DESTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION:
Personal Experiences of the Late War.
Lieutenant-General in the Confederate Army.
New York: D. Appleton and Company, 549 and 551 Broadway. 1879.
Copyright by D. Appleton and Company, 1879.
These reminiscences of Secession, War, and Reconstruction it has seemed to me a duty to record. An actor therein, accident of fortune afforded me exceptional advantages for an interior view.
The opinions expressed are sincerely entertained, but of their correctness such readers as I may find must judge. I have in most cases been a witness to the facts alleged, or have obtained them from the best sources. Where statements are made upon less authority, I have carefully endeavored to indicate it by the language employed.
Causes of the Civil War—The Charleston Convention—Convention of Louisiana—Temper of the People.
FIRST SCENES OF THE WAR. 15
Blindness of the Confederate Government—General Bragg occupies Pensacola—Battle of Manassas—Its Effects on the North and the South—"Initiative" and "Defensive" in War.
AFTER MANASSAS. 22
General W.H.T. Walker—The Louisiana Brigade—The "Tigers"—Major Wheat—General Joseph E. Johnston and Jefferson Davis—Alexander H. Stephens.
OPENING OF THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN. 31
McClellan as an Organizer—The James River Route to Richmond—Army of Northern Virginia moved to Orange Court House—Straggling—General Ewell—Bugeaud's "Maxims"—Uselessness of Tents—Counsels to Young Officers.
THE VALLEY CAMPAIGN. 42
The Army moved to Gordonsville—Joseph E. Johnston as a Commander—Valley of Virginia—Stonewall Jackson—Belle Boyd—Federals routed at Front Royal—Cuirassiers strapped to their Horses—Battle of Winchester—A "Walk Over" at Strasburg—General Ashby—Battle of Port Republic.
"THE SEVEN DAYS AROUND RICHMOND." 83
Clever Strategy—The Valley Army summoned to the Defense of Richmond—Battles of Cold Harbor, Frazier's Farm, Malvern Hill—Ignorance of the Topography—McClellan as a Commander—General R.E. Lee—His magnificent Strategy—His Mistakes.
THE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA. 99
General Bragg—Invasion of Kentucky—Western Louisiana—Its Topography and River Systems—The Attakapas, Home of the Acadians—The Creole Population.
OPERATIONS IN LOUISIANA AND ON THE MISSISSIPPI. 111
Federal Post at Bayou Des Allemands Surprised—Marauding by the Federals—Salt Mines at Petit Anse—General Pemberton—Major Brent Chief of Artillery—Federal Operations on the Lafourche—Gunboat Cotton—General Weitzel Advances up the Teche—Capture of Federal Gunboats—General Kirby Smith.
ATTACKED BY THE FEDERALS—ATTEMPT TO RELIEVE VICKSBURG—CAPTURE OF BERWICK'S BAY. 129
Federal Advance against Bisland—Retreat of the Confederates—Banks's Dispatches—Relief of Vicksburg impracticable—Capture of Federal Post at Berwick's Bay—Attack on Fort Butler—Fall of Vicksburg and of Port Hudson.
MOVEMENT TO THE RED RIVER—CAMPAIGN AGAINST BANKS. 148
The Confederate Losses at Vicksburg and Port Hudson—Federals beaten at Bayou Bourbeau—Trans-Mississippi Department, its Bureaux and Staff—A Federal Fleet and Army ascend Red River—Battle of Pleasant Hill—Success of the Confederates—Perilous Situation of Banks's Army and the Fleet.
ESCAPE OF BANKS AND PORTER. 176
The Fleet descends Red River to Grand Ecore—Banks concentrates his Army there—Taylor's Force weakened by General Kirby Smith—Confederates harass Rear of Federal Column—The Federals cross the River at Monette's Ferry and reach Alexandria—Retreat of the Fleet harassed—It passes over the Falls at Alexandria.
EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. 196
The Mississippi controlled by the Federals—Taylor assigned to the Command of Alabama, Mississippi, etc.—Forrest's Operations—General Sherman in Georgia—Desperate Situation of Hood—Remnant of his Army sent to North Carolina.
CLOSING OPERATIONS OF THE WAR—SURRENDER. 221
Fall of Mobile—Last Engagement of the War—Johnston-Sherman Convention—Taylor surrenders to General Canby—Last Hours of the "Trans-Mississippi Department."
CRITICISMS AND REFLECTIONS. 230
Gettysburg—Shiloh—Albert Sidney Johnston—Lack of Statesmanship in the Confederacy—"King Cotton"—Carpet-Baggers.
RECONSTRUCTION UNDER JOHNSON. 239
Interceding for Prisoners—Debauchery and Corruption in Washington—General Grant—Andrew Johnson—Stevens, Winter Davis, Sumner—Setting up and pulling down State Governments—The "Ku-Klux"—Philadelphia Convention.
RECONSTRUCTION UNDER GRANT. 256
Demoralization at the North—a Corrupt Vice-President—a Hypocritical Banker—a Great Preacher profiting by his own Evil Reputation—Knaves made Plenipotentiaries—A Spurious Legislature installed in the Louisiana State House—General Sheridan in New Orleans—An American Alberoni—Presidential Election of 1876—Congress over-awed by a Display of Military Force.
The Financial Crisis—Breaches of Trust—Labor Troubles—Destitution—Negro Suffrage fatal to the South.
DESTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION.
The history of the United States, as yet unwritten, will show the causes of the "Civil War" to have been in existence during the Colonial era, and to have cropped out into full view in the debates of the several State Assemblies on the adoption of the Federal Constitution, in which instrument Luther Martin, Patrick Henry, and others, insisted that they were implanted. African slavery at the time was universal, and its extinction in the North, as well as its extension in the South, was due to economic reasons alone.
The first serious difficulty of the Federal Government arose from the attempt to lay an excise on distilled spirits. The second arose from the hostility of New England traders to the policy of the Government in the war of 1812, by which their special interests were menaced; and there is now evidence to prove that, but for the unexpected peace, an attempt to disrupt the Union would then have been made.
The "Missouri Compromise" of 1820 was in reality a truce between antagonistic revenue systems, each seeking to gain the balance of power. For many years subsequently, slaves—as domestic servants—were taken to the Territories without exciting remark, and the "Nullification" movement in South Carolina was entirely directed against the tariff.
Anti-slavery was agitated from an early period, but failed to attract public attention for many years. At length, by unwearied industry, by ingeniously attaching itself to exciting questions of the day, with which it had no natural connection, it succeeded in making a lodgment in the public mind, which, like a subject exhausted by long effort, is exposed to the attack of some malignant fever, that in a normal condition of vigor would have been resisted. The common belief that slavery was the cause of civil war is incorrect, and Abolitionists are not justified in claiming the glory and spoils of the conflict and in pluming themselves as "choosers of the slain."
The vast immigration that poured into the country between the years 1840 and 1860 had a very important influence in directing the events of the latter year. The numbers were too great to be absorbed and assimilated by the native population. States in the West were controlled by German and Scandinavian voters, while the Irish took possession of the seaboard towns. Although the balance of party strength was not much affected by these naturalized voters, the modes of political thought were seriously disturbed, and a tendency was manifested to transfer exciting topics from the domain of argument to that of violence.
The aged and feeble President, Mr. Buchanan, unfitted for troublous times, was driven to and fro by ambitious leaders of his own party, as was the last weak Hapsburg who reigned in Spain by the rival factions of France and Austria.
Under these conditions the National Democratic Convention met at Charleston, South Carolina, in the spring of 1860, to declare the principles on which the ensuing presidential campaign was to be conducted, and select candidates for the offices of President and Vice-President. Appointed a delegate by the Democracy of my State, Louisiana, in company with others I reached Charleston two days in advance of the time. We were at once met by an invitation to join in council delegates from the Gulf States, to agree upon some common ground of action in the Convention, but declined for the reason that we were accredited to the National Convention, and had no authority to participate in other deliberations. This invitation and the terms in which it was conveyed argued badly for the harmony of the Convention itself, and for the preservation of the unity of the Democracy, then the only organization supported in all quarters of the country.
It may be interesting to recall the impression created at the time by the tone and temper of different delegations. New England adhered to the old tenets of the Jefferson school. Two leaders from Massachusetts, Messrs. Caleb Cushing and Benjamin F. Butler, of whom the former was chosen President of the Convention, warmly supported the candidacy of Mr. Jefferson Davis. New York, under the direction of Mr. Dean Richmond, gave its influence to Mr. Douglas. Of a combative temperament, Mr. Richmond was impressed with a belief that "secession" was but a bugbear to frighten the northern wing of the party. Thus he failed to appreciate the gravity of the situation, and impaired the value of unusual common sense and unselfish patriotism, qualities he possessed to an eminent degree. The anxieties of Pennsylvania as to candidates were accompanied by a philosophic indifference as to principles. The Northwest was ardent for Douglas, who divided with Guthrie Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana held moderate opinions, and were ready to adopt any honorable means to preserve the unity of the party and country. The conduct of the South Carolina delegates was admirable. Representing the most advanced constituency in the Convention, they were singularly reticent, and abstained from adding fuel to the flames. They limited their role to that of dignified, courteous hosts, and played it as Carolina gentlemen are wont to do. From Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas came the fiery spirits, led by Mr. William L. Yancey of Alabama, an able rhetorician. This gentleman had persuaded his State Convention to pass a resolution, directing its delegates to withdraw from Charleston if the Democracy there assembled refused to adopt the extreme Southern view as to the rights of citizens in the territories. In this he was opposed by ex-Governor Winston, a man of conservative tendencies, and long the rival of Mr. Yancey in State politics. Both gentlemen were sent to Charleston, but the majority of their co-delegates sustained Mr. Yancey.
