JEB Stuart At The Battle of Gettysburg
"The Life and Campaigns of Major-General JEB Stuart"
H. B. Mcclellan, A.M.
Late Major, Assistant Adjutant-General And Chief Of Staff Of The Cavalry Corps, Army Of Northern Virginia
EARLY on the morning of the 22d of June General Pleasonton retired from Upperville, and on the same day Stuart's headquarters were reëstablished at Rector's Cross Roads, with pickets well advanced toward Middleburg.
Colonel John S. Mosby has related in the Philadelphia "Weekly Times" of the 15th of December, 1877, how he submitted to General Stuart, on the 23d, a plan of crossing the Bull Run Mountain at Glasscock's Gap, and of passing through the centre of Hooker's army in Loudon and Fairfax counties, with the purpose of crossing the Potomac at Seneca. While General Stuart does not mention Mosby's name in this connection, there is evidence in his report that this, with some modifications, was the plan which he submitted for the approval of General Lee; for General Stuart states that, before moving from Rector's Cross Roads, he sent Mosby to reconnoitre within the enemy's lines, with orders to report to him on the 25th, near Gum Spring, Loudon County. It is also apparent from Stuart's report that he was not restricted to this one route, but was free to act as circumstances might direct; for he says:--
I submitted to the commanding general the plan of leaving a brigade or so in my present front, and passing through Hopewell, or some other gap in Bull Run Mountain, attaining the enemy's rear, and passing between his main body and Washington, to cross into Maryland and joia our army north of the Potomac.
General Lee states in his report:--
Upon the suggestion of the former officer (General Stuart) that he could damage the enemy and delay his passage of the river by getting in his rear, he was authorized to do so.
In the exercise of the discretion given him when Longstreet and Hill marched into Maryland, General Stuart determined to pass around the rear of the Federal army with three brigades, and cross the Potomac between it and Washington, believing that he would be able by that route to place himself on our right flank in time to keep us properly advised of the enemy's movements.
The circumstances under which Stuart received his orders well illustrate his spirit and hardihood as a soldier. The night of the 23d of June was most inclement. A pitiless rain poured without cessation from the clouds, and the land was drenched. Although the shelter of the old house at the Cross Roads was available, at bedtime Stuart ordered his blanket and oil-cloths to be spread under a tree in the rear of the house, and directed me to sleep on the front porch, where I could readily light my candle and read any despatches which might come during the night. I remonstrated with him upon this needless exposure, but his reply was: "No ! my men are exposed to this rain, and I will not fare any better than they." It was late in the night when a courier arrived from army headquarters, bearing a despatch marked "confidential." Under ordinary circumstances I would not have ventured to break the seal; but the rain poured down so steadily that I was unwilling to disturb the general unnecessarily, and yet it might be important that he should immediately be acquainted with the contents of the despatch. With some hesitation I opened and read it. It was a lengthy communication from General Lee, containing the directions upon which Stuart was to act. I at once carried it to the general and read it to him as he lay under the dripping tree. With a mild reproof for having opened such a document, the order was committed to my charge for the night, and Stuart was soon asleep. It is much to be regretted that a copy of this letter cannot now be produced. A diligent search has failed to find it, and as General Stuart did not forward a copy of it with his report, I presume it was destroyed during our subsequent march. But I have many times had occasion to recall its contents, and I find that my recollection of it is confirmed by several passages in General Stuart's report.
The letter discussed at considerable length the plan of passing around the enemy's rear. It informed General Stuart that General Early would move upon York, Pa., and that he was desired to place his cavalry as speedily as possible with that, the advance division of Lee's right wing. The letter suggested that, as the roads leading northward from Shepherdstown and Williamsport were already encumbered by the infantry, the artillery, and the transportation of the army, the delay which would necessarily occur in passing by these would, perhaps, be greater than would ensue if General Stuart passed around the enemy's rear. The letter further informed him that, if he chose the latter route, General Early would receive instructions to look out for him and endeavor to communicate with him; and York, Pa., was designated as the point in the vicinity of which he was to expect to hear from Early, and as the possible (if not the probable) point of concentration of the army. The whole tenor of the letter gave evidence that the commanding general approved the proposed movement, and thought that it might be productive of the best results, while the responsibility of the decision was placed upon General Stuart himself. Well may General Longstreet say: "Authority thus given a subordinate general implies an opinion on the part of the commander that something better than the drudgery of a march along our flank might be open to him, and one of General Stuart's activity and gallantry should not be expected to fail to seek it."
Having received his orders on the night of the 23d of June, General Stuart prepared on the 24th to execute them. The three brigades of Hampton, Fitz Lee, and W. H. F. Lee, the latter under the command of Colonel Chambliss, were ordered to rendezvous that night at Salem, and Robertson's and Jones' brigades, under command of Brigadier-General B. H. Robertson, "were left in observation of the enemy on the usual front, with full instructions as to following up the enemy in case of withdrawal, and joining our main army." I do not profess to give authoritatively the reasons which led General Stuart to make this disposition of his brigades, but there are some considerations which seem to lie upon the surface. Stuart was about to undertake a hazardous movement, in which he needed not only veteran troops, but officers upon whose hearty coöperation he could confidently rely. These qualities were united in the brigades and brigade commanders which he selected to accompany him. Moreover, by this division of his brigades he left in close communication with the army a force of cavalry nearly equal to that which he carried with him, for Jones' brigade was by far the largest in the division, and when joined to Robertson's two regiments, this command must have numbered more than 3,000 men, even after deducting the losses in battle since the 9th of June. This force, added to Jenkins' brigade, which constituted Ewell's advance in Pennsylvania, and which General Stuart estimated at 3,800, he was justified in considering sufficient to fulfil every duty which might be required of the cavalry by the commanding general. Another consideration doubtless had weight. I have heard General Stuart pronounce in unqualified terms that he considered General Jones "the best outpost officer" in his command; and that his watchfulness over his pickets and his skill and energy in obtaining information were worthy of all praise. General Stuart must, therefore, have considered that he was leaving in communication with the army an officer eminently qualified for the duty of observing and reporting the enemy's movements; and that the fact that his brigade constituted, perhaps, four fifths of the force employed would cause General Robertson, who commanded the two brigades, to give full weight to his suggestions and counsels.
I shall not be accused of attempting to detract from the good name of one of the most gallant, zealous, and efficient officers in the armies of Virginia,--one who proved his ability by his success in independent command, who possessed the confidence of General Robert E. Lee, and who sealed his devotion to his country in his own blood,--when I say that, in his intercourse with General Stuart, General William E. Jones well justified the sobriquet by which he was known among his comrades in the old army--" Grumble Jones." In the fall of 1861, soon after Jones had been promoted and assigned to the command of the cavalry regiment of which Stuart had been colonel, there was an unfortunate interruption of their personal relations, after which kind coöperation between two such positive natures was hardly possible. On several occasions General Stuart recorded his high estimate of Jones' abilities, and with equal clearness his protest against the assignment or promotion of Jones under his command. After Jones joined Stuart, in May, 1863, with his magnificent brigade, hardly a day passed without bringing to Stuart's adjutant-general official papers containing proof of Jones' idiosyncrasies. The disagreement between these two valuable men culminated, in the fall of 1863, in an official communication from Jones which Stuart could not overlook. General Stuart ordered his arrest and preferred charges against him. General Jones was afterwards assigned to the command of the department of Southwestern Virginia, where his distinguished services are a matter of history. Captain Walter K. Martin, of Richmond, Va., so long and well known as General Jones' assistant adjutant-general, has given me the following incident:--
At the opening of the Wilderness campaign in May, 1864, General Jones was stationed at Saltville, Va. The news of the earlier battles of that campaign had spread through the country, and General Jones was awaiting the result with the greatest anxiety. Returning to his camp after an absence of nearly the whole day, he eagerly inquired of Martin what news had been received. Martin replied: "General Stuart has been killed." For many minutes Jones paced the floor of his tent in silence, with eyes bent on the ground. At length he said, with his own peculiar emphasis,--
"By G--, Martin! You know I had little love for Stuart, and he had just as little for me; but that is the greatest loss that army has ever sustained except the death of Jackson."
The three brigades selected to accompany Stuart rendezvoused at Salem during the earlier part of the night of the 24th, and at one o'clock on the same night marched out for Haymarket, passing through Glasscock's Gap early in the morning. As Stuart approached Haymarket it was discovered that Hancock's corps, marching northward, occupied the road upon which he expected to move. A brisk artillery fire was opened upon the marching column, and was continued until the enemy moved a force of infantry against the guns. Not wishing to disclose his force, Stuart withdrew from Hancock's vicinity after capturing some prisoners and satisfying himself concerning the movement of that corps. This information was at once started to General Lee by a courier bearing a despatch written by General Stuart himself. It is plain from General Lee's report that this messenger did not reach him; and unfortunately the despatch was not duplicated. Had it reached General Lee the movement of Hancock's corps would, of itself, have gone far to disclose to him the intentions of the enemy as to the place where a passage of the Potomac was about to be effected.
It was now clearly impossible for Stuart to follow the route originally intended; and he was called upon to decide whether he should retrace his steps and cross the Potomac at Shepherdstown, or by making a wider détour continue his march to the rear of the Federal army. He consulted with no one concerning the decision, and no one is authorized to speak of the motives which may have presented themselves to his mind. We may, however, fairly suggest the following considerations: Stuart's orders directed him to choose the most expeditious route by which to place himself on the right of Early's advance in Pennsylvania Early was at Waynesboro', Pa., on the 23d of June, and his movements up to that day were of course known to Stuart, who did not leave Rector's Cross Roads until late in the afternoon of the 24th. Early's march to York, Pa., was indicated to Stuart in General Lee's orders, and York was named as the place where Stuart would probably find Early. On the evening of the 25th, when Stuart drew back to Buckland out of the way of Hancock's corps, at least sixty miles of a mountainous road lay between him and Shepherdstown, the nearest ford of the Potomac west of the mountains. He could not hope to reach Shepherdstown with his artillery earlier than the evening of the 27th; and he would have been more than fortunate could he have occupied the passes of South Mountain on the 28th. He would even then have been at least thirty miles from Gettysburg, and twice that distance from York. It should not therefore be wondered at if this consideration alone decided Stuart to persist in the movement already begun, especially when there was also the hope of damaging the enemy in his rear and thus delaying his movements. Moreover he had a right to expect that the information he had forwarded concerning the movement of Hancock's corps would cause Robertson and Jones to be active on their front, and would put General Lee himself on the alert in the same direction.
