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Military Reminiscences of the Civil War V1 by Jacob Dolson Cox

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pt. iii. pp. 748, 789; vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 170; vol. li. pt. i. p.
777.] The general impression of all undoubtedly was that the
engagement of Friday had been victorious for our army, and that the
enemy was probably retreating at dark. During the day the cannonade
continued with occasional lulls. It seemed more distant and fainter,
requiring attentive listening to hear it. This was no doubt due to
some change in the condition of the atmosphere; but we naturally
interpreted it according to our wishes, and believed that the
success of Friday was followed by the pursuit of the enemy. About
four o'clock in the afternoon the distant firing became much more
rapid; at times the separate shots could not be counted. I
telegraphed to McClellan the fact which indicated a crisis in the
battle. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 748.] It
was the fierce artillery duel which preceded the decisive advance of
Longstreet against Pope's left wing. This was the decisive
turning-point in the engagement, and Pope was forced to retreat upon
Centreville.

Early in the evening all doubt was removed about the result of the
battle. Ill news travels fast, and the retreat toward us shortened
the distance to be travelled. But as Sumner's and Franklin's corps
had gone forward and would report to Pope at Centreville, we were
assured that Pope was "out of his scrape" (to use the words of
McClellan's too famous dispatch to the President [Footnote: _Id_.,
vol. xi. pt. i. p. 98.] ), and that the worst that could now happen
would be the continuance of the retreat within our lines. The combat
at Chantilly on the evening of September 1st was the last of Pope's
long series of bloody engagements, and though the enemy was
repulsed, the loss of Generals Kearny and Stevens made it seem to us
like another disaster.

CHAPTER XII

RETREAT WITHIN THE LINES--REORGANIZATION--HALLECK AND HIS
SUBORDINATES

McClellan's visits to my position--Riding the lines--Discussing the
past campaign--The withdrawal from the James--Prophecy--McClellan
and the soldiers--He is in command of the defences--Intricacy of
official relations--Reorganization begun--Pope's army marches
through our works--Meeting of McClellan and Pope--Pope's
characteristics--Undue depreciation of him--The situation when
Halleck was made General-in-Chief--Pope's part in it--Reasons for
dislike on the part of the Potomac Army--McClellan's secret
service--Deceptive information of the enemy's force--Information
from prisoners and citizens--Effects of McClellan's illusion as to
Lee's strength--Halleck's previous career--Did he intend to take
command in the field?--His abdication of the field command--The
necessity for a union of forces in Virginia--McClellan's inaction
was Lee's opportunity--Slow transfer of the Army of the
Potomac--Halleck burdened with subordinate's work--Burnside twice
declines the command--It is given to McClellan--Pope relieved--Other
changes in organization--Consolidation--New campaign begun.

On Sunday, the 31st, McClellan rode over to Upton's Hill and spent
most of the day with me. He brought me a copy of the McDowell map of
the country about Washington, the compilation of which had been that
officer's first work at the beginning of hostilities. It covered the
region to and beyond the Bull Run battlefield, and although not
wholly accurate, it was approximately so, and was the only authority
relied upon for topographical details of the region. McClellan's
primary purpose was to instruct me as to the responsibilities that
might fall upon me if the army should be driven in. A day or two
later I received formal orders to prepare to destroy buildings in
front within my lines of artillery fire, and to be ready to cover
the retreat of our army should any part be driven back near my
position. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 802,
805.] All this, however, had been discussed with McClellan himself.
We rode together over all the principal points in the neighborhood,
and he pointed out their relation to each other and to positions on
the map which we did not visit. The discussion of the topography led
to reminiscences of the preceding year,--of the manner in which the
enemy had originally occupied these hills, and of their withdrawal
from them,--of the subsequent construction of the forts and
connecting lines, who occupied them all, and the system of mutual
support, of telegraphic communication, and of plans for defence in
case of attack.

McClellan had received me at Alexandria on the 27th with all his old
cordiality, and had put me at once upon our accustomed footing of
personal friendship. On my part, there was naturally a little
watchfulness not to overstep the proper line of subordination or to
be inquisitive about things he did not choose to confide to me; but,
this being assumed, I found myself in a circle where he seemed to
unbosom himself with freedom. I saw no interruption in this while I
remained in the Potomac Army. He was, at this time, a little
depressed in manner, feeling keenly his loss of power and command,
but maintaining a quiet dignity that became him better than any show
of carelessness would have done. He used no bitter or harsh language
in criticising others. Pope and McDowell he plainly disliked, and
rated them low as to capacity for command; but he spoke of them
without discourtesy or vilification. I think it necessary to say
this because of the curious sidelight thrown on his character by the
private letters to his wife which have since been published in his
"Own Story," and of which I shall have more to say. Their
inconsistency with his expressions and manner in conversation, or at
least their great exaggeration of what he conveyed in familiar talk,
has struck me very forcibly and unpleasantly.

He discussed his campaign of the peninsula with apparent unreserve.
He condemned the decision to recall him from Harrison's Landing,
arguing that the one thing to do in that emergency was to reinforce
his army there and make it strong enough to go on with its work and
capture Richmond. He said that if the government had lost confidence
in his ability to conduct the campaign to a successful end, still it
was unwise to think of anything else except to strengthen that army
and give it to some one they could trust. He added explicitly, "If
Pope was the man they had faith in then Pope should have been sent
to Harrison's Landing to take command, and however bitter it would
have been, I should have had no just reason to complain." He
predicted that they would yet be put to the cost of much life and
treasure to get back to the position left by him.

On Monday, September 1st, he visited me again, and we renewed our
riding and our conversation. The road from his headquarters
encampment near Alexandria to Upton's Hill was a pleasant one for
his "constitutional" ride, and my position was nearest the army in
front where news from it would most likely be first found. The Army
of the Potomac had all passed to the front from Alexandria, and
according to the letter of the orders issued, he was wholly without
command; though Halleck personally directed him to exercise
supervision over all detachments about the works and lines. He came
almost alone on these visits, an aide and an orderly or two being
his only escort. Colonel Colburn of his staff was usually his
companion. He wore a blue flannel hunting-shirt quite different from
the common army blouse. It was made with a broad yoke at the neck,
and belt at the waist, the body in plaits. He was without sash or
side arms, or any insignia of rank except inconspicuous
shoulder-straps. On this day he was going into Washington, and I
rode down with him to the bridge. Bodies of troops of the new levies
were encamped at different points near the river. In these there
seemed to be always some veterans or officers who knew the general,
and the men quickly gathered in groups and cheered him. He had a
taking way of returning such salutations. He went beyond the formal
military salute, and gave his cap a little twirl, which with his bow
and smile seemed to carry a little of personal good fellowship even
to the humblest private soldier. If the cheer was repeated, he would
turn in his saddle and repeat the salute. It was very plain that
these little attentions to the troops took well, and had no doubt
some influence in establishing a sort of comradeship between him and
them. They were part of an attractive and winning deportment which
adapted itself to all sorts and ranks of men.

On Tuesday he came a little later in the day, and I noticed at once
a change in his appearance. He wore his yellow sash with sword and
belt buckled over it, and his face was animated as he greeted me
with "Well, General, I am in command again!" I congratulated him
with hearty earnestness, for I was personally rejoiced at it. I was
really attached to him, believed him to be, on the whole, the most
accomplished officer I knew, and was warmly disposed to give him
loyal friendship and service. He told me of his cordial interview
with President Lincoln, and that the latter had said he believed him
to be the only man who could bring organized shape out of the chaos
in which everything seemed then to be. The form of his new
assignment to duty was that he was to "have command of the
fortifications of Washington, and of all the troops for the defence
of the capital." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p.
807.] The order was made by the personal direction of the President,
and McClellan knew that Secretary Stanton did not approve of it.
General Halleck seemed glad to be rid of a great responsibility, and
accepted the President's action with entire cordiality. Still, he
was no doubt accurate in writing to Pope later that the action was
that of the President alone without any advice from him. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 820.] McClellan was
evidently and entirely happy in his personal relation to things. He
had not been relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac,
though the troops had passed temporarily to Pope's army. As
commandant of all within the defences, his own army reported to him
directly when they came within our lines. Pope's army of northern
Virginia would, of course, report through its commander, and
Burnside's in a similar way. The first thing to be done was to get
the army in good condition, to strengthen its corps by the new
regiments which were swarming toward the capital, and to prepare it
for a new campaign. McClellan seemed quite willing to postpone the
question who would command when it took the field. Of the present he
was sure. It was in his own hands, and the work of reorganization
was that in which his prestige was almost sure to increase. This
attitude was plainly shown in all he said and in all he hinted at
without fully saying it.

Halleck had already directed Pope to bring the army within the
fortifications, though the latter had vainly tried to induce him to
ride out toward Centreville, to see the troops and have a
consultation there before determining what to do. [Footnote: _Id_.,
p. 796.] We were therefore expecting the head of column to approach
my lines, and I arranged that we should be notified when they came
near. McClellan had already determined to put the corps and
divisions of the Army of the Potomac in the works, at positions
substantially the same as they had occupied a year before,--Porter
near Chain Bridge, Sumner next, Franklin near Alexandria, etc. I was
directed to continue in the position I already occupied, to be
supported by part of McDowell's corps.

About four o'clock McClellan rode forward, and I accompanied him. We
halted at the brow of the hill looking down the Fairfax road. The
head of the column was in sight, and rising dust showed its position
far beyond. Pope and McDowell, with the staff, rode at the head.
Their uniform and that of all the party was covered with dust, their
beards were powdered with it; they looked worn and serious, but
alert and self-possessed. When we met, after brief salutations,
McClellan announced that he had been ordered to assume command
within the fortifications, and named to General Pope the positions
the several corps would occupy. This done, both parties bowed, and
the cavalcade moved on. King's division of McDowell's corps was the
leading one, General Hatch, the senior brigadier, being in command
by reason of King's illness. Hatch was present, near Pope, when
McClellan assumed command, and instantly turning rode a few paces to
the head of his column and shouted, "Boys, McClellan is in command
again; three cheers!" The cheers were given with wild delight, and
were taken up and passed toward the rear of the column. Warm friend
of McClellan as I was, I felt my flesh cringe at the unnecessary
affront to the unfortunate commander of that army. But no word was
spoken. Pope lifted his hat in a parting salute to McClellan and
rode quietly on with his escort. [Footnote: General Hatch had been
in command of the cavalry of Banks's corps up to the battle of Cedar
Mountain, when he was relieved by Pope's order by reason of
dissatisfaction with his handling of that arm of the service. His
assignment to a brigade of infantry in King's division was such a
reduction of his prominence as an officer that it would not be
strange if it chafed him.]

McClellan remained for a time, warmly greeted by the passing troops.
He then left me, and rode off toward Vienna, northward. According to
my recollection, Colonel Colburn was the only member of his staff
with him; they had a small cavalry escort. My understanding also was
that they proposed to return by Chain Bridge, avoiding the crowding
of the road on which they had come out, and on which McDowell's
corps was now moving. In his "Own Story" McClellan speaks of going
in that direction to see the situation of Sumner's troops, supposed
to be attacked, and intimates a neglect on Pope's part of a duty in
that direction. I am confident he is mistaken as to this, and that I
have given the whole interview between him and Pope. The telegraphic
connection with my headquarters was such that he could learn the
situation in front of any part of the line much more promptly there
than by riding in person. Lee did not pursue, in fact, beyond
Fairfax C. H. and Centreville, and nothing more than small bodies of
cavalry were in our vicinity. I had kept scouting-parties of our own
cavalry active in our front, and had also collected news from other
sources. On the 1st of September I had been able to send to army
headquarters authentic information of the expectation of the
Confederate army to move into Maryland, and every day thereafter
added to the evidence of that purpose, until they actually crossed
the Potomac on the 5th. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt.
ii. pp. 404, 405; vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 170; vol. li. pt. i. p. 777.]