Several days after its organization the National Convention reached a point which made the withdrawal of Alabama imminent. Filled with anxious forebodings, I sought after nightfall the lodgings of Messrs. Slidell, Bayard, and Bright, United States senators, who had come to Charleston, not as delegates, but under the impulse of hostility to the principles and candidacy of Mr. Douglas. There, after pointing out the certain consequences of Alabama's impending action, I made an earnest appeal for peace and harmony, and with success. Mr. Yancey was sent for, came into our views after some discussion, and undertook to call his people together at that late hour, and secure their consent to disregard instructions. We waited until near dawn for Yancey's return, but his efforts failed of success. Governor Winston, originally opposed to instructions as unwise and dangerous, now insisted that they should be obeyed to the letter, and carried a majority of the Alabama delegates with him. Thus the last hope of preserving the unity of the National Democracy was destroyed, and by one who was its earnest advocate.
The withdrawal of Alabama, followed by other Southern States, the adjournment of a part of the Convention to Baltimore and of another part to Richmond, and the election of Lincoln by votes of Northern States, require no further mention.
In January, 1861, the General Assembly of Louisiana met. A member of the upper branch, and chairman of its Committee on Federal Relations, I reported, and assisted in passing, an act to call a Convention of the people of the State to consider of matters beyond the competency of the Assembly. The Convention met in March, and was presided over by ex-Governor and ex-United States Senator Alexander Mouton, a man of high character. I represented my own parish, St. Charles, and was appointed chairman of the Military and Defense Committee, on behalf of which two ordinances were reported and passed: one, to raise two regiments; the other, to authorize the Governor to expend a million of dollars in the purchase of arms and munitions. The officers of the two regiments were to be appointed by the Governor, and the men to be enlisted for five years, unless sooner discharged. More would have been desirable in the way of raising troops, but the temper of men's minds did not then justify the effort. The Governor declined to use his authority to purchase arms, assured as he was on all sides that there was no danger of war, and that the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge, completely in our power, would furnish more than we could need. It was vainly urged in reply that the stores of the arsenal were almost valueless, the arms being altered flintlock muskets, and the accouterments out of date. The current was too strong to stem.
The Convention, by an immense majority of votes, adopted an ordinance declaring that Louisiana ceased to be a State within the Union. Indeed, similar action having already been taken by her neighbors, Louisiana of necessity followed. At the time and since, I marveled at the joyous and careless temper in which men, much my superiors in sagacity and experience, consummated these acts. There appeared the same general gaite de coeur that M. Ollivier claimed for the Imperial Ministry when war was declared against Prussia. The attachment of northern and western people to the Union; their superiority in numbers, in wealth, and especially in mechanical resources; the command of the sea; the lust of rule and territory always felt by democracies, and nowhere to a greater degree than in the South—all these facts were laughed to scorn, or their mention was ascribed to timidity and treachery.
As soon as the Convention adjourned, finding myself out of harmony with prevailing opinion as to the certainty of war and necessity for preparation, I retired to my estate, determined to accept such responsibility only as came to me unsought.
The inauguration of President Lincoln; the confederation of South Carolina, Georgia, and the five Gulf States; the attitude of the border slave States, hoping to mediate; the assembling of Confederate forces at Pensacola, Charleston, and other points; the seizure of United States forts and arsenals; the attack on "Sumter"; war—these followed with bewildering rapidity, and the human agencies concerned seemed as unconscious as scene-shifters in some awful tragedy.
FIRST SCENES OF THE WAR.
I was drawn from my retreat by an invitation from General Bragg, a particular friend, to visit Pensacola, where he commanded the southern forces, composed of volunteers from the adjacent States. Full of enthusiasm for their cause, and of the best material, officers and men were, with few exceptions, without instruction, and the number of educated officers was, as in all the southern armies, too limited to satisfy the imperious demands of the staff, much less those of the drill-master. Besides, the vicious system of election of officers struck at the very root of that stern discipline without which raw men cannot be converted into soldiers.
The Confederate Government, then seated at Montgomery, weakly receded from its determination to accept no volunteers for short terms of service, and took regiments for twelve months. The same blindness smote the question of finance. Instead of laying taxes, which the general enthusiasm would have cheerfully endured, the Confederate authorities pledged their credit, and that too for an amount which might have implied a pact with Mr. Seward that, should war unhappily break out, its duration was to be strictly limited to sixty days. The effect of these errors was felt throughout the struggle.
General Bragg occupied Pensacola, the United States navy yard, and Fort Barrancas on the mainland; while Fort Pickens, on Santa Rosa island, was held by Federal troops, with several war vessels anchored outside the harbor. There was an understanding that no hostile movement would be made by either side without notice. Consequently, Bragg worked at his batteries bearing on Pickens, while Major Brown, the Federal commander, strengthened with sand bags and earth the weak landward curtain of his fort; and time was pleasantly passed by both parties in watching each other's occupation.
Some months before this period, when Florida enforced her assumed right to control all points within her limits, a small company of United States artillery, under Lieutenant Slemmer, was stationed at Barrancas, where it was helpless. After much manoeuvring, the State forces of Florida induced Slemmer to retire from Barrancas to Pickens, then garrisoned by one ordnance sergeant, and at the mercy of a corporal's guard in a rowboat. Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, was in a similar condition before Anderson retired to it with his company. The early seizure of these two fortresses would have spared the Confederates many serious embarrassments; but such small details were neglected at that time.
My visit to Pensacola was brought to a close by information from the Governor of Louisiana of my appointment to the colonelcy of the 9th Louisiana infantry, a regiment just formed at camp on the railway some miles north of New Orleans, and under orders for Richmond. Accepting the appointment, I hastened to the camp, inspected the command, ordered the Lieutenant Colonel—Randolph, a well-instructed officer for the time—to move by rail to Richmond as rapidly as transportation was furnished, and went on to New Orleans, as well to procure equipment, in which the regiment was deficient, as to give some hours to private affairs. It was known that there was a scarcity of small-arm ammunition in Virginia, owing to the rapid concentration of troops; and I was fortunate in obtaining from the Louisiana authorities a hundred thousand rounds, with which, together with some field equipment, I proceeded by express to Richmond, where I found my command, about a thousand strong, just arrived and preparing to go into camp. The town was filled with rumor of battle away north at Manassas, where Beauregard commanded the Confederate forces. A multitude of wild reports, all equally inflamed, reached my ears while looking after the transportation of my ammunition, of which I did not wish to lose sight. Reaching camp, I paraded the regiment, and stated the necessity for prompt action, and my purpose to make application to be sent to the front immediately. Officers and men were delighted with the prospect of active service, and largely supplied want of experience by zeal. Ammunition was served out, three days' rations were ordered for haversacks, and all camp equipage not absolutely essential was stored.
These details attended to, at 5 P.M. I visited the war office, presided over by General Pope Walker of Alabama. When the object of my visit was stated, the Secretary expressed much pleasure, as he was anxious to send troops forward, but had few in readiness to move, owing to the lack of ammunition, etc. As I had been in Richmond but a few hours, my desire to move and adequate state of preparation gained me some "red-letter" marks at the war office. The Secretary thought that a train would be in readiness at 9 o'clock that night. Accordingly, the regiment was marched to the station, where we remained several weary hours. At length, long after midnight, our train made its appearance. As the usual time to Manassas was some six hours, we confidently expected to arrive in the early forenoon; but this expectation our engine brought to grief. It proved a machine of the most wheezy and helpless character, creeping snail-like on levels, and requiring the men to leave the carriages to help it up grades. As the morning wore on, the sound of guns, reechoed from the Blue Ridge mountains on our left, became loud and constant. At every halt of the wretched engine the noise of battle grew more and more intense, as did our impatience. I hope the attention of the recording angel was engrossed that day in other directions. Later we met men, single or in squads, some with arms and some without, moving south, in which quarter they all appeared to have pressing engagements.
At dusk we gained Manassas Junction, near the field where, on that day, the battle of first "Manassas" had been fought and won. Bivouacking the men by the roadside, I sought through the darkness the headquarters of General Beauregard, to whom I was instructed to report. With much difficulty and delay the place was found, and a staff officer told me that orders would be sent the following morning. By these I was directed to select a suitable camp, thus indicating that no immediate movement was contemplated.
The confusion that reigned about our camps for the next few days was extreme. Regiments seemed to have lost their colonels, colonels their regiments. Men of all arms and all commands were mixed in the wildest way. A constant fusillade of small arms and singing of bullets were kept up, indicative of a superfluity of disorder, if not of ammunition. One of my men was severely wounded in camp by a "stray," and derived no consolation from my suggestion that it was a delicate attention of our comrades to mitigate the disappointment of missing the battle. The elation of our people at their success was natural. They had achieved all, and more than all, that could have been expected of raw troops; and some commands had emulated veterans by their steadiness under fire. Settled to the routine of camp duty, I found many opportunities to go over the adjacent battle field with those who had shared the action, then fresh in their memories. Once I had the privilege of so doing in company with Generals Johnston and Beauregard; and I will now give my opinion of this, as I purpose doing of such subsequent actions, and commanders therein, as came within the range of my personal experience during the war.
