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by the middle of October, Gen. Mc- pelled an advance of our lines—the Clellan found himself at the head of light troops covering the Rebel front fully 150,000 men—an army superior retiring whenever pressed. Lewinsin numbers, in intelligence, and in ville was reoccupied by our army on the essential quality of its material, the 9th, Vienna on the 16th, and to any ever led into battle by Napo- Fairfax Court House on the 17th of leon, and by far the largest and inost October; the Confederates recoiling effective which had ever been seen without firing a shot to Centerville and on this continent. It was not only Manassas. On the 16th, Gen. Geary, far better drilled and fitted for ser- under orders from Gen. Banks, in vice than that with which Gen. Mc- Maryland, advanced to and captured Dowell had advanced to Centerville Bolivar Hights, overlooking Harper's and Bull Run, but it was better con- Ferry. Leesburg, the capital of Loustituted, in that its members—not doun county, Va., was mistakenly reone of them a conscript—had enlisted ported evacuated by the Confederates for a term of years, after all sixty-day on the 17th; Gen. McCall, with a hallucinations had been dispelled, and considerable Union force, moving up with a full knowledge that they were the right bank of the Potomac to to encounter the hardships, the perils Dranesville, whence his scouts were and the privations of protracted and pushed forward to Goose Creek, four inexorable war.
miles from Leesburg. On the 19th Gen. McClellan held his first grand and 20th, McCall made two reconparade at the close of September, noissances in the direction of Leeswhen 70,000 men of all arms were burg, encountering no enemy, and assembled, maneuvered, and reviews | being assured by those he met that ed; a larger army than had ever be- the Rebels had abandoned that town fore been concentrated on any field some days before. Thus advised, Gen. in America. Apprehensions were ex- McClellan, on the 20th, directed the pressed that the Rebels would im- following dispatch to be sent to Gen. prove this opportunity to attack some Stone, at Poolesville, Md., where he portion of our lines; but they were was watching and guarding the line not strong enough to warrant such a of the Potomac from the Maryland venture. Still, regiment after regi- side of the river: ment, battery after battery,was poured
“Received October 20, 1861, from Camp Griffin. from the North into Washington, and "Gen. MoClellan desires me to inform you thence distributed to the several camps
that Gen. McCall occupied Dranesville yes
terday, and is still there; will send out heavy assigned them on either side of the reconnoissances to-day in all directions from Potomac, until the mere bulk of our that point. The General desires that you
keep a good lookout on Leesburg, to see if quiescent forces, the necessity for
this movement has the effect to drive them ground whereon to station them, com away. Perhaps a slight demonstration on
Gen. McClellan, in his carefully elaborated | mand of Gen. Dix at Baltimore and its depend"Report," says:
encies, were as follows: "By the 15th of October, the number of
Total present for duty........133,201
" sick................... 9,290 troops in and about Washington, inclusive of the
" in confinement......... garrison of the city and Alexandria, the city
1,156 guard, and the forces on the Maryland shore of | Aggregate present...... ....,143,647 the Potomac below Washington, and as far as
8,404 Cumberland above, the troops under the com- |
your part would have the effect to move | pursue them as far as he deems prudent, and them. A. V. COLBURN,
will destroy the camp, if practicable, before “ Ass't Adjt. General. | returning. He will make all the observa“BRIG.-GEN. STONE, Poolesville.”
tions possible on the country; will, under
all circunstances, keep his command well in Gen. Stone at once ordered Col. hand, and not sacrifice them to any supposed Devens, of the 15th Massachusetts, to
| advantage of rapid pursuit.
“ Having accomplished this duty, Col. transfer two flat-boats from the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, opposite Har unless he shall see one on the Virginia side,
near the river, which he can undoubtedly rison's Island, to the river at that
hold until reënforced, and one which can be point, and therewith to ferry over his successfully held against largely superior regiment to the island; which was numbers. In such case, he will hold on
and report. promptly done. About dark, in obe
“Cias. P. STONE, Brig.-General.” dience to a verbal order, Devens sent
“Great care will be used by Col. Devens Capt. Philbrick, with fifteen or twenty
to prevent any unnecessary injury of private men, across to the Virginia shore, property; and any officer or soldier stragwhich he ascertained was not pick
gling from the command, for curiosity or
plunder, will be instantly shot. eted by the enemy, and ascended the “ Chas. P. STONE, Brig.-General.” steep bank known as BALL'S BLUFF,
Col. Devens accordingly comwhich here rises about one hundred
menced crossing his force a little and fifty feet to the level of the adja- |
after midnight, and had his five comcent country. Pushing out a small
panies formed on the top of the bluff distance from the Bluff, Philbrick re
so soon as it was light enough to find turned and reported that he had dis- |
his way thither. Col. Lee likewise covered a small camp of the enemy,
crossed about a hundred men, and which did not appear to be well
took position this side of him. Scouts, guarded. This report was sent by
dispatched right and left, returned Col. Devens to Gen. Stone, who there
and reported that they could find no upon issued the following order:
enemy. Advancing, so soon as it " HEAD-QUARTERS CORPS OF OBSERVATION,
was light, to the supposed Rebel " POOLESVILLE, Oct. 20, 1861–101 P. M. “ SPECIAL ORDER No.
