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noissance of the enemy's fortifications, hoping thereby to discover some unprotected point where an attack might be made with some promise of success, but he failed to detect a single unguarded position. While making his perilous tour of observation along our front picket-lines, General Warren had twenty men killed and wounded.
A laughable incident occurred on this rcconnois«ance which is worth relating; and as it is too good to be omitted, I give it place in this review. One of our infantry skirmishers approached a secesh house, where quite a quantity of poultry were perambulating in a defiant and careless, yet to a hungry soldier, inviting manner. The wearied and half-famished "skirmisher" immediately commenced the practice of barn-yard strategy, deploying first to the left, then to the right, and in fact in every direction, regardless of all military rule, bent only upon dealing the death-blow to a good;sized turkey, which was strutting its hour upon the stage of life. He finally managed to turn the left flank of his noisy fugitive, and having captured the entire right wing, he was in the act of carrying off his prisoner, when the rebel sharp-shooters caught a glimpse of him, and instantly opened a galling fire upon him. The leaden shower was more unpalatable and harder to digest tli%i the defunct "gobbler," and the dish of Miniewjalls was a warmer feast than the Yankee cared to indulge in, so he deemed it best to retire. He was in the act of doing this, when a tremendous volley accelerated his pace to such a degree that he dropped the coveted prize, and betook himself to a place of safety. Just then General Warren rode along, and seeing the soldier drop the fowl, he calmly dismounted, and, throwing the turkey over his saddle, rode quietly along, bearing off his valuable prize, while the enemy's bullets whistled tunes of the most discordant sound about his ears. This act caused considerable merriment among his troops, who reverenced the General for his bravery, which they have often witnessed on bloody fields. This, I believe, is the first time on record that a Major-General has been known to indulge in a foraging expedition.
As soon as our entire army had been properly posted, ready for an aggressive moment, General Warren solicited the privilege of taking his corps and making a lively demonstration on the right wing of the rebel army, for the purpose of ascertaining, while he threatened, where the most feasible point of attack was. lie requested that in case he should not be successful in discovering a favorable position to assault, to march around as if attempting to get in their rear, so as to coinpel the enemy to change his front This plan was mutually agreed upon, and General II. D. Terry's Third division, Sixth corps, one of the strongest and best fighting divisions in the army of the Potomac, was attached to the Second corps, with three hundred cavalry, in order to enable General Warren to carry on more extensive operations in case of an engagement with Buperior force.
It was the intention of General Warren to
Vol. VIII.—Doc. 16
make an important and quick movement, and to facilitate this he left half of his artillery, as well as half of his ambulance and ammunition trains, behind. Considerable time was required to issue extra rations, these being necessary, as it was expected to have a long and tedious movement, which made it essential that the troops should be kept in the best condition, ready for any emergency which might arise. Time was likewise exhausted in assigning the surplus trains to proper guards, in relieving the picket-lines on our front; and the night being dark and stormy, and our route lying through dense woods filled with tangled underbrush, General Warren, under the circumstances, wisely deemed it useless and imprudent to proceed further till daylight.
On the twenty-ninth, at daylight, General Warren marched rapidly toward the plank-road, a distance of eight miles, where he met General Gregg's cavalry outposts. Here General Warren and General Gregg scanned closely the position of the enemy. Just in the rear of the rebel videttes, General Gregg pointed out what he supposed to be a long line of intrenchtnents, but which afterward proved to be the cmbankmenl of the unfinished railroad projected several years since to run between Fredericksburgh and Gordonsville. General Warren forthwith ordered up General Caldwell's division, effecting his movements without the knowledge of the enemy, and deployed the Irish brigade to the right and Colonel Miles's brigade to the left of the plankroad. Captain Schwartz, with his three hundred cavalry, was also formed on the same road, with a battery in his rear for support; the balance of the division was ordered to march close up, ready for any contingency, while, the whole column would follow on. Every thing being tfien in readiness, no time was squandered, and the order was given to advance. It was then noontime, and Brigadier-General Prince, on General Warren's right, was notified of this movement. The whole column then pressed on, and soon caught up with the retreating rebels, whom they drove three miles. Colonel Miles's brigade reaped new honors on this occasion, and deserve honorable mention for the cheerfulness with which they endured the privations on this rapid and most fatiguing march.
