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concentration of troops on the first approach of an enemy; no further events, however, occurred.
At New Orleans, Captain G. N. Hollins, of the Confederate navy, formerly of the United States navy, and who directed the bombardment of Greyton, Nicaragua, under the administration of Mr. Pierce, was engaged during the summer in fitting out a fleet, and among other vessels constructed a steam ram, called the Manassas, which was the hull of a steamboat, plated with railroad iron, and having a projection from her bow beneath the water-line, sufficient to punch a hole in the hull of a wooden vessel if striking her with force. The Federal blockading force in the Mississippi, in October, consisted of the steamship Richmond, Captain John Pope, the sloops-of-war Preble and Vincennes, and the small steamer Water Witch. The Richmond, October 12th, was lying at the Southwest Pass, taking in coal from a schooner, when, at four o'clock A. M., the ram was discovered close to the ship. It struck her abreast of the fore channels, making a breach in her side and tearing loose the schooner. Five planks were stove in the ship's side, two feet below the water-line. Passing aft, the ram made an attempt to breach the stern of the ship. As she passed, the Richmond delivered her fire with all her port guns, but with what effect is not known. The sloops of war were at anchor a short distance below, and were signalled to get under way. When the ram struck she sent up a rocket, and soon three large fire-rafts, stretching across the river, were seen rapidly approaching, towed by a propeller and some steamers. The squadron immediately got under way and drifted down the river. The Richmond, Preble, and Vincennes got ashore on the bar, and while there were attacked by the rebels, but without receiving any damage. But one shot took effect, and that struck the Richmond on the quarter. They were beaten off by the Vincennes with two guns, she having thrown overboard the rest of her armament, with her chains, anchors, &c., to lighten her, as she was very much exposed to the fire of the enemy. The fire-rafts soon grounded and burnt up. The Union vessels escaped with no damage except to the Richmond, and no one was killed or wounded on the Federal fleet.
The operations of the navy in blockading and in aid of the expedition were now very effective, and the complaints that had, at the commencement of the war, been more or less just, in relation to the effectiveness of the blockade, subsided. It was generally admitted that the blockade was as effective as any had ever been, while successive occupation of important points on the coast encouraged the hope that the South, cut off from intercourse with the outer world, would soon be reduced to submit.
Army of the Potomac.-Volunteers.—Union Advance.-Lewinsville.-Ball's Bluff — Gereral Scott Retires.-McClellan in Command.-Dranesville.-Programme of Movement.-President's Proclamation.
IN Chapter XI. we left the Army of the Potomac gradually acquiring discipline and consolidation under the command of General McClellan. The matériel and discipline of the army meantime improved, and be came more permanently effective. The three-months' men had all retired, and the new troops were learning those duties and becoming inured to those hardships that they had voluntarily undertaken for the war. The difference between three-months men, or the militia, and volunteers for the war was a distinction that had grown out of our long peace. In 1795, soon after the formation of the Government, when the hardships of war were yet fresh in the minds of the people, Congress had, in consequence of the whiskey rebellion, authorized the President to call forth the militia to suppress insurrections, and to use such militia until thirty days after the next meeting of Congress, no man to be compelled to serve longer than three months after his arrival at the place of rendezvous in any one year. In 1812-15 the law was amended so as to require the men to serve six months, but the amendment applied only to that war. Under the law as it stood, therefore, the troops called our by Mr. Lincoln could only serve three months. The volunteers who so eagerly filled up the ranks for three years or the war could now devote the necessary time to acquiring the trade of war; and this they were doing under the continued supervision of General McClellan. While being constantly exercised in the drill and in the use of arms, the troops were employed in strengthening and increasing the numerous works around the city. The enemy meantime made no active demonstration. He was in no force to do so, and the fact that he was permitted with an army, probably scarcely more than one-third so great as McClellan's, to coop up the Federal troops within the defences of Washington, was to many loyal people a source of mortification. The majority, however, had unbounded confidence in McClellan, and yielded up their scruples to what they considered his better judgment. Hence the rebel outposts were pushed slowly towards the Potomac, and in the middle of September occupied Munson's Hill, in sight of the Capitol. Skirmishes continued along the line, of more or less importance. Towards the close of September the enemy fell back along his whole line towards Fairfax Court-House, his main body occupying nearly the same position as at Bull Run. On September 28th the Union troops pushed forward and occupied Munson's and Upton's Hills, and Fall's Church village. Two advance bodies of the Union troops came into collision by mistaking each other for the enemy, near Fall's Church. An attack was made and answered,
and before the error was discovered ten men were killed and about twenty wounded. On the 9th of October General Smith's division of the Union troops, from the chain bridge, occupied Lewinsville. A portion of the troops under Brigadier-General Porter also advanced. and occupied Miner's Hill, to the right of Fall's Church, and commanding that village and Barrel's Hill, which latter was in possession of rebel pickets. On October 16th Vienna was occupied by the Union forces, and on the 17th Fairfax Court-House, the enemy retiring upon Centreville and Manassas.
