Page images
PDF
EPUB

The battle of Elkhorn, or Sugar Creek, An almost uninterrupted succession of in the north-west portion of the state of skirmishes, with results alternating favourArkansas (which was fought almost simul- ably to both sides, continued to the close taneously with that in Hampton Roads), of the first year of the war, without prowas certainly, in its duration and intensity, ducing any advantage of real importance one of the most remarkable that had yet to either. The ocean of blood exhibited to occurred since the commencement of the the astonished world by the fratricidal war. The conflict, which extended over quarrel, was merely swollen by the tributhree days, ended in the retreat of the con- tary streams poured into it by these minor federates, under General Van Dorn, after butcheries. But the main object of either sustaining a loss of 1,100 killed, 2,500 party seemed as far from attainment as wounded, and 1,000 prisoners. Among ever. Meantime the hatred and vindictivethe killed, on the confederate side, were ness of the belligerents had increased in the Generals M'Culloch and M'Intosh. intensity, and led to acts of ferocity, on The loss of the federals, under General the part of the northern generals and their Sigel, was reported at 212 killed, 926 troops, that are without parallel in the wounded, and about 170 missing. history of modern warfare. The struggle Again disaster followed the southern had assumed the character of a war of flag. On the 4th of March, the town of extermination on the one part, and of a Newborn, in North Carolina, was taken determination of self-defence on the other. possession of by the federals, under General On each side men fought for a purpose; Burnside, who achieved a complete victory but those purposes were opposite as the over the confederate force, after a short poles. The north combated for the Union but severe contest, which gave the victors and absolute supremacy; the south for about 500 prisoners, fifty pieces of cannon, the protection of its homes, its altars, and and a large quantity of arms and munitions of war.

An attack was opened, on the 16th of March, upon the confederate works on Island No. 10, in the Mississippi river, by a federal fleet of gun and mortar-boats, under the command of Flag-officer Foote; which, after holding out for twenty-three days, was at length surrendered, in consequence of the construction of a military canal outflanking the position, and rendering it untenable. The estimated loss, in property and stores, was stated to be equal to 378,000 dollars. The retreat of the confederate force was interrupted by General Pope, who succeeded in cutting off a very considerable portion of both men and matériel.

its people. On this account, the sympathies of Europeans were with the latter, and the occasional triumphs of the former were regarded with indifference, if not with regret.

But there was yet a blow impending over the southern confederacy, which alone was wanting to cast a gloom over the triumphant struggles of the first year of the war. On the 24th of April, Admiral Farragut, after having bombarded the forts Jackson and St. Philip, on the Mississippi, below New Orleans, succeeded in passing them, and scattering the small confederate fleet stationed for the protection of the city, anchored within twenty miles of it. On the following day he appeared before the place, and demanded its unconThe battle of Winchester Heights, val-ditional surrender; and, after three days' ley of Virginia, between a confederate force, under General J. Ason, and the Union troops, commanded by General Shields, on the 23rd of March, also terminated in the defeat of the former, with considerable loss. On the 6th of April, the catalogue of disasters to the confederate arms, was increased by the defeat of Generals Johnstone and Beauregard, who, with a force of some 45,000 troops, made an attack upon a federal force under General Grant, at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, and sustained severe loss. The sacrifice of life

negotiation, it was evacuated by the confederate troops, and abandoned to the captors. The incidents connected with this disaster are of so interesting a character as might justify a volume upon that subject alone. On the 1st of May, General Butler, whose name has acquired unenviable notoriety from his conduct to the inhabitants, took possession of the city. The importance of this event to the confederate cause cannot be estimated. It was a heavy blow, which destroyed the secession influence in Louisiana, and sepa

the confederacy, by the loss of one of the most extensive and prolific grain and cattle countries within its limits; yielded to the federals the unmolested navigation of the lower Mississippi, with all its advantages as a base of operations; and, finally, led to the virtual abandonment of all Louisiana. Such were the results of the surrender of New Orleans.

diminished the resources and supplies of federate force in front of General M'Dowell, on the Bowling-green road, was cut off from the main force at Richmond. The last day of the month was signalised by the commencement of a battle at the Fair Oaks, or Chickahominy, between the federal troops, under General Casey and others, and a confederate force, which was outnumbered, and compelled to retire. On the following day the contest was renewed, and finally closed with the discomfiture of the southern troops. A novel expedient was resorted to by the federal commanders on this occasion-a balloon was held in position, at an elevation of 2,000 feet, over the field of battle; from which, by means of a telegraph wire, information was conveyed to General M'Clellan of the movements of the confederate forces during the contest; thus enabling him to direct his troops to every point threatened, and meet the enemy with the advantage of superior force. The loss to the confederate army, upon this occasion, was estimated by northern accounts at 8,000, including five generals. The confederate side also claimed the advantage in the encounter.

