be advisable. I think if we do all this, or as much of it as is possible, we shall have done all we can to secure the health of our men. I do not expect it will meet the whole difficulty in the Vermont cases, but it will go far to alleviate it. I believe there is a nostalgic element in those regiments affecting them unfavorably. This we cannot remedy, except in so far as it may be aggravated by the spectacle of so many of their comrades being sick and dying. We shall diminish disease by the course I have pointed out, and this will react favorably upon the other men. The process of acclimation has been more tedious in these troops than in any others. It does, however, progress. Most of the sickness in these regiments occurs among the recruits, and those regiments which have been longest here are the best off. All this in encouraging.

While upon this subject, I ask leave to suggest that it is advisable to forbid soldiers coming into the cities of Washington or Georgetown unless upon duty with written orders. Small-pox is quite prevalent in these cities, and I have reason to believe that the cases that have occurred of late among our men have originated from exposure in town. Vaccination has been pushed as actively as possible among our troops, but still cases of this disease do occur. Men have become its subjects who have been vaccinated and revaccinated very recently. Such occurrences set all calculations at defiance, and I know no other means of preventing them than keeping our men out of the way of infection altogether. I also earnestly recommend that all recruits intended for this army shall be revaccinated before they leave the rendezvous where they {p.111} are enlisted to join their regiments. Hundreds of recruits have joined this army lately who have never been vaccinated. It is notoriously unsafe to travel over any railroad in the country at the present day unprotected.

The brigade of General Hamilton is in General Banks’ division. As soon as the inspection of the few remaining commands in this vicinity is completed an inspector will be sent to that brigade.

I have written this report before I am able to communicate all the information required in your instructions, because the exigency seemed urgent. The inspections will be pressed forward, and the results communicated as rapidly as possible.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant.

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

[Appendix L.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Medical Director’s Office, January 4, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the sanitary condition of the Army of the Potomac, deduced from the reports received at this office for the months of October and November:

This army having been hastily assembled, and its medical officers of all grades appointed from civil life, and necessarily without military experience, it has been no easy task to collect the proper reports. Up to the month of October but a small proportion of the regiments made reports, and few of those received were made out with sufficient accuracy to be considered useful or reliable. As the medical officers learn more of their duties, I am happy to say that greater punctuality is observed in this respect. I received for the month of October reports from 129 regiments, 7 battalions, 14 batteries, and 8 general hospitals. The aggregate strength of the forces from which these reports were received is 116,763. Of these 38,248 were under treatment during the month in the field and general hospitals-27,983 were returned to duty; 295 died, and 7,443 remained under treatment at the end of the month; 510 were discharged on surgeon’s certificate of disability. These men never should have been enlisted; they were simply impositions upon the Government, and were received through the carelessness or incompetency of the recruiting or inspecting officers. The same remarks may apply to those who will be presently noticed as having been discharged in November. The ratio of the sick remaining at the end of the month to the whole force was 6.07 per cent. The ratio of deaths is 3.03 per cent, per annum.

For the month of November I have reports from 156 regiments, 6 battalions, 20 batteries, and 8 general hospitals. From the division commanded by General Dix I have no reports.

The aggregate strength of the forces from which I have received reports is 142,577. Of these, 47,836 have been under treatment in the field and general hospital, 35,915 of whom have been returned to duty, and 281 have died; 9,281 remained under treatment at the end of the month; 618 have been discharged upon surgeons’ certificates of disability. The number remaining is considered the constant diminution of force due to sickness. This is 6.5 per cent. Of these, however, more than one-half are probably capable of taking the field, and would do so {p.112} in case of an advance or an attack. The proportion of serious cases to the whole number treated is about one-third, and this I should consider as the true number of the sick who would be unfit for any duty at any given time. This would give 2.3 per cent. as inefficient.

The deaths have been in November 281, which gives a mortality for the whole force of 2.36 per cent. per annum.

The diseases from which our men have suffered most have been continued remittent and typhoid fevers, measles, diarrhea, dysentery, and the various forms of catarrh. Of all the scourges incident to armies in the field I suppose that chronic diarrheas and dysenteries have always been the most prevalent and the most fatal. I am happy to say that in this army they are almost unknown. We have but 280 cases of chronic diarrhea and 69 of chronic dysentery reported in the month of November. No other army that has ever taken the field can show such a record. We have 1,331 cases of measles reported in November. This disease almost invariably appears among irregular troops in a few weeks after they are assembled in camp. The regiments among whom these cases have occurred are those recently arrived. Most of them reached this city with the disease prevailing. It has been generally of a mild form, soon running through the regiment, and then disappearing. I don’t consider its propagation under these circumstances as due to contagion. On the contrary, it springs up from local causes, to which all the men are equally exposed, and those susceptible become its subjects as a matter of course. Among regular troops it is very rarely seen.

Of fevers of all sorts we have had 7,932 cases. Of these 4,051 were remittents and typhoids. The proportion of the latter to the former is stated to be 1 to 2.3. I have every reason to believe that this is greatly exaggerated from error in diagnosis. I do not look upon typhoid fever to the extent it has prevailed in this army as being of any great moment. From the report of inspectors of hospitals, as far as inspections have yet been made, I am satisfied this disease, if it ever prevailed to that extent, is now considerably declining. The regiments that have suffered most from fevers in November have been the Vermont, one from Maine, one or two from Pennsylvania, and one from Indiana. In all these regiments disease is now sensibly abating, and we have every reason to hope that in a few months their sanitary condition will be equally as good as that of the rest of the army.

I think there is abundant reason to be satisfied with the progress that has been made in this army in introducing something of a system of hygiene; in instructing its medical officers in their duties; in keeping them supplied with sufficient medicines, hospital stores, and instruments; in exacting from them a proper accountability for public property, and insisting upon its being used with economy; in preventing the army from being burdened with articles that, however convenient they may be, are not absolutely necessary, and cannot be transported in any possible supply train when the men are required to march; in requiring reports at short intervals of the sanitary condition of the regiments, and in instituting regular and thorough sanitary inspections, by officers of experience of the medical department of the army, who are competent to perform that duty, who understand what is necessary and what superfluous, and upon whose reports we can undertake to correct errors and abuses understandingly.

The result of all this great effort is seen in the statistics above recorded. While the ratio of cases of disease to the whole force does not differ for the two months reported, the ratio of mortality is .67 per cent. {p.113} per annum less in November than in October-a difference which, if secured in civil life, would make the fortune of an insurance company.

Important information is being constantly received from the inspectors of hospitals as to all matters relating to the comfort and health of the troops, thus affording opportunities for correcting errors and irregularities wherever they may be found to exist. A satisfactory progress has been made in improving the sanitary condition of the Army of the Potomac, and there is no reason to fear that this progress will not continue to be made until the health of this army will be such as will leave nothing to be desired.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. S. TRIPLER, Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

Surg. Gen. C. A. FINLEY, U. S. A.


AUGUST 18, 1861.– Scout to Accotink and skirmish at Pohick Church, Va.


No. 1.–Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin, U. S. Army.
No. 2.–Capt. William H. Boyd, First New York Cavalry.

No. 1.

Report of Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin, U. S. Army.

ALEXANDRIA, VA., August 18, 1861.

The company of Lincoln [First New York] Cavalry sent out this morning met a party of the enemy’s cavalry at Pohick Church, about 12 miles from here, numbering about 20. They charged the enemy, scattered them in all directions, and wounded two of them. One of our men was killed, and 2 are missing, who were thrown from their horses.

The enemy’s horses far outstripped ours, so that no prisoners could be made. I have learned nothing definite about Springfield. Our scouts were 1 1/2 miles from there last night. Saw their pickets; so there is no doubt that they are there. General Kearny thinks the force there is a variable one. So report his scouts.

W. B. FRANKLIN, Brigadier-General, Commanding.



No. 2.

Report of Capt. WILLIAM H. Boyd, First New York Cavalry.

CAMP ELIZABETH, Alexandria, Va., August 18, 1861.

SIR: Your orders of this a.m., “to proceed on a scout down the Mount Vernon road and vicinity of Accotink, to capture, if possible, 27 cavalry of the enemy,” have, as far as circumstances would permit, been obeyed. At about 10 o’clock a.m., accompanied by Lieutenant Gibson, Second Dragoons, U. S. Army, Lieutenant Hanson, Dr. Herrick, {p.114} and 46 of my own company, I proceeded towards Accotink, interrogating all pedestrians and examining all houses and outbuildings on our way thither, until we reached Accotink, where we learned that a number of cavalry of the enemy were this morning at Pohick Church, whither we immediately proceeded. Our advanced pickets, upon nearing the church, thought they discovered a whole army, and immediately retreated, communicating directly with the men instead of me, thereby causing a stampede. After a little delay I succeeded in rallying our men together, and immediately retraced our steps. The road being narrow, we were unable to proceed to much advantage. Being in advance myself, upon getting up to the main road I was suddenly brought face to face with the enemy, whom I should judge to have been about 20 strong. The enemy were the first to challenge, and were evidently prepared to meet us, as they were in line at the side of the road (they being apprised of our coming by our advanced pickets, who had been previously challenged). After the usual war salutations I gave the order to charge, and our men shouted, cheered, and charged.

Immediately beyond the church are cross-roads. The enemy separated on the three roads, and our men divided and followed in hot pursuit. One party pursued within a short distance of Occoquan, both parties shooting as they rode. At the cross-roads were three men in ambush, and it is believed that these were the men who fired on us. Our loss is one killed (Jacob Erwen, shot through the body), and two missing (Williams and Lancaster), who were thrown from their horses. We cannot say whether the enemy lost any or not, but it is said one of the enemy was shot in the arm, and another fell on his horse’s neck, and seemed to be unable to manage his horse. The enemy were well mounted, had very superior horses, and were enabled to outfoot us, and thus make their escape. It is my opinion that had we some infantry with us we would have been able to outflank them and taken some prisoners. Our dead we brought home with us.

I desire to make honorable mention of our guide, Lieutenant Gibson, Second Dragoons, U. S. Army.

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

WM. H. BOYD, Captain Company C, Lincoln Cavalry.

Brigadier-General FRANKLIN.


AUGUST 23, 1861.– Engagement between Confederate Batteries at mouth of Potomac Creek, Virginia, and U. S. Steamers Yankee and Release.

Report of Colonel R. M. Gary, Thirtieth Virginia infantry.


COLONEL: I have the honor to report that this afternoon at about 4.30 o’clock the enemy’s steamer Yankee and a tug were seen standing in the mouth of Potomac Creek. I ordered down to the point the siege rifled gun (Betty Holmes) and a section (rifle) of Walker’s battery.

The enemy fired the first shot, not aimed at this point, however, Smith’s battery replied. As soon as our field pieces opened the U. S. steamer Release (ice-boat) stood in and engaged us.


The officers in charge of the pieces and the men behaved with proper coolness and deliberation. They were Lieutenants Hagerty, Pegram, and Dabney.

The enemy’s fire was very accurate, frequently bursting his shell in close proximity to our pieces. It is believed that both the Yankee and the Release were hit; the former more than once. No one was hurt on our side.

The action lasted about forty minutes, during which we fired some twenty-five shot and shell; the enemy as many more. Capt. R. L. Walker was present, in immediate command of all the pieces.

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

R. M. CARY, Thirtieth Virginia Infantry, Commanding.

D. H. MAURY, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dep’t of Fredericksburg, Brooke’s.


AUGUST 25, 1861.– Skirmish near Piggot’s Mill, West Virginia.

Report of Brig. Gen. Henry A. Wise, C. S. Army.


SIR: On Saturday, as I informed you, I in person reconnoitered and found the enemy, and stationed guards on the turnpike, in advance of the Saturday road, at Tyree’s, perfectly covering that and other roads. I left that point, near Westlake’s, about 4 o’clock, with my men well posted. It seems that after I left (and certainly unknown to me, without the least notice to my command) a corps of your cavalry, about 175 strong, came down the Saturday road and advanced on the turnpike, under the command of Acting Colonel Jenkins, aided by Major Reynolds. They relieved my guard, who had scouted and were well acquainted with the ground. This was done by Colonel Jenkins, without notice to me or Colonel Davis, in command of the cavalry, or to Captain Brock, in command of the company. The result of this unexpected accession of force from your camp is known. The men not having sufficiently scouted the ground, and being badly supplied with ammunition, were ambuscaded and routed, with loss and a demoralizing flight. I met men with their subordinate officers flying at 5 miles distance from the enemy, and so panic-struck, that even there they could not be rallied or led back to look after the dead and wounded. Colonel Jenkins and Major Reynolds, on the spot of the ambuscade, tried bravely to rally them, but it was in vain. Eighteen of my cavalry, who were picketed in view of the scene, on a neighboring hill (Brock’s troop), rushed to the rescue, and lost 1 killed and 5 wounded. Colonel Jenkins was hurt by the fall of his horse and is here still, somewhat disabled. Major Reynolds, though in my camp, made no report to me, and has left with his command. His men and officers, whom I met flying, utterly failed to obey my orders, delivered in person, under the threat of the pistol, and did not return, from sheer cowardice, to the scene from which the enemy had rapidly retired. The appearance of this force on my outposts was the more unexpected, inasmuch as you had ordered me to send you 100 cavalry, which I did.

And now I beg leave, most respectfully, to protest that nothing but disaster can follow such interference with my immediate command, without notice, and with orders from you to me which led me to expect {p.116} the very contrary of what has occurred. I deplore the disaster which has occurred, but am not in the least responsible for it. I beg that in future you will notify me of any movement under your orders on the lines you have left me to defend.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY A. WISE, Brigadier-General.

Brigadier-General FLOYD, Commanding, &c.

P. S.-My camp is severely disabled by measles, and I send you a copy of a report, by Colonel Richardson, of the reduced condition of his regiment, the best under my command. I also send to you a copy of a report, made to me by Colonel Henningsen, showing the necessity of keeping my whole force for the present in position on this turnpike, and of watching the advance of the enemy on the Chestnutburg road. I respectfully submit whether I shall move a regiment to Carnifix Ferry.

I will await your further orders, feeling, as I do, the necessity of keeping all my remaining force here.

HENRY A. WISE, Brigadier-General.



GENERAL: I have the honor to report that the remnant of my command will be ready to move to-morrow morning by 9 o’clock. I regret that I have to offer an excuse for my regiment, but really think that it is not advisable to send it off crippled as it is. If it should be called into action in its present condition the result might not prove satisfactory, and I feel that I should be censurable if I did not report these facts. I wish the command to do itself credit, and do not doubt that it will do so under any circumstances, but think it best just to give it a trial at first in its original strength. I beg leave herewith to submit the actual strength of my regiment, as per report of the company commanders: Company A, 39; Company B, 47; Company C, 29; Company D, 41; Company E, 19; Company F, 47; Company G, 30; Company H, 39; Company I, 41; Company K, 39, amounting in the aggregate to 371 effective men, a little upwards of one-third of the whole command, the measles daily reducing the ranks at the rate of at least 25 a day. According to the report of the surgeon of the regiment, it is owing to exposure and fatigue incident to rapid and forced marches. I have presented these facts as a matter of duty, and offer them for your consideration.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. H. RICHARDSON, Lieut. Col. Forty-sixth Reg’t, P. A. C. S., Comdg. First Inf., W. B.

Brig. Gen. H. A. WISE.

CAMP AT DOGWOOD GAP, VA., August 26, 1861.

GENERAL: In your dispatch of this morning you order me to maintain my position at Dogwood Gap, as the best to cover the turnpike, and as the best from which to move to the support of General Floyd. {p.117} You warn me at the same time that this position is threatened front the New River, and you conclude by saying:

Thus you have to guard the turnpike. Be ready to move with all your force to Carnifix Ferry, and to take commanding position against the enemy in the opposite direction.

You add:

This raises the question, 'Have you more than force enough to do any one of these essential services.’

In reply, I beg leave to state that the strength of the three regiments of infantry and of the artillery comprised in my command at Dogwood Camp is this morning reported at 1,386 privates and non-commissioned officers present and fit for duty. Colonel Davis, commanding the cavalry, who, as you are aware, does not report to me, told me yesterday that the horses were so worn with scouting, and had suffered so much from want of shoes, that he had only 50 efficient cavalry. Of these, 5 were killed and wounded yesterday endeavoring to aid Colonel Jenkins in his unfortunate skirmish. Less than 1,440 men, with five guns, is, therefore, as far as I am aware, the total force here present at your disposal. Undivided, by the aid of artillery used in positions where artillery is available, and with the assistance of position, this force is sufficient, by the exercise of great vigilance, to effect one, and probably two, of the objects you specify, and partially to cover them all. I mean that of guarding the turnpike road and preventing the enemy from getting on our rear by crossing the New River. This, in my opinion, can only be securely done by occupying Dogwood Gap. If driven thence, or compelled to abandon this position, all the other objects you specify might, and probably would, be frustrated; that is to say, the defense of the Lewisburg road, the safety of your command, and your ability to succor General Floyd or cover his rear in case of reverse to his arms, or even otherwise, would be jeopardized.

I learned from you to-day that by reliable accounts the enemy had about 1,000 men at Gauley Bridge; 1,000 up the turnpike; 700 at the Hawk’s Nest, and 500 at Cotton Hill. This information has since been confirmed to me, with the addition that the force at Cotton Hill is 1,000 men.

The enemy, I am satisfied, is perfectly cognizant of our strength, or rather weakness, and immediately informed of all our movements. The moment we abandon Dogwood Gap, or leave it in a defenseless condition, even if he had received no further re-enforcements, he may, and doubtless would, advance along the turnpike and occupy or force the gap and hold it. In this case our communication, if we moved to Carnifix Ferry, or that of such portion of our force as moved thither, and also the communication of General Floyd with the turnpike, would be cut off; and the Legion, or a portion of it, starved into dispersion, while the remainder would become abortively weak. On the contrary, by holding Dogwood Gap, which with the present force may be successfully defended even if attacked in front and rear (considering that an attack from the rear could not be carried on for more than two or three days, even if General Floyd’s column was cut off from the ferry), the Legion would be strengthened every day. In the first place, reconnoitering and slight intrenchments will so strengthen the position as to require less force for secure defense. In the next few days rest for men and horses will much increase the efficiency of the now exhausted force, to say nothing of its augmentation by re-enforcements under way and of sick returning to their companies and collecting already on the road. {p.118} Further, from a secure position like Dogwood Gap comparatively rapid marches may be made within striking distance with the efficiency of double the number of men without this stronghold to fall back upon, because, leaving the baggage and provision in security, such marches may be made with what the men carry in their haversacks, or with one wagon, with picked team, per regiment, instead of with a number of under-horsed wagons, requiring the expedition force to guard them and delaying their advance. Hence with a secure possession of the gap, 400 or 500 men, and in a few days a much larger number, may be detached with impunity and efficiency, either to operate on the Sunday Road, or up to Carnifix Ferry, or toward the Fayetteville road and New River. This, if the force be divided, by detachment (beyond reach) of even one regiment, would become impossible. Without a nucleus to fall back upon nothing, in my opinion, can be effected-and it is little more than a nucleus now, although a valuable one. Dividing at this time would be like breaking up an army into isolated files. Not only the future efficiency and the present usefulness but the actual safety of the Legion would be unwarrantably imperiled under present circumstances by any but a very prudent course, and I must respectfully put on record my protest against the execution of certain orders which you have mentioned, and which, I am sure, could only have been conceived under erroneous impressions as to the strength and condition of the corps.

I am, general, respectfully, yours,


Brig. Gen. H. A. WISE, Commanding Wise’s Legion.


AUGUST 26, 1861.– Action at Cross-Lanes, near Summersville, W. Va.

Reports of Brig. General William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army.

CLARKSBURG, August 28, 1861.

General Cox reports, under date 27th, Seventh Ohio, under Tyler, advanced regiment at Cross-Lanes, below Summersville, was surprised by Floyd while eating his breakfast, and dispersed. Baggage trains saved and half the regiment come in. Other half continues to straggle in. Floyd, with five regiments and three guns, at Cross-Lanes, 5 miles below Summersville. Wise, with about the same force, on New River. General reports give Lee and Loring 10,000 men at Huntersville. Troops sickly. Reynolds endeavoring to get close information to-day. News not in yet. I have twenty-two companies infantry, one of cavalry, two guns at Sutton, and Mack’s battery; one regiment of ten companies at Bulltown to-night; ten companies more and mountain-howitzer battery will probably reach there to-morrow; eight companies of infantry tomorrow night; fifteen companies now on rail for this place, to go down as soon as possible; total, sixty-five infantry. They will be down there by Saturday evening. This will be all I can spare, unless news from Cheat Mountain indicates the possibility of using some of the eight regiments there.




AUGUST 28, 1861.

Dispatch from General Cox says “that Seventh Ohio, 5 miles below Summersville, on Gauley road, was overpowered by superior numbers {p.119} and scattered.” A good many missing, but thinks the casualties not great. Expects them all in. Has orders in full to hold his position at Gauley. Thinks he can do it. Enemy estimated at from 5,000 to 10,000. Am moving down all available force to Sutton. Will have fifty-five companies there by to-morrow evening. Expect to attack the enemy on Friday or Saturday, and crush his column, if possible, at or near Summersville.



AUGUST 28-30, 1861.– Skirmishes near Bailey’s Corners (or Cross-Roads), Va.


No. 1.–Maj. Stephen G. Champlin, Third Michigan Infantry.
No. 2.–Capt. Louis Dillman, Second Michigan Infantry.
No. 3.–Letter of commendation from General McClellan to Major Champlin.

No. 1.

Report of Maj. Stephen G. Champlin, Third Michigan Infantry.

HEADQUARTERS, Hunter’s Chapel, August 30, 1861.

I have the honor to report that this morning, while reconnoitering from the top of Mrs. Hunter’s house, the enemy was observed to send off from the top of the hill lying north of Bailey’s Corners two companies of infantry, who numbered about 200 men, who were marched in the direction of our pickets, stationed northeast of Bailey’s Corners and on the right of Captain Dillman’s position. I started immediately for Bailey’s Corners, to inform Captain Dillman and take steps for defense. I found that Captain Dillman was acquainted with the movement of the enemy.

A few moments after my arrival about 100 of the enemy attacked our pickets on the right side of the road, and occupying the Bailey out-houses and premises adjoining. An attack was also made on our line of pickets, extending as far as the first house on the direct road front Arlington Mill to Bailey’s Corners. The pickets returned the fire an retreated back on Captain Dillman’s command and upon the reserve stationed half way from Arlington Mill to Bailey’s Corners. I directed Captain Dillman to march one company of his men on the table-land to his right to a point opposite the enemy in the woods and deploy them as skirmishers, advance them across the road, and engage the enemy on their flank, while I brought up and engaged the enemy’s front with the reserve stationed half way to the mill, under command of Lieutenant Morris, and also with a portion of Captain Judd’s command, stationed near Arlington Mill. The order was executed, and the enemy retreated before the skirmishers, and would not and did not wait an engagement. Our pickets were re-established, and the forces of both sides are again in the same position they respectively occupied this morning. Our loss none [killed]; wounded, 1 or 2 slightly. The enemy were observed to carry off 3 of their own men, who were either killed or wounded.

Throughout the whole of this affair both officers and men behaved with great coolness and bravery, and I think the retreat was timely {p.120} for the enemy, for had they waited the advance, they must have been repulsed with considerable loss.

I have the honor to be, &c., your obedient servant,

S. G. CHAMPLIN, Major, Commanding Special Detachment.

Col. I. B. RICHARDSON, Commanding Fourth Brigade.


No. 2.

Report of Capt. Louis Dillman, Second Michigan Infantry.


On Thursday, August 28, in compliance with your order of same date, I left Hunter’s Chapel with a detachment of 250 men from the Second Michigan Regiment for Bailey’s Cross-Roads, to occupy and hold the same against the encroachments of the enemy’s forces in that vicinity. I reached the Cross-Roads at 10 a.m., and at once threw out pickets on the line shown by the map accompanying this report.* The rebel pickets opened their fire at once, and kept it up until about 10 p.m., ceasing at that time until daylight next morning, when it was again opened by them quite briskly along the whole line, but with no return from our pickets. Emboldened by our silence, a detachment of about 80 men was sent out from their camp, apparently with the intention of driving in pickets on the right of my line, thus cutting off all communication with the headquarters of the regiment. In this sally they were partially successful. The pickets were driven from their posts, but, rallying, and being supported by a detachment of 40 skirmishers hurriedly thrown out, under Captain Humphrey, the rebels were checked and driven back, with a loss of 6 or 8 killed and wounded.

The firing was kept up from both sides through the day with considerable effect from our side, the enemy carrying off some twelve men killed and wounded. Darkness closed the firing, to be reopened at daylight the next (Sunday) morning. It commenced on the left, and gradually worked along to the right until the whole line was warmly engaged. The firing continued through the day with but little intermission. The enemy were seen to carry a number off the field. Our loss was 1 wounded-a private in Company G. He has since died from the effect of the wound.

Sunday but little firing, except morning and evening.

Monday the same.

Two privates of Company D-J. Austin and P. F. Walworth-straying from camp, passed through the enemy’s lines and up to within some forty rods of the rear of their earthwork on Munson’s Hill. Seeing two rebels near, they watched their chance, each picked his man, fired, and brought him to the ground. They returned safely to camp. They report seeing about 500 men around the works. There were no tents in sight, but some twelve or fifteen wagons and two pieces of artillery were lying on the back of the hill. They also report seeing a large number of field officers busy looking over their maps and charts.

In concluding this report, allow me to say of the officers and men wider my charge that they behaved as soldiers, were cool in their deportment, {p.121} willingly and cheerfully performed every duty assigned them, and were found ever faithful at their posts. That we were able to keep up a continued skirmish of five days with the loss of but one man attests sufficiently to the general good conduct and faithfulness of both officers and men.

I have the honor, &c.,

L. DILLMAN, Captain, Comdg. Detachment Second Reg’t Mich. Infantry.


* Not found.


No. 3.

Letter of commendation from General McClellan to Major Champlin.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Washington, September 5, 1861.

GENERAL: Major General McClellan has received Maj. S. G. Champlin’s report of his reconnaissance and skirmish on the 30th ultimo. The general is much pleased with Major Champlin’s dispositions on the occasion, which he deems eminently proper, and he desires you to convey his thanks to Major Champlin for the efficient manner in which this service was performed.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Brig. Gen. I. B. RICHARDSON, Commanding Brigade, &c.


AUGUST 31, 1861.–Skirmish at Munson’s Hill, on Little River Turnpike, Va.

Report of Col. George W. Taylor, Third New Jersey Infantry.

CAMP OF THE THIRD REGIMENT NEW JERSEY VOLS., Bivouac at Intersection, September 2, 1861.

GENERAL: The pickets of the enemy having for some time been extremely annoying to our outposts on the Little River turnpike and on the road leading from thence to Chestnut Hill, I decided on making a reconnaissance in person, with a small force, with the view of cutting them off. Accordingly I marched with 40 men, volunteers from two companies of my regiment, on the morning of time 31st August, at 3 a.m., and keeping to the woods, arrived soon after daylight at or near the point (a little beyond) at which I desired to strike the road and cut them off. Here we were obliged to cross a fence and a narrow corn field, where the enemy, who had doubtless dogged our approach through the woods, lay in considerable force. While in the corn we were suddenly opened upon by a rapid and sharp fire, which our men, whenever they got sight of the enemy, returned with much spirit. Scarce two minutes elapsed when I found 3 men close to me had been shot down. The enemy being mostly hid, I deemed it prudent to order my men to fall back to the woods, distant about 30 yards, which I did. At the same time I ordered enough to remain with me to carry off the wounded, but they did not hear or heed my order except two. With these we got {p.122} all off, as I supposed (the corn being thick), but Corporal Hand, Company I, who, when I turned him over, appeared to be dying. I took his musket, also the musket of one of the wounded, and returned to the woods to rally the men. I regret to say that none of them could be found, nor did I meet them until I reached the blacksmith-shop, three-quarters of a mile distant.

Here I found Captain Regur, Company I, with his command. Re-enforcing him with 25 men of the picket, then in charge of Captain Vickers, Third Regiment New Jersey Volunteers, with the latter he immediately marched back to bring in Corporal Hand and any others still missing. He reports that on reaching the ground he found the enemy in increased force, and did not re-enter the corn field, in which I think he was justified.

I should have stated that quite a number of the enemy were in full view in the road when we jumped the fence and charged them, and that each man in the charge, Captain Regur leading by my side, seemed eager to be foremost; nor did one, to my knowledge, flinch from the contest until my order to fall back to the woods, which, unfortunately, they misconstrued into a continuous retreat to our pickets. The enemy seemed to have retreated very soon after, as the firing had ceased before I left.

The 3 wounded men are doing well, except 1.* As near as I can ascertain there were 3 of the enemy shot down. The whole affair did not last ten minutes.

The officers with me were Captain Regur, Company I, First Lieutenant Taylor, and Second Lieutenant Spencer, both of the same company.

All of which I have the honor, respectfully, to report.

GEO. W. TAYLOR, Colonel Third Regiment New Jersey Volunteers.

Brig. Gen. P. KEARNY, Commanding Brigade.

* Nominal list of casualties shows 2 killed and 3 wounded.


SEPTEMBER 2, 1861.– Skirmish near the Hawk’s Nest, W. Va.

Reports of Brig. Gen. Henry A. Wise, C. S. Army.


From Carnifix Ferry I returned to Dogwood Gap, and finding my men very weary with their march to and from the ferry, I rested them for the night, and gave orders for them to move early in the morning upon the Hawk’s Nest. Stripping each regiment of infantry down to six companies, or 300 men, with three pieces of artillery, and about 250 cavalry (making in all about 1,250), I marched the day before yesterday morning down to Hamilton’s within half a mile of the Hawk’s Nest. Feeling our way cautiously, late in the evening I advanced upon Turkey Creek, leading the advance guard myself in person. About dusk we arrived at McGraw’s bridge, over Turkey Creek, and were then fired upon (a very short time hotly) by the enemy, concealed in the corn fields and brush-wood on both sides, and just as we were crossing the bridge. I am proud to say that the guard (Captain Summers’ company) stood {p.123} their ground and behaved handsomely, returning the fire promptly, and I led them across the bridge, the enemy disappearing before us on the quick advance of our column. Night coming on, I thought it prudent to rest on our arms for the time, and it is well we did, for the next day (yesterday) I found him in ambuscade and intrenched very strongly at Big Creek. At McGraw’s I ascertained his position. The turnpike downwards towards McGraw’s turns to the right, descending a long hill On the margin of Big Creek. Crossing the creek over a narrow bridge, it passes up the right bank of the creek some 400 yards, and then turns through a gap, directly back, towards New River, around a high and isolated spur of mountain, and just at the turn a mountain road comes in to the turnpike from Rich Creek, on the Gauley. There, on the hills in front, at the junction of the roads, and around the sharp angle of the turnpike, back of the mountain, I found the enemy in considerable force, impossible to be told, from their being perfectly concealed. Seeing no other alternative to drive them out, I determined to drop a battalion across the creek, and charge them in the front, on the mountain side, which was bravely done by parts of three companies, Summers’, Ryan’s, and Janes’ (about 120 men). They crossed silently until they rose the hill, and then, with a shout, drove the enemy to the top, they flying most cowardly, dropping guns, hats, canteens, &c., until my men reached the top and got above them. I then brought up a howitzer, and with shot and shell soon cleared the front and sides of the mountain next to us, but soon found that the enemy were thick in the gorges of the creek running up towards Rich Creek Gap. There was danger then of their turning my right flank, and I found it hazardous to pass the gap in face of their rifled cannon, which they had played over our heads for some time.

Having sent the companies of the Second Regiment up Turkey Creek, to come around the head of Big Creek, in their rear or left flank, I paused to wait for Colonel Anderson to come upon them and to feel their position and numbers still further. In this time they were re-enforced with six companies and several pieces of artillery from Gauley. They had 1,250 in position, and their re-enforcements increased their numbers to 1,800 men of all arms, cavalry as well as infantry and artillery. They had about 75 horses.

Having attained my object, to secure Millers Ferry and Liken’s Mill (both essential to our uses), I fell back to Hamilton’s, and am encamped there and at Westlake’s Creek, guarding the ferry, the boat of which I have raised and am now repairing. But, sir, this point is liable to attack at all times from the rear by paths which converge from Gauley and Rich Creek at Sugar Gap, and come down to the turnpike at this place and at Shade Creek. I have left but six companies at Dogwood Gap, with two pieces of artillery, and have but three here to guard the three essential points. As your forces are now near 3,000 men, I beg that you will return to my Legion the corps of artillery, with their guns belonging to it, which you have, the measles having so thinned my ranks that I need all the men belonging to my command and double as many more. I have ordered Caskie, with General Beckley’s militia, down the Loop, and by this time they are there. The day before yesterday they fought the enemy at Cotton Hill, and drove them within 2 miles of Montgomery’s Ferry. General Chapman has arrived there now with about 1,600 men, and our communication with him will be opened to-day or to-morrow. Some days ago you asked for Colonel Croghan. I now send him to you, to be transferred to your brigade if {p.124} you desire it. If you will advance upon Gauley, I will amuse the enemy in front upon this road.

Very respectfully,

HENRY A. WISE, Brigadier-General.

Brigadier-General FLOYD, Commanding, &c.


CAMP NEAR HAWK’S NEST, VA., September 5, 1861.

GENERAL: Yours of August 31 was received last evening. It is very gratifying to me to receive the approbation with which you commend my humble command, and particularly coming from you; but, sir, pardon me for saying that it does not meet my complaint that I am continually harassed with orders to do nothing but hard marching, to no end or purpose but to distract and dishearten all independent effort and action of my Legion. Before I was marched to Carnifix, to march back again under orders which were changed four times in forty-eight hours, and after every appointment of co-operation essential to safety and success had been counteracted by General Floyd, precisely the same wrong has been repeated. On the 31st ultimo General Floyd informed me that the enemy had abandoned Gauley Bridge, and were then advancing upon him, and said if this information was correct I should send him my strongest regiment to the top of the hill, near Gauley, with a good battery, so as to be perfectly in reach of him in case of need; and that I should at once advance with the remainder of my command and take possession of the camp at the month of the Gauley. He asked me also to send him two companies of efficient cavalry (his had been cut to pieces, under Colonel Jenkins, interfering with my immediate command, and he had sent them to Greenbrier recruiting, and was measurably without dragoon force, though I had sent him 100 troopers already). Such was the order of the morning of that day.

On the same day, at 5 p.m., I received from him another note, dated at 12 noon, saying that he had received information through scouts that the enemy were advancing from Gauley Bridge in that (his) direction; that they were within 12 miles of him, and ordered that I would send him without delay 1,000 of my infantry, my best battery, and one squadron of horse. This note was received at 5 p.m., and I marched the next morning again to Carnifix, with two out of the three regiments of infantry, three out of five pieces of artillery (having sent him three before out of eight pieces), and two troops of cavalry. This left, for this entire turnpike and the old State road, from Gauley to Lewisburg (with innumerable and indescribable mountain paths leading into the rear everywhere), one regiment of infantry, two pieces of artillery, and about 100 efficient horse, and-this, too, when General Floyd was re-enforced by Tompkins’ two regiments (800 strong), another of his own brigade, just arrived (from 600 to 800 strong), and three pieces of artillery and 61 men from my Legion, making his force, in all (his own 1,200, re-enforcements 1,600) 2,800 men, with five pieces of artillery, in an intrenched and almost impregnable position, while my force left at Dogwood, with which I was to take the camp at the mouth of Gauley, was reduced by measles and the re-enforcement of him to about 500 infantry, two pieces of artillery, with 60 men, and about 100 efficient horse, in all, 660 men. Yet again I marched to Carnifix, Through stalling roads, and just reached the river and was descending to the ferry-boat {p.125} when General Floyd’s adjutant put into my hands another note, of September 1, saying that it was doubtful whether the movement of the enemy required the union of my force with his, and I would retain my force in camp (meaning at Dogwood) until further orders.

To this note was also added a sneering order at Colonel Henningsen, my senior colonel of infantry, too small to be indited here. Justly vexed at this vacillation of command, I ordered my men back immediately, and announced to them my resolution to take Hawk’s Nest, with-out delay, in order to command Liken’s Mill (to grind wheat and corn for them) and Miller’s Ferry (to communicate with Generals Chapman and Beckley), and take possession of Cotton Hill, south side of New River. It was-night before I reached Dogwood Camp, and my men were weary, and some of my wagons broken down. I therefore rested my men for the night, waited for the wagons, and, on the morning of the 2d, marched for the Hawk’s Nest. Between Hamilton’s and that point we met their pickets, who retired. We paused to refresh and scouted ahead. In that pause some of our men were fired upon at McGraw’s Bridge, over Honey Creek. Dinner over, I advanced, taking command of the advance guard in person, in order to look to untried men, who had never been under fire before. At about dusk, with one company, I cautiously reached the bridge, and just then the enemy opened a hot fire, for a very short time, upon us. The guard were disturbed a moment by the horse of Captain Swank, who was in advance with me, but Captain Summers, of the guard, rallied them in a moment, and, at a word from me, they advanced firmly, returning the fire, and, rushing over, as the column advanced, we swept the field on the right, the river guarding our left. It turned out to be a force of from 30 to 50 of the enemy, who fled at our approach, and disappeared in bushes and darkness. But 2 of our men were wounded, and they slightly. I then halted, posted guards, and slept on arms. Then I found the true position of the enemy. From the Hawk’s Nest the turnpike leads, first, over Turkey Creek, then over Honey or McGraw’s Creek, all emptying into New River, and heading with Rich Creek, and emptying into Gauley, thus:


I learned their force was three companies regularly posted, and 1,000 lately advanced to re-enforce them, making in all about 1,250 infantry, 75 troopers, and several pieces of artillery, intrenched on the west side of Big Creek. The road there passes down a hill nearly north to the bridge, on the east side of Big Creek, crosses and passes up on the west side, nearly to its forks, through deep gorges, and then cuts at an acute angle, sharp and sudden, around a terrapin-backed mountain, very steep, and runs quite back to New River, making the position very strong, and suddenly bringing my advancing column exposed to a full sweep of artillery. On the north terminus of the mountain we found the advance of the enemy posted. My force was three regiments of infantry, reduced to six companies each (by forces left at Dogwood), and these companies, reduced by measles to about 50 each, effective men, making 900 infantry, and three pieces of artillery (a howitzer, a rifle, and smooth bore 6 pounder), and about 300 effective horse, of no use in the attack.

Moreover, I reduced my force to two regiments by sending Colonel Anderson, with the Second, back to Turkey Creek, to take a trace-road, leading from Turkey Creek to the mountain ridge, and thence around head of Big Creek, to fall on the enemy’s left flank. To contest the bridge and the angle of the road there I had but 600 infantry and 3 pieces of artillery. I tried the enemy bypassing a few men over unmolested, and thereby I knew he meant to entrap us. Determined to feel his very pulse, I passed three companies straight across Big Creek to the opposite side of a steep mountain, and drove him up and over. They fled incontinently, dropping guns, hats, canteens, &c. and my men gained the summit, and looked down into their very camps, keeping upon them an irregular skirmish fire. They were studiously hid on the other side, but we saw their tents, cannon, and baggage train in close gun-shot. I then shelled the mountain side, and drove them from the point of the road next to me, and they answered my howitzer with a rifled gun. Clearing the mountain side, we paused for Anderson. Unfortunately he lost his way, and returned, effecting nothing. I then fell back and encamped so as to cover Miller’s Ferry and Liken’s Mill, near the Hawk’s Nest, and here I am determined to incubate a brood of results in that eyrie, if I can, in co-operation with Generals Chapman and Beckley. I have sent Caskie (of cavalry) already down Loop Creek, below the Falls of Kanawha, to strike a blow and on the 2d the militia drove the enemy across Montgomery’s Ferry. I will mount my rifled 6-pounder on Cotton Hill in a day or two and salute their camp at Gauley Bridge, where they are said to have eighteen pieces of all calibers. I omitted to say, while waiting for Anderson, that the enemy were re-enforced by six companies and several pieces of artillery from Gauley. When Anderson came up we would have had to attack 1,800 or 2,000 (double our number), and, having gained my point, I fell back. I shall cross New River with part of my forces, and I repeat my request to be defended from these vexatious orders of General Floyd. Let me get out of the way of these, and I will enter the Kanawha Valley near Charleston.

I beg you to order me south of New River. Now that General Floyd has two regiments added to his command from Georgia and North Carolina, he will have near 4,000 troops without me, and can defend this turnpike and Carnifix, too, with out my Legion; and he will not be without it either, for my movement on Charleston will weaken the enemy at Gauley in every way more than anything else can. Please take command of me. I had rather have your censure then than your compliments now, acting under and not co-operating with General Floyd.


Colonel Tompkins begs me to apply to you, too, to have his regiment and himself transferred to my Legion. I earnestly urge his request, that they be incorporated with my independent command. I do not wish them if they are merely to be attached. If incorporated General Floyd will have added or attached to his command McCausland’s and I will have incorporated Tompkins’ regiment with mine. Thus let us divide the balance of State forces, and then let us part in peace. I feel, if we remain together, we will unite in more wars than one. I will try to be patient and peaceable, as you command, but I lay these facts before you, sir, and appeal to a soldier’s pride and sense of honor.

With the highest respect, yours, faithfully,


General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.

P. S.-The enemy now in the valley and adjacent parts is 5,800 strong, and has the measles badly. He cannot fight more than 5,000, probably.

THURSDAY MORNING, September 6, 1861.

Capt. R. A. Caskie has just arrived from the other side of the New River, and reports having heard from the enemy, through persons (ladies) who had been permitted to visit their camp and pass through to a funeral, that one shot from the howitzer, which took effect on an old house, killed and wounded 60 who had been stationed therein. It is very certain that one gun did very good execution.


SEPTEMBER 4, 1861.–Skirmish at Great Falls, Md.

Report of Brig. Gen. George A. McCall, U. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS PENNSYLVANIA RESERVE, Camp Tennally, September 5, 1861.

GENERAL: In relation to my command, I have the honor to report that the enemy having opened fire on the Seventh Infantry of this brigade at Great Falls at 8.30 a.m. yesterday, with two 24-pounder howitzers and three rifle cannon, it was ascertained that our guns did not reach their position (the intrenchment in rear of Dickey’s house, already reported), and Colonel Harvey having reported these facts to me, I immediately sent forward two rifle cannon and the Eighth Infantry to support the Seventh, but afterwards recalled the Eighth, as instructed. At 1 o’clock, however, the Eighth was again put in motion. I afterwards learned that the enemy, after throwing about 50 shells and shot, mostly too high, ceased firing at 11 a.m., which up to 5 p.m. had not been resumed. I have as yet received no report of later date. My brigade was kept ready to move during the day and night.

The work on the redoubt will probably be finished to-day. One gun 15 mounted, and should the pintles arrive to-day I hope to have them all mounted. Will you please order a 20-pounder rifle gun for this work.

Colonel Campbell desires that two companies of his regiment of artillery now encamped in rear of the Capitol be sent here, as we have ample drill ground, and I rather approve his request, as the Sixth Regiment, recently removed from that camp, has suffered greatly from typhoid fever, no doubt contracted there.


Since the above was written I have received Colonel Harvey’s report up to 7 a.m. He had received two rifle guns from General Banks besides those I sent. The enemy had thrown up another small earthwork, but had not opened upon our position since 11 a.m. yesterday. His guns were still in position.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

GEO. A. MCCALL, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, Commanding, &c.


SEPTEMBER 10, 1861.– Engagement at Carnifix Ferry, Gauley River, West Virginia.


No. 1.–Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army, commanding Army of Occupation.
No. 2.–Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
No. 3.–Col. William H. Lytle, Tenth Ohio Infantry.
No. 4.–Lieut. Col. Carr B. White, Twelfth Ohio Infantry.
No. 5.–Capt. James D. Wallace, Twelfth Ohio Infantry.
No. 6.–Col. William S. Smith, Thirteenth Ohio Infantry.
No. 7.–Col. Robert L. McCook, Ninth Ohio Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.
No. 8.–Lieut. Col. Charles Sondershoff, Ninth Ohio Infantry.
No. 9.–Col. Augustus Moor, Twenty-eighth Ohio Infantry.
No. 10.–Col. Frederick Poschner, Forty-seventh Ohio Infantry.
No. 11.–Capt. F. Schambeck, Chicago Dragoons.
No. 12.–Col. Eliakim P. Scammon, Twenty-third Ohio Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.
No. 13.–Col. Hugh Ewing, Thirtieth Ohio Infantry.
No. 14.–Return of casualties in Union forces.
No. 15.–Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, C. S. Army, commanding Army of the Kanawha, and response of the Secretary of War.
No. 16.–Brig. Gen. Henry A. Wise, C. S. Army, covering the operations of his command from June to September 23.

No. 1.

Reports of Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army, commanding Army of Occupation, West Virginia.

CAMP SCOTT, September 11, 1861-p.m.

We yesterday marched 17 1/2 miles, reached the enemy’s intrenched position in front of Carnifix Ferry, driving his advanced outposts and pickets before us. We found him occupying a strongly intrenched position, covered by a forest too dense to admit its being seen at a distance of 300 yards. His force was five regiments, besides the one driven in. He had probably sixteen pieces of artillery.

At 3 o’clock we began a strong reconnaissance, which proceeded to such length we were about to assault the position on the flank and front, when, night coming on and our troops being completely exhausted, I drew them out of the woods and posted them in the order of battle behind ridges immediately in front of the enemy’s position, where they rested on their arms till morning.


Shortly after daylight a runaway contraband came in and reported that the enemy had crossed the Gauley during the night by means of the ferry and a bridge which they had completed.

Colonel Ewing was ordered to take possession of the camp, which he did about 7 o’clock, capturing a few prisoners, two stands of colors, a considerable quantity of arms and quartermaster’s stores, messing and camp equipage.

The enemy having destroyed the bridge across the Gauley, which here rushes through a deep gorge, and our troops being still much fatigued, and having no material for immediately repairing the bridge, it was thought prudent to encamp the troops, occupy the ferry and the captured camp, sending a few rifle-cannon shots after the enemy to produce a moral effect.

Our loss would probably amount to 20 killed and 100 wounded. The enemy’s loss has not been ascertained, but from report it must have been considerable.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, Commanding.



HEADQUARTERS A. O. W. VA., Cross-Lanes, September 21, 1861.

SIR: By telegram I have advised you of the movements of the column under my command up to the evening of the 9th instant. On the evening of the 11th I announced those of the 10th and the battle of Carnifix Ferry, which resulted in dislodging Floyd from his intrenched camp and the capture of two stands of colors, a quantity of ammunition and camp and garrison equipage. I have now the honor to submit, for the information of the Commander-in-Chief a more detailed report of the battle, accompanied by the reports of the brigade, regimental, and detachment commanders who took part in the action, with a list of the killed and wounded, and a plan of the intrenchments, exhibiting the position of our forces when night put a stop to our operations.*

Having driven the enemy’s pickets before us from Big Birch, we bivouacked 8 miles above Summersville. The column began to move at 4.15 on the morning of the 10th, and reached Summersville at 8 o’clock, having been delayed by a burned bridge. Found the town evacuated by a regiment of infantry and a company of cavalry, which had retreated towards the intrenched camp. Two cavalry prisoners, stragglers from their company, were captured, from whom we found that Floyd was strongly intrenched and confident of holding his position against great odds in front of Carnifix Ferry.

From this point the column moved cautiously but rapidly forward over 4 miles of very bad roads, forming almost a defile, and then over more open country, until the head of it reached a point where the first road leading to the ferry diverges from the lower road to Gauley Bridge, on which we were marching. Reached there about 2 o’clock, and halted for half an hour for the column and train to close up, and then began to move down towards the rebels’ position, said to be about 2 1/2 miles distant. Picket-firing commenced at the head of the column within three-quarters of a mile. The First Brigade, under General {p.130} Benham, the Tenth Ohio ahead, led the column, and soon reached a camp which had been abandoned, leaving some camp equipage and private baggage, which gave rise to the impression in the mind of the brigade commander that the enemy were in full retreat. Satisfied however, that we should find it was not so, I directed Brigadier-General Benham to move forward with his brigade slowly and cautiously into the woods, for the purpose of reconnoitering. He was directed to be very careful to feel the enemy closely, but not to engage him unless he saw an evident opening. Orders were dispatched to the other brigades to follow. The Tenth Ohio followed the road shown on the accompanying plan. The Thirteenth Ohio closed up behind. The Twelfth Ohio, as soon as the head of it arrived at the woods at the deserted camp, as shown on the accompanying plan, was directed to take a beaten path leading to the left of the road, but apparently nearly parallel to it. Twenty-five minutes after the column left the deserted camp terrific volleys of muskier and the roar of the rebels’ artillery told that we were upon them, and indicated the right of their position, a point to which the twelfth Ohio was directed to proceed.

A message from General Benham reached me at the deserted camp, announced that an engagement had commenced, and that he wanted help. Having the Tenth and Thirteenth with him, McMullin’s howitzer battery and two rifled cannon were sent forward to the head of the column, and he was informed that the Twelfth had been ordered to his left, on the right of the rebels’ works. Orders were dispatched to hasten the coming up of the Second and Third Brigades, under Colonels McCook and Scammon, and I proceeded to the head of the column to ascertain the position of the First Brigade and reconnoiter the rebels’ works more closely. Arrived there, I found the Tenth Ohio and the batteries in the position indicated on the accompanying plan, the Thirteenth and a portion of the Twelfth in the valley in the rear of the position marked twenty-eighth on this plan. I proceeded into the valley to examine the right of the rebels’ position, and afterwards to the corn field, in the rear of which was the Tenth, to examine that portion of the rebels’ works visible from that point. I then awaited report of a reconnoitering party which had gone through the woods still farther to the enemy’s left, entirely invisible from our position. Heavy volleys of musketry and the discharge of artillery soon told that this party had made its appearance in front of an unknown part of the rebels’ position. Meanwhile our skirmishers kept up a well-directed fire along the whole of the enemy’s left, while Schneider’s rifled battery, taking a more advantageous position, and McMullin’s howitzer battery continued to play on the rebels’ guns at the battery shown on the plan.

Meanwhile Col. W. S. Smith, of the Thirteenth, and Captain Margedant, acting engineer, reported the practicability of reaching the rebels’ extreme right, if not turning it. Orders were accordingly given that Col. W. S. Smith, with the Thirteenth Ohio and four companies of the Twelfth, re-enforced by the Twenty-eighth from the Second Brigade, and four companies of the Twenty-third of the Third Brigade, which had been directed by Captain Margedant to reconnoiter the rebels’ extreme right and had reached the position shown on the plan, to make the attack on that point. Lieutenant-Colonel Korff, with the Tenth and a portion of the Twelfth which had become detached from the remainder and passed over to our right, was directed to advance to the right of the corn field to attack the rebel center and left. (See plan.)

The storming column of eight companies of the Ninth and six companies of the Forty-seventh was formed in the position shown on the {p.131} plan. By this time it became dusk, the men were exhausted, the brush thick and tangled, and the strength and condition of the rebels, as well as the extent of their works, very imperfectly known. At the same time came a report from Col. W. S. Smith, stating that it would be impossible for his command to make their way through the brush and attack from the position which they occupied, as shown on the plan, owing to the darkness; a like report came to me from Lieutenant-Colonel Sondershoff, commanding the Ninth, who, while avowing himself ready to obey orders, stated that he did not believe the men in their present state of exhaustion would be able to make the assault.

Under these circumstances I deemed it prudent to withdraw our forces from the woods to the open fields in rear of the intrenched camp. (See bottom of the plan.) To cover this withdrawal, the batteries which had discontinued firing were ordered into position, and directed, in a tone of voice intended to be heard by the enemy, to give them “Hail Columbia,” and with the same intention the Ninth was called for and ordered to ambush them well. The regimental commanders were then ordered to lead their men quietly out by the flank, while the Ninth and the Third Brigade, including Mack’s battery, were directed from their position, as shown in the plan, to dispose themselves to cover the movement and prevent the mischief which might have been done by a vigorous sortie. Captain Hartsuff directed the columns as they withdrew through the narrow roads and amidst the darkness and separated the commands in the fields in rear of the Third Brigade; after which, all my staff being worn-out, I arranged the troops in order of battle on ground still farther to the rear, looked after the train which remained at the point of our halt, and at 2 o’clock retired to an oat loft to sleep, leaving Colonel Ewing in command of the advanced guard posted in-the woods.