Stuart withdrew from contact with Hancock's corps to Buckland, from whence he marched on the 26th to the vicinity of Wolf Run Shoals, and on the 27th through Fairfax Court House to Dranesville, which he reached late in the afternoon of the 27th. General Hampton had a sharp encounter near Fairfax Court House with a squadron of cavalry from "Scott's Nine Hundred," commanded by Major Remington, which was on its way to Centreville. Major Remington and eighteen of his men escaped, but with a loss of eighty of his squadron. This encounter cost Hampton's brigade the loss of a most gallant officer, Major John H. Whitaker, of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, who was killed while leading the charge.
It had been necessary to halt the command several times since the 25th to graze the horses, for the country was destitute of provisions, and Stuart had brought no vehicles with him save ambulances. Upon reaching Dranesville Hampton's brigade was sent to Rowser's Ford, and made the passage early in the night; but the Potomac was so wide, the water so deep, and the current so strong, that the ford was reported impracticable for the artillery and ambulances. Another ford in the vicinity was examined, under circumstances of great danger, by Captain R. B. Kennon of Stuart's staff, but it was found to offer no better prospect of success, and Stuart determined to cross at Rowser's, if it were within the limits of possibility. The caissons and limber-chests were emptied on the Virginia shore, and the ammunition was carried over by the cavalrymen in their hands. The guns and caissons, although entirely submerged during nearly the whole crossing, were safely dragged through the river and up the steep and slippery bank, and by three o'clock on the morning of the 28th the rear-guard had crossed and the whole command was established upon Maryland soil. No more difficult achievement was accomplished by the cavalry during the war. The night was calm and without a moon. No prominent object marked the entrance to the ford on either side, but horse followed horse through nearly a mile of water, which often covered the saddles of the riders. Where the current was strong the line would unconsciously be borne down the river, sometimes so far as to cause danger of missing the ford, when some bold rider would advance from the opposite shore and correct the alignment. Energy, endurance, and skill were taxed to the utmost; but the crossing was effected, and so silently that the nearest neighbors were not aware of it until daylight. Possession was immediately taken of the canal, which constituted one of the lines of supply for Hooker's army; a number of boats, some containing troops, were captured, and the canal was broken. After the arduous labors of the night some rest was indispensable, especially for the artillery horses, and the sun was several hours high before the command left the Potomac for Rockville. Hampton's brigade moved in advance by way of Darnes-town, and found Rockville in the possession of a small force of the enemy, which was speedily scattered.
It was past noon when Stuart entered Rockville. While halting for the purpose of destroying the telegraph line, and to procure supplies, information was brought of the approach from Washington of a large train of wagons on the way to Meade's army. Lieutenant Thomas Lee, 2d South Carolina Cavalry, with four men from his regiment, dashed along the train and routed its small guard. Although some of the wagons in the rear had turned about and were moving rapidly toward Washington, Lee reached the one foremost in the retreat, and halted and turned it about within sight of the defences of the city. Chambliss' brigade followed, and the whole train was secured. One hundred and twenty-five of the wagons, and all of the animals belonging to the train, were turned over to the chief quartermaster of the army at Gettysburg.
At this day we read the history of the minutest events connected with this campaign in the light of the final result. Had General Lee gained the battle of Gettysburg, as he said he would have done if Stonewall Jackson had been present, the persistency with which Stuart held on to these wagons, and the difficulties he surmounted in transporting them safely through an enemy's country during the next three days and nights of incessant marching and fighting, would have been the cause of congratulation. But Gettysburg was lost to the Confederate arms, and not through Stuart's fault; and every circumstance which might have contributed to a different result will be judged in the light of the final catastrophe. Considered from this point of view, it must be acknowledged that the capture of this train of wagons was a misfortune. The time occupied in securing it was insignificant; but the delay caused to the subsequent march was serious at a time when minutes counted almost as hours. Had Stuart been entirely unimpeded he would have probably passed Hanover, Pa., on the 30th, before the arrival of Kilpatrick's division, and would have been in communication with General Lee before nightfall on that day. That this would have altered the result of the campaign is a matter of grave doubt; but it would certainly have relieved the movement of the cavalry around the rear of Meade's army of the disapprobation to which some have given expression.
Another cause of delay at Rockville was Stuart's humanity towards his prisoners, of whom more than four hundred were in his hands. Among them were Major James C. Duane and Captain N. Michler, of the Engineer Corps, U.S.A. At the urgent solicitation of these officers, Stuart consented to a parole, and the whole of the night was consumed at Brooksville and much time the next morning at Cooksville in accomplishing this business,--a useless task; for the Federal authorities refused to acknowledge the parole, and returned officers and men immediately to duty.
While this parole was being transacted, Fitz Lee's brigade was moved northward towards the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which it reached soon after daylight on the morning of the 29th. Much time was necessarily consumed in tearing up the track at Hood's Mill, in burning the bridge at Sykesville, and in destroying the telegraph line; but this work was effectually accomplished, and the last means of communication between General Meade's army and Washington was destroyed. Stuart now pressed on to Westminster, which he reached about five o'clock P.M. Here his advance encountered a brief but stubborn resistance from two companies of the 1st Delaware Cavalry, commanded by Major N. B. Knight. This fight was more gallant than judicious on the part of Major Knight, for he reports a loss of sixty-seven men out of ninety-five. Two officers of the 4th Virginia Cavalry, who were well known as among the best in the regiment,---Lieutenants Pierre Gibson and John W. Murray,--were killed in this affair. Stuart says in his report that the ladies of the town begged to be allowed to superintend their interment, and that the request was granted.
For the first time since the 24th an abundance of provisions for men and horses was obtained at Westminster; and moving the head of his column to Union Mills, on the Gettysburg road, Stuart rested for the remainder of the night. Here he ascertained that the enemy's cavalry had reached Littlestown, seven miles distant, on the same evening, and had gone into camp. At this day we can see that it would have been better had Stuart here destroyed the captured wagons. Up to this time they had caused no embarrassment, for the necessary delay in destroying the railroad and telegraph on the previous day had given ample time for the movement of the train. But now the close proximity of the enemy suggested the probability of a collision on the morrow, and the separation of the brigades by the wide interval which the train occupied was a disadvantage which might well have caused its immediate destruction. But it was not in Stuart's nature to abandon an attempt until it had been proven to be beyond his powers; and he determined to hold on to his prize until the last moment. This was unfortunate. Kilpatrick's division, at Littlestown, was only seven miles from Hanover. His march would of course be directed upon that point early the next morning. To reach the same place Stuart must traverse more than ten miles; but an early start and an unimpeded march would have placed him in advance of his adversary. As it was he struck the rear of Farnsworth's brigade at about ten o'clock on the morning of the 30th, in the town of Hanover, and scattered one regiment, the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, inflicting upon it a loss of eighty-six officers and men. The 2d North Carolina Cavalry, temporarily commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Payne, of the 4th Virginia Cavalry, made this attack, which, if it could have been properly supported, would have resulted in the rout of Kilpatrick's command. But Hampton was separated from the leading brigade by the whole train of captured wagons, and Fitz Lee was marching on the left flank to protect the column from an attack by way of Littlestown. There was nothing at the front but Chambliss' small brigade; and before anything could be brought to the assistance of the 2d North Carolina, General Farnsworth rallied his regiments, and drove the North Carolinians from the town. In this charge Lieutenant-Colonel Payne was captured.
The road upon which this fight occurred debouches from the town of Hanover toward the south, and at a distance of perhaps three hundred yards from the town makes a turn almost at right angles as it ascends the hill beyond, enclosing a piece of meadow land, through which flows a little stream, whose steep banks form a ditch, from ten to fifteen feet wide and from three to four feet deep. Stuart, with his staff and couriers, occupied this field, on the side next the enemy. When the 2d North Carolina broke and retreated under Farnsworth's charge, this party maintained its position for some moments, firing with pistols at the flank of the enemy, who pursued the North Carolina regiment on the road. The position soon became one of extreme personal peril to Stuart, whose retreat by the road was cut off. Nothing remained but to leap the ditch. Splendidly mounted on his favorite mare Virginia, Stuart took the ditch at a running leap, and landed safely on the other side with several feet to spare. Some of his party made the leap with equal success, but not a few horses failed, and landed their riders in the shallow water, whence by energetic scrambling they reached the safe side of the stream. The ludicrousness of the situation, notwithstanding the peril, was the source of much merriment at the expense of these unfortunate ones.
Upon the repulse of the 2d North Carolina Stuart retired to the hills south and east of Hanover, which gave him such commanding position that the enemy declined further advance. Hampton, on his arrival, was moved to the right, and by means of his sharpshooters dislodged the enemy from that part of the town. Fitz Lee in moving up on the left had encountered a part of Custer's brigade, and captured a member of Kilpatrick's staff and a number of other prisoners. In the mean time the wagons had been placed in close park, and preparation had been made to burn them should the necessity arise. But Custer's brigade, which had at first been placed on Kilpatrick's left, was subsequently moved to his right, and Hampton's success having relieved Stuart's right, he now determined to send Fitz Lee forward with the train, through Jefferson toward York, Pa., hoping thus to gain information which would guide his future movements. It was, however, late in the afternoon before this could be effected, and not until night had fallen did Stuart deem it prudent to withdraw from Kilpatrick, who still maintained his threatening position in front of Hanover. Kilpatrick showed no disposition to hinder Stuart's withdrawal, or to pursue him on the following day. He had been roughly handled during the short engagement at Hanover, and himself acknowledges an aggregate loss of 197. He moved as far northward on the next day as Abbottstown, and sent a detachment, under Lieutenant-Colonel A. J. Alexander, which followed Stuart's trail as far as Rossville, but neither of these movements came within Stuart's observation.