Considerable time was spent in bringing up the three divisions in the rear preparatory to the grand assault, and by the time they arrived, staffofficers from General Gregg brought news that the enemy had cut his forces in two, and he was sadly in need of reinforcements. General Warren at once sent word to General II. D. Terry, commanding Third division. Sixth corps, to render all necessary aid to General Gregg, and, if the enemy continued to press him so that he should need the whole division, to give it for his support. General Terry sent General Shaler's brigade to relieve General Gregg, but its services were not required when it arrived there.
During all this time, GuJonel Miles's brigade remained on the extreme left, closing around the railroad to the enemy's right, being two miles from our main force. General Caldwell held the railroad to the plank road, and was obliged to call upon General Webb for assistance, the rebels having pushed their line of skirmishers between him and General Prince. General Webb's division had previously supplied one brigade to General Caldwell, which took position on the right of the corps in front.
General Warren, in order to take his position in rear of Colonel Miles, was obliged to use troops from the rear of the column to support him. The constant changes of the enemy on our front, who were making desperate attempts to get in our rear, used up the last hour of daylight, and entirely thwarted General Warren's well-laid plan to assault the right or advance his left.
Another serious drawback to our progress was the ignorance of the surrounding country, which had to be thoroughly explored before any kind of a movement could be made. Roads had to be made for the safe passage of our artillery between the Catharpin and plank roads, which was no easy task, when we consider that miry streams, dense woods, and the unfinished railroad were the obstacles that impeded our advance. While this undertaking was in progress, the rebel commander, having discovered our in tentions, opened upon our lines with artiller3r, at the same time changing his troops from the left of his line to protect and strengthen his right, which General Warren threatened. During this movement, General Warren lost fifty men, killed and wounded. It was now dark, and General Warren at once reported to army headquarters in person. Upon arriving there, he learned that it was determined to make a general assault at daylight next day, November thirtieth.
General French, commanding Third corps, had regarded an assault in his front not practicable. General Wright thought he could force the rebel line and hold a position on our right, and he soon reported his force in line of battle, ready for the aggressive movement. The weakness of the enemy on our left was fully admitted by General Warren, and in his official report of the late campaign, to the War Department, he states this fact in the plainest terms.
(iencral Meade, after holding a consultation with General Warren's senior officers, concluded to increase his (General Warren's) command by the addition of two divisions of the Third corps, and it was decided that he should attack the enemy at eight o'clock the next morning, on the left, while our right was to participate an hour later. General Warren spent the night, which was a bitter cold one, in his saddle, arranging his troops for the grand assault on the morrow, and as the first rays of morning appeared in the east, he had finished his arduous task.
The following was the exact disposition of General Warren's entire force. The front line extended a mile in length, and the troops were formed in two and three lines, while great care had been taken to post strong supports at the proper points, to guard against the disastrous results that would ensue from an attack of superior
numbers. General H. D. Terry, commanding Third division, Sixth corps, was stationed along the Catharpin road, to hold the left flank and act as reserve. General Hayes, commanding 'fliird division, Second corps, extended his troops in two lines to the right, reaching the railroad. General Webb, commanding Second division, Second corps, joined General Hayes's forces, uniting with General Prince, commanding Seccond division, Third corps, which was also formed in two lines. General Carr, Third division, Third corps, next followed, in two parallel lines, with a strong reserve reaching to the plank road. Then came General Caldwell's troops, First division, Second corps, acting as a reserve and support to General Warren's right flank.
At daybreak every thing was in readiness for the struggle, but a careful examination by General Warren revealed the important fact that the enemy's lines had changed entirely during the night. Large accessions had been made to their ranks, and every available position that could be used with advantage by our foe bristled with artillery and infantry. The formidable breastworks, epaulements, and abattis were finished and strengthened.