The wounded were conveyed to a barn and house immediately in rear of the troops, with the exception of a few who fell near the rebels’ works and were not found till the next day. More exhausted troops I never saw than ours. Early the next morning one of our sentries brought a runaway negro, who reported that the enemy had abandoned their camp during the night, crossed the Gauley, and destroyed their boats. I ordered Colonel Ewing with his troops to verify the truth of the statement, which he soon did, returning with a stand of colors. Having taken possession of the camp and a few sick prisoners, I proceeded to the extremity of the camp, and saw that the ferry was gone, foot-bridge destroyed, and the enemy’s column out of sight, with the exception of a few wagons. The Gauley here runs through a deep gorge, a continuous fall for 12 or 15 miles, with here and there a small pool. The descent to the ferry from this side is by a narrow wagon track, winding around a rocky hill-side. The ascent from the other side is by a road passing up the Meadow River, which is in a deep rocky gorge, the bottom being little wider than the bed of the river and the side ascending precipitously to the height of nearly 300 feet. For 2 miles the road gradually ascends until it reaches the top of the hill, when the country becomes high, rolling, and partially cultivated.

Finding we had no means whatever of crossing the ferry, which is here 370 feet wide, pursuit was impossible, though much desired. The rebels, aware of this, left a body of skirmishers to occupy the cliffs along Meadow River down to the ferry to prevent small parties from crossing. Orders were therefore given to go into camp, that the troops might rest. Camp Gauley, the captured camp, was occupied, and the captured property taken care of; a return of which is herewith inclosed. Orders {p.132} were given to Colonel McCook to drive the rebels from the other side of the river, take possession of the heights with two or three companies, and Brigadier-General Benham was directed to repair the roads and ferry. General Cox had been instructed, on hearing the fire of our cannon, to operate a diversion with all his disposable troops in this direction. In expectation that our cannon would be heard, it was anticipated that he would open communication with us at least by the evening of the 11th, when, not hearing from him, messengers were dispatched towards Gauley, but had such difficulty in passing his pickets that it was not until the morning of the 12th that the defeat of Floyd and his escape from us reached him. Dispatches directed him to advance with all his available force on the Lewisburg road, but cautiously, until he should find whether the rebels were in retreat or in force.

Papers found in camp showed that Floyd’s force consisted of at least five regiments, two batteries, and a battalion of cavalry, and that a Georgia and a North Carolina regiment were waiting him on the Lewisburg road, and had expected to join him within a day. Wise’s force not having been put at less than 2,000, I feared they might fall on and crush Cox before we could cross. I was speedily relieved from these fears by a report from him from the month of Sunday road, saying that the rebels were in full retreat, and he had been within two hours of their rear guard. By this time one of’ the small ferry-boats had been got up, and Colonel McCook’s brigade was passed over to re-enforce Cox; since which you have been advised of our movements by telegraph.

I cannot close this report without bearing testimony to the patience, perseverance, and indomitable energy of the troops, both officers and men, under my command in this column, most of whom had been in motion over rugged mountains and rough roads for the last two months, sleeping in heavy dews and cold rains, not unfrequently without tents, and several of whom had averaged 20 miles a day for the last two weeks previous to the commencement of this march. That on the day of battle they should have marched 17 1/2 miles and then fought a battle of three hours, struggling through demise forests covered with undergrowth, is a most convincing proof of these virtues, which I doubt not will excite the admiration of the Commander-in-Chief:

I beg leave also to signalize Col. W. H. Lytle for the gallantry with which he led his troops into action; Col. W. S. Smith for the great energy and perseverance with which he pushed the reconnaissance on the enemy’s left and for his coolness and courage in leading his column to the attack, and Capt. G. L. Hartsuff, Assistant Adjutant-General, who, by his presence at the head of the column and the energy and promptitude with which he directed messengers and conveyed orders, as well as the good judgment evinced in giving directions during my absence while I was reconnoitering and in separating and placing the troops as they emerged from the woods, deserves especial mention.

For details I refer you to the reports of Brigadier-General Benham, First Brigade; Col. R. L. McCook, Second Brigade; Col. E. P. Scammon, Third Brigade; to which, respectively, are appended the lists of the killed and wounded, amounting in the aggregate to 16 killed and 100 wounded.**

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Col. E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.

* To appear in Atlas.

** See report No. 14, p. 146.


No. 2.

Report of Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, A. O. W. VA., Camp Scott, September 12, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to report as follows in relation to the operation of my brigade in the battle at the rebel intrenchments at Carnifix Ferry on the 10th instant.

As previously stated to you, the head of my brigade started from the camp, 8 miles north of Summersville, at about 4 a.m., reaching that place before 8 a.m. in good order, and with the men eager for the continuance of the march toward the enemy, who we there ascertained were well intrenched and determined to resist us near Carnifix Ferry. After a halt of nearly two hours about 1 mile short of the Cross-Lanes, we moved rapidly forward toward the position of the enemy, until our arrival at the site of this camp, about 1 mile from their intrenchments, a little past 2 o’clock, when, after a reconnaissance by you, myself accompanying you, I was authorized to move forward with my brigade, using my best discretion in the case. Upon receiving this order, and with the mass of my brigade well closed up, which had been accomplished during our reconnaissance, I moved carefully forward, with the Tenth Ohio Regiment leading, having our skirmishers well ahead and at the flanks for nearly three-fourths of a mile, when we discovered through the opening of the woods on our left their intrenchments in an open space beyond a deep and steep valley and crowning the crest of the opposite hill.

Having no engineer officer with my brigade, and no other that I knew of to replace one, I kept with the head of the regiment to avoid ambuscade and to judge myself of their position and arrangements. After advancing about one-fourth of a mile to the end of the woods I halted the command, and could perceive that a heavy cross-fire had been prepared for us at the open space at the debouch from the woods, and I at once forbid the advance of the regiment beyond this point. Within some five minutes after this time (nearly 3.30 o’clock), while carefully examining the earthworks on the road in front and their log breastworks on our left, a tremendous fire of musketry was opened on us, which in a few minutes was followed by a discharge of grape and spelter-canister from a battery of some six pieces of artillery. This caused a break in the line for a few minutes, though for a few minutes only, for the men immediately returned to the ranks under the lead of their officers to their former position, where I retained them, as I was certain that the fire at us through the close woods was without direct aim, and because they were needed for the protection of our artillery, which I immediately ordered up. The two rifled guns of Captain Schneider, and Captain McMullin, with his four mountain howitzers, immediately followed, throwing their shells well into their intrenchments on our left with excellent effect.

A further examination of their position convinced me that their weak part and our true point of attack was on the right flank across the deep valley from our position, upon which orders were immediately sent to Colonel Smith, of the Thirteenth Regiment, and to Colonel Lowe, of the Twelfth Regiment, to advance and pass the valley on our left, under cover of the woods, to that attack. Neither of these regiments was to be found in their proper position on the road in my rear as I had expected, though after a short time Colonel Smith was met with on our {p.134} right, where he had been drawn into the woods by the belief, from the sound of the firing, that the attack was upon our right. Upon receipt of my order, however, Colonel Smith moved rapidly across the main road down the ravine valley on our left, where he fortunately struck upon the most advantageous route, and thence he moved up the opposite hill, entirely past the right flank of the enemy. But as I had been unable to find the Twelfth Regiment to send to his support (though I have since learned that three companies under Lieutenant-Colonel White had joined him), his movement became principally a reconnaissance, from which he soon after returned, reporting to me his opinion of the entire practicability of a successful attack upon the rebel intrenchments at that point, he having entirely passed by the breastwork on the right, approaching within about one hundred yards of their lines, pouring a fire into them which it is since satisfactorily ascertained cleared that part of that breastwork of the enemy.

As I was still unable to ascertain the position of the Twelfth Regiment, which it has been reported to me had been ordered into the woods by the commanding general, I sent one of my staff to Colonel McCook, commanding the Second Brigade, to ask him to aid the Thirteenth in this attack with his Ninth Regiment, to which request a reply was returned to me that there were other orders from the commanding general, as stated to my aide by Assistant Adjutant-General Captain Hartsuff. In this state of affairs I could only hold my position in front with the Tenth Regiment protecting the artillery, which was endeavoring to silence the cannon of the enemy, which was to a considerable extent accomplished after the first fifteen or twenty minutes, their guns being removed to other positions, as was then done also with one-half of Schneider’s and McMullin’s pieces, to enfilade the crest of the hill from the edge of the woods on our right, which gave a fair view of their battery at some 380 yards’ distance.

At about this time, or one hour after the commencement of the action, Colonel Lytle, of the Tenth, though not ordered by me, and while I was still endeavoring to obtain troops for the attack from our left, made a very gallant attempt to approach their battery through the cleared space in front of it with a portion of his command, which of course failed from the smallness of his force in that exposed situation, he himself being severely wounded and compelled to retire, with the loss of several of his men killed and wounded.

Colonel Lowe, of the Twelfth, also at a subsequent period made a similar attempt, and, as far as I can learn, without orders, in which, I regret to say, he fell, being instantly killed by a discharge of canister from the enemy.

The above comprises the sum of the action of the portion of my brigade that was with me until you arrived on the field and assumed the direction of affairs; some time after which arrival you also arranged for and directed this attack upon their right with Colonel Smith’s regiment and a part of the Twelfth and the Forty-seventh, Colonel Moor. This attack, as having been directed by myself, you will recollect, I offered to lead upon the enemy, recommending at the same time a simultaneous demonstration or attack by the Ninth and Twelfth Regiments under cover of the woods from our right. The command moved forward, however, under direction of Colonel Smith, but from the lateness of the hour it was compelled to return without attempting anything, and the lateness of the hour then seemed to forbid further operations for the day.

There remains now but the grateful duty of acknowledging the valuable services of the different commanders and other officers as far as known to me in this brigade, provisionally assigned tome within the past week only.


The personal gallantry and chivalrous daring of Colonel Lytle are attested by his wound and the exposed position in which he received it; and the soldierly conduct and bravery of his lieutenant-colonel (Korff) and his major (Burke) I myself personally witnessed many times during the action.

In Col. W. S. Smith, of the Thirteenth Ohio Regiment, I have found one of the most valuable and efficient officers I have ever known. His great intelligence, knowledge of his profession, skill and caution, coolness and excellent judgment on all occasions, both previous to and during the action, merit my highest praise. His lieutenant-colonel (Mason), wounded during the attack upon their right flank, I saw bravely ready to guide the way to the second attack, and the major (Hawkins), both in this action and on all other occasions since my connection with this regiment, has shown himself a most courageous and valuable officer; and Lieutenant-Colonel White, of the Twelfth, I found during the action earnestly seeking the opportunity to advance against the lines of the enemy, which he soon found in joining Colonel Smith with his three companies of the Thirteenth, where he rendered most efficient service.

Of Captain Schneider, commanding the two rifled pieces of the Thirteenth Ohio Regiment, and of Captain McMullin, commanding the mountain-howitzer battery, I can speak in the highest terms for their courage and soldierly skill in the conduct of their batteries, which repeatedly silenced the artillery fire of the enemy and forced it to change positions.

And of my staff officers, but recently connected with me on such duty, I have the most satisfactory report to make. Lieut. James O. Stanage, Thirteenth Ohio, as acting assistant adjutant-general, has constantly rendered most valuable services in the performance of his proper duties, and, together with my aide, Lieut. S. B. Warren, Twenty-third Ohio, were constantly by my side through the hottest of the fire, while not bearing orders to the different parts of the field; and Mr. W. L. Mallory, the acting commissary and quartermaster of the brigade, rendered during the early part of the day most valuable service in arranging the advance of the column, and in accompanying the skirmishers, a duty fully as exposed and dangerous as that upon this battlefield. In coming upon the first deserted camp of the enemy, some half a mile short of the battle-field, I regretted to have to leave him in charge of the property captured there, by which during the action I lost his services, which from my knowledge of him I know would have been most useful to me.

The cavalry companies of Captains West and Gilmore, being held in reserve for emergencies, were thus prevented from having their share in the action.

I have the honor to inclose herewith the reports of Colonel Smith, Thirteenth Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel Korff,* now commanding Tenth Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel White, now commanding Twelfth Ohio Regiment, and of Captain McMullin,* of the howitzer battery, the reports of the killed and wounded in each command having been previously forwarded.**

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

H. W. BENHAM, Brigadier-General, Commanding First Brigade O. V. M.

Capt. GEORGE L. HARTSUFF, Assistant Adjutant-General.

* Not found.

** Embodied in report No. 14, p. 146.


No. 3.

Report of Col. William H. Lytle, Tenth Ohio Infantry.

HDQRS. MONTGOMERY REGIMENT, TENTH O. V., Camp Scott, Carnifix Ferry, September 11, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, agreeably to your orders, I proceeded with my command on yesterday, September 10, at 3 o’clock, to reconnoiter the position of the enemy, supposed to be in force in the neighborhood of Gauley River, yourself accompanying and directing the advance with me. Our road led uphill through a densely-timbered forest, and as I advanced I then sent out flanking parties to the right and left and skirmishers in advance of my column. After passing through the woods for half a mile our skirmishers were suddenly engaged in front, and I pushed on to their relief until I reached a cleared space on the summit of the hill, where for the first time the enemy came in view, posted in force behind an extensive earthwork, with twelve guns in position, sweeping the road for over a mile. A ravine separated the hill by which we approached from the right of the breastworks of the enemy, which were composed of logs and fence rails and extended for over a mile to the right and left of their intrenchments, affording secure protection to their infantry and riflemen.

When the head of my column reached a point opposite the right center of their earthworks their entire battery opened on us with grape and canister with almost paralyzing effect, my men falling around me in great numbers. I ordered the colors to the front for the purpose of making an assault on their battery, perceiving which, the entire fire of the enemy was directed towards us. The men rallied gallantly on the hill-side under withering volleys of grape and canister with small-arms, and a part of three companies, A, E, and D, actually moved up within pistol-shot of the intrenchments, and for some time maintained a most unequal contest. Both my color-bearers were struck down. The bearer of the State color, Sergeant Fitzgibbons, had the staff shot away and his hand shattered, and in a few moments afterwards was shattered in both thighs while waving his colors on the broken staff. The bearer of the national color, Sergeant O’Connor, at the same time was struck down by some missile, but recovered himself in a short time, and kept waving his color in front of the enemy’s lines.

About this time I received a wound in the leg, the ball passing through and killing my horse. Perceiving the fearful odds against us, I directed the men to place themselves under cover. A portion rallied behind two log houses in front of the battery and kept up a spirited fire for at least one hour before any other regiment came into action, and the remaining portion of the right wing, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Korff, resumed in good order its position under cover of a corn field in front of the right of the battery, from which position, having been soon after supported by artillery, a steady fire was maintained against the enemy until night, after which Companies G, H, I, and K, and a great portion of D and E, by order of General Rosecrans, remained on the ground during the night, throwing out their pickets, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Korff.

While the right wing of the regiment under my command engaged the enemy on their center, a portion of the left wing, consisting of Companies I, F, K, and C, under command of Major Burke, pushed through the woods on the left of the road and assailed the stockades of the enemy’s infantry, a deep ravine intervening. This portion of the {p.137} command held its position, in face of a terrific fire, until every round of ammunition was expended and the companies-relieved by artillery, when it rejoined the right wing, already in position in front of the enemy’s battery, the men dragging our guns through the woods in their progress and helping to place them in position.

For men for the first time under fire the conduct of the regiment was highly creditable. Having been disabled in the early part of the action I was necessarily separated from a greater portion of the command, but among those who came under my own notice I would especially mention Capt. S. J. McGroarty, commanding the color company; Lieut. Jno. S. Mulroy, Company D; Lieutenant Fanning, Company A. Both Lieutenant Fanning and Captain McGroarty were severely wounded, the latter while rallying his men around his colors and the former in leading his men to the attack. Captains Steele and Tiernon are also worthy of special mention for their gallantry. I would also mention the name of Corporal Sullivan, Company E, who in the midst of a galling fire went across the front of the enemy’s batteries and returned with water for the wounded.

Of the portion of the regiment under Major Burke that officer makes highly honorable mention of the names of Captain Ward, Company I; Captain Robinson, Company K; Captain Hudson and Lieutenant Hickey, Company C; Captain Moore, Company D; Sergeant-Major Knox, for their gallantry and intrepidity under a most destructive fire, and also of the chaplain, Rev, W. T. O’Higgins, who remained on the field during the action in-performance of his sacred duties.

I beg leave to inclose a list of killed and wounded of the command.*

All of which is respectfully submitted.

WM. H. LYTLE, Colonel Tenth Ohio Regiment, U. S. V. I.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, U. S. A., Commanding First Brigade.

* Embodied in report No. 14, p. 146.


No. 4.

Report of Lieut. Col. Carr B. White, Twelfth Ohio Infantry.

CAMP SCOTT, VA., September 11, 1861.

SIR: On the 10th instant, 2 miles from the enemy’s intrenchments at Carnifix Ferry, Va., the Twelfth Regiment Ohio Volunteers were detached from the column of advance, by order of General Rosecrans, to skirmish the wood to the left of the road, and after completing the work and returning to the road the regiment had not advanced more than half a mile when the firing from the advance on the enemy’s lines commenced. The regiment moved at a double-quick to the enemy’s encampment in a field on the left; where General Rosecrans’ staff were stationed, when it was diverted to the left from the main road through the field and wood in direction of the enemy’s fire. Advancing some 200 yards, it was deployed as skirmishers, facing by the rear rank, with the order from the assistant adjutant-general (George L. Hartsuff) to draw on the fire, close in, and charge the enemy’s lines. The underbrush was so thick it was impossible to maintain a line, and it being impossible {p.138} to communicate with Col. J. W. Lowe, the left wing was pushed forward to the enemy’s right and the attack there made-the Thirteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, under Col. W. S. Smith, to our left, and the artillery to our right. Finding but little effect could be made on the enemy from this position, Adjutant Pauly was sent to you to notify you of our position and subject to your order. Afterwards I reported to you in person for orders, in the mean time keeping up a fire on the enemy when he discovered himself above the breastworks. Still later Adjutant Pauly reported to you for orders, when we were attached to the Thirteenth and Twenty-eighth Regiments, under Colonels Smith and Moor, to attack the enemy on his extreme right, of which movement Colonel Smith will report. The movements and operations of the right wing will be reported to you by senior Capt. J. D. Wallace, who assumed command after Col. J. W. Lowe was killed.

Respectfully submitted.

C. B. WHITE, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Twelfth Regiment Ohio Vols.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.


No. 5.

Report of Capt. James D. Wallace, Twelfth Ohio Infantry.

CAMP SCOTT, September 13, 1861.

SIR: On the 10th instant the Twelfth Ohio Regiment, commanded by Col. J. W. Lowe, advanced through an old encampment on its way to the battle-field at this point. An order was given by Captain Hartsuff of General Rosecrans’ staff to advance through the woods towards the enemy’s fire. The right wing of the regiment, viz, Companies A, F, K, and E, advanced through the woods, under the command of Colonel Lowe, towards the enemy’s fire, and in front of one of his batteries we crossed the fence of a corn field, entered the field, and were ordered by Colonel Lowe to deploy to the right, and advance through the field towards some houses. The order was obeyed. Colonel Lowe had advanced but a few steps when he was killed.

Up to this time I received all orders from Colonel Lowe. After his death I took command of the right wing, and advanced towards the enemy’s breastworks. I sheltered the men in the best manner I could. I sent Lieutenant Fisher, of Company A, to General Rosecrans for orders. I was directed through the general’s order to advance to the right and front of the enemy’s breastworks. I obeyed the order, crossed a by-road, and halted within easy musket-shot of their works at the edge of the woods. I directed the fire of the rifles at the enemy wherever he exposed himself. Discovering our fire was ineffectual, as the enemy sheltered behind their works, I ordered the fire to cease, and sheltered the men in the woods from the enemy’s fire. I again sent for orders, and received through our adjutant, Lieutenant Pauly, an order from the commanding general to advance farther to the right My command passed through the woods, crossed a hollow, and ascended to the right of the enemy’s flag-staff, passing through a thick growth of underbrush until we arrived near the top of the hill, and distant about 50 feet from their breastworks, when the enemy delivered a severe fire, at the same time screening themselves behind the breastworks. The {p.139} men lay flat on the ground. Being unsupported, and finding I could effect nothing there (the enemy having fired a second volley at us), I withdrew the men, and formed them under the hill, at which place I received an order from Lieutenant-Colonel White to join the left wing of the regiment under his command. I obeyed the order, and advanced to the main road below our batteries, where I was ordered by one of your staff to halt my command on the side of the road to await further orders, which I did. I did not see the left wing of the regiment until evening, nor do I personally know how or why the regiment was separated.

Respectfully submitted.

J. D. WALLACE, Captain, Commanding Company A, Twelfth Regiment.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.


No. 6.

Report of Col. William S. Smith, Thirteenth Ohio Infantry.

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH REG’T O. V. INFANTRY, Camp Scott, Va., September 11, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following statement of the part taken by my regiment in the action near Carnifix Ferry yesterday:

At about 11 o’clock a.m. on the 10th instant, a general halt of the whole column having been ordered at a point about 2 1/2 miles distant from the enemy’s intrenchments, my regiment was ordered by General Benham to form in line of battle behind the crest of a hill on the right flank of the position then being occupied by the Second and Third Brigades, it having appeared that they were about to be attacked. My line was just deployed when I received an order from General Rosecrans to move forward, which I did, taking my place in line according to our previous order of march, the Tenth Ohio, McMullin’s battery, my own section of two rifled cannon, and yourself, with Gilmore’s and West’s cavalry, leading in their order. We closed upon the head of the column, and marched thus until we had-reached a point within two-thirds of a mile of the enemy’s position, when I was again halted by an order from the rear.

We remained halted in this position for about ten minutes, and until the enemy opened fire upon the head of our column. I was then ordered to move forward, which I did, until I was induced by the heavy firing apparently on our right to move in that direction with my regiment until my line was fairly deployed, when I received an order from General Benham to move forward to the left. My regiment was then moved forward by the left flank down the ravine to our left running nearly parallel with the enemy’s front, then up the right-hand slope until I saw the works of the enemy from my position at the head of my regiment.

I then moved to the left along the skirt of the woods in front of the enemy’s line, and about 200 yards from it, until I reached his extreme right flank, moving all the while behind the summit of the hill which sheltered it from his fire. The enemy’s line from his battery at the center to the right flank was completely revealed to us during this {p.140} flank movement under cover. When we reached the enemy’s extreme right we received his fire from behind the breastwork of logs and rails, distant now about 100 yards. The order was immediately given to my regiment to fall down and creep up to the crest of the hill, where we opened fire and maintained it briskly, driving the enemy in upon his center. Having been ordered to make a reconnaissance, not an attack, we ceased firing, and lay in our position to await further orders, sending Lieutenant-Colonel Mason to report the result of our reconnaissance to Generals Benham and Rosecrans. I have since learned through a prisoner taken by us that our fire cleared the enemy from his works on the right and drove him in on his center.

After waiting as I supposed a sufficient length of time, and fearing that Colonel Mason had lost his way in the thick underbrush, I drew down my eight companies into the ravine and back into the main road, and then went in person to report to Generals Benham and Rosecrans. This I did, and requested that a brigadier might lead us to an attack upon the enemy’s extreme right. A brigade, consisting of the Twenty-eighth Ohio, eight companies of the Thirteenth Ohio, three of the Twenty-third Ohio, and two of the Twelfth Ohio Regiments, was extemporized by General Rosecrans, and I was placed in command and ordered to carry the works on the right by assault. I formed the command as above constituted in the ravine, and was then ordered by General Rosecrans to halt and await further orders. We remained in this position for about one hour, when General Rosecrans ordered me to move forward to the attack. I reached the head of my column and started just at dusk. Before we could march down the ravine through which we had passed before and countermarched up the right-hand slope, so as to draw out my line on the flank and in front of a portion of the enemy’s line, it became so dark and the men so weary, having marched from 3 o’clock in the morning, that it was found impossible to ascend to their line. The ground was covered with rocks and a dense undergrowth of laurel, and Colonel Moor reported that it would take until 2 o’clock in the morning to get two companies of his regiment up.

I then ordered the whole column to face about, and march out just as it had marched in, and crossed the ravine to the rear of the column to lead it out, when a shot or two from the enemy’s skirmishers, or an accidental shot from one of our own pieces, caused the whole column, doubled as it was into a “U” shape, to open fire, killing two and wounding about thirty of our own men. The melancholy mistake was at once discovered, and the column extricated and marched back by the left into the main road, and so on back to the grounds selected for our encampment.

At the beginning of the action my section of two rifled cannon, under command of Captain Schneider, and supported by his company (E, Thirteenth Regiment), was ordered by General Benham to take position in the road by which our columns approached, and at a point about 400 yards distant from the enemy’s works. Several shots were fired from this position with good effect. Captain Schneider then found a better position for his guns about 100 paces to the right, and cut a road to it with his sword and one hatchet, and from this new position, in full view of the enemy’s battery, he fired 75 rounds of solid shot and 15 of shells. His shot plowed through the parapet of the enemy’s battery, spreading consternation among those who served the pieces. Captain Schneider and his men behaved with great gallantry, delivering their fire with coolness and accuracy, although exposed to a brisk fire from the enemy’s battery and from his musketry. The same may be {p.141} said of my whole regiment, which was kept in perfect order throughout the day.*

Respectfully submitted.

W. S. SMITH, Colonel Thirteenth Regiment O. V. I.

Lieut. JAMES O. STANAGE, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

* In separate reports Colonel Smith specially notices the gallant conduct of Maj. Joseph G. Hawkins, Lieuts. James B. Doney and Joseph T. Snider, Corp. James H. Scott, and Privates Henry Conover and Jefferson Gongwer, of same regiment.


No. 7.

Report of Col. Robert L. McCook, Ninth Ohio Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.

HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE A. O. W. V., Camp Cox, September 21, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following as the report of the Second Brigade, in relation to the action at Carnifix Ferry on the 10th instant:

In the afternoon of that day, whilst the Second and Third Brigades were halted east of the forks of the Summersville and Cross-Lanes roads, firing was heard in the direction of the supposed fortifications of the enemy. By order of the general commanding, I formed the Second Brigade in line of battle east of the forks of the road, covering the hills on either side of the Summersville road with the Ninth and Twenty-eighth Regiments, holding the Forty-seventh and Schambeck’s cavalry as a reserve, and there awaited orders. Subsequently I was ordered to advance with the brigade to the top of the hill near the woods, which extended to the enemy’s fortifications. This I did, and again formed it in line of battle in the same order as before, with the exception that it fronted the noise of the battle. I remained with the brigade thus formed awaiting orders until 3.30 p.m., when Captain Hartsuff appeared and ordered the brigade to proceed to the intrenchments of the enemy for the purpose of storming them. I put in motion the Ninth Ohio in advance, followed by the Twenty-eighth and Forty-seventh, Captain Hartsuff leading the way for the purpose of showing the road and the point at which the works were to be stormed.

After three of the companies of the Ninth had passed the corn field in front of the enemy’s works and had deployed into the bush, Captain Hartsuff informed me that the order to charge the works had been countermanded. I immediately placed the brigade in such position as to be most available and under cover from the enemy’s fire. This was done as follows: Seven companies of the Ninth Ohio on the path back of the crest of the hill occupied by McMullin’s battery, the Twenty-eighth in their rear, and the Forty-seventh on the main road leading to the enemy’s works.

.At the time this was being done the three companies of the Ninth, which had deployed before the order to storm the works had been countermanded, were engaging the enemy at that portion of the left flank west of the corn field. They were ordered to retire as soon as the sound of a bugle could be heard above the roar of the cannon and musketry, {p.142} which they did, and joined the regiment at the point where it was stationed. As to the extent and particulars of their engagement, I refer to the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Sondershoff, of the Ninth Ohio, herewith forwarded.

After the brigade had occupied the above positions for some time the enemy seemed to change the range of his cannon, so that it covered the position occupied by the Ninth Ohio. I ordered it to retire to the clear place west of the last field on the right of the road leading to the enemy’s works, and then awaited orders. About 7 in the evening it was again determined by the general commanding to storm, the enemy’s works. The Ninth Ohio was ordered to the junction of the path with the main road near the east side of the corn field, in front of the enemy’s works, and then halted. The Twenty-eighth was detached with portions of the Twelfth, Twenty-third, and Thirteenth Ohio. The Forty-seventh was formed in the main road leading to the works. Of the unfortunate casualty which occurred by the Thirteenth Regiment firing into the Twenty-eighth I desire to say nothing, but refer to the detailed report thereof by Colonel Moor, of the Twenty-eighth Ohio.

Darkness soon set in, so that it became impossible with any degree of safety to our troops to make an attack in the night. I was ordered with my brigade to cover the return of the artillery and ambulances from the field. This, too, I did with the Ninth Ohio, and at 9 p.m. in the night all the artillery and ambulances were brought from the field of battle to camp, and I marched the Second Brigade to the point where we had left at 3.30 p.m. to charge the enemy’s works.

Yours, respectfully,

ROBERT L. MCCOOK, Colonel Ninth Ohio Volunteers, Commanding Second Brigade.

Capt. GEORGE L. HARTSUFF, Assistant Adjutant-General.


No. 8.

Report of Lieut. Col. Charles Sondershoff, Ninth Ohio Infantry.

The regiment was led into action by Lieut. Col. Charles Sondershoff by direction of Adjutant-General Hartsuff at 3.30 p.m., under orders to charge the enemy’s works. It was ordered to advance to that point of the enemy’s works lying to the left of the corn field. After Companies A, B, and C had passed the corn field and deployed to the enemy’s left the order to charge the fortifications was countermanded by the general commanding, and the balance of the regiment was ordered to occupy the crest of the hill immediately in the rear of McMullin’s battery. Before the order countermanding that to charge the works could be transmitted to Companies A, B, and C, they had advanced through the thick brush some 300 or 400 feet, when they came to the point where the enemy had cut the brush in front of their main works, which were about 300 yards distant, from which the enemy opened a strong fire of musketry, grape, and canister. After the companies had advanced a short distance towards the main works, sheltering themselves by trees and brush as best they could, all the men returning fire when anything was visible to shoot at, it was soon discovered by Companies A and B that immediately to their right, and about 50 yards distant, there was a wing of the enemy’s works extending to the woods at almost right angles with the main works, when {p.143} they immediately deployed for the purpose of attacking it. At this moment the enemy opened a severe fire from this wing of their works, which was returned by the companies. Companies A and B advanced to within about 100 feet of this wing of the works.

Whilst Companies A and B were thus engaged Company C approached the main works parallel with the corn field, and had got within 100 yards of the work. A signal was sounded to retire, which they did in good order, and proceeded to join the balance-of the regiment. The wounded in this engagement is shown by tabular statement attached.* After the regiment had been together some time in the rear of McMullin’s battery, Colonel McCook ordered it to fall farther back, to avoid the grape and canister shots to which its position exposed it. It then retired to the clear space on the east side of the next field to await orders. In about one hour the regiment was again ordered forward to charge the enemy’s works, and proceeded to a point about 200 yards west of the corn field aforesaid and a short distance to the right of the main road leading to the enemy’s works, where it was halted until nightfall. Then the regiment was ordered to cover the return of the artillery from the woods to camp. One-half of the regiment was deployed through the woods on the right of the road, the balance on the road to the left. After the artillery and all the ambulances were brought from the field, the regiment, about 9 o’clock, joined the balance of the Second Brigade, and went into camp at the place from which it had started at 3.30 o’clock p.m. to charge the enemy’s works.

CHAS. SONDERSHOFF, Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Ninth Regiment Ohio Volunteers.

* Embodied in report No. 14, p. 146.


No. 9.

Report of Col. Augustus Moor, Twenty-eighth Ohio Infantry.

SIR: In obedience to your order I took the position in line of battle assigned to my regiment on the left of the road towards Cross-Lanes and in rear of the road leading to the rebels’ works, detaching Captain Ewald, Company B, on the left into the woods, to skirmish and guard against surprise. About 2.35 p.m. I was ordered to send one field officer, with five companies, to Cross-Lanes for observation. I detailed Lieutenant-Colonel Becker, who started forthwith. Soon after, the firing becoming quite lively, I was ordered forward in double-quick. I came up with Lieutenant-Colonel Becker’s command, drawn up in line on the right of the road, ordered him to fall in with the regiment, and moved forward to the rear and left of the artillery.

After 5 o’clock, the fire slacking somewhat, I was ordered by General Rosecrans, in person, to move my regiment, with four companies of the Thirteenth and a detachment of the Twenty-third Ohio Regiments, guided by Colonel Smith, in a direction to the left of our position, and after rounding a hill to our right to charge and take the works of the rebels about sunset, an attack from our right to be made at the same time. I marched the column down the ravine as directed, halted, and waited for Colonel Smith to guide the column. One hour and twenty minutes after my arrival at the foot of the hill Colonel Smith brought the verbal order from headquarters to start. I commenced the ascent in two ranks over very steep and slippery rocks, through thick under {p.144} growth and thorns. After half an hour’s climbing, Captain Schache, Colonel Smith, and myself, with about thirty of the best climbers of Company A, reached the top, when the adjutant came up and informed us that the whole command could not be brought up before 2 o’clock.

It was now pitch dark in the thicket. The men had been on their legs since 3 o’clock in the morning, without a drop of water in their canteens, and, although willing, utterly exhausted. Colonel Smith and myself concluded to descend again, fall back into the ravine, and make the assault at daybreak. The column was cautioned to face about and descend with as little noise as possible, and continued to do so for about ten minutes, when, after a peculiar kind of whistling, firing suddenly commenced from the direction of the rebels, striking down many of my men. Instantly the whole extended line of my command was one sheet of fire, which lasted for some time, when, after finding the firing opposite us to cease, I, assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Becker and Adjutant Bohlender, succeeded in collecting and forming our men again in the ravine, where I found to my surprise detachments of the Thirteenth and Twenty-third Regiments on my left flank instead of on the extreme left of the column, as directed, which disregard of dispositions made three-fourths of an hour before might have brought on an indiscriminate slaughter among troops of the same army. I, with Lieutenant-Colonel Becker, became disabled by tumbling down some steep cliff, when I turned over the command to Captain Weselowski, who marched the regiment to the camp ground. Annexed you will find a list of the killed and wounded.*

I am, most respectfully, your most obedient servant,

A. MOOR, Colonel Twenty-eighth Ohio Regiment U. S. Infantry.

Col. ROBERT L. MCCOOK, Ninth Reg’t Ohio Vols., Comdg. 2d Brigade A. O. W. Va.

* Embodied in report No. 14, p. 146.


No. 10.

Report of Col. Frederick Poschner, Forty-seventh Ohio Infantry.

CAMP Cox, September 19, 1861.

The Forty-seventh Regiment formed in line of battle with the Second Brigade, Col. R. L. McCook commanding. Marched afterwards with the brigade near the fortifications. Formed with the Ninth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, the storming column, and retired with the same at night.

None killed, wounded, or missing.**

F. POSCHNER, Colonel, Commanding.

** Force engaged foots up 15 officers and 367 enlisted men.


No. 11.

Report of Capt. F. Schambeck, Chicago Dragoons.

While on the march to the battle-field the company was sent ahead to destroy a ferry. While there some of the enemy, having crossed the river by way of the ferry, flied on the company, and they returned the fire. {p.145} One man, Herrmann Reichert, from Chicago, a private, was wounded in the leg. When the troops were formed in line of battle the company was placed in the rear of the Second Brigade, and afterward advanced with the same into the woods, but were ordered back, and took no more part in the action, except some of the men, who were employed as carriers of dispatches.

F. SCHAMBECK, Captain.


No. 12.

Report of Col. Eliakim P. Scammon, Twenty-third Ohio Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.

HEADQUARTERS THIRD BRIGADE, A. O. W. VA., Camp Scott, September 13, 1861.

SIR: In reference to the operations of the 10th instant I have to report that the Third Brigade, acting as a reserve corps, was not actively engaged. About 4 o’clock p.m. the brigade was ordered to form in line of battle on a hill fronting the right of the enemy’s position. It was formed in two lines, the Twenty-third Regiment in front, and a detachment of the Thirtieth, under Colonel Ewing, in rear; Mack’s battery of howitzers a little in advance of the infantry. Shortly after taking position, in obedience to orders from the commanding general, Major Hayes and four companies of the Twenty-third Regiment moved to the right of the enemy’s intrenchments, taking position in a dense thicket, and advanced toward the enemy’s works. Two of his men were wounded at this point. Their names are given below. About dark the brigade was ordered to advance along the road leading to the front of the enemy’s works and await orders. The movement was executed immediately, and after waiting an hour and a half for orders to advance, it having become quite dark, orders were received to withdraw the column. We bivouacked on the hill now occupied by our camp. The names of the wounded are: Richmond Shaw, Company K, Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteers, severe wound in the right leg; Timothy C. Wood, Company K, Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteers, slightly wounded in the shoulder.

For a report of the subsequent service performed by Colonel Ewing’s detachment of the Thirtieth Regiment, I refer you to his report, herewith inclosed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. P. SCAMMON, Colonel, Commanding Third Brigade.

Capt. GEORGE L. HARTSUFF, Assistant Adjutant-General.


No. 13.

Report of Col. Hugh Ewing, Thirtieth Ohio Infantry.


SIR: On the 10th instant three of the four companies of the Thirtieth Regiment attached to the advancing army were ordered from the rear, {p.146} where they were under my command guarding the train, to join the Third Brigade, at that time (4 p.m.) forming the reserve of the army in its attack on the enemy’s intrenchments at Eagle’s Nest. I marched my men at quick-step from the rear, and took the position assigned me by Col. E. P. Scammon, commanding the brigade, where we remained until near dark, when, with the remainder of the reserve, we moved to a position in the woods opposite the enemy’s center, and remained there an hour and a half, and were ordered back to near our former position, then becoming the camp of the army. My companies, with two of the Twenty-third, formed the guard of the camp, which was placed under my direction.

At daylight on the 11th a fugitive slave from the enemy’s intrenchments reported the flight of the rebels, when the general commanding directed me to verify the report. I entered the intrenchments with one of my companies, finding them deserted save a few stragglers, whom I sent to the rear. I placed a guard over the abandoned property, took down the flag of the enemy and placed ours in its stead, and reported to the general commanding. On the morning of the 12th I handed in a list of the prisoners, thus turning them over to the charge of the officer of the guard. My men were not under fire.

Respectfully submitted.

HUGH EWING, Colonel Thirtieth Regiment.

Col. E. P. SCAMMON, Commanding Third Brigade,


No. 14.

Statement of the killed and wounded at the battle of Carnifix Ferry, September 10, 1861.

[By Asst. Surg, Horace H. Wirtz, U. S. A., acting medicam director during the action.]

Ninth Ohio Volunteers18
Tenth Ohio Volunteers950
Twelfth Ohio Volunteers11
Thirteenth Ohio Volunteers112
Twenty-eighth Ohio Volunteers229
Ohio artillery (McMullin’s)4
Ohio cavalry337


No. 15.

Report of Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, C. S. Army

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE KANAWHA, Camp on the Road, September 12, 1861.

SIR: Information had reached me for some number of days that a heavy force was advancing towards my position from the direction of Clarksburg, in the northwestern part of the State. As these rumors became a certainty I made an effort to strengthen myself, first-by re-enforcement, and secondly by intrenchments sufficient to withstand the very large force of the enemy. My orders to General Wise I send you copies of; and also copies of his replies.*


I failed in procuring re-enforcement, but succeeded somewhat better in the construction of a temporary breastwork. At 3 o’clock in the evening of the 10th of September the enemy, under command of General Rosecrans, as we learned through prisoners, of whose advance I was fully aware, at the head of ten regiments, made his appearance before intrenchments, when the battle instantly commenced. Our lines were necessarily very extended for the purpose of protecting our position, and when manned left not one man for reserve. The assault was made with spirit and determination with small-arms, grape, and round shot from howitzers and rifled cannon. There was scarcely an intermission in the conflict until night put an end to the firing. The enemy’s force is estimated certainly between 8,000 and 9,000 men, whilst our force engaged was less than 2,000. Upon the close of the contest for the night I discovered that it was only a question of time when we should be compelled to yield to the superiority of numbers. I therefore determined at once to recross the Gauley River and take position upon the left bank, which I accomplished without the loss of a gun or any accident whatever. Our loss, strange to say, after a continued firing upon us by cannon and small-arms for nearly four hours, was only 20 men wounded. The loss of the enemy we had no means of accurately estimating, but we are satisfied, from report of prisoners and other sources of information, it was very heavy. We repulsed them in five distinct and successive assaults, and at nightfall had crippled them to such an extent that they were in no condition whatever to molest us in our passage across the river.

I will only say that our men, without distinction, behaved with the greatest coolness, determination, and presence of mind, and while it is impossible to give praise to one portion of the force engaged over another, it is but proper to say that the artillery behaved with the greatest bravery and efficiency; that under the command of Captain Guy, who had reached me only two days before and were for the first time under fire, behaved themselves in a manner worthy of all praise.

I am very confident that I could have beaten the enemy and have marched directly to the valley of Kanawha if the re-enforcements from General Wise’s column had come up when ordered and the regiments from North Carolina and Georgia could have reached me before the close of the second day’s conflict. I cannot express the regret which I feel at the necessity, over which I had no control, which required that I should recross the river. I am confident that if I could have commanded the services of 5,000 men instead of 1,800, which I had, I could have opened the road directly into the valley of the Kanawha. It would seem now as if the object so nearly accomplished can only be attained by an advance upon the enemy by the left bank of the Kanawha River with a sufficient force at any time to give him battle. This force, if possible, ought to be collected from Tennessee and Kentucky. Their close correspondence shows distinctly enough the urgent necessity of so shaping the command in the valley of Kanawha as to insure in the future that unity of action upon which alone can rest any hope of success in military matters.

I have not thought proper to take any other notice of these transactions than to bring them to the notice of the President and Secretary of War of the Confederate States. The reasons which have induced me to take this course I am sure will not be misunderstood by either.

I apprehend the course the enemy proposes to pursue is to carry out the plans indicated by General Rosecrans to General Tyler for the invasion of the interior of the State and the seizure of Lewisburg, set forth {p.148} in an intercepted letter of the latter a month ago. To prevent this I am in command of an actual force of 4,200 men. This force will be required to oppose the advance of General Cox and General Rosecrans, if their forces, as they undoubtedly will, number at least 12,000 men. This disparity in numbers is too great, although I will certainly give battle to the invading army at some such strong point in the mountain passes as I may hope will equalize to some extent our numbers. This may occur within the next three days, but should it be deferred for any length of time, I hope the Department will find itself able to strengthen us with re-enforcements. In the mean time, should General Lee attack and repulse the enemy at Rich Mountain, I will hold myself in position to fall upon his flank or rear, as circumstances may allow or my force authorize.

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,

JOHN B. FLOYD, Brigadier-General, Commanding Army of Kanawha. By WILLIAM E. PETERS, Assigtant Adjutant-General Floyd Brigade.

Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War.

This is signed by Adjutant Peters, because an injury prevents my holding a pen.

* See Floyd to Wise, September 9 (2); Wise to Floyd, September 9, 4 p.m.; Floyd to Wise, September 10; Wise to Floyd, September 10, 6.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m., in “Correspondence, etc.,” post.


WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, September 20, 1861.

Brig. Gen. JOHN B. FLOYD:

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th instant, containing report of the repulse by the troops under your command of the attack made by the army of General Rosecrans with greatly superior forces. I take great pleasure in communicating to you the congratulations of the President, as well as my own, on this brilliant affair, in which the good conduct and steady valor of your whole command were so conspicuously displayed. I regret that the attack should have occurred before the arrival of any of the four regiments that were on their way to re-enforce you, and that you were thus deprived of the ability to reap the fruits of your successful repulse of the attack made on you. This Department is making efforts to send you still further re-enforcements as speedily as possible.

I inclose copy of an order issued by the President’s instructions to General Wise, by virtue of which his whole command is turned over to you.

Your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.


WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, September 20, 1861.

Brig. Gen. HENRY A. WISE, Gauley River, via Lewisburg, Va.

SIR: You are instructed to turn over all the troops heretofore immediately under your command to General Floyd, and report yourself in {p.149} person to the Adjutant-General in this city with the least delay. In making the transfer to General Floyd you will include everything under your command.

By order of the President:

J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.


No. 16.

Reports of Brig. Gen. Henry A. Wise, C. S. Army, covering the operations of his command from June to September 25.

DOGWOOD GAP CAMP, VA., September 11, 1861-7 p.m.

GENERAL: Disasters have come, and disasters are coming, which you alone, I fear, can repair and prevent. As I predicted, General Floyd, after a hard fight, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. yesterday, has given way, recrossed Carnifix Ferry, before a force of some 5,000, re-enforced from Gauley, to what extent is not known. He thinks the enemy has 9,000; I think from 4000 to 6,000 men. He lost no lives and but few slightly wounded; but his breastworks were near woods all around except in front, and the enemy could approach him quite near. There was severe cannonading on both sides; the enemy had rifled guns of bad range at first but beginning to tell seriously as the fight ended on the breastworks. Owing to inadequacy of transportation and ferriage, he lost in his retreat last night considerable baggage, tents, cooking utensils, fat cattle, and horses, and one caisson. I was detained by the enemy in my front from going to his relief on yesterday. They indicated a purpose to turn my flank at the Hawk’s Nest, and to march a considerable force to Carnifix Ferry, in General Floyd’s rear. But, receiving peremptory orders last night, I moved my whole force to re-enforce him, got a few miles, found he had retreated to this side of Gauley, and for the third time met his messenger, countermanding my march and ordering my return to this road. My baggage was all sent back to this camp guarded by a small force, and when I reached within a mile of this place I found General Floyd on the road-side, slightly wounded in the right fore-arm. I asked for orders. He said he did not know what orders to give. I urged the necessity of defending Miller’s Ferry, on the New River, which, when called away, I left guarded by General Chapman’s militia. He mistook me, and thought I spoke of Carnifix Ferry, and replied that now he took no interest in that plan of movement; and then I learned that he had left this side of that ferry wholly undefended and unguarded, and since I hear that the enemy crossed it this morning on prepared bridges. This renders both his and my commands critically exposed. The enemy may fall on our rear between this and Lewisburg by either the Sunday, or the Wilderness, or the Bracken’s Creek roads. I am without orders, without command, with wholly inadequate force of my own, with his force greatly impaired, himself stunned by the blow, and obliged to appeal to you.

I solemnly protest that my force is not safe under his command, and I ask to be allowed to co-operate with some other superior. I had for forage and from policy sent nearly all my cavalry to Loop Creek and Coal River across the New River, and to penetrate the Kanawha. I now must recall them (if allowed to do so) to scout my rear. The whole {p.150} policy of moving on the Lower Kanawha is now defeated, and my confident opinion is that a retreat ought to be ordered to Meadow Bluff, or you will be compelled to move backward towards Lewisburg, and the foe in your front will be thereby given the opportunity to advance on your rear. This all may seem too critical to me, but I nevertheless submit it to you, and ask you to relieve me. In order that you may judge the better, I send you copies of our entire correspondence. At 12 o’clock last night I received General Floyd’s last note, peremptorily ordering my whole force to Carnifix, and, marching this morning at 11 a.m., I received a verbal message from him ordering me to fall back, he getting to this point before I did, without having lost a man and without leaving a guard at the ferry behind him. This makes further retreat eastward inevitable and the necessity for it early and urgent. I fear your reply will be too late.

With the highest respect and esteem, I am, sir, your obedient servant,

HENRY A. WISE, Brigadier-General.

General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.


RICHMOND, VA., October 26, 1861.

SIR: On the 28th ultimo I arrived at Richmond in obedience to an order of the President through the Secretary of War, which order I obeyed to the letter, and without any delay, from Camp Defiance, on Big Sewell, to this city, reported myself at the War Department. I was called from the field of action most unexpectedly, and had to reach Richmond before I could learn the cause of my recall and of the transfer of my command.

The day after my arrival here I was stricken down with severe illness, caused by actual and severe exposure in the service. On the 2d instant I was furnished with a copy of the report of General Floyd, “relative to the battle therein named,” which was transmitted to me by direction of the Secretary of War, and from that time to this I have been unable to prepare any reply to that report. Regarding it now as the only matter or thing which I am called upon to answer, I proceed in the most succinct manner to notice its statements of complaint against me and my command.

I am now unable to prepare a reply in detail, and am therefore compelled to furnish the President, through the Department of War, the entire body of my correspondence with Generals Lee and Floyd.*

General Floyd’s report to the Secretary of War of September 12 says [No. 15]: “My orders to General Wise I send you copies of, and also copies of his replies.” I have not been furnished with the copies which he says he sent, but the President and the Department can now judge whether he sent copies of all the originals. I now send copies of all my correspondence with both Generals Lee and Floyd.

However, before I proceed to answer this special report, I beg leave to make a few preliminary observations. It will be remembered that General Floyd was commissioned prior to the date of my commission, and thus became my senior in rank. Thus, too, he began, weeks before I was commissioned, to raise his command in the southwest. I never contemplated originally the command of a brigade department, but had {p.151} asked specially for an independent partisan command, subject only to the general laws and orders of the service. When I came to Richmond late in May from a sick bed the President himself changed the destination of my command. I was called by him to take a commission at once as brigadier-general, not to await the raising of my partisan brigade, but to command the Middle Department of the West, the State volunteer forces under Colonel Tompkins, in the valley of the Kanawha, to be attached to my Legion.

Very early in June I left Richmond an invalid, without a man or a gun, and departed for Charleston, Kanawha, and commenced raising the forces which since I have commanded. In June and July Colonel Tompkins’ volunteer force was increased from 600 to about 1,800 men, and the Legion was raised to the number of about 2,850; making in all an effective force of about 3,600 men.

By a dispatch from Adjutant-General S. Cooper, dated July 18, 1861, I was ordered to move up toward Covington and communicate with General Floyd, who was ordered to proceed in that direction. This order being in part discretionary, I awaited events and further orders before I proceeded to act under it. Soon afterwards I received a letter from General Robert E. Lee, dated July 24, directing me to look to the security of my rear, keep my command concentrated, and be prepared to unite with General Loring or operate as circumstances on my line of communication might dictate. He gave me permission to increase the strength of my Legion, but warned me that re-enforcements could not be sent to me from Richmond, from the necessity of restricting the operations of the enemy, if possible, north of Pocahontas, and of strengthening the armies of the Potomac. He had hoped that the good citizens of the Kanawha Valley would have rallied under my standard and given me the force I desired, not knowing the utter demoralization and denationalization of a large majority of the good citizens of Kanawha Valley, and ignorant also that even among some of those who professed to be true to the State of Virginia a conspiracy had been raised against my taking command of the valley of the Kanawha. Thus, whilst my aim was upon the enemy, every step was and the rattlesnakes of treason to the South or petty serpents of jealousy in the disaffection of my own camp. Yet with the aid of Colonel Tompkins, a gentleman, a soldier, and a patriot, I magnified our command by nearly trebling his original numbers and adding the whole number of the Legion, making in all nearly eight times the force we began with.

General Lee also regretted that he could not furnish the ammunition and arms which were incessantly called for by Colonel Tompkins and myself; and it was a secret which neither of us dared to tell in the Kanawha Valley, that at no time of the whole sixty days while we were marching and countermarching, posting and counterposting, scouting and fighting, day in and day out, in a valley the hardest to defend and the easiest to be attacked in the topography of the country, could we at any time have fired in any general action ten rounds of ammunition in our joint commands. Thus distant from the metropolis, thus unofficered and unorganized, thus unsupplied with either arms, ammunition, clothing, or tents, we increased our forces, maintained our positions, and it was only when the order to fall back was repeated that we moved in the direction of Covington, as ordered.

Whatever may have been said or may be said of that retreat from Charleston, from Coal River, and Tyler Mountain, Two Mile, Elk River, and Gauley, I aver, if anything was done which ought not to have been done, or omitted which ought not to have been omitted, or was lost {p.152} which ought to have been saved, that it was in each and every instance because of violations of my express orders; and upon the whole I aver further that for raw troops, unofficered and unorganized, in various detachments, at distances not supporting each other, in front of a foe more than double their number, the retreat was creditable. My reasons for concurring in the orders to retreat are to be found in my letters to General Lee, of August 1, 1861** (dated at Bunger’s Mill 4 miles west of Lewisburg), and August 4, from the White Sulphur Springs, the latter in reply to his, dated at Huntersville, August 3. In those letters I was caused to report to General Lee an error as to the number of desertions from the State volunteers. Many of the officers and men who were reported as deserters had received written furloughs, unknown to me, from some of their commanding officers.

The main confusion and difficulty in retreating from the Kanawha was owing to the erroneous impression which most of the men had taken up that they were not bound to march out of the valley of the Kanawha or to fight elsewhere than there, which idea was both inculcated and encouraged by many of their officers, several of whom ultimately tendered their resignations, and were obviously bent on impairing if not breaking up my command. Happily their efforts had no effect upon the Legion, but only upon a few of the State volunteers, and the two regiments of Colonels Tompkins and McCausland were reduced to less than 400 men each, while the Legion was unimpaired except by measles and typhoid fever, but the most of the men of the State volunteers proved ultimately to be pure patriots and proud soldiers. Most continued on duty, and many who were said to have deserted returned to duty after the expiration of furloughs actually received; but both Colonel Tompkins’ command and mine, both the Legion and the State volunteers, were extremely worn and worsted by two months of excessively hard service. When they arrived at the White Sulphur they had worn-out everything and were supplied with nothing, and required at least one month for refreshment and refitting. The infantry and artillery alone were taken there, and the cavalry, under Colonel Davis, was left as a rear guard of the passes from Fayetteville, Gauley, and Summersville. The cavalry alone, with other precautions, effectually checked the advance of the enemy; all of which was approved by General Lee in his letter dated Huntersville, August S. It was here, at the White Sulphur, that both Colonel Tompkins and myself hoped and implored to be permitted to refit our commands.