Although since the days of Nimrod war has been the constant occupation of men, the fingers of one hand suffice to number the great commanders. The "unlearned" hardly think of usurping Tyndall's place in the lecture room, or of taking his cuneiform bricks from Rawlinson; yet the world has been much more prolific of learned scientists and philologers than of able generals. Notwithstanding, the average American (and, judging from the dictatorship of Maitre Gambetta, the Frenchman) would not have hesitated to supersede Napoleon at Austerlitz or Nelson at Trafalgar. True, Cleon captured the Spartan garrison, and Narses gained victories, and Bunyan wrote the "Pilgrim's Progress;" but pestilent demagogues and mutilated guardians of Eastern zenanas have not always been successful in war, nor the great and useful profession of tinkers written allegory. As men without knowledge have at all times usurped the right to criticise campaigns and commanders, they will doubtless continue to do so despite the protests of professional soldiers, who discharge this duty in a reverent spirit, knowing that the greatest is he who commits the fewest blunders.
General McDowell, the Federal commander at Manassas, and a trained soldier of unusual acquirement, was so hounded and worried by ignorant, impatient politicians and newspapers as to be scarcely responsible for his acts. This may be said of all the commanders in the beginning of the war, and notably of Albert Sidney Johnston, whose early fall on the field of Shiloh was irreparable, and mayhap determined the fate of the South. McDowell's plan of battle was excellent, and its execution by his mob no worse than might have been confidently expected. The late Governor Andrew of Massachusetts observed that his men thought they were going to a town meeting, and this is exhaustive criticism. With soldiers at his disposal, McDowell would have succeeded in turning and overwhelming Beauregard's left, driving him from his rail communications with Richmond, and preventing the junction of Johnston from the valley. It appears that Beauregard was to some extent surprised by the attack, contemplating movements by his own centre and right. His exposed and weak left stubbornly resisted the shock of attacking masses, while he, with coolness and personal daring most inspiriting to his men, brought up assistance from centre and right; and the ground was held until Johnston, who had skillfully eluded Patterson, arrived and began feeding our line, when the affair was soon decided.
There can be little question that with a strong brigade of soldiers Johnston could have gone to Washington and Baltimore. Whether, with his means, he should have advanced, has been too much and angrily discussed already. Napoleon held that, no matter how great the confusion and exhaustion of a victorious army might be, a defeated one must be a hundred-fold worse, and action should be based on this. Assuredly, if there be justification in disregarding an axiom of Napoleon, the wild confusion of the Confederates after Manassas afforded it.
The first skirmishes and actions of the war proved that the Southron, untrained, was a better fighter than the Northerner—not because of more courage, but of the social and economic conditions by which he was surrounded. Devoted to agriculture in a sparsely populated country, the Southron was self-reliant, a practiced horseman, and skilled in the use of arms. The dense population of the North, the habit of association for commercial and manufacturing purposes, weakened individuality of character, and horsemanship and the use of arms were exceptional accomplishments. The rapid development of railways and manufactures in the West had assimilated the people of that region to their eastern neighbors, and the old race of frontier riflemen had wandered to the far interior of the continent. Instruction and discipline soon equalized differences, and battles were decided by generalship and numbers; and this was the experience of our kinsmen in their great civil war. The country squires who followed the banners of Newcastle and Rupert at first swept the eastern-counties yeomanry and the London train-bands from the field; but fiery and impetuous valor was at last overmatched by the disciplined purpose and stubborn constancy of Cromwell's Ironsides.
The value of the "initiative" in war cannot be overstated. It surpasses in power mere accession of numbers, as it requires neither transport nor commissariat. Holding it, a commander lays his plans deliberately, and executes them at his own appointed time and in his own way. The "defensive" is weak, lowering the morale of the army reduced to it, enforcing constant watchfulness lest threatened attacks become real, and keeping commander and troops in a state of anxious tension. These truisms would not deserve mention did not the public mind ignore the fact that their application is limited to trained soldiers, and often become impatient for the employment of proved ability to sustain sieges and hold lines in offensive movements. A collection of untrained men is neither more nor less than a mob, in which individual courage goes for nothing. In movement each person finds his liberty of action merged in a crowd, ignorant and incapable of direction. Every obstacle creates confusion, speedily converted into panic by opposition. The heroic defenders of Saragossa could not for a moment have faced a battalion of French infantry in the open field. Osman's solitary attempt to operate outside of Plevna met with no success; and the recent defeat of Moukhtar may be ascribed to incaution in taking position too far from his line of defense, where, when attacked, manoeuvres of which his people were incapable became necessary.
After the action at Manassas, the summer and winter of 1861 wore away without movements of special note in our quarter, excepting the defeat of the Federals at Ball's Bluff, on the Potomac, by a detached brigade of Confederates, commanded by General Evans of South Carolina, a West-Pointer enjoying the sobriquet of Shanks from the thinness of his legs.
In the organization of our army, my regiment was brigaded with the 6th, 7th, and 8th regiments of the Louisiana infantry, and placed under General William H.T. Walker of Georgia. Graduated from West Point in the summer of 1837, this officer joined the 6th United States infantry operating against the Seminoles in Florida. On Christmas day following was fought the battle of Okeechobee, the severest fight of that Indian war. The savages were posted on a thickly jungled island in the lake, through the waters of which, breast-high, the troops advanced several hundred yards to the attack. The loss on our side was heavy, but the Indians were so completely routed as to break their spirit. Colonel Zachary Taylor commanded, and there won his yellow sash and grade. Walker was desperately wounded, and the medical people gave him up; but he laughed at their predictions and recovered. In the war with Mexico, assaulting Molino del Rey, he received several wounds, all pronounced fatal, and science thought itself avenged. Again he got well, as he said, to spite the doctors. Always a martyr to asthma, he rarely enjoyed sleep but in a sitting posture; yet he was as cheerful and full of restless activity as the celebrated Earl of Peterborough. Peace with Mexico established, Walker became commandant of cadets at West Point. His ability as an instructor, and his lofty, martial bearing, deeply impressed his new brigade and prepared it for stern work. Subsequently Walker died on the field near Atlanta, defending the soil of his native State—a death of all others he would have chosen. I have dwelt somewhat on his character, because it was one of the strangest I have met. No enterprise was too rash to awaken his ardor, if it necessitated daring courage and self-devotion. Truly, he might have come forth from the pages of old Froissart. It is with unaffected feeling that I recall his memory and hang before it my humble wreath of immortelles.
In camp our army experienced much suffering and loss of strength. Drawn almost exclusively from rural districts, where families lived isolated, the men were scourged with mumps, whooping-cough, and measles, diseases readily overcome by childhood in urban populations. Measles proved as virulent as smallpox or cholera. Sudden changes of temperature drove the eruption from the surface to the internal organs, and fevers, lung and typhoid, and dysenteries followed. My regiment was fearfully smitten, and I passed days in hospital, nursing the sick and trying to comfort the last moments of many poor lads, dying so far from home and friends. Time and frequent changes of camp brought improvement, but my own health gave way. A persistent low fever sapped my strength and impaired the use of my limbs. General Johnston kindly ordered me off to the Fauquier springs, sulphur waters, some twenty miles to the south. There I was joined and carefully nursed by a devoted sister, and after some weeks slowly regained health.
On the eve of returning to the army, I learned of my promotion to brigadier, to relieve General Walker, transferred to a brigade of Georgians. This promotion seriously embarrassed me. Of the four colonels whose regiments constituted the brigade, I was the junior in commission, and the other three had been present and "won their spurs" at the recent battle, so far the only important one of the war. Besides, my known friendship for President Davis, with whom I was connected by his first marriage with my elder sister, would justify the opinion that my promotion was due to favoritism. Arrived at headquarters, I obtained leave to go to Richmond, where, after an affectionate reception, the President listened to the story of my feelings, the reasons on which they were based, and the request that the promotion should be revoked. He replied that he would take a day for reflection before deciding the matter. The following day I was told that the answer to my appeal would be forwarded to the army, to which I immediately returned. The President had employed the delay in writing a letter to the senior officers of the brigade, in which he began by stating that promotions to the grade of general officer were by law intrusted to him, and were made for considerations of public good, of which he alone was judge. He then, out of abundant kindness for me, went on to soothe the feelings of these officers with a tenderness and delicacy of touch worthy a woman's hand, and so effectually as to secure me their hearty support. No wonder that all who enjoy the friendship of Jefferson Davis love him as Jonathan did David.
Several weeks without notable incident were devoted to instruction, especially in marching, the only military quality for which Southern troops had no aptitude. Owing to the good traditions left by my predecessor, Walker, and the zeal of officers and men, the brigade made great progress.
With the army at this time was a battalion of three companies from Louisiana, commanded by Major Wheat. These detached companies had been thrown together previous to the fight at Manassas, where Wheat was severely wounded. The strongest of the three, and giving character to all, was called the "Tigers." Recruited on the levee and in the alleys of New Orleans, the men might have come out of "Alsatia," where they would have been worthy subjects of that illustrious potentate, "Duke Hildebrod." The captain, who had succeeded to the immediate command of these worthies on the advancement of Wheat, enjoying the luxury of many aliases, called himself White, perhaps out of respect for the purity of the patriotic garb lately assumed. So villainous was the reputation of this battalion that every commander desired to be rid of it; and General Johnston assigned it to me, despite my efforts to decline the honor of such society. He promised, however, to sustain me in any measures to enforce discipline, and but a few hours elapsed before the fulfillment of the promise was exacted. For some disorder after tattoo, several "Tigers" were arrested and placed in charge of the brigade guard. Their comrades attempted to force the guard and release them. The attempt failed, and two ringleaders were captured and put in irons for the night. On the ensuing morning an order for a general court-martial was obtained from army headquarters, and the court met at 10 A.M. The prisoners were found guilty, and sentenced to be shot at sunset. I ordered the "firing party" to be detailed from their own company; but Wheat and his officers begged to be spared this hard duty, fearing that the "Tigers" would refuse to fire on their comrades. I insisted for the sake of the example, and pointed out the serious consequences of disobedience by their men. The brigade, under arms, was marched out; and as the news had spread, many thousands from other commands flocked to witness the scene. The firing party, ten "Tigers," was drawn up fifteen paces from the prisoners, the brigade provost gave the command to fire, and the unhappy men fell dead without a struggle. This account is given because it was the first military execution in the Army of Northern Virginia; and punishment, so closely following offense, produced a marked effect. But Major "Bob" Wheat deserves an extended notice.