A run of eight minutes would be required for our lines to close up the distance between them and those of the enemy, during which our entire advancing lines would be subject to every description of fire. With the number of troops at his disposal, the tremendous odds pitted against him, and the imminent peril in which the entire army would be placed in case of a defeat at that point, after mature and most careful deliberation, General Warren deemed it imprudent to attack the rebels' immediate front, and he so reported to General Meade. Any movement on the part of General Warren to outflank the enemy with the limited force under his command, separated as he was four miles from the right wing, risked his troops to the chances of a sudden attack by the rebels, which, with their choice position and overwhelmingly strong numbers, would no doubt have resulted in a disastrous defeat, and appearances indicated such a design on their part Such an exposure and infeasible undertaking was not warranted, and no military principle would justify him in attempting so rash a movement
The above is the opinion of veteran military tacticians, regular and volunteer, and claims tho consideration of those at home in civil pursuits who "condemn what they do not comprehend." Three things only could be done that day, namely, expose his command to this attack from overwhelming numbers in their selected and fortified strongholds, assault where he then was, or rejoin the right wing.
There was a plan under consideration to bring the entire army to the position occupied by General Warren's forces, and march the body toward the left — the enemy's right; but to carry this out would necessitate a complete abandonment of our base. It was the opinion of General Warren that this plan was more feasible and much less hazardous than an attack in front
We remained quiet the rest of the day and the first day of December, during which time the rebels continued, like sensible leaders, to strengthen and enlarge their fortifications, improving the leisure and security afforded them by our inactivity at all points. Our whole army fell back from their position on the night of December first. We began to retire just after dark, and on the morning of December second, in pursuance of orders from army headquarters, our troops recrossed the Rapidan, the infantry and artillery crossing at Culpepcr and Gcrmania Fords, and the principal part of the cavalry at Ely's Ford.
The Second corps, General Warren, lost in killed, wounded, and missing, two hundred and eighty-nine men, being engaged on the twentyseventh, twenty-eighth, and twenty-ninth of November. General H. D. Terry, Third division, Sixth corps, lost about twenty men.
It was most unfortunate that General French, of the Third corps, lost his road on the twentyseventh of November, thereby causing so great a delay in uniting with the forces of General Warren. -Another misfortune was the failure of a certain general to relieve the pickets at the proper hour, which aided in frustrating the plans of the campaign.
The above lengthy review of our recent movements on the Rapidan is a correct one, my information having been derived from personal observations at the front during the campaign, and the details are from official reports, with full explanations from various staff-officers of the different corps and divisions participating in the operations. I have taken considerable pains to secure entire accuracy, and after submitting this account to the close examination of officers high in command, they have pronounced it authentic.
RICHMOND "DISPATCH" ACCOUNT.
Army Of Northrrk Virgikia, Nor. 2S, 1968.
The enemy have at last undertaken an advance, in good faith, I suppose, and the result has been a collision about eighteen miles below here, on the turnpike and plank road leading to Fredericksburgh. The enemy began his forward movement on Wednesday last. He started on this campaign with eight days' rations, which, according to computation, will give out on Wednesday next. The enemy have their force largely strengthened by the return of the troops sent to New-York to enforce the draft, and those sent to Pennsylvania to influence the elections, besides those drawn from the fortifications at Washington.
As early as Wednesday lafct it was evident that ttiere was some move on hand with the Yankee army. On Thursday morning, demonstrations were made at Morton's, Sommerville, and Raccoon Fords; but these were merely to divert our attention while their forces effected crossings almost unopposed (for we had only cavalry pickets at the lower fords) at Jack's, Germania, and Ely's Fords. So soon as the enemy had crossed his whole force, he turned the heads of his columns up the river toward Orange Court-IIouse.