During all this time that our forces were worn and torn by the service for more than sixty days General Floyd was raising his command and fitting it out with every supply he could procure, and at last, when he arrived at the White Sulphur, he brought with him less than 1,200 men, all told. He required us, panting with the fatigue of service, to hasten back over grinding roads, over which our men had just marched almost barefooted, almost shirtless, and quite tentless. His very first approach to my command was nothing less than one of reproach, which, in manner as well as substance, was wounding to those who had been doing their utmost to serve the cause of the State and of the Confederacy. He had not re-enforced us in the valley of the Kanawha, but required me, tattered and torn by service, to turn upon an ordered retreat and to re-enforce him, with but two regiments under his command. I begged for delay. I protested against the necessity of hurrying unsupplied and unprovided men back to a fruitless contest {p.153} with a foe more than triple our numbers, in fastnesses that could be re-enforced at any time in any number by an enemy holding the navigation of the Kanawha, and an enemy, too, who, after the battle of Manassas and the retirement of McClellan from the field to Washington, and by our timely escape from the valley, were so staggered that they manifested no disposition to advance, but paused to fortify themselves at Gauley; when, too, it was our policy to draw them to the eastern verge of the Fayette wilderness, force upon them 40 miles of mountain transportation, instead of our driving on to the western verge of that wilderness and taking upon ourselves with inferior force the loss and cost and risk of that same wilderness mountain transportation. This policy I presented to General Lee, and he in advance emphatically approved it. On the 6th of August General Floyd was within 2 miles of the White Sulphur. That evening he visited me in camp, and notified me that on the morning of the 7th of August he would move to Lewisburg. He wanted to drive the enemy across the Gauley in less than a week, and by his blunt and blatant manner caused me to write to General Lee my letter of August 7.

The first two letters of my correspondence with General Floyd I file for no present purpose of this report. They may explain some matters in future. From Camp Arbuckle, near Lewisburg, August 8, he called upon me for a full detail of my command, the number of men, arms, and ammunition fit for use, the amount of transportation, &c. I replied by mine of the same date from the White Sulphur Springs, August 8, 6 o’clock p.m. On the 10th of August I informed General Lee of additional re-enforcements sent to General Floyd besides my cavalry force of about 500, and that I would follow as soon as possible from day to day-so soon as I could clothe my men and fit them for a march and provide ammunition; and I beg leave to call the attention of the President to this letter to General Lee as containing a proposition to stop the enemy on or near the eastern verge of the Fayette wilderness. See also my two letters to General Lee of An gust 11 and my letter to General Floyd of August 9 as to my disposition to co-operate with General Floyd. In reply to my letters of the 10th and 11th August, General Lee complimented me for re-enforcing General Floyd so promptly, and added:

Your reasons for our troops not advancing to Gauley at present are conclusive, and your plan of stopping the enemy on the eastern verge of the wilderness you describe is concurred in. Until ready to open and penetrate the Kanawha Valley, whence you may draw your supplies, the line of defense you propose, embracing points of strength, is the best.

Such were the wise instructions of the superior of both General Floyd and myself, and when I found General Floyd running directly counter to this policy, it would have been no wonder if I had leaned to my own judgment thus indorsed by General Lee; but notwithstanding this, the President and Secretary of War will see that I followed my immediate superior in the vain attempt to force the Gauley.

On the 12th August General Floyd assumed command of the forces of the Army of the Kanawha and the country adjacent thereto, appointed Colonel Heth acting inspector-general, and ordered him at once to inspect the forces composing the command, commencing with the Wise Legion. My letter to General Floyd of the 11th August shows my hurry to co-operate with him. On the 13th August General Floyd sent me a communication from Colonel Davis, and called for a battery of artillery and such other forces as I could spare. In mine of the 13th I promised him in the shortest possible time some 1,500 men. On {p.154} the 13th August, also, he sent me a curiously-worded demand for the regiment of volunteers from beyond New River commanded by Colonel McCausland-a regiment that had been worse torn to pieces than any other by traitorous desertion, by furloughs issued without my authority, and by disaffection and conspiracy of officers who did not wish to leave the valley of the Kanawha. In my letter of August 13 I assigned him the reasons why it was impossible to comply with this request, and I presented these orders to Colonel Tompkins, who on the 14th directed to me his official protest, and I gave him orders according to the reason and just proprieties of the case.

Again, however, under date of the 13th, General Floyd urged me to bring up all my force, and to furnish one of his companies with arms. This was received by me on the 14th, and on the same day I wrote to him that his orders should be promptly and punctually obeyed. I started forces that morning to Meadow Bluff (nearly all the Legion), appointed Colonel Tompkins commandant of the post at the White Sulphur, and left him with his two volunteer regiments to be refitted and to wait for transportation. Strange to say, General Floyd, also-on the 14th, at 5 o’clock a.m., wrote his dispatch No. 8, ordering me “peremptorily” to march at once with all my force to join him at Meadow Bluff. His Nos. 7 and 8 were received nearly at the same time. I answered them by saying (on the 14th, at 9.30 o’clock a.m.) that his peremptory order should be executed as promptly as possible so soon as forces and means of transportation could be made available. On the 14th also he sent to me for ammunition, which order was complied with. On the 14th also, at 11 o’clock a.m., I told him that I was doing my best to hasten my march by all the means in my power; that the quartermaster had not half enough wagons, and was unable to procure them. I asked him to send back to me some of his wagons to assist the expedition of my march to join him. In his letter No. 10, of August 15, he declined to send the wagons. On the 13th August I wrote to General Lee, informing him of the demands made upon me by General Floyd-informed him that I was very desirous to promptly obey General Floyd, and to preserve the harmony of our respective brigades. General Floyd had already commenced to violate my command by passing orders to my officers without issuing those orders through me, and I asked from General Lee two general orders: 1st, that no order be passed from General Floyd to my brigade except through me; 2d, that the separate organization and command of my brigade, subject of course to General Floyd’s priority of rank and orders for service, should not be interfered with; and I inquired of General Lee about the relations of the State volunteers under Colonel Tompkins and of the militia under Generals Beckley and Chapman to my command.

From General Lee I received his of the 14th August complimenting me upon my rapid progress of preparation, expressing confidence in my zealous and cordial co-operation in every effort against the common enemy, and saying:

As regards the command of your brigade, the military propriety of communicating through you all orders for its movement is so apparent, that I think no orders on the subject necessary. I have always supposed that it was the intention of the President to give a distinct organization to your Legion, for it to be under your command, subject, of course, to the service under the orders of a senior officer. As regards the troops serving hitherto with your Legion, it is within the province of the commanding general to continue them as hitherto under your command, to brigade them separately, or detach them, as the good of the service may demand.

Thus the President will see that I took the utmost pains to define my powers and those of General Floyd. He will see that I had reason to {p.155} do this, for General Floyd’s design-obvious to me-was to destroy my command, and not only transfer to himself the State volunteers and militia, but by constant detachments of my Legion, to merge it also in his brigade, to be commanded by his field officers, and be torn to pieces by maladministration, and to sink me, the second in command, even below his majors and captains. Therefore it was that I obtained from General Lee the distinct law of our relations: That General Floyd could not discontinue my command of the Legion; that he could not brigade the regiments of the Legion separately; that he could detach them only as the good of the service might demand; and that, whether detached or not, I was still in command of all the forces of the Legion.

On the 14th August also I informed General Lee that, though I did not credit the rumors about the approach of the enemy, I should move my entire available force at once to join General Floyd at Meadow Bluff; that I should counsel an advance to the western side of Little Sewell; that I should take eight pieces of artillery; that my howitzer was without ammunition; that in less than three days I could put forward 1,500 and in five days 2,500 men; that General Floyd had his own force, something less than 1,200, my whole cavalry (550), and a detachment of artillery with two 6-pounders-in all, say, 1,800 men; and that within three days his force should be increased to 3,500 or 4,000 men.

On the 15th I informed General Lee that ammunition for my howitzer had arrived late on the 14th, and at 4 o’clock a.m. on the 15th I had moved a corps of artillery, with eight pieces, including a howitzer and three 6-pounders, with three companies of artillery under Major Gibbes, and three regiments of infantry of my Legion, in all about 2,000 men, to join General Floyd at Meadow Bluff on the evening of that day. My corps of cavalry (550 strong) and 50 artillery, with two pieces belonging to the State volunteers, were already with him, and two companies of the State volunteer cavalry would join him by the morrow, making my re-enforcement about 2,600 men-more than double his own force-and making his whole force by the 16th about 3,800 men. This was enough to check the enemy until I could have the State volunteer regiments ready for marching orders. This will show whether I was prompt beyond promise in re-enforcing General Floyd. And I call attention to this entire letter of mine to General Lee of August 15 to justify the failure to send on two regiments of State volunteers, and my protest of a desire for a harmony of co-operation in every sense of cheerful as well as healthful service. But I informed General Lee distinctly that I could not in honor submit to have my brigade mutilated without his orders. I appealed to General Lee not only in behalf of myself, but in behalf of Colonel Tompkins, a soldier of sixteen years’ standing in the Regular Army of the United States, for common justice.

I call attention to the letter of General Floyd of August 16 and my reply of August 17, in relation to the propriety of the mode of issuing orders to my command. These letters were written on the top of Big Sewell, on the 17th, 40 miles west of Lewisburg, where I had then already joined and re-enforced General Floyd. On August 17 General Floyd ordered me to occupy the camp vacated by him on the top of Big Sewell, and to remain there until further orders. Again, in his letter (No. 13), he addressed me on the subject of the mode of issuing orders to my command. On the 19th August I replied to that communication, taking the positions authorized by General Lee. On the 18th he notified me that he had fallen back from Tyree’s to the camp on Sewell, and on the 19th he ordered me to take up the line of march at 7.30 o’clock On the morning of the 20th, and to proceed with all the forces under my {p.156} command in the direction of the Kanawha Valley by way of the James River and Kanawha turnpike, and he undertook to prescribe the order of my march. I showed him that it was impossible to comply with his order, and asked again for wagons, with which request he could not comply. The same day, afterwards, he countermanded his orders as to the time of marching, and detached from my command all the forces not belonging to the Legion. One of my ammunition wagons was broken down, which delayed my advance at the hour ordered, but I hastened on to the front to relieve my cavalry from where General Floyd had ordered it and where it was in danger of being cut off. They had charged the enemy at about 1 1/2 miles beyond Piggot’s, at the foot of the Saturday road, and the second encounter occurred at about 2 o’clock p.m. near Hamilton’s, about half a mile this side of the Hawk’s Nest. I informed General Floyd that they would be in strong force that night at Hawk’s Nest, and that a good force of artillery should be posted at Dogwood Gap, at the foot of the Sunday and Hopping roads, and that we should advance that night. He advanced all the forces of his and my command in front of the enemy at Piggot’s, near the foot of the Saturday road. What occurred there is detailed in my correspondence with General Lee, to which I will presently refer. On the 18th August I wrote to General Lee again, asking for the necessary orders defining the relations and laws of the command. I beg leave to call attention to that letter and its detail of complaints. Under date of the 21st August General Lee, according to my request, issued special orders placing the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Regiments of Virginia Volunteers subject to the assignment of the commanding general of the Army of the Kanawha, and confirming my immediate command (that of the Wise Legion) as organized by direction of the War Department. On the evening of the 21st of August our commands were united at the foot of Gauley Mountain, where the foe was found in force; and in my letter to General Lee of August 24, 1861, you will see a detailed report of a conference between General Floyd and myself of the orders which I received to move to Carnifix Ferry, while he was to cover the front on the turnpike; the manner in which I executed the order, arriving at Carnifix on the 22d; the manner in which his movements contradicted every conclusion of the conference; the manner in which his orders vacillated and contradicted themselves four times within forty-eight hours, and the manner in which all the baggage trains of both commands and a portion of the artillery were left by him at the mercy of the enemy.

On the 22d August, at Carnifix, General Floyd ordered me to send him four pieces of my artillery, in addition to his own two pieces; also one of my regiments, the strongest; also to send him early the next day, at 7 o’clock, 100 of my most efficient horse; and he ordered me, with the remainder of the force under my command, to take such a position as would enable me to watch the enemy and to check any advance by them. He also ordered me to forward on the regiments of Colonels Tompkins and McCausland to him, but should the force under my command, after making the above deductions, be deemed insufficient for the purpose of watching the enemy and checking his advance, I should retain under my command the regiment of Colonel Tompkins. After writing the above he added that, on conference with Colonel Heth, he was induced to recall his request for one of my regiments. He would try to make good his position with his own force and with my guns. In lieu of the regiment he asked only for 100 horse.

Leaving him a corps of artillery, with three pieces, and 100 horse, I marched back to Dogwood Gap, to which place he addressed the special {p.157} orders of General Lee, Nos. 1, 2, and 3, under date of August 24. On the same day General Floyd wrote to me that he had good reasons to believe that the enemy had abandoned all idea of crossing the Gauley River in force; that he doubted the intention of the enemy to make an attack upon him, adding, “but I am fully able to defend myself against the combined force of General Cox and Colonel Tyler both together, and court their assault.” He alluded to what he called “silly rumors among the teamsters and camp followers” about the danger of his being surrounded and cut off, and asked me to correct these rumors. By the 25th he would be ready to cross the Gauley with his artillery. The truth was that on the 23d General Floyd did lose the only little ferry-boat he had, with four men drowned, and he was in danger of being cut off. I had to obtain nails and plank to construct a new and better boat.

By this time General Floyd had the first two regiments he brought into the field, 1,200; Colonel Wharton’s regiment, about 400; Corn’s and Beckett’s cavalry, 100; two pieces and about 40 men of the State volunteer artillery; three pieces and 61 men of my artillery, and Colonels Tompkins’ and McCausland’s regiments, little less than 800 men, making in all 2,600 men, less the number sick and on furlough.

On the 24th of August, at 8.30 o’clock p.m., I wrote to him fully, showing him how closely I had scouted the enemy, having been myself in person, pistol in hand, in their camp at Westlake’s. On the same day, however, he informed me that on that evening he had received information that 500 of the enemy were encamped within 5 miles of Camp Gauley, and he ordered that I would send him at once one of my regiments-the strongest. He also called for an iron howitzer, ordered 40 rounds of cartridges for the infantry and 100 for the howitzer. This note was received by me at 2.30 o’clock a.m. August 25, and on the same day I replied that an order issued by him to Captain Jenkins, in command of his cavalry, interfering and conflicting with my command, had caused Jenkins to be ambuscaded and badly routed by the enemy, and that the disaster had called out my infantry in force, and had delayed my sending my regiment on the evening of the 25th. (In my letter of the 27th of August, addressed to General Floyd, will be found a description of the ambuscade and rout of Captain Jenkins.) I promised him the required re-enforcements for the morning of the 26th, and that I would hold my whole force ready to re-enforce him. Again, on the 25th of August, General Floyd wrote to me that if all the forces from Gauley advanced upon him I ought to give him the benefit of my whole force, but said that with one of my regiments at the river and my others at Dogwood Gap, ready to march at a moment’s warning, he would look upon his position there as nearly impregnable. Again, on the same day, he wrote at 3 o’clock p.m.:

The enemy are very near us; their advance guard within 3 miles. You will dispatch your strongest regiment to my support, and hold your entire command, if you can do this, within supporting distance.

P. S.-3.30 o’clock p.m. Enemy advancing in battle array.

On examining my infantry after returning from the relief of Colonel Jenkins, learning the movement of the enemy on the turnpike, seeing the danger of the enemy going up the Saturday road to Carnifix to General Floyd’s rear, I called for reports from Colonels Henningsen and Richardson, showing the reasons why my forces should not be reduced, meager as they were from the measles, and showing also that it was best for the safety of General Floyd’s command that I should not move without further orders. Accordingly, on the 27th, I wrote {p.158} to General Floyd and asked for further orders. Events proved that I was right. The advance guard of the enemy was but one regiment (that of Tyler), a set of lubberly Dutchmen, whom General Floyd surprised at breakfast, and routed them without losing a man. They were doubtless sent forward to induce the concentration-of my forces at Carnifix and to catch General Floyd’s and my forces both in the same trap at the same time. And on the 29th August General Floyd addressed to me his letter No. 25, saying that since his signal success and the utter dispersion and demoralization of the enemy, he thought I might then advantageously move towards Gauley Bridge and take possession of the strong position at and about the Hawk’s Nest that in all probability the enemy were likely to retire down the Kanawha, and that I should be close at hand to annoy their retiring columns. He did not reprove me for exercising a sound discretion in this instance; on the contrary, he approved my action, and ordered me still farther from his position. But I regret to say that this letter could not be concluded without a wanton sneer at the senior officer of my infantry, Colonel Henningsen.

From the first mention of the occupation of Carnifix Ferry I urged upon General Floyd the importance of that ferry, as commanding the stem of all the roads to the rear on the turnpike. To this end we could hold it on the left bank or south side of Gauley with a very small force, say 250 men, if their rear were well covered, so as to prevent the approach of the enemy towards them from the turnpike. By holding that stem and advancing our forces to the foot of the Saturday road, and to where the Chesnutburg road enters the turnpike (the months of the Saturday and Chesnutburg roads being near each other on opposite sides), we could have forced the enemy to approach on the turnpike alone in single column, and could have met him with our concentrated defenses without much danger of having our flanks turned. It was utterly unmilitary to have crossed Carnifix Ferry, unless General Floyd had force enough to advance. I warned him that this would compel him to divide his command, already too weak when combined; that if he crossed, the enemy might advance upon him from Summersville, from Gauley Bridge up the Gauley, and from Gauley Bridge up the Saturday road, thus attacking him with superior numbers front, flank, and rear. Whilst he would be too weak to withstand the front and flank attack on the right bank of the Gauley, I would be too weak, perhaps, to prevent the enemy from falling on his rear on the left bank of the Gauley; that his ferriage, too, was insufficient for the retreat of his command; whereas, if we took the position I advised, we would hold Miller’s Ferry also, on the New River, and could spur the enemy at Cotton Hill, Montgomery’s Ferry, at the Loop and from Coal River, all the way down the left bank of the Kanawha, and compel the enemy to withdraw a considerable portion of his forces from Gauley Bridge; that as long as he insisted on crossing that ferry, and thus exposing himself, it would be impossible for me to re-enforce him from across the river, without exposing the safety of both commands to the same disaster of having our retreat cut off. But no; all this obvious reasoning was in vain. Cross he would, and cross he did. I asked, Cui bono?-to what end?-to what result? If he wanted to hold Carnifix Ferry, he could do it with one-tenth the number of men on this side. But that was not the sole object. The answer I got was that the President desired the destruction of the trestle-work of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, or it was to “break the line of the enemy,” or it was to go down Gauley to Twenty Mile-go up Twenty Mile to Bell Creek-go up Bell Creek to its head, and thence to Hughes’ Creek, and down Hughes’ Creek to the {p.159} Kanawha Valley, 15 miles only below Gauley Bridge. All these views were about equally absurd. The idea that he would be attacked either from Sutton or from Birch Mountain he utterly scouted, and the battle of knives and forks at Cross-Lanes had elated my senior to such an extent, that he thought himself impregnable in his position and capable of accomplishing impossibilities. I made it my business to do as he bade me-to watch the enemy and to protect General Floyd’s rear; also to keep General Lee advised of my movements.

In my letter to General Lee of the 28th August the President and Secretary of War will see my full report of the first movement to Carnifix. On the 31st August General Floyd notified me that the enemy had abandoned Gauley Bridge and were advancing on him; that I should send him the strongest of my regiments to the top of the hill near Gauley (meaning the cliffs of Carnifix Ferry), and that I should at once advance with the remainder of my force (about 900 or 1,000 men), and take possession of the enemy’s camp at the mouth of the Gauley. He also asked me to send him two companies of cavalry-his, since their stampede, having been sent all the way back to Greenbrier. These orders were given to me, notwithstanding he had but little doubt of the retreat of the enemy from Gauley Bridge, and although he much doubted their intention to march in his direction. The absurdity of these orders caused me to address to him my letter from Dogwood Gap of August 31, 10 o’clock p.m. Again, on the 31st August. 12 o’clock m., he addressed me another letter, in which he said that the enemy were advancing upon him in full force from Gauley Bridge, were within 12 miles of him, and calling upon me for 1,000 of my infantry, my best battery, and one squadron of horse. This was received by me between 4 and 5 o’clock a.m. of September 1. That morning I moved again in full force towards Carnifix, leaving a mere guard at Dogwood; got to the cliffs of Carnifix, and was descending the road to the ferry, when one of his officers put into my hands his order of September 1, saying that from more recent information he doubted whether the movements of the enemy required the union of my force with his, as embraced in his last order, and commanded me to retain my forces in camp (at Dogwood) until further orders, and sneered another insult about the report of Colonel Henningsen.

I was so disgusted by these vacillating and harassing orders, that I determined at once with promptitude and dispatch to drive the enemy as far as possible back upon the turnpike towards their camp at Gauley Bridge. I returned to Dogwood on the evening of September 1, rested my men that night, and the next day (September 2) drove the enemy back west of Big Creek, and gained an advance of more than 13 miles upon the turnpike. With what gallantry and skill this was done by my men and officers you will see in my report to General Floyd of September 4. I have just ascertained an error in my estimate of the enemy’s force on that occasion. I now learn from a perfectly reliable source that their force was larger than I had supposed, reaching an aggregate of 3,000 men.

On the same day I addressed to him a second letter, asking him to re-enforce me with the whole or a part of Colonel Tompkins’ regiment and by returning to me my corps of artillery.

On the 6th of September I repeated the request, giving him very serious reasons for doing so. On the same day he actually re-enforced me with Colonel Tompkins’ regiment, and sent back my two pieces of artillery and 61 men, under Lieutenant Hart, for which I thanked him by a letter of the same date.


In my letter to General Lee of September 5, 1861, you will see a full and detailed account of the battle at Big Creek and of may critical position at the Hawk’s Nest.

On September 8 orders were interrupted by General Floyd’s most extraordinary letter of that date, accusing one of my officers of having seized upon a rifled gun at Jackson’s River, and taking it to the White Sulphur Springs; informing me that he had sent to arrest him, promising to order a court-martial for his trial when he could ascertain his rank, and requiring me to furnish him with a list of my officers and the dates of their commissions, that he might select from among them such names as he would like to be placed upon the court-martial. My answer is dated September 9, 1.15 o’clock p.m. The whole matter is explained in the report of Capt. B. Roemer, of my artillery, of September 12, and in my letter to General Lee of September 9, 10 o’clock a.m.

On the 7th of September General Floyd sent me Colonel Tompkins’ regiment. On the morning of the 9th he announced the enemy approaching him, as I expected he would, from Sutton, 6,000 strong, and the apprehension of a considerable force also approaching from the direction of Gauley Bridge. I call your attention to my letter to General Lee of September 9, and to Colonel Tompkins’ letter accompanying the same.

At about 8.30 o’clock a.m., September 9, I received a letter from General Floyd, dated 1 o’clock a.m., announcing the advance upon him of the enemy from Sutton, and that they were within 12 miles of Summersville. He stated that his strength, including the regiment of Colonel McCausland, did not exceed 1,600 men, and called for the return of Colonel Tompkins’ regiment, and for me at the same time to send one of my own regiments, saying that I, with the remainder of my force, could maintain my position, and that if I could not, I must call on General Chapman across New River for re-enforcements. This surprised me as to his forces. He brought out two regiments, little less than 1,200; was then joined by Colonel Wharton’s regiment, 400; then by McCausland’s and Tompkins’ regiments, 800; making 2,400 men; and two additional regiments, one from North Carolina and one from Georgia, were within a day’s march of him. At the time that I dispatched Colonel Tompkins to him, in my letter of September 9, addressed to-General Floyd, I assigned unanswerable reasons why I could not send a regiment of the Legion. I was reduced by measles to a force of infantry and artillery of about 1,050 efficient men. It was very hazardous to remain where I was with this force. If one-third of it were taken away I could not prevent the enemy from approaching Carnifix Ferry by the Saturday road. I would have to fall back again to Dogwood Gap, lose all I had gained by driving the enemy beyond Big Creek, lose Miller’s Ferry, and all opportunity of communicating with Generals Chapman and Beckley, and all the advantages of Likens’, a first-class mill, to grind meal and flour for my men; but, above all, the governing reason was that I could not defend General Floyd’s rear, if I had re-enforced him with my whole force and crossed Carnifix Ferry. By his estimate he would have had but 2,700 men, and by my estimate about 3,500, to have fought what I estimated at 6,000, and he at 9,000, in his front, with from 2,500 to 3,000 in our rear to cut off all retreat, and he was in intrenchments most unskillfully traced, behind works not worthy of Chinese. I begged him, therefore, to relieve me from the order to send him one of my fragments of regiments, and appealed to him to allow me to await further events and orders and the removal of the immediate pressure of the enemy upon me. The fact was, I had been {p.161} already twice fooled in going to Carnifix, and there was great danger in my falling back at all, with the probability of being ordered again to remain in camp.

But again, September 9, General Floyd addressed to me another dispatch, saying that the enemy at 5 o’clock p.m. of that day were advancing, about 4,000 strong, this side of Powell’s Mountain; called upon me to hurry up Colonel Tompkins, and to send him at once 1,000 of my own men with one of my batteries. Again, September 9, in his dispatch No. 37, the enemy were advancing upon him through Webster under Rosecrans, and he ordered me to station my regiment for which he had sent at Dogwood Gap. Thus there was another perfect confusion of orders. No. 36 was received at 2.15 a.m., No. 37 at 2 p.m., September 10. (See the notes of verbal messages made by Mr. Lewis attached to dispatches 34 and 35.) I wrote to General Floyd September 10, 6.30 a.m., in answer to all these orders and dispatches, and at 10 a.m. I informed him that the enemy were advancing upon me. The same day he dispatched to me his order No. 38, in which he reprimanded my delay, and ordered me to send him 1,000 of my infantry and one battery of artillery; he also required me to reply, state the hour of receiving his order and that of starting my reply. I was then within half a mile of the Hawk’s Nest, mounted, directing the advance of my vanguard against the enemy. This order was received at five minutes past 12 o’clock, and at 12.30 o’clock, by his own messenger, Mr. Carr, I returned him my answer No. 38, dated September 10, telling him the hour at which his letter was received, that it found me meeting an advance of the enemy threatening my picket at the Hawk’s Nest, and that all my force of three regiments of infantry, four companies of artillery, and two companies of cavalry were under arms, to prevent, if possible, the success of an obvious attempt to turn our right flank and to pass us up the turnpike, most probably to the Saturday road, to gain Carnifix Ferry in his rear. I should therefore exercise a sound discretion in obeying his orders or not.

At 12 or 1 o’clock at night, September 10 and 11, Mr. Carr and Major Glass returned with General Floyd’s dispatch No. 39, dated September 10, 8 p.m., ordering me on the receipt of it to dispatch to him all of my available force save one regiment, with which I would occupy my then position, unless I deemed it expedient to fall back to a more eligible one. He informed me that the enemy had attacked him in strong force; the battle had been raging for three hours-from 4 till 7 p.m.; that he still held his position, and thought the enemy would renew the attack by daylight in the morning with perhaps increased force.

Accordingly, the next morning I started to re-enforce him, and received verbal orders, when about half way to the ferry, to turn back to Dogwood Gap. General Floyd had given up his position, without the loss of a man, after fighting successfully for three hours, and in the act of being re-enforced by nearly my whole command, and by the two regiments from North Carolina and Georgia, in all reinforcements amounting to upwards of 2,000 men.

On September 11, at 7 o’clock p.m., I addressed to General Lee a letter, giving a report of General Floyd’s retreat from Carnifix without loss of life or limb, but with considerable loss of public property.

On the same day I met General Floyd, just beyond Dogwood Gap, prostrate upon the ground, by the side of the turnpike. I rode up to him in the presence of several officers and asked him for orders. He replied that he did not know what orders to give. I had other conversation {p.162} with him, particularly detailed in my last-mentioned letter to General Lee.

On the 12th September General Floyd issued several unimportant orders about guards and scouts, and about nightfall I received from him an invitation to a conference to determine upon a definite line of action. The result of the consultation was a retreat to the top of Big Sewell. Some unimportant correspondence occurred up to September 16, when myself and officers were called again to General Floyd’s headquarters for consultation. As early as practicable, about 5 o’clock p.m., I went, accompanied by Major Tyler, Captain Stanard, Captain Wise, and Colonel Jackson. A memorandum of that conference will be found immediately following General Floyd’s dispatch No. 45, addressed to me.

On the same evening, within half an hour after I left his camp, I was informed by him that it was determined to fall back again to the most defensible point between Meadow Bluff and Lewisburg; he would put his column in motion at once, and I would hold my command in readiness to bring up the rear.

On the 18th he inquired why I had not obeyed his order to fall back. On the same day, at 10.30 o’clock a.m., I replied that I had obeyed his order to the letter; that I had held my command in readiness to bring up his rear; that I considered the almost impregnable position I then occupied as essential to protect his rear, and that neither the condition of the roads nor the health of my men would permit me to move them without great inhumanity to man and beast. In the next place; by moving back I would lose the command of Bowyer’s Ferry and the old State road. I respectfully requested permission-to remain where I was, as best obeying his orders. I refer the President and the Secretary of War to the report of my quartermaster, F. D. Cleary, to my letter of September 18, addressed to General Floyd, and to his of the 19th September to me, respecting wagons and transportation, and to my letter to General Floyd of September 19, 11.30 o’clock p.m., about the policy of falling back.

On September 19, 2 o’clock a.m., I notified General Floyd of the advance of the enemy upon my position. He replied by his letter from Meadow Bluff, dated September 19. I replied by my letter of September 19, 9.45 a.m. The only reply that I received from him was his letter of September 22, ordering me to send him a piece of artillery, a 10-pounder gun manufactured on the Kanawha; this was instead of re-enforcements. I answered this call for the gun on September 23d; and that is the last letter which I have been obliged to write to General Floyd.

On the 21st of September General Lee addressed me a letter from the camp at Meadow Bluffi I replied to this on the 21st, at 5 o’clock p.m. (referring to his seeming reprimand of my failure to be united with General Floyd at Meadow Bluff), that I considered my force already united with General Floyd for the most effectual co-operation; and I gave my reasons for his examining my position and determining between that and General Floyd’s. He visited my camp, examined the ground, announced no conclusions upon the subject, but returned to General Floyd’s camp.

On September 23 Major Tyler, under my instructions, addressed to General Lee two communications, announcing the approach of the enemy. On the same day General Lee addressed to me his letter of the 23d. On the same day I replied, announcing to him that the enemy were in strong force on top of Big Sewell. On the 24th he addressed {p.163} me again. That day I advised him that the enemy were advancing upon me from Big Sewell, and at 7.30 o’clock a.m. I again addressed him in writing. On the same day he arrived at my position with a re-enforcement of four regiments. My advance guard had met that of the enemy on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. By this time the enemy had received re-enforcements swelling their numbers probably to more than 6,000, and their scouts pushed close to our lines, occasioning frequent sharp skirmishes, in all of which our men and officers acquitted themselves to my entire satisfaction. Indeed, from the time that I first marched under General Floyd’s orders until the moment of my recall my command was engaged, almost without intermission, in constant skirmishes, severely testing their courage, coolness, and endurance, and tending in a great degree to restrain the advance, embarrass the movements, and prevent the concentration of the enemy’s forces. I am proud to say that every instance of attack and defense has only tended to increase my confidence in their efficiency.

At about 4.30 o’clock p.m. September 25 I received, while under fire on the field, the President’s order to leave my command, transfer it to General Floyd, and to report at Richmond with the least delay. After a moment’s reflection, at 5 o’clock I addressed to General Lee my last letter to him, received his counsel, indorsed upon my note, advising me to obey the order with the least delay, and I left the camp immediately-took time only to pack my baggage-started the next morning, and did not stop until I arrived at Richmond.

I have now made as full and detailed a report as it is possible for me to make in my present prostrated state of health. To recapitulate, then: In reply to General Floyd’s report of September 12, of which he gave me no notice when he sent it to the Department, I aver that I did not fail to render him the best assistance in my power; that I defended his rear on this side of Carnifix Ferry; that had I obeyed his order and crossed the ferry, neither man nor beast of his command or mine would have escaped capture, wounds, imprisonment, or death. I aver the fact that he did not succeed so well in the construction of his temporary breastworks as he did in my defense of his rear. I aver that his intrenchment was not worthy of any command, either in site or construction, and that his facilities for retreat were wholly neglected and inadequate; that wantonly and unnecessarily he lost a large amount of public property, and would have lost all his artillery but for the good conduct and courage of Colonel Tompkins. I aver that if he ought to have crossed that ferry and remained in those intrenchments one hour to await the approach of a superior force of the enemy, and to fight the enemy for three hours without the loss of a single man killed, he ought to have awaited another attack the next day and the re-enforcements that were marching to his relief. He estimates the enemy’s force at between eight and nine thousand, when they were not more than 6,000. Upon the close of the contest at night it was not, as he says it was, a mere question of time-it was impossible for him to discover whether it was a question of time merely-when he should be compelled to yield to the superiority of numbers. He had had plenty of time to have constructed his ferry and amply sufficient breastworks. He says, therefore, that lie determined at once to recross the Gauley River and take position on the left bank, which he says he accomplished without the loss of a gun or any accident whatever. I aver that if he took position on the left bank of the Gauley he did not hold it, and ultimately-almost immediately-he left the left bank of the Gauley totally unprotected. Whether he lost a gun or not is yet to be {p.164} ascertained. It is certainly credibly reported that he did lose one caisson, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, a large amount of camp equipage and clothing, as well as supplies and provisions, his own personal baggage and arms in part, and ninety-odd fat cattle, and that some of his pickets were cut off.

He says it was strange that his loss was only 20 men wounded. It is stranger still that he should have retreated with so few men wounded and none killed. His men behaved with decided gallantry, and I have no doubt would proudly have stood the brunt of another day’s contest. If he had crippled the enemy to such an extent that they were in no condition to molest him in his passage across the river, he might well have stood the brunt of their crippled forces in one more bout. Nothing but extreme ignorance of the forces of the enemy and of the topography of the country could have engendered the belief that he could have beaten the enemy and marched directly to the valley of the Kanawha if he had been re-enforced before the close of the second day’s conflict by General Wise’s column and the North Carolina and Georgia regiments. General Wise’s column and the North Carolina and Georgia regiments were moving up under his orders. Why did he not await a second day’s conflict with the enemy? The necessity for his recrossing the river is not made plain, but contradicted by his own statement. He says he is confident that if he could have commanded the services of 5,000 men instead of 1,500, he could have opened the road directly into the valley of the Kanawha. Let me say that General Floyd is more efficient in commanding a force of 1,800 than one of 5,000 men. According to my estimate he had more than 1,800; he had 2,400 men; and as to opening the road directly into the valley of the Kanawha, that road is open already in a dozen places to any force, great or small. My cavalry, 240 strong only, had opened a road into the valley of the Kanawha within 12 miles of Charleston, killing as many of the enemy as General Floyd’s whole force did at Carnifix, and this on the 12th September, the very date of General Floyd’s report. At any time that General Floyd will attempt to enter the Kanawha Valley in the way that he proposed-by Twenty Mile, Bell’s, and Hughes’ Creeks, or by Gauley Bridge-General Rosecrans, if permitted, will open the road for him to enter it. He says:

This close correspondence shows distinctly enough the urgent necessity of so shaping the command in the valley of the Kanawha as to insure in the future that unity of action upon which alone can rest any hope of success in military matters.

I aver that the hope of success in military matters ought not to rest on the command of General Floyd. I am not content that my command shall be transferred to him. I will confidently abide by my correspondence with him to show who ought to be the commander. If called upon to give advice to my superiors, I would say General Floyd ought to be confined in his command to the Kentucky border, under some able superior, and that the command of the Department of the Kanawha ought to be given to Col. C. Q. Tompkins, who is a soldier by education and natural qualifications, a gentleman, and a man who has an important stake in the country where he commands. He ought to be promoted to that command, with the rank of brigadier-general; and my Legion ought to be transferred to my immediate command somewhere in the East, leaving in the West such companies as prefer to remain there, and allowing me the privilege to supply their place.

Whenever General Floyd shall think proper to take any other or further notice of these transactions, I will, if I think proper, take further notice of him. It is not so certain that the reasons which have induced {p.165} him to take the course which he has will be correctly understood either by the President or by the Secretary of War. General Floyd selected no strong point in the mountain passes. On the contrary, he fell back from the mountains, dug a ditch in a meadow marsh covered by every hill around, and the breastworks of which the first rain covered over with a swelling flood. He cannot fight a superior force in any intrenchments that he has selected or constructed. General Lee is now in command, and his counsel had better be taken as to what policy ought to be pursued. I only ask that, if these explanations are not sufficient, I may have the opportunities of defense. If they are sufficient, I ask that my command may be transferred back to me, and that we be separated from the command of General Floyd. I refer to the accompanying charts of my positions at Camp Defiance and at Dogwood and to the map elucidating my explanations.*** I beg that, besides favoring this with your own attention, you will do me the kindness to bring this report and accompanying papers without delay to the immediate notice of the President.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY A. WISE, Brigadier-General.

Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.

* No inclosures found with this report; but the communications referred to by General Wise appear entire in the “Reports” or in the “Correspondence, etc.,” post.

** In Chap. IX, Vol. II, of this series, p. 1011.

*** Not found.


SEPTEMBER 10, 1861.– Skirmish near Lewinsville, Va.


No. 1.–Capt. David Ireland, Seventy-ninth New York Infantry.
No. 2.–Capt. Elisha C. Hibbard, Fifth Wisconsin Infantry.

No. 1.

Report of Capt. David Ireland, Seventy-ninth New York Infantry.

HDQRS. SEVENTY-NINTH REGIMENT NEW YORK, Camp Advance, Va., September 10, 1861.

SIR: In accordance with the following instructions from the brigadier-general commanding,

You will assume command of the expedition which leaves your present camp at 1.30 a.m. to-morrow morning. It is the wish of the brigadier-general commanding this post that you place your men in ambush at Rush’s (at or near where the road from Langley to Falls Church crosses Pirnett Run) a little before daylight to-morrow, to co-operate with another column-which will cross the road between you and Lewinsville. You will place 75 men in good position as close to the road as possible, leaving 75 men in reserve a short distance in the rear. Your duty then will be to disable any bodies of the enemy’s cavalry or artillery which may pass that way. If artillery, let the fire of your men be destructive to the horses and afterwards upon the men who man the pieces. Should you be attacked by superior numbers you will fall back, making as obstinate resistance as possible. Do not leave your cover in the woods under any circumstances. You will hold your position, if possible, for one hour after daylight. Guides will he furnished you. See that the men of your command have no caps upon their guns until you get into position. If you find scouts or pickets of the enemy, either capture them or destroy them by a bayonet charge. Be careful to create no alarm by firing before you are in position. Should you hear firing upon your right, you will hurry forward and occupy your position as soon as you can.

I have the honor to report that, with a detail of 160 officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates, ordered for that purpose by Colonel Stevens, commanding the regiment, and placed under my command, I {p.166} left camp at 1 o’clock a.m., and proceeded to the place designated through various by-paths, without disturbing the enemy’s pickets, and arrived there at daybreak. The command was divided into two wings, to guard the approach of the enemy. Soon after the men had been posted firing was heard in the direction of Lewinsville, and a body of cavalry came from the direction of Falls Church, and when endeavoring to pass where we were posted our men were ordered to fire, which they did, causing the enemy to retreat. Previous to their retreating, which was caused by a well-directed fire from the left wing, under command of Capt. John Falconer, the enemy fired on us, killing one private, John Dowee, of the eighth company. At the same time the right wing captured a prisoner who was wounded, and who had on, when captured, a major’s shoulder-straps. His name is Hobbs, of Colonel Stuart’s regiment of cavalry.

Having successfully accomplished the mission we were ordered on, viz, preventing the pickets at Lewinsville being re-enforced and the enemy having retreated and the alarm being sounded in all the enemy’s camps in the neighborhood, we left our position-and arrived in camp by way of Langley at 10.30 o’clock a.m. The lowest estimate of the enemy’s loss is four killed, two wounded, and one prisoner. Much of the success of this expedition is owing to the exertions of our guide, Mr. Sage. Lieut. Alexander Graham, of the eighth company, was conspicuous for his coolness and bravery during the engagement. Mr. Hazard Stevens (volunteer) distinguished himself in this expedition by his usefulness and bravery during the engagement, and with these remarks I beg to submit the above report.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

DAVID IRELAND, Captain, Seventy-ninth Regiment.

Col. Isaac I. STEVENS, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General Smith’s Brigade.


No. 2.

Report of Capt. Elisha C. Hibbard, Fifth Wisconsin infantry.

CAMP ADVANCE, September 10, 1861.

SIR: The detachment from the Fifth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, consisting of Company B, Lieutenant Oliver commanding, Company C, Captain Berens, and Company G, Captain Bugh, ordered to proceed to Lewinsville, and there capture or break up a body of the enemy known to be there, left camp precisely at 11 o’clock, under the guidance of Captain Mott. After having passed our advanced picket this side of Langley, I ordered a sergeant and 8 men to advance 100 yards ahead, divided each side of the road. Taking the road to the right of Langley, we pressed forward in perfect silence and order through Commodore Jones’ property into a field beyond, where we lay until daylight. About 4.30 o’clock in the morning we left the field, passing through an open plot of ground into a corn field which lay just in rear of Lewinsville. The scout was sent forward, and on his return reported a portion of the enemy, consisting of cavalry, picketed there.

I took 50 men of Company B, and passing across the road running south, tried to gain the west road; but while so doing the alarm was given by two of the pickets. I immediately ordered the company back into the road, and ordered them to fire and charge. Company C, Captain


Berens, took position across the road in rear of Company B; Company G, Captain Bugh, having deployed by the flank behind the fence near our old position. Company B fired and charged down the road, wounding, it is supposed, 2 men, killing 1 horse, capturing 2, and 1 of the rebels. We divided and pursued a portion towards Falls Church and the wounded towards Vienna, but they escaped through a corn field and wood, and we fell back on our reserve.

Having heard firing of musketry on-the Falls Church road, forming by platoon in close column, with the prisoner and horses, we advanced towards Langley, and soon fell in with Lieutenant Hasbrouck’s gun and a detachment of infantry, who brought up our rear. We reached camp at 8 o’clock, having marched all of 20 miles. I should judge there were 10 cavalry in the squad. Had it not been for the splendid management of Captain Mott, assisted by his own men and the scout, the whole expedition would have proved a failure. Captains Berens and Bugh, and Lieutenants Oliver, Ross, and Strong, together with the men, conducted themselves with coolness and judgment.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. C. HIBBARD, Captain Company B, Commanding Detachment.

Brigadier-General SMITH, Commanding.


SEPTEMBER 11, 1861.– Union reconnaissance from Chain Bridge to Lewinsville, Va., and action at that place.


No. 1.–Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U. S. Army, with letter restoring the colors of the Seventy-ninth New York Infantry.
No. 2.–Brig. Gen. William F. Smith, U. S. Army.
No. 3.–Col. Isaac I. Stevens, Seventy-ninth New York Infantry, commanding expedition.
No. 4.–Lieut. Orlando M. Poe, U. S. Topographical Engineers.
No. 5.–Col. Solomon Meredith, Nineteenth Indiana Infantry.
No. 6.–Lieut. Col. Alexander Shaler, Sixty-fifth New York Infantry.
No. 7.–Capt. David Ireland, Seventy-ninth New York Infantry.
No. 8.–Lieut. Samuel R. Elliott, Seventy-ninth New York Infantry.
No. 9.–Lieut. Col. George J. Stannard, Second Vermont Infantry.
No. 10.–Col. Breed N. Hyde, Third Vermont Infantry.
No. 11.–Capt. Thaddeus P. Mott, Third New York Battery.
No. 12.–Capt. Charles Griffin, Fifth U. S. Artillery.
No. 13.–Lieut. William McLean, Fifth U. S. Cavalry.
No. 14.–William Borrowe, Acting Aide-de-Camp.
No. 15.–General Joseph E. Johnston, C. S. Army, with congratulatory orders.
No. 16.–Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, C. S. Army.
No. 17.–Col. James E. B. Stuart, First Virginia Cavalry.

No. 1.

Report of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U. S. Army, with letter restoring the colors of the Seventy-ninth New York Infantry.


General Smith made reconnaissance with 2,000 men to Lewinsville; remained several hours, and completed examination of the ground. {p.168} When work was completed and the command had started back, the enemy opened fire with shell, killing 2 and wounding 3. Griffin’s battery silenced the enemy’s battery. Our men came back in perfect order and excellent spirits. They behaved most admirably under fire. We shall have no more Bull Run affairs.

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.



HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Washington, September 14, 1861.

General WILLIAM F. SMITH, Chain Bridge:

The colors of the New York Seventy-ninth will be sent to you tomorrow. Please return them to the regiment, with the remark that they have shown by their conduct in the reconnaissance of the 11th instant that they are worthy to carry the banner into action, and the commanding general is confident they will always in future sustain and confirm him in the favorable opinion he has formed of them.*

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

* See Colburn to A. Porter, August 14, 1861, in Correspondence, etc.,” post.


No. 2.

Report of Brig. Gen. William F. Smith, U. S. Army.


CAPTAIN: I inclose herewith the report of Colonel Stevens, commanding the escort of Lieutenant Poe (also the latter’s report and sketch), during the reconnaissance of the 11th instant. I heard the firing from camp, and proceeded to take command, after leaving verbal instructions for such troops as could be spared from here to follow me. On the way out I met Captain Mott, with a section of his battery, practicing his horses on the road, and gave him an order to follow, which he and his men obeyed with alacrity. On arriving on the field I found the command retreating in good order, the men in good spirits, and professing themselves ready for anything. After I arrived Captain Griffin had two sections of his battery in use for a little while, but his fire was not replied to. Captain Mott used his section in two positions for a few rounds. The dead and wounded were all brought in, put a lieutenant and 2 men of the Nineteenth Indiana had wandered from their proper places and were captured.

A man who has come in through the lines informs me that he heard the Confederate troops say they lost 4 men killed and several horses. I give the report for what it is worth. I do not doubt but that strong forces had been brought from Flint Hill and Falls Church, and that a hope existed of causing our troops to attack. A fair opportunity was given them to attack us even while retreating, which was done without hurry and with great deliberation, but their artillery firing was stopped, and only glimpses were caught of their cavalry and infantry, and no disposition was evinced to come within range of our guns.


The infantry of our command bore the artillery fire of the enemy without a chance to reply, and but three or four muskets were fired from our side.

Colonel Stevens’ report will show you that great confidence may be placed in the troops who were with him, and that neither my presence nor that of the re-enforcements I ordered were necessary to bring to a successful termination the objects of the expedition.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. F. SMITH, Brigadier-General.

Capt. A. V. COLBURN, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Washington.


No. 3.

Report of Col. Isaac I. Stevens, Seventy-ninth New York Infantry, commanding expedition.

CAMP ADVANCE, VA., September 13, 1861.

SIR: In command of a force consisting of the Seventy-ninth Regiment New York State Militia; four companies of the First Regiment U. S. Chasseurs, Lieutenant-Colonel Shaler commanding; two companies of the Third Vermont Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Stannard; five companies of the Nineteenth Indiana, Colonel Meredith; four guns of Griffin’s battery, Captain Griffin; a detachment of 50 regular cavalry, Lieutenant McLean commanding, and one of 40 volunteer cavalry, Captain Robinson commanding, constituting an aggregate force of about 1,800 men, I started from your headquarters on the 11th instant, about 7.30 o’clock, with instructions to cover and protect a reconnaissance of the village of Lewinsville and vicinity, to determine all the facts that would be required for its permanent occupation and defense. In execution of this duty I proceeded quietly and steadily with my command, throwing out skirmishers in advance, and exploring the ground on both flanks to the distance of a mile, entered the village about 10 o’clock, and examined in person the several approaches to it. At Langley I sent forward twenty of Robinson’s cavalry, under command of Lieutenant [Seal] on the road to Leesburg, and to proceed to Lewinsville by a cross-road. This duty he performed, and reported that, judging from the appearance of the road, a force of from 100 to 200 of the enemy’s cavalry had occupied it on the preceding night.

There are five roads which concentrate at Lewinsville-one on which we approached, a second coming from the north and connecting the pike from camp to Leesburg with the village, a third coming from Falls Church on the south, a fourth coming from Vienna on the west, the four making the cross-roads of the village, and a fifth road about parallel to and southward of the Vienna road, known as the new road to Vienna, and having its junction with the road to Falls Church about 800 yards from the village. I caused to be placed in position to cover the reconnaissance the guns of Griffin’s battery, with proper infantry supports and with skirmishers well thrown out on all the assailable points. One gun was placed on a commanding point west of the road leading to the Leesburg pike on the north, supported by the Nineteenth Indiana, disposed as skirmishers and in reserve. A second gun was placed on a commanding point on the road leading directly from the cross-roads of the village to Vienna, and controlling also the approaches {p.170} on the new road to Vienna and the intervening country. A third gun was placed on the road leading directly to Falls Church, and the fourth was held in reserve. The approaches on the two roads from Vienna and the road from Falls Church were covered by skirmishers from the Vermont Third and one company of the Indiana Nineteenth besides which a heavy body of skirmishers was placed in the wood between the road to Falls Church and the New road to Vienna, as well as in the road eastward to our rear and northward to the road running north. In fact, the whole position for more than a mile was thoroughly enveloped and watched by skirmishers, who were well thrown out to the number of some 500 men. The two companies of the Vermont Second were specially held as a central reserve to Griffin’s battery. The Chasseurs and Highlanders were halted about one-third of a mile from the village, and a heavy body of the latter were thrown out as skirmishers to cover the country towards Falls Church, and they were actually extended to the road leading directly from Lewinsville to Falls Church, and made a perfect connection with the pickets in that quarter.

These dispositions were early made, and the reconnaissance of the position went on entirely uninterrupted. I was most vigilant in seeing that the approaches were well watched, and was ably seconded by all the commanders. Single individuals and small bodies of men were seen to be observing us at safe distances. A picket of 50 cavalry was driven in by Lieutenant McLean, of the regular cavalry. All the information possible was gained as to the position of the enemy. The reconnaissance was completed about 2.15 o’clock. The skirmishers were now recalled, and the order was given-to form the column for a return to Camp Advance.

It will be well here to mention that early notice was given to each body of skirmishers, through a commissioned officer, that they must be ready to obey promptly the recall which would be given when the reconnaissance was finished. The skirmishers, however, thrown out from the regiment of Highlanders towards Falls Church were-not recalled till time enough had elapsed to collect and bring in the skirmishers covering the approach on the other roads. They were considered by me to occupy the critical point of the position, and I had given great attention to impress vigilance upon the skirmishers in that quarter. Considerable delay occurred in collecting the skirmishers thrown forward in the new road to Vienna and advanced into the wood between that road and the road to Falls Church. Indeed, skirmishers from the Indiana regiment, seeing the approach of the enemy’s infantry, allowed themselves to be drawn forward to fire at them, and forgot their office of sending back information of the approach of the enemy. Three men of this body-Lieutenant Hancock, Sergeant Goodwin, and Private Hubbell-were surrounded and cut off.

Some forty minutes elapsed between sounding the recall and getting together those skirmishers. In the mean time some progress was made in withdrawing the skirmishers covering the approach through the open glade extending from the Falls Church road to our rear, when the enemy’s skirmishers crept up, fired upon the pickets of the Highlanders, still near Gilbert’s house, planted a battery, and opened its fire upon our rear. Simultaneously another body of their skirmishers advanced from the new Vienna road through the woods, which we had watched all day, and fired upon our withdrawing skirmishers in the village. At this juncture all the commands were formed, nearly all the skirmishers had fallen in, and each command was about taking its place in column.