From the commencement of the war, the great object of the federal government, next to the unconditional subjugation of the southern states, was the possession of Richmond; and, for the accomplishment of this event, which could only be attainable by elaborate and tedious operations on the frontier of Virginia, no efforts were spared. The disasters on the Mississippi frontier, and in other directions, had induced the southern government to adopt the policy of concentrating its forces in the interior of Virginia; and thus, in the direction of Richmond, there were arrayed two of the greatest numerical armies that had ever confronted each other on a single field. A succession of skirmishes, or rather of battles, ensued for the possession, and, on the other hand, for the protection, of the coveted city, which it was not yet decreed should fall into the hands of the northern invaders.

A gun-boat expedition from Memphis having arrived up the White river, Arkansas, on the 13th of June, an attack was made upon a confederate battery, near St. Charles, and about eighty-five miles On the 25th of May, a formidable attack from the river's mouth. During this enwas made by the confederate troops upon gagement, the federal gun-boat, Mound City, the force of General Banks, at Winchester, received a shot through her boiler, which the result of which compelled him to retire destroyed her; and, of a crew of 175 men, with considerable loss. According to the but fifty were saved. The battery was federal account, even the women of Win-eventually captured.

Mississippi were removed for safety, on the 16th of June, from Jackson, the capital, to Columbus, on the Alabama frontier.

chester fired upon the retreating troops, In consequence of the expected approach who, on the following day, succeeded in of the federal troops, the state archives in recrossing the Potomac. Of the fifty-three miles traversed in this retreat, thirty-five were passed over in one day. Three days afterwards, a reinforcement of 18,000 men, with heavy artillery, joined General Banks at Williamsport, and his army was again in a position to advance.

On the 28th of the month, General Porter's division was dispatched by General M'Clellan to the north of Richmond, and it succeeded in capturing Hanover Courthouse, after a sharp conflict, in which several hundred were lost on both sides. Porter next proceeded to break the communication of the Virginia Central railroad, which he effected in three places; while, at the same time, the bridge over the South Anna river was destroyed, and the con

At this period there was continual skirmishing between the troops before Richmond; but, as it was not General M'Clellan's policy to risk a battle, nothing of importance took place beyond the fact that he felt compelled to change the base of his operations; and, on the 24th of the month, the army was put in motion for that purpose, and took a position on the banks of the James river. The three divisions of the federal army, up to this time, under the command of Generals Banks, Fremont, and M'Dowell, were consolidated into one body, styled the " Army of Virginia," under the command of General Pope. This change

was said to be consequent upon the request opposing vessels, and ultimately enabled of General Fremont to be allowed to resign her to take refuge under the batteries at his command. Vicksburg. An attempt to sink the boat was made during the night, by Commodore Farragut's squadron, without success.

The battle of Mechanicsville was fought on the 25th of June, between a confederate force under General Jackson, and the federal troops, commanded by General M'Call. The latter were defeated with great loss, and compelled to retreat along the northern side of the Chickahominy.-On the 27th, the battle was resumed by General Jackson; and, after an obstinate engagement, the federals were enabled to recross the river, and join the main body of M'Clellan's army.

On the 29th of the month, the confederate force again advanced from Richmond, upon the federal troops stationed near Fair Oaks and Peach Orchard Station, and compelled them to retreat. The most sanguinary effect of this encounter was displayed near Savage's Station, where the Union troops, who had fallen back from Peach Orchard, were driven from their position with immense loss. On the 30th, the fighting was resumed at White Oak Swamp, with great vigour on both sides, and continued until the following day, the advantage remaining with the confederates. The battle of Malvern Hills, which finished the operations in this quarter for a time, was fought on the 1st of July, and barely enabled M'Clellan to hold his position at an immense sacrifice of life. The losses of the federals, under this commander, between the 24th of June and the 1st of July, amounted, by the Union accounts of killed, wounded, and missing, to a gross total of 15,224 men.

General Burnside effected a junction with M'Clellan's corps on the 8th of July; and, on the following day, President Lincoln visited the camp of the latter general on the peninsula. The confederate force, under General Lee, retired from before M'Clellan's position on the 10th, without giving battle.

General Pope, on assuming command of the Union forces in Virginia, issued orders to the troops that they should thenceforth subsist on the country they passed through. He also directed that all telegraph wires, &c., destroyed by the confederate irregular troops, should be repaired or restored at the expense of the residents in the neighbourhood; and that all guerillas captured should be immediately shot. About the same time, all the property of the confederate General Twiggs was confiscated to the Union by order of General Butler.

