Slike strani
PDF
ePub

against Jackson were sensibly weakened. General 'King's division of the same corps was thus compelled to fall back towards Manassas Junction, leaving the road open to the enemy's retreat. On the morning of the 29th, therefore, affairs did not look so promising as on the day previous. The issue on either side was doubtful. If General Porter's comparatively fresh corps could be got into action, the enemy was in imminent danger. If General Longstreet's corps could make a junction with Jackson, the enemy could not only secure a retreat from his present perilous position, but would also be ready to take the aggressive at some more favorable point. General Porter was moving up from Bristow, but very slowly, as the roads were encumbered with baggage trains and artillery.

On the 29th, the enemy stood at bay, occupying a position near Sudley's Springs, not far from the lines which our own forces held at the first battle of Bull Run. General Kearney had kept close to him during the night, to prevent his retreat, and in the morning General Sigel, who had come down from Gainesville during the preceding day, attacked with considerable vigor. General Jackson fell back a short distance, but still showed a defiant front. General Sigel was reënforced by Generals Reno, Hooker and Kearney, and the battle raged with fury until noon, neither party gaining a decisive advantage. Our line of battle extended from a point a short distance west of the Sudley's Springs road, to a point south of the Warrenton turnpike. General Heintzelman's corps occupied the right, General Reno the right centre, with four regiments in reserve, General Sigel the left centre, and General Reynolds' division the extreme left. During the afternoon until four o'clock, but little fighting was done, except when the enemy attempted to draw off, which became the occasion of several severe skirmishes. General Pope, in the meantime, had sent orders to Generals McDowell and Porter, who were near Manassas Junction, to bring up their corps to unite with the remainder of the army. General McDowell put his corps in motion, and began to close with the main body not far from five o'clock.

General Porter's command was halted within sound of the battle, and did not join during the day. At half past five, Generals Heintzelman and Reno were ordered to fall upon the enemy's left. With such spirit was the order executed, that, by seven o'clock, the enemy's flank was doubled back upon his centre, despite all his efforts to withstand the attack. If General Porter had now come up, all would have been well. But it was General Longstreet that made the junction with the enemy's force, and at eight o'clock, after a hard fight of two hours and more, in which Heintzelman and Reno had swept the enemy from the greater part of the field, leaving his deadand wounded in their hands, both parties ceased the struggle. The first brigade of General Reno's own division, composed of the 48th Pennsylvania, 6th New Hampshire and 2d Maryland, was conspicuous on this day for the persistence with which it held its ground when assailed, and the gallantry with which it advanced to the attack.

The day had been very warm, the troops were exhausted, and supplies were very short. But we had forced the enemy away from our line of communications, had foiled his attempts to get between us and Washington, except for a single day, and had secured the Capital from attack. During the night of the 29th the enemy was largely reënforced, and by noon on the 30th the superiority of numbers was clearly on his side. General Pope had expected to be reënforced from Alexandria by the corps of Generals Franklin and Sumner. But they had moved out only for a short distance, and the Army of Virginia could now expect nothing more than to withdraw to the defences of Washington with as little loss as possible. General Pope conceived that the best method to secure his retreat was by attacking the enemy. General Porter's corps was now up, and on the afternoon of the 30th the battle was renewed, and soon became as severe as on the previous day. General Reno and the Ninth Corps were again conspicuous for their gallantry, and fought with determined valor. Colonel Ferrero's brigade, composed of the 51st Pennsylvania, the 21st Massachusetts,

and the 51st New York regiments, did especially good service in saving the left wing of the army from utter defeat. It was posted on a hill, to the rear of the left of our line, and with the aid of Graham's battery, succeed in checking the triumphant advance of the enemy. The enemy made three successive charges upon this position, and was very handsomely repulsed, till becoming convinced that further attempts would be ineffectual, he drew off in disorder. But it was useless for our army to contend with such fearful odds as the enemy was preparing to bring up, and soon after dark, having lost about three-fourths of a mile of the field and having suffered severely, General Pope decided to fall back to Centreville and place his exhausted troops within the intrenchments at that place. The withdrawal was made during the night, slowly and quietly, the enemy making no pursuit. The Ninth Corps covered the retreat. Generals Franklin and Sumner joined from Alexandria, General Banks, who had been guarding the trains, came in from Bristow, and on the 31st the entire army rested, after its unexampled fatigues, in and about the works at Centreville. The enemy contented himself with sending a reconnoitering party of cavalry to observe our position at Cub Run.