Immediately on the opening of the enemy’s fire from the position occupied by the skirmishers of the Highlanders, I ordered Captain Griffin to advance a section of his battery as soon as possible, place it in position, and open fire upon the enemy. I sent Lieutenant Poe, of the Topographical Engineers, and Lieutenant Borrowe, of Griffin’s battery, to make the necessary arrangements to protect the rear, and went in person to the point immediately threatened by the enemy and upon which he had opened his artillery. Our troops were in fine spirits, and obeyed their orders with alacrity. Meanwhile the whole command was withdrawn from the village in perfect order, although exposed to a heavy fire of artillery, and placed in suitable position either to continue the march to Camp Advance, which the firing of the enemy had interrupted, or to advance upon and attack him in the event of his offering battle, or to receive in good order his attack, according to circumstances. Griffin’s battery fired with great spirit and rapidity, and soon both silenced the enemy’s guns and drove his infantry from their position. Moving to the head of the column, I had indicated new positions for the two sections of Griffin’s battery-one at Cook’s place, the other on the opposite side of the road-and had given the necessary orders, the position being an admirable battle-field for the command, when you arrived upon the ground and assumed command. I now assumed command of the Seventy-ninth Regiment, which had up to this time been acting with the Chasseurs, the whole under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Shaler, and placed it as a support to the battery of Captain Mott, just stationed at Cook’s place. On Mott’s change of position to the hill on the other side of the road, I stationed the Highlanders in the road, and remained there till it was withdrawn, when the Highlanders became the rear guard of the column. I was then directed by you to cross into the fields to the right, and make for a cross-road which led from Falls Church to Langley, and in which it was feared the enemy might advance to annoy our flank. This duty was executed by the Highlanders in most excellent spirit and most of the time on the double-quick. No enemy was found in the cross-road. The Seventy-ninth was then marched to your headquarters and thence conducted to the camp with the Chasseurs, both under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Shaler, as they were marched out.

The reports from commanders accompanying this will best explain the details of the affair. The steadiness and good conduct of the troops under fire and throughout the day were most gratifying, and is an earnest of the good service their country has to expect from them. Every order was obeyed with alacrity. There was no flinching from fire. I felt throughout the day the most perfect confidence in the troops, and believe they could have been easily handled against a greatly superior force of the enemy. The arrangements of the pickets and skirmishers left nothing to be desired in the way of covering the reconnaissance. I myself served as an officer of Engineers in the second conquest of Mexico, and I present the operations of the little as a beautiful specimen of a reconnaissance in presence of the enemy. The operations of Lieutenant Poe showed me that the Engineers had lost none of their ancient skill. Griffin was most gallant and prompt in the conduct of his battery. I examined with him and Lieutenant Poe the entire position of Lewinsville. It has great natural advantages, is easily defensible, will require but a small amount of ordnance and should be permanently occupied without delay.

In returning my special thanks to commanders, officers, and men I will be pardoned if I present my particular obligations to Captain {p.172} Griffin and Lieutenant Borrowe. The latter acted as my aide throughout the day, made the reconnaissance of the village before I advanced the troops, and placed in position the skirmishers on the south and west of the village. I call particular attention to his report, herewith submitted. Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron and Lieutenant Poe, of the Engineers, afforded me most valuable assistance.

Appended to this are the reports by commanders, &c.,

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

ISAAC I. STEVENS, Colonel, Commanding.

Brigadier-General SMITH, Commanding Brigade, Camp Advance.


No. 4.

Report of Lieut. Orlando M. Poe, U. S. Topographical Engineers.

CAMP ADVANCE, September 12, 1861.

SIR: By your direction I was, a few minutes after the enemy commenced firing upon our flank, placed in command of the rear guard of the column led by yourself. I formed the battalion of the Nineteenth Indiana Regiment in rear of the section of 12-pounders, and immediately changed that disposition by allowing it to pass them, my object being to use the guns against the cavalry of the enemy should they attempt to charge us. No such attempt was made. After passing the section of rifled guns the 12-pounders were put in position, but not by myself, as, General Smith having arrived upon the ground, I was detached for duty under his immediate direction.

The conduct of our troops was good, there appearing no disposition to fall into confusion.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

ORLANDO M. POE, First Lieutenant, Topographical Engineers.



No. 5.

Report of Col. Solomon Meredith, Nineteenth Indiana Infantry.


SIR: In pursuance of your order, received this morning, I herewith submit a report of the part taken by my command in the reconnoitering expedition of the 11th:

Five companies of my command, viz, Company A, Captain May; Company D, Captain Jacobs; Company F, Captain Lindley; Company H, Captain Kelly, and Company I, Lieutenant Baird, formed a part of the expedition which left this place at 7.30 a.m. Nothing special occurred to my command till we reached Lewinsville, 5 miles from camp.

One company (Captain Kelly’s) was then left in reserve, while three companies under my immediate charge were sent on the road running north towards the Leadingsburg [Leesburg] turnpike to support a section {p.173} of Griffin’s battery. I here threw out two parties of skirmishers-one a half mile west, one a half mile north-and placed the remainder under cover. Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron was ordered to take Company I down the road leading to Falls Church with instructions to deploy them as skirmishers in a piece of pine wood commanding the road on the right.

When the survey was finished and the recall sounded I called in the skirmishers first detached and moved them with the piece we were protecting down to the cross-roads. When we halted temporarily, Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron, discovering that Company I did not return when recalled, sent a mounted sergeant after them, and as he did not return for some time, Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron followed himself and met them coming out of the woods. At this juncture a heavy body of infantry opened fire upon them.

I may here mention that their delay was thus occasioned: Lieutenant Hancock and four men had left the line of skirmishers, and advanced nearly a half mile to get a shot at two larger bodies of infantry who were discovered deploying down the side of a large hill covered with timber. After a sharp firing, by which a number of the enemy were killed, one of the party, Private Hiram Antibus, though hotly pursued and continually fired on for a long distance, escaped with loss of shoes and cartridge-box, but bringing off his gun, while Lieutenant Hancock, Sergt. S. M. Goodwin, and Private Oliver Hubbell were shot down, being either killed or seriously wounded, nor have they since been heard of.

Having formed my command in line, while waiting orders we suffered from a heavy fire proceeding from a strip of timber and adjoining corn field, killing Private W. H. H. Wood, of Company D, by a shot through the head, and seriously, if not mortally, wounding Private Asbury Inlow, of the same company, by a ball through the left cheek, which passed out behind the ear. In resting I was ordered to cover the rear and protect a portion of Griffin’s battery, Lieutenant McLean, with a company of dragoons, following me. Thus we proceeded for half a mile towards camp under a terrific shower of shell, causing to my own command, however, no casualty, while other regiments were less fortunate. The position of the enemy’s guns being ascertained, our guns were placed in battery, and we with the rest of the infantry were formed in line, my command still covering the rear. Here a spent ball from an enemy concealed in the woods wounded in the foot Private John Hamilton, of Company D. After a considerable interval, our batteries having silenced those of the enemy and recalled his cavalry, we quietly returned to camp, still covering the rear, till we met re-enforcements.

My men were under fire about two hours, and during the whole of that time behaved with the utmost coolness and gallantry, obeying all orders promptly and with but little confusion, their chief anxiety seeming to be that the enemy’s infantry might advance from their cover or that they might have a chance to try their hand on Stuart’s cavalry. Though discrimination seems almost invidious when all behaved well, yet I cannot close my report without adverting to the conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron, whose courage and coolness were conspicuous throughout the whole of this affair. While shells were bursting around us he rode the lines, giving orders with an equanimity which was not even disturbed when one of them passed so close that his horse, sinking under him, with difficulty recovered the shock.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. MEREDITH, Colonel Nineteenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers.

Colonel STEVENS, Commanding Reconnoitering Expedition.



No. 6.

Report of Lieut. Col. Alexander Shaler, Sixty-fifth New York Infantry.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST REGIMENT U. S. CHASSEURS, Camp Advance, September 11, 1861-8 p.m.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, in compliance with special orders from headquarters, I reported myself at your quarters with four companies of the First Regiment U. S. Chasseurs at 5.45 o’clock this morning, and was placed by you in command of a reserve composed of the Seventy-ninth Regiment and the four companies of the Chasseur Regiment. Shortly afterwards this reserve was reported to General Smith at his headquarters, and assigned a position in the column to be moved towards Lewinsville. On arriving there we took up a position and threw out pickets under your direction. At 2 o’clock p.m., on the recall being sounded, our pickets returned and were formed in line. The battalion of Chasseurs and the Seventy-ninth were countermarched by the right flank on the ground they respectively occupied, which brought the Seventy-ninth in rear. Line of battle was formed faced to the front, and while in this position, waiting for the column then in rear to move forward to the right, a deadly fire of shell from the enemy’s guns was opened upon us, the first bursting in the road near the right of the line. This surprise created as a matter of course considerable excitement, but the cover furnished by the fence on the road-side and the coolly-exercised authority of the company officers effectually prevented the men from becoming seriously alarmed, notwithstanding a rapid fire was continued for half an hour before Griffin’s battery could be got in position to bear on the enemy.

By your command the detachment was moved forward until met by General Smith with two howitzers of heavy caliber. They at once took position on a prominence on the left of the road, and by your command the Seventy-ninth was detailed to protect them, while the battalion of Chasseurs was ordered to advance and protect a section of Griffin’s battery, which had taken position a little in advance and on the right of the road. From this the battalion was ordered farther down the road to protect another section, and again by General Smith’s command moved on to the rear of a section stationed at Langley’s Tavern. The guns of the enemy having been silenced, we were directed to proceed homeward, which we did, as along the whole route, in regular order, right in front. We were joined at the headquarters of General Smith by the Seventy-ninth, and returned to quarters about 5.30 p.m. without the loss of a single man.

The conduct of the officers and men of the Seventy-ninth while under my command was in the highest degree praiseworthy. They gave undoubted evidence of their bravery and resoluteness. Great credit is also due to the young and inexperienced officers and soldiers of the Chasseur Battalion. Considering that this was the first fire to which they were ever exposed, their conduct was surprisingly cool and deliberate. I commend them, therefore, to your favorable notice, in connection with the noble Highlanders.

With high regard, &c., I have the honor to subscribe myself, your very obedient servant,

ALEXANDER SHALER, Lieutenant-Colonel First Regiment U. S. Chasseurs.

Colonel STEVENS, Commanding Detachment on Special Service.



No. 7.

Report of Capt. David Ireland, Seventy-ninth New York Infantry.

HDQRS. SEVENTY-NINTH REGIMENT N. Y. S. M., Camp Advance, September 12, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Seventy-ninth Regiment Highlanders whilst forming a portion of the reserve under your command in the expedition to Lewinsville and vicinity:

I joined the regiment about a mile beyond Langley, and immediately assumed command. At the same time two companies were posted as skirmishers, the sixth, under command of Lieutenant McNie, and the tenth, under Lieutenant Elliott. This latter was posted on the road to Falls Church communicating with the road to Lewinsville, and the left resting at Gilbert’s house. The sixth company was thrown out in advance. After remaining in that position until the object of the expedition was evidently accomplished, the recall was sounded. When the skirmishers were retiring from Gilbert’s house they were fired upon by the enemy’s skirmishers, who had crept up as our men retired, also by a battery of artillery that was posted on the right of Gilbert’s house, and which could not have been more than fifteen yards from them at the time they opened fire, but which caused no damage to our men at that time. The skirmishers then took position in line. The enemy’s cannonading at this time was very severe, both of shot and shell, wounding 3 of our men, viz-James Van Riper, first company, in the knee; James Elliott, second company, in the ribs; and John Colgan, sixth company, in the foot. The column was then ordered forward, the Highlanders covering the retreat, which they did in firm order, the men being cool and behaving bravely. We were halted several times to support batteries in position, and when drawn up in line of battle in the rear of Captain Cook’s house to support Mott’s battery, Colonel Stevens assumed command, General Smith taking command of the column.

The conduct of the officers and men on this occasion was all that could be desired. They were cool and collected, behaving as well as if on parade, and more like veteran troops than volunteers. Where all did so well it would be wrong to individualize.

I herewith inclose the report to me of Lieutenant Elliott, in command of the skirmishers.

I have the honor to remain, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

DAVID IRELAND, Captain, Commanding Seventy-ninth Regiment N. Y. S. M.

Lieutenant-Colonel SHALER, Commanding Reserve, Expedition to Lewinsville.


No. 8.

Report of Lieut. Samuel R. Elliott, Seventy-ninth New York infantry.


Soon after coming to a halt I received orders to post a picket on the left flank from Gilbert’s house, right and left, extending the whole length of the column, in order to give warning of any approach in that direction. Reserving six of the first platoon as a reserve to be {p.176} stationed at the house, I proceeded to post the remainder. The right extended to the cavalry picket on the Falls Church road, and the left extended considerably beyond the rear of the column. The men, whenever practicable, were placed under cover, and Lieutenant Lusk and myself kept moving along the line to see that they were on the alert. Up to the time when they sounded the recall nothing occurred to attract our attention, although the people of the house told us that the enemy’s cavalry picket had left their gate just as our column appeared beyond the corn field.

Just as the bugle was sounding an officer rode up and ordered me to move the picket parallel with the column at the same distance out and preserving the same intervals, so as to protect the flank from surprise. I immediately started for the guide to aid me in carrying out time order, but before I could find him another order came to recall the picket as soon as possible. Lieutenant Lusk started to call in the picket, and in his over-eagerness attempted to call in both platoons, which caused him to be late with his own wing.

As soon as the men stationed by the Falls Church road began to come in, I observed a number of men without uniforms emerge from the wood at the side of that road and creep on their hands and knees along the fence to the gate where the cavalry had been stationed; they then trailed into the wood on the right of Gilbert’s house. Forming the men as quickly as I could, I made a signal for the left wing, under Lieutenant Lusk, to retreat through the corn field, as they were cutting us oft; and started with what remained of my command down the lane to rejoin our regiment, our pace being somewhat accelerated by the sight of some men unlimbering, as I thought, a gun in a small spot of rising ground behind the corn field and somewhat to the rear of the house. We had not moved fifty paces from the house when a volley of musketry was directed obliquely at us from the left, and at almost the same instant the gun opened fire on the right. Looking back, I saw Lieutenant Lusk, who had not understood my signal, returning with the last of his men into the very yard where the enemy’s skirmishers were. By this time nothing would have been easier than to have taken them prisoners, instead of which the skirmishers, apparently thinking themselves surprised, in turn fired at them and retreated by the side of the house. Lieutenant Lusk, with considerable adroitness, leaped the fence, followed by his two sergeants, and retreated under cover of the corn field in safety to his regiment. The men throughout behaved admirably; even after it became certain that those crouching forms were the enemy’s advance they showed less trepidation than perhaps I might have wished for the sake of celerity.

Very respectfully,

SAML. R. ELLIOTT, Lieutenant, Company K.

Captain IRELAND, Commanding Highlanders.


No. 9.

Report of Lieut. Col. George J. Stannard, Second Vermont Infantry.

CAMP ADVANCE, VA., NE AR CHAIN BRIDGE, September 12, 1861.

SIR: On the 11th instant I went to Lewinsville, agreeably to orders received the evening previous, with Companies A and F, of the Second {p.177} Vermont Regiment. The position assigned us was to act as guard or reserve to protect the artillery, which they did well. The command obeyed all orders promptly, and kept the ranks closed during the march on the way back to camp while under the rake of the fire of the enemy. While at a halt, in range of the enemy’s fire, a shell burst near them and tore the clothes of several but wounded none. They remained cool, showing no desire to leave the position until proper orders were received. As for myself, I have only to say that I was at or near my command during the whole time to receive and communicate orders and see that they were properly executed, and aimed to do my duty.

Respectfully, yours,

GEO. J. STANNARD, Lieutenant-Colonel Second Vermont Regiment.

Colonel STEVENS.


No. 10.

Report of Col. Breed N. Hyde, Third Vermont Infantry.

CAMP ADVANCE, CHAIN BRIDGE, VA., Headquarters Third Regiment V. V., September 12, 1861.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that while your command, of which my regiment formed a part, was advancing-to Lewinsville yesterday I threw out several companies as skirmishers and in advance of the column on the right and left. The skirmishers on the left, about three-fourths of a mile from Lewinsville, discovered several mounted men, evidently the enemy’s pickets, who fled precipitately at their approach. At a point 1 1/2 miles beyond Lewinsville they met the enemy’s infantry pickets and drove them in after a few moments’ skirmish, in which 1 of our men was slightly wounded. In the afternoon, having received your order to march back to camp, my battalion was put in motion. The enemy having placed a battery commanding the road and nearly enfilading it, we were soon in the line of its fire. We received no serious damage till my left had arrived at the point most exposed, when a shell exploded nearly in the center of Company C, Captain Corbin’s, killing and wounding several men, a list of whom is given below.*

It is with much pride that I refer to the steady, soldier-like bearing of my regiment under their first fire. I beg leave to speak of the good behavior of the Seventy-ninth Regiment New York Highlanders, immediately preceding my own. In passing up and down the regiments I saw nothing but good order, steadiness, and even cheerfulness under the trying fire of the enemy.

Respectfully submitted.

B. N. HYDE, Colonel Third Regiment V. V.

Col. ISAAC I. STEVENS, Commanding Expedition.

* The list shows 1 killed and 8 wounded.



No. 11.

Report of Capt. Thaddeus P. Mott, Third New York Battery.

SEPTEMBER 12, 1861.

SIR: In pursuance to your orders I proceeded to the scene of action yesterday (September 11) near Lewinsville, taking up my position on a wooded hill on the right side of the road, about 1 mile from Lewinsville, controlling that place and the surrounding country. I immediately directed fire towards the smoke from the enemy’s battery and in the direction of Captain Griffin’s shells. As soon as their battery ceased firing I ordered the shells to be thrown into a clump of woods, believing that I saw the enemy in large numbers therein. The order was well carried out by Lieut. William Stuart, commanding the section, the shells landing directly in the wood, which immediately caused its evacuation by, I should think, some 700 cavalry, a number of riderless horses, and some infantry.

Receiving orders to change my position, I used the privilege given me by yourself to exercise my discretion in case I could do them any material damage. I therefore kept up the fire on them, after their leaving the wood across a corn field and into another wood, I should think much to their sorrow. I then moved by your orders to the position before occupied by Captain Griffin, with orders not to unlimber unless for some good object; but seeing a number of them, say from 400 to 500, on their retreat to the new-cut road, I could not resist the temptation of having a farewell blow at them. I think the gunners did a great deal of execution, as I could see with my glass great confusion created amongst them, large breaches being made in their ranks, especially by the 32-pounder shrapnel, the paper fuse at the 10-pounder Parrott guns not acting well.

I take pleasure in being able to testify to the gallant and military bearing of the infantry in my vicinity.

Yours, respectfully, &c.,

THAD’S P. MOTT, Captain, Artillery, Smith’s Brigade.



No. 12.

Report of Capt. Charles Griffin, Fifth U. S. Artillery.

BATTERY D, FIFTH ARTILLERY, Camp near Chain Bridge, September 12, 1861.

SIR: Yesterday, after the enemy opened fire on the troops under your command, in accordance with your instructions, two rifled pieces of Battery D, Fifth Artillery, were placed in position some 1,800 yards from the enemy’s battery and opened fire, and continued firing until the enemy ceased firing or until Lieutenant Hasbrouck placed two more pieces in position some 600 yards to the rear, on the road towards our camp. The two pieces first placed in battery were then limbered up and moved to a position in rear of Lieutenant Hasbrouck. Some time after Lieutenant Hasbrouck placed his pieces in battery the remaining two pieces of the battery under Lieutenant Hazlett-joined and came into battery. The enemy at this time had ceased firing and the cannoneers were resting for {p.179} the want of a target. Some twenty or thirty minutes after this the enemy showed himself in a little cleared place, whence a round from the guns started him in a full run. From the first position of the rifled pieces some 40 rounds were fired, all shell, and from the second position some 18, to which the enemy made no reply.

The conduct of the lieutenants (Hazlett and Hasbrouck) was that of gallant soldiers, and of the men of the battery all that could be desired. It affords me much gratification to testify to the coolness and handsome deportment of the Vermont Third and some 80 men of the Second Vermont, who were ordered to support the battery. They were for about an hour under a very warm fire from the enemy’s artillery.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHAS. GRIFFIN, Captain, Fifth Artillery, Commanding Battery D.



No. 13.

Report of Lieut. William McLean, Fifth U. S. Cavalry.


SIR: By order of General Smith I was placed under your command yesterday, and in accordance with your directions I led my party as the advance guard to Lewinsville, sent 10 men on the road to Falls Church, 4 on the road to Vienna, and 2 on the road to Alexandria. Soon after my arrival I was ordered to send an officer and 10 men to repulse the enemy’s mounted pickets on the road towards Vienna. Having no officer present, I led them myself and performed the required duty, dispersing the rebel cavalry to the number of 50 men. I would especially notice the gallantry and firmness of George Hicks, of my command, who bravely faced the enemy previous to my arrival and rendered good service throughout. We returned to Camp Advance in the rear of the column without suffering any loss.

All of which is respectfully submitted, by your obedient servant,

WM. MCLEAN, First Lieutenant, Company H, Fifth Cavalry.

Colonel STEVENS, Commanding Expedition.


No. 14.

Report of William Borrowe, acting aide-de-camp.

CAMP NEAR CHAIN BRIDGE, VA., September 12, 1861.

SIR: Having been ordered by you to see that Lewinsville was clear of the enemy, so that we could occupy it without danger of falling on their pickets, I took with me the cavalry, under Lieutenant McLean, and two companies of the Third Vermont as skirmishers, and throwing them around the woods, advanced with the cavalry. Finding all clear at the cross-roads, I sent 10 of the cavalry on the road to Falls Church to scout it for the distance of half, a mile, and 4 on the road to Vienna, with the same directions. I then advanced the skirmishers to {p.180} a ridge about a quarter of a mile from Lewinsville to the left, and where we commanded the valley looking towards Vienna as well as a portion of the turnpike road from Falls Church and crossing the road to Vienna in our front and right. The men did their duty entirely to my satisfaction, being entirely concealed, and where all that passed before them could be seen. At the time it was reported that some 50 of their cavalry were seen advancing over the hill, and Lieutenant McLean, with some 12 of his cavalry, were ordered up to support us until others could be sent forward, should they be needed. In the mean time one of our cavalry pickets had ridden into the field and towards them within sufficient distance to discharge his carbine, but with what effect we could not tell. They turned at this and galloped off to the left and towards Falls Church, and, as I afterwards learned from a woman at a house beyond our lines, to give information to the enemy at that place of our being in force at Lewinsville.

The men approaching to us before we saw them made me uneasy for the woods to our left, and which were but slightly guarded, and I posted, with your permission, one company from the Nineteenth Indiana through them, covering us, so that no approach could be made in that direction for more than a mile without being discovered. At 2 o’clock, according to orders, the skirmishers were called in, and I waited fifteen minutes for some stragglers who had wandered off, and, not finding them, marched the men to their commands. At this moment the enemy opened his fire on us with one gun, soon increased to four, and a body of infantry advanced up the road from Falls Church and fired at our men from the road and woods. At this point 1 man of the Nineteenth Indiana was killed, being shot through the head. Fearing an advance of their cavalry, which we had seen in considerable numbers, I placed one of the guns from Lieutenant Hasbrouck’s section in the rear, supported by one company of the Nineteenth Indiana and the regular cavalry, and in this order advanced on the road, and though much exposed to their fire for the distance of a half a mile, fortunately none were lost but 2 of the Third Vermont, who were killed by the explosion of a shell. General Smith coming up at this point, I resigned the orders to his aides.

I must, in conclusion, speak of the splendid behavior of the Third Vermont, who stood the fire with the greatest coolness, as well as the Nineteenth Indiana, obeying all orders with a promptness that was extraordinary.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. BORROWE, Acting Aide, Second Lieutenant, Griffin’s Battery.



No. 15.

Report of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, C. S. Army, with congratulatory orders.

HEADQUARTERS NEAR FAIRFAX CROSS-ROADS, Near Fairfax Station, September 14, 1861.

SIR: Herewith I inclose two reports (of Brigadier-General Longstreet and of Colonel Stuart) of the affair of Lewinsville [Nos. 16 and 17]. I am much gratified at having this opportunity of putting before {p.181} the Department of War and the President this new instance of the boldness and skill of Colonel Stuart and the courage and efficiency of our troops.

Connected with this communication and these reports is a recommendation from General Longstreet, General Beauregard, and myself for forming a cavalry brigade and putting Colonel Stuart at its head. A new organization of the cavalry arm of our service is greatly needed, and greater strength as well as an effective organization. Our numbers in cavalry are by no means in due proportion to our infantry and artillery, yet without cavalry in proper proportion victory is comparatively barren of results; defeat is less prejudicial; retreat is usually safe.

You will observe that I propose that Colonel Stuart shall be withdrawn from the immediate command of the First Regiment of Virginia Cavalry. Should this be done, as I hope it will be, other arrangements are necessary in the regiment. As they have served immediately under my eye, and as I thus know them thoroughly, I feel it my duty to make further suggestions.

The regiment so far is exclusively Virginian. By all means keep it so, where it can be done without prejudice in other respects. State pride excites a generous emulation in the Army, which is of inappreciable value in its effect on the spirit of the troops. I therefore recommend that Capt. William E. Jones, who now commands the strongest troop in the regiment and one which is not surpassed in discipline or spirit by any ill the army, be made colonel. He is a graduate of West Point, served for several years in the Mounted Rifles, and is skillful, brave and zealous in a very high degree. It is enough to say that he is worthy to succeed J. E. B. Stuart. For the lieutenant-colonelcy I repeat my recommendation of Capt. Fitzhugh Lee. He belongs to a family in which military genius seems an heirloom. He is an officer of rare merit, capacity, and courage. Both of these officers have the invaluable advantage at this moment of knowledge of the ground which is now the scene of operations.

I do not recommend Maj. Robert Swan of that regiment for promotion in it, because, though personally known to me as a capable and gallant officer, yet his service and experience in the Army heretofore have been in the infantry. I am informed that he would prefer that branch of the service. I therefore recommend his transfer to it. Being a Marylander, it would be preferable to place him in a Maryland regiment. He would be likely thus to serve our cause most effectively.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. JOHNSTON, General.

Gen. S. COOPER, Adjt. and Inspr. Gen., Richmond, Va.



HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, September 12, 1861.

The commanding general has great satisfaction in making known the excellent conduct of Col. J. E. B. Stuart, and of the officers and men of his command, in the affair of Lewinsville on the 11th instant, on which occasion Colonel Stuart, with Major [James B.] Terrill’s battalion (Thirteenth Virginia Volunteers), two field pieces of the Washington Artillery (Louisiana), under Captain [T. L.] Rosser and Lieutenant [C. H.] Slocomb, and Captain Patrick’s company of cavalry (First Virginia), attacked and drove from that position in confusion three regiments of {p.182} infantry, eight pieces of artillery, and a large body of cavalry, inflicting severe loss, but incurring none.

By command of General Johnston:

THOS. G. RHETT, Assistant Adjutant-General.


No. 16.

Report of Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, C. S. Army.


COLONEL: I have the honor to submit herewith the report of Col. J. E. B. Stuart of his affair of yesterday. My arrangements had been made to cut off the enemy at Lewinsville by moving a heavy force down during the night. It is probably better that Colonel Stuart did not receive my instructions, and drove the enemy back to his trenches at once. My movement was intended to be made at night, and the heavy rains of last night would have prevented anything of the kind. The enemy are so famous at burrowing, that the command would probably have been well covered before I could have reached it and might have cost us several men.

Colonel Stuart has been at Munson’s Hill since its occupation by our troops. He has been most untiring in the discharge of his duties at that and other advanced positions, after having driven the enemy from Mason’s, Munson’s, and Upton’s Hills. In these and other less important skirmishes he has been entirely successful. Where he has lost a man, he has brought in at least two of the enemy, dead or alive.

The affair of yesterday was handsomely conducted and well executed. He makes handsome mention of Major Terrill, Captain Rosser, and Lieutenant Slocomb, and others of his command. It is quite evident that the officers and men deserve much credit for their handsome conduct, one and all. It is difficult to say whether the handsome use of his light infantry by Major Terrill or the destructive fires of the Washington Artillery by Captain Rosser and Lieutenant Slocomb, is the most brilliant part of the affair.

Colonel Stuart has, I think, fairly won his claim to brigadier, and I hope the commanding generals will unite with me in recommending him for that promotion.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

JAMES LONGSTREET, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Col. THOMAS JORDAN, Adjutant-General.

Since making the above report Colonel Stuart reports 2 other prisoners and another body found in the field, besides additional evidences of havoc in the ranks of the enemy. Killed and prisoners, 11. Not even a horse of ours hurt.


JAMES LONGSTREET, Brigadier-General.


We think with Brigadier-General Longstreet that Colonel Stuart’s laborious and valuable services, unintermitted since the war began on this frontier, entitle him to a brigadier generalcy. His calm and daring {p.183} courage, sagacity, zeal, and activity qualify him admirably for the command of our three regiments of cavalry, by which the outpost duty of the Army is performed. The Government would gain greatly by promoting him.

J. E. JOHNSTON, General. G. T. BEAUREGARD, General, Commanding First Corps, Army of the Potomac.


No. 17.

Report of Col. James E. B. Stuart, First Virginia Cavalry.

HEADQUARTERS, MUNSON’S HILL, September 11, 1861.

GENERAL: I started about 12 o’clock with the Thirteenth Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Major Terrill (305 men), one section of Rosser’s battery, Washington Artillery, and a detachment of the First Cavalry, under Captain Patrick, for Lewinsville, where I learned from my cavalry pickets the enemy were posted with some force. My intention was to surprise them, and I succeeded entirely, approaching Lewinsville by the enemy’s left and rear, taking care to keep my small force an entire secret from their observation. I at the same time carefully provided against the disaster to myself which I was striving to inflict upon the enemy, and felt sure that, if necessary, I could fall back successfully before any force the enemy might have, for the country was favorable to retreat and ambuscade.

At a point nicely screened by the woods from Lewinsville, and a few hundred yards from the place, I sent forward, under Major Terrill, a portion of his command stealthily to reach the woods at a turn of the road and reconnoiter beyond. This was admirably done, and the major soon reported to me that the enemy had a piece of artillery in position in the road just at Lewinsville, commanding our road. I directed him immediately to post his riflemen so as to render it impossible for the cannoneers to serve the piece, and, if possible, capture it. During subsequent operations the cannoneers tried ineffectually to serve the piece, and finally, after one was shot through the head, the piece was taken off.

While this was going on a few shots from Rosser’s section at a cluster of the enemy a quarter of a mile off put the entire force of the enemy in full retreat, exposing their entire column to flank fire from our piece. Some wagons and a large body of cavalry first passed in hasty flight, the rifled piece and howitzer firing as they passed. Then came flying a battery, eight pieces of artillery (Griffin’s), which soon took position about 600 yards to our front and right, and rained shot and shell upon us during the entire engagement, but with harmless effect, although striking very near. Then passed three regiments of infantry at double-quick, receiving in succession as they passed Rosser’s unerring salutation, his shells bursting directly over their heads, and creating the greatest havoc and confusion in their ranks. The last infantry regiment was followed by a column of cavalry, which at one time rode over the rear of the infantry in great confusion. The field, general, and staff officers were seen exerting every effort to restore order in their broken ranks, and my cavalry vedettes, observing their fight, reported that they finally rallied a mile and a half below and took position there, firing round after round of artillery from that position up the road where they supposed our columns would be pursuing them.


Captain Rosser, having no enemy left to contend with, at his own request was permitted to view the ground of the enemy’s flight, and found the road plowed up by his solid shot and strewn with fragments of shells; 2 men left dead in the road, 1 mortally wounded, and 1 not hurt taken prisoner. The prisoners said the havoc in their ranks was fearful, justifying what I saw myself of the confusion. Major Terrill’s sharpshooters were by no means idle, firing wherever a straggling Yankee showed his head, and capturing a lieutenant (captured by Major Terrill himself), 1 sergeant, and 1 private, all belonging to the Nineteenth Indiana, Colonel Meredith. The prisoners reported to me that General McClellan himself was present, and the enemy gave it out publicly that the occupancy of Lewinsville was to be permanent. Alas for human expectations!

The officers and men behaved in a manner worthy the general’s highest commendation, and the firing done by the section under direction of Captain Rosser and Lieutenant Slocomb, all the time under fire from the enemy’s battery, certainly for accuracy and effect challenges comparison with any ever made. Valuable assistance was rendered me by Chaplain Ball, as usual, and Messrs. Hairston and Burks, citizens attached to my staff, were conspicuous in daring. Corporal Hagan and Bugler Freed are entitled to special mention for good conduct and valuable service.

Our loss was not a scratch to man or horse. We have no means of knowing the enemy’s, except it must have been heavy, from the effects of the shots. We found in all 4 dead or mortally wounded, and captured 4. Of course they carried off all they could.

Your attention is especially called to the inclosed, which was delivered to me at Lewinsville, and to my indorsement.* I send a sketch also.* Please forward this report to Gen. Johnston. I returned here with my command after re-establishing my line of pickets through Lewinsville.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. B. STUART, Colonel, Commanding.


* Not found.


SEPTEMBER 11-17, 1861.– Operations in Cheat Mountain, West Virginia, including actions and skirmishes at Cheat Mountain Pass, Cheat Summit, Point Mountain Turnpike, and Elk Water.


No. 1.–Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, U. S. Army.
No. 2.–Col. Nathan Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana Infantry.
No. 3.–Col. George D. Wagner, Fifteenth Indiana Infantry.
No. 4.–Lieut. Col. Richard Owen, Fifteenth Indiana Infantry.
No. 5.–Capt. David J. Higgins, Twenty-fourth Ohio Infantry.
No. 6.–Col. Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.
No. 7.–General Lee’s orders.

No. 1.

Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, U. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, A. O. W. VA., Elk Water, September 17, 1861.

GENERAL: The operations of this brigade for the past few days may be summed up as follows: On the 12th instant the enemy, 9,000 strong, {p.185} with eight to twelve pieces of artillery, under command of General R. E. Lee, advanced on this position by the Huntersville pike. Our advanced pickets, portions of the Fifteenth Indiana and Sixth Ohio, gradually fell back to our main picket station, two companies of the Seventeenth Indiana, under Colonel Hascall, checking the enemy’s advance at the Point Mountain turnpike, and then falling back on the regiment, which occupied a very advanced position on our right front, and which we now ordered in. The enemy threw into the woods on our left front three regiments, who made their way to the right and rear of Cheat Mountain, took a position on the road leading to Huttonsville, broke the telegraph wire, and cut off our communication with Colonel Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana, commanding on Cheat Summit. Simultaneously another force of the enemy, of about equal strength, advanced by the Staunton pike in the front of Cheat Mountain, and threw two regiments to the right and rear of Cheat, which united with the three regiments from the other column of the enemy. The two posts, Cheat Summit and Elk Water, are 7 miles apart by a bridle-path over the mountains, and 18 miles by the wagon-road, via Huttonsville; Cheat Mountain Pass, the former headquarters of the brigade, being at the foot of the mountain, 10 miles from the summit. The enemy advancing towards the pass, by which he might possibly have obtained the rear or left of Elk Water, was there met by three companies of the Thirteenth Indiana, ordered up for that purpose, and by one company of the Fourteenth Indiana, from the summit. These four companies engaged and gallantly held in check greatly superior numbers of the enemy, foiled him in his attempt to obtain the rear or left of Elk Water, and threw him in the rear and right of Cheat Mountain, the companies retiring to the pass at the foot of the mountain. The enemy, about 5,000 strong, now closed in on Cheat Summit, and became engaged with detachments of the Fourteenth Indiana, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Ohio, from the summit, in all only about 300, who, deployed in the woods, held in check and killed many of the enemy, who did not at any time succeed in getting sufficiently near the field redoubt to give Daum’s battery an opportunity of firing into him.

So matters rested at dark on the 12th, with heavy forces in front and in plain sight of both posts, communication cut off, and the supply train for the mountains, loaded with provisions which were needed, waiting for an opportunity to pass up the road. Determined to force a communication with Cheat, I ordered the Thirteenth Indiana, under Colonel Sullivan, to cut their way, if necessary, by the main road, and the greater part of the Third Ohio and Second Virginia, under Colonels Marrow and Moss, respectively, to do the same by the path. The two commands started at 3 o’clock a.m. on the 13th, the former from Cheat Mountain Pass and the latter from Elk Water, so as to fall upon the enemy, if possible, simultaneously. Early on the 13th the small force of about 300 from the summit engaged the enemy, and with such effect that, notwithstanding his greatly superior numbers, he retired in great haste and disorder, leaving large quantities of clothing and equipments on the ground, and our relieving force, failing to catch the enemy, marched to the summit, securing the provision train and reopening our communication. While this was taking place on the mountain, and as yet unknown to us, the enemy, under Lee, advanced on Elk Water, apparently for a general attack. One rifled 10-pounder Parrott gun from Loomis’ battery was run to the front three-fourths of a mile and delivered a few shots at the enemy, causing him to withdraw out of convenient range and doing fine execution. Our relative position remained {p.186} unchanged until near dark, when we learned the result of the movements on the mountain, as above stated, and the enemy retired somewhat for the night.

On the 14th, early, the enemy was again in position in front of Elk Water, and a few rounds, supported by a company of the Fifteenth Indiana, were again administered, which caused him to withdraw as before. The forces that had been before repulsed from Cheat returned, and were again driven back by a comparatively small force from the mountain. The Seventeenth Indiana was ordered up the path to open communication and make way for another supply train, but, as before, found the little band from the summit had already done the work. During the afternoon of the 14th the enemy withdrew from before Elk Water, and is now principally concentrated some 10 miles from this post at or near his main camp. On the 15th he appeared in stronger force than at any previous time in front of Cheat and attempted a flank movement by the left, but was driven back by the ever-vigilant and gallant garrison of the field redoubt on the summit. To-day the enemy has also retired from the front of Cheat, but to what precise position I am not yet informed.

The results of these affairs are that we have killed near 100 of the enemy, including Col. John A. Washington, aide-de-camp to General Lee, and have taken about 20 prisoners. We have lost 9 killed, including Lieutenant Junod, Fourteenth Indiana, 2 missing, and about 60 prisoners, including Capt. James Bense and Lieutenants Gilman and Scheiffer, of the Sixth Ohio, and Lieutenant Merrill, of the Engineers. I append the reports of Colonel Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana; Captain Higgins, Twenty-fourth Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel Owen and Colonel Wagner, of the Fifteenth Indiana.

J. J. REYNOLDS, Brigadier-General, Commanding First Brigade.

L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.


No. 2.

Report of Col. Nathan Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana infantry.


GENERAL: On the morning of September 12 I started my train (teams from the Twenty-fourth Ohio Regiment) to your camp. When about three-fourths of a mile out they wire attacked by a party of the enemy. Information being at once brought to me, I proceeded to the point of attack, accompanied by Colonel Jones, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, and Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert, of the Twenty-fourth Ohio, and Companies C (Captain Brooks) and F (Captain Williamson), of the Fourteenth Indiana. I at first supposed the attack was made by a scouting party of the enemy, and sent Captains Brooks and Williamson into the woods, deployed as skirmishers. They soon overhauled the enemy, numbering 2,500. My captains immediately opened fire, and informed me the enemy were there in great force. I ordered them to hold their position. They did so, and soon had the pleasure of seeing the whole {p.187} force of the enemy take to their heels, throwing aside guns, clothing, and everything that impeded their progress. In the mean time I had detailed a guard of 90 men to be sent forward to relieve Captain Coons, of the Fourteenth Indiana, who had been stationed as a picket on the path between Elk Water Camp and my own. This detail was from the Fourteenth Indiana, Twenty-fourth Ohio, and Twenty-fifth Ohio, under Captain Higgins, Lieutenants Green and Wood. They had proceeded about 2 miles from the point of first attack when they met the Tennessee brigade, gave them battle, and drove them back. Captain Coons, of the Fourteenth Indiana, had met this same force earlier in the morning and undertook to resist them, and did so until driven back. He then came in their rear whilst they were engaged with the command under Captain Higgins, Company C, Twenty-fourth Ohio, Lieutenant Green, of the Fourteenth Indiana, and Lieutenant Wood, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio.

At this juncture I was informed that the enemy was moving in my front above the hill east of my camp, where we have usually had a picket station, which point was occupied by Lieutenant Junod, Company E, Fourteenth Indiana. The enemy surrounded Junod’s command, consisting of 35 men, with a force 500 strong, and killed Lieutenant Junod and 1 private. The others have all come into camp. I soon found that Captains Brooks and Williamson were driving the enemy to my right flank. I then dispatched two companies, one from the Fourteenth Indiana, Company A, Captain Foote, and one from the Twenty-fourth Ohio, Captain -, up Cheat River, to cut off the enemy’s retreat. My captains met the enemy 2 miles above the bridge, scattering them and killing several, capturing 2 prisoners, and retaking one of the wagoners taken early in the morning. The enemy’s force on my right flank consisted of the Twenty-fifth Virginia, Colonel Heck, Twenty-third, Thirty-first, and Thirty-seventh, and also one battalion of Virginians, under command of Colonel Taliaferro. The force which met Captain Higgins and Lieutenants Green and Wood consisted of the First Tennessee, Col. George Maney; the Seventh Tennessee, Col. R. Hatton; the Fourteenth Tennessee, Colonel Forbes, mustering in all 3,000, commanded by General Anderson. The aggregate of the enemy’s force was near 5,500; ours, which engaged and repulsed them, was less than 300. We killed near 100 of the enemy, and wounded a greater number, and have 13 prisoners. We recaptured all our teamsters and others whom the enemy had captured in the morning. We have lost a few noble fellows killed, among whom is Lieutenant Junod, Company E, Fourteenth Indiana. I append a list of killed, wounded, and missing of my command.*

General, I think my men have done wonders, and ask God to bless them.

The woods are literally covered with the baggage, coats, and haversacks, &c., of the enemy. Though almost naked, my command are ready to move forward.

Your obedient servant,

NATHAN KIMBALL, Colonel Fourteenth Indiana Volunteers, Commanding Post.

Brig. Gen. JOSEPH J. REYNOLDS, Commanding.

* Not found.


No. 3.

Report of Col. George D. Wagner, Fifteenth Indiana Infantry.


DEAR SIR: On the 9th of the present month I ordered Captain Templeton to take Companies D and F and take possession of and hold the Point Mountain pike at its junction with the Huntersville pike, supported by Major Christopher, of the Sixth Regiment Ohio, with 100 men, at Conrad’s Mill, 2 miles in the rear. The first position was about 8 miles in advance of my camp and 4 miles from the enemy’s encampment.

On morning of the 11th Captain Templeton’s pickets were attacked by the enemy’s column, advancing down the road. They fell back on the main force. The enemy still advancing in force, Captain Templeton dispatched a dragoon for re-enforcements. I immediately sent the left wing of the Fifteenth Indiana, under command of Major Wood, with orders to hold the position; but soon after a scout, who had been posted 3 miles east of Captain Templeton, with instructions to report to me any movements of the enemy on the left flank, came in and reported a column of 2,000 troops marching in this direction, with the evident intention of cutting off Captain Templeton and Major Christopher. I immediately sent orders for the entire force to fall back on the main force, which they did in good order, bringing off their wounded, having 2 men killed, 1 taken prisoner, and 3 wounded. Privates Kent and Bealer killed, of Company F, Captain White; T. Spoonmore, of same company, was taken prisoner. The wounded are Corporal Clark and Private Richards, both seriously, Clark having been hit by four balls. Both will recover, but Richards has had his leg amputated. Private Hovey is slightly wounded. All of Company D, of my regiment.

At this time you arrived on the ground and took command.

Let me say that officers and men all did their duty, and I must be allowed to commend to your notice Sergeant Thompson, of Company D, who having command of the first party engaged, as well as the men with him, stood and fought until half of the party was shot down before they would fall back.

I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,

G. D. WAGNER, Colonel.



No. 4.

Report of Lieut. Col. Richard Owen, Fifteenth Indiana Infantry.


SIR: In accordance with your order to proceed on the Marlin turnpike until I met the enemy, but not to bring on a general engagement, I marched my command of 285 infantry and 4 dragoons (the latter designed to be used as messengers) on Sunday, the 8th September, {p.189} at noon, out of camp, under the guidance of Dr. Singer, a Union Virginian, who, having formerly practiced in this and adjoining counties, was thoroughly acquainted with all the localities. The infantry consisted of portions of Company B, Captain Wing, Third Ohio; Company A, Captain Rice; Company C, Captain Comparet; Company E, Captain Lambe; Company K, Captain McCutchen, and Company H, under Lieutenant Warren, all of the Fifteenth Indiana Volunteers. Lieutenant Driscoll, of the Third Ohio, volunteered to lead a scouting party consisting of 10 Ohio and 10 Indiana riflemen. Lieutenant Bedford, acting captain of our scouts, volunteered to accompany the expedition. The cavalry was taken from Captain Bracken’s Indiana company.

Sleeping the first night on our arms, with half the command awake at a time, with no fires and perfect silence, after picketing wherever the cross-roads pointed out by Dr. Singer seemed to demand it, we proceeded at 4 a.m. on the 9th instant towards the Confederate camp at Marshall’s store, carefully scouting the laurel bushes. Immediately after the main body, with Captain Wing in the advance guard, emerged from a dense thicket which lined each side of the road, our scouts commenced firing, having come so close to the enemy and so suddenly that a hand-to-hand scuffle ensued between Private Edwards, of the Fifteenth Indiana, and a North Carolina secessionist, while another Fifteenth Indiana scout, Private J. F. Morris, surprised four dragoons at their breakfast in a house which proved to be on the farm of Henry Thomas, about three-quarters of a mile north of their camp. In accordance with instructions previously given to my command, I ordered them to fire by section, and countermarch to reform and load in the rear. This was carried out in good order, and with such execution that, as prisoners afterwards taken by Colonel Sullivan, of the Thirteenth Indiana, informed him, we killed 15 and wounded about as many more. An officer, who proved to be Major Murray, of the Virginia troops, was shot, it is believed by Lieutenant Bedford, with an Enfield rifle.

Knowing that, although there were but three full companies in sight, the enemy was in strong force at a short distance, I considered it prudent, in accordance with your instructions, to retire the command after all firing on the part of the enemy had ceased, forming for some time as before, faced to the front, but afterwards marching in common time to our camp 11 1/4 miles, delaying long enough on the route to dress the wounds of one of our men, Private Frank Conner, of Company G, Third Ohio, who was wounded in two places, besides receiving a ball through his haversack, but is now doing well.

The force represented by the prisoners as being in camp near Marshall’s store amounted to 8,000 men, and they also report that two pieces of artillery and two regiments of infantry were ordered out in Pursuit, doubtless the same a portion of which next day attacked the two companies of your regiment occupying the outposts on that road, viz, Company D, Captain Templeton, and Company F, under Lieutenant Dean, who so successfully and creditably sustained themselves.

The above brief-report of our skirmish is submitted with the hope that we carried out your instructions in the manner you designed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

RICHARD OWEN, Lieutenant-Colonel Fifteenth Indiana Volunteers.

Col. G. D. WAGNER, Commanding Fifteenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers.



No. 5.

Report of Capt. David J. Higgins, Twenty fourth Ohio Infantry.


I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command at the skirmish which occurred 4 miles from camp on the 12th instant:

My command was composed of 90 men, detailed 30 each from the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry and the Fourteenth Indiana, accompanied by Lieut. John T. Wood, Company H, Twenty-fifth Ohio, and Lieut. M. N. Green, Company B, Fourteenth Indiana. I was ordered to proceed with haste to the relief of Captain Coons, of the Fourteenth Indiana, who the evening of the 11th instant had been ordered to guard a pass 5 miles northwest from camp, leading from the main road to Elk River. Half a mile from camp I found three wagons, whose horses and drivers had that morning been taken by the rebels, who during the night had lain in large force near the camp. Hastening on, we were met by a cavalry soldier leading a wounded horse, who stated that the enemy had collected at the entrance of the pass, had shot his horse, and that Captain Coons and party were doubtless cut off. Sending a squad of men into the woods on both sides of the road, I proceeded cautiously within sight of the spot where the horse had been shot, when I sent Lieutenant Green with his men to deploy on the left of the road and Lieutenant Wood with his men on the right, holding the detail of the Twenty-fourth on the right near the road on line with the others as reserve to check any advance of the enemy on the road, ordering the whole line to move cautiously, covering themselves by trees. The right had proceeded about 3 rods in this manner when it was saluted by a volley of at least 100 guns, with no loss on our side. We returned the volley, and immediately advanced upon the ambush, receiving and returning a second volley.

The rebels fled up from the right to the road, where Lieutenant Green came in sight of them, and poured in a destructive fire. At this moment we saw a large body of men in utter confusion pressing back upon what seemed a larger force in line of battle, in spite of all efforts of officers to rally them. Lieutenant Green, seeing so large a force, fell back upon the reserve, bringing in 2 wounded men-Private Leonard Daum, wounded in the arm, and Private John Killgannon both of Company B, Fourteenth Indiana. I directed the line to be deployed again, but to make no advance, determining to hold the position until the arrival of re-enforcements.

After waiting half an hour Major Harrow, of the Fourteenth Indiana, came up with two companies. He immediately sent forward a squad of men to reconnoiter. These returned, bringing in two prisoners, who reported the force in our front to be General Anderson’s brigade of Tennesseeans, numbering 3,000; that we had fallen upon the left wing of his line, and that his was one of three columns of rebel infantry which during the night had collected at three points to attack the camp. Learning these facts, Major Harrow ordered me to draw in my men and post them as advanced guard 2 miles nearer camp. This I did, and held the place unmolested until morning, when I was relieved.

From the most reliable information I can get the rebels have lost in that engagement at least 50 killed, besides many wounded. The actual {p.191} skirmishing lasted about thirty minutes, but the whole time we held the ground was one hour.

I wish to call the attention of the colonel commanding this post to the general, bravery and coolness of all the men under my command during the engagement. Particularly I wish to notice the gallant conduct of Lieut. M. N. Green, of Company B, Fourteenth Indiana, and Lieut. John T. Wood, of Company H, Twenty-fifth Ohio, whose steady coolness and daring example had great force in keeping the deployed line unbroken and in causing so destructive a fire to be poured upon the enemy.

I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

DAVID J. HIGGINS, Captain Company C, Twenty-fourth Ohio infantry, Comdg. Scout.

Col. NATHAN KIMBALL, Commanding Post.


No. 6.

Report of Col. Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.

CAMP BARTOW, September 13, 1861-10 p.m.

GENERAL: The expedition against Cheat Mountain failed. My command consisted of between 1,500 and 1,600 men. Got there at the appointed time, notwithstanding the rain. Seized a number of their pickets and scouts. Learned from them that the enemy was between 4,000 and 5,000 strong, and they reported them to be strongly fortified. Upon a reconnaissance their representations were fully corroborated. A fort or block-house on the point or elbow of the road, intrenchments on the south, and outside of the intrenchments and all around up to the road heavy and impassable abatis, if the enemy were not behind them. Colonel Barton, my lieutenant-colonel, and all the field officers declared it would be madness to make an attack. We learned from the prisoner they were aware of your movements, and had been telegraphed for re-enforcements, and I heard three pieces of artillery pass down toward your encampment while we were seeking to make an assault upon them.

I took the assistant commissary, and for one regiment I found upon his person a requisition for 930 rations; also a letter indicating they had very little subsistence. I brought only one prisoner back with me. The cowardice of the guard (not Arkansian) permitted the others to escape. Spies had evidently communicated our movements to the enemy. The fort was completed, as reported by the different prisoners examined separately, and another in process of construction. We got near enough to see the enemy in the trenches beyond the abatis. The most of my command behaved admirably. Some I would prefer to be without upon any expedition.

General Jackson requests me to say that he is in possession of the first summit of Cheat Mountain, and hopes you are doing something in Tygart’s Valley, and will retain command of it until he receives orders from your quarters. My own opinion is that there is nothing to be gained by occupying that mountain. It will take a heavy force to take the pass, and at a heavy loss. I knew the enemy had four times my force; but for the abatis we would have made the assault. We could not get to them to make it. The general says, in his note to me, his occupying Cheat Mountain may bring on an engagement, but he is prepared, {p.192} and will whip them if they come. I see from the postscript that he requests his note to me to be inclosed to you. I can only say that all human power could do towards success in my expedition failed of success. The taking of the picket looked like a providential interposition. I took the first one myself, being at the head of the column when I got to the road.

In great haste, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. RUST, Colonel, &c.

General LORING, Commanding, &c.


DEAR COLONEL: Return into camp with your command. So soon as you arrive address a letter to General Loring, explaining the failure and the reasons of it. Show this to Captain Niell, quartermaster, and let him at once furnish an express ready to take your letter by the near route. If possible, get the postmaster, Mr. Abagast, to go, and go rapidly, and at once. Say in your letter that I am in possession of first summit of Cheat Mountain, and am in hopes of something going on in Tygart’s Valley, and shall retain command of it until I receive orders from headquarters. It may bring on an engagement, but I am prepared, and shall whip them if they come.

Very truly,


P. S.-I cannot write here. Inclose This scrawl in your own letter. You had better return yourself at once to camp, leaving your command to follow. We had several skirmishes yesterday and killed several of the enemy.


No. 7.