During the night march to Jefferson the wagons and prisoners were a serious hindrance. Nearly four hundred prisoners had accumulated since the parole at Cooksville. Many of these were loaded in the wagons; some of them acted as drivers. The mules were starving for food and water, and often became unmanageable. Not infrequently a large part of the train would halt in the road because a driver toward the front had fallen asleep and allowed his team to stop. The train guard became careless through excessive fatigue, and it required the utmost exertions of every officer on Stuart's staff to keep the train in motion. The march was continued through the entire night, turning northward at Jefferson. When Fitz Lee reached the road leading from York to Gettysburg he learned that Early had retraced his steps, and had marched westward. The best information which Stuart could obtain seemed to indicate that the Confederate army was concentrating in the vicinity of Shippensburg. After a short rest at Dover, on the morning of the 1st of July, Stuart pressed on toward Carlisle, hoping there to obtain provisions for his troops, and definite information concerning the army. From Dover he sent Major A. R. Venable, of his staff, on the trail of Early's troops, and at a later hour of the day Captain Henry Lee, of Fitz Lee's staff, was sent toward Gettysburg on a similar errand. Stuart had reached Carlisle before either of these officers could return with a report. He found the town in the possession of the enemy. When the Confederate infantry had withdrawn from it General W. F. Smith had occupied the town with two brigades of militia, supported by artillery and a small force of cavalry. General Smith was summoned to surrender, but refused. While preparing to enforce his demand Stuart received, through Major Venable and Captain Lee, the first information of the location of the Confederate army, and orders from General Lee to move at once for Gettysburg. Hampton's brigade had brought up the rear from Dover, and had not yet reached Dillsburg, at which place he was met and turned southward, with orders to proceed ten miles on the road toward Gettysburg before halting. After burning the barracks and throwing a few shells into the outskirts of the town, from which a constant fire of musketry had been maintained, Stuart withdrew from Carlisle and proceeded in the same direction. Hampton reached Hunterstown on the morning of the 2d of July, and was ordered to move thence to take position on the left of the Confederate infantry at Gettysburg. Before this movement was completed he received information of the advance of Kilpat-rick's division upon Hunterstown, and was directed by Stuart to return and meet it. General Hampton states that after some skirmishing the enemy attempted a charge, which was met in front by the Cobb Legion, and on either flank by the Phillips Legion and the 2d South Carolina Cavalry, and that the enemy was driven back to the support of his dismounted men and artillery. He held the field until the next morning, when he found that the enemy had retired, leaving in Hunterstown some of his wounded officers and men. Lieutenant-Colonel W. G. Deloney was wounded in this affair, and the Cobb Legion suffered other severe losses. On the other hand General Custer's report reads as follows:--
July 2d this regiment [the 6th Michigan Cavalry], being in advance, encountered the enemy's cavalry at Hunterstown. Here company A, Captain H. A. Thompson, charged a brigade of cavalry. Though suffering great loss he checked the enemy so as to enable our battery to be placed in position. The other squadrons of the regiment drove the enemy back, when the guns of the battery caused them precipitately to surrender the field.
General Kilpatrick states in his report that he was attacked near Hunterstown by Stuart, Hampton, and Lee; that he drove the enemy from this point with great loss, and encamped for the night; and that the loss in Custer's brigade was thirty-two, killed, wounded, and missing.
Stuart himself, with Fitz Lee's and Chambliss' commands, reached Gettysburg on the afternoon of the 2d, and took position on the Confederate left. For eight days and nights the troops had been marching incessantly. On the ninth night they rested within the shelter of the army, and with a grateful sense of relief which words cannot express.
This movement of Stuart in the rear of the Federal army has been the subject of much discussion, and the prevalent opinion among writers, both Federal and Confederate, is that it was an error in strategy. General J. A. Early is, so far as I know, the only prominent Confederate general who has expressed the opinion that it was not a misfortune to the Confederate cause. He says, on page 270, volume IV., "Southern Historical Society Papers "--
When Hooker was crossing the Potomac at Edwards' Ferry it was simply impossible for Stuart to cross that stream between that point and Harper's Ferry, as Hooker was keeping up his communications with that place, and the interval was narrow. Stuart's only alternatives, therefore, were to cross west of the Blue Ridge, at Shepherdstown or Williamsport, or east of Hooker's crossing. He selected the latter, in accordance with the discretion given him, and it is doubtful whether the former would have enabled him to fulfil General Lee's expectations, as Hooker immediately threw one corps to Knoxville, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, a short distance below Harper's Ferry, and three to Middletown, in the Ca-toctin Valley, while the passes of the South Mountain were seized and guarded, and Buford's division of cavalry moved on that flank. It is difficult, therefore, to perceive of what more avail in ascertaining and reporting the movements of the Federal army Stuart's cavalry could have been if it had moved on the west of South Mountain than individual scouts employed for that purpose, while it is very certain that his movement on the other flank greatly perplexed and bewildered the Federal commanders, and compelled them to move slower.
We may dismiss at once the inconsiderate charge that Stuart disobeyed or exceeded the orders given to him by General Lee, for General Lee states that Stuart acted "in the exercise of the discretion given to him." Stuart had submitted his plans to his commander, in a personal interview. Those plans were approved, and he was authorized to carry them out if in his opinion it seemed best to do so. The responsibility of the movement, strategically considered, rests with General Lee. Many considerations may be urged in its favor. Two objects were placed before Stuart. He was desired to gain information of the enemy's movements, and to damage and delay him on his march. Let us consider the latter object. Among the direct results of Stuart's movement we find that Meade was deprived of the services of all of his cavalry except Buford's division until noon on the 2d of July, and that Buford's division was withdrawn from Meade's left on the second day of the battle at Gettysburg to protect the depot of supplies at Westminster, leaving unguarded the flank of Sickles' corps, to which circumstance is largely attributed the success of Longstreet's attack upon that corps. A portion of French's command was also diverted eastward, to protect communication with Washington. Indeed, no one can read the despatches which passed between Meade and Halleck from the 28th of June to the 1st of July without noting the perplexity which existed in regard to Lee's movements, and the wide divergence eastward of Meade's corps, both caused by the presence of Stuart in his rear. From this cause alone the 6th corps was able to participate only in the battle of the last day. It must, therefore, be acknowledged that in one respect General Stuart's movement accomplished all that was anticipated. General Lee expected that he would be able to delay the movements of the enemy, and produce confusion and uncertainty in regard to the movements of his own army. This Stuart accomplished, and it does not appear that he could have secured these results by any other mode of operations; for had he decided to cross the Potomac at Shepherdstown he must have remained near Rector's Cross Roads until the morning of the 26th, when the northward movement of Hooker's army would have been developed to him. He could have crossed at Shepherdstown on the 27th, but he could not have done more than occupy the gaps of South Mountain with a portion of his command on the 28th, even if unopposed. These movements could hardly have been concealed from the signal stations of the enemy, and would have been met by corresponding movements of the enemy's cavalry; for on the 28th Buford's division was at Middletown and Kilpatrick's at Frederick, ready to force a passage through the mountains and fall upon Lee's trains. A concentration of these divisions upon any one of the gaps would have enabled them to accomplish this result, and with nothing to attract attention on the other side of Meade's army there can be but little doubt that some plan of this nature would have been adopted. But on the 28th Halleck was urging Meade to send cavalry in pursuit of the raiders, and Gregg's and Kilpatrick's divisions were diverted from Meade's left to protect his right and rear, while Buford was left to bear alone a two hours' conflict with the Confederate infantry at Gettysburg. The result shows that no better plan could have been adopted to secure Lee's right flank from annoyance.
It remains to consider whether Stuart made proper arrangements to obtain information concerning the enemy's movements during his separation from the army. Had he decided to follow Longstreet's crossing at Shepherdstown and operate on that flank, he could have attained this end only by using individual scouts or by making reconnoissances in force. For the latter purpose the force under Stuart's command was insufficient. After making the detachments which must necessarily have been made to observe or guard the passes of South Mountain, the handful of veterans left would have been unable to do more than hold their own in the presence of the Federal cavalry, which in recent encounters had proven itself an adversary by no means to be despised. Unless provided with an infantry support, Stuart could have made no reconnoissance which would have held forth any hope of piercing the cavalry which enveloped Hooker's advance. General Early speaks wisely when he says: "It is doubtful whether the former [alternative] would have enabled him to fulfil General Lee's expectations."
It seems necessary to emphasize the fact that Stuart carried but a portion of his cavalry with him, and that he left in direct communication with the army a force numerically superior to that under his own immediate command. Jenkins' brigade and White's battalion from Jones' brigade, which accompanied the advance of the army in Pennsylvania, numbered not less than 1,800 men, while Robertson's and Jones' brigades, which remained on the front vacated by Stuart, numbered about 3,000. Mosby and Stringfellow, two of the best scouts in either army, were, by Stuart's direction, operating within the enemy's lines; but Mosby was paralyzed by his failure to find Stuart in consequence of the movements of Hancock's corps, and Stringfellow had been captured and had allowed himself to be carried to Washington, intending to make his escape thence and return with the information he might gather. He had succeeded in this plan on a former occasion, but now was so closely guarded that he found no opportunity to escape, and only rejoined Stuart after the close of the campaign, and through the channel of regular exchange. The arrangements which Stuart made for obtaining information appear to have been adequate to the occasion, and it seems strange that General Lee did not use Robertson and Jones for this purpose. He was aware that under the most favorable circumstances Stuart must be separated from the army for at least three or four days, and that during that time he must look to some one else for information; but although in daily communication with Robertson, he does not appear to have called upon him for such service; nor can it be discovered that Robertson made effort in that direction. He remained in the vicinity of Berryville until the 1st of July, on which day he was ordered by General Lee to join the army in Pennsylvania. It is to be regretted that Stuart did not assume the risk of taking Jones with him, and that he did not leave behind him Hampton or Fitz Lee; for it is inconceivable that either of these officers, with or without orders, would have remained inactive under such circumstances. It was not the want of cavalry that General Lee bewailed, for he had enough of it had it been properly used. It was the absence of Stuart himself that he felt so keenly; for on him he had learned to rely to such an extent that it seemed as if his cavalry were concentrated in his person, and from him alone could information be expected. Hampton or Fitz Lee, better than any one else, would have supplied Stuart's place to the commanding general.
On the morning of the 3d several hours were consumed in replenishing the ammunition of the cavalry. Jenkins' brigade, commanded by Colonel M. J. Ferguson, of the 16th Virginia Cavalry, was added to Stuart's command, but by some bad management was supplied with only ten rounds of cartridges to the man. At about noon Stuart, with Jenkins' and Chambliss' brigades, moved out on the York turnpike, to take position on the left of the Confederate line of battle. Hampton and Fitz Lee were directed to follow. Breathed and McGregor had not been able to obtain ammunition, and were left behind, with orders to follow as soon as their chests were filled. Griffin's 2d Maryland battery, which had never before served under Stuart, accompanied Jenkins and Chambliss. Stuart's object was to gain position where he would protect the left of Ewell's corps, and would also be able to observe the enemy's rear and attack it in case the Confederate assault on the Federal lines were successful. He proposed, if opportunity offered, to make a diversion which might aid the Confederate infantry to carry the heights held by the Federal army.