camp reported to him the night be“ Col. Devens will land opposite Harri fore, Col. D. found it no camp at all, son's Island, with five companies of his regi
but an optical illusion, created by ment, and proceed to surprise the camp of the enemy discovered by Capt. Philbrick in moonlight glimmering through a row the direction of Leesburg. The landing and of trees and presenting the appearmarch will be effected with silence and
ance of a row of tents. Having adrapidity.
* Col. Lee, 20th Massachusetts volunteers, vanced to within a mile of Leesburg will, immediately after Col. Devens's depart
without discovering a trace of an enure, occupy Harrison's Island with four companies of his regiment, and will cause the emy, Col. D. halted in a wood, unfour-oared boat to be taken across the island perceived, as he supposed, by any foe, to the point of departure of Col. Devens.
sent a messenger to Gen. Stone, and cupy the hights on the Virginia shore, after | awaited further orders. . Col. Devens's departure, to cover his return.
: At 7 A. M., a body of riflemen ap“Two mountain howitzers will be taken silently up the tow-path, and carried to the peared on his right, but fell back opposite side of the island, under the orders when approached; when Rebel cavof Col. Lee.
f the alry became visible on the road to enemy at daybreak, and, having routed, will | Leesburg. Col. Devens hereupon,
about 8 A. M., fell back to the bluff, At noon, or a little after, he was in perfect order and unmolested, and attacked by musketry from the woods there soon received a message from surrounding on three sides the field Gen. Stone to remain, and he would of barely six acres, in which his men be supported. He now counted his were formed, and at once fell back force, and ascertained that it num- some sixty yards to obtain a better bered 28 officers and 625 men. position. An hour later, being still
BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF. A. Path by which the Rebels tried to enter the open field. B. Flank movement attempted by the Rebels; defeated
y the California Regimento
unsupported, he fell back again near-, command -- having received from ly to the edge of the bluff, where Gen. Stone an order to support he was soon after reënforced, as he Col. Devens, or withdraw his force had been promised, by the California to the Maryland shore, at his discreregiment, Col. E. D. Baker," who, tion. It seems that Col. Baker had being the ranking officer, assumed doubts, on reaching the river, whether 1. U. S. Senator from Oregon; formerly in Congress from Illinois, and a Colonel in the Mexican War.
while bee the line tv, col
RESULTS OF OUR DISCOMFITURE.
623 to reënforce or withdraw Col. Dev- the struggle thus continuing for two ens's men; but, hearing that the ene- hours with desperate energy on both my were already upon Col. D., he sides, but with far greater loss on decided that he had no choice but to ours, because of the uncovered posireënforce.
tion of our men. Col. Baker insisted The main current of the Potomac on exposing himself with the most passes Harrison's Island on the Ma- reckless bravery, and fell, shot ryland side, where three flat-boats or through the head, a little before 5 scows, with a joint capacity of 125 o'clock. As our men, falling fast, persons, were used by our men; while began to waver, and some portions only a life-boat and two small skiffs, of the line to give way, in view of together carrying from 25 to 30 men, this calamity, Col. Cogswell, who sucwere employed on the Virginia side ceeded to the command, resolved to of the island. Finally, one of the scows charge the enemy on his left, and cut or flat-boats was taken around to that his way through to Edwards's Ferry, side. But the crossing of the river, two or three miles, where Gen. Stone here quite rapid, was still difficult was known to be in force; but, upon and tedious; while it does not seem attempting this movement, it was that competent persons had been de- met by a fresh Mississippi regiment tailed to supervise and effect it. A advancing from the direction of the narrow, winding path led up from Ferry, under whose destructive fire the immediate brink of the river to our decimated, discouraged troops the open field on which our troops gave way, and retreated in disorder were formed, with the enemy swarm | down the bluff, just as darkness was ing in the woods belting that field on, drawing on. The triumphant Rebels three sides, within musket-shot. Col. now advanced from all sides to the Baker reached it between 1 and 2 bluff, and fired with impunity on the o'clock, P. M. His entire force consist disorderly, straggling mass below. ed of the New York Tammany regi Meantime, the flat-boat on that side ment, Col. Milton Cogswell, the Cal of the island, being overloaded, was ifornia regiment, Lieut.-Col. Wistar, soon riddled and sunk; the life-boat and portions of the 15th Massachu and skiffs were upset and lost; and setts, Col. Devens, and 20th, Col. Lee the work of unresisted slaughter --in all, 1,900 men. The Rebels by went on. Some were shot on the whom they were assailed comprised bank; others while attempting to the 8th Virginia, 13th, 17th, and 18th swim to the island; while a number Mississippi, forming the brigade of were carried down by the current Gen. Evans. Col. Baker had barely and drowned. A few escaped in the completed the formation of his men, darkness, by stealing along the bank when his right was heavily assailed of the river unobserved, and finally by the enemy; the attack gradually reached our lines in safety. But our proceeding to the center and left, and actual loss by that bloody disaster
8 California regiment, 570; Tammany, 360; in the engagement at 1,709; which evidently 15th Massachusetts, 653; 20th Massachusetts, does not include the 13th Mississippi, with siz 318: total, 1,901.