Hatch's division was put into the lines on my left with orders to
report to me in case of attack. Patrick's brigade of that division
was next day placed near Falls Church in support of my cavalry,
reporting directly to me. My two regiments which had been with Pope
rejoined the division, and made it complete again. The night of the
2d was one in which I was on the alert all night, as it was probable
the enemy would disturb us then if ever; but it passed quietly. A
skirmish in our front on the Vienna road on the 4th was the only
enlivening event till we began the campaign of South Mountain and
Antietam on the 6th.

Pope's proposed reorganization of his army, [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 810.] which would have put me with
most of Sigel's corps under Hooker, was prevented by a larger change
which relieved him of command and consolidated his army with that of
the Potomac on September 5th. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 813.] I had a
very slight acquaintance with Pope at the beginning of the war, but
no opportunity of increasing it till he assumed command in Virginia
and I reported to him as a subordinate. The events just sketched had
once more interfered with my expected association with him, and I
did not meet him again till long afterward. Then I came to know him
well. His wife and the wife of my intimate friend General Force were
sisters, and in Force's house we often met. He was then broken in
health and softened by personal afflictions. [Footnote: Mrs. Pope
and Mrs. Force were daughters of the Hon. V. B. Horton, of Pomeroy,
Ohio, a public man of solid influence and character, and prominent
in the development of the coal and salt industries of the Ohio
valley. I leave the text as I wrote it some years before General
Pope's death. Since he died, the friendship of our families has
culminated in a marriage between our children.] His reputation in
1861 was that of an able and energetic man, vehement and positive in
character, apt to be choleric and even violent toward those who
displeased him. I remember well that I shrunk a little from coming
under his immediate orders through fear of some chafing, though I
learned in the army that choleric commanders, if they have ability,
are often warmly appreciative of those who serve them with soldierly
spirit and faithfulness. No one who had any right to judge
questioned Pope's ability or his zeal in the National cause. His
military career in the West had been a brilliant one. The necessity
for uniting the columns in northern Virginia into one army was
palpable; but it was a delicate question to decide who should
command them. It seems to have been assumed by Mr. Lincoln that the
commander must be a new man,--neither Frmont, McDowell, nor Banks.
The reasons were probably much the same as those which later brought
Grant and Sheridan from the West.

Pope's introduction to the Eastern army, which I have already
mentioned, was an unfortunate one; but neither he nor any one else
could have imagined the heat of partisan spirit or the lengths it
would run. No personal vilification was too absurd to be credited,
and no characterization was too ridiculous to be received as true to
the life. It was assumed that he had pledged himself to take
Richmond with an army of 40,000 men when McClellan had failed to do
so with 100,000. His defeat by Lee was taken to prove him
contemptible as a commander, by the very men who lauded McClellan
for having escaped destruction from the same army. There was neither
intelligence nor consistency in the vituperation with which he was
covered; but there was abundant proof that the wounded _amour
propre_ of the officers and men of the Potomac Army made them
practically a unit in intense dislike and distrust of him. It may be
that this condition of things destroyed his possibility of
usefulness at the East; but it would be asking too much of human
nature (certainly too much of Pope's impetuous nature) to ask him to
take meekly the office of scapegoat for the disastrous result of the
whole campaign. His demand on Halleck that he should publish the
approval he had personally given to the several steps of the
movements and combats from Cedar Mountain to Chantilly was just, but
it was imprudent. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii.
pp. 812, 821.] Halleck was irritated, and made more ready to
sacrifice his subordinate. Mr. Lincoln was saddened and embarrassed;
but being persuaded that Pope's usefulness was spoiled, he swallowed
his own pride and sense of justice, and turned again to McClellan as
the resource in the emergency of the moment.

Pope seems to me entirely right in claiming that Jackson's raid to
Manassas was a thing which should have resulted in the destruction
of that column. He seems to have kept his head, and to have prepared
his combinations skilfully for making Jackson pay the penalty of his
audacity. There were a few hours of apparent hesitation on August
28th, but champions of McClellan should be the last to urge that
against him. His plans were deranged on that day by the accident of
McDowell's absence from his own command. This happened through an
excess of zeal on McDowell's part to find his commander and give him
the benefit of his knowledge of the topography of the country; yet
it proved a serious misfortune, and shows how perilous it is for any
officer to be away from his troops, no matter for what reason. Many
still think Porter's inaction on the 29th prevented the advantage
over Jackson from becoming a victory. [Footnote: I have treated this
subject at large in "The Second Battle of Bull Run as connected with
the Fitz-John Porter Case."] But after all, when the army was united
within our lines, the injuries it had inflicted on the enemy so
nearly balanced those it had received that if Grant or Sherman had
been in Halleck's place, Lee would never have crossed the Potomac
into Maryland. McClellan, Pope, and Burnside would have commanded
the centre and wings of the united and reinforced army, and under a
competent head it would have marched back to the Rappahannock with
scarcely a halt.

That Halleck was in command was, in no small measure, Pope's own
work. He reminded Halleck of this in his letter of September 30th,
written when he was chafing under the first effects of his removal.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. pp. 816, etc.] "If
you desire," said he, "to know the personal obligation to which I
refer, I commend you to the President, the Secretary of War, or any
other member of the administration. Any of these can satisfy your
inquiries." This means that he had, before the President and the
cabinet, advocated putting Halleck in supreme command over himself
and McClellan to give unity to a campaign that would else be
hopelessly broken down. McClellan was then at Harrison's Landing,
believing Lee's army to be 200,000 strong, and refusing to listen to
any suggestion except that enormous reinforcements should be sent to
him there. He had taught the Army of the Potomac to believe
implicitly that the Confederate army was more than twice as numerous
as it was in fact. With this conviction it was natural that they
should admire the generalship which had saved them from
annihilation. They accepted with equal faith the lessons which came
to them from headquarters teaching that the "radicals" at Washington
were trying for political ends to destroy their general and them. In
regard to the facts there were varying degrees of intelligence among
officers and men; but there was a common opinion that they and he
were willingly sacrificed, and that Pope, the radical, was to
succeed him. This made them hate Pope, for the time, with holy
hatred. If the army could at that time have compared authentic
tables of strength of Lee's army and their own, the whole theory
would have collapsed at once, and McClellan's reputation and
popularity with it. They did not have the authentic tables, and
fought for a year under the awful cloud created by a blundering
spy-system.

The fiction as to Lee's forces is the most remarkable in the history
of modern wars. Whether McClellan was the victim or the accomplice
of the inventions of his "secret service," we cannot tell. It is
almost incredible that he should be deceived, except willingly. I
confess to a contempt for all organizations of spies and detectives,
which is the result of my military experience. The only spies who
long escape are those who work for both sides. They sell to each
what it wants, and suit their wares to the demand. Pinkerton's man
in the rebel commissariat at Yorktown who reported 119,000 rations
issued daily, laughed well in his sleeve as he pocketed the secret
service money. [Footnote: For Pinkerton's reports, see Official
Records, vol. xi. pt. i. pp. 264-272.]

A great deal of valuable information may be got from a hostile
population, for few men or women know how to hold their tongues,
though they try never so honestly. A friendly population overdoes
its information, as a rule. I had an excellent example of this in
the Kanawha valley. After I had first advanced to Gauley Bridge, the
Secessionists behind me were busy sending to the enemy all they
could learn of my force. We intercepted, among others, a letter from
an intelligent woman who had tried hard to keep her attention upon
the organization of my command as it passed her house. In counting
my cannon, she had evidently taken the teams as the easiest units to
count, and had set down every caisson as a gun, with the
battery-forge thrown in for an extra one. In a similar way, every
accidental break in the marching column was counted as the head of a
new regiment. She thus, in perfect good faith, doubled my force, and
taught me that such information to the enemy did them more harm than
good.

As to the enemy's organization and numbers, the only information I
ever found trustworthy is that got by contact with him. No day
should pass without having some prisoners got by "feeling the
lines." These, to secure treatment as regular prisoners of war, must
always tell the company and regiment to which they belong. Rightly
questioned, they rarely stop there, and it is not difficult to get
the brigade, division, etc. The reaction from the dangers with which
the imagination had invested capture, to the commonly good-humored
hospitality of the captors, makes men garrulous of whom one would
not expect it. General Pope's chief quartermaster, of the rank of
colonel, was captured by Stuart's cavalry in this very campaign; and
since the war I have read with amazement General Lee's letters to
President Davis, to the Secretary of War at Richmond, and to General
Loring in West Virginia, dated August 23d, in which he says:
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. pp. 940-941.]
"General Stuart reports that General Pope's chief quartermaster, who
was captured last night, positively asserts that Cox's troops are
being withdrawn by the way of Wheeling." Of course Lee suggests the
importance of "pushing things" in the Kanawha valley. Stuart thus
knew my movement on the day I left Parkersburg.

Even when the captured person tells nothing he is bound to conceal,
enough is necessarily known to enable a diligent provost-marshal to
construct a reasonably complete roster of the enemy in a short time.
In the Atlanta campaign I always carried a memorandum book in which
I noted and corrected all the information of this sort which came to
me, and by comparing this with others and with the lists at General
Sherman's headquarters, there was no difficulty in keeping well up
in the enemy's organization. It may therefore be said that every
commanding officer ought to know the divisions and brigades of his
enemy. The strength of a brigade is fairly estimated from the
average of our own, for in people of similar race and education, the
models of organization are essentially the same, and subject to the
same causes of diminution during a campaign. Such considerations as
these leave no escape from the conclusion that McClellan's estimates
of Lee's army were absolutely destructive of all chances of success,
and made it impossible for the President or for General Halleck to
deal with the military problem before them. That he had continued
this erroneous counting for more than a year, and through an active
campaign in the field, destroyed every hope of correcting it. The
reports of the peninsular campaign reveal, at times, the difficulty
there was in keeping up the illusion. The known divisions in the
Confederate army would not account for the numbers attributed to
them, and so these divisions occasionally figure in our reports as
"grand divisions." [Footnote: In his dispatch to Halleck on the
morning after South Mountain (September 15), D. H. Hill's division
is called a corps. Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 294.] That
the false estimate was unnecessary is proven by the fact that
General Meigs, in Washington, on July 28th, made up an estimate from
the regiments, brigades, etc., mentioned in the newspapers that got
through the lines, which was reasonably accurate. But McClellan held
Meigs for an enemy. [Footnote: General Meigs found ninety regiments
of infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and five batteries of
artillery designated by name in the "Confederate" newspaper reports
of the seven days' battles. Comparing this with other information
from similar sources, he concluded that Lee had about one hundred
and fifty regiments. These, at 700 men each, would make 105,000, or
at 400 (which he found a full average) the gross of the infantry
would be 60,000. General Webb, with official documents before him,
puts it at 70,000 to 80,000. Does one need better evidence how much
worse than useless was McClellan's secret service? See Official
Records, vol. xi. pt. iii. p. 340.] When I joined McClellan at
Washington, I had no personal knowledge of either army except as I
had learned it from the newspapers. My predilections in favor of
McClellan made me assume that his facts were well based, as they
ought to have been. I therefore accepted the general judgment of
himself and his intimate friends as to his late campaign and Pope's,
and believed that his restoration to command was an act of justice
to him and of advantage to the country. I did not stay long enough
with that army to apply any test of my own to the question of
relative numbers, and have had to correct my opinions of the men and
the campaigns by knowledge gained long afterward. I however used
whatever influence I had to combat the ideas in McClellan's mind
that the administration meant to do him any wrong, or had any end
but the restoration of National unity in view.