Among the other expedients resorted to by the federals, in this war, for the reduction of a besieged town or fortress, that of cutting canals, by which either to isolate them or to destroy the surrounding country, was frequently practised. One of such canals was accordingly cut near Vicksburg, for the purpose of shortening the Mississippi; and, about the latter end of July, the project was completed, but was ineffective for the desired purpose. In consequence of this disappointment, the siege of Vicksburg was for the present abandoned. To check the alleged arbitrary and wanton outrages perpetrated by the northern troops, with the sanction of their commanding officers, the confederate military authorities, by a general order signed by the adjutantgeneral, declared Major-general Pope, Brigadier-general Steinwehr, and all officers under their command, to be without the pale of military law, and not to be treated as soldiers, if captured, but as felons. The immediate cause of this extreme measure were the orders issued by the federal commanders, for arresting and putting to death guerillas, and for seizing and spoiling the persons and property of citizens of the southern confederacy. To keep pace with this retaliatory measure, General Butler, in command at New Orleans, imposed a

General Halleck was now appointed general-in-chief of the land forces of the United States, his head-quarters being at Wash-heavy tax upon the citizens; while General ington.

A dashing exploit of the iron-clad confederate gun-boat Arkansas, resulted in her running the blockade of the Yazoo river on the 15th of July, and passing through the whole Union fleet in the Mississippi river; during which feat, no less than

Rousseau, in command of some federal troops at Huntsville, Alabama, directed that, in order to prevent the firing into railroad trains by confederate partisan troops, twelve of the most prominent and influential secessionists should be arrested; and that, on each train, one of such persons

During this month, the force under General M'Clellan gradually withdrew from its position in Virginia; and General Pope also commanded the retreat of his army from the Rapidan to the Rappahannock river, towards Washington.

The advance of a confederate force towards Richmond, Kentucky, was attempted to be checked by the Union forces under General Manson, who commanded a brigade of the army of the Ohio; but, after a desperate struggle of two days, the confederates remained masters of the field, having driven back Manson's brigade, which reported a loss of 200 killed, 700 wounded, and 2,000 prisoners.-The contest at Britton's Lane, Tennessee, which occurred on the 1st of September, gave a result more favourable to the federals.

On the 3rd of the same month, General Pope having sustained a series of defeats, applied to be relieved of his command, and was transferred to the department of the north-west. In his report of the Virginia campaign, he attached all the blame of his successive reverses to the bad conduct of the subordinate generals.

On Sunday, the 14th of September, General M'Clellan, by rapid marches, overtook a confederate force on the march from Frederick city to Hagerstown, Maryland. After a sharp contest with a regiment commanded by Colonel M'Rae, Generals Reno and Hooker, commanding the right and centre, carried the heights; while General Franklin, with the left, obtained possession of Burketteville Gap. On both sides the loss was very heavy; that of the federals being officially reported as a total of 2,325: the confederates', killed and wounded, amounted to 600. General Reno was killed.

[blocks in formation]

"Yesterday God crowned our arms with another brilliant_success, in the surrender of Harper's Ferry, of Brigadier-general White, and 11,000 three pieces of artillery, and about 300 waggons, in troops, and a number of small arms; seventyaddition to other stores. Of these there is a large amount, and also of garrison equipage. Our loss was very small."

The same day, Munfordsville, Kentucky, also surrendered to the confederates, who took the federal garrison of 4,000 men, and ten pieces of cannon. The want of ammunition was alleged to be the cause of surrender.

At Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, a severe and sanguinary battle took place on the 17th of September, beginning at daybreak, and lasting until night. General Lee had been reinforced by General Jackson, from Harper's Ferry, with 40,000 men; and General M'Clellan had also been reinforced with about the same number, making the force on each side about 100,000. In the early part of the day the confederate troops had decidedly the advantage; but, towards the close of the action, they were forced to retire, followed by General Burnside, who, after succeeding in crossing the creek, was held in check, and prevented further advance. The southern troops finally withdrew during the night. M'Clellan's despatch of the 20th of September, gave the federal loss in this affair as 2,010 killed, 9,416 wounded, and 1,043 missing: that of the confederates is not known.