After marching about two and a half miles on the York turnpike, Stuart turned to his right by a country road which led past the Stallsmith farm to "a commanding ridge which completely controlled a wide plain of cultivated fields stretching towards Hanover on the left, and reaching to the base of the mountain spurs among which the enemy held position." This ridge is known as the Cress Ridge. Its northern end was covered with woods, which enveloped the road by which he approached it, and concealed his presence from the enemy. Near where the woods terminated on the southwest, and on the slope of the hill, stood a stone dairy, covering a spring. On the plain below, and not more than three hundred yards from the foot of the hill, stood a large frame barn, known as the Rummel Barn. A glance satisfied Stuart that he had gained the position he wanted. The roads leading from the rear of the Federal line of battle were under his eye and could be reached by the prolongation of the road by which he had approached. Moreover, the open fields, although intersected by many fences, admitted of movement in any direction. When Stuart first reached this place the scene was as peaceful as if no war existed. The extension of the ridge on his right hid from view the lines of the contending armies, and not a living creature was visible on the plain below. While carefully concealing Jenkins' and Chambliss' brigades from view, Stuart pushed one of Griffin's guns to the edge of the woods and fired a number of random shots in different directions, himself giving orders to the gun. This, quite as much as the subsequent appearance of Hampton and Fitz Lee in the open ground to the left, announced his position to the enemy's cavalry; for General Gregg tells us that about noon he had received notice from army headquarters that a large body of cavalry had been observed moving toward the Confederate left. He was, therefore, on the alert before Stuart's arrival. I have been somewhat perplexed to account for Stuart's conduct in firing these shots; but I suppose that they may have been a prearranged signal by which he was to notify General Lee that he had gained a favorable position; or, finding that none of the enemy were within sight, he may have desired to satisfy himself whether the Federal cavalry was in his immediate vicinity before leaving the strong position he then held; and receiving no immediate reply to this fire, he sent for Hampton and Fitz Lee, to arrange with them for an advance and an attack upon the enemy's rear. In the mean time Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Witcher's battalion, of Jenkins' brigade, was dismounted and sent forward to hold the Rummel barn and a line of fence on its right. Matters were not, however, allowed to remain in this position. Stuart's messenger was a long time in finding Hampton; and before he, in turn, could find Stuart, the condition of the field required his presence with his own brigade.
The first sign of activity on the Federal side came from a battery near the house of Joseph Spangler. This was horse battery M, 2d United States Artillery, consisting of six three-inch rifles, and commanded by Lieutenant A. C. M. Pennington. The fire of these guns was most accurate and effective. The first shot struck in Griffin's battery, and shot after shot came with such precision and rapidity, that Griffin was soon disabled and forced to seek shelter. The enemy now advanced a strong line of dismounted men against Colonel Witcher's position, overlapping his right. Witcher was reinforced by a dismounted squadron from Chambliss' command, which took position on his left, and the line was still further extended in that direction by sharpshooters from Hampton's and Fitz Lee's brigades. The 2d Virginia Cavalry held the extreme left. Reinforcements were now added to the Federal line along the whole front. While these dispositions were being made, Witcher's battalion had been hotly engaged on the right, and so long as his ten rounds of cartridges lasted, he not only maintained his ground, but even gained on the enemy. The failure of his ammunition caused him to retire for a short distance just as the lines on his left closed in deadly fight. Here the charge of the Confederate sharpshooters was a success. The men sprang eagerly to their work, and the Federal line was driven back across the field for a long distance. It is either to this or to the mounted charge which next followed that Colonel J. Irving Gregg refers in the following extract from his report: "My command did not participate in the cavalry fight of July 3d, except one section of Captain Randol's battery, under command of Lieutenant Chaster, which was hotly engaged, and was obliged to retire about two hundred yards on account of a portion of General Custer's command giving way."
Up to this time no mounted men had been employed on either side; but now the enemy brought forward a body of cavalry which rode through the Confederate line, drove it back, and captured a number of prisoners. This Federal charge was continued nearly to the original line held by the Confederates at the Rummel barn, where it was met by Chambliss' brigade, aided by the 1st Virginia Cavalry. The Federal cavalry was in turn forced back, but being reinforced, the tide was turned against Chambliss, and he was driven back to his starting-point. Just then Hampton arrived with the first North Carolina and the Jeff Davis Legion, and the battle was renewed back and forth across the plain until all of Hampton's brigade except the Cobb Legion, and all of Fitz Lee's brigade except the 4th Virginia Cavalry, were engaged in the fierce hand to hand mêlée which followed. For many minutes the fight with sabre and pistol raged most furiously. Neither party seemed willing to give way. The impetuous attack of the Federal cavalry was, however, finally broken; and both parties withdrew to the lines held at the opening of the fight. During this conflict the artillery on either side had participated so far as the safety of their own troops would permit. Breathed and McGregor had reached the field, and had taken position near where Griffin's battery was originally posted. After the cavalry fighting was ended a fierce artillery duel ensued, in which the Confederate batteries suffered some severe losses. The inferiority of their ammunition was painfully evident. Many of their. shells exploded before they had halfway crossed the plain. Breathed and McGregor, however, held their position until nightfall.
The result of this battle shows that there is no probability that Stuart could successfully have carried out his intention of attacking the rear of the Federal right flank, for it was sufficiently protected by Gregg's command. As soon as General Gregg was aware of Stuart's presence he wisely assumed the aggressive, and forced upon Stuart a battle in which he had nothing to gain but the glory of the fighting; while Gregg himself performed the paramount duty of protecting the right flank of the Federal army. At the close of the battle General Gregg had a reserve of one strong brigade which had hardly been engaged at all, and which was drawn up ready for action in full view of the Confederate position. Stuart had no fresh troops with which to renew the fight; he therefore maintained his position until night, when he withdrew to the York turnpike, leaving the 1st Virginia Cavalry on picket on the field.
This battle has been described from the Federal stand-point by Colonel William Brooke-Rawle, in an address delivered at the dedication of the monumental shaft which marks the scene of the engagement. This address is characterized by a spirit of fairness and an accuracy of description which are worthy of imitation. It is only in regard to the result of the last mêlée that many surviving Confederate cavalrymen demand that I shall present their testimony. Colonel Brooke-Rawle says:--
As Hart's squadron and other small parties charged in from all sides, the enemy turned. Then there was a pell-mell rush, our men following in close pursuit. Many prisoners were captured, and many of our men, through their impetuosity, were carried away by the overpowering current of the retreat. The pursuit was kept up past Rummel's, and the enemy was driven back into the woods beyond. The line of fences, and the farm-buildings, the key-point of the field, which in the beginning of the fight had been in the possession of the enemy, remained in ours until the end.
I have not been able to find any Confederate who will corroborate this statement: on the contrary, all the testimony on that side indicates a result successful to the Confederates in the last charge. It is not just to say that this arises from a disposition on the part of the Southern cavalrymen to claim uniform victory for themselves; for they have put on record many instances of candid acknowledgment of defeat. Moreover, it is improbable that Federal skirmishers could have held possession of the Rummel barn: for that building was not more than three hundred yards from the woods from which Jenkins' and Chambliss' brigades debouched for the fight, and on the edge of which the Confederate cavalry and artillery held position until the close of the day. And yet it was more than half a mile from the Lott house, which was, perhaps, the nearest point where any Federal cavalry were visible. If Federal skirmishers held the Rummel barn they concealed their presence; otherwise their capture would have been effected before aid could have been sent to them.
The testimony of many individuals is inconsistent with the idea of the Federal occupation of the Rum-mel barn. After the fighting had ceased, I accompanied Stuart as he rode over a part of the field in the vicinity of the barn, and often in close rifle range of it. We were the only horsemen visible on the plain. The fire from the opposing batteries passed over our heads; and we were so much endangered by the premature explosion of shells from our own guns, that I at length ventured to expostulate with him for what I considered an unnecessary exposure of his person. I may add that, attended by Private J. Thompson Quarles of our escort, I remained on the field until about ten o'clock at night, superintending the execution of some orders which had been intrusted to my care.
Dr. Talcott Eliason, Chief Surgeon of the cavalry division, writes to me in a letter of recent date that he remained in the vicinity of the Rummel barn, removing the wounded, a majority of whom were Federals, until half past seven or eight o'clock in the evening.
Colonel W. A. Morgan, of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, who was wounded in this battle, writes :--
The barn, a large frame one, was certainly held by a portion of my regiment during the fighting of the afternoon, and all night until our lines were called in, and the retreat began with our cavalry as rear-guard. My regiment held its line until recalled early the next morning.
The Rev. G. W. Beale, of Buchanan, Va., who, as lieutenant, commanded a squadron of the 9th Virginia Cavalry at Gettysburg, writes as follows: --
Our dismounted men were giving way on Jenkins' line, and a body of mounted men were dashing forward to force a rout, when we moved forward at a trot, passed Rummel's barn, and engaged the mounted men at close range across a fence. Some of our troops, dismounting, threw down the fence and we entered the field. A short hand to hand fight ensued, but the enemy speedily broke and fled. Whilst pursuing them I observed another body of the enemy approaching rapidly from the right to strike us in the flank and rear. I bore off in company with a portion of our men to meet and check this force. We soon found ourselves overpowered, and fell back closely pressed on two lines which converged at the barn. I was by General Stuart's side as we approached the barn. My horse fell at this point, placing me in danger of being made a prisoner. At this moment General Hampton dashed up at the head of his brigade. He was holding the colors in his hand, and passed them into the hands of a soldier at his side just as he swept by me. The charge of his brigade, as far as I could judge, was successful in driving the enemy back from that part of the field. Our brigade reformed on the edge of the woods in which it stood before the charge was made, and this position was held until we were quietly withdrawn at night. Our position commanded an easy view of the barn and of the line our skirmishers assumed at the beginning of the battle. We were so near to the barn that I rode back to where my horse had fallen, to secure if possible the effects strapped on my saddle. Later in the evening I sent two of my men to the same spot to search for the body of Private B. B. Ashton, of my company, who was supposed to have been left dead on the field. These facts warrant me in the conviction that we were not driven from the field, as has been contended.
Among the incidents of this engagement I remember to have seen young Richardson, of company B, 9th Virginia Cavalry, the brother of our sergeant-major, fall on the fence as he was leaping into the field, mortally wounded by a piece of a shell. Corporal Caroll and Private Jett, of company C, after the hand to hand fight in the field, showed me their sabres cut off close to the hilt, and Caroll's forehead was gashed with a sabre.
Fitz Lee's brigade held the left of the Confederate line northeast of the Rummel barn. General Fitzhugh Lee writes:--
The position held by my cavalry at Gettysburg on the morning of the 3d was held by them at dark. They never left it except to go to the front in a charge. Such a condition of things could not have existed had other portions of the line been abandoned.
Private G. W. Gilmer, company C, 2d Virginia Cavalry, writes that he was twice wounded in the attack which his squadron made, as dismounted skirmishers, on the enemy's battery. He remained on the field where he fell for half an hour, after which he was conveyed by his own comrades to a farm-house in the rear. His wounds were too serious to permit his removal, and he fell into the enemy's hands on the following morning.