In the early summer of 1846, after the victories of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, the United States Army under General Zachary Taylor lay near the town of Matamoros. Visiting the hospital of a recently joined volunteer corps from the States, I remarked a bright-eyed youth of some nineteen years, wan with disease, but cheery withal. The interest he inspired led to his removal to army headquarters, where he soon recovered health and became a pet. This was Bob Wheat, son of an Episcopal clergyman, who had left school to come to the war. He next went to Cuba with Lopez, was wounded and captured, but escaped the garrote to follow Walker to Nicaragua. Exhausting the capacities of South American patriots to pronounce, he quitted their society in disgust, and joined Garibaldi in Italy, whence his keen scent of combat summoned him home in convenient time to receive a bullet at Manassas. The most complete Dugald Dalgetty possible, he had "all the defects of the good qualities" of that doughty warrior.
Some months after the time of which I am writing, a body of Federal horse was captured in the valley of Virginia. The colonel commanding, who had been dismounted in the fray, approached me. A stalwart man, with huge mustaches, cavalry boots adorned with spurs worthy of a caballero, slouched hat, and plume, he strode along with the nonchalant air of one who had wooed Dame Fortune too long to be cast down by her frowns. Suddenly Major Wheat, near by, sprang from his horse with a cry of "Percy! old boy!" "Why, Bob!" was echoed back, and a warm embrace was exchanged. Colonel Percy Wyndham, an Englishman in the Federal service, had last parted from Wheat in Italy, or some other country where the pleasant business of killing was going on, and now fraternized with his friend in the manner described.
Poor Wheat! A month later, and he slept his last sleep on the bloody field of Cold Harbor. He lies there in a soldier's grave. Gallant spirit! let us hope that his readiness to die for his cause has made "the scarlet of his sins like unto wool."
As the autumn of the year 1861 passed away, the question of army organization pressed for solution, while divergent opinions were held by the Government at Richmond and General Johnston. The latter sent me to President Davis to explain his views and urge their adoption. My mission met with no success; but in discharging it, I was made aware of the estrangement growing up between these eminent persons, which subsequently became "the spring of woes unnumbered." An earnest effort made by me to remove the cloud, then "no greater than a man's hand," failed; though the elevation of character of the two men, which made them listen patiently to my appeals, justified hope. Time but served to widen the breach. Without the knowledge and despite the wishes of General Johnston, the descendants of the ancient dwellers in the cave of Adullam gathered themselves behind his shield, and shot their arrows at President Davis and his advisers, weakening the influence of the head of the cause for which all were struggling.
Immediately after the birth of the Confederacy, a resolution was adopted by the "Provisional Congress" declaring that military and naval officers, resigning the service of the United States Government to enter that of the Confederate, would preserve their relative rank. Later on, the President was authorized to make five appointments to the grade of general. These appointments were announced after the battle of Manassas, and in the following order of seniority: Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and G.T. Beauregard.
Near the close of President Buchanan's administration, in 1860, died General Jesup, Quartermaster-General of the United States army; and Joseph E. Johnston, then lieutenant-colonel of cavalry, was appointed to the vacancy. Now the Quartermaster-General had the rank, pay, and emoluments of a brigadier-general; but the rank was staff, and by law this officer could not exercise command over troops unless by special assignment. When, in the spring of 1861, the officers in question entered the service of the Confederacy, Cooper had been Adjutant-General of the United States Army, with the rank of colonel; Albert Sidney Johnston, colonel and brigadier-general by brevet, and on duty as such; Lee, lieutenant-colonel of cavalry, senior to Joseph E. Johnston in the line before the latter's appointment above mentioned; Beauregard, major of engineers. In arranging the order of seniority of generals, President Davis held to the superiority of line to staff rank, while Joseph E. Johnston took the opposite view, and sincerely believed that injustice was done him.
After the grave and wondrous scenes through which we have passed, all this seems like "a tempest in a tea-pot;" but it had much influence and deserves attention.
General Beauregard, who about this time was transferred to the army in the West, commanded by Albert Sidney Johnston, was also known to have grievances. Whatever their source, it could not have been rank; but it is due to this General—a gentleman of taste—to say that no utterances came from him. Indiscreet persons at Richmond, claiming the privilege and discharging the duty of friendship, gave tongue to loud and frequent plaints, and increased the confusion of the hour.
As the year 1862 opened, and the time for active movements drew near, weighty cares attended the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. The folly of accepting regiments for the short period of twelve months, to which allusion has been made, was now apparent. Having taken service in the spring of 1861, the time of many of the troops would expire just as the Federal host in their front might be expected to advance. A large majority of the men were willing to reenlist, provided that they could first go home to arrange private affairs; and fortunately, the fearful condition of the country permitted the granting of furloughs on a large scale. Except on a few pikes, movements were impossible, and an army could no more have marched across country than across Chesapeake bay. Closet warriors in cozy studies, with smooth macadamized roadways before their doors, sneer at the idea of military movements being arrested by mud. I apprehend that these gentlemen have never served in a bad country during the rainy season, and are ignorant of the fact that, in his Russian campaign, the elements proved too strong for the genius of Napoleon.
General Johnston met the difficulties of his position with great coolness, tact, and judgment; but his burden was by no means lightened by the interference of certain politicians at Richmond. These were perhaps inflamed by the success that had attended the tactical efforts of their Washington peers. At all events, they now threw themselves upon military questions with much ardor. Their leader was Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, Vice-President of the Confederacy, who is entitled to a place by himself.
Like the celebrated John Randolph of Roanoke, Mr. Stephens has an acute intellect attached to a frail and meagre body. As was said by the witty Canon of St. Paul's of Francis Jeffrey, his mind is in a state of indecent exposure. A trained and skillful politician, he was for many years before the war returned to the United States House of Representatives from the district in which he resides, and his "device" seems always to have been, "Fiat justitia, ruat coelum." When, in December, 1849, the Congress assembled, there was a Whig administration, and the same party had a small majority in the lower House, of which Mr. Stephens, an ardent Whig, was a member; but he could not see his way to support his party's candidate for Speaker, and this inability to find a road, plain mayhap to weaker organs, secured the control of the House to his political adversaries. During the exciting period preceding "secession" Mr. Stephens held and avowed moderate opinions; but, swept along by the resistless torrent surrounding him, he discovered and proclaimed that "slavery was the corner-stone of the confederacy." In the strong vernacular of the West, this was "rather piling the agony" on the humanitarians, whose sympathies were not much quickened toward us thereby. As the struggle progressed, Mr. Stephens, with all the impartiality of an equity judge, marked many of the virtues of the Government north of the Potomac, and all the vices of that on his own side of the river. Regarding the military questions in hand he entertained and publicly expressed original opinions, which I will attempt to convey as accurately as possible. The war was for principles and rights, and it was in defense of these, as well as of their property, that the people had taken up arms. They could always be relied on when a battle was imminent; but, when no fighting was to be done, they had best be at home attending to their families and interests. As their intelligence was equal to their patriotism, they were as capable of judging of the necessity of their presence with the colors as the commanders of armies, who were but professional soldiers fighting for rank and pay, and most of them without property in the South. It may be observed that such opinions are more comfortably cherished by political gentlemen, two hundred miles away, than by commanders immediately in front of the enemy.
In July, 1865, two months after the close of the great war, I visited Washington in the hope of effecting some change in the condition of Jefferson Davis, then ill and a prisoner at Fortress Monroe; and this visit was protracted to November before its object was accomplished. In the latter part of October of the same year Mr. Stephens came to Washington, where he was the object of much attention on the part of people controlling the Congress and the country. Desiring his cooeperation in behalf of Mr. Davis, I sought and found him sitting near a fire (for he is of a chilly nature), smoking his pipe. He heard me in severe politeness, and, without unnecessary expenditure of enthusiasm, promised his assistance. Since the war Mr. Stephens has again found a seat in the Congress, where, unlike the rebel brigadiers, his presence is not a rock of offense to the loyal mind.
[Footnote 1: The foregoing sketch of Mr. Stephens appeared substantially in the "North American Review," but the date of the interview in Washington was not stated. Thereupon Mr. Stephens, in print, seized on July, and declared that, as he was a prisoner in Fort Warren during that month, the interview was a "Munchausenism." He also disputes the correctness of the opinions concerning military matters ascribed to him, although scores of his associates at Richmond will attest it. Again, he assumes the non-existence of twelve-months' regiments because some took service for the war, etc.
Like other ills, feeble health has its compensations, especially for those who unite restless vanity and ambition to a feminine desire for sympathy. It has been much the habit of Mr. Stephens to date controversial epistles from "a sick chamber," as do ladies in a delicate situation. A diplomatist of the last century, the Chevalier D'Eon, by usurping the privileges of the opposite sex, inspired grave doubts concerning his own.]
OPENING OF THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN.
Pursuing "the even tenor of his way," Johnston rapidly increased the efficiency of his army. Furloughed men returned in large numbers before their leaves had terminated, many bringing new recruits with them. Divisions were formed, and officers selected to command them. Some islands of dry land appeared amid the sea of mud, when the movement of the Federal forces in our front changed the theatre of war and opened the important campaign of 1862.
