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the 16th, "the last man had disappeared from the deserted camps," ,"* and the Army of the Potomac had left the scene of its unavailing struggles and its patient endurance. On the 20th, the army was ready to embark at Yorktown, Newport News and Fortress Monroe. General Keyes's Corps was left at Yorktown to garrison that point. It was not however till the 28th that General Sumner's corps, which had been the last to embark, was landed at Alexandria. General Burnside was stationed at Fredericksburg, to direct the movements of troops in that quarter and to hasten them forward to General Pope, who was now sorely pressed by the enemy. General McClellan repaired to Alexandria.
The month of August was the gloomiest month of the gloomy summer of 1862. The campaigns that had been so brilliantly commenced by Grant and Foote in the West, Burnside and Goldsborough in the East, and Butler and Farragut in the South, seemed in danger of ending in disaster and defeat. The interest of the country centered upon the movements that were making in Virginia. General Lee, released from the necessity of defending Richmond, was hurling his entire army upon General Pope, who with forty thousand men was endeavoring to hold the line of the Rappahannock. With the aid of the Ninth Corps, he succeeded, with admirable persistence, in sustaining himself until reënforcements began to arrive from the Peninsula.
Perhaps there has not been, in the history of the war, such confused, and, at the same time, such sanguinary fighting as marked the retreat of General Pope from the Rapidan to the defences of Washington. On the part of the enemy, General Jackson seemed ubiquitous, and harassed our troops almost beyond measure. On our own side, some of the officers of the Army of the Potomac, somewhat sore from their failure on the Peninsula and in a measure dispirited, appeared to be content with doggedly preventing an utter defeat, without any de
*McClellan's Report, p. 165.
sire to achieve a victory. General Pope, in his report, particularly complains of the want of zeal and even of subordination on the part of General Fitz John Porter, whom he accuses of "flagrant disregard of orders."* General Heintzelman's corps rendered very efficient service. The corps of Generals Franklin and Sumner reached the scene of operations only in time to cover the retreat and receive the broken and defeated remains of the Army of Virginia.
But whatever may be said of other parts of General Pope's command, that portion of the Ninth Corps which came under his direction did its whole duty, in the most gallant and praiseworthy manner. General Reno, who commanded the corps in the field, is warmly eulogized by General Pope. "I cannot express myself too highly," says the commander of the army, "of the zealous, gallant and cheerful manner in which General Reno deported himself from the beginning to the end of the operations. Ever prompt, earnest, and soldierly, he was the model of an accomplished soldier, and a gallant gentleman." The Ninth Corps, under his command, had most important tasks to perform. In the early part of the movement, it was the guard of the left flank of General Pope's army, and watched the fords of the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg with the utmost vigilance. At the last, it was the guard of the right flank as the army fell back, and fought a sharp and sanguinary battle, scattering the enemy and forcing him away from the line of retreat.
On the 12th of August, General Reno, with his command, joined General McDowell near Cedar Mountain, and on the north bank of the Rapidan, holding the high ground on this side of that river and watching the fords below. On the 18th, information was received to the effect that the enemy was massing his forces below the ridge upon the south bank, with a view to crossing the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford, and getting between our main body and the Potomac. It be
* Pope's Report, p. 27. † Ibid., p. 28.