The true purpose of the enemy was developed on Thursday evening, at which time they commenced to cross the river, and by Friday morning they had thrown over their whole army at the points designated. On Friday morning a good part of our army, which had been lying around Orange Court-IIouse, moved down the plank road, and it all at once became evident that a battle would be fought somewhere betwen Orange Court-House and Eredcricksburgh, and most probably in the vicinity of the Chancellorsville battle-ground. On Friday, about ten o'clock, skirmishers from Johnson's division, which was the head of Ewell's column, came up with the enemy, who were advancing up the road leading from the Fredcricksburgh turnpike to Raccoon Ford, about a mile below Bartley's Mill, in Spotsylvania County, some eighteen miles below Orange Court-IIouse, and some twenty-two miles above Fredcricksburgh, and about twelve miles above the Chancellorsville battle-ground. The Louisiana brigade, under General Halford, first became engaged, and afterward the whole division of General E. Johnson, consisting of tho Stonewall brigade, under General Walker, General G. II. Stuart's brigade, and General G. M. Jones's brigade, took part in the battle.
The force of the enemy engaged consisted of French's and Birney's corps. Skirmishing began I about ten o'clock in the morning, and was kept up quite briskly until about three in the evening, I when the whole line of this division became engaged, and from this time until night there was quite a severe and brisk fight During the fight we drove the enemy, who were the attacking party, back full a mile, capturing a few prisoners. The fight was altogether an infantry affair. Little or no artillery was brought into action on our side—we could get but two pieces into position. The enemy, it is said, fired only twice with their artillery. Our loss will be fully five hundred in killed and wounded. Early's and Rodes's divisions also had lines of skirmishers out, which were sliglitly engaged, but the principal fighting was done by Johnson. It is also said that Heth's division, of Hill's corps, was engaged for a while in skirmishing on another part of the line, but with trifling damage. Of the loss of the enemy I am not advised, but I am now disposed to doubt if it was as heavy as our own. They fought, I am told, quite well, and fired more accurately than usual. There was no fighting to-day, save some slight skirmishing.
Our line of battle reaches from the Rapidan across some six or seven miles, at a line running at right angles with the river. Our army faced down the plank road toward Fredericksburgh, and the enemy's line was formed facing up the plank road, with its back toward Fredcricksburgh. Among the casualties on our side are Lieutenant-Colonel Walton, Twenty-third Virginia, killed; General J. M. Jones, slightly wounded in head; Lieutenant-Colonel Colcston, Second Virginia, leg amputated; Major Terry, Fourth Virginia, slightly wounded; LieutenantColonel Brown, First North-Carolina, slightly wounded; Colonel Nelligan, First Louisiana, severely wounded in the shoulder; Captain Merrick, General Ilalford's staff, severely in the face. The color-bearer of the First Louisiana was killed. I could not learn his name, but he is the same who was captured at Gettysburgh, and put his colors under his shirt and thus saved them, and afterward escaped. The country where the fighting occurred is densely wooded, and similar in every respect to the country about Chancellorsville, it being, indeed, but a continuation of that description of country.
During the fight General Ed. Johnson had a horse shot under him, and General Stuart was slightly wounded, but soon resumed command.
There was also some cavalry fighting at the upper fords on Friday, but it did not amount, I think, to much. The wounded began to arrive here yesterday evening, and were being sent off all night last night to Gordonsville, where they will be properly cared for, it being impossible to provide for them here.
You have, of course, heard of General Rosser capturing seventy wagons near Wilderness Tavern, fifteen miles above Frcdericksburgh and five above Chancellorsville, in rear of the enemy's lines, lie destroyed fifty, brought off twenty, besides one hundred and fifty mules and the same number of prisoners.
Sunday Morxinq, Nov. 29—11 A.m.
There was a little skirmishing yesterday, but it did not amount to any thing. Both armies are in line of battle. The rain yesterday doubtless interfered with the fighting. It is cloudy this morning, but not raining. There has been no cannonading, but parties from the front gave it as their opinion that a battle will occur to-day or to-morrow.
Lieutenant-Gcneral Ewell, who has been absent from the army for two weeks or more, passed Orange Court-House this morning, on his way to the army to resume the command of his corps.