When overtaken by unexpected calamity African tribes destroy the fetich previously worshiped, and with much noise seek some new idol in which they can incarnate their vanities and hopes. Stunned by the rout at Manassas, the North pulled down an old veteran, Scott, and his lieutenant, McDowell, and set up McClellan, who caught the public eye at the moment by reason of some minor successes in Western Virginia, where the Confederate General, Robert Garnett, was killed. It is but fair to admit that the South had not emulated the wisdom of Solomon nor the modesty of Godolphin. The capture of Fort Sumter, with its garrison of less than a hundred men, was hardly Gibraltar; yet it would put the grandiloquent hidalgoes of Spain on their mettle to make more clatter over the downfall of the cross of St. George from that historic rock. McClellan was the young Napoleon, the very god of war in his latest avatar. While this was absurd, and in the end injurious to McClellan, it was of service to his Government; for it strengthened his loins to the task before him—a task demanding the highest order of ability and the influence of a demigod. A great war was to be carried on, and a great army, the most complex of machines, was necessary.
The cardinal principles on which the art of war is based are few and unchangeable, resembling in this the code of morality; but their application varies as the theatre of the war, the genius and temper of the people engaged, and the kind of arms employed. The United States had never possessed a great army. The entire force engaged in the war against Mexico would scarcely have made a respectable corps d'armee, and to study the organization of great armies and campaigns a recurrence to the Napoleonic era was necessary. The Governments of Europe for a half century had been improving armaments, and changing the tactical unit of formation and manoeuvre to correspond to such improvement. The Italian campaign of Louis Napoleon established some advance in field artillery, but the supreme importance of breech-loaders was not admitted until Sadowa, in 1866. All this must be considered in determining the value of McClellan's work. Taking the raw material intrusted to him, he converted it into a great military machine, complete in all its parts, fitted for its intended purpose. Moreover, he resisted the natural impatience of his Government and people, and the follies of politicians and newspapers, and for months refused to put his machine at work before all its delicate adjustments were perfected. Thus, much in its own despite, the North obtained armies and the foundation of success. The correctness of the system adopted by McClellan proved equal to all emergencies, and remained unchanged until the close of the war. Disappointed in his hands, and suffering painful defeats in those of his immediate successors, the "Army of the Potomac" always recovered, showed itself a vital organism, and finally triumphed. McClellan organized victory for his section, and those who deem the preservation of the "Union" the first of earthly duties should not cease to do him reverence.
I have here written of McClellan, not as a leader, but an organizer of armies; and as such he deserves to rank with the Von Moltkes, Scharnhorsts, and Louvois of history.
Constant struggle against the fatal interference of politicians with his military plans and duties separated McClellan from the civil department of his Government, and led him to adopt a policy of his own. The military road to Richmond, and the only one as events proved, was by the peninsula and the James river, and it was his duty so to advise. He insisted, and had his way; but not for long. A little of that selfishness which serves lower intelligences as an instinct of self-preservation would have shown him that his most dangerous enemies were not in his front. The Administration at Washington had to deal with a people blind with rage, an ignorant and meddlesome Congress, and a wolfish horde of place-hunters. A sudden dash of the Confederates on the capital might change the attitude of foreign powers. These political considerations weighed heavily at the seat of government, but were of small moment to the military commander. In a conflict between civil policy and military strategy, the latter must yield. The jealousy manifested by the Venetian and Dutch republics toward their commanders has often been criticised; but it should be remembered that they kept the military in strict subjection to the civil power; and when they were overthrown, it was by foreign invasion, not by military usurpation. Their annals afford no example of the declaration by their generals that the special purpose of republican armies is to preserve civil order and enforce civil law.
After the battle of Chickamauga, in 1863, General Grant was promoted to the command of the armies of the United States, and called to Washington. In a conference between him, President Lincoln, and Secretary Stanton, the approaching campaign in Virginia was discussed. Grant said that the advance on Richmond should be made by the James river. It was replied that the Government required the interposition of an army between Lee and Washington, and could not consent at that late day to the adoption of a plan which would be taken by the public as a confession of previous error. Grant observed that he was indifferent as to routes; but if the Government preferred its own, so often tried, to the one he suggested, it must be prepared for the additional loss of a hundred thousand men. The men were promised, Grant accepted the governmental plan of campaign, and was supported to the end. The above came to me well authenticated, and I have no doubt of its correctness.
[Footnote 2: Some of the early pages of this work were published in the number of the "North American Review" for January, 1878, including the above account of a conference at Washington between President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, and General Grant. In the "New York Herald" of May 27, 1878, appears an interview with General Grant, in which the latter says, "The whole story is a fabrication, and whoever vouched for it to General Taylor vouched for a fiction." General Halleck, who was at the time in question Chief of Staff at the war office, related the story of this conference to me in New Orleans, where he was on a visit from Louisville, Ky., then his headquarters. Several years later General Joseph E. Johnston gave me the same account, which he had from another officer of the United States Army, also at the time in the war office. A letter from General Johnston, confirming the accuracy of my relation, has been published. Since, I have received a letter, dated New York, June 6, 1878, wherein the writer states that in Washington, in 1868 or 1869, he had an account of this conference, as I give it, from General John A. Logan of Illinois. When calling for reenforcements, after his losses in the Wilderness, General Grant reminded Stanton of his opposition to the land route in their conference, but added that "he would now fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." The writer of this communication is quite unknown to me, but manifests his sincerity by suggesting that I should write to General Logan, who, he doubts not, will confirm his statement. I have not so written, because I have no acquaintance with General Logan, and no desire to press the matter further. From many sources comes evidence that a conference was held, which General Grant seems to deny. Moreover, I cannot forget that in one notable instance a question of fact was raised against General Grant, with much burden of evidence; and while declaiming any wish or intent of entering on another, one may hold in all charity that General Grant's memory may be as treacherous about facts as mine proved about a date, when, in a letter to the "Herald," I stupidly gave two years after General Halleck's death as the time of his conversation with me. These considerations have determined me to let the account of the conference stand as originally written.]
During his operations on the peninsula and near Richmond, McClellan complained much of want of support; but the constancy with which President Lincoln adhered to him was, under the circumstances, surprising. He had drifted away from the dominant Washington sentiment, and alienated the sympathies of his Government. His fall was inevitable; the affection of the army but hastened it; even victory could not save him. He adopted the habit of saying, "My army," "My soldiers." Such phraseology may be employed by a Frederick or Napoleon, sovereigns as well as generals; but officers command the armies of their governments. General McClellan is an upright, patriotic man, incapable of wrong-doing, and has a high standard of morality, to which he lives more closely than most men do to a lower one; but it is to be remembered that the examples of the good are temptations and opportunities to the unscrupulous. The habit of thought underlying such language, or soon engendered by its use, has made Mexico and the South American republics the wonder and scorn of civilization.
The foregoing account of McClellan's downfall is deemed pertinent because he was the central figure in the Northern field, and laid the foundation of Northern success. Above all, he and a gallant band of officers supporting him impressed a generous, chivalric spirit on the war, which soon faded away; and the future historian, in recounting some later operations, will doubt if he is dealing with campaigns of generals or expeditions of brigands.
The intention of McClellan to transfer his base from Washington to some point farther south was known to Johnston, but there was doubt whether Fredericksburg or the Peninsula would be selected. To meet either contingency, Johnston in the spring of 1862 moved his army from Manassas to the vicinity of Orange Court House, where he was within easy reach of both Fredericksburg and Richmond. The movement was executed with the quiet precision characteristic of Johnston, unrivaled as a master of logistics.
I was ordered to withdraw the infantry pickets from the lower Bull Run after nightfall, and move on a road through the county of Prince William, east of the line of railway from Manassas to Orange. This road was tough and heavy, and crossed by frequent streams, affluents of the neighboring Potomac. These furnished occupation and instruction to a small body of pioneers, recently organized, while the difficulties of the road drew heavily on the marching capacity—or rather incapacity—of the men. Straggling was then, and continued throughout to be, the vice of Southern armies. The climate of the South was not favorable to pedestrian exercise, and, centaur-like, its inhabitants, from infancy to old age, passed their lives on horseback, seldom walking the most insignificant distance. When brought into the field, the men were as ignorant of the art of marching as babes, and required for their instruction the same patient, unwearied attention. On this and subsequent marches frequent halts were made, to enable stragglers to close up; and I set the example to mounted officers of riding to the rear of the column, to encourage the weary by relieving them of their arms, and occasionally giving a footsore fellow a cast on my horse. The men appreciated this care and attention, followed advice as to the fitting of their shoes, cold bathing of feet, and healing of abrasions, and soon held it a disgrace to fall out of ranks. Before a month had passed the brigade learned how to march, and, in the Valley with Jackson, covered long distances without leaving a straggler behind. Indeed, in several instances it emulated the achievement of Crauford's "Light Brigade," whose wonderful march to join Wellington at Talavera remains the stoutest feat of modern soldiership.
Arrived at the Rappahannock, I found the railway bridge floored for the passage of troops and trains. The army, with the exception of Ewell's division, composed of Elzey's, Trimball's, and my brigades, had passed the Rapidan, and was lying around Orange Court House, where General Johnston had his headquarters. Some horse, under Stuart, remained north of the Rappahannock, toward Manassas.