On the 1st of September, a reconnaissance sent out by General Sumner developed the fact that General Lee had not yet given up his plan of forcing his army between our position at Centreville and the fortifications around Washington. A large body of the enemy's forces was observed moving towards Fairfax Court House. General Pope, though his army was much broken by fatigue and scarcity of supplies, promptly adopted measures to meet this new movement of the enemy. His troops were disposed along the different roads leading from Centreville to Fairfax Court House, with the Ninth Corps in advance and nearest the enemy at Chantilly, covering the main road, and supported by Generals McDowell, Hooker and Kearney. The disposition of troops was made by the afternoon of the 1st, and the enemy's movement towards Fairfax Court House was at

once checked. He prepared for battle, and about six o'clock made a vigorous attack upon the Ninth Corps. A terrific thunder storm came on at the same time, and the artillery of Heaven mingled in the fray. The scene was sublime. The flashes and reports of our guns were answered by the vivid fires above and the loud reverberating peals that shook the skies. Our troops made fierce and furious charges against the foe, and by great exertions forced him from the field. The action terminated soon after dark, the enemy was beaten back, and our men, having cleared the road and rested for a few hours, pursued their march towards Fairfax, arriving at daybreak on the 2d of September. But the severe fight at Chantilly was signalized by the loss of two of the bravest and most skillful officers in our army-Major General Philip Kearny, and Brigadier General Isaac I. Stevens. General Kearny's gallantry is well known, and it is not necessary in these pages to record his worth, his dauntlessness of spirit, his manly generosity and his earnest loyalty to the country and the flag which he ardently loved.

The Ninth Corps mourned the death of General Stevens, as of one whose future was bright with unusual promise, whose past was illustrious with brave and brilliant deeds. He had but lately come into the Corps, but he had secured for himself a very large measure of esteem, confidence and affection. He was born in Andover, Mass., March 25th, 1817, and passed his boyhood much as others do, early manifesting a decided talent especially for mathematical studies. He attracted the observation of the leading men of his neighborhood, and was appointed to a cadetship in the Military Academy at West Point. He entered the Academy in 1835, and soon distinguished himself for scholarship and manliness of character. Facile princeps, he graduated in 1839 at the head of his class, distancing his fellow students, leaving his next competitor at least fifteen marks behind him. He was appointed second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, July 1st, and was employed in superintending the erection of coastwise fortifications, especially

[ocr errors]

attending to the construction of a fort near Bucksport, Maine. He was promoted to a first lieutenancy July 1st, 1840, and in the years 1847 and 1848 was adjutant of the corps to which he belonged. In the war with Mexico, he was actively engaged on the staff with General Scott and was held in the very highest esteem by that distinguished captain, who spoke of him as the most promising officer of his age in the country. He participated in all the battles on the plain of Mexico, and was particularly conspicuous for his daring, his utter insensibility to fear, his boldness in reconnaissance, his coolness in action and his accurate knowledge of the principles of the art of war. He was brevetted Captain for gallant and meritorious conduct at Contreras and Churubusco, Aug. 20, 1847, and promoted to Brevet Major Sept. 13, in the same year, for gallantry at Chapultepec and the San Cosmo gate of the city of Mexico. At the last fight he was severely wounded in the foot. Returning home, at the close of the war, he assisted in the Coast Survey and won great honor by his skill and abilities. When President Pierce came into power, he placed Major Stevens in charge of one portion of the Pacific Rail Road survey. He resigned his position in the army in 1853, and was appointed Governor of Washington Territory. His great energy and administrative power became at once manifest. He was occupied in developing the resources of the territory, and reducing the Indian inhabitants to a state of subjection and peace. These difficult affairs were conducted with great humanity and consummate skill. A wagon expedition, which he organized, commanded and led across the northern plains, made him famous. In 1857 he was elected delegate to Congress, and there as elsewhere made his mark. Opposed to Mr. Lincoln in politics, he became Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Breckenridge Democracy in the campaign of 1860, little supposing that his colleagues were plotting the ruin of the Republic. In the gloomy and anxious session of 1860-'61, he was in familiar communication with President Buchanan, and strenuously urged the dismissal of Messrs. Floyd and Thompson from the

« PrejšnjaNaprej »