came necessary for our army to fall back to the north bank of the Rappahannock. The Ninth Corps was to return by the road up which it had marched a few days before. The movement was executed with entire success, during the night of the 18th and through the day of the 19th. The enemy crossed the Rapidan, but was too late. When he arrived at the Rappahannock, and attempted a crossing, he found that Kelly's Ford, his most available crossing-place, was guarded by the Ninth Corps, which was ready to dispute his passage. Compelled by this manœuvre to give up his scheme of cutting our communications, the enemy seemed disposed to change the plan of his operations. He could do nothing upon our left. He decided to attempt the turning of our right. Almost the entire force of his army, which had been concentrated below and had been baffled, traversed our front behind the woods upon the south bank of the Rappahannock. His heavy columns were plainly to be discovered by our lookouts, and clouds of dust rising above the trees of the forest indicated his line of march towards our right. General Pope resolved to attack this moving column on the morning of the 23d, and gave orders to that effect to General McDowell, in command at the river. But much rain had fallen on the night previous, the river became suddenly swollen, the fords were rendered impracticable, the trestle bridge, which had been built for the passage of the troops, was swept away and the railroad bridge was threatened with destruction. The attack could not be made, and the forces under General McDowell were moved up the north bank of the river to intercept the enemy as he crossed at Sulphur Springs. But the enemy had been too rapid in his movements, and our army, leaving the river, marched in the direction of Warrenton and on the 24th occupied that town. On the 25th the line of the entire army was formed, reaching from Warrenton to Kelly's Ford. At the latter place, upon the extreme left was stationed General Reno with the Ninth Corps, who was ordered to keep open the communication with the forces below him on the river. On the 26th, however, General
Reno was at Warrenton, and on the 27th, at Fayetteville. The enemy's movements had not yet been developed. After crossing the Rappahannock at Sulphur Springs he had returned to the river, and, pushing rapidly forward beyond our right, had disappeared from our immediate front.
But General Pope was not long in doubt respecting his intentions. On the night of the 26th, our scouts brought in the intelligence that the advance of the enemy's column under Jackson had passed through Thoroughfare Gap, and was directed upon our depot at Manassas Junction. General Pope threw General Hooker's division of General Heintzelman's corps against the leading division of the enemy, which happened to be General Ewell's, and on the afternoon of the 27th a smart engagement took place near Bristow Station. General Ewell was steadily forced back, leaving his dead, many of his wounded, and much of his baggage on the field. During the same day General Reno moved his corps to Greenwich, to communicate with General McDowell, who was marching on Gainesville.*
On the night of the 27th, the position of affairs seems to have been as follows: General Pope's army was distributed on the different roads leading to Manassas Junction from Gainesville on the west, from Warrenton and Greenwich on the southwest, and on the railroad below Bristow Station. The enemy, under Jackson, was at and around Manassas Junction. Both armies were cut off from their respective bases. General McDowell's corps was between Jackson and Thoroughfare Gap. General Jackson was between our army and Washton, but was isolated from the main body of the enemy's force, which was still beyond the Bull Run mountains. The enemy had made a most audacious movement, and one which should have insured his ruin. General Pope supposed, and with good
* On the 27th, Captain Pell, of General Burnside's staff, was taken prisoner by a party of the enemy, while engaged in some perilous duty. He was released in the course of the following month and rejoined the Ninth Corps soon after the battle of Antietam.
reason, that Jackson's force would either be captured entire or would be crippled so badly as to prevent any further aggressive movement on the part of General Lee. Jackson could not retreat directly from Manassas. He did not venture to attack our forces at Bristow. He determined to retreat to Centreville, thence retiring northwards to Leesburg or through the northerly gaps of the Bull Run mountains, or west, by way of Sudley's Springs and Groveton, trusting to the chances of beating back our attack, or of turning our left flank, or of being joined by an advancing column from General Lee's main body.
On the 28th General Jackson retreated from Manassas Junction to Centreville, and not an hour had elapsed when the advance of the Ninth Corps had reached the vacated position, and, with the divisions of Generals Hooker and Kearney, pushed forward in pursuit of the enemy. In the afternoon General Kearney drove the enemy's rearguard out of Centreville. In the meantime, a part of General McDowell's force, marching upon Centreville from the west, came in contact with the enemy not far from the old battle field of Bull Run, and a pretty severe engagement ensued, lasting from six o'clock in the afternoon till dark. Thus far everything was working well, and General Pope was sanguine of success. If his entire command could be concentrated, his forces would be superior to those of the enemy. But it would appear that some of the corps commanders operated mostly at their own discretion, and paid but little attention to the orders of the commanding general. General Sigel, instead of marching from Gainesville at daylight on the 28th, as ordered, was still lingering there till the day had considerably advanced. General Fitz John Porter, who had been ordered up from Warrenton Junction on the 27th, had left there one division of his corps at least, as late as daylight on the 28th, and had proceeded only as far as Bristow by the night of the latter day. General McDowell had detached one division of his corps to proceed to the neighborhood of Thoroughfare Gap, by which his means of defence