General Lee’s orders.


HEADQUARTERS OF THE FORCES, Valley Mountain, W. Va., September 9, 1861.

The forward movement announced to the Army of the Northwest in Special Orders, No. 28, from its headquarters, of this date, gives the general commanding the opportunity of exhorting the troops to keep steadily in view the great principles for which they contend and to manifest to the world their determination to maintain them. The eyes of the country are upon you. The safety of your homes and the lives of all you hold dear depend upon your courage and exertions. Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self-government, liberty, and peace shall in him find a defender. The progress of this army must be forward.

R. E. LEE, General, Commanding.



HEADQUARTERS, Camp on Valley River, Va., September 14, 1861.

The forced reconnaissance of the enemy’s positions, both at Cheat Mountain Pass and on Valley River, having been completed, and the character of the natural approaches and the nature of the artificial {p.193} defenses exposed, the Army of the Northwest will resume its former position at such time and in such manner as General Loring shall direct, and continue its preparations for further operations. The commanding general experienced much gratification at the cheerfulness and alacrity displayed by the troops in this arduous operation. The promptitude with which they surmounted every difficulty, driving in and capturing the enemy’s pickets on the fronts examined and exhibiting that readiness for attack, gives assurance of victory when a fit opportunity offers.

R. E. LEE, General, Commanding.


SEPTEMBER 12-17, 1861.– Arrest of members of the Maryland Legislature and other citizens of that State.


No. 1.–Instructions from Secretary of War to General Banks.
No. 2.–Report of Maj. Gen. John A. Dix.
No. 3.–Letter from General Dix to Maj. Gen. John E. Wool.
No. 4.–Reports of Major-General Banks of arrests at Frederick, Md.
No. 5.–Report of Mr. Allen Pinkerton of arrests at Baltimore, Md.
No. 6.–Letter from General Wool to commanding officer Fort Lafayette, New York.
No. 7.–Letter from Governor Hicks to Genera] Banks.

No. 1.

Instructions from Secretary of War to General Banks, U. S. Army.

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, September 11, 1861.

Maj. Gen. N. P. BANKS, Commanding near Darnestown, Md.:

GENERAL: The passage of any act of secession by the legislature of Maryland must be prevented. If necessary, all or any part of the members must be arrested. Exercise your own judgment as to the time and manner, but do the work effectively.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.


No. 2.

Report of Maj. Gen. John A. Dix, U. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA., Baltimore, Md., September 11, 1861-11 p.m.

Hon. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War:

SIR: Your letter was handed to me half an hour ago by Mr. Allen,* who is of the opinion that, in consideration of the lateness of the hour and the uncertainty of finding all the parties, the arrests should be {p.194} deferred till to-morrow night. I will detain the steamer, so that they can be taken directly on board. No effort or precaution will be spared to carry your order into execution promptly and effectually.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN A. DIX, Major-General, Commanding.

* Not found; but see report No. 5, following.


No. 3.

Letter from General Dix to Maj. Gen. John E. Wool.


GENERAL: Lieut. W. M. Wilson, of the Fourth Cavalry, will leave these headquarters this evening with the following gentlemen, who have been taken in custody by order of the Government: George William Brown, mayor of the city of Baltimore; members-elect of the legislature, S. Teakle Wallis, Henry M. Warfield, Charles H. Pitts, T. Parkin Scott, Lawrence Sangston, Ross Winans, John Hanson Thomas, William G. Harrison, Leonard G. Quinlan, and Robert M. Denison; Henry May, member of Congress; F. Key Howard, Andrew A. Lynch, and Thomas W. Hall, citizens of Baltimore. The direction of the Secretary of War is to keep them in close custody, suffering no one to communicate with them, and to convey them at once to Fort Monroe, there to remain in close custody until they shall be forwarded to their ultimate destination. The prisoners are in charge of Lieutenant Wilson, who will return with the detachment of the Third Regiment New-York Volunteers, sent as a guard to the prisoners, to these headquarters by the first steamer.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN A. DIX, Major. General, Commanding.

Maj. Gen. JOHN E. WOOL, Commanding Department of Virginia.


No. 4.

Reports of Major-General Banks of arrests at Frederick, Md.

DARNESTOWN, MD., September 18, 1861.

To Governor SEWARD:

But four present at opening yesterday. Eighteen s- only in town. Twelve secured up to 5 p.m. Probably all last night.




SIR: I have the honor to report, in obedience to the order of the Secretary of War, and the general commanding the Army of the Potomac, transmitted to me by letter of the 12th instant,* that all the members of the Maryland Legislature assembled at Frederick City on the 17th instant {p.195} known or suspected to be disloyal in their relations to the Government have been arrested.

The opening of the session was attended chiefly by Union men, and after rigid examination but nine secession members were found in the city. These were arrested, with the clerk of the senate, and sent to Annapolis, according to my orders, on the 18th instant under guard, and safely lodged on board a Government steamer in waiting for them. Of their destination thence I had no direction. The names of the parties thus arrested and disposed of were as follows, viz: B. H. Salmon, Frederick; R. C. McCubbin, Annapolis; William R. Miller, Cecil County; Thomas Claggett, Frederick; Josiah H. Gordon, Alleghany County; Clark J. Durant, Saint Mary’s County; J. Lawrence Jones, Talbot County; Andrew Kessler, jr., Frederick; Bernard Mills, Carroll County; J. W. Brecolt, chief clerk of the senate.

No meeting of the senate occurred; but three senators were in town, and those were Union men. Three subordinate officers of the senate, the chief clerk and printer of the house, and one or two others were also arrested, but released after the departure of the members for Annapolis upon taking the oath of allegiance.

Milton Kidd, clerk of the house, is in the last stages of consumption, beyond the power of doing harm, and was released upon taking the oath and making a solemn declaration to act no further with the legislature under any circumstances whatever. This course was adopted upon the urgent solicitation of the Union members present. The same parties desired the release of R. C. McCubbin, of Annapolis, upon the same condition. I telegraphed to the commander of the steamer that he might be left at Annapolis under sufficient guard until the orders of the Government could be ascertained.

Colonel Ruger, Third Wisconsin Regiment; Lieutenant Copeland, my aide-de-camp, and a detachment of police rendered efficient aid.

Sufficient information was obtained as to preparations for board, &c., to lead to the belief that the attendance of members would have been large had not the arrest of some of the leaders been made at Baltimore on Saturday and Monday before the day of meeting.

I regret the attempt at Frederick was not more successful.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

N. P. BANKS, Major-General, Commanding Division.

Col. R. B. MARCY, Chief of Staff, &c.:

* These instructions cannot be found.


No. 5.

Report of Mr. Allen Pinkerton of arrests at Baltimore, Md.

WASHINGTON, D. C., September 23, 1861.

SIR: On the 11th instant, in pursuance of the orders of the Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, and Major-General McClellan, I went to Baltimore, accompanied by a sufficient number of my detective force, and Lieut. W. M. Wilson, of the Fourth United States Cavalry. On arriving in Baltimore I proceeded to Fort McHenry, and delivered to Major-General Dix an order from the War Department for the arrest of T. Parkin Scott, S. Teakle Wallis, Frank Key Howard, T. W. Hall, Henry May, and H. M. Warfield. The said order mentioned to General Dix that I was instructed to conduct the arrests, also to search for and seize the correspondence of the above-named parties.

On consultation with General Dix it was deemed advisable, as it was {p.196} now about midnight, to postpone the attempt to arrest until the following night, as it was impossible to tell if the parties to be arrested were in town or at their respective houses. General Dix directed me to call on Provost-Marshal Dodge and Assistant Provost-Marshal McPhail, of Baltimore, who would furnish me all the police force necessary to make the arrests. On the morning of the 12th instant I called on Messrs. Dodge and McPhail. I found them to be highly intelligent and able men for their respective positions, and arrangements were at once entered into between us for procuring the necessary information in relation to the probable whereabouts of the parties named to be arrested, and the hour of midnight was fixed upon as the time to make the descent, Mr. McPhail detailing a sufficient police force to accompany my own force to each house.

At about 9.30 p.m., while at the provost-marshal’s office, an order was received from Major-General Dix, addressed to Provost-Marshal Dodge, directing the arrest of George W. Brown, W. G. Harrison, Lawrence Sangston, Ross Winans, J. Hanson Thomas, Andrew A. Lynch, C. H. Pitts, L. G. Quinlan, and Robert M. Denison. Arrangements were at once made for the arrest of the above-named parties, which was accomplished during the night, and early on the following day (13th) they were all committed to Fort McHenry.

At about midnight the several divisions moved simultaneously upon the places where we had discovered Scott, Wallis, F. Key Howard, Hall, May, and Warfield, and at that time all the above named were arrested within fifteen minutes, their clothing thoroughly searched, and immediately thereafter they were forwarded to Fort McHenry in separate carriages. My force made diligent search for all correspondence on the premises of each of the parties, all of which was seized.

Frank Key Howard being one of the editors of the Baltimore Exchange newspaper and T. W. Hall editor of The South, I construed the order to search for and seize correspondence of a treasonable nature in the possession of the parties arrested a sufficient warrant for me to enter and search the editorial and press rooms of the Exchange and South, which I did, seizing the correspondence found therein.

All the correspondence found I brought with me to Washington, and now beg leave respectfully to submit to you briefs of the same, which I have had carefully prepared, retaining the originals in my possession subject to your order.*

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

* Not furnished from the State Department.


No. 6.

Letter from General Wool to Commanding Officer Fort Lafayette, N. Y.


SIR: By direction of Lieutenant-General Scott, I forward to you for custody and safe-keeping at Fort Lafayette the following political prisoners, arrested in Baltimore, 14 in number, viz:*



I presume you will receive instructions in regard to them from the proper quarters. In the mean time, according to the recommendation of the Secretary of State to me, “they will be allowed decent fare and the privileges of air and exercise compatible with their safe-keeping,” not going out of the fort. They must be watched during their confinement, and allowed to receive no visitors not authorized by the authorities in Washington, and when visited a commissioned officer must be present.

You will acknowledge the receipt of this communication and of the prisoners named in it. Such acknowledgment, in writing, will be handed to Captain Coster, the bearer of this letter, who will deliver the prisoners into your own custody.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN E. WOOL, Major-General.

To the COMMANDING OFFICER, Fort Lafayette, New York Harbor.

* List omitted, embraces all the names given in No. 3, p. 194, except that of Ross Winans.


No. 7.

Letter from Governor Hicks to General Banks.

STATE OF MARYLAND, EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, Annapolis, September 20, 1861.

DEAR SIR: We have some of the product of your order here in the persons of some eight or ten members of the State Legislature, soon, I learn, to depart for healthy quarters. We see the good fruit already produced by the arrests.

We can no longer mince matters with these desperate people. I concur in all you have done.

With great respect, your obedient servant,


Maj. Gen. N. P. BANKS.


SEPTEMBER 15, 1861.– Skirmish at Pritchard’s Mill, Va., near Antietam Ford, Md.

Report of Col. John W. Geary, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry.

POINT OF ROCKS, MARYLAND, September 17, 1861.

SIR: On the night of the 13th instant I received reliable information that about 2,200 rebels were stationed in an offensive attitude between the Shenandoah and Shepherdstown, on the Virginia shore of the Potomac. This force was composed of infantry (the greater portion of them being in the neighborhood of the Old Furnace and Pritchard’s Mill. The number of them actually engaged is variously estimated at from 500 to 600, while they had a reserve of 1,500 or 1,600 within a short distance behind the hills and along the railroad in the direction of Martinsburg), cavalry, and artillery, with four pieces of cannon. Their object seemed to be to attack the right of my command, resting about 3 miles {p.198}

above Harper’s Ferry, on the Maryland side of the river, and threatened that they would turn that position, gain the rear of my pickets, and capture a considerable portion of my command, consisting of two companies of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment. This information reached me at 11 o’clock at night; and one hour after I proceeded from my camp at this place with three companies of riflemen (B, I, and L) of my regiment, a section of the New York Ninth Battery, with two rifled cannon, commanded by Lieut. J. W. Martin. After a very rapid and, owing to the extreme [heat] of the weather, fatiguing march of 12 miles I reached Harper’s Ferry about daylight on the morning of the 14th. I found the rebels then engaged in making an attack upon the troops stationed above my command near Sharpsburg. Those troops made a handsome defense, and before I could proceed to their assistance the rebels retired, under pretense of having received orders to report at once at Manassas.

On the morning of the 15th I acquired considerable knowledge of the position of the enemy, and, desiring to assure myself more particularly with regard to their movements, I detailed scouting parties to such points as the rebels were said to be, to as certain the truth. One of these parties, consisting of an officer (Lieutenant Brown), 1 sergeant, and 6 privates, all of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment, mounted, by my direction pushed forward as far as Antietam Ford; this party, returning, while opposite Pritchard’s Mill, were fired upon suddenly from the Virginia side of the river by a volley of about 50 muskets from a body of men perfectly concealed. One man of the party was instantly killed on the spot, and, owing to a continuous fire kept [up] on the remaining portion of the party, it was impossible for them to move from the position to which they had taken themselves to prevent further losses as the enemy deployed down the river.

About the same time a number of the enemy made their appearance on the apex brow of the Loudoun Heights, also on the road leading around its base to Harper’s Ferry, and commenced firing. At the same [time] a considerable number of them opened fire from the heights back of Harper’s Ferry and from all parts of the railroad along the river up to Pritchard’s Mill. The latter were deployed, well covered behind the embankments of the railroad and bushes, and secreted in houses, barns, and lime quarries.

I stationed Company L, under command of Captain Barr, of my regiment, upon that portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad below the abutment of the burnt bridge, in the direction of Sandy Hook, with instructions to clear the Loudoun Heights and the road at their base, which they did, causing the enemy quickly to retire, leaving 5 or 43 killed and wounded on the ground. I stationed a company and a half of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by Major Gould, from the bridge upward to the first lock on the canal, a distance of about 1 1/2 miles, to defend against attacks from the town and surrounding heights. I also left one piece of artillery with Major Gould’s detachment in such position as to sweep the several streets of Harper’s Ferry. I placed Company B, Captain Warden, of my regiment, above the lock, where the right of Major Gould’s command rested, and deployed it along the river about 1 mile. This company rendered very efficient service by its good marksmen at long range and seriously galled the enemy. I then advanced with one piece of artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Martin; half of Company I, Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by Captain Shriber; and Company I, commanded by Captain McDonough, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers. The {p.199} combined advance, numbering about 130 men, took possession of several dry basins along the canal and a point known as Maryland Ore Banks, which afforded an excellent shelter to my men. Thus situated, a very spirited fire was maintained for something over two hours, the fire of the enemy gradually slackening as they were dislodged by our artillery and sharpshooters, until about 6 o’clock the firing entirely ceased. (The enemy were driven from every point they occupied and sullenly retired beyond the range of our guns toward the interior). During this affair considerable damage was done to the mill, houses, and barns in which the rebels had taken shelter within reach of our cannon.

As far as can be ascertained through Virginia sources deemed reliable there were 18 of the rebels killed and about 25 wounded. It is impossible to ascertain exactly what the casualties of the enemy were, from the fact [that] the river divided us from them, and we have partly to rely upon the Virginians themselves for our information. Our loss was 1 killed and 3 slightly wounded. The wounds all occurred from fragments detached from the bands around the James shell, discharged by our own artillery.

The efficiency and long range of our Enfield rifles has been fully proved in this affair, and I am pleased to state they have verified our fullest expectations. Their superior accuracy and length of range over those of the enemy account in part for the small number of casualties on our side.

I am much gratified to be able to state that the troops under my command, without exception, behaved with the most admirable bravery and coolness. And I would be derelict of duty if I did not state that the highest meed of praise is due to the company officers for the gallant manner in which they carried out every order issued and the noble emulation which animated them during the action. Several small skirmishes have occurred since, but owing to the smallness of the numbers engaged would not justify a detailed statement.

A skirmish occurred this evening near Harper’s Ferry between the rebels and a portion of troops, resulting successfully to our arms. Several of the enemy are reported killed and wounded.

A small skirmish occurred above this place, in which, it is said, one of the rebels was killed.

Respectfully submitted.

[JOHN W. GEARY, Colonel Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.]

Capt. ROBERT WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Casualties of the enemy: 18 killed and 25 wounded.

Casualties of my command: 1 killed; 3 slightly wounded.

Articles captured: 2 iron cannon (12-pounders); 2 fine bay mules; 2 small brass mortars; 1 wagon; 1 prisoner, William S. Engles, second lieutenant Company K, Second Virginia Volunteers.


SEPTEMBER 16, 1861.– Skirmish opposite Seneca Creek, Maryland.

Report of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, U. S. Army.

DARNESTOWN, September 17, 1861.

All quiet here. Nothing unusual at Poolesville up to this evening, nor above, so far as we can learn. Last night a party of the Thirty-fourth {p.200} New York, Colonel La Dew, crossed the river at Seneca Creek, and encountered a force of three companies, losing 2 or 3 men out of 15. This morning they shelled the rebel camp and drove them back. Nothing else has occurred, and nothing is indicated on the part of the enemy.


Hon. THOMAS A. SCOTT, Assistant Secretary of War.


SEPTEMBER 23-25, 1861.– Descent upon Romney, W. Va., including affairs at Mechanicsburg Gap and Hanging Rock Pass.


No. 1.–Col. Angus W. McDonald, C. S. Army.
No. 2.–Col. E. H. McDonald, Seventy-seventh Virginia Militia.
No. 3.–Col. A. Monroe, One hundred and fourteenth Virginia Militia.
No. 4.–Maj. O. R. Funsten, C. S. Army.
No. 5.–Lieut. J. H. Lionberger, C. S. Army.

No. 1.

Reports of Col. Angus W. McDonald, C. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS, Romney Va., October 20, 1861.

GENERAL: Inclosed you have my report of the conflict of the 24th and 25th ultimo. I regret the necessity which compels me to invite your perusal of so long a report of so unimportant an affair. Feeling deeply, however, the importance of holding this post, and anxious that the Department should appreciate the hazard of attempting to do so against greatly superior forces both in numbers and equipments, I have indulged in details combining action and description, that the great extent of my line of defense may be more strikingly manifest.

You will perceive from my report that the two passes through which my position was attacked are distant from each other some 6 miles. Besides these, 2 miles below the Hanging Rock Pass there are three fords and a bridge over the South Branch. The passage over any one of these would place the enemy within the portals of my line. Nine miles south of Romney is a third gap, through which the valley of the South Branch may be entered and the river forded. If my force stationed at any one of the passes or fords should be opposed by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, re-enforcements from either of the other passes could only be received by a march of from 2 to 7 miles.

This statement is, I am sure, sufficient to show by what a precarious tenure, with the handful of force I have, I now hold this place. The printed slip which I inclose, clipped from a Wheeling paper, is from the pen of one who well understands the subject upon which he has written. I will add to it: From Romney to the mouth of Little Cacapon is 25 miles; to the mouth of the South Branch, 18 miles; to the town of Cumberland, 27 miles; to New Creek Station, 18 miles; to Piedmont and Bloomington, each 25 miles. All of these are points on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and any one of them may be attacked by a day’s march from Romney. The distance from the month of the Little Cacapon to Bloomington is about 60 miles. The mean distance from Romney to the railroad is about 20 miles.


It is, I presume, impossible that either army can winter on the top or at the foot of Cheat Mountain. Jackson’s force added to mine could hold the rich valleys of the South Branch and Patterson’s Creek, and draw from them abundant supplies during the winter, and always have the power to prevent the use-safe use at least-by the enemy of either the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad or Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

If my command is to winter here, it is time to provide quarters for them. In less than fifteen days inclement weather will compel us to strike our tents, if the cowardice of the enemy, now outnumbering us five times, will permit us so long to hold this post. Two-fifths of my regiment are now, by the requirements of the Department, in Berkeley and Jefferson. If I had a regiment of volunteers and three additional pieces of artillery my camp would be defended by them, whilst my mounted men could at any time strike some point on the railroad or canal, and prevent their available use by the enemy.

I beg to be informed if I must prepare winter quarters at Romney.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, yours to command,

ANGUS W. MCDONALD, Colonel, Commanding Brigade, &c.

General S. COOPER.


HEADQUARTERS, Romney, Va., October 8, 1861.

GENERAL: On the night of the 23d September last, about 11.30 o’clock, the intelligence was received by me that our picket, stationed 2 miles beyond the Mechanicsburg Pass, on the old road leading to Paddytown (now New Creek Station), had been fired upon and driven in by the advance guard of a large force of the enemy moving upon Romney. I at once sent an order to Major Funsten, commanding that portion of the cavalry regiment under my command at this place, to detach the companies of Captains Sheetz, Bowen, Miller, and Harper to the Mechanicsburg Pass, with orders to occupy it and hold it against the approach of the enemy, and to order Captain Myers’ company to the Hanging Rock Pass, to co-operate with Col. E. H. McDonald, commanding the Seventy-seventh Regiment of Virginia Militia, in charge of this pass, in holding it against the enemy. At the same time Lieutenant Lionberger was directed to proceed to the Mechanicsburg Pass with the howitzer, under command of Major Funsten.

I learned upon return of my aide, Lieutenant McDonald, that my orders had been anticipated so far as the sending of Captain Myers with his company to the Hanging Rock Pass and Captain Sheetz to the Mechanicsburg Pass. Colonel Monroe, commanding the One hundred and fourteenth Regiment Virginia Militia, was ordered to march his regiment (then reported to be 140 to 150 strong, and encamped at Church Hill, 3 miles east of Romney, on the Northwestern turnpike road) to a point just east of Romney, and, as a reserve, there to await further orders. Captain Jordan was ordered to deploy his company along the eastern base of the mountain in which are the above-named passes, so as to give timely notice should the enemy attempt the passage of the mountain between them. The rifled 6-pounder and the 4-pounder were not removed from camp, retaining them until subsequent events should demonstrate what position for them would be most advantageous. Captains Winfield and Shands’ companies of cavalry were also {p.202} directed to remain in camp, which is about 200 yards back of and on the inland slope of Cemetery Hill, awaiting orders.

It is proper, in order to give you an understanding of the ground upon which the main attack was expected, that you should have before you a brief outline of the positions occupied by my command. The town of Romney is situated upon a plateau elevated some 150 feet above the level of the South Branch, which washes the base of a high bluff. The western terminus of the plateau, 1 mile west of Romney, is the South Branch Mountain, in which are the Mechanicsburg and Hanging Rock Passes; the former 3 miles southwest, the latter 4 miles northwest, from Romney. After having made the disposition of my forces as above detailed, I proceeded to the Mechanicsburg Pass. Before arriving there I heard several volleys of musketry, which proceeded from the western entrance. Arriving there, I found the detachment under Major Funsten; a portion of it strongly posted behind a breastwork formed of rock, and a dam across a mill creek, which flows through the pass, whilst another portion of it was deployed as skirmishers upon both sides of the pass. Whilst here sharp firing occurred between the advance of the enemy and our skirmishers.

At about 43 o’clock in the morning, the firing having ceased at the Mechanicsburg Pass, I returned to town. In the mean time we had been quiet at the Hanging Rock Pass. At about 6.30 several volleys of musketry were distinctly heard coming from this pass. I had been confident up to this time that the attack which had been made at the Mechanicsburg Pass was only a feint to mask the main attack, which was to be made at the other. At this time the fog was so dense as to obscure completely every object beyond a distance of 50 yards and so continued until 10 or 10.30 o’clock.

Immediately upon hearing the firing from the Hanging Rock Pass I sent an order to Colonel Monroe to leave 50 of his men as a reserve, and with the remainder to move without delay to the support of Col. E. H. McDonald. Captain Myers had deployed his company along the east bank of the river, stationing pickets at the ford at the west end of the pass. As the enemy advanced across the ford the pickets halted them at a distance of 40 yards, so dense was the fog, supposing them to be friends. After parleying for some moments they were fired upon by the enemy. This part of Captain Myers’ company returned the fire, and retired to their reserve station at the east end of the pass. The enemy then advanced between the river and the rocks, which at points overhang the road. When their cavalry had advanced under these rocks, and the position occupied by Col. E. H. McDonald, whose command, owing to the company of Captain Inskeep being upon detached service, consisted of only 27 men, a destructive fire was opened by this force upon them. Without waiting to reload their guns, the men were ordered to threw rocks upon them which had been previously collected for the purpose. This unexpected and novel attack produced the greatest confusion; the cavalry, stampeded, were driven back upon the infantry, many of whom jumped into the river; some managed to escape to the other side by swimming, but many were drowned. Owing, however, to the dense fog which still enshrouded and obscured everything, the effect of this attack, repulsing the enemy and driving him back out of the pass and across the river, was not discovered, and the vedettes of Col. E. H. McDonald, posted in his rear, giving him the incorrect information that the enemy were crossing upon his right in the attempt to outflank him, he returned with his command towards Romney.

About 7 o’clock I received information from Captain Myers that the {p.203} enemy were advancing with a large force of infantry and cavalry up the river. Lieutenant-Colonel Lupton, who had been left by Colonel Monroe with 50 men as a reserve, was then ordered to support Colonel Monroe, which order was promptly executed.

Waiting anxiously upon a point upon the river bluff, Cemetery Hill, which commanded a view of the valley between the two passes, for the clearing up of the fog, so as to be able to ascertain the position and force of the enemy, at about 8 o’clock I received a second dispatch from Captain Myers, informing me of the advance of the enemy from Hanging Rock Pass in overwhelming force. Confirmed then that the main attack was to come from this point, I immediately dispatched an order to Major Funsten, directing him to withdraw the force under his command from the Mechanicsburg Pass to Cemetery Hill, and there await further orders.

From this time until about 11.30 o’clock there was no appearance of the enemy either above or below us. At about 11.30 o’clock the enemy made their appearance on the mountain side just below the Mechanicsburg Pass. Major Funsten was directed, with the companies of Captains Bowen and Miller, together with the howitzer given in charge of Captain Bowen, to take position in some woods opposite the bridge, so as to command the bridge and ford. The rifled 6-pounder was then put in position on Cemetery Hill, under charge of Lieutenant Lionberger, so as to command additionally the bridge and ford and the road leading from these points to Romney. The enemy, however, instead of attempting the passage of the river at this point, after saluting us with a few harmless rounds from his cannon, directed towards Major Funsten’s command, retired out of sight.

About 12 m. I again received information that the enemy were advancing from the Hanging Rock Gap. Major Funsten was directed to withdraw the detachment under his command from the position commanding the bridge, except Captain Bowen’s company and the howitzer, and with all the force of mounted men, together with the 4-pounder, to go to the support of Captains Myers and Jordan, the latter having previously moved to sustain Captain Myers.

Shortly after this order was given the enemy appeared on the hill about 1 1/2 miles north of the town, but seemed to hesitate to attack. At about 3.30 o’clock p.m. a movement was made by the enemy as if he designed to get possession of the Winchester road. This movement was observed also by Major Funsten, who promptly took the steps detailed in his report to prevent it.

By about 4.30 o’clock the enemy had disappeared. I then supposed they were moving in the direction of the Winchester road, and fearing lest the baggage train of the regiment should be cut off which I had before understood had been removed some two miles from town, and which by my orders had been further removed through a narrow defile to Church Hill, in order to obtain ground upon which the train could be turned if necessary, I gave the order for the cavalry regiment to retire by the Winchester road, and to the commandants of militia who were in the rear of the cavalry to retire to Hanging Rock, 16 miles east of Romney, on the Winchester road, the latter order being countermanded when the command reached Church Hill. Before reaching the church, and when about 2 miles from town, we were overtaken by a messenger, informing us that the enemy had retreated and recrossed the river.

Arrived at the church, and having understood that the baggage train was 3 miles farther down the road, at Frenchtown, where it had {p.204} been removed by order of Major Funsten, in order to secure it against the expected attack at Churchville, it was decided by a council, composed of the captains of the cavalry commanded by Major Funsten and myself, to encamp the cavalry regiment at Frenchtown. Early the next morning I directed the whole force under my command to prepare to return to Romney whilst preparations were being made for the march.

At about 8.30 o’clock a.m. a courier arrived from Romney, bringing the intelligence that the enemy had returned to Romney and were then in possession of the town. I immediately gave orders directing Major Funsten to take the mounted men under his command, together with the howitzer and rifled gun under charge of Lieutenant Lionberger, and attack the enemy. I sent orders to Colonel Monroe to move as rapidly as possible the forces under his command to the church, and there await further orders, holding in reserve the 4-pounder, the gunner of which was directed to follow on with it, to be put in position as events might decide to be best. During the time that the enemy were in town I understand that they were fired upon by Private Blue, of the Seventy-seventh Regiment, and by Private Picket, of the cavalry regiment, killing one man and wounding others; by a company of the Seventy-seventh Regiment, under Captain Inskeep, and also that some of the One hundred and fourteenth Regiment fired upon some of their cavalry that were drawn about three-fourths of a mile from town in pursuit of some horsemen. This firing resulted in some loss to the enemy, killing 1 of the cavalry and wounding others. A short time after the cavalry had been fired into, the enemy commenced to retreat from town, where a halt had been called, and some of them were obtaining something to eat whilst preparations were being made for carrying off all the stock-horses, cattle, &c.-convenient to the road.

Whilst thus engaged an immense cloud of dust rising from the Cemetery Hill announced the rapid approach of the mounted men of the command, gallantly led by Major Funsten. Immediately the enemy, startled by apparent numbers, commenced a rapid retreat. Their rear had not proceeded more than 200 yards from the bridge when the column headed by Major Funsten fearlessly and impetuously charged upon them under a heavy fire from their cannon and musketry. Our column coming up within short shot-gun range, successively delivered their fire with telling effect. The rear of our column, as they crossed the river, filing to the left, commenced a raking fire upon the left flank of the enemy as they passed along the road. Lieutenant Lionberger at this time came up with the howitzer, and putting it in position so as to command their left flank, did effective work.

Fearing lest the enemy might have occupied Mechanicsburg Pass, the pursuit of the enemy, stampeded by the charge, was not pressed within it, but Lieutenant Lionberger was ordered by Major Funsten to shell it with the rifled 6-pounder. After this had been done, the companies of Captains Sheetz and Winfield were sent forward as an advance to reconnoiter. At this time I reached the head of the column, and learned of the sending forward of the companies of Captains Sheetz and Winfield. From one-half to three-quarters of an hour was gained by the enemy in the necessary delay at the pass. The pursuit was now renewed, and at about 6 miles from town the enemy made another short stand, but were immediately put to flight again upon being fired into by the companies of Captains Sheetz and Winfield, and with the loss of several of their number. Such, however, was the character of the country through which the road lay, that the progress of the pursuing column was necessarily cautious, the deep defiles and thick underbrush {p.205} frequently affording favorable opportunities for successful ambuscade, which had to be provided against by skirmishing and reconnoitering parties.

At Sheetz’s Mill, 9 miles from Romney, the enemy again made a short stand. I directed Lieutenant Lionberger to open upon them with shell from his 6-pounder. A single shot was fired, when, discovering a more favorable position, I directed him to it. Whilst the position of the 6-pounder was being changed our shot was returned by shell from the gun of the enemy, passing to our right. Before our gun could be got into its new position the infantry of the enemy were again in rapid retreat, their cavalry lingering in their rear. Under a heavy fire from the carbines of the cavalry the gun was again got into position. Knowing the direction of the road up which the enemy were retreating, and which was concealed by a low wood ridge, I gave Lieutenant Lionberger the range, and he again opened upon them with shell. Some of the shell falling and the fleeing mass committed fearful havoc amongst them. In the mean time there had been a rapid interchange of shots between their cavalry and ours, but, being at long range, without much effect.

Upon the suggestion of Captain Sheetz I directed Major Funsten to send forward the companies of Captains Sheetz, Myers, Winfield, and Miller by a shorter route, with a view to intercept the retreat of the enemy by ambuscade. Owing, however, to the rapid flight of the enemy, and to a mistake having been made as to the point of intersection of the two roads, the main body of the enemy, with their artillery and baggage train, had passed before the detachment got into position to attack them. At this point we captured 4 stragglers, and, night coming on, I sent an order to Major Funsten, directing the pursuit to cease, having pursued them to within 2 miles of New Creek Station, a distance of 15 miles.

Returning to Romney, at Sheetz’s Mill we met the militia, to whom I had given orders just before leaving Mechanicsburg Pass to follow the cavalry as fast as possible, with a view to supporting them if necessary. From Sheetz’s Mill the whole command returned to Romney, where it arrived about 2 o’clock in the morning.

Great credit is due to Major Funsten and the officers and men under his command for the impetuous and daring charge which was made upon the enemy just beyond the bridge. A panic seems there to have stricken them, from which they were never afterwards permitted to recover during the whole pursuit.

Our loss during the two days was remarkably small-5 wounded (2 by our own men), to which is to be added the killing of 5 horses and the wounding of 2 or 3 others. Of the loss of the enemy I cannot speak with certainty. Five were captured. From information derived from persons I should estimate the killed and wounded at from 50 to 80. Among this number many were drowned on the morning of the 24th, when driven back from the Hanging Rock Pass. Five of the bodies of those drowned have been recovered.

The pursuit would have been much more effective and destructive had any of the companies of the command at this post been armed in addition to their guns with sabers and pistols. The two companies so armed belonging to this regiment are absent on detached service in Jefferson. None of the companies here have either sabers or pistols. I can but regret the necessity which deprives the officers and men of my command of the weapons adapted to a cavalry charge, and which they have shown themselves so well qualified to make daring and effective {p.206} use of, especially so when they are opposed to an enemy well equipped in all these particulars, and whom if they meet in a hand-to-hand conflict they must oppose with clubbed rifles and shot-guns against revolvers and sabers.

The force under my command was upon the 24th about 300 mounted men and about 250 infantry-the militia of the county and unmounted men of my regiment. On the 25th the infantry was increased by accessions to the militia to about 350. The strength of the enemy in the two days’ fight could not have fallen short of 1,500, in which are included about 75 cavalry.

Before concluding I am obliged to make acknowledgments of the efficient services rendered by Mr. Crane and Robert A. Tilden, connected with the quartermaster’s department; Mr. James V. Clark, volunteer, and Lieut. Angus W. McDonald, my aide, in bearing my orders with promptitude to the many distant points at which detachments of my command were posted during the 24th and 25th September. Mr. Tilden, bravely joining in the charge of the cavalry on the 25th, was severely wounded, having his arm broken by a Minie ball, from which he is yet in danger of losing his limb, perhaps his life.

Of all the force engaged the statements made in my report sufficiently attest the gallantry and effective conduct of those to whom they pertain.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, yours to command.

ANGUS W. MCDONALD, Colonel, Commanding Brigade, &c.

General S. COOPER.


No. 2.

Report of Col. E. H. McDonald, Seventy-seventh Virginia Militia.

CAMP BUFFALO, October 3, 1861.

SIR: In compliance with your written order of the 2d instant I report the operations of the forces under my command on the 24th and 25th ultimo.

On the morning of the 24th, at 12.30 o’clock, I received your order to hold my command under marching orders. At 1 o’clock I received your order to occupy the lower pass with my available force and cooperate with Captain Myers in its defense. Arriving there at 2 o’clock with 27 infantry and 7 mounted men, I found Captain Myers posted under the rocks. I then took my position with my infantry on the top of the rocks which overhang the road and almost the river, and sent my mounted men to picket a road which ran in the rear of the rocks, known as the Old Ferry Road.

At 4 o’clock a.m. I heard the enemy crossing the ford about one-half mile below, and from the length of time occupied in crossing I supposed them to number 700 infantry and 200 cavalry. As soon as their advance guard had crossed the river Captain Myers’ pickets fired upon them. They returned the fire by a volley, and advanced, shouting. Captain Myers then fell back beyond my position. When the enemy had advanced up under where we were posted, they commenced to fire upon us, as I suppose, to draw our fire, as it was impossible, owing to the fog which then prevailed, to see us.

I could restrain my men no longer, and we commenced our attack upon them, some discharging their pieces, others rolling stones down on them. This we kept up, under a heavy fire of musketry, until my {p.207} pickets reported that the enemy were flanking us upon our right. I then ordered my men to fall back to a position upon the mountain. Owing to the heavy fog, we were not aware that we had driven them back across the ford. I hastened to join you at Romney. Arriving there at 12 in., we ascertained the enemy were renewing their attack in the direction of the bridge. We then took our position on the hill in rear of the howitzer, and remained there until the enemy retired.

Returning to Romney at 6 o’clock p.m. I received your order to join you at Church Hill, but my men were so much fatigued that I found it necessary to encamp for the night with a portion of Colonel Monroe’s command upon the outskirts of Romney. During our engagement with the enemy at the rocks our showers of ball and stone threw them into the utmost confusion, their own cavalry riding over their infantry, crowding them into the river, thus drowning many of them-how many we have not been able to ascertain, but we have recovered 5 dead bodies, and learned from our citizens whom they made prisoners that they carried off with them 1 dead and 11 wounded, while on our side no one was hurt. We obtained 5 blankets and 2 muskets, which they threw away on their retreat.

On the morning of the 25th ultimo, about 8 o’clock, the enemy was reported approaching Romney in considerable force. We then fell back to a position east of the town, and exchanged shots with them whenever they ventured within reach of our guns. This position we maintained until the enemy was charged upon by Major Funsten with the cavalry, when we followed as far as Sheetz’s Mill, but were unable to come up with them afterward.

The troops spoken of above were commanded by Captain Roberson and Lieutenant Blue, and behaved in a manner which reflected great credit upon themselves and their officers. Lieutenant Blue deserves a special notice for his coolness and bravery. One company of my command, under the charge of Capt. J. V. Inskeep, was stationed at Frankfort, upon special service, whom I could not reach with orders, but as soon as they heard their services were needed, started by a circuitous route for the scene of action. Arriving at Romney on the morning of the 25th, they met the enemy approaching the town. Retiring upon the hills east of them, they fired upon their advance, and thus opened the engagement of that day. They deserve great praise for the promptness and zeal with which they came unbidden to the scene of action.

For the report of that portion of my command detailed to work the artillery I refer you to the report of Lieutenant Lionberger, under whose command they were placed.

Respectfully submitted.

E. H. MCDONALD, Colonel Seventy-seventh Regiment Virginia Infantry.

Col. ANGUS W. MCDONALD, Commanding Brigade.


No. 3.

Report of Col. A. Monroe, One hundred and fourteenth Virginia Militia.

ROMNEY, VA., September 28, 1861.

SIR: After a delay that I hope you will excuse, I have the honor to submit the following report:

At 3 o’clock on the morning of the 24th instant, in obedience to your {p.208} order, I left my camp at the Branch Mountain, with all the men then there under my command, which, after leaving a small guard at the encampment, amounted about 145 men, but the number was increased during the day to 200. When I reached Romney I heard firing at the Hanging Rock, to which point we started on double-quick. On arriving at the curve in the road south of Colonel Parsons’ I learned from a messenger that the enemy had passed the gap, and that the cavalry was advancing up the road very rapidly, and would meet me but a short distance below Parsons’ house. I then left the road, passing through his upland fields in a direct line, crossing a deep ravine, and took position on the crest of the bluff facing the bottom, my left wing opposite Parsons’ house and within fifty yards of the road, though the fog then was so dense we could scarcely see it.

When the fog had disappeared I discovered that our cavalry had fallen back and were drawn up in line of battle south of the stone house. I also discovered that I could occupy a much more advantageous position a little in advance of the cavalry opposite the house. I then marched my regiment back and took position there. After remaining there a short time I was informed by one of your officers that a large column of the enemy’s infantry was on the ridge between Parsons’ house and Inskeep’s, and moving rapidly towards the mountain. I then divided my command into four detachments, assigning Lieutenant-Colonel Lupton to the command of one, Major Gineven to another, Major Diaver to another, and taking the command of the fourth myself on foot, ordered that all should be deployed as skirmishers as rapidly as possible towards the top of the mountain, following the top of Black’s Ridge. The enemy kept in our sight for about a mile and a half up the mountain, though not within rifle shot. As soon as they discovered we had outflanked them they changed their course toward the branch, falling behind the ridge, and I saw no more of them. On learning that they had retreated through the gap, I returned with my detachment to Romney about 4 o’clock, where I remained till after 10 o’clock p.m., expecting Col. E. H. McDonald to bring on a re-enforcement from Frenchburg.

Having been told that you desired me to meet you at Frenchburg I left my men under the command of Col. Isaac Parsons and reached Frenchburg about midnight, where I found Messrs. Lupton, Gineven, and Diaver with their respective commands, together with about 100 additional troops, belonging to my regiment, on their way to join me.

On the morning of the 25th I received orders from you to return with my regiment to the top of the Branch Mountain, and remain there until further ordered, but before reaching said point I was met by a runner, who informed me that the enemy was in Romney. Forgetting your order entirely, which I hope you will pardon, I advanced as fast as possible to meet them, and just as my advance reached Kercheval’s field I saw the enemy’s cavalry advancing up the road and then retreating. I then dismounted, formed my men on the hill-side in a line parallel with the road and about 30 yards from it, all hands hoping that “Mr. Yankee” would just come on. We had 4 men on horseback, who were maneuvering to induce their cavalry to pursue them far enough to come within proper range of all our guns.

At about 9 a.m. the enemy made a charge, but when they had come within about 400 yards of my advance companies they parted and commenced firing on some of the boys, who were so extremely eager to get a shot at them that they would keep constantly exposed to full view. Believing that they would not advance any farther, my men opened a {p.209} fire, but not more than 100 fired, for it was thought that our guns could not reach them, and we did not wish to waste our fire; but from the most reliable information I have been able to gather we wounded 5 and killed 1, one man receiving three bails. After their cavalry had retreated they commenced firing cannon, and kept it up for some time, but fortunately, though their bullets and grape flew thick, not one of my men received a scratch.

As a just tribute to my men permit me to say that I did not see a cheek blanched or a hand that trembled, and as a further proof of their valor many who, owing to a mistake with our wagons, had not tasted bread for forty-eight hours were in the front ranks in pursuing the enemy to Patterson’s Creek.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

A. MONROE, Colonel One hundred and fourteenth Reg’t Virginia Militia.

ANGUS W. MCDONALD, Colonel, Commanding Cavalry, C. S. Army.

P. S.-I had about 350 men on the 25th. Since making the above report I learn that some of the men who fired were stationed on the ridge north of Lanier Cooper’s house and within less than 300 yards of the enemy.


No. 4.

Report of Maj. O. R. Funsten, C. S. Army.

CAMP FUNSTEN, NEAR ROMNEY, September 28, 1861.

COLONEL: On the night of the 23d instant, about 11.30 o’clock, our pickets on the Sheetz Mill road from Mechanicsburg Pass came to camp, and informed me that they had been fired upon by a body of cavalry about 2 miles beyond the mouth of the pass, and that they believed that a large body of the enemy was advancing towards the pass from that direction. I immediately ordered Captain Sheetz to march his company to the vicinity of the point where the enemy was discovered, to ascertain as far as possible their strength and position, and to skirmish them if they were advancing. I also ordered Captain Myers with his company to Hanging Rock Pass, with similar instructions in case the enemy appeared in that direction. I also ordered Lieutenant Lionberger to take his howitzer to Mechanicsburg Pass, and to hold his other guns in readiness to move. At this time you arrived at camp, and directed me to take Captains Bowen’s, Harper’s, and Miller’s companies, in addition to Captain Sheetz’s, and occupy and hold Mechanicsburg Pass.

I proceeded at once to execute this order. Arriving at the head of the pass I met Captain Sheetz, who informed me that the enemy were about half a mile above, but that he was unable, from the nature of the ground, to ascertain with accuracy their strength. I then ordered a strong party of skirmishers on the side of the mountain down the pass, and having dismounted, the whole command occupied a very strong point in the pass, with the howitzer supported by the dismounted riflemen, and awaited the approach of the enemy.

In a short time a squad of the enemy’s cavalry was driven back by our skirmishers at the head of the pass, which was soon followed by {p.210}

volleys fired by the enemy into the side of the mountain, where our skirmishers were safely located behind rocks and trees. After several hundred shots were exchanged the firing of the enemy became irregular, and a dense fog having raised in the mean time, it ceased.

The enemy evidently intended to march through the pass. Their loss must have been considerable at this point. Our skirmishers, being well protected, suffered no injury. The men who were supporting the howitzer remained in position all night, expecting an attack and feeling confident of defending the pass against an attack from ten times their number.

At 8.30 a.m. Lieutenant McDonald brought me your order “to march my command to a point between the bridge and Romney, and hold myself in readiness to march to Hanging Rock Pass, from which point the enemy was advancing in large numbers, and that you expected the principal attack from that direction.” I called in my skirmishers and marched to the positions indicated. In the course of an hour or two the enemy was seen in the road to Mechanicsburg Pass. I then directed Captain Bowen, by your order, to take position with his company and Captain Miller’s, and with the assistance of the howitzer to dispute the passage of the bridge and fort. The enemy then opened fire upon us from a cannon in the road on the mountain side, above the bridge, but without injury to us.

I then received your order to march to the support of Captains Myers and Jordan, against whom were advancing an overwhelming force from the direction of Hanging Rock Pass. I marched the companies of Captains Winfield, Harper, Sheetz, and Shands with the utmost speed. Within half a mile of town I met the 4-pounder cannon, and directed the officer in charge of it to advance and take a position which I would designate. Meeting afterwards Captain Myers, he informed me of the estimated strength of the enemy, who were but a short distance down the road, but concealed by a hill, and although they outnumbered us six or seven times, I determined to give them a fight, and proceeded to select my ground to meet their approach. Having done this to my satisfaction, I awaited them. Reconnoitering parties of the enemy were in the mean time visible on the ridge a mile and a half in front of us.

In a short time the glistening of guns could be seen in the underwood which covered the before-mentioned ridge, moving in the direction of the Winchester road, distant about 3 miles. I saw at once that the object of the movement was either to take possession of the narrow pass or the Winchester road, adjacent to town, or to make a feint in that direction, with a view to drawing off part of our force from the position we held. I ordered Captain Sheetz to move rapidly with his company by the way of the Winchester road, to advance upon them, and to skirmish them in front. I also ordered the train which I understood had been ordered up the Winchester road to the point which was now threatened to move farther up the road. I also ordered Captain Winfield to skirmish on their right flank, and watch and report their movement. Captain Winfield promptly executed my order, and soon commenced skirmishing them.

In a short time Lieutenant Pennybacker rode back rapidly with a message from Captain Winfield, informing me that the enemy were advancing in a large body toward the Winchester road, and would soon reach it if not attacked. I immediately ordered Captains Jordan, Myers, and Harper to the point on the Winchester road at which I expected the enemy would enter it. I also ordered the officer commanding the 4-pounder to march with us with his gun. I marched {p.211} three companies and the piece of artillery rapidly to the church at the summit of the ridge, and there found Captain Sheetz, who had ordered part of his company to reconnoiter from an intermediate road. I ordered him to take the remainder of his company and reconnoiter in another direction, and report to me at a point below. I then marched the other companies to the point designated, and there awaited Captain Sheetz. In a short time he returned and informed me that he had not found the enemy, and being satisfied that they had changed their line of march when they observed our movement in that direction, I marched back to Romney. At the edge of town I met the companies which I had left marching out, and was informed that you had given orders for the regiment to retire, and that the enemy was not in sight of Romney. I called a halt and proceeded to town, when I met you, and, returning with you, ordered the column to march at the summit of the ridge. 3 1/2 miles from town. We ascertained that the train had halted at French’s, 2 1/2 miles beyond, where we marched and encamped for the night.

Early the next morning I received your order to have the train ready to move in the direction of Romney. The quartermaster was preparing to execute this order when a messenger arrived from Romney, between 8.30 and 9 o’clock, informing us that the enemy had returned and was then in Romney. I then received your order to take command of the regiment and march against the enemy. I did so without delay. Arriving in sight of the enemy as they were marching across the bridge, I ordered the column to charge, which was responded to in the most gallant manner. The enemy commenced retreating rapidly and in confusion up the mountain by the northwestern road. Passing under the bridge we received the fire of their rear guard, but dashed on until we came within pistol and shotgun range, when we returned their fire with coolness and precision. The rear of our column filed to the left and opened fire upon their flank. In the mean time the enemy fired canister from their cannon. Fortunately for us nineteen out of twenty of their balls passed high above our heads.

The fight lasted fifteen or twenty minutes, when the enemy were again put in motion. Lieutenant Lionberger, who had been detained by one of the wheels of his rifled cannon coming off, came up at the time with the howitzer and opened a spirited fire on the retreating enemy, and with a telling effect, as I have since learned. In this engagement our loss was trifling, in consequence of their bad aiming, amounting to the wounding of 2 men and the killing and wounding of 5 or 6 horses.

I then ordered the officer in charge of the rifled cannon to move his gun to an eminence in front of Mechanicsburg Pass and to shell the enemy from it. This order was handsomely executed by Lieutenant Lionberger, who came up in the mean time, and a few well-directed shells opened the pass to us, and broke the line which the enemy had formed above its month, when we again commenced the pursuit. I then sent Captains Winfield and Sheetz forward with their companies to skirmish the enemy and bring them to a fight. At Gilbert’s, about 3 miles beyond the pass, these companies came up with the rear of the enemy and opened a spirited fire on it, but had not the effect of checking the speed of the flight of their main body. The fight continued for some minutes, when they again got out of our sight. At Sheetz’s Mill, 2 miles beyond, we again came in reach of them, and fired on their rear and flank and gave them two or three shells from the rifled cannon.

At this point Captain Sheetz rode up and informed me that he was {p.212} well acquainted with the surrounding country, and would cut off their retreat by taking a shorter road, provided he could be aided by two or three companies. All of the companies, excepting Captains Jordan’s and Powers’ and a part of Captain Shands’, received orders to move in that direction and I continued the pursuit with the last-named companies and two pieces of artillery. About 5 miles beyond Sheetz’s Mill, when I believed we were only a few hundred yards in rear of the enemy, the head of our column was fired into from a dense thicket on our right, and instantly an order was given in a loud voice to cease firing, as they were firing on their friends, and soon two of the companies which took the nearer route advanced from the bushes. No blame should attach to the officers of these companies, as the gap between the enemy and ourselves was small, and the mistake was a natural one.

By this unfortunate occurrence we had 2 of our regiment slightly wounded and 1 of the artillerymen badly but not mortally wounded. The delay occasioned by this accident enabled the enemy to increase the distance between us. The pursuit was continued to the base of the Knobly Mountain, within 2 miles of New Creek, from which point the rear of the enemy was seen crossing the summit of the mountain. It was then twilight, and deeming an attack on New Creek at that time imprudent, I discontinued the pursuit and returned to this camp, where we arrived about 2 o’clock at night, after having been thirty-three out of the fifty hours in the saddle.

The aggregate strength of this regiment engaged in the service was 328. The strength of the enemy was not less than 1,300 and probably reached 1,500 men, including artillery and 75 cavalry, the whole command being armed in the best manner. So completely were they demoralized by our first charge, that they must have been cut to pieces had the country been favorable to the operations of cavalry, the road by which they retreated being through mountain passes and deep defiles.

The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was not less than 50, besides 5 prisoners, 9 horses, and some arms captured. Our loss was trifling, considering the intrepidity of our charges and the very unfavorable ground for attack; it amounted to only 2 wounded and some 10 or 12 horses killed and wounded.

The conduct of the officers and men deserves great praise, and I might cite instances of individual daring deserving especial notice, but as all were disposed to do their duty, I will make no distinctions.

Very respectfully, yours,

O. R. FUNSTEN, Major, Commanding.



No. 5.

Report of Lieut. J. H. Lionberger, C. S. Army.

CAMP FUNSTEN, NEAR ROMNEY, VA., October 4, 1861.

On the night of the 23d of September last, about a quarter before 12 o’clock, shortly after the information of the approach of the enemy had reached the camp, I received orders from Major Funsten to repair with the howitzer under my charge at once to the Mechanicsburg Pass, which I did, and remained there until about 8.30 o’clock, when I was {p.213} directed by Major Funsten to withdraw the howitzer from the pass and take position upon the Cemetery Hill, there to await further orders. Upon arriving at the Cemetery Hill I found my rifled 6-pounder in position upon the hill so as to command the bridge and the ford and the road leading from these points to Romney. By your order my howitzer was sent, under charge of Captain Bowen, to the hill opposite the bridge, so as additionally to command the bridge and the ford, while the 4-pounder, through your order (as I have understood), was sent and placed in position by the gunner upon an eminence north of the town, commanding the road leading from the Hanging Rock Pass to Romney.

About 4.30 o’clock I received your order to retire with the guns in my charge, in company with the whole command, by the Winchester road which I did and encamped with the command at Frenchburg.