Whether Halleck was appointed on Pope's urgent recommendation or no,
his campaign in the West was the ground of his promotion. The
advance from the Ohio to Fort Donelson, to Nashville, to Shiloh, and
to Corinth had been under his command, and he deservedly had credit
for movements which had brought Kentucky and Tennessee within the
Union lines. He had gone in person to the front after the battle of
Shiloh, and though much just criticism had been made of his slow
digging the way to Corinth by a species of siege operations, he had
at any rate got there. Mr. Lincoln was willing to compromise upon a
slow advance upon Richmond, provided it were sure and steady.
Halleck's age and standing in the army were such that McClellan
himself could find no fault with his appointment, if any one were to
be put over him.

Everything points to the expectation, at the time of his
appointment, that Halleck would assume the personal command in the
field. He visited McClellan at Harrison's Landing on July 25th,
however, and promised him that if the armies should be promptly
reunited, he (McClellan) should command the whole, with Burnside and
Pope as his subordinates. [Footnote: McC. Own Story, p. 474;
Official Records, vol. xi. pt. iii. p. 360.] That he did not inform
Pope of this abdication of his generalship in the field is plain
from Pope's correspondence during the campaign. It is made
indisputably clear by Pope's letter to him of the 25th of August.
[Footnote: _Id_., vol. xii. pt. ii. pp. 65, 66.] He probably did not
tell the President or Mr. Stanton of it. He seems to have waited for
the union of the parts of the army, and when that came his prestige
was forever gone, and he had become, what he remained to the close
of the war, a bureau officer in Washington. He had ordered the
transfer of the Potomac Army from the James to Acquia Creek,
intending to unite it with Burnside's at Falmouth, opposite
Fredericksburg, and thus begin a fresh advance from the line of the
Rappahannock. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. p. 5;
vol. xi. pt. i. pp. 80-84; _Id_., pt. iii. p. 337.] He believed, and
apparently with reason, that ten days was sufficient to complete
this transfer with the means at McClellan's disposal, but at the end
of ten days the movement had not yet begun. [Footnote: The order was
given August 3; the movement began August 14. _Id_., pt. i. pp. 80,
89.] He was right in thinking that the whole army should be united.
McClellan thought the same. The question was where and how.
McClellan said, "Send Pope's men to me." Halleck replied that it
would not do to thus uncover Washington. McClellan had said that
vigorous advance upon the enemy by his army and a victory would best
protect the capital. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xii. pt. ii. pp. 9, 10.]
Again he was right, but he seemed incapable of a vigorous advance.
Had he made it when he knew (on July 30) that Jackson had gone
northward with thirty thousand men to resist Pope's advance, his
army would not have been withdrawn. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xi. pt.
iii. p. 342.] He was then nearly twice as strong as Lee, but he did
not venture even upon a forced reconnoissance. The situation of the
previous year was repeated. He was allowing himself to be besieged
by a fraction of his own force. Grant would have put himself into
the relation to McClellan which he sustained to Meade in 1864, and
would have infused his own energy into the army. Halleck did not do
this. It would seem that he had become conscious of his own lack of
nerve in the actual presence of an enemy, and looked back upon his
work at St. Louis in administering his department, whilst Grant and
Buell took the field, with more satisfaction than upon his own
advance from Shiloh to Corinth. He seemed already determined to
manage the armies from his office in Washington and assume no
responsibility for their actual leadership.

When the Army of the Potomac was arriving at Alexandria, another
crisis occurred in which a single responsible head in the field was
a necessity. McClellan had been giving a continuous demonstration,
since August 4th, how easy it is to thwart and hinder any movement
whilst professing to be accomplishing everything that is possible.
No maxim in war is better founded in experience than that a man who
believes that a plan is sure to fail should never be set to conduct
it. McClellan had written that Pope would be beaten before the Army
of the Potomac could be transferred to him, and Pope was beaten.
[Footnote: Halleck to McClellan, August 10 and 12, and McClellan's
reply: Official Records, vol. xi. pt. i. pp. 86-88. See also O. S.,
p. 466.] The only chance for any other result was for Halleck
himself to conduct the transfer. If Halleck meant that Franklin
should have pushed out to Manassas on the 27th of August, he should
have taken the field and gone with the corps. He did not know and
could not know how good or bad McClellan's excuses were, and nothing
but his own presence, with supreme power, could certainly remove the
causes for delay. He wrote to Pope that he could not leave
Washington, when he ought not to have been in Washington. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xii. pt. iii. p. 797.] He worked and worried
himself ill trying to make McClellan do what he should have done
himself, and then, overwhelmed with details he should never have
burdened himself with, besought his subordinate to relieve him of
the strain by practically taking command. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 691;
vol. xi. pt. i. p. 103.]

As soon as McClellan began the movement down the James, Lee took
Longstreet's corps to Jackson, leaving only D. H. Hill's at
Richmond. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. pp. 177, 552.] From that moment
McClellan could have marched anywhere. He could have marched to
Fredericksburg and joined Pope, and Halleck could have met them with
Burnside's troops. But the vast imaginary army of the Confederacy
paralyzed everything, and the ponderous task of moving the Army of
the Potomac and its enormous material by water to Washington went
on. The lifeless and deliberate way in which it went on made it the
1st of September when Sumner and Franklin reached Centreville, and
the second battle of Bull Run had ended in defeat on the evening
before.

But the army was at last reunited, within the fortifications of
Washington, it is true, and not on the James or on the line of the
Rappahannock. There was another opportunity given to Halleck to put
himself at its head, with McClellan, Pope, and Burnside for his
three lieutenants. Again he was unequal to his responsibility. Mr.
Lincoln saw his feebleness, and does not seem to have urged him.
Halleck was definitely judged in the President's mind, though the
latter seems to have clung to the idea that he might be useful by
allowing him to assume the role he chose, and confine himself to
mere suggestions and to purely routine work. Pope's unpopularity
with the army was adopted by popular clamor, which always finds a
defeated general in the wrong. The President, in real perplexity,
compromised by assigning McClellan to command for the purpose of
organizing, a work in which he was admitted by all to be able. The
command in the field was a second time offered to Burnside, who
declined it, warmly advocating McClellan's claims and proving his
most efficient friend. [Footnote: C. W., vol. i. p. 650.] Within
three days from the time I had ridden with McClellan to meet the
retreating army, the enemy had crossed the Potomac, and decision
could not be postponed. The President met McClellan, and told him in
person that he was assigned to command in the field. [Footnote:
_Id_., p. 453; Official Records, vol. xi. pt. i. p. 103.]

On the 5th of September Halleck had sent to McClellan a confidential
note, telling of the President's action relieving Pope, and
anticipating the issue of formal orders: [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 182.] "The President has directed that
General Pope be relieved and report to the War Department; that
Hooker be assigned to command of Porter's corps, and that Franklin's
corps be temporarily attached to Heintzelman's. The orders will be
issued this afternoon. Generals Porter and Franklin are to be
relieved from duty till the charges against them are examined. I
give you this memorandum in advance of orders, so that you may act
accordingly in putting forces in the field." Later in the same day
Halleck sent to McClellan the opinion that the enemy was without
doubt crossing the Potomac, and said, "If you agree with me, let our
troops move immediately." The formal order to Pope was: "The armies
of the Potomac and Virginia being consolidated, you will report for
orders to the Secretary of War." [Footnote: _Id_., p. 183.] Pope had
caused charges to be preferred against Porter and Franklin, and had
accused McClellan of wilfully delaying reinforcements and so causing
his defeat. His indignation that the interpretation of affairs given
by McClellan and his friends should be made into public opinion by
the apparent acquiescence of Halleck and the administration overcame
his prudence. Had he controlled his feelings and schooled himself
into patience, he would hardly have been relieved from active
service, and his turn would probably have come again. As it stood,
the President saw that McClellan and Pope could not work together,
and the natural outcome was that he retired Pope, so that McClellan
should not have it to say that he was thwarted by a hostile
subordinate. McClellan himself was so manifestly responsible for
Franklin's movements from the 27th to the 30th of August, that it
was a matter of course that when the chief was assigned to command
the condonation should cover the subordinate, and at McClellan's
request Franklin was allowed to take the field at once. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 190, 197.] A few days later
he urged the same action in Porter's case, and it was done. Porter
joined the army at South Mountain on the 14th of September.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 190, 254, 289.] The same principle demanded
that McDowell, who was obnoxious to McClellan, should be relieved,
and this was also done. As an ostensible reason for the public,
McDowell's request for a Court of Inquiry upon his own conduct was
assumed to imply a desire to be relieved from the command of his
corps. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 188, 189, 197.] But the court was not
assembled till the next winter. McDowell had been maligned almost as
unscrupulously as Pope. A total abstainer from intoxicating drinks,
he was persistently described as a drunkard, drunken upon the field
of battle. One of the most loyal and self-forgetting of
subordinates, he was treated as if a persistent intriguer for
command. A brave and competent soldier, he was believed to be
worthless and untrustworthy. As between Halleck, McClellan, and
Pope, the only one who had fought like a soldier and manoeuvred like
a general was sent to the northwestern frontier to watch the petty
Indian tribes, carrying the burden of others' sins into the
wilderness. Mr. Lincoln's sacrifice of his sense of justice to what
seemed the only expedient in the terrible crisis, was sublime.
McClellan commanded the army, and Porter and Franklin each commanded
a corps. If the country was to be saved, confidence and power could
not be bestowed by halves.