For the first time Ewell had his division together and under his immediate command; and as we remained for many days between the rivers, I had abundant opportunities for studying the original character of "Dick Ewell." We had known each other for many years, but now our friendship and intercourse became close and constant. Graduated from West Point in 1840, Ewell joined the 1st regiment of United States dragoons, and, saving the Mexican war, in which he served with such distinction as a young cavalryman could gain, his whole military life had been passed on the plains, where, as he often asserted, he had learned all about commanding fifty United States dragoons, and forgotten everything else. In this he did himself injustice, as his career proves; but he was of a singular modesty. Bright, prominent eyes, a bomb-shaped, bald head, and a nose like that of Francis of Valois, gave him a striking resemblance to a woodcock; and this was increased by a bird-like habit of putting his head on one side to utter his quaint speeches. He fancied that he had some mysterious internal malady, and would eat nothing but frumenty, a preparation of wheat; and his plaintive way of talking of his disease, as if he were some one else, was droll in the extreme. His nervousness prevented him from taking regular sleep, and he passed nights curled around a camp-stool, in positions to dislocate an ordinary person's joints and drive the "caoutchouc man" to despair. On such occasions, after long silence, he would suddenly direct his eyes and nose toward me with "General Taylor! What do you suppose President Davis made me a major-general for?"—beginning with a sharp accent and ending with a gentle lisp. Superbly mounted, he was the boldest of horsemen, invariably leaving the roads to take timber and water. No follower of the "Pytchley" or "Quorn" could have lived with him across country. With a fine tactical eye on the battle field, he was never content with his own plan until he had secured the approval of another's judgment, and chafed under the restraint of command, preparing to fight with the skirmish line. On two occasions in the Valley, during the temporary absence of Jackson from the front, Ewell summoned me to his side, and immediately rushed forward among the skirmishers, where some sharp work was going on. Having refreshed himself, he returned with the hope that "old Jackson would not catch him at it." He always spoke of Jackson, several years his junior, as "old," and told me in confidence that he admired his genius, but was certain of his lunacy, and that he never saw one of Jackson's couriers approach without expecting an order to assault the north pole.
Later, after he had heard Jackson seriously declare that he never ate pepper because it produced a weakness in his left leg, he was confirmed in this opinion. With all his oddities, perhaps in some measure because of them, Ewell was adored by officers and men.
Orders from headquarters directed all surplus provisions, in the country between the Rappahannock and Rapidan, to be sent south of the latter stream. Executing these orders strictly, as we daily expected to rejoin the army, the division began to be straitened for supplies. The commissary of my brigade, Major Davis, was the very pearl of commissaries. Indefatigable in discharge of duty, he had as fine a nose for bullocks and bacon as Major Monsoon for sherry. The commissaries of the other brigades were less efficient, and for some days drew rations from Davis; but it soon became my duty to take care of my own command, and General Ewell's attention was called to the subject. The General thought that it was impossible so rich a country could be exhausted, and sallied forth on a cattle hunt himself. Late in the day he returned with a bull, jaded as was he of Ballyraggan after he had been goaded to the summit of that classic pass, and venerable enough to have fertilized the milky mothers of the herds of our early Presidents, whose former estates lie in this vicinity. With a triumphant air Ewell showed me his plunder. I observed that the bull was a most respectable animal, but would hardly afford much subsistence to eight thousand men. "Ah! I was thinking of my fifty dragoons," replied the General. The joke spread, and doubtless furnished sauce for the happy few to whose lot the bull fell.
Meantime, the cavalry force in our front had been withdrawn, and the Federal pickets made their appearance on the north bank of the Rappahannock, occasionally exchanging a shot with ours across the stream. This served to enliven us for a day or two, and kept Ewell busy, as he always feared lest some one would get under fire before him. At length a fire of artillery and small arms was opened from the north end of the bridge, near the south end of which my brigade was camped. Ordering the command to move out, I galloped down to the river, where I found Ewell assisting with his own hands to place some guns in position. The affair was over in a few minutes. The enemy had quietly run up two pieces of artillery, supported by dismounted horsemen, and opened fire on my camp; but the promptness with which the men had moved prevented loss, saving one or two brush huts, and a few mess pans.
The bridge had previously been prepared for burning, Ewell's orders being to destroy all railway bridges behind him, to prevent the use of the rails by the Federals. During the little alerte mentioned, I saw smoke rising from the bridge, which was soon a mass of flame. Now, this was the only bridge for some miles up or down; and though the river was fordable at many points, the fords were deep and impassable after rains. Its premature destruction not only prevented us from scouting and foraging on the north bank, but gave notice to the enemy of our purpose to abandon the country. Annoyed, and doubtless expressing the feeling in my countenance, as I watched the flames, Ewell, after a long silence, said, "You don't like it." Whereupon I related the following from Bugeaud's "Maxims": At the close of the Napoleonic wars, Bugeaud, a young colonel, commanded a French regiment on the Swiss frontier. A stream spanned by a bridge, but fordable above and below, separated him from an Austrian force of four times his strength. He first determined to destroy the bridge, but reflected that if left it might tempt the enemy, whenever he moved, to neglect the fords. Accordingly, he masked his regiment as near his end of the bridge as the topography of the ground permitted, and waited. The Austrians moved by the bridge, and Bugeaud, seizing the moment, fell upon them in the act of crossing and destroyed the entire force. Moral: 'Tis easier to watch and defend one bridge than many miles of fordable water. "Why did you keep the story until the bridge was burnt?" exclaimed Ewell. Subsequently, alleging that he had small opportunity for study after leaving West Point, he drew from me whatever some reading and a good memory could supply; but his shrewd remarks changed many erroneous opinions I had formed, and our "talks" were of more value to me than to him.
As our next move, hourly expected, would take us beyond the reach of railways, I here reduced the brigade to light marching order. My own kit, consisting of a change of underwear and a tent "fly," could be carried on my horse. A fly can be put up in a moment, and by stopping the weather end with boughs a comfortable hut is made. The men carried each his blanket, an extra shirt and drawers, two pairs of socks (woolen), and a pair of extra shoes. These, with his arm and ammunition, were a sufficient load for strong marching. Tents, especially in a wooded country, are not only a nuisance, involving much transportation, the bane of armies, but are detrimental to health. In cool weather they are certain to be tightly closed, and the number of men occupying them breeds a foul atmosphere. The rapidity with which men learn to shelter themselves, and their ingenuity in accomplishing it under unfavorable conditions, are surprising. My people grumbled no little at being "stripped", but soon admitted that they were better for it, and came to despise useless impedimenta.
I early adopted two customs, and adhered to them throughout the war. The first was to examine at every halt the adjacent roads and paths, their direction and condition; distances of nearest towns and cross-roads; the country, its capacity to furnish supplies, as well as general topography, etc., all of which was embodied in a rude sketch, with notes to impress it on memory. The second was to imagine while on the march an enemy before me to be attacked, or to be received in my position, and make the necessary dispositions for either contingency. My imaginary manoeuvres were sad blunders, but I corrected them by experience drawn from actual battles, and can safely affirm that such slight success as I had in command was due to these customs. Assuredly, a knowledge of details will not make a great general; but there can be no greatness in war without such knowledge, for genius is but a capacity to grasp and apply details.
These observations are not for the "heaven-born," who from their closets scan with eagle glance fields of battle, whose mighty pens slay their thousands and their tens of thousands, and in whose "Serbonian" inkstands "armies whole" disappear; but it is hoped that they may prove useful to the young adopting the profession of arms, who may feel assured that the details of the art of war afford "scope and verge" for the employment of all their faculties. Conscientious study will not perhaps make them great, but it will make them respectable; and when the responsibility of command comes, they will not disgrace their flag, injure their cause, nor murder their men.
THE VALLEY CAMPAIGN.
At length the expected order to march came, and we moved south to Gordonsville. In one of his letters to Madame du Deffand, Horace Walpole writes of the English spring as "coming in with its accustomed severity," and such was our experience of a Virginian spring; or rather, it may be said that winter returned with renewed energy, and we had for several days snow, sleet, rain, and all possible abominations in the way of weather. Arrived at Gordonsville, whence the army had departed for the Peninsula, we met orders to join Jackson in the Valley, and marched thither by Swift Run "Gap"—the local name for mountain passes. Swift Run, an affluent of the Rapidan, has its source in this gap. The orders mentioned were the last received from General Joseph E. Johnston, from whom subsequent events separated me until the close of the war; and occasion is thus furnished for the expression of opinion of his character and services.
In the full vigor of mature manhood, erect, alert, quick, and decisive of speech, General Johnston was the beau ideal of a soldier. Without the least proneness to blandishments, he gained and held the affection and confidence of his men. Brave and impetuous in action, he had been often wounded, and no officer of the general staff of the old United States army had seen so much actual service with troops. During the Mexican war he was permitted to take command of a voltigeur regiment, and rendered brilliant service. In 1854 he resigned from the engineers to accept the lieutenant-colonelcy of a cavalry regiment. When the civil war became certain, a Virginian by birth, he left the position of Quartermaster-General of the United States, and offered his sword to the Confederacy. To the East, as his great namesake Albert Sidney to the West, he was "the rose and fair expectancy" of our cause; and his timely march from Patterson's front in the Valley to assist Beauregard at Manassas confirmed public opinion of his capacity. Yet he cannot be said to have proved a fortunate commander. Leaving out of view Bentonville and the closing scenes in North Carolina, which were rather the spasmodic efforts of despair than regular military movements, General Johnston's "offensive" must be limited to Seven Pines or Fair Oaks. Here his plan was well considered and singularly favored of fortune. Some two corps of McClellan's army were posted on the southwest or Richmond side of the Chickahominy, and a sudden rise of that stream swept away bridges and overflowed the adjacent lowlands, cutting off these corps from their supports. They ought to have been crushed, but Johnston fell, severely wounded; upon which confusion ensued, and no results of importance were attained. Official reports fail, most unwisely, to fix the responsibility of the failure, and I do not desire to add to the gossip prevailing then and since.