Early in the morning of the 24th I received your order to prepare to return to Romney with all of the guns under my charge. About 8.30 o’clock I received your order to repair at once to Romney with the howitzer and the rifled 6-pounder, leaving behind the 4-pounder. Without any delay I proceeded to execute this order. Arriving in Romney we learned that the enemy was at the bridge. Whilst passing through the town one of the wheels of the 6-pounder came off. Without waiting for it to be put on again, I proceeded as rapidly as possible to the bridge with the howitzer. Arriving at the bridge I discovered that the enemy had made a stand beyond it. Getting the howitzer into position on the island to do effective service, I was prevented from firing by the charge of our own cavalry.

Changing the position of the gun to a field opposite the enemy and within 300 yards of them, I opened fire. The first shot was too high; the second broke their lines, and produced the greatest confusion, which was soon followed by a retreat. I immediately crossed the river, when I was informed by Major Funsten that he had sent the rifled gun to a hill opposite the mouth of the Mechanicsburg Pass, and directing me to take charge of it and shell the pass, selecting a position which commanded a view of the whole pass, and from which I could see the enemy’s line of battle across the upper end of the pass. Before the gun could be used, however, the canister with which it was charged had to be withdrawn and a shell inserted.

In the mean time the enemy had broken line and were in retreat, but again formed higher up the pass. Having fired at them with a shell, which, exploding amongst them, again broke their line and scattered them in great confusion, I continued to shell them from this point until they had passed, as I thought, entirely out of range, when I hastened with the gun to join Major Funsten, changing horses at the mill a mile east of the pass. I afterwards joined the column in the pass. At Patterson’s Creek we again came in sight of the enemy, and turning by your order into a field on the right, fired one shot at them, when I received your order to change the position of the gun (the rifled) to one about three-fourths of a mile in advance upon a hill. Here the gun was aimed by you in the direction of the road over which the enemy were retreating, and several shots were fired, and, as I have since learned, with great effect.

Continuing the pursuit, about 3 miles from this point we were fired upon by our own men from the woods by the road-side. Supposing it to be the enemy, I at once ordered my men to unlimber and get ready for action, which order was quickly and bravely responded to; but before firing, the mistake was discovered, but not too soon to show the {p.214} coolness and courage of the men at this gun. By this unfortunate mistake one of my men was wounded in the arm.

From this point we continued the pursuit about 2 miles, but saw nothing more of the enemy, when your order was received to cease the pursuit. Thence we returned by Sheetz’s Mill to Romney, where we arrived about 2 o’clock. Since the chase the guns, carriages, &c., have undergone a thorough cleansing and repairing, and are now ready for use.

Respectfully submitted.

J. H. LIONBERGER, Lieutenant, and Acting Captain of Artillery.

Col. ANGUS W. MCDONALD, Commanding C. S. Forces at Romney.


SEPTEMBER 24, 1861.– Skirmish at Point of Rocks, Maryland.

Report of Col. John W. Geary, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry.

CAIN TYNDALE, September 24, 1861.

SIR: There seems to be a lull in the storm which has broken on our lines with abortive violence by the rebel forces in Virginia. They have marched up and down the Potomac, and have felt almost every part of my line from Pritchard’s Mill, 3 miles above Harper’s Ferry, and having found every point well guarded, they have not dared to assault us. Yet there are reconnaissances or menaces with the recurrence of every favorable opportunity, and I am well aware that only by our vigilance and promptitude will our advantages and position be maintained. Only three days since I discovered them surveying my camp from every available point, purposing, as I have reason to believe, to assault us by artillery from an eligible position on the table or plateau on the Virginia side. Accordingly I moved my entire camp 250 yards eastward, sheltered from sight and assault by a forest on the west, a more healthy place, and affording an excellent site for the artillery just to the right, within range of all points from which the enemy could advance.

Simultaneously with the changing of camp I pushed my pickets forward on Heter’s Island, a mile long and standing within a few yards of the Virginia shore, thus affording an unbroken view along the enemy’s line, and also of fordings which are in almost every case contiguous to the islands. I have also taken possession of Noland’s Island, at the lower end of which is the ferry of the same name, and from which about 1 mile is reported to be secreted in the woods a camp of the enemy, whose pickets line the river. Our enemy, if not so savage as the Indian, purposes to emulate his vigilance.

Allow me to state that I design to occupy all the other serviceable islands within the parallel of my lines and where nature has not provided shelter to make by art.

By this occupation of the islands I am enabled to present a double point, or, in other words, points of reserve, and hold my forces more available to any arising exigencies.

At this moment the enemy are in detachment in view, reconnoitering (9.30 a.m.).

When occasion requires, I will not fail to communicate.

2.30 p.m.-The reconnaissance proved to be an attack by from 100 to {p.215} 200 of the enemy, supported by about 400 secreted in the woods. The attack was made by musketry, from the opposite side of the river, in the vicinity of the ruins of the bridge at Point of Rocks. They fired about 200 shots, nearly all of which fell short and without injury. We answered promptly with shell and rifles and silenced them in a few minutes; what loss on their side I cannot say positively.

I detached four brave fellows, under cover of artillery, to the opposite side, to burn two vacant houses and a stable, the constant resort of the enemy. They did their work effectually, and, though fired at by several of the concealed enemy, returned in safety.

The enemy being nowhere discoverable, a detachment went across to the Virginia side, but discovered no traces of them, they having either entirely withdrawn or secreted themselves, as usual.

I have just returned, calling in all except the pickets. All is quiet and no appearance of the enemy.

I may conclude by saying that in my opinion there is no position along the line of the Potomac more eligible for artillery firing than the Virginia side of the Point of Rocks.

Very respectfully, &c.,

JOHN W. GEARY, Colonel Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Capt. ROBERT WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.


SEPTEMBER 25, 1861.– Engagement at Freestone Point, Virginia.

Report of Col. Louis T. Wigfall, First Texas Infantry.

DUMFRIES, September 25, 1861.


The fleet lying in this portion of the river sent an armed tug to feel our batteries. She fired ten shots into the point occupied by Hampton’s battery before they were returned. The battery then drove her off. The war steamers then opened. We fired thirty shots, the enemy twenty-two. General Whiting ordered the firing to continue after they ceased, to show them we could drive them. The fleet is now divided-part above Powell’s Run and part below. When Stevens’ batteries are ready they will stop the lower detachment of the fleet. The infantry supports are active and ready. If the enemy land, our knowledge of the ground will make us equal to ten times our numbers. All are cheerful, and the army will send you its congratulations if a serious action results.

Your friend,



SEPTEMBER 25, 1861.– Reconnaissance to Lewinsville, Va., and skirmish near that place.

Report of Brig. Gen. William F. Smith, U. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS, CAMP ADVANCE, VA., September 27, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to report to you that at 9 o’clock on Wednesday morning, September 25, I moved towards Lewinsville, the right wing under Colonel Taylor, leaving on the hill commanding Langley, on the Leesburg turnpike, one section of Captain Mott’s battery, supported by three companies of the Nineteenth Indiana; advancing on {p.216} the road to Lewinsville, on a knoll covering the country to the right, the center section of the same battery, with four companies of the Second Wisconsin; and one mile farther on the remaining section, under the immediate command of Captain Mott, the Thirty-third New York, and the company of Kentucky cavalry, Captain Robinson, all at Mackall’s House; the Third Vermont and the remainder of the Nineteenth Indiana being thrown out as skirmishers on the left and acting as a reserve, I placed the Pennsylvania battery, Captain Barr, with five companies of the Sixth Maine, about 300 men, and in advance to their right one section of Captain Griffin’s battery, with three companies of the Fifth Wisconsin, and in the edge of the wood the second battalion of the First California Regiment. Captain Griffin’s remaining sections occupied the hill, about one mile and a half from Lewinsville, covering the country to the left and road in front with the first battalion of the First California, Colonel Baker, five companies of the Fifth Wisconsin, the Berdan Sharpshooters, two companies of the Philadelphia Zouaves, and Lieutenant Drummond’s company of the regular cavalry forming the center; six companies of the Seventy-ninth New York, half a mile in advance as skirmishers, supported by the two remaining companies of the Seventy-ninth and the Second Vermont; our force in all 5,100 infantry, 16 pieces of artillery, and 150 cavalry.

There being at this time no signs of the enemy, with the exception of a few cavalry scouts, I ordered the quartermaster to load his wagons, ninety in number, all of which was accomplished by 3 o’clock, and got them well on their way home with all the forage they could possibly carry. I then sent orders to draw in the skirmishers, and at 4 o’clock, as they were moving in, some of the men of the Seventy-ninth Regiment captured a prisoner purporting to be an acting aide of Colonel Stuart, who he stated to be within a mile of us. Word at this moment was sent to me that the enemy were approaching, and we could see advancing over the hills from the Falls Church road what seemed to be a large regiment, marching rapidly in close column and others deployed as skirmishers, with the apparent intention of turning our flank. At the same time they opened fire with seemingly one gun on our extreme left, but at too great distance for any effect, which soon ceased entirely; at which I ordered the center Section of Griffin’s battery back to the California regiment in the wood, and covering the ground for our retreat, should it be necessary. Their cavalry was seen in small bodies, moving through the corn fields and woods to our left and on the Lewinsville road. At 4.30 they had placed two guns in position to our right at about 2,500 yards, and opened on Mott’s section at Mackall’s, which was at once replied to by Griffin’s and the rifled piece of Mott’s section. After firing some thirty rounds, some of our shell exploding just in front of them, they limbered to the rear, and we could see their dust as they retreated on the Falls Church road.

At 5.30 I ordered Colonel Taylor, with Mott’s section, to fall back slowly on the road to Langley, ready to come into battery should they follow him (there then being no signs of the enemy), and I retired the center and reserve by the fields, marching in columns by the flank, to the road within a mile of my quarters, arriving at camp by 7 o’clock. Just after dusk word was brought in that four or five shots had been fired into Langley, they having brought one piece to the hill commanding the cross-road at that place; but by the time a scout could be sent out all had retired, and the road was clear for the distance of a mile and a half.

The firing from Griffin’s section was most excellent, and I would particularly {p.217} notice Lieutenant Hazlett, in command of the section, who proved himself a most accomplished artillerist in pointing his guns, his shells bursting apparently right among them. The conduct of the troops was all that I could desire, standing with perfect coolness when their shot was falling, as it did at one time, all about them, one shell bursting over the California regiment and wounding one man slightly in the arm, and their cheers must have been heard by the enemy every time our shell seemed to reach their mark.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. F. SMITH, Brigadier-General, Commanding at Chain Bridge.

Col. R. B. MARCY, Chief of Staff.


SEPTEMBER 28, 1861.– Affair near Vanderburgh’s house, Munson’s Hill, Virginia.


No. 1.–Col. Edward D. Baker, Seventy-first Pennsylvania Infantry.
No. 2.–Col. Dennis O’Kane, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry.
No. 3.–Lieut. Col. Isaac J. Wistar, Seventy-first Pennsylvania Infantry.

No. 1.

Report of Col. Edward D. Baker, Seventy-first Pennsylvania Infantry.

HEADQUARTERS BAKER’S BRIGADE, Near Monocacy, October 6, 1861.

GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose the reports of the officers commanding two regiments in the brigade under my command. It is only necessary for the commanding general to peruse them to be satisfied that the casualties which occurred on the night of the 28th ultimo were inevitable results of causes over which the troops themselves had no control. The circumstances were peculiarly trying, and the confusion, though great, did not impair the courage or steadiness of most of the officers and men.

As the California regiment was most exposed, I deem it proper to speak in terms of high commendation of Lieutenant-Colonel Wistar, commanding, who evinced peculiar coolness and intrepidity.

The command is under great obligations to Captain Harvey, assistant adjutant-general of the brigade, for his excellent conduct on the occasion, and the adjutant of the California regiment, Lieutenant Newlin, deserves the praise bestowed on him by his commanding officer.

The field officers of the other regiments of the brigade also evinced high personal bravery, and I have no reason to doubt, from the conduct of officers and men generally, that the losses they sustained are not to be attributed to any want of soldierly qualities, and will in nowise diminish their confidence either in their officers or themselves. Having been absent on duty at the time the events in question took place, I form these opinions after a careful examination, and am confident of their general correctness.

I have the honor to be, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. D. BAKER, Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

The ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Army of Potomac, Washington.



No. 2.

Report of Lieut. Col. Dennis O’Kane, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry.


SIR: On Saturday morning, the 28th instant, the Second Regiment received orders to prepare two days’ cooked provisions, and to strike tents and be in line with the First and Third Regiments of the brigade by 8 o’clock a.m. of the 29th instant, to march to Poolesville, which order was being promptly carried out.

Tattoo was beat at the usual hour on the evening of the 28th, and the regiment had retired to rest, when at 11.15 o’clock General Smith rode up to the quarters of the lieutenant-colonel commanding the regiment, and demanded why it was not in line, to which the lieutenant-colonel replied he had received no orders to that effect, but that the regiment had been ordered to form at 8 o’clock next morning to march to Poolesville, at which General Smith expressed surprise that the regiment had received no orders to form in line that evening, and ordered it to be done at once, ammunition issued, and the regiment marched along the road through camp and over the hill by Fort Baker and that the direction to be taken would be pointed out by pickets as regiments passed. These were all the instructions received, no orders in writing having been issued to this regiment. The line was immediately formed, ammunition issued, and the regiment put in motion before 12 o’clock.

The officers were in entire ignorance of the purpose or direction of the movement. After marching about an hour, firing was heard in front of the column, which has been attributed to the pickets firing upon the line, and by which several lives were lost. The regiment moved steadily on, and in about thirty minutes was brought to a halt and was resting in line, when three dragoons rode rapidly along, and when about the center of the regiment one of them fired his revolver, exclaiming, “Take care, boys; here they come.” Simultaneously a number of skirmishers suddenly appeared from the adjoining woods on the road, when some of our men, supposing the secessionists were on them, discharged their pieces, which led to a general alarm and firing along the line, which unfortunately resulted in the death of Sergeant Gillan, of Company B, and the wounding of 2 more of this regiment. Order was promptly restored, the line reformed and no further casualties occurred during the night. The regiment was then marched a short distance and formed in line of battle on the outskirts of a wood flanking the road, where they remained in good order until about 11 o’clock a.m., when they were ordered to march back to camp.

The above report is respectfully submitted.

DENNIS O’KANE, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Capt. FRED’K HARVEY, A. A. G., U. S. Army, Hdqrs. Baker’s Brigade.


No. 3.

Report of Lieut. Col. Isaac J. Wistar, Seventy-first Pennsylvania Infantry.

HEADQUARTERS CALIFORNIA REGIMENT, Camp Advance, Va., September 29, 1861.

COLONEL: In compliance with orders received last evening from General Smith, during your absence, I marched with my regiment about 9.30 {p.219} p.m., arriving opposite Vanderburgh’s house about 11 p.m. Here I was detained about two hours by the necessity of clearing away a number of trees felled across the road. During the interval I took the head of the column, as directed by General Smith, with the first battalion of my regiment, consisting of nine companies. I was followed by a battery of four guns, and then by my second battalion of seven companies, under Major Parrish.

My instructions from General Smith were to proceed without advance guard or flankers until I should pass Colonel Burnham, who with his regiment was near the next cross-roads, and after passing him, he being the most advanced of our forces, to throw out three companies deployed as skirmishers across the road, and follow them with the column at a distance of, say, 150 yards, connecting the head of the column with the center of the skirmishers by a file of men at intervals of 10 paces. This had just been accomplished, when General Smith himself with his staff, overtook me, and the whole was immediately put in motion. After proceeding a short distance I was surprised to find a picket guard of a New York regiment, having supposed we had passed all of our own outposts. At the first turn to the right, which occurred within a quarter of a mile after the deployment of my skirmishers, they began to come in collision with picket guards, who said they belonged to the Fourth Michigan. The road at this point was lined with thick woods on both sides. At the turn of the road was stationed in the road a picket of, say, 20 men; 30 yards beyond was another of, say, 6 men, and the head of the column had not progressed more than 50 yards past the latter, the skirmishers being ahead and on both flanks entangled among the pickets in the woods on the left, when a regular volley was fired into the second and third companies of my line from immediately behind the fence which lined the woods on my left. The head of the column having now passed the woods on our right, the latter was replaced by open fields, exposing us to the light of the rising moon, while the woods on our left, whence an invisible enemy continued to pour his fire, was in deep shade.

Considerable confusion took place in the column thus suddenly attacked. Nothing was visible in the woods but the flashes of their guns; but, convinced the firing was the mistake of friends, I rode between my men, who had instantly faced towards the woods whence the firing proceeded vainly calling upon all parties to cease firing. At this moment my horse was shot and rendered nearly unmanageable, and notwithstanding my exertions, firing commenced among my own men, who could bear it no longer, and continued perhaps for two minutes, when the party in the woods retired. I now ordered my killed and wounded to be carried to the rear and dressed my line, and was endeavoring to reassure all parties, when the parties in the woods, having returned suddenly, threw in another volley from not less than forty pieces, as I should judge, which my men instantly returned without orders, the distance being the width of the road-say 6 yards. This time the firing extended nearly as far back in the road at the rear of my first battalion, producing a panic among the artillery horses, who turned and dashed off to the rear, breaking loose from the guns, and producing great confusion in my second battalion by rushing over them at full speed. A number were shot, and the remainder turned off the road, which soon restored order.

After sending my killed and wounded to the rear, I put my command in the woods which concealed the firing party, whoever they may have been, thoroughly scoured and took possession of it, and with the valuable aid of Adjutant Newlin drew up in line of battle along its front to hold the road, at the same time stationing my second battalion, under {p.220} command of Major Parrish, who was of very great assistance during the whole night and whose perfect coolness during such general confusion was very gratifying, in the woods at the right, so as to cross fires with the first battalion on the road in front, and then, after rallying my skirmishers and distributing them as pickets all around our front, reported these dispositions to General Smith, who was pleased to approve them. On the following afternoon, at 4. p.m., I left the position by General Smith’s order, and marched back to this camp, where I arrived, without further incident, at dark.

My whole loss was 4 killed and 14 wounded, as appears by the surgeon’s report, a copy of which, marked A, is herewith returned.*

I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ISAAC J. WISTAR, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding California Regiment.

Col. E. D. BAKER, Commanding Brigade.

* Not found.


OCTOBER 3, 1861.– Engagement at Greenbrier River, West Virginia.


No. 1.–Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, U. S. Army.
No. 2.–Col. Nathan Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana Infantry.
No. 3.–Lieut. Col. William P. Richardson, Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry.
No. 4.–Casualties in the Union forces.
No. 5.–Brig. Gen. Henry R. Jackson, C. S. Army, and response from Secretary of War.
No. 6.–Col. William B. Taliaferro, Twenty-third Virginia Infantry.
No. 7.–Col. Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.
No. 8.–Capt. L. M. Shumaker, C. S. Army.
No. 9.–Congratulatory orders from Brig. Gen. W. W. Loring, C. S. Army.

No. 1.

Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, A. O. W. VA., Elk Water, October 4, 1861.

SIR: On the night of the 2d October, at 12 o’clock, I started from the summit of Cheat Mountain to make an armed reconnaissance of the enemy’s position on the Greenbrier River, 12 miles in advance. Our force consisted of Howe’s battery, Fourth regular artillery; Loomis’ battery, Michigan volunteer artillery; part of Daum’s battery, Virginia volunteer artillery; Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, and Thirty-second Ohio Regiments; Seventh, Ninth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Seventeenth Indiana Regiments (the last four being reduced by continuous hard service and-sickness to about half regiments); parts of Robinson’s company of Ohio, Greenfield’s Pennsylvania, and Bracken’s Indiana cavalry; in all about 5,000. Milroy’s Ninth Indiana drove in the enemy’s advanced pickets and, deployed to our right, driving the enemy on that flank into his intrenchments. Kimball’s Fourteenth Indiana was advanced directly to the enemy’s front and right, to drive {p.221} his advanced regiment from a position suitable for our artillery. This was soon done in gallant style, and our batteries promptly took their positions within about 700 yards of the intrenchments and opened fire. Some of the enemy’s guns were visible and others concealed. We disabled three of his guns, made a thorough reconnaissance, and after having fully and successfully accomplished the object of the expedition retired leisurely and in good order to Cheat Mountain, arriving at sundown, having marched 24 miles and been under the enemy’s fire four hours. The enemy’s force was about 9,000, and we distinctly saw heavy re-enforcements of infantry and artillery arrive while we were in front of the works.

We took 13 prisoners. The number of killed and wounded could not be accurately ascertained, but from those actually counted in the field and estimated in the trenches, which could be seen from the heights, it is believed the number reached at least 300. Our loss was surprisingly small-8 killed and 32 wounded-most of them slightly, the proximity of our batteries to the intrenchments causing many shots to pass over us.*

Very respectfully, &c.,

J. J. REYNOLDS, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General of the Army, Washington, D. C.

* See report No. 4, p. 223.


No. 2.

Report of Col. Nathan Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana Infantry.

CHEAT MOUNTAIN SUMMIT, VA., October 4, 1861.

SIR: In obedience to your orders, the Fourteenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers proceeded from this point at 1 a.m. on the 3d instant, as part of the force in making the armed reconnaissance of the enemy’s position at Greenbrier River, near the Alleghany Mountains.

My command, on arriving near the front of the enemy’s position, took post in their front near the main road and awaited your arrival. By your order I deployed one company (C), Captain Brooks, forward as skirmishers, to open up the way for a position-for Loomis’ battery. They had proceeded only a few hundred yards when they came in contact with the enemy’s infantry, 600 in number. I immediately ordered the rest of my companies forward, and deploying left companies over mountains which were occupied by the enemy, my whole command was soon engaged, and I am proud, rejoiced, to know that they drove the enemy back.

As the whole of this action was under your immediate observation, I need not tell you how gallantly my men behaved. Having succeeded in clearing the point, Captain Loomis soon had his guns in battery and Opening on the enemy. I then moved, my regiments forward, one company supporting Howe’s battery in the road, my right resting in a meadow, directly in front of the enemy. At this time Captain Daum brought one gun forward and took position near my left. He behaved with great gallantry, attending his gun in person, doing good execution, and a perfect storm of shot and shell.

I directed my line up the hill and to the rear of Daum’s piece. We {p.222} occupied this position during the whole cannonading, the men being exposed to the continuous fire from the enemy’s batteries. And, general, I am proud to say my men stood firm. They had never before been subjected to the hail-storms of ball and shell, yet they did not waver.

Our position was held until we were ordered to deploy to the enemy’s right of the mountain, as skirmishers. I moved with seven companies; the other three were deployed over the summit directly over the face of the mountain, exposed to the fire from the enemy’s batteries. Here I was halted near the enemy’s right by other regiments, which were on my left. Here I formed a junction with Colonel Wagner, and while endeavoring to move forward we were met by a portion of the regiments returning. We remained in this position for one-half hour awaiting the movement of the regiment in our advance; but seeing all of our forces being drawn off, I marched my command in good order back to its former position in the road and retired in front of the enemy’s heavy fire.

General, you witnessed the conduct of my command during most of the day, and it is unnecessary for me to praise them to you. All I will say is, that the Fourteenth were true soldiers, and acted up to their profession and in accordance with their motto, which is, “Keep cool and a steady fire.”

I must not fail to mention that my major (W. Harrow) and adjutant (John J. P. Blinn) were with me, and acted with great gallantry and bravery, and deserve the highest praise. My lieutenant-colonel, owing to severe sickness, did not arrive until towards the withdrawal of the forces.

I have to report the loss of 3 killed and 4 wounded. Two of those reported killed died after we returned to camp. One sergeant (J. Urner Price), Company A, lost his left leg by a fraction of a shell. Price was a noble fellow, and died a Christian, as he had lived one. The other (Harrison Myers), of Company H, had a spherical-case shot in his thigh, which was extracted, but he died immediately afterwards. Amos Boyd, of Company C, was killed on the field by the explosion of a shell from the enemy’s guns. I recapitulate my loss as follows:

Killed: J. Urner Price, Company A; Amos Boyd, Company C; Harrison Myers, Company H.

Wounded: Capt. L. A. Foote, Company A, and private John D. Lyon, Company E.

General, we are ready again, and hope that the Fourteenth will do as well as they have done heretofore.

Very respectfully and obediently,

NATHAN KIMBALL, Colonel, Commanding Fourteenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers.

Brig. Gen. JOSEPH J. REYNOLDS, Commanding.


No. 3.

Report of Lieut. Col. William P. Richardson, Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry

HDQRS. TWENTY-FIFTH REGIMENT OHIO VOLUNTEERS, Camp, Cheat Mountain Summit, October 6, 1861.

SIR: When the reserve was ordered up in the affair of the 3d instant I understood your order to me to be to push forward the head of my column to the barn and house in front, and there to wait until I saw the movement commenced on the right, which I understood to be a charge, {p.223} and then to charge in front, and that I was to occupy the right in front. I did precisely what I was ordered to do, so far as putting my regiment in the assigned position and waiting for the commencement of the charge upon the enemy’s right flank. I waited some twenty minutes, and saw nothing like a charge upon the right, but concluded to proceed to execute your order as I understood it, and had already given the command forward when Lieutenant-Colonel Wilder came up and asked me why I did not move forward. I repeated what I believed to be your order. He said I was mistaken; that your order was that I should proceed around the enemy’s right, and that if I did not immediately proceed he would occupy my place. Afraid, from the fact that I saw no such movement on the right as you had indicated as my guide, that I had mistaken your order, I at once complied with the demand of Lieutenant-Colonel Wilder, and moved up on the hill around the enemy’s right flank as far as I could get without passing other regiments that I found there, which I supposed were intended to precede me. I remained there until several regiments had passed me, making a retrograde movement. I inquired of several of the officers why they were going back, but could elicit no information until Colonel Kimball came along-with his regiment. He said the order was “To about face and march off the hill.” Having no other information, I waited until all the regiments had passed and then brought my regiment off of the hill. Seeing some confusion among some of the regiments, I drew mine up near where one of the guns had been, by the road, and sent my adjutant forward to you for orders. Of the rest of my conduct and that of my regiment you have been apprised by my official report.*

If I misunderstood your order, and thereby in any manner embarrassed the proceedings of the day, no one can regret it more than myself. If, on the other hand, I correctly understood you, I hope this frank explanation will to some extent exonerate me from blame.

I am, very respectfully, yours, &c.,

WM. P. RICHARDSON, Lieutenant-Colonel, Twenty-fifth Ohio.


* Not found.


No. 4.

Return of casualties in the Union forces in the engagement on Greenbrier River, West Virginia, October 3, 1861.**

Officers.Enlisted men.Officers.Enlisted men.
Seventh Indiana178
Ninth Indiana268
Thirteenth Indiana112
Fourteenth Indiana1157
Seventeenth Indiana134
Twenty-fourth Ohio235
Twenty-fifth Ohio33
Howe’s (Fourth U. 5.) battery156

** Compiled from records of Adjutant-General’s Office.


No. 5.

Reports of Brig. Gen. Henry R. Jackson, C. S. Army, and response from Secretary of War.


The enemy attacked us at 8 o’clock this morning in considerable force, estimated at 5,000, and with six pieces of artillery of longer range than any we have. After a hot fire of four and a half hours, and heavy attempts to charge our lines, he was repulsed, evidently with considerable loss. We had no cavalry to pursue him on his retreat. The loss on our side has been inconsiderable. A fuller report will be given through the regular channels, but for several days my correspondence with General Loring has been interrupted. The enemy’s force was much superior to ours, but we had the advantage in position.

H. R. JACKSON, Brigadier-General, Commanding.




COLONEL: In my note of the 3d instant I gave you a brief account of the attack made that day upon our position by the enemy. Advancing along the turnpike with a heavy column, composed of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, numbering, at a safe estimate, from 6,000 to 7,000 men, he drove in our advance pickets at an early hour in the morning. About 7 o’clock he encountered the main body of the advance guard, re-enforced to about 100 strong, and posted on the right side of the turnpike, 1 mile from our lines, by Col. Edward Johnson, of the Twelfth Georgia Regiment, who took command in person. You will find this position designated upon the accompanying map by the capital letter E.

It is but justice to this superior officer and to the gallant baud whose movements he directed to say that it would not have been possible for so small a force to have been more skillfully handled, or to have exhibited more obstinate courage in the face of numbers so overwhelming. They held the column of the enemy in check for nearly an hour, pouring into the head of it a galling fire, not withdrawing until six pieces of artillery had opened briskly upon them, and full battalions of infantry were outflanking them on the right, and then retiring in such order and taking such advantage of the ground as to reach our camp with but trifling loss. To this brilliant skirmish, in which Colonel Johnson had his horse killed under him, is doubtless to be ascribed in a measure the exhilarated spirit manifested by our troops during the remainder of the day. Before taking leave of it and, referring to former dispatches, I would beg once again to direct to Col. Edward Johnson the special attention of the commanding general, not simply for this peculiarly brilliant service, but for his gallant and efficient conduct throughout the entire engagement. So soon as it had become apparent that the enemy contemplated a systematic attack upon our camp, I disposed of my entire force to meet it. To convey a correct idea, not simply of that disposition, but of the subsequent action, I must pray reference to the accompanying map, for which I am indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, of the Third Arkansas Regiment.

As I have already reported to you, our position is not by nature a commanding one. The causes of its weakness are the necessity of {p.225} defending extended lines on our front (not less than a mile) and on our flanks, and the fact that there are points in our rear which, in possession of an enemy, might give us great trouble. The works essential to our safety were in progress of construction at the time of the attack, but were only partially completed, nothing whatever having been done to strengthen our right flank or our rear.

I am happy to say that during the last three days, through the indefatigable efforts of Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, in immediate charge of the works, backed by the cheerful labor of the men, we are already in condition to defy an approach from any quarter. Not doubting that the attack upon us had been to some extent invited by our commencing to fortify ourselves against it, and fearing that the enemy might have been fully advised of our weak points until he had actually begun his retreat, my mind could not dispossess itself of the idea that he had sent another column over the mountains to turn our right flank. To prepare for this danger I held the First Georgia Regiment, so far as that could be done, in reserve for what I apprehended would be a desperate struggle. I also sent expresses to Colonel Baldwin, whom I had previously ordered to the top of the Alleghany Ridge, directing him to move the Fifty-second Virginia Regiment as rapidly down as possible, and to fall upon the rear of the enemy should he undertake to fall upon ours. That gallant regiment responded, as I have learned, most heartily to the call, and when halted upon the road by the tidings that the day had already been won, despite of its not-to-be-doubted patriotism, could not entirely conceal its chagrin.

The two brigades in this camp, weakened by the absence of the several corps on detached service, the Fifth having been reduced from this cause and from sickness to scarce one-third of its legitimate number, I posted in the following order: The First Georgia Regiment upon our extreme right, under command of Major Thompson, Colonel Ramsey, the field officer of the day, having been cut off from us by the enemy while discharging his duty upon the road; next to it was placed the Twelfth Georgia Regiment-both of these regiments designed for the immediate command of Colonel Johnson. At an early moment I threw out what few mounted men were available, under Captain Sterrett, of the Churchville Cavalry, to different points along the valley upon our right, for the purpose of bringing us timely notice of an approach by the enemy, and I also strengthened considerably the picket guards advanced in that direction. The center I intrusted to the Fifth Brigade, under command of Colonel Taliaferro, composed of the Forty-fourth Virginia Regiment, Colonel Scott; the Twenty-third Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Taliaferro, and Major Reger’s battalion [Twenty-fifth Virginia], commanded in his absence from sickness by senior Captain John C. Higginbotham. This brigade was reduced in the course of the action by the detachment of 100 men, under Major Jones, of the Forty-fourth, to re-enforce our left wing. This detachment marched in gallant style under the enemy’s fire to the position assigned it in line. The troops on this wing, which from the character of the ground were widely dispersed, fell under the general command of Colonel Rust, of the Third Arkansas Regiment, and consisted of his own command, the Thirty-first Virginia Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, and the battalion of Lieutenant-Colonel Hansbrough, commanded in his absence on account of sickness by-senior Capt. J. A. Robertson. Upon this flank also two field pieces had already been placed in battery, enfilading the Huntersville road, which runs at right angles, if, indeed, {p.226} those terms can be applied to serpentine mountain roads, from the turnpike. These guns were under the immediate charge of Capt. P. B. Anderson, and the zeal, skill, and determination of that officer leave no doubt that they would have done great execution had the enemy ventured to call them into action. Captain Shumaker’s battery, consisting of four pieces (6-pounders), one of them rifled, and one 6-pounder, under Captain Rice, was held in readiness for the front and right flank. The places occupied by these various corps you will find specified upon the map.

Our forces were all in position, when at about 8 o’clock the enemy opened a heavy fire from six pieces of different caliber, placed in a field upon the right-hand side (to them) of the turnpike road, and bearing upon our front and center. This number was subsequently increased by two other pieces placed on the opposite side of the turnpike, one near it and the other upon the rise of the hill. This fire (of round shot, spherical case, shell, and occasionally, upon our left wing, of canister) was continued with extraordinary rapidity and without intermission for upwards of four hours, the eight guns constituting the well-known field batteries of Howe and of Loomis.

The hill occupied by Colonel Taliaferro’s brigade, invitingly exposed to all of these batteries, received the greater share of their attention, and but for the protection afforded by the ditch and embankment running along its brow, and constructed under the immediate supervision of Colonel Taliaferro himself, we should doubtless have had inflicted upon us a very severe loss indeed. This fire was returned with great energy and, as the result has proved, with signal effect by the guns of Captain Shumaker and Captain Rice and by one piece detached from Captain Anderson’s battery and placed upon the hill occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson. Lieutenant Massie, its proper chief being quite indisposed, although he maintained his position near his piece, it was placed under the command of Captain Deshler, aide-de-camp to Colonel Johnson.

From the fact that the rifled gun of Captain Shumaker soon became useless to us (for the cause of this great misfortune see his own report addressed to myself), at no time could we bring more than five pieces into action to return the fire of the enemy’s eight. Yet that fire was returned, and that with so much spirit and energy, as to make this artillery duel, rendered peculiarly interesting by the character of the field and its mountain surroundings, ever memorable by those who beheld it. That the casualties among our cannoneers should have been so few is a subject of sincere congratulation, and is very much ascribable to the sound judgment of Captain Shumaker, who repeatedly changed the position of his guns when those of the enemy had obtained his range. For a minuter description of the action in this its most striking phase I take great pleasure in referring to the report of that consummately cool and skillful officer. From it you will learn why it was that our pieces, at the close of the four hours’ interchange of fire, were temporarily withdrawn, inducing our friends upon our extreme left and evidently the enemy to suppose that they had been silenced.

At about 9.30 a strong column of infantry was seen to move towards our left-flank. Having crossed the so-called river (in fact, a shallow stream of about 20 yards in width), near the point designated on the map by the capital letter A, it undertook to turn our position in that direction. Soon, however, it encountered a portion of the Third Arkansas Regiment, which drove it precipitately back with a destructive lire. The enemy subsequently turned two of his pieces upon this {p.227} portion of our left wing, pouring out canister and shell in large volumes, but fortunately, on account of the protection afforded by the woods, with but little execution. Simultaneously with this movement towards our left another column of infantry ascended the wooded hill before our right wing at the point designated upon the map by the capital letter B.* Having become at its head involved in a slight skirmish with one of our picket guards, it was immediately and strongly re-enforced. Subsequently to the repulse of the column from our left flank it proceeded in the same general direction, ascending the hill at the point designated by the letter C,* and swelling the force, which now began to threaten seriously our front and right, to some 4,000 men. They moved along the side of the hill, opening upon our lines a desultory fire of rifled musketry, which was continued until the close of the action. So soon as the designs of this column were fully developed I ordered the Twelfth Georgia Regiment to take position near the stream, where a small detachment of it, under Lieutenant Dawson, had already been posted, with instructions to engage the enemy whenever he should attempt to cross it.

From the fact that this movement was made in full face of largely superior numbers, armed with a superior weapon, and protected by cover of the forest, it was made with an alacrity and a regularity which deserve high commendation,, as does also the cool determination with which this command, protecting itself as best it might against enemy’s fire, received it, but returned scarce a shot. Not long thereafter I ordered Captain Shumaker to open upon the same column, directing his fire to where he supposed the head of it to be. This he promptly did with two of his pieces, and so effectively, that in a short time the unmistakable evidence of their rout became apparent. Distinctly could their officers be heard, with words of mingled command, remonstrance, and entreaty, attempting to rally their battalions into line and to bring them to the charge; but they could not be induced to reform their broken ranks nor to emerge from the cover of the woods in the direction of our fire. Rapidly and in disorder they returned into the turnpike, and soon thereafter the entire force of the enemy-artillery, infantry, and cavalry-retreated in confusion along the road and adjacent fields, leaving behind them at different points numbers of their killed, guns, knapsacks, canteens, &c. Among other trophies taken were a stand of United States colors, which are held subject to the order of the commanding general.

This engagement lasted from 7 in the morning to 2.30 o’clock in the afternoon, at which time the enemy, who had come with artillery to bombard and demoralize us, with infantry to storm our camp, with cavalry to rout and destroy us, and with four days’ cooked rations in his haversacks to prosecute a rapid march either toward Staunton or toward Huntersville, was in precipitate retreat back to his Cheat Mountain fastness; and it is certainly a matter not unworthy of mention that while his first insolent advances were received with defiant cheers, running from one end to the other of our line, he was permitted to take his departure under the simple reports of our pieces firing upon him so long as he continued within their range. The relative weakness of our force and the entire absence of cavalry prevented our pursuing him, and thereby realizing the legitimate fruits of our triumph.

His loss in killed and wounded is estimated at from 250 to 300, among them an officer of superior rank. Our own, I am happy to say, Was very inconsiderable, not exceeding 50 in all. This most gratifying {p.228} result is to be attributed in a great degree to the remarkable coolness of regimental and company officers, who never seemed for a moment to lose their presence of mind, never allowed their men unnecessarily to expose themselves, and profited by every advantage of ground ammunition to shield them from danger.

In conclusion, I take great pride in saying that the bearing of all the troops, both officers and men, with but few exceptions, was highly creditable to themselves and to the army. Among those who enjoyed the opportunity coveted by all of attracting special notice, in addition to the name of Colonel Johnson, I would mention those of Captain Shumaker, who was wounded at his battery, and to whom I have already had repeated occasion to refer; of Capt. William H. Rice, of whom Captain Shumaker speaks in the following emphatic language: “He had been working his piece beautifully for two hours, and too much praise cannot be given him for the deliberate manner with which he loaded and fired his piece, loading and firing by detail for an hour in the midst of a storm of shot and shell from the enemy,” until he was stricken to the earth severely wounded; of Captain Deshler, who directed a rapid fire with marked effect, and of Sergeant Graves, who fell mortally wounded in the cool and gallant discharge of his duty. Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded the names of Lieutenant Gibson, of the Third Arkansas Regiment, the officer in immediate command; of Private Slayton, of the Thirty-first Virginia Regiment, who was severely wounded, and of Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, “I will give them one more shot before I leave,” and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post. Nor can I omit mention in this connection of Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, who, in the absence of engineer staff officers, designed and was in active prosecution of the works to which we are so much indebted for the defense of our position, and who has shown himself at all times prompt to render cheerful and efficient service.

It is hardly necessary to add that Colonel Taliaferro, whose marked coolness and energy could not fail to inspire his men, and Colonel Rust, in command of the left wing, from which the enemy was first repelled, discharged their’ responsible duty successfully and well. Finally, my own thanks are specially (me to my aides, Maj. F. S. Bloom and Lieut. W. D. Humphries, C. S. Army, for the gallant and efficient manner in which they responded to the peculiar and exposing calls made upon them. It is but justice to add that Cadet Henry Jackson, C. S. Army, drew notice to himself by his gallantry under fire.

I have the honor to inclose herewith a list of casualties.

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

H. R. JACKSON, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Col. C. L. STEVENSON, Adjutant General, N. W. A.

* Not indicated on original sketch.



List of casualties at the battle of Greenbrier River, October 3, 1861.

Officers.Enlisted men.Officers.Enlisted men.Officers.Enlisted men.
Third Arkansas29415
First Georgia112
Twelfth Georgia145
Twenty-third Virginia22
Thirty-first Virginia112913
Forty-fourth Virginia145
Rice’s battery1146
Shumaker’s battery134



SIR: Your kind favor of the 12th instant [following] came duly to hand. How much needed by this branch of the army, by soldiers as well as by officers, some expression of approval was can only be known by one personally familiar with the campaign in this part of Virginia, unequaled in its peculiar hardships, in the asperities of country and climate which have been encountered, in sickness and suffering, in disappointed hopes {p.230} and untoward events, fate seeming at times to have decreed a terrible antithesis-the misery and obscurity here, the sympathy and the glory elsewhere.

As you must be aware, this command is mainly composed of the wrecks of General Garnett’s army, and the annals of warfare might be searched in vain to find a more pitiable picture of suffering, destitution, and demoralization than they presented at the close of their memorable retreat. It has required the untiring efforts of the most energetic officers and all the encouragement which could be brought to bear upon them to restore the troops to anything like the efficiency of which they were originally capable.

In the battle to which you have been pleased to refer in complimentary terms the disparity of numbers between our force and that of the enemy was greater than has been assumed. I did not think it advisable to expose our real condition of weakness. The strongest of our regiments (Colonel Fulkerson’s) had been previously withdrawn to protect Colonel Gilham’s flank. The reports of the morning preceding the 3d did not show more than 1,800 men for duty, and the pickets and guards which our position requires us to keep up in all directions had taken many of these from the line. Considerably more than trebling us in numbers, doubling us in artillery of superior character, and confident of success, the enemy was repulsed simply by the happy disposition of our forces, the boldness of our movements, and the cool determination of officers and men. What would have been the results of our defeat who can fully estimate? And yet, because it was comparatively bloodless, for the achievement of the victory who will ever give us full credit?

You will discern in what I have now said some reason for the detail character of my report and for the mention by me of so many names. It was necessary as well as proper, and if it be deemed of any importance to foster the spirit of this division of the Army some appreciation of meritorious service must be exhibited.

I would remark, in the same connection, that I delayed acknowledging the receipt of your letter because I contemplated a course of action in reference to certain newspaper publications which I knew would fail to meet your approval. Such publications may be disregarded by the statesman or the soldier of established reputation, but they can do much to wound the officers and men of a young corps like the one I command, who have endured the sufferings without being adjudged the laurels of veterans. Fully sensible, however, of the impropriety of complicating public position with personal feuds, I delayed writing you for the purpose of asking permission to retire from the Army so soon as the winter should withdraw this branch of it from the field. Circumstances of which it is unnecessary to speak have intervened to thwart my intention for the present.

Begging to return my thanks to the President and to yourself for your kind expressions toward my command and toward me, I have the honor to remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.


WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, October 12 1861.

SIR: I have received through the Adjutant-General your report of the action of 3d instant at Greenbrier River. I congratulate both yourself {p.231} and the officers and men under your command for your brilliant conduct on this occasion and your successful defense of the important position held by you against a force so superior. The President joins me in the expression of the satisfaction we both feel in finding our confidence in you and your command so fully justified. In this connection I heir to say that the President submitted to my perusal your private letter to him in relation to a newspaper report relating to the affair at Cheat Mountain. He has answered your letter, as he informs me. It gives me pleasure to assure you that there is not a syllable in General Lee’s report that reflects in the remotest manner any discredit on you, and I hope you will not feel offended at my expressing surprise that your should attach any importance or feel any sensitiveness in relation to sensation articles or reports in the newspapers. I have the pleasure of seeing my own action and opinions almost daily misconceived or misrepresented on “the most reliable information” with perfect equanimity, and you may well trust to your own well-earned reputation as a perfect shield against all anonymous attacks.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.

Brig. Gen. HENRY R. JACKSON, Headquarters, Greenbrier River.


No. 6.

Report of Col. William B. Taliaferro, Twenty-third Virginia Infantry.

HDQRS. FIFTH BRIGADE, ARMY OF NORTHWEST, Camp at Greenbrier River, October 4, 1861.

GENERAL: I have the honor, in obedience to your orders, to make a report of the operations of the troops under my immediate command in the action between your forces and the enemy on yesterday.

According to your instructions my command, consisting of the Twenty-third and Forty-fourth Virginia Regiments and a battalion of the Twenty-fifth Virginia Regiment, supported by Shumaker’s and Rice’s light batteries, occupied the center of your line of defense.

As soon as it became manifest that the enemy were approaching in force I ordered the infantry to occupy the lines of trenches defending the front approach and the artillery to be placed in position to command the turnpike and meadow on the left and front of our position.

After a gallant resistance by our picket guard, re-enforced by a detachment headed by Colonel Johnson, who maintained an extraordinary struggle with an overwhelming force of the enemy, their troops in great numbers were seen to debouch from the turnpike and from across the river flat, whilst a heavy column was seen to occupy the hills on the right of the road. Very soon after this their batteries were established in the meadow and on the road, and opened upon our position, and poured without intermission a storm of shot and shell for four hours and a quarter upon it. Our batteries replied with remarkable spirit and determination, and with telling effect, as soon as the enemy approached within range of our pieces.

The infantry of the enemy fell back just without range and made an effort to turn our left flank, but could soon be seen recrossing the river and concentrating upon the left of their lines. Leaving a supporting force with their artillery, they formed on the slope of the hills overlooking {p.232} the road, and evidently made all these dispositions and preparations either for attacking our center by seeking the shelter of the wooded hills until they could approach our front at the nearest point of range, when they would cross the river and attack our front, or otherwise continuing along the right bank to attempt to turn our right flank. Advancing to a point opposite the center of my position their column halted, being menaced by the troops of your right wing, and marched down the hill-side to the meadow, for the purpose of attempting the assault upon our works. Here they opened preparatory to an assault a fire upon us with their long-range muskets, but our artillery being directed upon them with terrible effect at this moment they were thrown into confusion, and notwithstanding the efforts of their officers, whose words of command and entreaties could be distinctly heard, could not be reformed, and after some time being spent in the effort to bring them to the charge fell back to the hills, and under such cover as they afforded from our artillery, which played upon them during the whole time, regained the turnpike, and withdrew their batteries and retired.

The loss to the enemy must have been very great, as their force, as far as I could estimate, exceeded 5,000, which, whenever it ventured within range, received a storm of missiles from our batteries. The loss sustained by my command was very small.

I cannot speak in too great praise of the conduct of the officers and men of my command. All evinced under the heavy fire to which they were subjected extraordinary coolness and gallantry.

The artillery, which was unprotected by epaulements, behaved with unflinching bravery. Captain Rice, commanding one of the batteries, distinguished by his intrepidity, had his leg carried away by a round shot while nobly encouraging his men to their duty, and the conduct of Private Brookes, of his battery, deserves especial notice. Captain Shumaker and Lieutenant Wooding distinguished themselves by their skill and gallantry, and Sergeant Jones, who commanded the piece on the right of my line, deserves the highest praise. Colonel Scott, commanding Forty-fourth; Lieut. Col. A. G. Taliaferro, commanding Twenty-third, and Captain Higginbotham, commanding Twenty-fifth Regiment, exhibited great coolness, determination, and anxiety to be engaged in action, which was shared by their officers and men.

I take occasion to notice the admirable conduct of Surgeon Daily, of the Twenty-third Regiment, who and the heaviest fire administered relief to the wounded, and the good conduct of Lieutenant Pendleton, acting assistant adjutant-general. Captain Anderson’s battery, part of my brigade, was assigned to duty with the command on the left, when Captain Shumaker’s was temporarily transferred to my command. The report of the operations of the former will be made by the officer who commanded on the left, while the casualties in Captain Shumaker’s command will be communicated by the officer commanding the brigade to which he is attached.

I append a list of the killed and wounded of my brigade, amounting to 2 killed and 6 wounded.*

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. B. TALIAFERRO, Colonel Twenty-third Regiment, Commanding Brigade.

General HENRY R. JACKSON, Commanding Monterey Line.

* Not found, but see p. 229.


No. 7.

Report of Col. Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.


GENERAL: This morning, about 7 o’clock, hearing of the advance of the enemy upon us in force, I ordered my men, the Third Arkansas Regiment, to get ready to repel an attack from him, and obeyed a summons to report myself to you at your quarters. You placed me in command of the left wing of our forces, composed of my own regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson’s Virginia Regiment, Hansbrough’s Virginia battalion, and Anderson’s two pieces of artillery, and ordered me on no account to allow the enemy to turn our left flank, and suggested the disposition to be made of the most of the infantry under my command, the artillery having already been planted. After forming my men, and while marching them to the position designed for them, the enemy commenced a rapid firing of artillery, and before I had satisfactorily formed that portion of the men under my immediate command between the river and the terminus of abatis to the right of Anderson’s battery on the Greenbank road, the advance guard of a column of the enemy, marching by flank, had crossed the river some distance below us, as had been anticipated, and upon ascending the first mountain came upon the left flank of my force, which promptly fired a volley into them, which caused them instantly to retire, recross the river, rapidly traverse the meadow, unite with another force, with which a like attempt was made to turn our right flank with a similar result, and, as you are already aware, rapidly and in disorder retreated from the field.

Before the retreat of the enemy began, and while I supposed he was advancing beyond the position occupied by my command, I sent a lieutenant to Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, of my own regiment, who was on my right, to close up my line by falling down the river some 60 or 80 yards, until he united with me, preparatory to making a charge upon the rear and flank of the enemy across the river and meadow beyond it. The lieutenant returned and reported Colonel Barton not present, which I have ascertained was not true, as he was not absent from his post for a moment during the engagement, and had conceived the same idea of attacking the enemy in flank as myself. However, as the enemy had fully eight times as many infantry in the meadow and in the skirt of the woods beyond it as I could have assailed him with, supported by six or seven pieces of artillery, which kept up a continuous and extraordinarily rapid fire during the whole time, the propriety of making the attack is very questionable.*

The men and officers, with one or two exceptions, behaved admirably.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. RUST, Colonel, Commanding.

General HENRY R. JACKSON, Commanding Brigade.

* Nominal list of casualties omitted. See tabulated statement, p. 229.


No. 8.

Report of Capt. L. M. Shumaker, C. S. Army, commanding light battery.


SIR: In obedience to your oral order I have the honor to report that at daybreak yesterday, October 3, in pursuance of your instructions, {p.995} given in person, I proceeded to get my battery ready for action. I placed my rifled piece in position on a hill in rear of Yager’s house, just vacated by Captain Anderson, and then returned to my camp, and sent Lieutenant Wooding to take charge of it. Before getting my other pieces in position word was brought that the rifled gun was useless, a ball having lodged in it near the muzzle. I galloped to the place at once, and had it withdrawn to a position where the men could drive the ball up. I then ordered Lieutenant Wooding to take a gun and go across the river and report to Colonel Johnson who had sent for it to support his skirmishers. I then brought up one of my bronze 6-pounder guns to the position occupied by the rifled piece, and directed fire upon three of the guns of the enemy in battery in a meadow about 800 yards distant. At this time the enemy had opened a steady and well-directed fire upon position from six guns of different caliber. After the men had succeeded in ramming home the ball lodged in the rifled piece I brought it up to the front and opened fire upon the enemy’s caissons; but, unfortunately, the balls would lodge, owing to the close fit and to the gun’s fouling easily. Finding the last ball hopelessly lodged, as I supposed, I sent it to the rear, out of the way.

At this time the fire of the enemy was very severe, and so well aimed as to make it necessary to change my position several times. About this time Lieutenant Wooding returned and informed me that the skirmishers had all fallen back, and that Colonel Johnson had directed him to return across the river, and that he had broken his lanyard. I ordered him to take position in front of Yager’s house, where he could enfilade the road leading to our position, and to open fire upon the enemy’s batteries, changing his position whenever the range of their fire made it necessary. At this time we were replying to them with only four pieces-two of my own, one of Captain Rice’s, who commanded his piece, and a gun on a high hill to my left under the command of Captain Deshler. I galloped at once to the rear and brought up my fourth gun, under command of Sergt. Joseph H. Jones, and placed it in the best position that the nature of the ground and the tents of the infantry encampments would allow. The fire of the enemy had now become so severe as to compel me to order the removal of every gun a few feet after every third fire and I sent word to Captain Rice (who had been working his piece beautifully for two hours, and to whom too much praise cannot be given for the deliberate manner with which he loaded and fired his piece, loading and firing by detail for an hour in the midst of a storm of shot and shell from the enemy) to change his position at once. He withdrew to a position about 250 feet in rear, and rested his men and awaited the cooling of his gun.