In his "Own Story" McClellan speaks of the campaign in Maryland as
made "with a halter round his neck," [Footnote: O. S., p. 551.]
meaning that he had no real command except of the defences of
Washington, and that he marched after Lee without authority, so
that, if unsuccessful, he might have been condemned for usurpation
of command. It would be incredible that he adopted such a mere
illusion, if he had not himself said it. It proves that some at
least of the strange additions to history which he thus published
had their birth in his own imagination brooding over the past, and
are completely contradicted by the official records. [Footnote: This
illusion, at least, is shown to be of later origin by his telegram
to his wife of September 7. "I leave here this afternoon," he says,
"to take command of the troops in the field. The feeling of the
government towards me, I am sure, is kind and trusting. I hope, with
God's blessing, to justify the great confidence they now repose in
me, and will bury the past in oblivion." O. S., p. 567.] The
consolidation of the armies under him was, in fact, a promotion,
since it enlarged his authority and committed to him the task that
properly belonged to Halleck as general-in-chief. For a few days,
beginning September 1st, McClellan's orders and correspondence were
dated "Headquarters, Washington," because no formal designation had
been given to the assembled forces at the capital. When he took the
field at Rockville on the 8th of September, he assumed, as he had
the right to do in the absence of other direction from the War
Department, that Burnside's and Pope's smaller armies were lost in
the larger Army of the Potomac by the consolidation, and resumed the
custom of dating his orders and dispatches from "Headquarters, Army
of the Potomac," from the command of which he had never been
removed, even when its divisions were temporarily separated from
him. [Footnote: On August 31st Halleck had written to him, "You will
retain the command of everything in this vicinity not temporarily
belonging to Pope's army in the field;" and in the general order
issued August 30, McClellan's command of the Army of the Potomac is
affirmed. Official Records, vol. xi. pt. i. p. 103; _Id_., vol. li.
pt. i. p. 775.] The defences of Washington were now entrusted to
Major-General Banks, strictly in subordination, however, to himself.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 202, 214.] The
official record of authority and command is consistent and perfect,
and his notion in his later years, that there was anything informal
about it, is proven to be imaginary. [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 257.]
Halleck's direction, which I have quoted, to "let our troops move
immediately," would be absurd as addressed to the commandant of the
Army of the Potomac into which the Army of Virginia was
consolidated, unless that commandant was to take the field, or a
formal order relieved him of command as Pope was relieved. Certainly
no other commander was designated, and I saw enough of him in those
days to say with confidence that he betrayed no doubt that the order
to "move immediately" included himself. McClellan's popularity with
the Army of the Potomac had seemed to Mr. Lincoln the only power
sufficient to ensure its prompt and earnest action against the
Confederate invasion. His leadership of it, to be successful, had to
be accompanied with plenary powers, even if the stultification of
the government itself were the consequence. When the patriotism of
the President yielded to this, the suggestion of McClellan twenty
years afterward, that it had all been a pitfall prepared for him,
would be revolting if, in view of the records, the absurdity of it
did not prove that its origin was in a morbid imagination. It is far
more difficult to deal leniently with the exhibition of character in
his private letters, which were injudiciously added to his "Own
Story" by his literary executor. In them his vanity and his ill-will
toward rivals and superiors are shockingly naked; and since no
historian can doubt that at every moment from September, 1861, to
September, 1862, his army greatly outnumbered his enemy, whilst in
equipment and supply there was no comparison, his persistent outcry
that he was sacrificed by his government destroys even that
character for dignity and that reputation for military intelligence
which we fondly attributed to him.

The general arrangement of the campaign seems to have been settled
between Halleck and McClellan on the 5th of September. General
Sumner with the Second and Twelfth corps moved up the Potomac by way
of Tenallytown, Burnside with the First and Ninth corps moved to
Leesboro with a view to covering Baltimore, the front was explored
by the cavalry under Pleasonton, and the Sixth Corps, under
Franklin, constituted a reserve. [Footnote: Confusion in the numbers
of the First and Twelfth corps is found in the records and
dispatches, owing to the fact that in the Army of Virginia the corps
numbers were not those given them by the War Department. Sigel's,
properly the Eleventh Corps, had been called First of that army.
Banks's, properly Twelfth, had been called Second, and McDowell's,
properly First, had been called Third. In the Maryland campaign
Hooker was assigned to McDowell's, and it sometimes figures as
First, sometimes as Third; Mansfield was assigned to Banks's. The
proper designations after the consolidation were First and Twelfth.
Reno had been assigned to the First, but McClellan got authority to
change it, and gave it to Hooker, sending Reno back to the Ninth.
Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. pp. 197, 198, 279, 349.] The
preliminary movements occupied the 5th and 6th, but on the 7th the
positions were as I have stated them. The principal bodies were
designated, respectively, as right and left wings instead of armies.
The two corps from the Army of Virginia were separated, one being
assigned to the right wing under Burnside, and the other to the left
under Sumner.

CHAPTER XIII

SOUTH MOUNTAIN

March through Washington--Reporting to Burnside--The Ninth
Corps--Burnside's personal qualities--To Leesboro--Straggling--Lee's
army at Frederick--Our deliberate advance--Reno at New Market--The
march past--Reno and Hayes--Camp gossip--Occupation of
Frederick--Affair with Hampton's cavalry--Crossing Catoctin
Mountain--The valley and South Mountain--Lee's order found--Division
of his army--Jackson at Harper's Ferry--Supporting Pleasonton's
reconnoissance--Meeting Colonel Moor--An involuntary
warning--Kanawha Division's advance--Opening of the battle--Carrying
the mountain crest--The morning fight--Lull at noon--Arrival of
supports--Battle renewed--Final success--Death of Reno--Hooker's
battle on the right--His report--Burnside's comments--Franklin's
engagement at Crampton's Gap.

Late in the night of the 5th I received orders from McClellan's
headquarters to march from my position on Upton's Hill through
Washington toward Leesboro, [Footnote: Leesboro, a village of
Maryland eight or ten miles north of Washington, must be
distinguished from Leesburg in Virginia.] as soon as my pickets
could be relieved by troops of McDowell's corps. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 183; vol. li. pt. i. p. 789.] My route
was designated as by the road which was a continuation northward of
Seventh Street, and I was directed to report to General Ambrose E.
Burnside, commanding right wing, whose headquarters were in the
suburbs of the city on that road. This was in accordance with my
wish, expressed to McClellan that I might have active field work.
For two or three days we were not attached to a corps, but as the
organization of the army became settled we were temporarily assigned
to the Ninth, which had been Burnside's, and had been with him in
North Carolina. During this campaign it was commanded by
Major-General Jesse L. Reno, who had long had a division in it, and
had led the corps in the recent battle. We marched from Upton's Hill
at daybreak of the 6th, taking the road to Georgetown by Ball's
Cross-Roads. In Georgetown we turned eastward through Washington to
Seventh Street, and thence northward to the Leesboro road. As we
passed General Burnside's quarters, I sent a staff officer to report
our progress. It was about ten o'clock, and Burnside had gone to the
White House to meet the President and cabinet by invitation. His
chief of staff, General J. G. Parke, sent a polite note, saying we
had not been expected so soon, and directed us to halt and bivouac
for the present in some fields by the roadside, near where the
Howard University now is. In the afternoon I met Burnside for the
first time, and was warmly attracted by him, as everybody was. He
was pre-eminently a manly man, as I expressed it in writing home.
His large, fine eyes, his winning smile and cordial manners, bespoke
a frank, sincere, and honorable character, and these indications
were never belied by more intimate acquaintance. The friendship then
begun lasted as long as he lived. I learned to understand the
limitations of his powers and the points in which he fell short of
being a great commander; but as I knew him better I estimated more
and more highly his sincerity and truthfulness, his unselfish
generosity, and his devoted patriotism. In everything which makes up
an honorable and lovable personal character he had no superior. I
shall have occasion to speak frequently of his peculiarities and his
special traits, but shall never have need to say a word in
derogation of the solid virtues I have attributed to him. His
chief-of-staff, General Parke, was an officer of the Engineers, and
one of the best instructed of that corps. He had served with
distinction under Burnside in North Carolina, in command of a
brigade and division. I always thought that he preferred staff duty,
especially with Burnside, whose confidence in him was complete, and
who would leave to him almost untrammelled control of the
administrative work of the command.

On September 7th I was ordered to take the advance of the Ninth
Corps in the march to Leesboro, following Hooker's corps. It was my
first march with troops of this army, and I was shocked at the
straggling I witnessed. The "roadside brigade," as we called it, was
often as numerous, by careful estimate, as our own column moving in
the middle of the road. I could say of the men of the Kanawha
division, as Richard Taylor said of his Louisiana brigade with
Stonewall Jackson, that they had not yet _learned_ to straggle.
[Footnote: See Taylor's "Destruction and Reconstruction," p. 50, for
a curious interview with Jackson.] I tried to prevent their learning
it. We had a roll-call immediately upon halting after the march, and
another half an hour later, with prompt reports of the result. I
also assigned a field officer and medical officer to duty at the
rear of the column, with ambulances for those who became ill and
with punishments for the rest. The result was that, in spite of the
example of others, the division had no stragglers, the first
roll-call rarely showing more than twenty or thirty not answering to
their names, and the second often proving every man to be present.
[Footnote: See letters of General R. B. Hayes and General George
Crook, Appendix B.] In both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of
Northern Virginia the evil had become a most serious one. After the
battle of Antietam, for the express purpose of remedying it,
McClellan appointed General Patrick Provost-Marshal with a strong
provost-guard, giving him very extended powers, and permitting
nobody, of whatever rank, to interfere with him. Patrick was a man
of vigor, of conscience, and of system, and though he was greatly
desirous of keeping a field command, proved so useful, indeed so
necessary a part of the organization, that he was retained in it
against his wishes, to the end of the war, each commander of the
Army of the Potomac in turn finding that he was indispensable.
[Footnote: I have discussed this subject also in a review of
Henderson's Stonewall Jackson, "The Nation," Nov. 24, 1898, p. 396.]

The Confederate army suffered from straggling quite as much,
perhaps, as ours, but in a somewhat different way. At the close of
the Antietam campaign General Lee made bitter complaints in regard
to it, and asked the Confederate government for legislation which
would authorize him to apply the severest punishments. As the
Confederate stragglers were generally in the midst of friends, where
they could sleep under shelter and get food of better quality than
the army ration, this grew to be the regular mode of life with many
even of those who would join their comrades in an engagement. They
were not reported in the return of "effectives" made by their
officers, but that they often made part of the killed, wounded, and
captured I have little doubt. In this way a rational explanation may
be found of the larger discrepancies between the Confederate reports
of casualties and ours of their dead buried and prisoners taken.

The weather during this brief campaign was as lovely as possible,
and the contrast between the rich farming country in which we now
were, and the forest-covered mountains of West Virginia to which we
had been accustomed, was very striking. An evening march, under a
brilliant moon, over a park-like landscape with alternations of
groves and meadows which could not have been more beautifully
composed by a master artist, remains in my memory as a page out of a
lovely romance. On the day that we marched to Leesboro, Lee's army
was concentrated near Frederick, behind the Monocacy River, having
begun the crossing of the Potomac on the 4th. There was a singular
dearth of trustworthy information on the subject at our army
headquarters. We moved forward by very short marches of six or eight
miles, feeling our way so cautiously that Lee's reports speak of it
as an unexpectedly slow approach. The Comte de Paris excuses it on
the ground of the disorganized condition of McClellan's army after
the recent battle. It must be remembered, however, that Sumner's
corps and Franklin's had not been at the second Bull Run, and were
veterans of the Potomac Army. The Twelfth Corps had been Banks's,
and it too had not been engaged at the second Bull Run, its work
having been to cover the trains of Pope's army on the retrograde
movement from Warrenton Junction. Although new regiments had been
added to these corps, it is hardly proper to say that the army as a
whole was not one which could be rapidly manoeuvred. I see no good
reason why it might not have advanced at once to the left bank of
the Monocacy, covering thus both Washington and Baltimore, and
hastening by some days Lee's movement across the Blue Ridge. We
should at least have known where the enemy was by being in contact
with him, instead of being the sport of all sorts of vague rumors
and wild reports. [Footnote: McClellan was not wholly responsible
for this tardiness, for Halleck was very timid about uncovering
Washington, and his dispatches tended to increase McClellan's
natural indecision. Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 280.]