Lieutenant James I. Lee, company F, 2d Virginia Cavalry, writes:--
We were in a lane between two stake-and-rider fences. We were ordered to charge the enemy, which we did, and drove them for some distance. We had nearly reached their battery when we were charged by the enemy's cavalry, who were promptly met by our own, and a general fight began, which lasted only a short time, as the enemy withdrew and left us in possession of the field for the remainder of the evening. After the cavalry fight had ended, Lieutenant Baughn, of company C, and myself went back to our horse-holders leisurely, as did the rest of the command.
Similar testimony can be multiplied to an indefinite extent, and the high character of those who give it must command the careful consideration of one who would form a true judgment as to the result of the fighting in this battle.
In his official report General Gregg acknowledges an aggregate loss of 295 in his division. General Custer's report states the loss in his brigade at 542. This would put the entire Federal loss at 837,--a loss so excessive as to cause suspicion that error has crept into the statement. Through the kindness of Colonel Robert N. Scott, of the War Records Office, Washington, D.C., I am enabled to state that the loss in Gregg's division was one killed, 24 wounded, and eight missing; and in Custer's brigade, 29 killed, 123 wounded, and 67 missing; an aggregate loss of 252. Colonel Scott states that he has proof that the statement in General Gregg's report includes the losses in his own division on July 2d and those in Custer's brigade on July 3d.
On page 398 of the preliminary print of Confederate reports of Gettysburg, Stuart states his loss at 181. This report does not include the losses in Jenkins' brigade and the horse artillery.
The regiments of Confederate cavalry present at this battle were as follows: in Hampton's brigade, the 1st North Carolina and the 1st and 2d South Carolina Cavalry regiments, the Cobb Georgia, the Jeff Davis, and the Phillips Georgia Legions; in Fitz Lee's brigade, the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th Virginia Cavalry regiments; in W. H. F. Lee's brigade, the 9th, 10th, and 13th Virginia Cavalry regiments, and the 2d North Carolina Cavalry; in Jenkins' brigade, the 14th, 16th, and 17th Virginia Cavalry regiments, and the 34th and 36th Virginia battalions. The 15th Virginia Cavalry, of W. H. F. Lee's brigade, was on detached service in Virginia. The 1st battalion of Maryland Cavalry, which on some returns appears as a part of Fitz Lee's brigade, had not yet joined Fitz Lee, but was serving with Ewell's corps.' The 4th Virginia Cavalry guarded the Confederate left, at some distance from the battle-field, and did not participate in the fighting. All the Confederate regiments had been greatly reduced in numbers by the arduous services of the previous month. Some idea of this depletion may be gained from the following statement of Lieutenant G. W. Beale, of the 9th Virginia Cavalry: "My own company could muster for duty that morning only fifteen men, whose names I preserve. The 9th regiment was not more than one hundred strong, and the brigade could have hardly exceeded three hundred." The other regiments of Stuart's command were reduced in a similar proportion.
The Confederate batteries engaged were McGregor's, Breathed's, and Griffin's.
While Stuart was thus occupied on the Confederate left, Robertson's command was not inactive on the right. He had moved from the vicinity of Berryville on the 1st of July, and proceeding by way of Williamsport and Chambersburg, had reached Cashtown on the 3d. General Jones' brigade was reduced to three regiments, the 6th, 7th, and 11th. The 12th Virginia Cavalry had been picketing toward Harper's Ferry, and was left on that front, where, on the night of the 30th of June, Adjutant Harman and Lieutenant George Baylor captured a picket consisting of a lieutenant and nineteen men, one of the enemy being killed and one escaping.
At Cashtown orders were received from General Lee that a force of cavalry should be sent to Fairfield to protect the wagon trains. General Jones immediately proceeded in that direction with his three regiments. About two miles from Fairfield he encountered the 6th United States Cavalry. The opposing forces met in a lane, both sides of which were of post-and-rail fences too strong to be broken except with the axe. Although the country was open, the numerous small fields, divided by similar fences, rendered it difficult to bring into action more than a small body of men at one time. The 7th Virginia Cavalry made the first attack, but being met by a severe fire of dismounted men on either flank, the regiment broke and retired. General Jones says in his report: "A failure to rally promptly and renew the fight is a blemish in the bright history of this regiment. Many officers and men formed noble exceptions." Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Marshall, commanding this regiment, admits this bad conduct with all frankness, but states that a portion of the regiment joined in the subsequent charge and contributed to the final result. The 7th regiment lost in this affair thirty men, only one of whom was captured.
The 6th Virginia Cavalry, under Major C. E. Flournoy, was now brought to the front and fully retrieved the fortunes of the day. An unhesitating charge broke the enemy and routed him. Major Samuel H. Starr, commanding the 6th Regulars, was wounded and captured, as was also his second in command, Captain G. C. Cram. General Jones states that he captured 184 prisoners. Colonel Marshall states the number at 220; while Lieutenant Nicholas Nolan, who commanded this regiment on the 27th of July, reports an aggregate loss of 298 officers and men and 292 horses.(See Note 1) Captain D. T. Richards, of the 6th Virginia, led this charge with his squadron. Adjutant John Allen was killed at the head of the regiment. Lieutenant R. R. Duncan, of company B, is mentioned by Major Flournoy
(Note 1) Captain G. C. Cram, commanding the 6th United States Cavalry, reports that he carried into the battle on the 21st of June 12 commissioned officers and 242 enlisted men. The records of the Adjutant-General's Office show that at that time over 400 men were absent from the regiment on "detached service." Between the 21st and 30th of June many of these absentees had been returned, so that at the latter date the regiment numbered 587 officers and men "present for duty." The actual loss of the regiment on the 3d of July, as shown by the records, was six men killed, five officers and 23 men wounded, and five officers and 203 men captured or missing; a total of 242. On the 7th of July the 7th Virginia Cavalry again encountered the 6th United States Cavalry, and inflicted upon it a loss of 59. In these two engagements this regiment lost 301 officers and men. Such a loss would almost have annihilated any one of the Confederate regiments; and accordingly we find that General W. E. Jones remarks: "The 6th United States Regular Cavalry numbers among the things that were." General Jones was mistaken. This regiment still kept the field with respectable numbers.
as "conspicuous for his daring." The loss in this regiment was 28, of whom five were missing.
After dark, on the 3d, Stuart withdrew his cavalry from the battle-field to the York road, where he encamped for the night. The main army was at the same time withdrawn to the ridges west of Gettysburg. Information of this movement did not reach Stuart, and it was only by a personal visit to army headquarters during the latter part of the night that he was made acquainted with it. His command was now in an isolated and exposed position, but it was successfully withdrawn early on the morning of the 4th.
Stuart's report thus continues the narrative of his movements:--
During the 4th, which was quite rainy, written instructions were received from the commanding general as to the order of march back to the Potomac, to be undertaken at nightfall. In this order two brigades of cavalry (Fitz Lee's and Hampton's) were ordered to move, as heretofore stated, by way of Cash-town, guarding that flank, bringing up the rear on the road via Greenwood to Williamsport, which was the route designated for the main portion of the wagon trains and ambulances. under the special charge of General Imboden, who had a mixed command of artillery, infantry, and cavalry (his own).
Previous to these instructions I had, at the instance of the commanding general, instructed Brigadier-General Robertson, whose two brigades (his own and Jones') were now on the right near Fairfield, Pa., that it was essentially necessary for him to hold the Jack Mountain passes. These included two prominent roads, --the one north and the other south of Jack Mountain, which is a sort of peak in the Blue Ridge chain.
In the order of march (retrograde) one corps (Hill's) preceded everything through the mountain; the baggage and prisoners of war were escorted by another corps. Longstreet occupied the centre, and the 3d (Ewell's) brought up the rear. The cavalry was disposed as follows: two brigades on the Cashtown road, under General Fitz Lee; and the remainder, Jenkins' and Chambliss', under my immediate command, was directed to proceed by way of Emmittsburg, Md., so as to guard the other flank. I dispatched Captain W. W. Black-ford, of the engineer corps, to General Robertson, to inform him of my movement and direct his coöperation, as Emmitts-burg was in his immediate front and was probably occupied by the enemy's cavalry. It was dark before I had passed the extreme right of our line, and having to pass through very dense woods, taking by-roads, it soon became so dark that it was impossible to proceed. We were in danger of losing the command as well as the road. It was raining, also. We halted several hours, when, having received a good guide, and it becoming more light, the march was resumed, and just at dawn we entered Emmittsburg. We there learned that a large body of the enemy's cavalry had passed through that point the afternoon previous, going toward Monterey, one of the passes designated in my instructions to Brigadier-General Robertson. I halted for a short time to procure some rations, and, examining my map, I saw that this force would either attempt to force one of the gaps, or, foiled in that (as I supposed they would be), it would either turn to the right and bear off toward Fairfield, where it would meet with a like repulse from Hill's or Longstreet's corps, or, turning to the left before reaching Monterey, would strike across by Oeiler's Gap toward Hagerstown, and thus seriously threaten that portion of our trains which, under Imboden, would be passing down the Greencastle pike the next day, and interpose itself between the main body and its baggage. I did not consider that this force could seriously annoy any other portion of the command under the order of march prescribed, particularly as it was believed that those gaps would be held by General Robertson till he could be reinforced by the main body. I therefore determined to adhere to my instructions and proceed by way of Cavetown, by which I might intercept the enemy should he pass through Oeiler's Gap.
In and around Emmittsburg we captured 60 or 70 prisoners of' war, and some valuable hospital stores en route from Frederick to the army.
The march was resumed on the road to Frederick until we reached a small village called Cooperstown, where our route turned short to the right. Here I halted the column to feed, as the horses were much fatigued and famished. The column, after an hour's halt, continued through Harbaugh's Valley, by Zion Church, to pass the Catoctin Mountain. The road separated before debouching from the mountain, one fork leading to the left by Smithtown, and the other to the right, bearing more towards Leitersburg. I divided my command, in order to make the passage more certain,--Colonel Ferguson, commanding Jenkins' brigade, taking the left road, and Chambliss' brigade, which I accompanied, the other. Before reaching the west entrance to this pass I found it held by the enemy, and had to dismount a large portion of the command and fight from crag to crag of the mountain to dislodge the enemy, already posted. Our passage was finally forced, and as my column emerged from the mountains it received the fire of the enemy's battery, posted to the left on the road to Boonsboro'. I ascertained too, about this time, by the firing, that the party on the other route had met with resistance, and sent at once to apprise Colonel Ferguson of our passage, and directed him, if not already through, to withdraw and come by the same route I had followed. Our artillery was soon in position, and a few fires drove the enemy from his position.
