Slike strani

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 resteil 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

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, 1817, 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

Cabinet, and, moreover, gave his valuable counsel to General Scott in relation to the defence of the Capitol. At the close of the session he returned to Washington Territory, and there anxiously awaited further developments. The bombardment of Fort Sumter aroused his patriotic feeling to intense fervor. He hurried East, offered his services to the government, and was appointed soon after the battle of Bull Run to the command of the 79th (Highlander) Regiment of New York Volunteers, made vacant by the lamented death of Colonel Cameron. He was promoted to Brigadier General, Sept. 28, 1861, and was sent with his brigade upon the Port Royal expedition. He was selected to command a force sent out to dislodge the enemy at Port Royal Ferry, and met the rebel forces near that point on the 1st of Jannuary, 1862. When General McClellan was reënforced from the Department of the South, General Stevens was sent in command of the troops selected for that purpose. His division was incorporated with the Ninth Corps, took part in the campaign as already described and fought most gallantly in the battle of Chantilly, in which its beloved commander met his death. He had seized the colors of his old regiment, the 79th, and was leading on a desperate charge against the enemy, when he was shot directly through the head, immediately fell and expired without a groan or murmur. His son, the adjutant general of his division, emulating his father's bravery, fell wounded almost at the same time. General Stevens's remains were carried to Newport, Rhode Island, where his wife's family resided, and interred under the direction of the city authorities, Sept. 10, 1862. The tears of whole communities mingled with those of his family and friends in sympathy with their loss. The statesman, soldier, hero, lies at peace upon the shore of the sounding sea, that sings his requiem forever!

After the battle of Chantilly, the enemy made no further hostile movement, and on the afternoon of the 3d of September the Army of Virginia was withdrawn within the defences of Washington. General Pope on the 3d of September was relieved of his command at his own request, and General

McClellan resumed the control of the Army of the Potomac. General Burnside, having remained at Fredericksburg with a small force until all the reënforcements landed at Aquia Creek had passed through to General Pope, was directed to evacuate his position. In pursuance to orders from Washington, he destroyed machine shops, bridges and other material, and on the 4th of September he embarked a portion of his troops and proceeded to Washington. On the 7th the few soldiers that were left on guard at Aquia Creek were brought off, and the active operations of the army were transferred to other and more interesting scenes.



[ocr errors]

FTER the retreat of General Pope's forces and their ar

rival at Washington or in its neighborhood, the enemy ceased all hostile demonstrations south of the Potomac. He drew off his troops and disappeared from our front. But although foiled in his attempt to capture or destroy the Army of Virginia, and thus secure possession of the Capital, he had by no means relinquished the object of the campaign. He was still resolved upon further and bolder enterprises. Passing through the gaps of the mountains into the Shenandoah Valley, the main body moved rapidly down towards the ford at Williamsport, while smaller and detached bodies moved towards Leesburg and threatened to cross the Potomac into Maryland at the neighboring fords. The confusion resulting from the untoward character of the operations of our forces in Virginia had not yet subsided, and the authorities at Washington seemed undecided as to the question of the command of the now consolidated army. General Burnside was called into consultation with the President and General Halleck, and the honorable but responsible post of command was again offered to him. It was again declined, and General Burnside used his best endeavors to induce a renewal of confidence in General McClellan. The President had always been well disposed towards the unfortunate chief, but it was very evident that po very friendly relations existed between General Halleck and the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac. The result of the consultation was that General McClellan was again entrusted with the direction of affairs. He at once dis

« PrejšnjaNaprej »