The Kanawha division took the advance of the right wing when we left
Leesboro on the 8th, and marched to Brookville. On the 9th it
reached Goshen, where it lay on the 10th, and on the 11th reached
Ridgeville on the railroad. The rest of the Ninth Corps was an easy
march behind us. Hooker had been ordered further to the right on the
strength of rumors that Lee was making a circuit towards Baltimore,
and his corps reached Cooksville and the railroad some ten miles
east of my position. The extreme left of the army was at
Poolesville, near the Potomac, making a spread of thirty miles
across the whole front. The cavalry did not succeed in getting far
in advance of the infantry, and very little valuable information was
obtained. At Ridgeville, however, we got reliable evidence that Lee
had evacuated Frederick the day before, and that only cavalry was
east of the Catoctin Mountains. Hooker got similar information at
about the same time. It was now determined to move more rapidly, and
early in the morning of the 12th I was ordered to march to New
Market and thence to Frederick. At New Market I was overtaken by
General Reno, with several officers of rank from the other divisions
of the corps, and they dismounted at a little tavern by the roadside
to see the Kanawha division go by. Up to this time they had seen
nothing of us whatever. The men had been so long in the West
Virginia mountains at hard service, involving long and rapid
marches, that they had much the same strength of legs and ease in
marching which was afterward so much talked of when seen in
Sherman's army at the review in Washington at the close of the war.
I stood a little behind Reno and the rest, and had the pleasure of
hearing their involuntary exclamations of admiration at the marching
of the men. The easy swinging step, the graceful poise of the musket
on the shoulder, as if it were a toy and not a burden, and the
compactness of the column were all noticed and praised with a
heartiness which was very grateful to my ears. I no longer felt any
doubt that the division stood well in the opinion of my associates.

I enjoyed this the more because, the evening before, a little
incident had occurred which had threatened to result in some
ill-feeling. It had been thought that we were likely to be attacked
at Ridgeville, and on reaching the village I disposed the division
so as to cover the place and to be ready for an engagement. I
ordered the brigades to bivouac in line of battle, covering the
front with outposts and with cavalry vedettes from the Sixth New
York Cavalry (Colonel Devin), which had been attached to the
division during the advance. The men were without tents, and to make
beds had helped themselves to some straw from stacks in the
vicinity. Toward evening General Reno rode up, and happening first
to meet Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, commanding the
Twenty third Ohio, he rather sharply inquired why the troops were
not bivouacking "closed in mass," and also blamed the taking of the
straw. Colonel Hayes referred him to me as the proper person to
account for the disposition of the troops, and quietly said he
thought the quartermaster's department could settle for the straw if
the owner was loyal. A few minutes later the general came to my own
position, but was now quite over his irritation. I, of course, knew
nothing of his interview with Hayes, and when he said that it was
the policy in Maryland to make the troops bivouac in compact mass,
so as to do as little damage to property as possible, I cordially
assented, but urged that such a rule would not apply to the
advance-guard when supposed to be in presence of the enemy; we
needed to have the men already in line if an alarm should be given
in the night. To this he agreed, and a pleasant conversation
followed. Nothing was said to me about the straw taken for bedding,
and when I heard of the little passage-at-arms with Colonel Hayes, I
saw that it was a momentary disturbance which had no real
significance. Camp gossip, however, is as bad as village gossip, and
in a fine volume of the "History of the Twenty-first Massachusetts
Regiment," I find it stated that the Kanawha division coming fresh
from the West was disposed to plunder and pillage, giving an
exaggerated version of the foregoing story as evidence of it. This
makes it a duty to tell what was the small foundation for the
charge, and to say that I believe no regiments in the army were less
obnoxious to any just accusation of such a sort. The gossip would
never have survived the war at all but for the fact that Colonel
Hayes became President of the United States, and the supposed
incident of his army life thus acquired a new interest. [Footnote:
This incident gives me the opportunity to say that after reading a
good many regimental histories, I am struck with the fact that with
the really invaluable material they contain when giving the actual
experiences of the regiments themselves, they also embody a great
deal of mere gossip. As a rule, their value is confined to what
strictly belongs to the regiment; and the criticisms, whether of
other organizations or of commanders, are likely to be the
expression of the local and temporary prejudices and misconceptions
which are notoriously current in time of war. They need to be read
with due allowance for this. The volume referred to is a favorable
example of its class, but its references to the Kanawha division
(which was in the Ninth Corps only a month) illustrate the tendency
I have mentioned. It should be borne in mind that the Kanawha men
had the position of advance-guard, and I believe did not camp in the
neighborhood of the other divisions in a single instance from the
time we left Leesboro till the battle of South Mountain. What is
said of them, therefore, is not from observation. The incident
between Reno and Hayes occurred in the camp of the latter, and could
not possibly be known to the author of the regimental history but by
hearsay. Yet he affirms as a fact that the Kanawha division
"plundered the country unmercifully," for which Reno "took
Lieutenant-Colonel Hayes severely though justly to task." He also
asserts that the division set a "very bad example" in straggling. As
to this, the truth is as I have circumstantially stated it above. He
has still further indulged in a "slant" at the "Ohioans" in a story
of dead Confederates being put in a well at South Mountain,--a story
as apocryphal as the others. Wise's house and well were within the
camp of the division to which the Twenty-first Massachusetts
belonged, and the burial party there would have been from that
division. Lastly, the writer says that General Cox, the temporary
corps commander, "robs us [the Twenty-first Massachusetts] of our
dearly bought fame" by naming the Fifty-first New York and
Fifty-first Pennsylvania as the regiments which stormed the bridge
at Antietam. He acquits Burnside and McClellan of the alleged
injustice, saying they "follow the corps report in this respect."
Yet mention is not made of the fact that my report literally copies
that of the division commander, who himself selected the regiments
for the charge! The "Ohioan" had soon gone west again with his
division, and was probably fair game. There is something akin to
provincialism in regimental _esprit de corps_, and such instances as
the above, which are all found within a few pages of the book
referred to, show that, like Leech's famous Staffordshire rough in
the Punch cartoon, to be a "stranger" is a sufficient reason to
"'eave 'arf a brick at un." See letters of President Hayes and
General Crook on the subject, Appendix B.]

From New Market we sent the regiment of cavalry off to the right to
cover our flank, and to investigate reports that heavy bodies of the
enemy's cavalry were north of us. The infantry pushed rapidly toward
Frederick. The opposition was very slight till we reached the
Monocacy River, which is perhaps half a mile from the town. Here
General Wade Hampton, with his brigade as rear-guard of Lee's army,
attempted to resist the crossing. The highway crosses the river by a
substantial stone bridge, and the ground upon our bank was
considerably higher than that on the other side. We engaged the
artillery of the enemy with a battery of our own, which had the
advantage of position, whilst the infantry forced the crossing both
by the bridge and by a ford a quarter of a mile to the right. As
soon as Moor's brigade was over, it was deployed on the right and
left of the turnpike, which was bordered on either side by a high
and strong post-and-rail fence. Scammon's was soon over, and
similarly deployed as a second line, with the Eleventh Ohio in
column in the road. Moor had with him a troop of horse and a single
cannon, and went forward with the first line, allowing it to keep
abreast of him on right and left. I also rode on the turnpike
between the two lines, and only a few rods behind Moor, having with
me my staff and a few orderlies. Reno was upon the other bank of the
river, overlooking the movement, which made a fine military display
as the lines advanced at quick-step toward the city. Hampton's
horsemen had passed out of our sight, for the straight causeway
turned sharply to the left just as it entered the town, and we could
not see beyond the turn. We were perhaps a quarter of a mile from
the city, when a young staff officer from corps headquarters rode up
beside me and exclaimed in a boisterous way, "Why don't they go in
faster? There's nothing there!" I said to the young man, "Did
General Reno send you with any order to me?" "No," he replied.
"Then," said I, "when I want your advice I will ask it." He moved
off abashed, and I did not notice what had become of him, but, in
fact, he rode up to Colonel Moor, and repeated a similar speech.
Moor was stung by the impertinence which he assumed to be a
criticism upon him from corps headquarters, and, to my amazement, I
saw him suddenly dash ahead at a gallop with his escort and the gun.
He soon came to the turn of the road where it loses itself among the
houses; there was a quick, sharp rattling of carbines, and Hampton's
cavalry was atop of the little party. There was one discharge of the
cannon, and some of the brigade staff and escort came back in
disorder. I ordered up at "double quick" the Eleventh Ohio, which,
as I have said, was in column in the road, and these, with bayonets
fixed, dashed into the town. The enemy had not waited for them, but
retreated out of the place by the Hagerstown road. Moor had been
ridden down, unhorsed, and captured. The artillery-men had
unlimbered the gun, pointed it, and the gunner stood with the
lanyard in his hand, when he was struck by a charging horse; the gun
was fired by the concussion, but at the same moment it was capsized
into the ditch by the impact of the cavalry column. The enemy had no
time to right the gun or carry it off, nor to stop for prisoners.
They forced Moor on another horse, and turned tail as the charging
lines of infantry came up on right and left as well as the column in
the road, for there had not been a moment's pause in the advance. It
had all happened, and the gun with a few dead and wounded of both
sides were in our hands, in less time than it has taken to describe
it. Those who may have a fancy for learning how Munchausen would
tell this story, may find it in the narrative of Major Heros von
Borke of J. E. B. Stuart's staff. [Footnote: Von Borke's account is
so good an example of the way in which romance may be built up out
of a little fact that I give it in full. The burning of the stone
bridge half a mile in rear of the little affair was a peculiarly
brilliant idea; but he has evidently confused our advance with that
on the Urbana road. He says: "Toward evening the enemy arrived in
the immediate neighborhood of Monocacy bridge, and observing only a
small force at this point, advanced very carelessly. A six-pounder
gun had been placed in position by them at a very short distance
from the bridge, which fired from time to time a shot at our
horsemen, while the foremost regiment marched along at their ease,
as if they believed this small body of cavalry would soon wheel in
flight. This favorable moment for an attack was seized in splendid
style by Major Butler, who commanded the two squadrons of the Second
South Carolina Cavalry, stationed at this point as our rear-guard.
Like lightning he darted across the bridge, taking the piece of
artillery, which had scarcely an opportunity of firing a shot, and
falling upon the regiment of infantry, which was dispersed in a few
seconds, many of them being shot down, and many others, among whom
was the colonel in command, captured. The colors of the regiment
also fell into Major Butler's hands. The piece of artillery, in the
hurry of the moment, could not be brought over to our side of the
river, as the enemy instantly sent forward a large body of cavalry
at a gallop, and our dashing men had only time to spike it and trot
with their prisoners across the bridge, which, having been already
fully prepared for burning, was in a blaze when the infuriated
Yankees arrived at the water's edge. The conflagration of the bridge
of course checked their onward movement, and we quietly continued
the retreat." Von Borke, vol. i. p. 203. Stuart's report is very
nearly accurate: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 816.] Moor's
capture, however, had consequences, as we shall see. The command of
his brigade passed to Colonel George Crook of the Thirty-sixth Ohio.