HlADQUARTKKS DISTRICT or TlJXAS, Nrw-mkiico, I
AND Arizona, Houston, Nov. 27, l5t>3. J
To The Planters Of The Coast Counties: The Commanding General announces to the citizens of Texas, that a formidable invasion is attempted by the coast. Early in the month, General Banks took possession of the Lower Rio Grande, and on the eighteenth a force occupied Aransas and Corpus Christi Passes, capturing the small garrison there stationed. Despatches to the twenty-third, from Colonel Bradfute, commanding at Saluria, have been received, stating that a large force, supported by numerous ships, was advancing on that place, which, by this time, may have fallen. It becomes the grave duty of the Commanding General to state to the inhabitants of the counties contiguous to the coast
what their duty to the country, as well as their own interest, demands at this crisis. The utter disregard of all social rights, as well as the distinct proclamation of President Lincoln, so ruthlessly carried out by his minions, leave no room for hope, even to the most credulous, to save their property, and especially their negroes, even by the base submission of men who should prefer death to dishonor. Should hopes be held out to the people of Texas that they will be exceptions to the rule so vigorously enforced in her sister States in localities where the enemy are in possession of temporary power, and should even the property of some, deceived into an oath of allegiance by the treacherous promises of our enemy, be for a time respected, such hopes will prove deceitful—such respect a snare. The playing of the ravenous cat with the harmless mouse is not more deceitful or fatal. Therefore, noble Texans, depend alone upon yourselves and your faithful rifles, and trust not the enemy and his faithless promises. This is your interest. Besides, the Commanding General has certain information that the enemy has brought with him from five thousand to ten thousand muskets, with which to arm the slaves against their masters. This it is the interest of the country, the interest of the State, the interest of humanity, and the duty of the Commanding General to prevent. Therefore, he calls upon the citizens of Texas living in the counties bordering upon the navigable portions of the streams, and within fifty miles of the coast, to remove their able-bodied male slaves at once, at any cost and at all hazards, further into the interior, else he will be forced to drive them before him with his cavalry, in haste and without regard to their well-being, but in the solemn performance of an imperious duty. He conceives it even better for their interest that all but the old and decrepid should be at once removed, as well as jewels, plate, linen, and other valuables, and particularly wagons, horses, mules, and vehicles of every kind; for if the negroes and this description of property are saved, the enemy can do but little harm to trie land and its improvements. Lose them, and your lands become comparatively worthless, whilst your homes will become the abodes of your slaves. The enemy even has no power to prevent this, for our success is his ruin. Like the car of Juggernaut, his progress is onward, and must crush whatever it meets with. Be, then, true to yourselves, and Roman in your virtue. Sacrifice, if necessary, in value, ono half of your negroes and all of your crops, to save the other half. The law does not permit the Commanding General to leave any thing that will benefit the enemy within his grasp. Ho must, therefore, destroy what will benefit the foe. Save him this painful necessity, and remove your negroes beyond the reach of the enemy without a moment's delay. This appeal is m;ide to all those who reside in counties within fifty miles of the coast, from Corpus Christi and (■alveston, inclusive. Should any other portion of the coast or counties still more interior roquire this sacrifice at the hands of the planters, timely notice will be given of the same. J. B. Maokuder.
Major-General Commanding District of Texas, New-Mexico, and Arizona,
REDUCTION OF FORT ESPERANZA, TEX.
REPORT OP MAJOR-GENERAL WASHBURN.