I was told by a citizen that the party I had just attacked was the cavalry of Kilpatrick, who had claimed to have captured several thousand prisoners and four or five hundred wagons from our forces near Monterey; but I was further informed that not more than forty wagons accompanied them, and other facts I heard led me to believe the success was far overrated. About this time Captain G. M. Emack, of the Maryland Cav-airy, with his arm in a sling, came to us and reported that he had been in the fight of the night before, and partially confirmed the statement of the citizen, and informed me, to my surprise, that a large portion of Ewell's corps trains had preceded the army through the mountains.
It was nearly night, and I felt it of the first importance to open communication with the main army, particularly as I was led to believe that a portion of this force might still be hovering on its flanks. I sent a trusty and intelligent soldier (Private Robert W. Goode, 1st Virginia Cavalry) to reach the commanding general by a route across the country, and relate to him what I knew as well as what he might discover en route, and moved towards Leitersburg as soon as Colonel Ferguson came up, who, although his advance had forced the passage of the gap, upon the receipt of my despatch turned back and came by the same route I had taken, thus making an unnecessary circuit of several miles, and not reaching me until after dark.
The movements of the enemy referred to by Stuart need to be explained. On the morning of the 4th General Kilpatrick was ordered from Gettysburg to attack the trains which were moving on the road between Fairfield and Waynesboro'. He reached Emmittsburg at three o'clock in the afternoon, and joining Huey's brigade of Gregg's division to his own command, he moved on to the Monterey Gap. As has already been indicated in Stuart's report, two roads leading westward from Fairfield cross the mountains, the one on the north and the other on the south of Jack Mountain. The southern road intersects the road from Emmittsburg to Waynesboro' about six miles from Emmittsburg. Upon the northern road General Ewell's trains were passing. General Robertson lay in the vicinity of Fairfield with his own two regiments and three of Jones' brigade, with a picket at the intersection of the Emmittsburg road. When attacked by Kilpatrick this picket retired towards Fairfield, leaving no force on the road to Monterey Gap. Captain (afterwards Major) G. M. Emack, of the 1st Maryland Cavalry, had, however, been stationed by some one on this road, and was able to delay the enemy's advance from dark until three o'clock in the morning. General Kilpatrick seems to have considered that his command was in a perilous situation. He states that he brushed away a force of cavalry from his front,--probably Robertson's picket,--but was afterwards attacked, both in front and rear, on a rugged mountain-side, where the road was too narrow even to reverse a gun. He extricated himself from this dangerous position by a mounted charge of Custer's brigade. He reached the road upon which Ewell's train was moving, captured and destroyed a large number of wagons, and reached Smithfield early the next morning with 1,360 prisoners and a large number of horses and mules.
Major G.M. Emack, now residing near Versailles, Ky., has given me the following narrative of the events of this night:--
On the evening of the 4th of July, 1863, as Lee's army was on the retreat from Gettysburg, I was ordered to place a picket on the Emmittsburg road near Monterey. Selecting Sergeant Sam Spencer and six men for the post, the rest of my company, under Lieutenants Cook and Blackiston, were sent foraging. The advance picket had been on duty but a short time, when I was notified of the advance of a large body of Federal cavalry and artillery from the direction of Emmittsburg, I immediately returned to Ewell's wagon train, which was coming into the road in my rear, and going down the road half a mile, stopped the wagons from coming further, and started those in advance at a trot, so that, should the enemy break through my picket, they would find no wagons in the road. In doing this I came across a lieutenant of a North Carolina battery, who had but one gun and only two rounds of ammunition. With this he galloped up the road to my picket; and, placing him in position, I directed him to put both charges in his gun and await orders. Sergeant Spencer was placed in rear with five men, while I advanced down the road, accompanied by Private Edward Thomas, until I met the head of the enemy's column. It was then dusk and raining; and as we wore our gum coats the Federal cavalry failed to recognize us. Without making any demonstration we turned and retreated before them at a walk, shielding the gun as much as possible as we neared it. As soon as we passed the gun the lieutenant fired into the head of the column. Taking advantage of the halt and confusion which followed this fire, I charged with my little party, in all only eight mounted men, and succeeded in driving them back for more than a mile, until they reached their artillery. From the shouting and firing among the retreating enemy we concluded that they had become panic-stricken and were fighting among themselves.
The firing brought up Lieutenant Blackiston with the rest of my company; and dismounting the men, we formed line in some undergrowth on one side of the road. After fully an hour we heard the enemy advancing, this time with more caution and with dismounted skirmishers thrown out on each side of the road. Lying on the ground, we reserved our fire until they were within ten or fifteen paces of us, when we gave them a volley which caused another precipitate retreat. I now withdrew my men to another position, and formed them dismounted on either side of the road. Sergeant Spencer had charge of one squad and Sergeant Wilson of the other. Lieutenant Blackiston had charge of the horses and prisoners in the rear. Kilpatrick now commanded a general advance with mounted and dismounted men and with artillery, firing at every step, which to us was rather amusing, as we were about a mile distant and lying snugly on the ground. About midnight he reached Monterey, and opened a tremendous fire on us with artillery and dismounted men, to which we made but little answer.
In the mean time the wagons had commenced to run in on the road in my rear, and I again went back on the Gettysburg road and stopped them. They were soon started again, and on going back to ascertain the cause I was informed that they were moving by General W. E. Jones' orders. I found General Jones and told him that I had only a handful of men opposed to all of Kilpatrick's cavalry; and I urged the importance of keeping the road clear, so that when the enemy broke through he would find nothing on it. The general said that the train must move on, and if I could hold out a little longer the 6th Virginia Cavalry would come to my assistance. I returned to my men and urged them not to yield an inch nor to waste any ammunition (we had but little at the commencement). The enemy now increased their fire until it seemed as if nothing could stand before it. Still these men lay there under it coolly, awaiting an opportunity to strike another blow. The enemy's skirmishers at last walked into my line, and I was told that one of them actually trod on private Key who killed him on the spot. The enemy was again driven back. My ammunition was entirely exhausted and some of my men actually fought with rocks; nor did they give back an inch.
The 4th North Carolina Cavalry now made its appearance at the junction of the two roads in my rear, and after General Jones and his staff had exhausted every means to get them to my assistance, I finally succeeded in getting a lieutenant and about ten men to dismount and advance to my line. The 6th Virginia Cavalry, that I knew so well to be good fighters, never made its appearance during the night. At about three o'clock A.M., finding that he had no force of consequence opposed to him, Kilpatrick advanced his cavalry to within twenty yards of my position, and gave the order to charge. A running fight now ensued amid wagons and ambulances. As we passed out of the mountain we met Captain Welsh's company of the 1st Maryland Cavalry at the junction of another road. Here the enemy was held in check for a moment, but they soon swept us aside, and on they went until they had captured all the wagons found in the road. The two portions of the train that I had cut off were not reached by the enemy; and I do not believe that we would have lost any of the train had it not been started on the road after I had stopped it.
In this fight about half the men I had engaged were captured, and I myself was wounded. According to the official report of General Kilpatrick, his loss was five killed, 10 wounded, and 28 prisoners, in all 43 men, or more than I had in the fight including horse-holders.
General W. E. Jones says in his report:--
The evening of July 4th, when it was reported the enemy were advancing in force on the Emmittsburg and Waynes-boro' road, I saw that General Ewell's train (then on its way to Williamsport) was in danger, and asked to go with my command to its protection. I was allowed the 6th and 7th regiments and Chew's battery; but the 7th was afterwards ordered back, and Colonel Ferebee's regiment (4th North Carolina Cavalry) allowed to take its place, the latter being then on this road. This narrow and difficult way, rendered doubly so by heavy rain just fallen, was so blocked by wagons as to render it wholly impracticable to push ahead the artillery or even the cavalry. With my staff I hastened on to rally all the stragglers of the train to the support of whatever force might be guarding the road. Arriving, I found Captain G. M. Emack's company of the Maryland Cavalry, with one gun, opposed to a whole division of Federal cavalry, with a full battery. He had already been driven back within a few hundred yards of the junction of the roads. Not half of the long train had passed. This brave little band of heroes was encouraged with the hope of speedy reinforcements, reminded of the importance of their trust, and exhorted to fight to the bitter end rather than yield. All my couriers and all others with fire-arms were ordered to the front, directed to lie on the ground and be sparing of their ammunition. The last charge of grape was expended and the piece sent to the rear. For more than two hours less than fifty men kept many thousands in check, and the wagons continued to pass long after the balls were whistling in their midst.
After Stuart had forced the passage of the mountains on the afternoon of the 5th, Kilpatrick retired to Boonsboro', where his prisoners were turned over to General French. On the next day, the 6th of July, Buford's division arrived at Boonsboro', and it was arranged between Buford and Kilpatrick that the former should attack the trains which were assembled at Williamsport, while the latter moved against Stuart at Hagerstown. General Stuart says in his report:--
Having heard from the commanding general about daylight the next morning, and being satisfied that all of Kilpatrick's force had gone towards Boonsboro', I immediately, notwithstanding the march of a greater portion of both the preceding nights, set out for Boonsboro'. Jones' brigade had now arrived by the route from Fairfield. Soon after night Brigadier-General Jones, whose capture had been reported by Captain Emack, came from the direction of Williamsport, whither he had gone with the portion of the train which escaped. The enemy's movements had separated him from his command, and he had made a very narrow escape. He informed me of Imboden's arrival at Williamsport.
Having reached Cavetown, I directed General Jones to proceed on the Boonsboro' road a few miles, and thence proceed to Funkstown, which point I desired him to hold, covering the eastern front of Hagerstown. Chambliss' brigade proceeded direct from Leitersburg to Hagerstown, and Robertson's took the same route, both together a very small command. Diverging from Jones' line of march at Cavetown, I proceeded with Jenkins' brigade by way of Chewsville towards Hagerstown. Upon arriving at the former place, it was ascertained that the enemy was nearing Hagerstown with a large force of cavalry from the direction of Boonsboro', and Colonel Chambliss needed reinforcements. Jenkins' brigade was pushed forward, and arriving before Hagerstown found the enemy in possession, and made an attack in flank by this road, Jones coming up further to the left and opening with a few shots of artillery. A small body of infantry, under Brigadier-General Iverson, also held the north edge of the town, aided by the cavalry of Robertson and Chambliss. Our operations here were much embarrassed by our great difficulty in preventing this latter force from mistaking us for the enemy, several shots striking very near our column. I felt sure that the enemy's designs were directed against Williamsport, where, I was informed by General Jones, our wagons were congregated in a narrow space at the foot of the hill near the river, which was too much swollen to admit their passage to the south bank. I therefore urged on all sides the most vigorous attack to save our trains at Williamsport. Our force was perceptibly much smaller than the enemy's, but by a bold front and determined attack, with a reliance on that help which has never failed me. I hoped to raise the siege of Williamsport, if, as I believed, that was the real object of the enemy's designs. Hagerstown is six miles from Williamsport, the country between being almost entirely cleared, but intersected by innumerable fences and ditches. The two places are connected by a lane, -- a perfectly straight macadamized road. The enemy's skirmishers fought dismounted from street to street, and some time elapsed before the town was entirely clear, the enemy taking the road first toward Sharpsburg, but afterwards turning to the Williamsport road. Just as the town was cleared I heard the sound of artillery at Williamsport.