Frederick was a loyal city, and as Hampton's cavalry went out at one
end of the street and our infantry came in at the other, and whilst
the carbine smoke and the smell of powder still lingered, the closed
window-shutters of the houses flew open, the sashes went up, the
windows were filled with ladies waving their handkerchiefs and
national flags, whilst the men came to the column with fruits and
refreshments for the marching soldiers as they went by in the hot
sunshine of the September afternoon. [Footnote: Although at the head
of the column, the "truth of history" compels me to say that I saw
nothing of Barbara Frietchie, and heard nothing of her till I read
Whittier's poem in later years. When, however, I visited Frederick
with General Grant in 1869, we were both presented with
walking-sticks made from timbers of Barbara's house which had been
torn down, and, of course, I cannot dispute the story of which I
have the stick as evidence; for Grant thought the stick shut me up
from any denial and established the legend.] Pleasonton's cavalry
came in soon after by the Urbana road, and during the evening a
large part of the army drew near the place. Next morning (13th) the
cavalry went forward to reconnoitre the passes of Catoctin Mountain,
Rodman's division of our corps being ordered to support them and to
proceed toward Middletown in the Catoctin valley. Through some
misunderstanding Rodman took the road to Jefferson, leading to the
left, where Franklin's corps was moving, and did not get upon the
Hagerstown road. About noon I was ordered to march upon the latter
road to Middletown. McClellan himself met me as my column moved out
of town, and told me of the misunderstanding in Rodman's orders,
adding that if I found him on the march I should take his division
also along with me. [Footnote: As is usual in such cases, the
direction was later put in writing by his chief of staff. Official
Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 827.] I did not meet him, but the other
two divisions of the corps crossed Catoctin Mountain that night,
whilst Rodman returned to Frederick. The Kanawha division made an
easy march, and as the cavalry was now ahead of us, met no
opposition in crossing Catoctin Mountain or in the valley beyond. On
the way we passed a house belonging to a branch of the Washington
family, and a few officers of the division accompanied me, at the
invitation of the occupant, to look at some relics of the Father of
his Country which were preserved there. We stood for some minutes
with uncovered heads before a case containing a uniform he had worn,
and other articles of personal use hallowed by their association
with him, and went on our way with our zeal strengthened by closer
contact with souvenirs of the great patriot. Willcox's division
followed us, and encamped a mile and a half east of Middletown.
Sturgis's halted not far from the western foot of the mountain, with
corps headquarters near by. My own camp for the night was pitched in
front (west) of the village of Middletown along Catoctin Creek.
Pleasonton's cavalry was a little in advance of us, at the forks of
the road where the old Sharpsburg road turns off to the left from
the turnpike. The rest of the army was camped about Frederick,
except Franklin's corps (Sixth), which was near Jefferson, ten miles
further south but also east of Catoctin Mountain.

The Catoctin or Middletown valley is beautifully included between
Catoctin Mountain and South Mountain, two ranges of the Blue Ridge,
running northeast and southwest. It is six or eight miles wide,
watered by Catoctin Creek, which winds southward among rich farms
and enters the Potomac near Point of Rocks. The National road
leaving Frederick passes through Middletown and crosses South
Mountain, as it goes northwestward, at a depression called Turner's
Gap. The old Sharpsburg road crosses the summit at another gap,
known as Fox's, about a mile south of Turner's. Still another, the
old Hagerstown road, finds a passage over the ridge at about an
equal distance north. The National road, being of easier grades and
better engineering, was now the principal route, the others having
degenerated to rough country roads. The mountain crests are from ten
to thirteen hundred feet above the Catoctin valley, and the "gaps"
are from two to three hundred feet lower than the summits near them.
[Footnote: These elevations are from the official map of the U.S.
Engineers.] These summits are like scattered and irregular hills
upon the high rounded surface of the mountain top. They are wooded,
but along the southeasterly slopes, quite near the top of the
mountain, are small farms, with meadows and cultivated fields.

The military situation had been cleared up by the knowledge of Lee's
movements which McClellan got from a copy of Lee's order of the day
for the both. This had been found at Frederick on the 13th, and it
tallied so well with what was otherwise known that no doubt was left
as to its authenticity. It showed that Jackson's corps with Walker's
division were besieging Harper's Ferry on the Virginia side of the
Potomac, whilst McLaws's division supported by Anderson's was
co-operating on Maryland Heights. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xix. pt. ii. pp. 281, 603.] Longstreet, with the remainder of his
corps, was at Boonsboro or near Hagerstown. D. H. Hill's division
was the rear-guard, and the cavalry under Stuart covered the whole,
a detached squadron being with Longstreet, Jackson, and McLaws each.
The order did not name the three separate divisions in Jackson's
command proper (exclusive of Walker), nor those remaining with
Longstreet except D. H. Hill's; but it is hardly conceivable that
these were not known to McClellan after his own and Pope's contact
with them during the campaigns of the spring and summer. At any
rate, the order showed that Lee's army was in two parts, separated
by the Potomac and thirty or forty miles of road. As soon as Jackson
should reduce Harper's Ferry they would reunite. Friday the 12th was
the day fixed for the concentration of Jackson's force for his
attack, and it was Saturday when the order fell into McClellan's
hands. Three days had already been lost in the slow advance since
Lee had crossed Catoctin Mountain, and Jackson's artillery was now
heard pounding at the camp and earthworks of Harper's Ferry. McLaws
had already driven our forces from Maryland Heights, and had opened
upon the ferry with his guns in commanding position on the north of
the Potomac. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 607.] McClellan telegraphed to the
President that he would catch the rebels "in their own trap if my
men are equal to the emergency." [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xix. pt. ii. p. 281.] There was certainly no time to lose. The
information was in his hands before noon, for he refers to it in a
dispatch to Mr. Lincoln at twelve. If his men had been ordered to be
at the top of South Mountain before dark, they could have been
there; but less than one full corps passed Catoctin Mountain that
day or night, and when the leisurely movement of the 14th began, he
himself, instead of being with the advance, was in Frederick till
after 2 P.M., at which hour he sent a dispatch to Washington, and
then rode to the front ten or twelve miles away. The failure to be
"equal to the emergency" was not in his men. Twenty-four hours, as
it turned out, was the whole difference between saving and losing
Harper's Ferry with its ten or twelve thousand men and its
unestimated munitions and stores. It may be that the commanders of
the garrison were in fault, and that a more stubborn resistance
should have been made. It may be that Halleck ought to have ordered
the place to be evacuated earlier, as McClellan suggested.
Nevertheless, at noon of the 13th McClellan had it in his power to
save the place and interpose his army between the two wings, of the
Confederates with decisive effect on the campaign. He saw that it
was an "emergency," but did not call upon his men for any
extraordinary exertion. Harper's. Ferry surrendered, and Lee united
the wings of his army beyond the Antietam before the final and
general engagement was forced upon him.

At my camp in front of Middletown, I received no orders looking to a
general advance on the 14th; but only to support, by a detachment,
Pleasonton's cavalry in a reconnoissance toward Turner's Gap.
Pleasonton himself came to my tent in the evening, and asked that
one brigade might report to him in the morning for the purpose. Six
o'clock was the hour at which he wished them to march. He said
further that he and Colonel Crook were old army acquaintances and
that he would like Crook to have the detail. I wished to please him,
and not thinking that it would make any difference to my brigade
commanders, intimated that I would do so. But Colonel Scammon,
learning what was intended, protested that under our custom his
brigade was entitled to the advance next day, as the brigades had
taken it in turn. I explained that it was only as a courtesy to
Pleasonton and at his request that the change was proposed. This did
not better the matter in Scammon's opinion. He had been himself a
regular officer, and the point of professional honor touched him. I
recognized the justice of his demand, and said he should have the
duty if he insisted upon it. Pleasonton was still in the camp
visiting with Colonel Crook, and I explained to him the reasons why
I could not yield to his wish, but must assign Scammon's brigade to
the duty in conformity with the usual course. There was in fact no
reason except the personal one for choosing one brigade more than
the other, for they were equally good. Crook took the decision in
good part, though it was natural that he should wish for an
opportunity of distinguished service, as he had not been the regular
commandant of the brigade. Pleasonton was a little chafed, and even
intimated that he claimed some right to name the officer and command
to be detailed. This, of course, I could not admit, and issued the
formal orders at once. The little controversy had put Scammon and
his whole brigade upon their mettle, and was a case in which a
generous emulation did no harm. What happened in the morning only
increased their spirit and prepared them the better to perform what
I have always regarded as a very brilliant exploit.

[Illustration: Map: South Mountain ]

The morning of Sunday the 14th of September was a bright one. I had
my breakfast very early and was in the saddle before it was time for
Scammon to move. He was prompt, and I rode on with him to see in
what way his support was likely to be used. Two of the Ninth Corps
batteries (Gibson's and Benjamin's) had accompanied the cavalry, and
one of these was a heavy one of twenty-pounder Parrotts. They were
placed upon a knoll a little in front of the cavalry camp, about
half a mile beyond the forks of the old Sharpsburg road with the
turnpike. They were exchanging shots with a battery of the enemy
well up in the gap. Just as Scammon and I crossed Catoctin Creek I
was surprised to see Colonel Moor standing at the roadside. With
astonishment I rode to him and asked how he came there. He said that
he had been taken beyond the mountain after his capture, but had
been paroled the evening before, and was now finding his way back to
us on foot. "But where are _you_ going?" said he. I answered that
Scammon was going to support Pleasonton in a reconnoissance into the
gap. Moor made an involuntary start, saying, "My God! be careful!"
then checking himself, added, "But I am paroled!" and turned away. I
galloped to Scammon and told him that I should follow him in close
support with Crook's brigade, and as I went back along the column I
spoke to each regimental commander, warning them to be prepared for
anything, big or little,--it might be a skirmish, it might be a
battle. Hurrying to camp, I ordered Crook to turn out his brigade
and march at once. I then wrote a dispatch to General Reno, saying I
suspected we should find the enemy in force on the mountain top, and
should go forward with both brigades instead of sending one.
Starting a courier with this, I rode forward again and found
Pleasonton. Scammon had given him an inkling of our suspicions, and
in the personal interview they had reached a mutual good
understanding. I found that he was convinced that it would be unwise
to make an attack in front, and had determined that his horsemen
should merely demonstrate upon the main road and support the
batteries, whilst Scammon should march by the old Sharpsburg road
and try to reach the flank of the force on the summit. I told him
that in view of my fear that the force of the enemy might be too
great for Scammon, I had determined to bring forward Crook's brigade
in support. If it became necessary to fight with the whole division,
I should do so, and in that case I should assume the responsibility
myself as his senior officer. To this he cordially assented.

One section of McMullin's six-gun battery was all that went forward
with Scammon (and even these not till the infantry reached the
summit), four guns being left behind, as the road was rough and
steep. There were in Simmonds's battery two twenty-pounder Parrott
guns, and I ordered these also to remain on the turnpike and to go
into action with Benjamin's battery of the same calibre. It was
about half-past seven when Crook's head of column filed off from the
turnpike upon the old Sharpsburg road, and Scammon had perhaps half
an hour's start. We had fully two miles to go before we should reach
the place where our attack was actually made, and as it was a pretty
sharp ascent the men marched slowly with frequent rests. On our way
up we were overtaken by my courier who had returned from General
Reno with approval of my action and the assurance that the rest of
the Ninth Corps would come forward to my support.