Headquarters, Pahs Catallo Expedition, 1 Fort Espsrasia, Texas, December 4, 1863. |
Major 0. Norman Leiber Assiftant AdjutantGeneral:
Major: I herewith inclose reports of Brigadier-General T. E. Q. Ransom, commanding brigade Second division, and Colonel H. D. Washburn, commanding First brigade First division Thirteenth army corps, detailing the action of their respective brigades in the reduction of this Fort
I refer to these reports, as containing most of the details pertaining to the expedition, and for the names of such persons as deserve specially to be honorably mentioned. On the twenty-first ultimo, I arrived at Aransas Pass with the Thirty-third Illinois, and part of the Eighteenth Indiana, on board steamer Clinton. On the twentysecond ultimo, I received the order of MajorGcneral Banks to take command of an expedition up the coast, for the purpose of capturing this fort On the same day, I proceeded to St. Joseph's Island, and landed the troops and stores on board the Clinton by twelve M., on the twenty-third ultimo. I pushed forward, same day, to head of St Joseph's Island, eighteen miles distant, having previously sent General Ransom in the advance, with instructions to bridge, if possible, the Pass between St Joseph's and Matagorda Island. On arriving at this Pass, (called Cedar Bayou,) I discovered that to bridge would be impossible. With a width of nearly three hundred yards, a strong current, and exposed to the terrible winds that here prevail, I saw that our only chance to get over was to ferry. Fearing that such would prove the case, I brought along, on my wagons, four yawl-boats. By lashing together, 1 was able to take over my troops, wagons, and artillery. My horses and mules were swum across. On the twenty-fourth, a terrific norther sprung up, rendering it impossible to cross the Pass; but on the following morning, the gale having subsided, the force commenced to cross, and by midnight were all over, and the rear went into camp about eight miles up the coast, at three A.m. On the twentysixth, inarched over twenty miles, and encamped ten miles from the fort; and on the twentyseventh, at eleven A.m., came within range of the guns of the fort Spent the rest of the day reconnoitring the position, the gunboats, which were to cooperate, not having come up. I soon discovered that the fort was a large and complete work, mounting heavy guns, and that all approaches were well guarded. The country around was a level plain, and their outworks,
which were of a most complete character, extended across from the gulf to a bayou connecting with the back-bay. On the night after our arrival, a fierce norther sprung up, causing my men to suffer greatly, and rendering the prosecution of operations exceedingly disagreeable. The norther continued for two days, rendering it impossible for the gunboats to render us any assistance. I applied for launches, with which I intended to land troops on Bayucos Island, • and cut off" their communications with the main, but the gale prevented their being furnished until too late. The force within the fort was from seven to eight hundred, all of whom escaped under cover of night, except six belonging to their rear-guard. The rebels left one man on the ground killed. If they had any wounded, they took them away. We lost one killed and two wounded. Lieutenant Fifcr, a gallant young officer of the Thirty-third Illinois, was severely wounded in the breast We captured ten guns, ranging from twenty-four to one hundred and twenty-eight pounders. The fort was bombproof and cased with railroad iron, and surrounded with a wide and deep moat, filled with water. Five magazines were blown up, containing fortytwo thousand pounds of powder.
For a more particular description of the fort, and the captures therein, I refer to the report of Captain Baker, Engineer. We also captured a small fort on Bayucos Island, with one twentyfour pounder field-gun. I cannot express, in too strong language, my admiration of the conduct of the officers and men engaged in this expedition. We left the foot of St. Joseph's Island without transportation of any kind, except twelve wagons, which were used for transporting supplies. With this small train, I had to supply two thousand eight hundred men, together with animals belonging to the train, and horses for two batteries, nearly sixty miles from my base of supply. The weather, much of the time, w\is very inclement, water very bad, and fuel scarce; but I never heard a complaint or murmur of any kind. The troops accompanying me were as follows, namely: Eighth Indiana infantry, commanded by Major Kinney; Eighteenth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles; Thirty-third Illinois, Colonel C. E. Lippincott; Ninety-ninth Illinois, Colonel Bailey ; and Seventh Michigan battery, Lieutenant Stillman, composing First brigade; Twenty-third Iowa, Colonel Glasgow, of the Second brigade, First division, Thirteenth army corps—all commanded by Colonel II. D. Washburn: and the Thirty-fourth Iowa, LieutenantColonel Dungan; Thirteenth Maine, Colonel Dyer; Fifteenth Maine. Colonel Hazeltine; and Koust's Missouri battery, of the Second brigade, Second division, Thirteenth army corps, commanded by Brigadier-General Ransom.
It affords me great pleasure to state that the conduct of Brigadier-General Ransom and Col-< onel II. D. Washburn, commanding brigades, was most prompt, gallant, and efficient, and deserves the highest praise. The navy has shown every disposition to cooperate in the most prompt