Observing at this time that the enemy had been driven back from the river to our left by a fire from Colonel Rust’s regiment, and that they were forming in two lines for a demonstration in front, I ordered the fire to cease, and directed my chiefs of piece to rest their men, cool their guns, then load their pieces with canister, and await my order to fire. The enemy meanwhile had been moving down to our right flank to the number of 2,000, when I heard two guns open to my left. I galloped to the point and found my men in confusion, all of Captain Rice’s gone but 2, 1 man dying, and was told that Captain Rice and 1 of my corporals were badly wounded. I reprimanded the sergeant, and he informed me that Colonel Johnson and Colonel Taliaferro ordered him to fire, and that he told them he had orders from me not to fire. Colonels Johnson and Taliaferro were not with the guns when I came {p.235} up. I found two of Captain Rice’s drivers, and ordered them to take the harness off one of the wounded horses, and get another, and take their gun to the rear. I called upon several of Colonel Scott’s men, who came forward and assisted us in getting the gun off. Having no men that I could spare to work this gun, I sent it over the hill to a place of safety. I then returned to the gun on our right, and awaited the appearance of the enemy, who was evidently preparing to charge across the river. Just then your aide, Lieutenant Humphries, brought me your order to open fire upon them, when I supposed the head of their column was in evident confusion. I at once opened with two guns, and at the third fire they broke and ran from the woods in the wildest confusion. I continued to fire upon them with shot and spherical case as long as they were in range, when I ordered my men to wash out their guns, get water, and lie down to rest.

In a short time I was satisfied that the day was won, and that the enemy were in full retreat. The casualties were 3 men wounded: Private Alexander M. Earles, bullet from shell through the thigh; Corporal Calvin H. P. Eaton, flesh torn from the thick part of thigh by round shot, and Joseph R. Dickerson, shot from shell through the side, neither of them dangerously. Thomas A. Elliott was knocked down by a piece of shell, but soon recovered and kept his place by his gun. Thomas Winsey (a driver) was struck by a Minie ball on the thigh, only a bruise; Sergeant Jones had his horse shot; one of the wheels of my guns was injured in the hub, and two of the caisson wheels had spokes knocked out of them. These constitute the injury sustained by my command.

I take pleasure in calling attention to the officers and men who were with me, and whose gallantry and good conduct has won for themselves and their company the praise of the good and true all over our beloved country. Lieutenant Wooding went promptly wherever I ordered him, and kept up a galling fire upon the enemy’s batteries and columns during the engagement, firing about ninety rounds, and for a while with only four men to work his gun. Sergeant Jones behaved with great coolness and judgment, and obeyed every order with promptness, managing his gun himself. His gun fired only forty rounds, being for much of the time out of range, but his fire was very destructive. Sergeant Brently, owing to his youth and temperament, was not efficient as a sergeant; yet the gun was well managed by Corporal Calvin H. P. Eaton until he was wounded, and then by Corporal Oliver P. Carter, who came back from the rifle piece to assist. This gun was worked more than either of the others under my command. My first sergeant, Timothy H. Stamps, was, unfortunately for myself and the company, at Monterey. I had to send him with my company wagons to buy or press forage for my horses. He started when he heard the first gun fired, and reached us just as the fight was over. Had he been with us, I am satisfied that much of the difficulty with our long-range gun would have been avoided, as he succeeded in getting the ball up soon after he came. My first lieutenant, Lanier, was absent on recruiting service, and Second Lieutenant Brown was at home collecting supplies of winter clothing for the men. Serg. William H. Parham was with Lieutenant Wooding, and did his duty well. Corporals Oliver P. Carter, John Q. Adams, and Calvin H. P. Eaton did their duty like brave men and good soldiers. Privates Alexander M. Earles, John H. Welles, James Royster, James T. Williams, Andrew L. Crutchfield, James G. Covey, James M. Terry, Romulus S. Gaines, Thomas A. Elliott, Martin Crawley, Hermann Mantel, Benjamin W. Walton, Samuel {p.236} Prescott, and John Murphy deserve especial praise for their bravery and good conduct. The drivers managed their horses well and kept them in place in the midst of a most terrific fire.

Very respectfully,

L. M. SHUMAKER, Captain, Commanding Light Battery, C. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. HENRY R. JACKSON, Commanding Force Monterey Line.


No. 9.

Congratulatory orders from Brig. Gen. W. W. Loring, C. S. Army.


HDQRS. ARMY OF THE NORTHWEST, Sewell Mountain, October 7, 1861.

The general commanding has the pleasure to announce to the Army of the Northwest a signal defeat of the enemy from the fortifications of Cheat Mountain by the division, of Brigadier-General Jackson.

After three attempts of four and a half hours to force our lines in front and on both flanks with a superior force of artillery, some with longer range, he was repulsed with a considerable loss.

The general commanding tenders his thanks to Brigadier-General Jackson, his officers and soldiers, for their gallant conduct in this engagement, and assures them that they will have the grateful remembrance of our people.

By command of Brigadier-General Loring:

C. L. STEVENSON, Assistant Adjutant-General.


OCTOBER 3, 1861.– Expedition to Pohick Church, Virginia.

Report of Brig. Gen. Henry W. Slocum, U. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, Alexandria, Va., October 6, 1861.

SIR: I received information on the 3d instant that a body of the enemy’s cavalry was at Pohick Church, about 12 miles from these headquarters, together with such other information as led me to suppose that the force could be captured without difficulty. The plan of an expedition for this purpose was fully matured and was verbally communicated to Colonel Christian, Twenty-sixth New York Volunteers, who was detailed to the command. An order was then issued of which I herewith inclose a copy.

The expedition proved an entire failure, and this result I am informed and believe is to be attributed to the fact that my orders relative to the manner of the execution were not obeyed; and what is still more annoying to me and disgraceful to my command, is the fact that instead of being marched back to the camp in good order, a large portion of the command was allowed to disband beyond our line of pickets, and, as might have been anticipated from such a proceeding, this force sent to operate against the troops of the enemy was converted into a band of marauders, who plundered alike friend and foe.


I deem it my duty to lay these facts before the commanding general, and to suggest that a court of inquiry be convened for the purpose of a thorough investigation of all the circumstances attending the expedition.

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

H. W. SLOCUM, Brigadier-General Volunteers, Commanding.

Maj. S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.




SIR: You will take command of a detachment of 300 infantry from the regiments composing this brigade and one company of cavalry, and will endeavor to cut off and take prisoners a body of the enemy’s cavalry, numbering probably 50 men, stationed at or near Pohick Church.

You will proceed with 225 infantry, according to verbal directions already given you, to certain points in the rear of the enemy’s position, and will make your attack at precisely 6 o’clock to-morrow morning.

You will send out 75 infantry and the company of cavalry on the Richmond road, with instructions for them to be at Potter’s store, 4 miles from Pohick Church, and 6 miles from these headquarters, at 5.45 o’clock, driving in the enemy’s pickets and advancing as rapidly as possible towards Pohick Church, in order to cut off the enemy or to render assistance to the other detachments of your command.

The object of the expedition being accomplished, you will return without delay.

By order of Brigadier-General Slocum:

JOSEPH ROWLAND, Assistant Adjutant-General.


OCTOBER 3, 1861.– Skirmish at Springfield Station, Va.

Report of Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin, U. S. Army.

OCTOBER 3, 1861.

Eight hundred men of Newton’s brigade, under the command of Colonel Pratt, Thirty-first New York Regiment, went out to Springfield to-day with a train for wood and sleepers. They drove in the enemy’s pickets at Springfield with no loss, and brought off thirty-two car loads of wood and sleepers. They heard rumors of a large force of the enemy at Annandale, some 8,000, but I do not think the information reliable. Colonel Pratt conducted the expedition with great judgment.

W. B. FRANKLIN, Brigadier-General.



OCTOBER 4, 1861.– Skirmish near Edwards Ferry, Maryland.

Report of Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone, U. S. Army.

POOLESVILLE, October 4, 1861-3.15 p.m.

The enemy opened fire on our lookout near Edwards Ferry at 9 a.m. His firing was wild and without effect. I returned his fire with three Parrott 10-pounders, and he retired.


At the time of the firing a battalion or more of infantry and some artillery were visible going towards Leesburg, on the turnpike.

CHAS. P. STONE, Brigadier-General.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.


OCTOBER 15, 1861.– Skirmish on Little River Turnpike, Virginia.

Report of Lieut. Col. Isaac M. Tucker, Second New Jersey Volunteers.

CAMP SEMINARY, NEW JERSEY BRIGADE, Wednesday, October 16, 1861.

SIR: I reported at orderly hours yesterday, at your headquarters, as brigade officer of the day, and immediately thereafter proceeded to visit the pickets, stationed as follows:


A few moments previous to my visit to Company A, First Regiment, stationed at the negro house on the Little River turnpike, about 11 a.m., a rebel dragoon had been discovered on the turnpike talking with a workman in Minor’s corn field, about a half mile beyond our picket Station. Upon receiving this information I took the picket and went through the corn-field. Two grown white boys and one negro man were at work in the field, one of whom admitted to me that the dragoon had inquired of him concerning our pickets, pretending, however, that he gave them no information. I thought proper to arrest them all, and accordingly sent them in to headquarters.

About 5 p.m. 6 men from this station were on the turnpike about a quarter of a mile beyond the station, when a detachment of about 20 rebel cavalry surprised and fired on them. They promptly returned the fire, retreating as best they could towards the station, where the men had been extended by Lieutenant Tillon across the road. Several shots were exchanged during the retreat, the rebels pursuing our picket until nearly within musket range of the skirmishers at the station, when they turned and passed rapidly up the turnpike. Private Jordan Silvers Company A, First Regiment, was killed in the affair, but not until with a deliberate aim he had killed a rebel officer. Private James Donnelly and Alphonso Nichols, of the same company, are missing. Lieutenant Tillon reports to me that 4 or 5 of the rebels were seen to fall from their horses, which statement was confirmed by all the men.

A scout of 10 men sent out by Captain Young from Company F, Second Regiment, was returning when the firing was heard, but did not reach the ground in time to assist our men. They found a dead horse belonging to the rebels, a sword considerably marked with blood, a new Springfield rifled musket, and a blanket, and brought in the sword, musket, and blanket. They also brought in the dead body of Private Silvers. This party went out as far as the tavern, and were there when the rebels to the number of about 100 were this side of them. The proprietor of the tavern endeavored to get them in his house by strong importunity, evidently intending to detain them for capture, but to no purpose.

During the night I made the grand rounds, and found everything quiet and the pickets unusually vigilant.

Respectfully submitted.

I. M. TUCKER, Lieut. Col. Second Reg’t N. J. Vols., Brigade Officer of the Day.

Brigadier-General KEARNY, Comdg. New Jersey Brigade.




In forwarding this report I have to mention the prompt conduct of my aide, Captain Wilson, who, hurrying to the spot, took the guards near by and swept the ground of combat.

P. KEARNY, Brigadier-General, Commanding.


OCTOBER 16, 1861.– Skirmish at Bolivar Heights, near Harper’s Ferry, W. Va.


No. 1.–Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, U. S. Army.
No. 2.–Col. John W. Geary, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry.
No. 3.–Maj. J. P. Gould, Thirteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
No. 4.–Capt. Henry Bertram, Third Wisconsin Infantry.
No. 5.–Capt. George J. Whitman, Third Wisconsin Infantry.
No. 6.–Lieut. Moses O’Brien, Third Wisconsin Infantry.
No. 7.–Lieut. Col. Turner Ashby, C. S. Army.

No. 1.

Report of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, U. S. Army.


SIR: I have the honor to forward for the information of the commanding-general a report in detail, received last evening from Colonel Geary, of the skirmish at Harper’s Ferry on the 16th instant. The repulse of the rebel forces was complete, and the work for which our troops occupied the town was successfully carried out.

I have the honor to be, with respect, your obedient servant,

N. P. BANKS, Major-General, Commanding Division.

Brigadier-General MARCY, Chief of Staff, &c.


No. 2.

Report of Col. John W. Geary, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry.

HDQRS. TWENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT PA. VOLS., Camp Tyndale, Point of Rocks, Md., October 18, 1861.

SIR: On the 8th instant Maj. J. P. Gould, of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, acting under orders of Major-General Banks, crossed the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry to seize a quantity of wheat held by the rebels at that point. Three companies of the Third Wisconsin Volunteers, and a section of the Rhode Island battery, under Captain Tompkins, were ordered to report to Major Gould, for the purpose of assisting in and covering the necessary movements of the operation.


On the 10th instant the major called on me to aid him with men and cannon, but as the necessity for them seemed to have vanished, the order was countermanded. Again, on Sunday, the 13th, I received reliable information that the rebel forces were concentrating in the direction of Harper’s Ferry, and I also learned from Major Gould that he required assistance. In the evening, accompanied by Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, and Colonel Tompkins, of the Rhode Island Artillery, I went to Sandy Hook, with two companies of my regiment and one piece of cannon. On Monday I entered into Virginia, and on that day and the following one aided in the removal of the wheat, and held in check the gathering forces of the enemy.

The troops under my command were four companies (A, D, F, and G) of the Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, three companies (C, I, and K) of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, and three companies of the Third Wisconsin Regiment, numbering in all 600 men, and two pieces of cannon, under command of Captain Tompkins, of the Rhode Island Battery, and two pieces of the Ninth New York Battery, under Lieutenant Martin. About 100 men of the Massachusetts regiment were left on the north side of the Potomac River, and the two pieces of the Rhode Island Battery were placed on the Maryland Heights, one of the New York guns on the railroad opposite Harper’s Ferry, and the other to command time approach from Pleasant Valley, in Virginia, where three companies of rebel cavalry were stationed. The command of all the troops thus left I confided to Major Gould.

The object for which the river had been crossed having been accomplished, on Tuesday night I had determined to recross the river on Wednesday and permit the troops to return to their various regiments; but about 7 o’clock on the morning of the 16th my pickets stationed on the heights above Bolivar, extending from the Potomac to the Shenandoah River, about 2 1/2 miles west of Harper’s Ferry, were driven into the town of Bolivar by the enemy, who approached from the west in three columns, consisting of infantry and cavalry, supported by artillery.

I was upon the ground in a few minutes, and rallied my pickets upon the main body of our troops in Bolivar. In a short time the action became general. The advanced guard of the rebels, consisting of several hundred cavalry, charged gallantly towards the upper part of the town, and their artillery and infantry soon took position upon the heights from which my pickets had been driven. The enemy’s three pieces of artillery were stationed on and near the Charlestown road where it crosses Bolivar Heights. They had one 32-pounder columbiad, one steel rifled 13-pounder, and one brass 6-pounder, all of which were served upon the troops of my command with great activity, the large gun throwing alternately solid shot, shell, and grape, and the others principally fuse shell.

While these demonstrations were being made in front a large body of men made their appearance upon Loudoun Heights, with four pieces of cannon and sharpshooters stationed at the most eligible points of the mountain, to bombard our troops, and greatly annoy us in the use of the ferry on the Potomac. The commencement of the firing upon our front and left was almost simultaneous.

In order to prevent the enemy from crossing the Shenandoah, I detached a company of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment, under command of Captain Shriber, for the defense of the fords on that river. He took position near the old rifle works, and during the action rendered good service there. There then remained under my immediate {p.241} command about 450 men. With these the fierce charge of the enemy’s cavalry was soon checked and turned back. A second and a third charge was made by them, increasing in impetuosity with each repetition, during which they were supported, in addition to the artillery, by long lines of infantry stationed on Bolivar Heights, who kept up a continuous firing. They were repulsed each time with effect. Under this concentrated fire our troops held their position until 11 o’clock, when Lieutenant Martin, by my order, joined me with one rifled cannon, which had been placed to cover the ferry, he having crossed the river with it under a galling fire of riflemen from Loudoun Heights.

I then pushed forward my right flank, consisting of two companies (A and G) of the Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. They succeeded in turning the enemy’s left near the Potomac, and gained a portion of the heights. At the same time Lieutenant Martin opened a well-directed fire upon the enemy’s cannon in our front, and Captain Tompkins succeeded in silencing some of the enemy’s guns on Loudoun Heights. These services, simultaneously rendered, were of great importance, and the turning of the enemy’s flank being the key to the success of the action, I instantly ordered a general forward movement, which terminated in a charge, and we were soon in possession of the heights from river to river. There I halted the troops, and from that position they drove the fugitives with a well-directed aim of cannon and small-arms across the valley in the direction of Halltown. If any cavalry had been attached to my command the enemy could have been cut to pieces, as they did not cease their flight until they reached Charlestown, a distance of 6 miles.

Immediately after the capture of the heights Major Tyndale arrived with a re-enforcement of five companies of my regiment from Point of Rocks, two of which he ordered to report to Major Gould at Sandy Hook, and soon joined me with the others on the field. The standard of the Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers-the flag of the Union-was then unfurled on the soil of Virginia, and planted on an eminence of Bolivar Heights, and under its folds we directed the fire of our artillery against the batteries and forces on Loudoun Heights, and soon succeeded in silencing every gun and driving away every rebel that could be seen.

The victory was complete. The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded is generally conceded to be about 150, which they carried back in wagons and on horses as rapidly as they fell. We took 4 prisoners, among whom is Rev. Nathaniel Green North, chaplain of Colonel Ashby’s command. He is said to have been present at every battle that has occurred in Virginia. The fine 32-pounder columbiad, mounted on an old-fashioned gun-carriage, was captured, together with a quantity of ammunition for it, consisting of ball, shell, and grape shot, for the transportation of which a wagon was used as a caisson. These were immediately transferred to the north side of the Potomac, and the gun is placed in position against its late proprietors. One of their small guns used at Bolivar Heights was disabled, having one of the wheels shot from the gun carriage by a well-directed shot from Lieutenant Martin. They succeeded in dragging it from the field.

Our loss is 4 killed, 7 wounded, and 2 taken prisoners, a list of whom is hereto attached.* The greater part of the loss occurred in the Wisconsin companies, who gallantly sustained the position of our left flank throughout the contest. One of the soldiers taken by the enemy {p.242} was Private Edgar Ross, of Company C, Third Wisconsin Regiment, who was wounded in the action. The other, Corporal Beniah Pratt, of Company A, Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was accidentally taken by a few of the enemy, whom he mistook for Massachusetts men, their uniform corresponding in all respects to that of the latter. The four men who were killed were afterwards charged upon by the cavalry and stabbed through the body, stripped of all their clothing, not excepting their shoes and stockings, and left in perfect nudity. One was laid in the form of a crucifixion, with his hands spread out, and cut through the palms with a dull knife. This inhuman treatment incensed my troops exceedingly, and I fear its consequences may be shown in retaliatory acts hereafter.

I visited the iron foundery at Shenandoah City, and ascertained that it was used by the rebels for casting shot and shell of all kinds. I ordered it to be burned, which was done the same night.

The acts of individual gallantry are so numerous in the whole command that it would be impossible to give each an appropriate mention, but I do not hesitate to say that every corps behaved with the coolness and courage of veteran troops.

It affords me pleasure to mention that Hon. Daniel McCook, father of General McCook, as an amateur soldier, gun in hand, volunteered and rendered much service during the engagement. I also mention like service rendered by Benjamin G. Owen, esq., of Saint Louis. Both of these gentlemen were greatly exposed during the action.

I am informed by authority deemed reliable that the enemy’s forces consisted of the following troops, viz: The Thirteenth and Nineteenth Mississippi Regiments, the Eighth Virginia Regiment of Infantry, Colonel Ashby’s regiment of cavalry, and Rogers’ Richmond battery of six pieces and one 32-pounder columbiad, all commanded by General Evans in person.

Bolivar Heights were taken at 1.30 p.m. I directed our troops to rest there until 12 o’clock at night, when we fired a farewell shot into Halltown, and as there was no longer any necessity to remain on that side of the Potomac, our errand having been crowned with the fullest success, I marched my command to the Ferry, and in five hours it was safely landed in Maryland. There being no immediate apprehensions of the enemy there, I ordered the Wisconsin companies to report to Colonel Ruger, their commander, in Frederick, and returned to this place with part of my regiment and the two guns of the New York battery, leaving Captain Tompkins’ guns and one company of my own regiment with Major Gould, to guard against any further outbreak.

A flag of truce was sent to me on the morning of the 17th by Colonel Ashby, commander of the rebel cavalry, with a letter dated at Charlestown, inquiring concerning Rev. Mr. North. He stated that, as Mr. North’s horse had gone home wounded, his family feared he had been killed. The colonel requested that, as he was a non-combatant, he hoped I would release him. The testimony against him from other sources not being quite so satisfactory, I have determined to retain him, and forward him with the others to such destination as the general may designate. I received assurances from the bearer of the flag that Corporal Pratt was well, and that every attention was being given to the wound of Private Edgar Ross, and that he did not consider his case a dangerous one.

On this morning a few of the enemy in citizens’ dress came secretly to Harper’s Ferry, by way of the Shenandoah road, burned Herr’s mill, {p.243} from which a great portion of the wheat had been taken, and immediately retired.

The foregoing is a correct official statement of the engagement at Bolivar Heights October 16, 1861.

JNO. W. GEARY, Colonel Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Capt. R. MORRIS COPELAND, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

* Nominal list omitted.


No. 3.

Report of Maj. J. P. Gould, Thirteenth Massachusetts Infantry.

SIR: At your request I write you what I saw and heard on Wednesday, October 16 [1861], the day of the Bolivar skirmish. On the night previous-a delightful moonlight night-I went out on our line of picket guards, and did not return to the mill till 12 o’clock, when I bunked down in the counting-room and remained till 6 in the morning, when I arose, examined the remaining grain of the mill, the quarters of Company I, Thirteenth Massachusetts, near the mill; quarters of Companies K and C, near the ferry. I then went upon Camp Hill, and visited all the public buildings where the Wisconsin and the Pennsylvania troops were quartered, and observed all things quiet, and was informed by the officer of the day that all had been quiet during the night. Captain Bertram had served as officer of the day.

I then came across the river to the Maryland side to supervise the further progress of the boating of the wheat and laying the large cable across, for greater conveniences. Whilst taking breakfast at my quarters I heard a cannonading, and immediately sent an agent to learn of it; the firing was being done by our troops. I was soon informed that the enemy were advancing. I sent a telegram to the Point of Rocks to hold all cars in readiness to take troops here. I then repaired to the locks, and gave orders in regard to the boating, laying the cable, and relative to firing the cannon, if opportunity offered. By order of the colonel, sent for Captain Meyer’s company, and passed over the other side to supervise with regard to arrangements then necessary at the landing. I then received the order from the colonel to order up Major Tyndale and his force. I returned and gave this order by telegraph. At this time, learning that the cavalry were advancing from the woods, I ordered Captain Tompkins’ battery to fire upon then Again I passed over to Virginia, and passed most up Camp Hill, when I received an order by the colonel to send over two horses and more ammunition. This order I returned to execute. While effecting it Major Tyndale came up with his force. I took the liberty, as I said to him, to order over the river two-thirds of his force. He asked what the exact orders of the colonel were, for he wished to be governed by the colonel’s orders strictly, but afterwards the colonel sent for this part of the force. Whilst this force and the ammunition were passing the river the rebels fired upon them from the Loudoun heights by rifle shots. I ordered one of our iron guns to fire upon them with canister; two shots silenced them. I ordered one iron gun to play upon the guns on Loudoun Heights, from which they were throwing shells on to and over the mill, with slugs, and I learn that it seemed to have some good effect. A large body of cavalry was seen in Loudoun, {p.244} opposite Sandy Hook. I ordered down half of a company of the Pennsylvania men, and the cavalry dispersed. The shells were thrown regularly from Loudoun Heights, till their cessation, over the mill and Hall’s Rifle Works, where were posted Company I and part of Company K of the Thirteenth Regiment.

At past 2 o’clock, after the firing from Loudoun Heights had ceased, the colonel ordered over the New York battery. This order I received while going up Camp Hill to go on to field at Bolivar. The Rhode Island Battery continued to fire until I learned that his shell were falling short of the enemy and among our own men, when I ordered a close.

This comprises what I actually saw at a distance-the retreat and advance of our right. It seemed to be a premeditated attack. Indeed, I learn since that it was much of a concerted affair. The names of the killed and wounded I have been unable to obtain.

J. P. GOULD, Major.

Earlier I should have sent this statement; but, besides being quite unwell, there was much necessary and pressing business connected with the closing up of this adventure, every part of which needed my personal attention. But, from the accounts I see in the papers, I infer that there is no Major Gould at this post, and, if here, he is only an intruder; nor had he anything to do with getting the wheat. Indeed, his name does not occur in a long whole-column article of to-day’s Baltimore paper. Let Cæsar have his own.

Most obediently,




No. 4.

Report of Capt. Henry Bertram, Third Wisconsin Infantry.

FREDERICK CITY, MD., October 18, 1861.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that on the 16th instant, while Company A, Third Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, under my command, was in quarters at Harper’s Ferry, cannonading was heard early in the morning in the direction of Halltown; and soon after our pickets were driven in by the advancing enemy. I formed company immediately, and moved out toward Bolivar; was there met by Colonel Geary, who ordered me to protect the left flank and road on the Shenandoah.

In obedience to this, I deployed company as skirmishers, left resting on the Shenandoah, the enemy mean time throwing shells upon us from Loudoun Heights. Having but limited range of observation, I ascended the hill under which my men were covered, and, reconnoitering, saw a column of the enemy’s infantry, with Confederate colors flying, marching down the road to Bolivar, followed by a corps of artillerymen with a heavy piece of artillery. On bringing forward my left flank I sent in a galling fire, just as the enemy had planted their cannon, covered by a large brick house from the fire of our battery on the Maryland Heights. After sustaining our fire for some fifteen minutes the enemy retreated, taking with them their cannon. I followed in pursuit, a heavy ground and deep gully being between me and the enemy. On coming to the road, I was joined by Lieutenant O’Brien with Company C, Third Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, and moved on together under a heavy fire from our right and front, and took possession of the brick house, one {p.245} company of the Thirteenth Massachusetts being in our rear. After half an hour, the house not affording a favorable position to fire with much effect upon the enemy, we advanced upon the road toward the enemy, who had retreated to a ridge covered with timber; saw the enemy’s cannon in the road; charged upon it with parts of Companies A and C (about 40 men in all). As we commenced, the enemy attempted to haul off their gun, but in their hasty attempts broke the axle-tree. As we approached the gun we saw one of the men spiking it and the others left it and sought cover, when a tremendous fire upon us from a masked breastwork compelled us to seek cover. We sustained and answered the fire for some fifteen minutes, saw our men falling, and were obliged to retreat, closely pursued by the enemy’s cavalry. We rallied, after falling back some 50 rods, and fired upon the enemy’s cavalry, driving them back and covering the retreat of our wounded and those who were aiding them off the field; then slowly retreated to the main body.

Company H, Third Regiment Wisconsin, having joined us, we formed a complete line of skirmishers from Bolivar main street to the Shenandoah, and awaited the arrival of artillery. At 1 o’clock p.m., the artillery having arrived, we moved the line slowly forward, by command of Colonel Geary, firing as we advanced, the enemy slowly falling back. On our arrival at the outskirts of Bolivar we advanced rapidly, the enemy having retreated behind the hill; and passing in our advance the gun which had been disabled, we established our line on Bolivar Heights, the enemy having retreated to a belt of wood about three-quarters of a mile away in the direction of Halltown. Captured the chaplain of one of the enemy’s regiments, and sent him, along with the captured gun, to the ferry, by order of Colonel Geary.

In the charge upon the gun the following-named men of my command were killed and wounded, which was the only loss suffered by us in the action.*

I take this occasion to make favorable mention of the fearless and judicious conduct of Lieut. Ed. E. Bryant, of Company A, Third Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, in the action.

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

HENRY BERTRAM, Captain, Commanding Company A, Third Reg’t Wis. Vols. Col.


* List shows 2 killed and 3 wounded.


No. 5.

Report of Capt. George J. Whitman, Third Wisconsin Infantry.

I have the honor of making the following report to Colonel Geary, commanding at Harper’s Ferry October 16, 1861:

On the morning of October 9, 1861, at 4 o’clock, Company H, with Companies A and C, of the Third Wisconsin Volunteers, left camp at Frederick City, and marched to the Junction, and took the cars for Sandy Hook; arrived there at 8 o’clock a.m.; crossed the river to Harper’s Ferry, and were quartered in Government buildings. On the morning of the 10th had a slight skirmish with a company of cavalry. The company was employed in moving wheat across the river and doing picket duty.


October 15, 30 men were detailed to do duty at the mill, and 23, under my command, detailed to act as a reserve, and stationed near the outposts on the Charlestown road. On the morning of October 16, being officer of the day, went to headquarters, leaving First Sergeant J. T. Marvin in command. At 7.30 o’clock the pickets were fired upon by the enemy advancing on the Charlestown road. The reserve went to their support, and joining a company of the Pennsylvania Twenty-eighth, (Captain Copeland), [F], engaged the enemy’s cavalry, firing and falling back through the timber. During this time the enemy were throwing shell from the hill beyond, which fell in their midst, and their infantry, advancing up the road, cut them off from their camp, and were obliged to leave their overcoats and blankets, which fell into the hands of the enemy. Advancing up through Bolivar with the rest of the company (Wisconsin), joined by the reserve, deploying to the right and advancing up the hill, intending to flank under the protection of one battery on the other side of the river, but were ordered back to the village by Colonel Geary and then to fall back across the ravine. Soon after were ordered to take position on the Shenandoah, to cut off the enemy’s advance on our left, under continual fire from the enemy’s battery on Loudoun Heights until it was silenced by the battery on Maryland Heights. Remained there until the arrival of the New York Ninth Artillery, when we were ordered to join the line, and advanced to the ridge formerly occupied by our pickets, the enemy retreating over the ridge beyond; lay on our arms until 11 o’clock, when we were ordered back to and across the river. Marched to Sandy Hook, and remained, waiting for a train to take us to Frederick, until 5.30 p.m.; took the train, and arrived at Frederick at 8 o’clock p.m. October 17, 1861.

Very respectfully,

GEO. J. WHITMAN, Captain Company H Third Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers.



No. 6.

Report of Lieut. Moses O’Brien, Third Wisconsin Infantry.

OCTOBER 18, 1861.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that on the 16th instant the company under my command-Company C, Third Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers-was quartered in town at Harper’s Ferry, and at about 7 o’clock a.m. a cannonading was heard, appearing to emanate beyond the heights known as the Bolivar Heights. I forthwith ordered the company to prepare for action, and [as] soon as in ranks, I moved out upon the road in the direction of the firing. Meeting Colonel Geary, was ordered by him to protect the left flank to the right and rearward of Captain Bertram’s Company (A), Third Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, my right on the Halltown turnpike; company into skirmish line. Then, on reconnoitering, I observed a column of infantry and also a squadron of cavalry advancing toward Bolivar from the Shenandoah road, and also another column of infantry and cavalry and a heavy piece of artillery. The enemy’s right was bearing down towards Captain Bertram. I then advanced at double-quick to his assistance. At this time the enemy commenced shelling us from a battery on Loudoun Heights. The enemy gained the outskirts of the town of Bolivar and Planted their gun behind a large brick house, well covered from our batteries, and supported by a large force of infantry. I opened fire {p.247} upon them just as they began [to] retreat from the house under a heavy fire from Captain Bertram; then advanced, and my line connected with Captain Bertram, as we gained possession of the brick house. The enemy opened a heavy cross-fire upon us as we advanced upon the house from our right and front, their skirmishers being deployed along and behind a ridge northward of Bolivar. Our musketry not having effect upon the enemy from the cover of the brick house, we deployed again to the left, and advanced along the turnpike toward the enemy. Advancing, observed their gun planted ahead of us in the road and watched by artillerists; charged upon it, in concert with Captain Bertram, which the enemy perceiving, endeavored in haste to haul off their gun. In so doing the axle-tree was broken, and they were forced to leave after spiking.

As we drew near the gun, the enemy being strongly intrenched to our right upon the ridge, opened upon us a terrible fire of musketry and rifle, under which we were forced to seek shelter of trees and hillocks and to lie upon our faces. Not being supported, and the right flank not closing in to dislodge [the] enemy, we fell back out of the fire. As we commenced retreat, the enemy’s cavalry dashed upon us, almost surrounding a portion of our small force. 1 saw their danger, and ordered [the] foremost in retreat to rally to repel cavalry and cover [the] flight of our men. They did so gallantly, and poured a volley into the cavalry that threw into confusion and drove them from the field, several saddles empty. We then retreated into Bolivar upon main body, and held our ground under cannonade from enemy from Loudoun Heights and from high ridge beyond the town. We waited the arrival of artillery, which came to our assistance. We then advanced in skirmish line toward enemy by Colonel Geary’s command. The enemy fled back under the fire of our artillery, and we advanced rapidly upon their position, they falling behind the ridge. In our advance we passed-the gun the enemy could not remove, and occupied the position on the ridge. The enemy fell back upon Halltown, and were out of sight.

In our advance upon the brick house, Private Steward E. Mosher, Company C, was killed; and in the charge upon the gun, Private Henry Raymond, Company C, was killed, and Corporal George Gray and Corporal William H. Foster, of Company C, were each wounded in the leg, and Private Edgar Ross, of Company C, was wounded and taken prisoner, and Private Thomas Hader, Company C, slightly wounded in the leg, which comprise the whole loss of my command.

I was the only commissioned officer in the company. My men behaved gallantly, evincing great bravery and coolness under galling fire.

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

MOSES O’BRIEN, First Lieutenant of Company C, Third Wisconsin Volunteers.

Col. JOHN W. GEARY, &c.


No. 7.

Report of Lieut. Col. Turner Ashby, C. S. Army.

CAMP EVANS, NEAR HALLTOWN, VA., October 17, 1861.

MY DEAR SIR: I herewith submit the result of an engagement had with the enemy on yesterday (the 16th) at Bolivar Hill. The enemy occupying that position have for several days been committing depredations in the vicinity of their camp. Having at my disposal only 300 militia, armed with flint-lock muskets, and two companies of cavalry {p.248} (Captains Turner’s and Mason’s) of Colonel McDonald’s regiment, I wrote to General Evans to co-operate with me, taking position upon Loudoun Heights, and thereby prevent re-enforcements from below, and at the same time to drive them out of the Ferry, where they were under cover in the buildings.

On the evening of the 15th I was re-enforced by two companies of Colonel McDonald’s regiment (Captain Wingfield’s), fully armed with Minie rifles, and mounted; Captain Miller’s, about 30 men mounted, the balance on foot, armed-with flint-lock guns. I had one rifled 4-pounder gun, one 24-pounder gun badly mounted, which broke an axle in Bolivar, and I had to spike it. My force upon the morning of the attack consisted of 300 militia, part of two regiments commanded by Colonel Albert, of Shenandoah, and Major Finter, of Page. I had 180 of Colonel McDonald’s cavalry (Captain Henderson’s men), under command of Lieutenant Glynn; Captain Baylor’s mounted militia; Captain Hess, about 25 each. The rifled gun was under command of Captain Avirett, the 24-pounder under Captain Comfield.

I made the attack in three divisions, and drove the enemy from their breastworks without loss of a man, and took position upon the hill, driving the enemy as far as Lower Bolivar. There the large gun broke down, and this materially affected the result. The detachment from the large gun was transferred to the rifled piece, and Captain Avirett was sent to Loudoun Heights with message to Colonel Griffin.

The enemy now formed and charged with shouts and yells, which the militia met like veterans. At this moment I ordered a charge of cavalry, which was handsomely done, Captain Turner’s in the lead. In this charge 5 of the enemy were killed. After holding this position for four hours the enemy were re-enforced by infantry and artillery, and we fell back in order to the position which their pickets occupied in the morning. The position which Colonel Griffin held upon Loudoun was such as to be of very little assistance to us, not being so elevated as to prevent them from controlling the crossing.

My main force is now at Camp Evans, while I hold all the intermediate ground. The enemy left the Ferry last night, and are encamped upon the first plateau on Maryland Heights.

My loss is 1 killed and 9 wounded. Report from the Ferry states the loss of the enemy at 25 killed and a number wounded. We have 2 Yankee prisoners and 8 Union men co-operating with them. We took a large number of blankets, overcoats, and about one dozen guns.

I cannot compliment my officers and men too highly for their gallant bearing during the whole fight, considering the bad arms with which they were supplied and their inexperience. I cannot impress too forcibly the necessity of perfect organization of my artillery and the forwarding at a very early day of the other guns promised. These guns are drawn by horses obtained for the occasion, and are worked by volunteers. We are in want of cavalry arms and long-range guns, and would be glad to have an arrangement made to mount my men.

I herewith submit Surgeon West’s report,* and cannot compliment him too highly, and respectfully submit his name as one worthy of an appointment. He is temporarily employed by me as a surgeon.

Casualties: Wounded, 13.

Your obedient servant,

TURNER ASHBY, Lieutenant-Colonel, C. S. Army, Comdg. in Jefferson County.

Hon. Mr. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.

* Not found.


P. S.-I am without ammunition for rifled cannon (4-pounder rifled to Parrott), also without friction primers. I am without a regular quartermaster, and consequently have my movements greatly embarrassed. If I am to continue with this command I would be glad to have the privilege to recommend for appointment, so that I can organize according to what I believe most efficient condition.


OCTOBER 18, 1861.– Reconnaissance towards Occoquan River, Virginia.

Report of Brig. Gen. Israel B. Richardson, U. S. Army.


SIR: In obedience to your instructions, I left this camp yesterday at 3.30 p.m. to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Occoquan, my force consisting of two regiments of infantry, one half battery of artillery, and one company of cavalry. The command proceeded as far as Accotink Creek, taking the Telegraph road. On reaching this stream I came to a halt, and sent half a company of cavalry to Pohick Church, the other half to the Accotink Village, and posted a company of infantry to our right on the road leading up the creek. This company on moving up the road fell in with the enemy’s pickets, who immediately ran into their camp across the creek and gave the alarm. The long roll beat some 20 minutes from three different camps on our right, showing that they were there in some force. After resting the command half an hour I sent to order in both detachments of cavalry, who soon came in, finding no enemy at the village or at the church. The enemy occupy the valley on the right of the road leading from the crossing to the church. From what I could learn, the road from Pohick Church to Occoquan is clear, and but few troops are at the latter place. Having finished the object of the expedition, I moved the command back to camp, where it arrived at 12 o’clock, having marched some 20 miles. I took this opportunity of moving forward our pickets, who now occupy a direct line from Windsor Hill to the mouth of Dogue Creek.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

I. B. RICHARDSON, Brigadier-General.

Brig. Gen. S. P. HEINTZELMAN, U. S. Army.



This reconnaissance shows that the rebels are in force between Long Branch and Accotink Run, above the Telegraph road. If there are any south of this road it is not probable that they are in force. Our pickets now extend from the mouth of Dogue Run to Windsor’s Hill, which is a commanding position and overlooks the valley. Accotink Village was abandoned, as well as Pohick Church, several days ago.

Respectfully forwarded.

S. P. HEINTZELMAN, Brigadier-General Volunteers, Commanding.

The rebels are believed to belong to General Ewell’s brigade.


OCTOBER 19-NOVEMBER 16, 1861.– Operations in the Kanawha and New River Region, West Virginia.


Oct. 19-21, 1861.– Skirmishes on New River.
23, 1861.– Skirmish at Gauley.
Nov. 1-3, 1861.– Skirmishes near Gauley Bridge.
6-15, 1861.– Operations at Townsend’s Ferry, New River.
10-11, 1861.– Skirmishes at Blake’s Farm, Cotton Hill.
12, 1861.– Skirmish on Laurel Creek, Cotton Hill.
14, 1861.– Skirmishes near McCoy’s Mill.


No. 1.–Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army, with dispatches.
No. 2.–Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox, U. S. Army, of skirmishes at Blake’s Farm.
No. 3.–Maj. Samuel W. Crawford, Thirteenth U. S. Infantry, of operations at Townsend’s Ferry.
No. 4.–Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham, U. S. Army, of operations from November 11-16.
No. 5.–Col. Carr B. White, Twelfth Ohio Infantry, of skirmish on Laurel Creek.
No. 6.–Col. William S. Smith, Thirteenth Ohio Infantry, of skirmishes on Laurel Creek and near McCoy’s Mill.
No. 7.–Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, C. S. Army.

No. 1.

Reports of Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army, with dispatches.

CAMP GAULEY, VA., November 11, 1861.

Since last night rebels have fallen back to within 3 miles of Fayette. The river too high to cross our force at the ferry above. Their position regarded as impracticable, but which we are prepared to use. Three men attempting to escape from that side of the river came down to cross to our side. Two crossed, and our concealed guard foolishly sprang out, took them prisoners, alarming the other, on whom they fired, and he ran away. The enemy was discovered breaking his camp about 8 o’clock, taking position within 2 or 3 miles of the ferry crossing. At which General Schenck nevertheless is unwilling to advance. Benham will occupy position on their front and flank to-morrow morning, reconnoiter, and engage them. If they stand, I think General Schenck will cross over in their rear and we will bag them.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General.



CAMP GAULEY, November 15, 1861.

Confirming news of my No. 8* I report that General Benham pursued rebels 15 miles beyond Fayette; overtook a rear guard of infantry and cavalry; skirmished with them, and having no train or provisions to enable him to go farther, desisted from pursuit and is returning to Fayette.

Floyd’s forces reported to have been eight regiments and 700 cavalry. They left considerable camp equipage, ammunition, and knapsacks.


The fortifications at Dickerson’s farm were very respectable and extensive. The line of Floyd’s stockade a mile long; a crémaillère line for infantry 700 yards. Two embrasure batteries to defend passage across Miller’s Ferry and front attack. Our success in concealing real point of attack was perfect. Continued high water alone prevented a perfect success and capture; and fatal want of nerve and inaction caused the second plan to fail, which would have been equally successful, as we learned. They now draw their supplies from a new depot, established at Newbern, east of Wytheville, on railroad. Rumor of re-enforcement to Floyd from General Davis appears tolerably authentic. Effect of this defeat on the whole to be seen. Believe it will be the last attempt to force Gauley Pass. Propose at once to brigade troops and dispose them to hold winter quarters.


Major-General MCCLELLAN.

* Not found.


CAMP GAULEY, November 16, 1861.

Since my No. 9 [next preceding] Fayetteville is occupied by General Schenck. Road to Bowyer’s Ferry reconnoitered. Enemy’s tents left hidden have been burned. Country being examined with a view to its defense, and an advance by pack-mules to Newbern, the new depot of the rebels. Benham’s brigade returned to its camp, 6 miles below the mouth of Gauley. Enemy said to have had 500 wagons running from Raleigh to Newbern. Roads in bad condition. Country above Fayette more open than any on the Philippi road, which you remember. Floyd had engaged Huddleston house, 3 miles from Gauley Bridge, for his winter quarters. It wanted nothing but a vigorous execution of plans in all respects successful to have secured his entire army. I am in the utmost need of regular officers for an aide and for an inspector general in place of Major Slemmer, sick. Also, some ordnance officers at headquarters.

I perceive in the paper a new arrangement of departments, whereby, as I understand it, General Kelley is detached from my command. Any arrangement that will conduce to the public interest will be satisfactory to me, but I respectfully call your attention to the fact that I have to draw all my supplies from Cincinnati. My staff are now left in another department; an anomaly which ought not to exist. I have to use Gallipolis as a hospital station and depot for stores, also in another department. I have no control, therefore, over my sick who go there and no right to order officers there. I am obliged to resort to Marietta and the Muskingum Valley for forage, and have a quartermaster stationed at Marietta, where is a depot for receiving horses worked down in the service. The only ordnance officer I have is at Bellaire, in Ohio. I have also 35 miles of telegraph line, connecting line down this valley by Point Pleasant with Hamden, saving forty cents on every ten words transmitted either east or west. It seems to me Ohio is a much more necessary part of this department than of that of Cumberland. Should you think otherwise, I beg you at least to issue such orders as will secure what I have spoken of as necessary beyond the question of interference. The anomalous position of my staff at Cincinnati has prevented me from having the services of Assistant Adjutant-General McLean, though much needed. While though apparently under my command he has been receiving orders and discharging duties directed by another general {p.252} officer. What is much more important to public service is, I want for the efficient use of the troops here two or three efficient brigadiers. It will also be most desirable to replace several of the regiments here broken down by sickness, allowing them to recruit health and numbers.

Floyd’s forces, though beaten and demoralized, are not destroyed, and must be watched. The roads, which become very bad by usage, dry up and become good very quickly, making the county open for enterprises during the winter. Have just returned from Fayette. Will write you in the morning.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 25, 1861.

SIR: My current series of dispatches has informed the commanding general of the principal military events in this department, including those which have occurred on this line since our return from Sewell; but to give the whole connectedly and in detail I now respectfully submit a report, consisting of abstract, details, map, and appendix :*


The first thing after the battle of Carnifix was to unite the forces on the Lewisburg road and follow it up as far as practicable. This was done; the enemy’s intrenched position beyond Big Sewell reconnoitered, his force ascertained, and on the 5th of October the troops fell back towards Gauley Bridge, to be near their clothing and supplies. The next thing was to clothe, equip, and pay the troops. This was progressing vigorously when Floyd, with eight regiments, 700 cavalry, and several pieces of artillery, variously stated from two to eight, appeared in the angle west of New River, on the Fayette road, while it was stated, on information entitled to great weight, that Lee was preparing to combine an attack on our front, while Floyd was to cut off our communications down the Kanawha.

It now became necessary to guard against Lee, secure our communications, dislodge, and, if possible, cut off Floyd’s forces. The operations for this purpose took up the time from the 1st of November to the 15th of November. One of the plans for capturing Floyd failed on account of the high water, and the other, while it was successful in dislodging the rebels and driving them from this part of the country, failed to capture and destroy their force for want of vigorous and energetic execution of plans confided to General Benham.

The special history of these movements is given in the subjoined details, illustrated by the map and appendix.


After the battle of Carnifix the troops brought down by the Summersville line passed over on to the Lewisburg road, uniting with the Kanawha Brigade. The head of this column advanced to the top of Big Sewell, 34 miles from Gauley Bridge, on the 28th of September.


Two and a half regiments, under Generals Schenck and Benham, came as far as the foot of Sewell to support the advance, which acted as a corps of observation. After reconnoitering the enemy’s fortified position from 2 to 4 miles in front on top of Sewell, on Lewisburg road, supported by fortifications at Meadow Bluff, 15 miles this side of Lewisburg, ascertaining his strength to be from twelve to fourteen thousand, and finding that the country beyond was measurably stripped of forage and subsistence, our force (5,200) retired towards Gauley Bridge gradually, and encamped at the positions shown on the accompanying map; Schenck’s Brigade being 10 miles from Gauley Bridge, McCook’s 8 miles, Benham’s 6 miles, while General Cox was posted, one regiment at Tompkins’ farm and remainder at Gauley Bridge, with detachments for guarding steamboat landing below.

Our object in taking this position, as reported, was to be near enough to water transportation to enable our transportation to bring forward not only forage and subsistence, but the clothing of the troops. Orders were also immediately dispatched to have the paymasters come and pay them, none having received any since they entered the service. The clothing of all, with the exception of the cavalry, was completed by the 1st of November. The paying went on much more slowly, in consequence of the difficulties in getting the rolls and the inexperience of the paymasters, and is not yet completed.

No military movements were or could be undertaken that would interfere with these primary objects. The enemy’s motions at Meadow Bluff were watched. The militia, which all summer long had occupied the region west of the New River and south of the Loop Creek Hills, (see map and accompanying memoir, marked A),** showed themselves opposite Miller’s Ferry, near McCook’s brigade, about the 18th of October, when they were, as we learned, to be assembled at Fayette for the purpose of being paid off, but as we then supposed and since ascertained with the real object of rallying them if possible. Colonel McCook was therefore directed to pass over with a sufficient force to capture or disperse them, and occupy or treat the country as circumstances might indicate to him best. He passed over, had a slight skirmish with a small militia force, occupied Fayette, reconnoitered the roads in the vicinity, satisfied himself that there was no force except the bushwhacking militia, secession residents of the country, and retired over Miller’s Ferry without leaving a guard on the other side. On reporting the result of his expedition the commanding general expressed a regret that he did not leave a company to cover Miller’s Ferry on the other side. Esteeming it of little consequence, he was so dilatory, that when he attempted it he found the cliffs occupied by a force of sharpshooters, which rendered crossing dangerous to a small force, and so reported to me. This was about the 25th of October.

Meanwhile the paying and clothing of the troops was going on, and it was deemed best to complete that before occupying the Fayetteville side of New River in force. It was, moreover, judged best to allow whatever force the rebels could gather to assemble and gain some confidence before attempting anything against them which would be something more than a chase. About the 27th of October information reached me that Floyd was moving from Raleigh down to cut off my communications, and these rumors, coupled with a knowledge of the country west of the Kanawha and below us, soon rendered it certain that whatever the rebel force was, it would come in by Fayetteville. It {p.254} was therefore determined to draw them in and capture them. This would not interfere in the least with having our troops clothed and paid.

Camps and smoke began to appear opposite Miller’s Ferry and signs of considerable force. The New River gorge and the crests of the adjacent hills protected their encampment and movements from observation, but we learned that Floyd had about 4,000 men; at the same time that orders had been given at Meadow Bluff to Loring and Tompkins to make a secret move, and Lee had said to a person who told him I had intended to occupy Kanawha valley, very significantly, “if he can.” A flag of truce also came from Meadow Bluff the head quarters of Lee, signed by Col. J. Lucius Davis, showing that Lee was absent.

These and other circumstances rendered it probable that the enemy was about to attempt to dislodge us from this position, and as a combined movement on both sides of the river above appeared most likely to succeed, it became necessary to provide for that contingency.

On the 29th of October the rebels chased our outposts on the Fayette road down near the mouth of Great Falls Creek, and on the 1st of November appeared on the heights of Cotton Hill, opposite Gauley Bridge, with a 6-pounder rifled piece and with another opposite Montgomery’s Ferry (see-map), and opened fire with shot and shell. We discontinued running the ferry during the day, for fear it might be struck. General Cox was directed to put pieces in position which replied to the fire. The trains were passed during the night, to avoid exposure.

The plan of operations was now decided as follows: McCook opposite Miller’s Ferry, to remain for the purpose of threatening a passage there, while his force would serve to hold in check anything that Lee would bring on the Lewisburg road; Schenck to prepare for and effect a crossing above at Bowyer’s Ferry or some point this side; Benham encamped below McCook, whose camp could be moved without exciting suspicion to pass down by night to Gauley, and thence to a point nearly opposite the mouth of Loop Creek, where he was to cross over, be re-enforced, and reconnoiter the roads which by way of Loop Creek would lead to the flanks and rear of the enemy’s position. A contingency was that if a scout then out and to return on the night he moved down should report the enemy’s force and access thereto favorable, Benham’s brigade, with General Cox’s force, might cross at the falls. Result of scout was unfavorable to this. General Benham’s force passed below crossed the river, and occupied, as directed, the mouth of Loop Creek and the road 6 or 7 miles up beyond Taylor’s.


Reconnaissances showed but three accessible points of crossing above Miller’s Ferry, viz: Bowyer’s Ferry, 17 miles up, 15 miles from Sewell, guarded by a force of infantry, and provided with but one boat-an old canoe; crossing called Townsend’s Ferry, 5 1/2 miles up, apparently unknown and unthought of; Claypoole’s Hole, between that and Miller’s Ferry, coming out near the enemy’s camp.

November 6, I detached Major Crawford, as acting aide, to report to General Schenck and examine Townsend’s Ferry. He found the accesses exceedingly difficult, but evidently unwatched. Determined the possibility of constructing, by means of wagon-beds and canvas, and by bull-boats and some skiffs, the apparatus for crossing the troops. This apparatus was completed on the 9th instant. (See Crawford’s report) [No. 3]. Meanwhile the river rose so as to be impassable, and its condition {p.255} was watched with solicitude from hour to hour. General Schenck, whose judgment in the matter I relied upon, being unwilling to abandon the plan of crossing his force in the enemy’s rear, no movement was made in front that would preclude this, which promised, if effected, the most complete success.

On the 10th I dispatched to General Schenck as follows:

Benham concealed near mouth of Loop Creek with 3,000 men, posting himself on all the roadways. If you can cross above, he will attack them in front and left flank, while you will take the rear. If you cannot cross, you will come down and attack by front, while Benham will cut off their retreat.


Benham’s movements from the 3d to the 10th were regulated as far as they could be by a series of twenty-three telegraphic dispatches and one written, all appended hereto, the general tenor and object of which was to inform him that he would be re-enforced by detachments from the Seventh, Thirty-seventh, and Forty-fourth Ohio Regiments; that he was to cross over to Loop Creek, occupy it up as far as Taylor’s, establish himself firmly, make his men comfortable, see that they were well supplied with rations from three to five days ahead, reconnoiter the passes from Loop Creek to the enemy’s position by Cassidy’s Mill, and to his rear by the same, and up Loop Creek by Kincaid’s, Carter’s, and Light’s Mill to the Raleigh road, and to hold himself in readiness to act as soon as it was determined whether we could cross New River above Schenck’s position. On the 6th General Benham crossed with his brigade. In short, the whole tenor of the dispatches from November 5 to November 8, as will be seen by reference to them, was to enforce upon his attention the necessity of knowing the passes from his position to the flank and rear of the enemy, especially the one by Cassidy’s Mill; that, if Schenck could cross to take enemy in rear, his work would be to attack by that route on the flank or by the front and flank, and that, should the river prevent Schenck’s passage, he would be called down and would operate in a combined attack on the front, flank, and rear, or flank and rear; that is, as it might be found more or less practicable to move Schenck’s troops directly by the Fayette road or by the way of Cassidy’s Mill. These points appear in dispatch No. 23, November 9, appended hereto, wherein it is said, among other things:

In that case Schenck will cross 3,000 men, seize Fayette, and advance down the road. You will take them by the Laurel Creek route only or by the Nugent path only, or by both, as may be determined by the nature of the ground, which you will learn from your scouts, and communicate to me your opinion thereon when they come in as soon as practicable.


Schenck at Camp Ewing; means of crossing ready; river too high. McCook at Camp Anderson; enemy in force at Dickerson’s, opposite Miller’s Ferry, firing at the ferry, as for the last twenty days. General Cox, with the Second Kentucky, at Tompkins’ farm; remainder at Gauley. General Benham at mouth of Loop Creek with main body; strong detachment up Loop, in vicinity of Taylor’s and on road towards Cassidy’s Mill. Rebels ceased firing with their cannon at Gauley and Tompkins’ farm and McCook’s camp, which they had tried two or three times to disturb by firing shot and shell across the river.

On that morning General Cox detached Colonel De Villiers with 200 {p.256} men to cross New River at a ferry which he had rigged just above the mouth of Gauley, and Lieutenant-Colonel Enyart, with 200 of the First Kentucky to cross the lower ferry, to reconnoiter and occupy if practicable the Fayette road as far up as possible. Colonel De Villiers crossed, and after a sharp skirmish drove the enemy from the front hills and beyond Blake’s farm. The rebels re-enforced this outpost 200 strong and repelled De Villiers to the margin of the woods near Blake’s farm, where he remained until evening, when six companies of the Second Kentucky passed over and re-enforced him, and during the night drove the enemy entirely from the hills in front of New River and occupied the ridge.

On the morning of the 11th Colonel De Villiers, with the Eleventh Ohio and Second Kentucky troops, by General Cox’s orders, pushed forward and drove the enemy from the heights towards Cotton Hill, where his baggage train was seen moving on the Fayette turnpike from the camp which he had occupied at Huddleston’s, 1 1/2 miles from the river up the Fayette road, supposed to be about two regiments. A party of the First Kentucky followed up the Fayette road at the same time until the main force occupied the position marked T (Exhibit B.)*** Thus, after a vigorous and brilliant skirmish, with intervals, during thirty hours, about 700 men of General Con’s brigade drove the rebels from the front of Cotton Hill and their camp at Huddleston’s, and held the entire ground for near 3 miles between the Fayette road and New River, with a loss of 2 killed, 1 wounded, and 6 missing. One of the missing was afterwards retaken, having lost an arm.

About 9 o’clock on the morning of the 11th, the other troops remaining in position, the enemy was seen to break camp at Laurel Creek and retire to Dickerson’s, where they were observed busily fortifying. As soon as the movement of the enemy’s camp was observed, information thereof was dispatched to Generals Schenck and Benham.

All movements up to this time had been made with a view to dispose our troops to hold in check any attempt that might be made on the Lewisburg road, and to make sure of beating and capturing the rebel force on the Fayette side, either by Schenck crossing above taking them in rear while Benham should attack them in front and flank, the latter always insisted on as preferable, or should Schenck’s crossing fail, to bring his brigade down to aid in the front and flank attack while Benham should take his rear. (See dispatches Nos. 22, 25, 26, to Benham [post], and dispatch of 10th to General Schenck.)****

The occupation of the hills between the Fayette road and New River was a preliminary tightening of the chain, securing to us the debouches for a front attack and feeling the enemy to see if he had force enough to press well down against us. His movement to Dickerson’s alarmed me, lest he should retreat; his commencing to fortify there in some degree reassured me. I therefore, on the 11th, after in forming General Benham of the enemy’s position and our occupancy of Cotton Hill directed him to occupy as soon as practicable Cassidy’s Mill with 1,000 men, and dispose the rest of his force to move, stating to him that I only awaited the information from him as to the practicability of the Cassidy’s Mill route to say whether he was to come in on the north side of Cotton Hill on their front or take them in flank and rear. Failing to furnish the information called for, and for which final orders for the movement of his main body had been deferred, he was informed at 11 {p.257} o’clock at night that General Schenck had by no means abandoned the plan of crossing at Townsend’s Ferry, and directed as soon as practicable to occupy Cotton Hill, which movement began early on the morning of the 12th instant.

His failure to furnish me with the information so often required about the roads by Cassidy’s and other routes to the enemy’s rear, and many other signs of unsteadiness, had impaired my confidence in his management. Nevertheless, after the reiterated dispatches sent him, I indulged the hope that he would fully appreciate his position and the decisive results to be expected from a movement by the enemy’s left flank to his rear on the Fayetteville road.

Here referring to former instructions directing him on his arrival to open immediate communication with his force at Cassidy’s Mill and to know well the route between there and beyond, I informed him that if General Schenck could not cross by the evening of the 12th, he would be ordered down and cross below.

General Benham received these general directions in the afternoon of the 11th. He was informed that Major Leiper would report to him at the mouth of the Fayette road, and explain to him what he knew of the rebels and the position occupied by the troops of General Cox.

About 3 o’clock p.m. of the 12th General Benham’s main force reached the extremity of Cotton Hill, 8 miles from Loop, towards Fayette. About the same time his detachment, which did not march as had been ordered on the previous day, swelled by some mistake from 1,000 to 1,300, reached Cassidy’s Mill.

A slight skirmish ensued between a few advanced companies of General Benham’s brigade and the rebels. The command of General Benham halted and bivouacked on their arms. General Benham reported to me by a courier, stating his position, and complaining of the weakness of his main force compared with the supposed force of the enemy, and asking re-enforcements, that he might attack them, evidently uneasy at his position, and apparently apprehensive that he might be attacked before he could get re-enforcements. Culling his attention to former dispatches and the Cassidy’s Mill route, informing him the enemy was still at Dickerson’s, I directed him again to watch the enemy’s movements closely, saying if he did not move, our success was certain; if he did, which I thought he ought to do, General Benham should intercept him by the rear, and throw his entire force, except 500 men, by the way of Cassidy’s Mill, on the Raleigh pike. The enemy’s intrenchments were but from 2 1/2 to 3 miles from General Benham’s position. By some mistake he had at Cassidy’s Mill 1,300 instead of 1,000 men. This mill was but from 24 to 3 miles from the Fayette road.

General Benham had been instructed ad nauseam to look to that way of cutting off the enemy’s retreat, which began at 9 o’clock on that night. General Benham did not find it out, according to his report, until 4.30 o’clock the next afternoon. That is to say, while the last remnant of the rebel force had left Fayette early in the morning of the 13th, according to General Benham’s report, his boldest scouts were desperately engaged from daylight until late in the afternoon in finding their way over a distance of 24 miles that separated his bivouac from the enemy’s deserted intrenchments. His force at Cassidy’s Mill had a company in Fayetteville at 9 o’clock next morning fully informed of the retreat of the enemy, and, as the captain of that company states, he dispatched messengers back to Cassidy’s Mill and to General Benham immediately; yet General Benham did not learn of the retreat, though {p.258} only 2 1/2 miles off, until 4.30 p.m. of the 13th, and did not reach Fayette until 12 o’clock at night of the 13th, being twenty-seven hours from the time Floyd commenced his movement. So little attention had he paid to the reiterated instructions, all tending to enforce the one idea that the real blow ought to be struck at the enemy’s rear by the Cassidy’s Mill route and that a front attack was only desirable in case General Schenck could cross above or in case the enemy stood fight, and that even in this latter event General Schenck was to attack him in front while he was to attack the flank and rear he ordered the entire force from Cassidy’s Mill, instead of striking across to the Raleigh road, to join him by moving down Laurel Creek and then to Fayette, thus imposing on it a fatiguing march of 7 or 8 miles.

Advised of all this, and knowing the wretched condition of the roads, and taught by experience that orders for carrying three or more days’ rations were never obeyed, I looked upon the game as up and the pursuit of Floyd as not promising much; but, on the suggestion of General Benham that they might have stopped to sleep, dispatched him to use his discretion in the pursuit.

General Schenck had moved down on the 13th, crossed the Kanawha, and bivouacked at Huddleston’s, on the Fayette road, and sent forward messengers to General Benham announcing his position. General Benham pursued and overtook some of the enemy’s rear guard about 9.30 o’clock in the forenoon of the 14th, killed Colonel Croghan, reported at 11.30 o’clock that the enemy was in force, and asked General Schenck to come up, who had made a forced march to reach Fayette after having marched all the preceding day. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon General Benham had reached a point about 12 or 14 miles from Fayetteville without overtaking them. Dispatched General Schenck that the roads were so bad and his men so weary that it was impossible to pursue them farther; that he proposed to bivouac on the ground, and if General Schenck deemed it advisable, and it were possible to come forward, they might drive the enemy through Raleigh. Nevertheless he says that there was a report from one of the lieutenants of Stewart’s cavalry that he had seen a train of wagons coming on the Bowyer’s Ferry road, according with information of a negro at McCoy’s Mill, which indicated that Lee was coming down with a force of 5,000 men to re-enforce Floyd and attack. He therefore concluded that as this was possible, it might be better for him (General Benham) to return, unite with General Schenck, and drive Lee.

General Schenck, knowing that General Benham’s troops were about if not altogether out of provisions, and that none could be brought up in time on the roads, and presuming that Floyd, with twenty-seven hours the start, would not be very easily caught, directed General Benham, after pursuing thus far, to return, which he accordingly did on the 15th instant.


At the close of these details I respectfully submit to the commanding general that, considering the weather and the roads, the operations of this column have been as active as those in any other department. The troops have suffered from the climate severely. They have submitted to many privations with cheerfulness and performed their duties with alacrity. If they have not accomplished all that could have been desired in the annihilation of Floyd’s force, they have practically driven the enemy not only from the Kanawha but from all the country west of Meadow Bluff and north of Raleigh, and the country is now more {p.259} nearly pacified and disposed to return to the Union than they ever have been since the commencement of the war.

It has been with great regret that I have found it necessary to censure a general officer for the failure to capture the rebel forces who were justly ours.

It is a great pleasure to say to the commanding general that I have found General Cox prudent, brave, and soldierly, and I specially commend his prudence and firmness in occupying Cotton Hill, details of which are given in his report in the appendix.

I bear cordial testimony to the courage and promptitude of General Schenck, and only regret that his exposure, when he first came here, has deprived me for the present of his services. It is my duty also highly to commend Major Crawford, not only for the signal ability with which he reconnoitered Townsend’s Ferry and prepared the means of crossing, laboring day and night in the most inclement weather to get everything in readiness. To his exertions mainly the accomplishment of this difficult and arduous task is chiefly due. I have also made special mention of the daring reconnaissance made by Sergeant Haven, of the Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who crossed the river at the ferry, and reconnoitered alone the road the other side, clear into the enemy’s camp at Fayetteville. For the mention of others especially distinguished I refer to the subreports in the appendix; and if I have forborne to signalize the individual members of my staff, it is not because they do not deserve special mention, but because such mention as that has become stereotyped, and everybody expects to see it at the close of a report.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, Commanding.

Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.

* Appendix consists of the subordinate reports following.

** Memoir not found. Map to appear in Atlas.

*** Inclosure to General Con’s report, No. 2.

**** Quoted on p. 255.

[Inclosure No. 1.]


You will immediately prepare to cross the river for an operation either up Paint or Loop Creek. The steps thereto are rest for the men, boats to cross, ammunition in sufficient quantities. Tyler will be ordered to send you 500 picked men, Woods 500, and Siber 500. It will take probably two days to organize this movement. We hope to cross at or near Miller’s Ferry in force, at the same time we make a strong demonstration or attack on their front. Let everything be done to secure supplies; every facility made use of. Advise me of your progress.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, care of General Cox, Gauley.

[Inclosure No. 2.]


Colonel Woods has been ordered to you temporarily for duty. Assign him to command Tenth Regiment. Let Captain Amis and a portion of his men come up to serve the guns. Sent him an order to-day. You will have to get guides below. None here to be got.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.


[Inclosure No. 3.]

NOVEMBER 3, 1861.

Your dispatch received. A boat has been ordered up, but to make sure a large paulin will be sent down to you, with which, spread under a lot of wagon-beds, you will be able to make a large scow. The wagon-beds will have to be lashed crosswise, laid on two poles, and having two poles over them; rope lashing to go between. Telegraph down to Charleston for plenty of bed-cord, in case we should not have plenty here. Woods, Siber, and Tyler must clear the other side of the river and prevent firing on teams immediately.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 4.]


Your dispatch received. Three boats will be sent you this evening. You will find the wagon-body arrangement makes a solid and capacious float of great capacity, and may be rowed across with double oars or sweeps. Have the poles 25 feet long and 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Take 6 wagon-bodies. A single wagon-body and tent-fly doubled under it makes a good boat. Conceal your movements, and clear everything up to Loop Creek.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 5.]

NOVEMBER 4, 1861.

The commanding general expects you to go up Loop Creek in force or else this side, closing the mouth of it. Will likely give final orders to-morrow morning. Push information as far as possible. Will telegraph Major Leiper to see if he can send you scout.

JOSEPH DARR, JR., Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 6.]


Take what bread you need. Will not the hawser of the boat or picket rope answer? You can keep the Victor and the scow. Retain Silver Lake until the Victor comes. It was so intended. Boats are expected up that may bring the rope required. You can move over the river to-morrow with your tents, leaving a company or two on this side for a camp guard. Tyler’s and Gilbert’s men will come up unless something occurs to prevent them, which I do not anticipate. Final orders will be given when both ends are ready.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.


[Inclosure No. 7.]

NOVEMBER 4, 1861.

Can you get ready to move by to-morrow night? If so, McMullin’s battery, or a part of it, will be sent down to-night. What report have you from the scouts sent out by you?

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 8.]


I fear your scouting parties will alarm the enemy; they are so large. However, let them go. We have had scouting party up Loop Creek. The upper end of it is well picketed by the rebels. Have you all your preparations made? Push everything, and let me know how soon you can get ready. I think cavalry would be in your way. For artillery I cannot decide until I hear your report about the road. Presume two mountain howitzers, possibly McMullin’s battery entire, if the rifled artillery comes up this way. It leaves Camp Enyart this morning.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 9.]

NOVEMBER 5 1861.

The general desires to know about the route as to practicability of sending artillery. He thinks the number of rebels reported to be nearer from 4,000 to 6,000. Glad to hear that McMullin can pass. The general desires to know something of road that leads to Laurel Creek to left of Loop. The commanding general wishes to know if you are over the river.

JOSEPH DARR, JR., Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 10.]


It was intended that you should have gone over to-day, and that all would be snug there. Keep the Victor and the scow in the vicinity for service. Final orders will be given you in due time. A sketch map will be sent you, embodying such information as we possess. I wish you to be very careful in your inquiries about the nature of road up Loop. You will find that when you get up to a certain point it forks left over the ridge on the Big Mill Creek, coming in front of their position, right going around and coming into Fayette. You will be able to find guides and get posted by to-morrow. Every other man have coffee in canteens. Some whisky and quinine bitters should be provided if it could be so carried as to be safe. Some nurses must be detailed to go with the surgeons. Don’t fear numbers. I shall not send you without strong co-operation.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.


[Inclosure No. 11.]

NOVEMBER 6, 1861.

I regret you did not cross with your forces yesterday. Do so as soon as practicable. Indications are that we shall make a move in force up that creek; therefore you will establish yourself solidly on that position. Men up the creek must have their tents; your supplies of provisions must be ample, and Paint Creek must be kept well scouted by hired countrymen Offer them liberal pay for good work. Maps and letters by messengers.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 12.]


I do not consider your crossing the river in the rain-storm with your command practicable, but it is desirable to have them over and well and warmly encamped, with every attention to their comfort, as soon as possible. This should be done with all your troops, and with caution and secrecy. At Loop Creek it may require only cautious and careful picketing. You know what the object is, and I leave that to your judgment. The roads should be in such repair that we can send provisions if needed up Loop Creek. Couriers just started with written instructions and map.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 13.]

NOVEMBER 6, 1861.

The commanding general directs me to say, in reply to your dispatch No. 2, that it is now too late to make crossing very practicable to-night. You have instructions as to the object of crossing, and know what the general desires to accomplish. He expects you to use your discretion, and holds you responsible for the results. Here it is distinctly stated that he considers it too late to cross to-night. As to position in Loop Creek, it is expected to be at or near best place, so as to command its mouth.

JOSEPH DARR, JR., Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 14.]


The commanding general has no objections to your remaining on this side to-night. Make sure preparations to communicate with this side. Have a boat for that purpose and other arrangements made with that view. McMullin’s battery goes down to-night.

JOSEPH DARR, JR., Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.


[Inclosure No. 15.]

NOVEMBER 6, 1861.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 received. Make the men comfortable. Have five days’ rations. Send your pioneer party up Loop. Carry out instructions so far as to know the road from Taylor’s over to Laurel without alarming the enemy. McMullin, with two of his howitzers, will be down to-night. Your directions to Schneider are good. When you leave you will have to leave a small camp guard, which will be able to secure the Fayette road up the bank of the river. Must probably hold the road above Taylor’s. It may prove best to close the Taylor road and follow up the Kincaid route. Endeavor by scouts and others to ascertain this. We shall have further communication before final orders for the combined movement are given. Study well the map and memoir. Be cautious in whose presence you speak, otherwise it will leak out among the soldiers right away. Favorable news came in to-night.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 16.]


We must have Loop Creek up beyond Taylor’s and the ridge between it and the valley of the Fayette road. Secure this with as little discomfort to the men as is consistent with the firm execution of the purpose. Will send such sketch and information of it as we possess. See that everything is held with a firm hand; that you have plenty of everything needful.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 17.]

NOVEMBER 7, 1861.

The commanding general is waiting to hear the result of your scouts to-day. Is your way clear, and which appear best routes?

JOSEPH DARR, JR., Major, and A. A. A. G.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 18.]

NOVEMBER 8, 1861.

Yours received. You appear to be doing well, but it seems to me the place where paths lead out into Fayette road ought not to bring us out at Huddleston’s. If so, what are we to gain over going up the river? You must try and know that route by Laurel spoken of in the memoir. Send me the corrected distances and positions. Where did the scouts see the enemy’s camp? Refer to map and name corrections.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.


[Inclosure No. 19.]


Your two dispatches and copy of Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton’s just received. When the other scouts come in from Colonel Siber collate carefully all the information they have, and from them ascertain the exact nature of the roads or paths the troops have to pass over, and, if possible, the immediate approaches to the enemy’s camp. Our information goes to show a small camp at Dickerson’s and a larger one in the immediate vicinity of Warner’s Mill. So far as at present informed there is where the main body is. You want to know what the road is to this point; what paths, if any, diverge right and left from the one you would follow down Laurel, and what room there is for the display of your troops; also, whether there is any path leading from the top of your line to the top of Cotton Hill. It would be necessary to have the command and we might probably want the use of such path. I should like a report as early in the day as possible, because I want to arrange definitely details of the operations, if possible, for to-night and to-morrow. We have no information of firing from above. No movement was authorized.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 20.]


Schenck’s boats will not be ready to-night. Scouts from Lookout and Bowyer’s Ferry report no indications of approaching force. There is a scout out to-night to go up towards Sewell. I want Nugent’s located on our map and to hear from your scouts above. We may be obliged to seize Cotton Hill by the front if strongly opposed and unable to cross above. I hope to hear again from your scouts to-night as to the road over to Laurel Creek, &c. I hope, general, you will be reserved in discussing our plans and caution the staff. A dispatch came to me in cipher to you from Lander.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 21.]

Nos. 14 and 15 received. Everything you report noted and so far satisfactory. What I want to know is what sort of a road or path you will have to go over to reach Warner’s Mill and what sort of ground you could form or debouch on. The details of that should be well studied. If your front is narrow, the difficulties will of course increase. If you can form out of sight and deploy so as to cover the ground right and left of their position, it would be better. If the passway is clear in the center and positions can be found for the two mountain howitzers to enfilade or even play on their camp, better still. Proceed with great caution and secrecy to get these details as far as possible. The scouts have seen the camp at a distance, as Dives saw Lazarus, but there may be a great gulf between them. Appearances indicate that your brigade, with support from Gauley properly timed, could whip them, but let us try to make a certainty. The distance of 2 miles given by the scouts, as mentioned in No. 15, must be a mistake. It is 4 miles from the mouth of Loop to the Fayette road, mouth of Big Mill, and {p.265} between these is that immense ridge, on top of which they certainly are not. You say nothing of Cassidy’s Mill. Our information shown on the sketch indicates it as a key-point. Give that a little of your attention early to-morrow. Fifteen dragoons have been ordered to report to you.

[Inclosure No. 22.]


Yours (No. 16) received. This rain is very untoward. General Schecnk’s report not yet in. Rain may prevent his crossing. He will not be ordered down until we find that it must be abandoned. I have from the beginning had but one intention about your command. It must hold and occupy that side of the river until we have disposed of the rebels, or get possession of Cotton Hill, or been driven back. Your position prevents them from going farther down to play the game they have played above; it threatens them front and rear. Hence, referring to former dispatches pointing out the primary objects of your crossing and enjoining you to establish your command solidly, hold firmly, examine thoroughly, and to make your men comfortable, to keep up your supplies, to take cooking utensils along, &c., &c., I have now to say that, in carrying out these instructions, you must use your discretion to do it effectually and insure the comfort of your men. I see no reason why they should want for cooked provisions. Why not issue them rations? No reason they should have half enough tents. I directed you to take the minimum of baggage, not that could be taken, but that would suffice. If you could not get tents up to all these men, withdraw those who have none until they can be supplied or the weather improves. I look to your dispatches for accurate information of the route to the rebels’ camp. None so far say what paths the scouts followed, nor where they came out on the rebels, nor how nor where their pickets. Please let me hear all about these points as far as you know them. You will observe in all my dispatches great stress laid on this, without which we must act in the dark. Awaiting early report.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 23.]


Yours (No. 18) received. Major Crawford just returned, and reports the river too high to cross to-night, but falling; will be ready-by tomorrow night. We leave three companies scouting the front of Cotton Hill opposite the ferries. Your scouts’ reports and these will determine if we are to move at once or wait until to-morrow night. In that case Schenck will cross 3,000 men, and will seize Fayette and advance down the road, and you will take them by the Laurel Creek route only or by the Nugent path only, or by both, as may be determined by the partieres of the ground, which you will learn from your scouts, and communicate to me, with your opinion thereon, as soon after they come in as practicable. I have been informed that the area between you and Mill Creek Valley, up which the Fayette road passes, consists of flat-topped rolling surface, over which our scouts can go whenever they please. This was my impression, but it has been so flatly contradicted that I gave up until to-day.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.


[Inclosure No. 24.]

NOVEMBER 10, 1861.

Your dispatch received. The Eleventh, 200 strong, is over the river; holds the crests and path well up. The First Kentucky has sent over 200, who hold farther down to near the Fayette road. Schenck will hardly be able to cross to-night, but if the rebels try to dislodge our men, you may be called on to take them in rear. Hold everything in hand. Have your men inspected, to see that no one is without ammunition or provisions. Floyd over on the hill, anxious. Will give you further orders soon.

[Inclosure No. 25.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 10, 1861.

Major Crawford says he thinks those two regiments, or a part of them at least, are moved down again this side of Warner’s, on the south side of the mountain; if so, it is a reason for combining strongly. Expect more from above.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek.

[Inclosure No. 26.]

Yours (No. 20) received. Mine you will find was No. 18. Your suggestions all enter into the plan. You know we hold the hills from Montgomery’s Ferry to Gauley, and have a ferry across New River. Everything is going on at General Schenck’s to cross the river tomorrow night. If it can be done, your way is by Nugent’s, I should suppose, but if he must come down here, then you must make Fayette, and on the Raleigh road above, to cut him off. Scouts will inform you of his movements. If he begins a retreat, you must be ready to intercept him the moment you are certain of it. If he tries to dislodge us on the hills, we will work him well in. You will stand steady until the co-operation is arranged, and then will try him on Laurel Creek.

[Inclosure No. 27.]

Yours (No. 22) just received. We will not move to-night. Our troops here occupy heights between New River and the Fayette road. Your scouts ought to capture that picket guard to-night. Will telegraph you further. Schenck’s boats all down; will be ready for use to-morrow.

[Inclosure No. 28.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Inform me as early as possible how long it will take you to move from your present position with your entire force to reach Nugent’s. Secondly, how long it would take you to reach Cassidy’s Mill. How far from there to Warner’s, and what difficulties you know of in the way. Can you reach the Raleigh road by Light’s Mill? How long will it take you? Will provisions and everything be ready to-day for either route?

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 20.]

NOVEMBER 11, 1861.

What news from you? McCook says they are breaking up camp, but many men there still; more than he ever saw before. One regiment {p.267} passed up by Fayetteville this morning, and forty-five wagons and five ambulances. Hope soon to receive reply from dispatches of this morning.

[Inclosure No. 30.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Yours (No. 25) received. No. 24 not received. The information asked for about the other roads to Fayette and Raleigh not received. Retreat spoken of in my No. 19 has been reported to you so far as we can see at this side of the river. Had hopes you would be better informed than we were. Our skirmishing last night and this morning was necessary. As I told you, an attempt to dislodge us. We did not draw him in. It will be of no use for you to come in at Nugent’s in his front on this side of Cotton Hill, if you can succeed in cutting off his retreat by reaching Fayette or the Raleigh road. That question I asked you this morning; and if it could only know, would be able to give you orders immediately. If that cannot be done, then it will be necessary for you to seize the Fayette road at the most convenient point, and push steadily and firmly, taking due precautions against ambuscade. General Cox has now over some 700 men, and they are pushing in towards Cotton Hill quietly. This gives you what information we have. Let me hear from you as soon as possible. In reply to my dispatch No. 16, General Schenck just telegraphs me by no means give up crossing Townsend’s Ferry, and will telegraph further soon. Should his dispatch confirm plan of crossing Townsend’s, you had better come in on the Fayette pike. Cannot find that the enemy has passed Fayette.

If there is any reliance to be placed on our information, Cassidy’s Mill would be the strategic point, provided the road is practicable at all. Answer soon.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 31.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Dispatch from our lookout on Bushy Knob above Schenck’s says rebels have stopped at Camp Dickerson. If this be so, and local information does not forbid, send about 1,000 men to occupy Cassidy’s Mill. Arrange rapid communication with your headquarters. This place, according to our information, is not 5 miles from Fayette, which is 3 miles in rear of their present position. Covering your camp by a strong picket up Loop may at once dispose your troops to move. I only await your report of the practicability of the Cassidy’s Mill route to determine whether you are to come in on the north side of Cotton Hill in front of them or take them flank and rear. Look well to the provisions for your troops, and report as soon as you possibly can.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 32.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Dispatches just received from General Schenck confirm previous ones. The enemy is concentrated in camp extending from Dickerson’s to near Fayette. Has been throwing up some rail and earth intrench {p.268} ments at Dickerson’s and at Jones’, a mile above. Appears to hold intersection of Fayette pike and Miller’s Ferry road. Under these circumstances you will proceed as follows: Supposing you have proceeded to occupy Cassidy’s Mill with 1,000 men, with all provisions and with directions to push forward from that position strong scouting parties on the most practicable road to Fayette, and established an outpost to watch the Loop Creek road, I have directed General Cox to order Major Leiper, who commands the troops on Cotton Hill, to report to you at the intersection of the Ridge road with the Fayette pike. It is about two miles and a half from the ferry. You will proceed with your command by the River road and occupy Cotton Hill to-night, pushing forward as far towards Fayette as you can, and have a strong position. Bivouac your troops. Send forward strong reconnoitering party, with orders to drive in the enemy’s pickets and find out if they are retreating. Open communication with your detachment at Cassidy’s Mill, in order that you may receive from them the earliest intimation of the enemy’s movements. Schneider, with one piece, and McMullin’s two howitzers will cross with the Kentucky troops to-night and report to you for orders. What we now have to do is first to occupy Cotton Hill and reconnoiter the enemy, working on his left flank if he retains his position and falling on his flank if he moves. Generals Schenck and McCook remain in position to-night watching. If a rebel force comes down on this side they will fall back, and our movements on your side be governed by circumstances. If the enemy retreat, Schenck will cross at Townsend’s and McCook cover this line. I regret that circumstances seem to bring you in front. My great desire has been to cut off his communications. The road by Light’s Mill seems now the only one that would do it. Perhaps you may yet be able to make a flank movement as soon as we have got thorough possession of Cotton Hill.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 33.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Your 27 received. By waiting it will probably be 11 before you get this. This defeats my plan, which was to have you on Cotton Hill by 10 o’clock to-night by the river road, with strong reconnoitering party, to watch the enemy’s movements. If the enemy retreat to-night, he cannot be pursued with any chance of capturing him. If he stands, we shall have to engage him on the front and flank. In his present position he so nearly covers Townsend’s Ferry, that Schenck cannot cross to co-operate unless rebels move down or up. If you come in with all your force at Fayette, you will be opposite Townsend’s. I cannot send you any men, because I have none to send without calling them down from McCook or General Schenck. This will be the work of a day, and will delay the movement twenty-four hours. All reasonable chance of taking advantage of the enemy’s retreat being cut off the next best thing seems to be that you should let your troops rest to-night. Have everything that can be done to prepare for this movement. Carry out your previous orders, sending such troops as you think best by 6 in the morning. Then carry out the orders you have received, sending such troops as you deem best to Cassidy’s Mill, and arranging to communicate with them by Nugent’s. You will reach Cotton Hill and Warner’s Mill by the time they get to Cassidy’s, and can send them word if the {p.269} rebels have retreated or are standing. You will also send a signal flag to some point opposite my camp to let me know. If they stand, the flag will be raised twice; if they run, only once. Major Leiper has orders to send you word if his scouts report a retreat to-night. Pfau’s dragoons will report to you too. You will, on learning what the rebels do, make such disposition of your force on the Fayette road and give such orders to those at Cassidy’s Mill as circumstances may require.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 34.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 12, 1861.

Your dispatches Nos. 27 and 28-latter 5 a.m.-received. You say you did not receive my orders until 11. Your dispatch acknowledging receipt was dated 7 p.m. I understand the guard at Taylor’s to be 100 men. The only other detachment from your forces is that which occupies Cassidy’s Mill. When you get to the top of Cotton Hill, and ascertain where the rebels are and what they are doing, you will be able to take necessary precautions. The objects of our movement have been fully set forth by previous dispatches.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek.

[Inclosure No. 35.]

The commanding general has had no advices from you since this morning. Desires you to report your itinerary, present condition, and position of your forces and those which have been directed to report to you, with all information of the position and movements of the rebels. He also informs you that New River rose last night so as to prevent the stretching of the rope across Townsend’s Ferry, which appears to be still unwatched. From your position movements have been seen at Dickerson’s farm, but if you occupy Cotton Hill to-night you will be able to know all about the enemy’s position and movements, which I understand can be seen from it. Report at your earliest convenience in reply and give the hour. Send for your tents.

[Inclosure No. 35.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 12, 1861-9 p.m.

Your No. 29 received; also Lieut. William H. Mills’ verbal report. I am much gratified to hear of your progress and the position you have taken; also that you have sent to communicate at once with Cassidy’s Mill. I trust you will find no great loss from the skirmish. Send for your tents and provisions. Get accurate information of the route from your position to Cassidy’s Mill, and thence to Raleigh pike in rear of Fayette. Our best information shows that the road from Cassidy’s is practicable, not exceeding 3 or 4 miles long, and intersects the Raleigh pike 2 miles in rear of Fayette. The rebels were fortifying on Dickerson’s farm at the junction of Miller’s Ferry and Fayette roads this afternoon, evidently designing to cover themselves against attack from the Miller’s Ferry and Fayette roads. If they will only hold that position our success will be certain. You hold now the key of that country. Their camp is within range of rifle if not Parrott guns. You have probably force enough to whip them now if it could be transferred {p.270} at once to the Fayette road. Make every exertion to render such a movement easy. Were it possible to find out whether the enemy commences a retreat to-night or not, which I think he certainly ought to do, you ought to move with all your force, except, say, 500 men, by Cassidy’s Mill, and intercept them. Hoping he may not do so, Schenck’s brigade will be ordered down, and will pass over to-morrow night. Advise me the very best road to reach the Raleigh pike from the falls, by Nugent’s, by Loop Creek, or by some point near you across by Cassidy’s Mill. Meanwhile give your troops as much rest and refreshment as possible. Communicate frequently with me. If no movements are necessary to-morrow morning, look for good position for a regiment to hold Cotton Hill.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.

[Inclosure No. 37.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 13, 1861.

I hope your camp equipage has been ordered up. Make every arrangement to occupy the hill, and make your troops comfortable until others come over. Keep up your supplies of provisions, so as to have three days ahead. Next ascertain the routes by which the Raleigh road may be reached in the best ways from any point between your position and the mouth of Loop.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.

[Inclosure No. 38.]

Information from Bushy Knob shows the enemy have retreated, and the proper way is to send word to the troops at Cassidy’s Mill to press on them and push up the Fayette road.

[Inclosure No. 39.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 13, 1861-5.30 p.m.

Your No. 32, dated 2 p.m., just received. The commanding general does not think the rebels have entirely gone, but what their force may be is unknown. General Schenck, with his entire brigade, comes over to-night to re-enforce you. Being the senior, he will assume command until the commanding general comes over. You will therefore report to him, and, after stating fully the position of everything, act under his orders. The general understands you have ordered the force from Cassidy’s Mill. Its withdrawal is in face of his express orders for its occupation, and what seems to him a plain military advantage requires something more in explanation than has been reported to him to justify it, which he awaits. He does not wish to attack Floyd by the front only, but if we can get his left flank and rear we shall succeed in crushing him.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.

[Inclosure No. 40.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 13, 1861.

Your 33 received at 7 p.m. This goes by Miller’s Ferry. Regret that the detachment at Cassidy’s Mill was not pushed forward towards {p.271} Fayette. Your idea that the rebels may be sleeping is a good one, and strikes me favorably. Much will depend whether you shall pursue them on the condition and strength of your troops and the provisions you have. Of these things I know nothing. A question of pursuit is therefore left to your discretion. You can now send by Miller’s Ferry, which will much shorten the line of communication. I shall start for Fayette by 8 to-morrow morning, and hope to hear from you whatever you deem proper before that time. General Schenck with his entire brigade is already in camp at Huddleston’s. If, therefore, there were a chance to overtake the flying foe, your support is certain. You have more than one-fourth as many troops as the retreating foe.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Fayetteville.


NOVEMBER 12, 1861.

Brig. Gen. R. C. SCHENCK, Camp Ewing, W. Va.:

The commanding general directs you to break your camp at Ewing tomorrow morning and proceed with your command across the river at Gauley Bridge to the Cotton Hill. The troops should have two days’ rations in their haversacks. Their baggage should follow under command of the rear guard, which may be composed of your advanced pickets. You will order Captain Mack to report to Colonel McCook for temporary duty. West’s cavalry will come down and encamp at or below Gauley. The troops should move early, and get, if possible, past McCook’s camp before the fog gets off the river. Colonel McCook will remain in command of the troops covering the position on this side. Give orders to have all the material that can be saved brought away from Townsend’s Ferry. If the boats can be hidden for a few days, I think they may be hidden as well as the pieces for the bull-boat. This is on the supposition that we cannot cross at Townsend’s Ferry, while we know we can cross down here. A trusty man should be sent to-night to ascertain whether the river will fall sufficiently; and in case it does not, to be provided with the necessary help and give the necessary directions.

JOSEPH DARR, JR., Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


NOVEMBER 13, 1861-9.45 p.m.

Brig. Gen. R. C. SCHENCK, Cramp Huddleston, W. Va.:

Your dispatch of 8 p.m. received. You will probably not be required to advance much farther. Fayette Court-House is ours. Benham has orders to consider the condition of his men and use his discretion as to pursuit. The last of the rebels passed Fayette at daylight this a.m. You will hear from him during the night if he can find any one; if not, send for sledges-that is, stone-hammers, picks, and shovels-and put pioneers on the road to repair it.

W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, Commanding.


NOVEMBER 14, 1861.

Brig. Gen. R. C. SCHENCK (care of Colonel McCook):

Your dispatches received, inclosing one from General Benham. Commanding general’s opinion of the pursuit is, that all that could be {p.272} accomplished could have been done by General Benham’s force. Commanding general fears your troops will suffer. Colonel McCook has been ordered to clear out Miller’s Ferry road. Everything will be done to help you. In case of necessity you will have to come down to Dickerson’s and get some from McCook. Your tents will be taken over the river and pitched near Huddleston, to which camp you will return as soon as you get advices from General Benham, showing, as I doubt not they will, that no advantage is to be gained by carrying your men farther, beyond the reach of subsistence.

JOSEPH DARE, JR., Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


NOVEMBER 15, 1861.

Brig. Gen. R. C. SCHENCK, Camp Union:

The commanding general, without having any means to judge of the propriety of ordering the troops back from towards Raleigh, presumes that you acted with sound discretion.



No. 2.

Report of Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox, U. S. Army, of skirmishes at Blake’s farm, November 10-11.

HEADQUARTERS KANAWHA BRIDGE, Gauley Bridge, November 13, 1861.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 10th instant I ordered Colonel De Villiers, of the Eleventh Regiment Ohio Volunteers, to take 200 men (being all of his regiment fit for duty), and after reconnoitering the mountains skirting New River on the other side to occupy and hold the crests, if possible, so as to prevent any further attempts on the part of the enemy to destroy the ferry at this place from the battery lately held by them opposite to us. At the same time I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Enyart, commanding First Regiment Kentucky Volunteers, to cross the river below the falls with 200 men, and occupy the mills, the spurs of the mountains near there, and reconnoiter the Fayette road, and hold, if possible, the position lately occupied by the enemy’s guns opposite the First Kentucky camp. Colonel De Villiers threw over at first a party of 40, of which half was sent along the hills down the Kanawha from the crossing place, a few rods above the bridge piers, where I had previously established a ferry capable of crossing 500 men per hour. The other half of the party the colonel conducted himself along a path by the river side under the cliffs to a ravine leading up to the Blake farm, about 1 mile up New River. At Blake’s farm some 50 or 60 of the enemy were discovered and immediately attacked. Being surprised, they were driven into the woods upon the hill-sides above with the loss of several killed, who were dragged away in sight of our men. The enemy was immediately re-enforced by about 200, and the advanced party of the Eleventh retired to the margin of Blake’s farm, where, by stationing themselves behind a fence at the edge of a ravine, they were able to hold the rebels in check until the remainder of the party of the Eleventh {p.273} arrived. The enemy was then driven back up the hills, and our men took a line of defense leading diagonally up the hills from Blake’s house to the crest above the battery opposite this point.

Shortly after dark six companies of the Second Kentucky Regiment had crossed the river by my order to re-enforce Colonel De Villiers. The enemy seemed to be collecting forces on the ridge, and about 9 o’clock the left wing of the Eleventh, under Major Coleman, was driven back from Blake’s farm about a quarter of a mile, but, upon being re-enforced by two companies of the Second Kentucky, he drove back the enemy and reoccupied his former position. Meanwhile the enemy made a succession of attacks upon the remainder of our force, which was pushing its way up to the mountain crest along the whole line from Blake’s to the Kanawha, and a brisk skirmishing fight was kept up until after midnight, when we had secured the ridge as far as Blake’s.

During the day the party from the First Kentucky Regiment had occupied the other side of the Kanawha from the mouth of the Fayette road up to the positions of the Eleventh Ohio, and pushed a scouting party a mile up the road towards Fayette, reconnoitering the mountain sides without finding the enemy.

At daybreak of the next day (the 11th instant) Colonel De Villiers, being ordered by me to push the enemy still farther back towards Cotton Hill, collected the larger part of his force and drove in the enemy’s pickets on the mountain ridge in his front, and pushed steadily along the crest up the New River. The enemy, several hundred in number, kept up a scattering, skirmishing fight as they retired, but made no persistent stand. As the advance party, under Colonel De Villiers (consisting at this time chiefly of the Second Kentucky Regiment), approached Cotton Hill the enemy was seen moving their baggage train over the hill along the Fayette turnpike from their camping ground above Huddleston’s, 14 miles from the Kanawha, where the scouts had reported a camp of two regiments the evening before. The advance of our men was stopped before reaching Cotton Hill, as I was satisfied the enemy was greatly superior in number to Colonel De Villiers’ party, and they seemed to be retiring with the supposition that his force was only the advance guard of a larger body following him. I therefore thought it unwise to have him descend from the wooded ridges and reveal the smallness of his command.

During the afternoon of Monday, the 11th instant, a second party from the First Kentucky Regiment, of 150 men, under Major Leiper, followed the enemy up the Fayette turnpike, crossed Cotton Hill, and took up their position at Laurel Creek, where they remained till evening, then retired half a mile, and remained until General Benham’s brigade reached that point, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday, the 12th, the enemy being in force at Dickerson’s, some 2 miles beyond.

In the fighting upon the New River Mountains our men distinctly saw from 20 to 30 of the enemy dragged away dead or badly wounded. Only 1 dead body of the rebels was found by our men on the ground next day. Our own loss was 2 killed, 1 wounded, and 6 missing, all of the Eleventh Ohio Regiment, besides several contusions received by men who fell accidentally in climbing the rocks. The missing are supposed to have been taken prisoners, being a small post stationed on the ridge near where the enemy made a brisk attack about midnight of the 10th.

The whole ground is exceedingly difficult to climb, the mountain sides being very rocky and in many places almost perpendicular, and the most determined bravery and perseverance were evinced by the troops {p.274} in scaling the heights in the presence of an enemy who held the ridge and were perfectly familiar with the paths.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. D. COX, Brigadier-General.

Brig. Gen. W. S. ROSECRANS, Commanding Department Western Virginia, Gauley Mountain.



No. 3.

Report of Maj. Samuel W. Crawford, Thirteenth U. S. Infantry, of operations at Townsend’s Ferry.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA, Camp Gauley Mountain, November 21, 1861.

SIR: In reply to your communication of the 20th instant I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations conducted by me {p.275} at Townsend’s Ferry and my subsequent connection with the expedition sent against the forces under Brigadier-General Floyd:

Having been appointed a special aide-de-camp of the commanding general for this expedition, I reported on Wednesday, the 6th instant, to Brigadier-General Schenck, commanding the Third Brigade. It had been determined, if possible, to throw a body of troops under General Schenck across New River, at some point above the enemy’s position, in order to strike his rear. For this purpose a neglected ferry, known as Townsend’s Ferry, was selected, and a bold and successful reconnaissance of the opposite side was made by Sergeant Haven, of the Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteers, who succeeded in making his way at night within a short distance of the town of Fayette, 14 miles from the ferry. It was determined to attempt a crossing of the troops under General Schenck at this point, a distance of 54 miles from their encampment. To effect this, it was necessary to construct the means of crossing the river, which was at the ferry about 80 or 90 yards across. Four skiffs were sent up from Gauley, and the duty of constructing floats and transferring them and the skiffs to the water’s edge was assigned to me. The floats were thus constructed: Two wagon beds, 94 by 4 feet, were placed upon frames a distance of 34 feet apart, and secured by wedges and pins. Thus constructed, they were placed upon a duck paulin, which was drawn up tightly around the beds and secured. Light planks were then laid over the wagon beds, and the whole secured by ropes, which, while holding it firmly together, served to control and guide it. A bull-boat, substituting canvas for hides, was constructed by Capt. W. F. Raynolds, Topographical Engineers. These floats and boats were in readiness on Thursday, the 7th instant, and sent on Thursday night to the mountain.

On Wednesday a reconnaissance of the path leading down the mountain on this side of the river was made by me. It was found to be utterly impracticable for the passage of boats or material of any sort, and it became necessary to seek at once for an avenue by which the material prepared might be sent down the mountain. I repaired to the mountain on Thursday, and after a laborious search I marked out a road by which I hoped to send down upon sledges our boats and floats. A steep perpendicular cliff ran along the mountain for half a mile. A point was found where the cliff opened, leaving a smooth rock 12 feet high, over which the boats were sent. In some places the entire material had to be carried over rocks to the heads of steep ravines, down which the skiffs and wagon beds were sent by means of ropes. A detail of pioneers was furnished by the Third Brigade, and subsequently fatigue parties, until the evening of Saturday, when three of the skiffs and two of the wagon-beds were drawn up at a short distance from the water’s edge and concealed. The men worked in the rain during the whole period.

On Saturday night a guard, consisting of an officer, a non-commissioned officer, and 10 men, were stationed over the boats, with directions to show no light, to kindle no fires, and to preserve the utmost quiet. Shortly after daylight three men made their appearance on the opposite bank and launched a small boat made of rough planks. Being too small to hold the three, two of the men came across. When within a few rods of the shore they discovered the guard, and signaling them not to fire, they came ashore and delivered themselves up. The man who remained upon the opposite shore, seeing his comrades taken prisoners, attempted to escape, and was fired upon.

The work, however, was carried on, and by Monday evening the {p.276} entire material was at the water’s edge. Soon after dark the bull-boat and wagon floats were put together and floated, the skiffs were launched, and everything was in readiness. It was now deemed proper by me to make an attempt to throw a rope across the river. Owing to the very heavy and almost incessant rains the river had commenced to rise early in the day and was now much swollen. I directed three experienced oarsmen to enter one of the skiffs and attempt to cross, towing a small rope. When about the middle of the river they were seized by the current and carried swiftly down the river to the rapids, and only returned to this side by great exertions. At the same moment a courier reached me with the intelligence from Captain Piatt, assistant adjutant-general Third Brigade, that no attempt would be made to cross the command that night. The skiffs and floats were then hauled up behind rocks and concealed. Up to the moment of quitting the bank of the river at midnight of the 11th I could detect no sound from the opposite bank or the slightest indication that we were observed. Leaving a small guard at the boats, I returned to headquarters. The river continued to rise during the night. It fell slowly during the day, but at 6 p.m. of Tuesday, the 12th instant, it was visited by Captain Piatt, who reported it impassable.

On the 13th, the Third Brigade, in accordance with previous orders, left their encampment and crossed the Kanawha in the vicinity of Gauley. At 6.30 p.m. I joined the command at its camp at Huddleston’s, near the forks of Falls Creek. A communication had been sent by General Schenck to General Benham, commanding the Second Brigade, and who was supposed to be with his force at or near Laurel Creek, a distance of - miles from Fayette. In order, however, to obtain more precise intelligence of the movements and condition of General Benham’s force, I was requested by General Schenck to go forward to General Benham, inform him that General Schenck had crossed the river and assumed command, and to learn from General Benham the immediate condition of his command, his position, and the result of his scouts, and to direct him not to go forward unless there was an immediate prospect of coming up with the enemy, in event of which General Schenck would move forward with his whole force; otherwise he would remain at Laurel Creek until General Schenck’s arrival in the morning. I left at 7.30 p.m. The road was miry, and in many places almost impassable for wagons. Knots of soldiers were straggling along after their regiments, and in some instances, tired of the pursuit, they had turned aside to bivouac for the night. At a point known as the Widow Stauridge’s, where the road from Cassidy’s Mill joins the turnpike from Fayette to Gauley, I encountered a large body of men at a halt. At 9 o’clock p.m. I overtook General Benham at Dickerson’s farmhouse, where he had halted with a portion of his command, and was resting until the regiments and stragglers in rear should come up. I found General Benham, and informed him of the object of my visit. He did not understand that General Schenck was to take command, but that their forces were to act conjointly. He stated to me that the enemy’s train was just ahead of him, and that he was to start in an hour in pursuit. I informed him that General Schenck had crossed the river and had assumed command, and that he had sent me to him (General B.) to learn the position he was occupying, the disposition he had made of his troops, what information of the enemy’s movements and position he had obtained from his scouts, and also to inform him that General Schenck would join him at or near Laurel Creek in the morning. I informed him also that General Schenck desired that he (General {p.277} B.) would not move forward unless there was an immediate prospect of meeting the enemy or overtaking them in case they had retreated, when, upon being apprised of this, General Schenck would move forward with his whole command at once to his (General B.’s) support.

General Benham replied to me that he had just dispatched a courier to General Schenck, to say to him that the enemy’s train was just ahead, and that he could overtake it; that he was resting his men an hour at Dickerson’s, when he should push on to Fayette. He stated to me that the enemy were making a most precipitate retreat, throwing out their baggage, &c.; that his command got nothing on a previous occasion, and that he was determined they should be the first on this. I asked him if the force at Cassidy’s Mill had definite instructions. He replied that he had sent his aide-de-camp to that point with directions to use his discretion in reference to the route to be pursued by the command there, and that he (the aide-de-camp) had withdrawn them to the rear, and that he (General B.) was only awaiting their arrival to join his command.

I laid before him a map with the positions marked on it, and remarked to him that the importance of the position at Cassidy’s Mill could not be overestimated, and that both General Rosecrans and General Schenck regarded it as the most important point in the whole position, as it threatened the enemy’s rear, and the force there could fall upon his flank in a short march of 34 miles if he retreated. He replied that he had no maps, but he was confident that he would overtake their train anyhow, and that he hoped General Schenck would come on at once.

At 9.15 I left for General Schenck’s headquarters at Huddleston’s. I arrived at 11 o’clock, and found the command under orders to move in an hour. I found a large number of stragglers making their way towards Dickerson’s. These men appeared not to know where they were going or where their regiments were. In an hour the Third Brigade was in motion, and arrived at Dickerson’s about daylight. It was raining heavily, the men were without tents or blankets, and the provision train had not been able to pass the roads. A short halt was ordered. We moved on towards Fayette in an hour, when, from information we received that the enemy were far in advance and in consideration of the state of the roads and the condition of the men, tired out by a night’s march, and without rations or blankets, it was decided to remain at Fayette and communicate with the force under General Benham, who had left Fayette about nine hours before.

I remained during the day at Fayette, and made an examination of the ascent from the crossing at Townsend’s Ferry. It is perfectly practicable for infantry; the ascent, although steep, is open, and leads to open woods upon the sides of the mountain to the table-land above. It passes through open fields to a road that leads directly to Fayette, and there was no evidence of the slightest effort made to protect it or to prevent a crossing at the ferry.

I returned on the morning of the 15th with dispatches, and reported to the commanding general.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. W. CRAWFORD, Major, Thirteenth Infantry, U. S. Army,

Act. Insp. Gen. Maj. JOSEPH BARR, Jr., Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.



No. 4.

Report of Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham, U. S. Army, of operations from November 11-16.


SIR: I have the honor to report as follows in relation to the expedition from which I have this afternoon returned by the order of General Schenck from the pursuit of General Floyd upon the road to Raleigh, by which he escaped by a most rapid and arduous march last night.

Upon the night of the 11th instant, while at a kind of a bivouac at Loop Creek Mouth, where I have been with part of my command by the directions of General Rosecrans since the 4th and 5th instant, I received your orders to proceed as early as practicable with the force then at that point, about 1,500 men of the Tenth, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Regiments, to occupy Cotton Hill, there having been previously stationed by his orders under my direction the Thirty-seventh Regiment of 700 men at Loop Creek Forks, about 4 miles up, and in detachments up to 10 miles from the mouth of the creek; also about 320 of the Forty-fourth Regiment and 430 of the Seventh Regiment about 1 mile up on the left fork.

About the time of marching from Loop Creek, however, I had directed, as he had ordered me, about 1,000 men from these last three regiments to occupy Cassidy’s Mill, about 6 miles up from the left fork towards this place, and the remainder, being part of the Thirty-seventh Regiment, to endeavor to reach me at Cotton Hill by a march to the left of Cassidy’s Mill by Nugent’s.

On the morning of the 12th, in accordance with the directions given, with the first-named force and four mountain howitzers and two rifled 6-pounders, we moved up the left bank of the Kanawha 4 miles from the mouth of Loop Creek, to Gauley Falls, thence to the right some 5 miles over Cotton Hill to Herschberger’s by 3 p.m., where at Laurel Creek we met the advance pickets of the enemy in force, as it was afterwards ascertained, in a most strong position, prepared with abatis, and after skirmishing with them with the greater part of the Thirteenth Regiment until dark, we went into bivouac in the open air on the escarped mountain road, with but few fires and but little water, myself and staff lying on the bare rocks, with our horses held below us.

Our loss in this skirmish was 1 man killed and 4 wounded; that of the enemy 2 at least killed and about 7 wounded. The enemy were completely driven from the ground they occupied, but not much farther, as a large re-enforcement was seen coming to them (I have since learned four regiments and one piece of artillery were sent), and with only 1,640 men, for Colonel Siber’s detachment had not fully joined, I did not think it would be safe to draw on a battle with the whole rebel force, reported by General Rosecrans to me to be from 4 000 to 6,000 men, and, as I heard after, with nine to eleven guns, although, as reported to him that night, I felt I could hold my position on the mountain secure against their force.

During the night, at about 2.30 a.m. of th