guns, held in reserye, and so posted as to repel ' Gen. Evans's official report states his forces aid to our side from Edwards's Ferry,
was not less than 1,000 men; of legible with blood] Virginia side of the whom nearly 300 were killed out
river, at your discretion--assuming command
on arrival. right, and more than 500, including | “Very respectfully, Colonel, your most the wounded, taken prisoners.io . obedient servant, CHARLES P. STONE,
“Brig.-General Commanding." Meantime, Gen. Stone had directed
The second order was received on Gen. Gorman to throw across the
the battle-field, by the hand of Col. river at Edwards's Ferry a small force,
Cogswell, an hour before the death which made a cautious reconnois
of Col. Baker, who had put it in his sance for about three miles on the
hat without reading it. It is as road to Leesburg, when, coming sud
follows: denly upon a Mississippi regiment, it exchanged volleys and returned. “HEAD-QUARTERS Corps or OBSERVATION, Gen. Gorman's entire brigade was
“EDWARDS's FERRY, Oct. 22d, 11.50.
"E. D. BAKER, Commanding brigade: thrown over at this point during the "COLONEL: I am informed that the force day ; but, as it did not advance, its
of the enemy is about 4,000, all told. If
you can push them, you may do so as far as mere presence on the Virginia side
to have a strong position near Leesburg, if of the Potomac, so far from the scene 1 you can keep them before you, avoiding of actual combat, subserved no pur
their batteries. If they pass Leesburg and
take the Gum Spring road, you will not folpose. After the disaster was com low far, but seize the first good position to plete, Gen. Stone, about 10 P. M., ar cover that road.
"Their desire is to draw us on, if they rived on the ground from which our
are obliged to retreat, as far as Goose Creek, ill-starred advance was made; as did where they can be reënforced from ManasGen. Banks at 3 next morning, and
sas, and have a strong position.
“Report frequently, so that, when they Gen. McClellan on the evening of
are pushed, Gorman can come up on their that day. But it was now too late. flank. Yours, respectfully and truly, No relief was sent while relief could
“ CHARLES P. STONE,
" Brig.-General Commanding.”. have availed. Even McCall retired
How Stone expected Baker to from Dranesville southward on the
push' 4,000 men with 1,900, in an day of the fatal fight. Col. Baker has been widely blamed
advanced and unsupported position,
where the 4,000 might at any mofor rashness in this conflict, and even
ment be increased to 10,000 or to for disregard of orders--it would seem
20,000, is not obvious. And why most unjustly. The following orders, found in his hat after his death,
was not Gorman sent forward to
come up on their flank, at any rate; deeply stained with his life-blood, are
without waiting for 1,900 men to all the foundation for this charge :
push' 4,000 beyond Leesburg to a 5 EDWARDS'S FERRY, Oct. 21st, 1861. “Col. E. D. BAKER, Commander of brigade: 13
| good point for covering that place? “ COLONEL: In case of heavy firing in As to Col. Baker's reading or not front of Harrison's Island, you will advance reading this dispatch, it must be conthe California regiment of your brigade, or retire the regiments under Cols. Lee and
sidered that he was at that moment Devens, now on the salmost rendered il engaged with a superior force, and
10 Gen. Evans, in his report, claims 710 pris own loss at 155 only, including Col. E. R. Burt, oners, including wounded, and guesses that we 18th Mississippi, killed. Gen. Evans says he had had "1,300 killed, wounded, and drowned.” He no cannon in the fight-which is true; for his thus makes our loss exceed by over 100 all our artillery was where it could serve him best-by force engaged in the battle! He reports his | blocking the road from Edwards's Ferry.