General Butler, in command of New Orleans, with a view to ascertain the extent of secessionist opinion, ordered all Americans, male and female, above the age of fourteen, to renew, or take their oath of

Maryland Heights, near Harper's Ferry, were garrisoned by a Union force, under Colonel Ford; and the strength of the position, in reference to the first-mentioned place, was much depended on. On the 14th of the month, Colonel Miles, in command, addressed the following characteris-allegiance to the government of the United tic order to Colonel Ford :

States, under pain of fine and imprison"Since I returned on this side, on close inspec- ment, with hard labour. He also required tion, I find your position more defensible than it them, at the same time, to render an acappears when at your station, covered as it is at all count, verified, of all real and personal points by the cannon of Camp Hill. You will hold property they were possessed of. He on, and can hold on, until the cows' tails drop off." further ordered all persons holding money, Notwithstanding this injunction, Colonel or other property, in trust for persons in, or Ford gave orders to "spike and dismount sympathising with, the confederate service, the guns, and fall back upon Harper's not to pay or hand over the same without Ferry;" he having, at the time, with him a lan order from the military head-quarters,

under the penalty of having to refund a similar amount to the United States.

depressing influence of the result of the battle of Fredericksburg, became evident in the popular agitation that succeeded the event throughout the northern states. Among both military and civil populations, the overthrow of the army of the Potomac was productive of most undisguised discontent; and to allay this in some degree, and avert from the Lincoln cabinet a wrath no longer silent, the president felt it prudent

In the beginning of October several conflicts occurred at and near Corinth, Mississippi, which eventually resulted in favour of the federal commanders; but, on the other hand, the successful raids of the confederate cavalry, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, more than balanced the advantage so obtained. On the last day of the month, General M'Clellan's wing of the army of to issue the following notification to the the Potomac commenced crossing into Vir-armyginia, opposite Berlin.

On the 4th of November, General M'Clellan was relieved from the command

"Executive Mansion, Washington, Dec. 22nd. "To the Army of the Potomac.

"I have just received your commanding general's

of the army of the Potomac, and Major-preliminary report of the battle of Fredericksburg. general A. F. Burnside was ordered to gucceed him. On the 12th of the same month, Major-general Joseph Hooker succeeded General Porter in the command of the 5th army corps of the army of the

Potomac.

Although you were not successful, the attempt was not an error, nor the failure other than an accident. The courage with which you, in an open field, maintained the contest against an intrenched foe, and the consummate skill and success with which you crossed and recrossed the river in the face of the enemy, show that you possess all the qualities On the 11th of December, the city of of a great army, which will yet give victory to the Fredericksburg, Virginia, was bombarded cause of the country and of popular government. Condoling with the mourners for the dead, and by the federal troops, who, under cover of sympathising with the severely wounded, I congrathe fire, threw pontoons over the Rappa-tulate you that the number of both is comparatively hannock, and crossed that river. One hun-small. dred and forty-three guns were then brought “I tender to you, officers and soldiers, the thanks to bear on the town, and utterly destroyed of the nation.

it. On the following day, three divisions of the army, under Generals Sumner, Hooker,

66

"ABRAHAM LINCOLN." General Burnside, on his part, hastened,

General Butler was superseded in the command of New Orleans, on the 16th of the month, by General Banks. The valedictory address of General Butler to the inhabitants of New Orleans, ran as follows:

and Franklin, attacked the confederate by a letter to the general-in-chief, Halleck, lines, and were repulsed with immense to exonerate the executive government loss. General Burnside, who commanded from all responsibility as regarded his in chief, ordered several assaults to be defeat. made, but without success; and the close of the day found both armies in their positions of the morning, with a vast amount of dead and wounded on either side. The loss of the federals in this affair, was reported, by General Burnside, to be-1,512 killed, 6,000 wounded, and 100 prisoners. "I do not feel that I have erred in too much The gross loss on the confederate side, harshness, for that harshness has been exhibited to was estimated at something less than disloyal enemies of my country, and not to loyal 1,805. So decisive was the repulse of the friends. To be sure, I might have regaled you federals, that, during the night of the with the amenities of British civilisation, and yet 15th, and morning of the 16th, the whole been within the supposed rules of civilised warfare. You might have been smoked to death in caverns, of the army of the Potomac was withas were the covenanters of Scotland, by the comdrawn, by General Burnside, from before mand of a general of the royal house of England; Fredericksburg; and, crossing the Rappa- or roasted like the inhabitants of Algeria, during hannock, took a position on the north side the French campaign: your wives and daughters of the river. The retreat was effected with might have been given over to the ravisher, as were the unfortunate dames of Spain in the Peninso much secrecy, that the confederate force sular war; or you might have been scalped and was not aware of Burnside's departure till tomahawked, as our mothers were at Wyoming, by after the pontoon bridge had been removed. the savage allies of Great Britain, in our own revoBy this signal defeat, the almost uni-lution; your property could have been turned over to indiscriminate loot,' like the palace of the versal faith in the invincibility of the emperor of China; works of art which adorned

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »