Page images

fugitives through the wood, and after penetrating a few rods, received a volley from the enemy, whom he just then discovered formed in line. He instantly formed in line, and ordered his men to fire.

The cavalry, under Major Torrence, and the regulars, under Lieutenant Amory, had in the mean time reached the flank and rear of another hody of the enemy, who was thus enclosed on one side by a long marsh, on the other by a deep and muddy mill-pond, and on the third by our cavalry. Colonel Davis had by this time come up in the rear. A white flag was displayed, and Colonel Alexander, a young man, came forward and asked if thirty minutes would be allowed them for consultation. Colonel Davis's answer was " that as night was closing in, that was too long." Colonel A. then asked if he would be allowed to go to headquarters and bring back the answer of the commander of the corps, Colonel Robinson. Permission being granted, he returned in about five minutes, with the response that "they would be obliged to surrender as prisoners of war." The arms were stacked, and the men formed in line.and marched between two files of infantry^ the Eighteenth and Twenty-fourth Illinois, with all the honors of war. Colonel Davis immediately sent dispatches to General Pope announcing his success, and as night was closing around, the arms were hastily stowed in wagons, and the Federal troops commenced the march for camp. One thousand guns of all kinds were captured, with a full supply of clothing and provision. One of the enemy was killed, and several Vounded. Two Federals were killed and eight wounded.

Dispatches were received Thursday evening from General Halleck ordering the Union troops to fall back to Sedalia. General Pope, therefore, accompanied with the victors as an escort, and the wounded men, started and made the journey (twenty miles) by two o'clock.

Following close upon them was the brigade of Colonel Hovey, of the Twenty-fourth Indiana, who had been dispatched with two regiments, a battery, and two squadrons of the First Missouri Cavalry, on the Clinton road some twelve miles from Sedalia, where the cavalry, under Major Hubbard, some two hundred and fifty in number, made a reconnoissance of the country extending westward and southward, as far as the Grand river, beyond Clinton. Here they came upon the pickets of General Rains, who, with an advanced cavalry force was guarding the Grand river. The pickets were driven in, one shot, about sixty prisoners taken within the lines of General Rains, and a mill near Clinton burned.

The detachment of cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel Brown also burned a mill near Johnstown, on the borders of Bates county. His force travelled two hundred and fifty miles in six days.

Colonel Hovey, of the Twenty-fourth Indiana, effected a successful ruse, whereby he succeeded in mating a capture of six prisoners and two hundred bushels of corn meal. He was ordered by General Turner to reconnoitre with about a hundred men on the road to Clinton. Ho left on Monday morning, talcing Fairvicw and Siseonville on his route. Learning on Tuesday that a party of the enemy was encamped at a mill near Chapel Hill, he adopted a scheme for capturing the whole of them next day.

He ordered his men into the wagons, and had them drawn, with the exception of a small guard, resembling a provision train. As they approached Hall's store the rebels appeared in the brush ready to seize the train. One of his officers rode around a hill to see the whereabouts of the party, when he encountered a mounted rebel, who raised his shot-gun, when he was brought to the ground by a revolver. Colonel Hovey then ordered his men to emerge from their concealment, and a search was made for the enemy. One of them was wounded in the fray, and one killed, two balls lodging in his neck. A few horses and mules were captured, some of which were branded U. S. The mill was afterward burned, and the meal put in Hovcy's wagons.

The total number of prisoners taken exceeded sixteen hundred. The march was accomplished in exceeding cold weather, and many of the troops suffered severely.


December 20, 1861.

In the month of December, the Pennsylvania reserve regiments, under the command of Major-General McCall, constituted the right wing of the great Potomac army. The division occupied an extensive range of country, beyond Langley's church and tavern, the encampments stretching toward Lewinsville. Beyond this, north-westwardly, an open country extended, in the direction of Leesburg, some twelve or fifteen miles, unoccupied by hostile forces. Midway was the village of Dranesville, a small town, almost deserted.

It having been determined to send a foraging party to take possession of a quantity of hay, oats and provender known to be in this neighborhood, the brigade of General E. O. C. Ord, the third of McCall's division, was assigned to the duty.

The force consisted of the Sixth regiment, Colonel W. W. Rickets; Ninth, Colonel C. F. Jackson; Tenth, Colonel John S. McCalmont; Twelfth, Colonel John H. Taggart. The regiment of riflemen known as the Bucktails, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas L. Kane; a battery of two twenty-four-pounders and two twelve-pounders, commanded by Captain Easton, and a detachment of cavalry from Colonel Bayard's regiment, also accompanied the expedition. Each regiment was strongly represented, and there were about four thousand men in the expedition. The order for march was received on Thursday evening, the men being directed to take with them one day's rations. The morning was clear, and rather cold, with a slight mist around the sun, and a thin layer of frost whitening the road and coating the grass. The Bucktails were assigned the advance of the infantry column, the cavalry preceding as scouts, and battery being in reserve. Colonel Taggart's regiment brought up the rear. A number of teams were also in company. Each regiment had two companies of flankers thrown out, on either side of the column, to scour the woods, search the thickets, and prevent the column from falling into an ambuscade. They halted at Difficult Creek, a narrow stream, with a heavy stone bridge. The stream is fordable, the average width being thirty feet.

The march continued. The day became warm, the sky soft and clear, as the soldiers approached Dranesville. About noon the flanking companies of the Twelfth regiment came in and reported that a large body of rebels could be seen from a neighboring hill. At another part of the line shots were exchanged between the hidden enemy and the Union flanking companies. Instantly a line of battle was forme"!!, but no enemy appeared, and the firing ceased.

The delay was that of a few minutes. The Union men were anxious, expectant, and enthusiastic. Suddenly a fire was opened upon our line from a wood or thicket nearly a mile distant. The enemy's battery contained six guns, and was placed in a road skirting the wood, and sheltered by it. Their guns were of large calibre, and they fired shells. At first they passed over the column and exploded beyond. The rebel artillerymen discovered this, altered their range, and their shells fell short. In the mean time, Easton's battery was brought into position on the side of an elevation in front of the Twelfth regiment, which was in line of battle. General Ord himself sighted the guns, and a sharp fire was opened upon the enemy.

The Union infantry laid down on their arms, awaiting the orders of their superior officers. At length the fire of the enemy began to be irregular and uncertain, proving that they either intended to retreat or change position. At this time Colonel Kane, who was on the right of the column, discovered the infantry of the enemy passing through an open clearing near the wood, evidently intending a flank movement, or designing to occupy a brick house within a hundred yards of his regiment. He sent a detachment of twenty men, under command of Lieutenant Rice, to take the house, which they did, and, under shelter of its walls, opened fire upon the advancing regiments. Having bestowed the family found in this house safely in the cellar, the small garrison demolished the windows and attacked the enemy, which was afterwards discovered to he an Alabama regiment, under command of Colonel John H. Forney; a Kentucky regiment, commanded by Colonel Tom Taylor; and'a South Carolina regiment. They took the shelter of underbrush, and, under the supposition that the house was filled by v Union troops, opened a heavy fire upon it, supported by two small guns, which threw shot and shell upon it. ^ They advanced nearer and nearer every volley, the brave Union riflemen firing rapidly and with great effect. Colonel Kane was among them all the time, inspiring them with his example. They fell on the ground, they loaded their pieces, rising suddenly, taking deliberate aim, and lying down to load again. The burden of the enemy's fire was directed at the house, and it was shattered and pierced, the roof being broken, and some of the walls giving way.

The Federal fire was so terrific that the enemy fell back from the advanced position they had assumed, abandoned their flanking manoeuvre, and retreated to the woods under cover of their battery, which kept up an irregular and uncertain fire. The Bucktails advanced in pursuit. As they rose to follow, Colonel Kane, who was leading them, was wounded. He fell, but instantly arose, and continued to advance. In the mean time General Ord ordered the line to charge and take the battery. The order was given to the Twelfth regiment, Colonel John H. Taggart commanding. It was received with a cheer by the men, and they advanced in the direction of the unseen battery. They proceeded to the edge of the wood and entered, keeping the line as straight and precise as on dress parade. The wood was dense, and so impenetrable that the men found it difficult to proceed.' Colonel Taggart threw his scabbard away and preceded his men with his drawn sword in one hand and his pistol in the other.

They came into an open clearing, only to find that the rebels had retreated in the most precipitate manner. While the Union troops were crowding through the woods, the enemy had started along the Leesburg road, taking their cannon, but leaving their dead and wounded, and large quantities of arms and ammunition. A single caisson remained. Their magazine had been struck by a shell, and exploded with appalling effect. Around it the dead and dying were heaped in masses—fifteen men and five horses being killed. The Union men were wild with the enthusiasm of victory, and having placed the wounded in the houses near by, and chopped the guif-carriages to splinters, they started in pursuit of the retreating foe.

This was about three o'clock. General McCall, with his staff, had arrived on the ground only to hear of a victory won. Knowing that an advance would be fatal, he ordered a recall, and with the wounded and dead, and the trophies of war, the troops returned from the field.

The brave and victorious band arrived at Langley's about nine o'clock in the evening, where they were met by thousands of their shouting and exultant comrades.

The rebel troops engaged in this battle were on the same errand. Two hundred wagons had been sent out by General Stuart, their commander, under the care of a foraging party, escorted by the Eleventh Virginia, Colonel Garland; the Sixth South Carolina, under LieutenantColonel A. J. Secrest; the Tenth Alabama, Colonel John H. Forney; the First Kentucky, Colonel Sam. Taylor; the Sumter Flying Artillery, Captain Cutts, and detachments from Ransom's arid Radford's Cavalry. The rebel troops fought well, and did honor to themselves as soldiers, whose nerve and bravery would have been worthy of triumph in a sacred cause. Their loss was seventy-five killed, one hundred and fifty wounded, and thirty prisoners. Of the Federals, seven were killed and sixty-one wounded.


December, 1861.

General B. F. Butler, after having been stationed for a short time at Fortress Monroe, was assigned to the North-Eastern Department, and located his headquarters at Boston, where he superintended the organization of the New England troops, and the fitting out of an expedition intended to make a demonstration at some point on the Southern coast. A portion of his troops sailed from Boston on the 23d of Novem ber, in the steam transport Constitution, which arrived at Fortress Monroe on the 26th, with the Twenty-sixth Massachusetts, and the Ninth Connecticut regiments, and Captain Manning's battery—making a total of one thousand nine hundred men. Brigadier-General J. W. Phelps here took the command, and reached Ship Island harbor, in Mississippi Sound, December 3.

On the west end of this island there was a partly-finished fort, occupied by Lieutenant Buchanan and one hundred and seventy sailors and marines, with several ship guns in position. The rebels had evacuated the island in September, destroying what they could not carry away with them.

General Phelps, on assuming the command of Ship Island, published a proclamation "To the loyal citizens of the South-west," in which he defined the political "motives and principles" by which his command would be governed. He then at the very opening of his address,

« PreviousContinue »