On the 30th of September, General McClellan issued an order of the day, containing regulations for the troops, and affixing names to the thirty-two fortifications that had been erected around Washington. This was followed by the following regulation, which carries on its face the necessity for its issue :
แ GENERAL ORDER, NO. 19.
"HEAD-QUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, "WASHINGTON, October 1, 1861
"The attention of the general commanding has recently been directed to depreda tions of an atrocious character that have been committed upon the persons and prop erty of citizens in Virginia, by the troops under his command. The property of inoffensive people has been lawlessly and violently taken from them, their houses broken open, and in some instances burned to the ground. The general is perfectly aware of the fact that these outrages are perpetrated by a few bad men, and do not receive the sanction of the mass of the army. He feels confident, therefore, that all officers and soldiers who have the interest of the service at heart will cordially unite their efforts with his in endeavoring to suppress practices which disgrace the name of a soldier.
"The general commanding direct that in future all persons connected with this army who are detected in depredating upon the property of citizens shall be arrested and brought to trial; and he assures all concerned, that crimes of such enormity will admit of no remission of the death penalty which the military law attaches to offences of this nature. When depredations are committed on property in charge of a guard, the commander, as well as the other members of the guard, will be held responsible for the same as principals, and punished accordingly.
"By command of Major-General MCCLELLAN.
"S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General. "RICHARD B. IRWIN, Aide-de-Camp."
Colonel John W. Geary, of the Pennsylvania Twenty-eighth Regiment, with detachments from his own, the Thirteenth Massachusetts, and Third Wisconsin Regiments, in all four hundred men, crossed the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, October 8th, and captured twenty-one thousand bushels of wheat. While upon his return and on the Charleston road, near Bolivar Heights, midway between the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers, he was attacked, October 13th, by a large Confederate force with infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Rebel batteries upon London and Bolivar Heights participated in the action, as did also a National battery upon the Maryland side. After several hours of intermittent fighting, the rebels were driven off, with considerable loss. The National loss was four killed and seven wounded, and two prisoners. Colonel Geary took from the rebels one thirty-two-pounder. The Union troops subsequently fell back from the Virginia side of the Potomac.
An event now took place which cast profound gloom over the country, not only because of the defeat of the Federal forces and the death of a gallant officer, but because of the disappointment which it caused to the hopes that had been excited through the growth and improvement of the army. Ball's Bluff is the name of a part of the bank of the Potomac on the Virginia side, east of Leesburg. Opposite the Bluff and about one hundred yards distant is Harrison's Island, a long tract containing about four hundred acres, and about one hundred and fifty yards broad. Between this and the Virginia shore the river runs with a rapid current. Between the island and the Maryland shore the river is about two hundred yards broad, and not so rapid. A short distance above the upper end of the island is a ferry across the Potomac, called Conrad's Ferry, and about an equal distance below the island is Edwards's Ferry. The two hostile armies had for many months held the opposite banks of the river at this point. It was here that the Confederates had contemplated an irruption into Maryland to attack Washington. General Banks held the Maryland side of the river, from Great Falls to Edwards's Ferry; from that point to Conrad's Ferry was stationed the division of General Stone, with head-quarters at Poolesville; next was the force of Colonel Lander, and then that of Colonel Geary. On the Virginia side the principal Confederate posts were Dranesville and Leesburg. As it was important to ascertain the strength of the enemy at Dranesville, General McClellan ordered General McCall to make a reconnoissance in that direction. This was executed October 19th, and McCall returned to his former position on the 20th, according to previous orders, reporting no enemy in Dranesville, nor within four miles of Leesburg. In consequence of this information, the following dispatch was sent by General McClellan to General Stone at Poolesville
"TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL STONE, Poolesville:
"General McClellan desires me to inform you that General McCall occupied Dranesville yesterday, and is still there. Will send out reconnoissances to-day in all directions from that point. The general desires that you keep a good lookout from Leesburg, to see if the movement has the effect to drive them away. Perhaps a slight demonstration on your part would have the effect to move them.