When Scammon had got within half a mile of Fox's Gap (the summit of
the old Sharpsburg road), [Footnote: The Sharpsburg road is also
called the Braddock road, as it was the way by which Braddock and
Washington had marched to Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg) in the old
French war. For the same reason the gap is called Braddock's Gap. I
have adopted that which seems to be in most common local use.] the
enemy opened upon him with case-shot from the edge of the timber
above the open fields, and he had judiciously turned off upon a
country road leading still further to the left, and nearly parallel
to the ridge above. His movement had been made under cover of the
forest, and he had reached the extreme southern limit of the open
fields south of the gap on this face of the mountain. Here I
overtook him, his brigade being formed in line under cover of the
timber, facing open pasture fields having a stone wall along the
upper side, with the forest again beyond this. On his left was the
Twenty-third Ohio under Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Hayes, who had been
directed to keep in the woods beyond the open, and to strike if
possible the flank of the enemy. His centre was the Twelfth Ohio
under Colonel Carr B. White, whose duty was to attack the stone wall
in front, charging over the broad open fields. On the right was the
Thirtieth Ohio, Colonel Hugh Ewing, who was ordered to advance
against a battery on the crest which kept up a rapid and annoying
fire. It was now about nine o'clock, and Crook's column had come
into close support. Bayonets were fixed, and at the word the line
rushed forward with loud hurrahs. Hayes, being in the woods, was not
seen till he had passed over the crest and turned upon the enemy's
flank and rear. Here was a sharp combat, but our men established
themselves upon the summit and drove the enemy before them. White
and Ewing charged over the open under a destructive fire of musketry
and shrapnel. As Ewing approached the enemy's battery (Bondurant's),
it gave him a parting salvo, and limbered rapidly toward the right
along a road in the edge of the woods which follows the summit to
the turnpike near the Mountain House at Turner's Gap. White's men
never flinched, and the North Carolinians of Garland's brigade (for
it was they who held the ridge at this point) poured in their fire
till the advancing line of bayonets was in their faces when they
broke away from the wall. Our men fell fast, but they kept up their
pace, and the enemy's centre was broken by a heroic charge. Garland
strove hard to rally his men, but his brigade was hopelessly broken
in two. He rallied his right wing on the second ridge a little in
rear of that part of his line, but Hayes's regiment was here pushing
forward from our left. Colonel Ruffin of the Thirteenth North
Carolina held on to the ridge road beyond our right, near Fox's Gap.
The fighting was now wholly in the woods, and though the enemy's
centre was routed there was stubborn resistance on both flanks. His
cavalry dismounted (said to be under Colonel Rosser [Footnote:
Stuart's Report, Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 817.] ) was
found to extend beyond Hayes's line, and supported the Stuart
artillery, which poured canister into our advancing troops. I now
ordered Crook to send the Eleventh Ohio (under Lieutenant-Colonel
Coleman) beyond Hayes's left to extend our line in that direction,
and to direct the Thirty-sixth Ohio (Lieutenant-Colonel Clark) to
fill a gap between the Twelfth and Thirtieth caused by diverging
lines of advance. The only remaining regiment (the Twenty-eighth,
Lieutenant-Colonel Becker) was held in reserve on the right. The
Thirty-sixth aided by the Twelfth repulsed a stout effort of the
enemy to re-establish their centre. The whole line again sprung
forward. A high knoll on our left was carried. The dismounted
cavalry was forced to retreat with their battery across the ravine
in which the Sharpsburg road descends on the west of the mountain,
and took a new position on a separate hill in rear of the heights at
the Mountain House. There was considerable open ground at this new
position, from which their battery had full play at a range of about
twelve hundred yards upon the ridge held by us. But the Eleventh and
Twenty-third stuck stoutly to the hill which Hayes had first
carried, and their line was nearly parallel to the Sharpsburg road,
facing north. Garland had rushed to the right of his brigade to
rally them when they had broken before the onset of the Twenty-third
Ohio upon the flank, and in the desperate contest there he had been
killed and the disaster to his command made irreparable. On our side
Colonel Hayes had also been disabled by a severe wound as he
gallantly led the Ohio regiment.

I now directed the centre and right to push forward toward Fox's
Gap. Lieutenant Croome with a section of McMullin's battery had come
up, and he put his guns in action in the most gallant manner in the
open ground near Wise's house. The Thirtieth and Thirty-sixth
changed front to the right and attacked the remnant of Garland's
brigade, now commanded by Colonel McRae, and drove it and two
regiments from G. B. Anderson's brigade back upon the wooded hill
beyond Wise's farm at Fox's Gap. The whole of Anderson's brigade
retreated further along the crest toward the Mountain House.
Meanwhile the Twelfth Ohio, also changing front, had thridded its
way in the same direction through laurel thickets on the reverse
slope of the mountain, and attacking suddenly the force at Wise's as
the other two regiments charged it in front, completed the rout and
brought off two hundred prisoners. Bondurant's battery was again
driven hurriedly off to the north. But the hollow at the gap about
Wise's was no place to stay. It was open ground and was swept by the
batteries of the cavalry on the open hill to the northwest, and by
those of Hill's division about the Mountain House and upon the
highlands north of the National road; for those hills run forward
like a bastion and give a perfect flanking fire along our part of
the mountain. The gallant Croome with a number of his gunners had
been killed, and his guns were brought back into the shelter of the
woods, on the hither side of Wise's fields. The infantry of the
right wing was brought to the same position, and our lines were
reformed along the curving crests from that point which looks down
into the gap and the Sharpsburg road, toward the left. The extreme
right with Croome's two guns was held by the Thirtieth, with the
Twenty-eighth in second line. Next came the Twelfth, with the
Thirty-sixth in second line, the front curving toward the west with
the form of the mountain summit. The left of the Twelfth dipped a
little into a hollow, beyond which the Twenty-third and Eleventh
occupied the next hill facing toward the Sharpsburg road. Our front
was hollow, for the two wings were nearly at right angles to each
other; but the flanks were strongly placed, the right, which was
most exposed, having open ground in front which it could sweep with
its fire and having the reserve regiments closely supporting it.
Part of Simmonds's battery which had also come up had done good
service in the last combats, and was now disposed so as to check the
fire of the enemy.

It was time to rest. Three hours of up-hill marching and climbing
had been followed by as long a period of bloody battle, and it was
almost noon. The troops began to feel the exhaustion of such labor
and struggle. We had several hundred prisoners in our hands, and the
field was thickly strewn with dead, in gray and in blue, while our
field hospital a little down the mountain side was encumbered with
hundreds of wounded. We learned from our prisoners that the summit
was held by D. H. Hill's division of five brigades with Stuart's
cavalry, and that Longstreet's corps was in close support. I was
momentarily expecting to hear from the supporting divisions of the
Ninth Corps, and thought it the part of wisdom to hold fast to our
strong position astride of the mountain top commanding the
Sharpsburg road till our force should be increased. The two Kanawha
brigades had certainly won a glorious victory, and had made so
assured a success of the day's work that it would be folly to
imperil it. [Footnote: For Official Records, see Official Records,
vol. xix. pt. i. pp. 458-474.]

General Hill has since argued that only part of his division could
oppose us; [Footnote: Century War Book, vol. ii. pp. 559, etc.] but
his brigades were all on the mountain summit within easy support of
each other, and they had the day before them. It was five hours from
the time of our first charge to the arrival of our first supports,
and it was not till three o'clock in the afternoon that Hooker's
corps reached the eastern base of the mountain and began its
deployment north of the National road. Our effort was to attack the
weak end of his line, and we succeeded in putting a stronger force
there than that which opposed us. It is for our opponent to explain
how we were permitted to do it. The two brigades of the Kanawha
division numbered less than 3000 men. Hill's division was 5000
strong, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 1025.] even
by the Confederate method of counting their effectives, which should
be increased nearly one-fifth to compare properly with our reports.
In addition to these Stuart had the principal part of the
Confederate cavalry on this line, and they were not idle spectators.
Parts of Lee's and Hampton's brigades were certainly there, and
probably the whole of Lee's. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 819.] With less
than half the numerical strength which was opposed to it, therefore,
the Kanawha division had carried the summit, advancing to the charge
for the most part over open ground in the storm of musketry and
artillery fire, and held the crests they had gained through the
livelong day, in spite of all efforts to retake them.

In our mountain camps of West Virginia I had felt discontented that
our native Ohio regiments did not take as kindly to the labors of
drill and camp police as some of German birth, and I had warned them
that they would feel the need of accuracy and mechanical precision
when the day of battle came. They had done reasonably well, but
suffered in comparison with some of the others on dress parade and
in the form and neatness of the camp. When, however, on the slopes
of South Mountain I saw the lines go forward steadier and more even
under fire than they ever had done at drill, their intelligence
making them perfectly comprehend the advantage of unity in their
effort and in the shock when they met the foe--when their bodies
seemed to dilate, their step to have better cadence and a tread as
of giants as they went cheering up the hill,--I took back all my
criticisms and felt a pride and glory in them as soldiers and
comrades that words cannot express.

It was about noon that the lull in the battle occurred, and it
lasted a couple of hours, while reinforcements were approaching the
mountain top from both sides. The enemy's artillery kept up a pretty
steady fire, answered occasionally by our few cannon; but the
infantry rested on their arms, the front covered by a watchful line
of skirmishers, every man at his tree. The Confederate guns had so
perfectly the range of the sloping fields about and behind us, that
their canister shot made long furrows in the sod with a noise like
the cutting of a melon rind, and the shells which skimmed the crest
and burst in the tree-tops at the lower side of the fields made a
sound like the crashing and falling of some brittle substance,
instead of the tough fibre of oak and pine. We had time to notice
these things as we paced the lines waiting for the renewal of the
battle.

Willcox's division reported to me about two o'clock, and would have
been up earlier, but for a mistake in the delivery of a message to
him. He had sent from Middletown to ask me where I desired him to
come, and finding that the messenger had no clear idea of the roads
by which he had travelled, I directed him to say that General
Pleasonton would point out the road I had followed, if inquired of.
Willcox understood the messenger that I wished him to inquire of
Pleasonton where he had better put his division in, and on doing so,
the latter suggested that he move against the crests on the north of
the National road. He was preparing to do this when Burnside and
Reno came up and corrected the movement, recalling him from the
north and sending him by the old Sharpsburg road to my position. As
his head of column came up, Longstreet's corps was already forming
with its right outflanking my left. I sent two regiments [Footnote:
In my official report I said one regiment, but General Willcox
reported that he sent two, and he is doubtless right. For his
official report, see Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 428.] to
extend my left, and requested Willcox to form the rest of the
division on my right facing the summit. He was doing this when he
received an order from General Reno to take position overlooking the
National road facing northward. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] I can hardly
think the order could have been intended to effect this, as the
turnpike is deep between the hills there, and the enemy quite
distant on the other side of the gorge. But Willcox, obeying the
order as he received it, formed along the Sharpsburg road, his left
next to my right, but his line drawn back nearly at right angles to
it. He placed Cook's battery in the angle, and this opened a rapid
fire on one of the enemy's which was on the bastion-like hill north
of the gorge already mentioned. Longstreet's men were now pretty
well up, and pushed a battery forward to the edge of the timber
beyond Wise's farm, and opened upon Willcox's line, enfilading it
badly. There was a momentary break there, but Willcox was able to
check the confusion, and to reform his lines facing westward as I
had originally directed; Welch's brigade was on my right, closely
supporting Cook's battery and Christ's beyond it. The general line
of Willcox's division was at the eastern edge of the wood looking
into the open ground at Fox's Gap, on the north side of the
Sharpsburg road. A warm skirmishing fight was continued along the
whole of our line, our purpose being to hold fast my extreme left
which was well advanced upon and over the mountain crest, and to
swing the right up to the continuation of the same line of hills
near the Mountain House.