The cavalry, except the two brigades with General Fitz Lee, was now pretty well concentrated at Hagerstown, and one column, under Colonel Chambliss, was pushed directly down the road after the enemy, while Robertson's two regiments and Jenkins' brigade kept to the left of the road, moving in a parallel direction to Chambliss. A portion of the Stuart Horse Artillery also accompanied the movement. The first charge was gallantly executed by the leading brigade, the 9th and 13th Virginia Cavalry participating with marked gallantry. The column on the flank was now hurried up to attack the enemy, but the obstacles, such as post-and-rail fences, delayed its progress so long that the enemy had time to rally along a crest of rocks and fences, from which he opened with artillery, raking the road. Jenkins' brigade was ordered to dismount and deploy over the difficult ground. This was done with marked effect and boldness, Lieutenant-Colonel Witcher, as usual, distinguishing himself by his courage and conduct. The enemy, thus dislodged, was closely pressed by the mounted cavalry, but made one effort at counter-charge, which was gallantly met and repulsed by Colonel James B. Gordon, commanding a fragment of the 5th North Carolina Cavalry, that officer exhibiting under my eye individual prowess deserving special commendation. The repulse was soon after converted into a rout by Colonel Lomax's regiment, the 11th Virginia Cavalry of Jones' brigade, which now took the road under the gallant leadership of its colonel, and with drawn sabres charged down the turnpike under a fearful fire of artillery.
Lieutenant-Colonel O. R. Funsten behaved with conspicuous gallantry in this charge, and Captain S. Winthrop, a volunteer aid of Lieutenant-General Longstreet, also bore himself most gallantly.
The enemy was now very near Williamsport, and this determined and vigorous attack in his rear soon compelled him to raise the siege of that place and leave by the Downsville road. His withdrawal was favored by night, which set in just as we reached the ridge overlooking Williamsport. Important assistance was rendered by Brigadier-General Fitz Lee, who reached the vicinity of Williamsport by the Greencastle road very opportunely, and participated in the attack with his accustomed spirit.
General Kilpatrick describes this same affair in his report. He states that Stuart, at Hagerstown, was expecting him from the direction of Gettysburg; but that he attacked Stuart from the direction of Boons-bore,' surprised him, routed him, and drove him in the direction of Greencastle and Gettysburg. Stuart, however, was not in Hagerstown at that time. The force which Kilpatrick attacked was Chambliss' and Robertson's brigades, which together hardly made one good regiment. Colonel J. Lucius Davis, of the 10th Virginia Cavalry, was captured in this fight. His horse was killed, and falling on him confined him to the ground until he was released by the enemy. Kilpatrick pressed Chambliss and Robertson back through the town until he encountered Iverson's brigade, which was marching with the trains for their protection. General Iverson says in his report:--
Reached Hagerstown next day, where I found the enemy engaged with our cavalry. Sent the train back to the rear, deployed skirmishers, fixed an ambuscade, and I believe killed, wounded, and captured as many of the enemy as I had men.
General Kilpatrick further states that, learning from prisoners belonging to Hood's division that their whole division was close at hand, he left one brigade, under Colonel Richmond, to hold the enemy in check at Hagerstown, while he, with the other two brigades, hurried on toward Williamsport in the hope that his command, united with that of General Buford, would be able to effect the capture and destruction of the Confederate trains before relief could reach them. He pushed Custer's brigade forward, and soon became hotly engaged on Buford's right, within less than a mile of Williamsport. When about to advance all of Custer's regiments, with prospect of success, he was informed by Colonel Richmond that the enemy had attacked him with infantry, cavalry, and artillery. At the same time he was made aware that a column of infantry was moving on his own right flank. "A few moments later General Buford sent a staff officer to say that he was about to retire; that he feared the enemy would move down on the Sharpsburg pike and intercept our retreat. My command was in a most perilous position; attacked in front, rear, and flank, and no prospect of a safe retreat till night. Slowly the regiments of each brigade fell back, taking up one position after another, repulsing each attack until night set in, and we formed a junction with General Buford, both commands going into camp near Jones' Crossing."
General Buford says in his report:--
While our hottest contest was in progress General Kilpat-rick's guns were heard in the direction of Hagerstown, and as they grew nearer I sent word to him to connect with my right for mutual support. The connection was made, but was of no consequence to either of us. Just before dark Kilpatrick's troops gave way, passing to my rear by the right, and were closely followed by the enemy.
It now being dark, outnumbered, and the 1st and reserve brigade being out of ammunition, Devin was ordered to relieve Gamble and a portion of Merritt's troops. This being done I ordered the command to fall back, Devin to hold his ground until the entire road to the Antietam was clear. Devin handsomely carried out his instructions, and the division bivouacked on the road to Boonsboro'.
The expedition had for its object the destruction of the enemy's trains, supposed to be at Williamsport. This, I regret to say, was not accomplished. The enemy was too strong for me, but he was severely punished for his obstinacy. His casualties were more than quadruple to mine.
General Kilpatrick reports an aggregate loss of 185 in this engagement. Colonel Huey reports that his brigade lost one officer and 144 men between Emmitts-burg and Williamsport. The greater portion of this loss of course occurred in the last battle. General Buford reports an aggregate loss of 72. The Federal cavalry, therefore, lost in this engagement nearly, if not quite, 400 officers and men. Stuart reports an aggregate loss of 254, exclusive of Jenkins' brigade, from which no report was received. These losses show the severity of the fighting. A comparison of the reports of Stuart, Kilpatrick, and Buford will show the result.
On the 7th of July Wofford's brigade of infantry was sent to Stuart's support, and was stationed by him at Downsville, on the road to Sharpsburg. The cavalry covered the rest of the front of the army. On this day the 7th Virginia Cavalry had another encounter with the 6th United States Regulars, which was more creditable to the 7th regiment than the affair at Fairfield on the 3d. Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Marshall makes the following report of this fight:--
The enemy were reported advancing on Funkstown. I moved down immediately to support the advance picket, which had been driven in. After examining their position, which was very much obscured by woods and the crest of an intervening hill, I ordered companies F and G to advance upon them, and moved forward at a rapid trot. Their advance gave way after firing upon us, and fell back toward their reserve. I then ordered up our reserve at a charge, and moving F and G, or portions of them, on the right flank to clear the woods, while Lieutenant Neff, with a small scouting party, was moving on the left, we drove the enemy before us, though they strove at first to make resistance. Our column pressed upon them with great rapidity, killing and wounding a number, and taking some sixty prisoners, capturing also a great many horses and a large number of rifles and revolvers. As I was mounted upon a recently-captured horse, about whose qualities I knew nothing, I did not endeavor to remain at the head of the column, but closed it up, sending back men when I found too many with the prisoners and urging forward those who were in rear.
Fearing (as eventually occurred) that in their eagerness our men would press the pursuit too far from our support, I sent two orders to the front to restrain them, but in vain. Coming up at length somewhere near the head of the column, I discovered that the enemy had rallied. I sent back immediately a reliable messenger to General Jones to make him aware of our position, and ordered all the men on jaded horses to go some distance to the rear, and form in a strong position to protect the portion of the column nearest the enemy. With a few better mounted men I awaited the development of the enemy's force and intentions. As the head of the column appeared we fired upon it. The enemy then charged vigorously upon us. Seeing our only hope was in a quick retreat, we double-quicked it as well as the condition of our horses would allow. I endeavored to rally the men when we came near the portion of the regiment which had been drawn up in a strong position, but to no purpose. One volley from this reserve brought down the leader of the enemy's column and several on the flank, but scarcely at all checked it.
In this return trip, in which we lost a portion of our laurels, we sustained the following loss in wounded and captured: total captured by the enemy, nine; wounded, two; horses captured by the enemy, nine; killed, one; wounded, four.
Privates Joseph S. Hutton and William L. Parsons, of company F, are spoken of by their captain as having made themselves particularly conspicuous for their gallantry.
Lieutenant Nicholas Nolan, commanding the 6th Regular Cavalry, makes report of this fight. He says:--
On the 7th instant the regiment was ordered to make a re-connoissance in the direction of Funkstown, under command of Captain Claflin. On arriving in the vicinity of the town we drove in the enemy's pickets, and immediately afterwards made dispositions of the regiment to resist the enemy, who was in force. The captain commanding proceeded to the front to reconnoitre, and when about 150 yards in front of the regiment (and with the advance-guard) was wounded in the shoulder by one of the enemy's sharpshooters. I, being the senior officer with the regiment, again assumed command. I immediately proceeded to the front, where my advance-guard was posted, when I saw the enemy's cavalry preparing to charge my command. I then made preparations to meet them, but being overpowered by superior numbers was forced to fall back, inflicting, however, great damage to the enemy in a running fight of four and a half miles, my command losing fifty-nine men, in killed, wounded, and missing; ten of the above men were brought in dead by the 1st United States Cavalry the same afternoon.
Such agreement in the official reports, and such candor, are not always to be found. The history of the war could be written more easily and more accurately if we had a larger number of reports from regimental commanders.
From the 8th to the 12th of July Stuart covered the front of Lee's army, which had now taken a strong position, and was securely entrenched while waiting for the waters of the Potomac to fall. These days were occupied by severe fighting between Stuart's command and the divisions of Buford and Kilpatrick, at Boons-boro', Beaver Creek, Funkstown, and on the Sharpsburg front. The cavalry fought mostly dismounted, and was aided on either side by small bodies of infantry. It would be tedious to enter into all the details of these battles, in which both parties claim the victory, and with apparent sincerity. Stuart reports an aggregate loss of 216 in these engagements, while Generals Buford and Kilpatrick and Colonel Huey report a loss of 158. Stuart accomplished the object he had in view, which was to delay the advance of the enemy until General Lee was secure in his chosen position. On the 12th of July Stuart uncovered Lee's front, against which the Federal army advanced, but found it so strong that it declined to make an attack.
These days will be remembered by the members of General Stuart's staff as days of peculiar hardship. Scanty rations had been issued to the men, but nothing was provided for the officers. The country had been swept bare of provisions, and we could purchase nothing. For four or five days in succession we received our only food, after nightfall, at the hands of a young lady in Hagerstown, whose father, a Southerner, sympathized with the Confederacy. But for the charity of this lady, whose name we shall always gratefully remember, we would have suffered the pangs of severe hunger. The attention of students of psychology is called to an incident which occurred at this time. After a day of incessant fighting Stuart and his officers reached the house of this friend about nine o'clock in the night. While food was being prepared Stuart fell asleep on the sofa in the parlor. When supper was announced he refused to rise. Knowing that he had eaten nothing within twenty-four hours, and that food was even more necessary for him than sleep, I took him by the arm and compelled him to his place at the table. His eyes were open, but he ate sparingly and without relish. Thinking that the supper did not suit him, our kind hostess inquired:--
"General, perhaps you would relish a hard-boiled egg?"
"Yes," he replied, "I'll take four or five."
This singular reply caused a good deal of astonishment on the part of all who heard it, but nothing was said at the time. The eggs were produced; Stuart broke one and ate it, and then rose from the table. When we returned to the parlor I sat down at the piano, and commenced singing, "If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry." The circumstances hardly made the song appropriate, but the chorus roused the general, and he joined in it with a hearty good will. During all this time he had been unconscious of his surroundings, and when informed of the apparent discourtesy of his reply to our hostess, he apologized with evident mortification. Another incident, of a similar nature, occurred about this same time. It was probably on the night of the 11th or 12th of July that Stuart and myself were riding along one of the turnpikes, near Hagerstown, attended by only one courier. As we rode he dictated despatches which I was to write to two of his brigades and to the horse artillery, directing certain movements which were to be executed that night and the following morning. In order that I might have a light we dismounted at a toll-house, and asked to be provided with a lamp. The request was reluctantly granted. While I was writing, Stuart leaned forward his head and arms on the table, and fell fast asleep. When the despatches were completed I awoke him, that he might read them before they were sent. This was an almost invariable custom. The despatches to the brigades were read without correction being made, but when he revised that to the artillery he took out his pencil, erased the names of two places, and substituted the names Shepherdstown and Aldie. This was manifestly absurd, and I saw at once that he was unconscious of what he was doing. I aroused him with some difficulty, when my despatch was rewritten, approved, and sent off. These incidents seem to bear on the disputed question, whether the mind can act and yet be unconscious of its action.
General Stuart's report shall conclude the history of this campaign.
On the 12th firing began early, and the enemy having advanced by several roads on Hagerstown, our cavalry forces retired without serious resistance, and massed on the left of the main body, reaching with heavy outposts the Conococheague on the National Road. The infantry having already had time to intrench themselves, it was no longer desirable to defer the enemy's attack.
The 13th was spent in reconnoitring on the left, Rodes' division occupying the extreme left of our infantry, very near Hagerstown, a little north of the National Road. Cavalry pickets were extended beyond the railroad leading to Chambersburg, and everything was put in readiness to resist the enemy's attack. The situation of our communications south of the Potomac caused the commanding general to desire more cavalry on that side, and accordingly Brigadier-General Jones' brigade (one of whose regiments, the 12th Virginia Cavalry, had been left in Jefferson) was detached, and sent to cover our communication with Winchester. The cavalry on the left now consisted of Fitz Lee's, W. H. F. Lee's, Baker's (Hampton's), and Robertson's brigades, the latter being a mere handful.
On the 13th skirmishing continued at intervals, but it appeared that the enemy, instead of attacking, were intrenching in our front, and the commanding general determined to cross the Potomac. The night of the 13th was chosen for this move, and the arduous and difficult task of bringing up the rear was, as usual, assigned to the cavalry. Just before night (which was unusually rainy)the cavalry was disposed from right to left to occupy dismounted the trenches of the infantry at dark, Fitz Lee's brigade holding the line of Longstreet's corps, Baker's, of Hill's corps, and the remainder, of Ewell's corps. A pontoon bridge had been constructed at Falling Waters, some miles below Williamsport, where Longstreet's and Hill's corps were to cross, and Ewell's corps was to ford the river at Williamsport; in rear of which last, after daylight, the cavalry was also to cross, except that Fitz Lee's brigade, should he find the pontoon bridge clear in time, was to cross at the bridge, otherwise to cross at the ford at Williamsport.
The operation was successfully performed by the cavalry. General Fitz Lee, finding the bridge would not be clear in time for his command, moved after daylight to the ford, sending two squadrons to cross in rear of the infantry at the bridge. These squadrons, mistaking Longstreet's rear for the rear of the army on that route, crossed over in rear of it. General Hill's troops being notified that these squadrons would follow in his rear, were deceived by some of the enemy's cavalry, who approached very near in consequence of their belief that they were our cavalry. Although this unfortunate mistake deprived us of the lamented General Pettigrew, who was mortally wounded, the enemy paid the penalty of their temerity by losing most of their number in killed or wounded, if the accounts of those who witnessed it are to be credited. The cavalry crossed at the fords without serious molestation, bringing up the rear on that route by eight A.M. on the 14th.
The attack upon Pettigrew's brigade to which Stuart refers was made by General Kilpatrick at first, aided afterwards by General Buford. Kilpatrick claims to have captured 1,500 prisoners, two guns, and three battle flags. He says that he fought for two hours and thirty minutes, routed the enemy, and drove him towards the river. He lost in his own command 29 killed, 36 wounded, and 40 missing. General Buford states that he aided in this fight, and that "our spoils on this occasion were one ten-pounder Parrott gun, over 500 prisoners, and about 300 muskets." On the other hand, General Robert E. Lee states that two guns, which were abandoned because the horses could not draw them through the mire, fell into the enemy's hands; but that "No arms, cannon, or prisoners were taken by the enemy in battle." . . . Generals Meade and Kilpat-rick, in reply to General Lee's statement, reaffirm the reports as quoted above.
General Stuart's report continues:--
To Baker's (Hampton's) brigade was assigned the duty of picketing the Potomac from Falling Waters to Hedgesville. The other brigades were moved back towards Leetown, Robertson being sent to the fords of the Shenandoah, where he already had a picket, which, under Captain L. A. Johnson, of the North Carolina Cavalry, had handsomely repulsed the enemy in their advance on Ashby's Gap, inflicting severe loss with great disparity of numbers.
Harper's Ferry was again in the possession of the enemy, and Colonel Harman, of the 12th Virginia Cavalry, had in an engagement with the enemy gained a decided success, but was himself captured by his horse falling.
Upon my arrival at the Bower that afternoon (15th), I learned that a large force of the enemy's cavalry was between Shepherdstown and Leetown, and determined at once to attack them, in order to defeat any designs they might have in the direction of Martinsburg.
I made disposition accordingly, concentrating cavalry in their front, and early on the 16th moved Fitz Lee's brigade down the turnpike towards Shepherdstown, supported by Chambliss, who, though quite ill, with that commendable spirit which has always distinguished him, remained at the head of his brigade. Jenkins' brigade was ordered to advance on the road from Martinsburg towards Shepherdstown, so as by this combination to expose one of the enemy's flanks, while Jones, now near Charlestown, was notified of the attack in order that he might coöperate. No positive orders were sent him, as his precise locality was not known.
These dispositions having been arranged, I was about to attack when I received a very urgent message from the commanding general to repair at once to his headquarters. I therefore committed to Brigadier-General Fitz Lee the consummation of my plans, and reported at once to the commanding general, whom I found at Bunker Hill. Returning in the afternoon, I proceeded to the scene of conflict on the turnpike, and found that General Fitz Lee had, with his own and Chambliss' brigades, driven the enemy steadily to within a mile of Shepherdstown, Jenkins' brigade not having yet appeared on the left. It, however, soon after arrived in Fitz Lee's rear, and moved up to his support. The ground was not practicable for cavalry, and the main body was dismounted and advanced in line of battle. The enemy retired to a strong position behind stone fences and barricades near Colonel A. R. Bote-ler's residence, and it being nearly dark, obstinately maintained their ground at this last point until dark, to cover their withdrawal.
Preparations were made to renew the attack vigorously next morning, but daybreak revealed that the enemy had retired towards Harper's Ferry.
The enemy's loss in killed and wounded was heavy. We had several killed and wounded, and among the latter Colonel James H. Drake, 1st Virginia Cavalry, was mortally wounded, dying that night (16th), depriving his regiment of a brave and zealous leader, and his country of one of her most patriotic defenders.
The commanding general was very desirous of my moving at once into Loudon a large portion of my command, but the recent rains had so swollen the Shenandoah that it was impossible to ford it, and cavalry scouting parties had to swim their horses over.
In the interval of time from July 16th to the 22d the enemy made a demonstration on Hedgesville, forcing back Baker's brigade. Desultory skirmishing was kept up on that front for several days, while our infantry was engaged in tearing up the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad near Martinsburg ....
It soon became apparent that the enemy were moving upon our right flank, availing themselves of the swollen condition of the Shenandoah to interpose their army, by a march along the east side of the Blue Ridge, between our present position and Richmond. Longstreet's corps having already moved to counteract this effort, enough cavalry was sent under Brigadier-Gen-eral Robertson for his advance-guard through Front Royal and Chester Gap, while Baker's brigade was ordered to bring up the rear of Ewell's corps, which was in rear; and Jones' brigade was ordered to picket the lower Shenandoah as long as necessary for the safety of that flank, and then follow the movement of the army. Fitz Lee's, W. H. F. Lee's, and Jenkins' brigades, by a forced march from the vicinity of Leetown through Millwood, endeavored to reach Manassas Gap, so as to hold it on the flank of the army; but it was already in the possession of the enemy, and the Shenandoah, still high, in order to be crossed without interfering with the march of the main army, had to be forded below Front Royal.
The cavalry already mentioned reached Chester Gap early on the 23d by a by-path, passing on the army's left; and with great difficulty and a forced march, bivouacked that night below Gaines' Cross Roads, holding the Rockford road and Warrenton turnpike, on which, near Amissville, the enemy had accumulated a large force of cavalry.
On the 24th, while moving forward to find the locality of the enemy, firing was heard towards Newling's Cross Roads, which was afterwards ascertained to be a portion of the enemy's artillery firing on Hill's column, marching on the Richmond road. Before the cavalry could reach the scene of action the enemy had been driven off by the infantry, and on the 25th the march was continued and the line of the Rappahannock resumed.
Source: "The Life and Campaigns of Major-General JEB Stuart"By H. B. Mcclellan, A.M. Late Major, Assistant Adjutant-General And Chief Of Staff Of The Cavalry Corps, Army Of Northern Virginia
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