"A. V. COLBURN, "Assistant Adjutant-General."
On the receipt of these instructions, General Stone sent Gorman's Brigade to Edwards's Ferry; detachments of the Fifteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts to Harrison's Island; and a section of a Rhode Island battery, and the California and Tammany (New York) Regiments, under Colonel E. D. Baker, to Conrad's Ferry. A feint to cross the river was then made by Gorman's Corps in view of the
Soon after 1 A. M. of the 21st, Colonel Devens, with five companies of the Fifteenth Massachusetts, accompanied by Colonel Lee, with a detachment of the Twentieth Massachusetts, crossed from Harrison's Island to the Virginia side, and took position on the top of Ball's Bluff, which here rises abruptly some one hundred and fifty feet from the river. At the same time, in order to attract attention from
Devens, General Stone directed Gorman to send two companies of the First Minnesota across the river, and throw out a party of horse on the Leesburg road. Meantime, General Stone, having received a report from Colonel Devens that no enemy was to be seen, ordered a battalion of the Massachusetts Fifteenth to cross and protect the flank of Colonel Devens, and Colonel Baker to be ready with his brigade to act as a re-enforcement, if necessary. At about 7 A. M. of the 21st, Colonel Devens, who had pushed reconnoissances towards Leesburg, encountered bodies of rebel infantry and cavalry, and fell back in good order to the bluff. As he had only about six hundred and fifty men under his command, he reported for further orders. He was directed by Stone to remain where he was, and was promised reenforcements. While waiting for these, he was attacked about noon by the enemy, who fired from the surrounding woods upon the small Federal force drawn up in an open field of about six acres. Some portions of the First California, the Massachusetts Twentieth, with some companies of the Tammany Regiment, and four guns, had now crossed the river, and at half-past two P. M. the firing in front became very brisk. At four o'clock, Colonel Baker, who had now assumed command, formed his line for action-the Fifteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts on the right, the California on the left, and the Tammany Regiment and the artillery in the centre. Signs of a large force of the enemy now became apparent, although none were visible. This force, numbering probably four thousand men, pressing upon the one thousand nine hundred men under Colonel Baker with increasing vigor and more effective fire, induced a consultation among the Federal officers, which resulted in the determination to stand. A retrograde movement would bring the force to the steep brink of the river, where the rapid descent only led to a small boat and a scow as a means of transport over a swift channel. The only hope was to maintain the ground until troops could cross at Edwards's Ferry and force a way to their aid. Two companies were now pushed forward to feel the enemy in the woods on the left, and were met by a murderous fire, which was followed along the whole line of the enemy, who, feeling their strength, closed in on both sides of the field with overwhelming force. The gallant Baker, in the act of cheering his men, fell dead. The command then devolved upon Colonel Cogswell, of the Tammany Regiment. He had now no recourse but to at tempt to regain the Maryland shore. The men retired in an orderly manner, closely pressed by the enemy. The small boat had disappeared, however, and the larger one was swamped at the second time crossing. There was then no alternative but to swim or surrender. They chose the former, and, throwing their arms into the river, dispersed, some up and down the bank, and others on logs, and sought to cross to Harrison's Island by swimming. In this attempt many were shot and more were drowned. The pieces of artillery were tumbled down the bank, but were taken by the enemy, with some cases of shot. Out of the total Federal force engaged, barely nine hundred returned to their camps, about half the missing having been taken prisoners on the river shore. The rebels, who were com