From his own account of the war we can gather that Johnston regrets he did not fight on the Oostenaula, after Polk had joined him. It appears that in a council two of his three corps commanders, Polk, Hardee, and Hood, were opposed to fighting there; but to call a council at all was a weakness not to be expected of a general of Johnston's ability and self-reliant nature.
I have written of him as a master of logistics, and his skill in handling troops was great. As a retreat, the precision and coolness of his movements during the Georgia campaign would have enhanced the reputation of Moreau; but it never seems to have occurred to him to assume the offensive during the many turning movements of his flanks, movements involving time and distance. Dispassionate reflection would have brought him to the conclusion that Lee was even more overweighted in Virginia than he in Georgia; that his Government had given him every available man, only leaving small garrisons at Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, and Mobile; that Forrest's command in Mississippi, operating on Sherman's communications, was virtually doing his work, while it was idle to expect assistance from the trans-Mississippi region. Certainly, no more egregious blunder was possible than that of relieving him from command in front of Atlanta. If he intended to fight there, he was entitled to execute his plan. Had he abandoned Atlanta without a struggle, his removal would have met the approval of the army and public, an approval which, under the circumstances of its action, the Richmond Government failed to receive.
I am persuaded that General Johnston's mind was so jaundiced by the unfortunate disagreement with President Davis, to which allusion has been made in an earlier part of these reminiscences, as to seriously cloud his judgment and impair his usefulness. He sincerely believed himself the Esau of the Government, grudgingly fed on bitter herbs, while a favored Jacob enjoyed the flesh-pots. Having known him intimately for many years, having served under his command and studied his methods, I feel confident that his great abilities under happier conditions would have distinctly modified, if not changed, the current of events. Destiny willed that Davis and Johnston should be brought into collision, and the breach, once made, was never repaired. Each misjudged the other to the end.
Ewell's division reached the western base of Swift Run Gap on a lovely spring evening, April 30, 1862, and in crossing the Blue Ridge seemed to have left winter and its rigors behind. Jackson, whom we moved to join, had suddenly that morning marched toward McDowell, some eighty miles west, where, after uniting with a force under General Edward Johnson, he defeated the Federal general Milroy. Some days later he as suddenly returned. Meanwhile we were ordered to remain in camp on the Shenandoah near Conrad's store, at which place a bridge spanned the stream.
The great Valley of Virginia was before us in all its beauty. Fields of wheat spread far and wide, interspersed with woodlands, bright in their robes of tender green. Wherever appropriate sites existed, quaint old mills, with turning wheels, were busily grinding the previous year's harvest; and grove and eminence showed comfortable homesteads. The soft vernal influence shed a languid grace over the scene. The theatre of war in this region was from Staunton to the Potomac, one hundred and twenty miles, with an average width of some twenty-five miles; and the Blue Ridge and Alleghanies bounded it east and west. Drained by the Shenandoah with its numerous affluents, the surface was nowhere flat, but a succession of graceful swells, occasionally rising into abrupt hills. Resting on limestone, the soil was productive, especially of wheat, and the underlying rock furnished abundant metal for the construction of roads. Railway communication was limited to the Virginia Central, which entered the Valley by a tunnel east of Staunton and passed westward through that town; to the Manassas Gap, which traversed the Blue Ridge at the pass of that name and ended at Strasburg; and to the Winchester and Harper's Ferry, thirty miles long. The first extended to Richmond by Charlottesville and Gordonsville, crossing at the former place the line from Washington and Alexandria to Lynchburg; the second connected Strasburg and Front Royal, in the Valley, with the same line at Manassas Junction; and the last united with the Baltimore and Ohio at Harper's Ferry. Frequent passes or gaps in the mountains, through which wagon roads had been constructed, afforded easy access from east and west; and pikes were excellent, though unmetaled roads became heavy after rains.
But the glory of the Valley is Massanutten. Rising abruptly from the plain near Harrisonburg, twenty-five miles north of Staunton, this lovely mountain extends fifty miles, and as suddenly ends near Strasburg. Parallel with the Blue Ridge, and of equal height, its sharp peaks have a bolder and more picturesque aspect, while the abruptness of its slopes gives the appearance of greater altitude. Midway of Massanutten, a gap with good road affords communication between Newmarket and Luray. The eastern or Luray valley, much narrower than the one west of Massanutten, is drained by the east branch of the Shenandoah, which is joined at Front Royal, near the northern end of the mountain, by its western affluent, whence the united waters flow north, at the base of the Blue Ridge, to meet the Potomac at Harper's Ferry.
The inhabitants of this favored region were worthy of their inheritance. The north and south were peopled by scions of old colonial families, and the proud names of the "Old Dominion" abounded. In the central counties of Rockingham and Shenandoah were many descendants of German settlers. These were thrifty, substantial farmers, and, like their kinsmen of Pennsylvania, expressed their opulence in huge barns and fat cattle. The devotion of all to the Southern cause was wonderful. Jackson, a Valley man by reason of his residence at Lexington, south of Staunton, was their hero and idol. The women sent husbands, sons, lovers, to battle as cheerfully as to marriage feasts. No oppression, no destitution could abate their zeal. Upon a march I was accosted by two elderly sisters, who told me they had secreted a large quantity of bacon in a well on their estate, hard by. Federals had been in possession of the country, and, fearing the indiscretion of their slaves, they had done the work at night with their own hands, and now desired to give the meat to their people. Wives and daughters of millers, whose husbands and brothers were in arms, worked the mills night and day to furnish flour to their soldiers. To the last, women would go distances to carry the modicum of food between themselves and starvation to a suffering Confederate. Should the sons of Virginia ever commit dishonorable acts, grim indeed will be their reception on the further shores of Styx. They can expect no recognition from the mothers who bore them.
Ere the war closed, the Valley was ravaged with a cruelty surpassing that inflicted on the Palatinate two hundred years ago. That foul deed smirched the fame of Louvois and Turenne, and public opinion, in what has been deemed a ruder age, forced an apology from the "Grand Monarque." Yet we have seen the official report of a Federal general wherein are recounted the many barns, mills, and other buildings destroyed, concluding with the assertion that "a crow flying over the Valley must take rations with him." In the opinion of the admirers of the officer making this report, the achievement on which it is based ranks with Marengo. Moreover, this same officer, General Sheridan, many years after the close of the war, denounced several hundred thousands of his fellow citizens as "banditti," and solicited permission of his Government to deal with them as such. May we not well ask whether religion, education, science and art combined have lessened the brutality of man since the days of Wallenstein and Tilly?
While in camp near Conrad's store, the 7th Louisiana, Colonel Hays, a crack regiment, on picket down stream, had a spirited affair, in which the enemy was driven with the loss of a score of prisoners. Shortly after, for convenience of supplies, I was directed to cross the river and camp some miles to the southwest. The command was in superb condition, and a four-gun battery from Bedford county, Virginia, Captain Bowyer, had recently been added to it. The four regiments, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Louisiana, would average above eight hundred bayonets. Of Wheat's battalion of "Tigers" and the 7th I have written. The 6th, Colonel Seymour, recruited in New Orleans, was composed of Irishmen, stout, hardy fellows, turbulent in camp and requiring a strong hand, but responding to kindness and justice, and ready to follow their officers to the death. The 9th, Colonel Stafford, was from North Louisiana. Planters or sons of planters, many of them men of fortune, soldiering was a hard task to which they only became reconciled by reflecting that it was "niddering" in gentlemen to assume voluntarily the discharge of duties and then shirk. The 8th, Colonel Kelly, was from the Attakapas—"Acadians," the race of which Longfellow sings in "Evangeline." A home-loving, simple people, few spoke English, fewer still had ever before moved ten miles from their natal cabanas; and the war to them was "a liberal education," as was the society of the lady of quality to honest Dick Steele. They had all the light gayety of the Gaul, and, after the manner of their ancestors, were born cooks. A capital regimental band accompanied them, and whenever weather and ground permitted, even after long marches, they would waltz and "polk" in couples with as much zest as if their arms encircled the supple waists of the Celestines and Melazies of their native Teche. The Valley soldiers were largely of the Presbyterian faith, and of a solemn, pious demeanor, and looked askant at the caperings of my Creoles, holding them to be "devices and snares."
The brigade adjutant, Captain (afterward Colonel) Eustace Surget, who remained with me until the war closed, was from Mississippi, where he had large estates. Without the slightest military training, by study and zeal, he soon made himself an accomplished staff officer. Of singular coolness in battle, he never blundered, and, though much exposed, pulled through without a scratch. My aide, Lieutenant Hamilton, grandson of General Hamilton of South Carolina, was a cadet in his second year at West Point when war was declared, upon which he returned to his State—a gay, cheery lad, with all the pluck of his race.
At nightfall of the second day in this camp, an order came from General Jackson to join him at Newmarket, twenty odd miles north; and it was stated that my division commander, Ewell, had been apprised of the order. Our position was near a pike leading south of west to Harrisonburg, whence, to gain Newmarket, the great Valley pike ran due north. All roads near our camp had been examined and sketched, and among them was a road running northwest over the southern foot-hills of Massanutten, and joining the Valley pike some distance to the north of Harrisonburg. It was called the Keazletown road, from a little German village on the flank of Massanutten; and as it was the hypothenuse of the triangle, and reported good except at two points, I decided to take it. That night a pioneer party was sent forward to light fires and repair the road for artillery and trains. Early dawn saw us in motion, with lovely weather, a fairish road, and men in high health and spirits.
Later in the day a mounted officer was dispatched to report our approach and select a camp, which proved to be beyond Jackson's forces, then lying in the fields on both sides of the pike. Over three thousand strong, neat in fresh clothing of gray with white gaiters, bands playing at the head of their regiments, not a straggler, but every man in his place, stepping jauntily as on parade, though it had marched twenty miles and more, in open column with arms at "right shoulder shift," and rays of the declining sun flaming on polished bayonets, the brigade moved down the broad, smooth pike, and wheeled on to its camping ground. Jackson's men, by thousands, had gathered on either side of the road to see us pass. Indeed, it was a martial sight, and no man with a spark of sacred fire in his heart but would have striven hard to prove worthy of such a command.
After attending to necessary camp details, I sought Jackson, whom I had never met. And here it may be remarked that he then by no means held the place in public estimation which he subsequently attained. His Manassas reputation was much impaired by operations in the Valley, to which he had been sent after that action. The winter march on Romney had resulted in little except to freeze and discontent his troops; which discontent was shared and expressed by the authorities at Richmond, and Jackson resigned. The influence of Colonel Alek Boteler, seconded by that of the Governor of Virginia, induced him to withdraw the resignation. At Kernstown, three miles south of Winchester, he was roughly handled by the Federal General Shields, and only saved from serious disaster by the failure of that officer to push his advantage, though Shields was usually energetic.
The mounted officer who had been sent on in advance pointed out a figure perched on the topmost rail of a fence overlooking the road and field, and said it was Jackson. Approaching, I saluted and declared my name and rank, then waited for a response. Before this came I had time to see a pair of cavalry boots covering feet of gigantic size, a mangy cap with visor drawn low, a heavy, dark beard, and weary eyes—eyes I afterward saw filled with intense but never brilliant light. A low, gentle voice inquired the road and distance marched that day. "Keazletown road, six and twenty miles." "You seem to have no stragglers." "Never allow straggling." "You must teach my people; they straggle badly." A bow in reply. Just then my creoles started their band and a waltz. After a contemplative suck at a lemon, "Thoughtless fellows for serious work" came forth. I expressed a hope that the work would not be less well done because of the gayety. A return to the lemon gave me the opportunity to retire. Where Jackson got his lemons "no fellow could find out," but he was rarely without one. To have lived twelve miles from that fruit would have disturbed him as much as it did the witty Dean.
Quite late that night General Jackson came to my camp fire, where he stayed some hours. He said we would move at dawn, asked a few questions about the marching of my men, which seemed to have impressed him, and then remained silent. If silence be golden, he was a "bonanza." He sucked lemons, ate hard-tack, and drank water, and praying and fighting appeared to be his idea of the "whole duty of man."
In the gray of the morning, as I was forming my column on the pike, Jackson appeared and gave the route—north—which, from the situation of its camp, put my brigade in advance of the army. After moving a short distance in this direction, the head of the column was turned to the east and took the road over Massanutten gap to Luray. Scarce a word was spoken on the march, as Jackson rode with me. From time to time a courier would gallop up, report, and return toward Luray. An ungraceful horseman, mounted on a sorry chestnut with a shambling gait, his huge feet with outturned toes thrust into his stirrups, and such parts of his countenance as the low visor of his shocking cap failed to conceal wearing a wooden look, our new commander was not prepossessing. That night we crossed the east branch of the Shenandoah by a bridge, and camped on the stream, near Luray. Here, after three long marches, we were but a short distance below Conrad's store, a point we had left several days before. I began to think that Jackson was an unconscious poet, and, as an ardent lover of nature, desired to give strangers an opportunity to admire the beauties of his Valley. It seemed hard lines to be wandering like sentimental travelers about the country, instead of gaining "kudos" on the Peninsula.
Off the next morning, my command still in advance, and Jackson riding with me. The road led north between the east bank of the river and the western base of the Blue Ridge. Rain had fallen and softened it, so as to delay the wagon trains in rear. Past midday we reached a wood extending from the mountain to the river, when a mounted officer from the rear called Jackson's attention, who rode back with him. A moment later, there rushed out of the wood to meet us a young, rather well-looking woman, afterward widely known as Belle Boyd. Breathless with speed and agitation, some time elapsed before she found her voice. Then, with much volubility, she said we were near Front Royal, beyond the wood; that the town was filled with Federals, whose camp was on the west side of the river, where they had guns in position to cover the wagon bridge, but none bearing on the railway bridge below the former; that they believed Jackson to be west of Massanutten, near Harrisonburg; that General Banks, the Federal commander, was at Winchester, twenty miles northwest of Front Royal, where he was slowly concentrating his widely scattered forces to meet Jackson's advance, which was expected some days later. All this she told with the precision of a staff officer making a report, and it was true to the letter. Jackson was possessed of these facts before he left Newmarket, and based his movements upon them; but, as he never told anything, it was news to me, and gave me an idea of the strategic value of Massanutten—pointed out, indeed, by Washington before the Revolution. There also dawned on me quite another view of our leader than the one from which I had been regarding him for two days past.
Convinced of the correctness of the woman's statements, I hurried forward at "a double," hoping to surprise the enemy's idlers in the town, or swarm over the wagon bridge with them and secure it. Doubtless this was rash, but I felt immensely "cocky" about my brigade, and believed that it would prove equal to any demand. Before we had cleared the wood Jackson came galloping from the rear, followed by a company of horse. He ordered me to deploy my leading regiment as skirmishers on both sides of the road and continue the advance, then passed on. We speedily came in sight of Front Royal, but the enemy had taken the alarm, and his men were scurrying over the bridge to their camp, where troops could be seen forming. The situation of the village is surpassingly beautiful. It lies near the east bank of the Shenandoah, which just below unites all its waters, and looks directly on the northern peaks of Massanutten. The Blue Ridge, with Manassas Gap, through which passes the railway, overhangs it on the east; distant Alleghany bounds the horizon to the west; and down the Shenandoah, the eye ranges over a fertile, well-farmed country. Two bridges spanned the river—a wagon bridge above, a railway bridge some yards lower. A good pike led to Winchester, twenty miles, and another followed the river north, whence many cross-roads united with the Valley pike near Winchester. The river, swollen by rain, was deep and turbulent, with a strong current. The Federals were posted on the west bank, here somewhat higher than the opposite, and a short distance above the junction of waters, with batteries bearing more especially on the upper bridge.
Under instructions, my brigade was drawn up in line, a little retired from the river, but overlooking it—the Federals and their guns in full view. So far, not a shot had been fired. I rode down to the river's brink to get a better look at the enemy through a field-glass, when my horse, heated by the march, stepped into the water to drink. Instantly a brisk fire was opened on me, bullets striking all around and raising a little shower-bath. Like many a foolish fellow, I found it easier to get into than out of a difficulty. I had not yet led my command into action, and, remembering that one must "strut" one's little part to the best advantage, sat my horse with all the composure I could muster. A provident camel, on the eve of a desert journey, would not have laid in a greater supply of water than did my thoughtless beast. At last he raised his head, looked placidly around, turned, and walked up the bank.
This little incident was not without value, for my men welcomed me with a cheer; upon which, as if in response, the enemy's guns opened, and, having the range, inflicted some loss on my line. We had no guns up to reply, and, in advance as has been mentioned, had outmarched the troops behind us. Motionless as a statue, Jackson sat his horse some few yards away, and seemed lost in thought. Perhaps the circumstances mentioned some pages back had obscured his star; but if so, a few short hours swept away the cloud, and it blazed, Sirius-like, over the land. I approached him with the suggestion that the railway bridge might be passed by stepping on the cross-ties, as the enemy's guns bore less directly on it than on the upper bridge. He nodded approval. The 8th regiment was on the right of my line, near at hand; and dismounting, Colonel Kelly led it across under a sharp musketry fire. Several men fell to disappear in the dark water beneath; but the movement continued with great rapidity, considering the difficulty of walking on ties, and Kelly with his leading files gained the opposite shore. Thereupon the enemy fired combustibles previously placed near the center of the wagon bridge. The loss of this structure would have seriously delayed us, as the railway bridge was not floored, and I looked at Jackson, who, near by, was watching Kelly's progress. Again he nodded, and my command rushed at the bridge. Concealed by the cloud of smoke, the suddenness of the movement saved us from much loss; but it was rather a near thing. My horse and clothing were scorched, and many men burned their hands severely while throwing brands into the river. We were soon over, and the enemy in full flight to Winchester, with loss of camp, guns, and prisoners. Just as I emerged from flames and smoke, Jackson was by my side. How he got there was a mystery, as the bridge was thronged with my men going at full speed; but smoke and fire had decidedly freshened up his costume.
In the angle formed by the two branches of the river was another camp held by a Federal regiment from Maryland. This was captured by a gallant little regiment of Marylanders, Colonel Bradley Johnson, on our side. I had no connection with this spirited affair, saving that these Marylanders had acted with my command during the day, though not attached to it. We followed the enemy on the Winchester road, but to little purpose, as we had few horsemen over the river. Carried away by his ardor, my commissary, Major Davis, gathered a score of mounted orderlies and couriers, and pursued until a volley from the enemy's rear guard laid him low on the road, shot through the head. During my service west of the Mississippi River, I sent for the colonel of a mounted regiment from western Texas, a land of herdsmen, and asked him if he could furnish men to hunt and drive in cattle. "Why! bless you, sir, I have men who can find cattle where there aint any," was his reply. Whatever were poor Davis's abilities as to non-existent supplies, he could find all the country afforded, and had a wonderful way of cajoling old women out of potatoes, cabbages, onions, and other garden stuff, giving variety to camp rations, and of no small importance in preserving the health of troops. We buried him in a field near the place of his fall. He was much beloved by the command, and many gathered quietly around the grave. As there was no chaplain at hand, I repeated such portions of the service for the dead as a long neglect of pious things enabled me to recall.