At nearly four o'clock the head of Sturgis's column approached.
[Footnote: Sturgis's Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 443.] McClellan had
arrived on the field, and he with Burnside and Reno was at
Pleasonton's position at the knoll in the valley, and from that
point, a central one in the midst of the curving hills, they issued
their orders. They could see the firing of the enemy's battery from
the woods beyond the open ground in front of Willcox, and sent
orders to him to take or silence those guns at all hazards. He was
preparing to advance, when the Confederates anticipated him (for
their formation had now been completed) and came charging out of the
woods across the open fields. It was part of their general advance
and their most determined effort to drive us from the summit we had
gained in the morning. The brigades of Hood, Whiting, Drayton, and
D. R. Jones in addition to Hill's division (eight brigades in all)
joined in the attack on our side of the National road, batteries
being put in every available position. [Footnote: Longstreet's
Report, Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 839.] The fight raged
fiercely along the whole front, but the bloodiest struggle was
around Wise's house, where Drayton's brigade assaulted my right and
Willcox's left, coming across the open ground. Here the Sharpsburg
road curves around the hill held by us so that for a little way it
was parallel to our position. As the enemy came down the hill
forming the other side of the gap, across the road and up again to
our line, they were met by so withering a fire that they were
checked quickly, and even drifted more to the right where their
descent was continuous. Here Willcox's line volleyed into them a
destructive fire, followed by a charge that swept them in confusion
back along the road, where the men of the Kanawha division took up
the attack and completed their rout. Willcox succeeded in getting a
foothold on the further side of the open ground and driving off the
artillery which was there. Along our centre and left where the
forest was thick, the enemy was equally repulsed, but the cover of
the timber enabled them to keep a footing near by, whilst they
continually tried to extend so as to outflank us, moving their
troops along a road which goes diagonally down that side of the
mountain from Turner's Gap to Rohrersville. The batteries on the
north of the National road had been annoying to Willcox's men as
they advanced, but Sturgis sent forward Durell's battery from his
division as soon as he came up, and this gave special attention to
these hostile guns, diverting their fire from the infantry. Hooker's
men, of the First Corps, were also by this time pushing up the
mountain on that side of the turnpike, and we were not again
troubled by artillery on our right flank.

It was nearly five o'clock when the enemy had disappeared in the
woods beyond Fox's Gap and Willcox could reform his shattered lines.
As the easiest mode of getting Sturgis's fresh men into position,
Willcox made room on his left for Ferrero's brigade supported by
Nagle's, doubling also his lines at the extreme right. Rodman's
division, the last of the corps, now began to reach the summit, and
as the report came from the extreme left that the enemy was
stretching beyond our flank, I sent Fairchild's brigade to assist
our men there, whilst Rodman took Harland's to the support of
Willcox. A staff officer now brought word that McClellan directed
the whole line to advance. At the left this could only mean to clear
our front decisively of the enemy there, for the slopes went
steadily down to the Rohrersville road. At the centre and right,
whilst we held Fox's Gap, the high and rocky summit at the Mountain
House was still in the enemy's possession. The order came to me as
senior officer upon the line, and the signal was given. On the left
Longstreet's men were pushed down the mountain side beyond the
Rohrersville and Sharpsburg roads, and the contest there was ended.
The two hills between the latter road and the turnpike were still
held by the enemy, and the further one could not be reached till the
Mountain House should be in our hands. Sturgis and Willcox,
supported by Rodman, again pushed forward, but whilst they made
progress they were baffled by a stubborn and concentrated
resistance.

Reno had followed Rodman's division up the mountain, and came to me
a little before sunset, anxious to know why the right could not get
forward quite to the summit. I explained that the ground there was
very rough and rocky, a fortress in itself and evidently very
strongly held. He passed on to Sturgis, and it seemed to me he was
hardly gone before he was brought back upon a stretcher, dead. He
had gone to the skirmish line to examine for himself the situation,
and had been shot down by the enemy posted among the rocks and
trees. There was more or less firing on that part of the field till
late in the evening, but when morning dawned the Confederates had
abandoned the last foothold above Turner's Gap and retreated by way
of Boonsboro to Sharpsburg. The casualties in the Ninth Corps had
been 889, of which 356 were in the Kanawha division. Some 600 of the
enemy were captured by my division and sent to the rear under guard.

On the north of the National road the First Corps under Hooker had
been opposed by one of Hill's brigades and four of Longstreet's, and
had gradually worked its way along the old Hagerstown road, crowning
the heights in that direction after dark in the evening. Gibbon's
brigade had also advanced in the National road, crowding up quite
close to Turner's Gap and engaging the enemy in a lively combat. It
is not my purpose to give a detailed history of events which did not
come under my own eye. It is due to General Burnside, however, to
note Hooker's conduct toward his immediate superior and his
characteristic efforts to grasp all the glory of the battle at the
expense of truth and of honorable dealing with his commander and his
comrades. Hooker's official report for the battle of South Mountain
was dated at Washington, November 17th, when Burnside was in command
of the Army of the Potomac, and when the intrigues of the former to
obtain the command for himself were notorious and near their final
success. In it he studiously avoided any recognition of orders or
directions received from Burnside, and ignores his staff, whilst he
assumes that his orders came directly from McClellan and compliments
the staff officers of the latter, as if they had been the only means
of communication. This was not only insolent but a military offence,
had Burnside chosen to prosecute it. He also asserts that the troops
on our part of the line had been defeated and were at the turnpike
at the base of the mountain in retreat when he went forward. At the
close of his report, after declaring that "the forcing of the
passage of South Mountain will be classed among the most brilliant
and satisfactory achievements of this army," he adds, "its principal
glory will be awarded to the First Corps." [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xix. pt. i. pp. 214-215.]

Nothing is more justly odious in military conduct than embodying
slanders against other commands in an official report. It puts into
the official records misrepresentations which cannot be met because
they are unknown, and it is a mere accident if those who know the
truth are able to neutralize their effect. In most cases it will be
too late to counteract the mischief when those most interested learn
of the slanders. All this is well illustrated in the present case.
Hooker's report got on file months after the battle, and it was not
till the January following that Burnside gave it his attention. I
believe that none of the division commanders of the Ninth Corps
learned of it till long afterward. I certainly did not till 1887, a
quarter of a century after the battle, when the volume of the
official records containing it was published. Burnside had asked to
be relieved of the command of the Army of the Potomac after the
battle of Fredericksburg unless Hooker among others was punished for
insubordination. As in the preceding August, the popular sentiment
of that army as an organization was again, in Mr. Lincoln's
estimation, too potent a factor to be opposed, and the result was
the superseding of Burnside by Hooker himself, though the President
declared in the letter accompanying the appointment that the
latter's conduct had been blameworthy. It was under these
circumstances that Burnside learned of the false statements in
Hooker's report of South Mountain, and put upon file his stinging
response to it. His explicit statement of the facts will settle that
question among all who know the reputation of the men, and though
unprincipled ambition was for a time successful, that time was so
short and things were "set even" so soon that the ultimate result is
one that lovers of justice may find comfort in.
[Footnote: The text of Burnside's supplemental report is as
follows:--

"When I sent in my report of the part taken by my command in the
battle of South Mountain, General Hooker, who commanded one of the
corps of my command (the right wing), had not sent in his report,
but it has since been sent to me. I at first determined to pass over
its inaccuracies as harmless, or rather as harming only their
author; but upon reflection I have felt it my duty to notice two
gross misstatements made with reference to the commands of Generals
Reno and Cox, the former officer having been killed on that day, and
the latter now removed with his command to the West.

"General Hooker says that as he came up to the front, Cox's corps
was retiring from the contest. This is untrue. General Cox did not
command a corps, but a division; and that division was in action,
fighting most gallantly, long before General Hooker came up, and
remained in the action all day, never leaving the field for one
moment. He also says that he discovered that the attack by General
Reno's corps was without sequence. This is also untrue, and when
said of an officer who so nobly fought and died on that same field,
it partakes of something worse than untruthfulness. Every officer
present who knew anything of the battle knows that Reno performed a
most important part in the battle, his corps driving the enemy from
the heights on one side of the main pike, whilst that of General
Hooker drove them from the heights on the other side.

"General Hooker should remember that I had to order him four
separate times to move his command into action, and that I had to
myself order his leading division (Meade's) to start before he would
go." Official Records, vol. xix. pt. i. p. 422.]
The men of the First Corps and its officers did their duty nobly on
that as on many another field, and the only spot on the honor of the
day is made by the personal unscrupulousness and vainglory of its
commander.

Franklin's corps had attacked and carried the ridge about five miles
further south, at Crampton's Gap, where the pass had been so
stubbornly defended by Mahone's and Cobb's brigades with artillery
and a detachment of Hampton's cavalry as to cause considerable loss
to our troops. The principal fighting was at a stone wall near the
eastern base of the mountain, and when the enemy was routed from
this position, he made no successful rally and the summit was gained
without much more fighting. The attack at the stone wall not far
from Burkettsville was made at about three o'clock in the afternoon.
The Sixth Corps rested upon the summit at night.

CHAPTER XIV

ANTIETAM: PRELIMINARY MOVEMENTS

Lee's plan of invasion--Changed by McClellan's advance--The position
at Sharpsburg--Our routes of march--At the Antietam--McClellan
reconnoitring--Lee striving to concentrate--Our delays--Tuesday's
quiet--Hooker's evening march--The Ninth Corps command--Changing our
positions--McClellan's plan of battle--Hooker's evening
skirmish--Mansfield goes to support Hooker--Confederate
positions--Jackson arrives--McLaws and Walker reach the field--Their
places.

Before morning on the 15th of September it became evident that Lee
had used the night in withdrawing his army. An advance of the
pickets at daybreak confirmed this, and Pleasonton's cavalry was
pushed forward to Boonsboro, where they had a brisk skirmish with
the enemy's rear-guard. At Boonsboro a turnpike to Sharpsburg leaves
the National road, and the retreat of the Confederate cavalry, as
well as other indications, pointed out the Sharpsburg road as the
line of Lee's retreat. He had abandoned his plan of moving further
northward, and had chosen a line bringing him into surer
communication with Jackson. His movements before the battle of South
Mountain revealed a purpose of invasion identical with that which he
tried to carry out in 1863 in the Gettysburg campaign. Longstreet,
with two divisions and a brigade (D. R. Jones, Hood, and Evans), had
advanced to Hagerstown, and it seems that a large part of the
Confederate trains reached there also. D. H. Hill's division held
Boonsboro and the passes of South Mountain at Turner's and Fox's
Gaps. McLaws invested our fortifications on Maryland Heights,
supported by R. H. Anderson's division. Jackson, with four divisions
(A. P. Hill, Ewell, and Starke of his own corps, with Walker
temporarily reporting to him), was besieging Harper's Ferry.

On Saturday, the 13th, Lee determined to draw back Longstreet from
his advanced position, in view of the fact that Jackson had not yet
reduced Harper's Ferry and that McClellan was marching to its
relief. Longstreet's divisions therefore approached Boonsboro so as
to support D. H. Hill, and thus it happened that they took part in
the battle of South Mountain. Hill again occupied the summit where
we found him on the 14th. From all this it is very plain that if
McClellan had hastened his advance on the 13th, the passes of South
Mountain at Turner's and Fox's gaps would not have been occupied in
force by the enemy, and the condition of things would have been what
he believed it was on the morning of the 14th, when a single brigade
had been thought enough to support Pleasonton's reconnoissance.
Twenty-four hours had changed all that.

The turnpike from Boonsboro to Sharpsburg continues southward a
couple of miles, crossing the Potomac to Shepherdstown, which lies
on the Virginia side of the river. A bridge which formerly carried
the road over the stream had been burned; but not far below the
ruined piers was a ford, which was a pretty good one in the present
stage of water. Shepherdstown was the natural place of junction for
Lee and Jackson; but for Lee to have marched there at once would
have exposed Jackson to attack from the northern side of the
Potomac. The precious stores and supplies captured at Harper's Ferry
must be got to a place of safety, and this was likely to delay
Jackson a day or two. Lee therefore ordered McLaws to obstruct
Franklin's movement as much as he could, whilst he himself
concentrated the rest of Longstreet's corps at Sharpsburg, behind
the Antietam. If McClellan's force should prove overwhelming, the
past experience of the Confederate general encouraged him to believe
that our advance would not be so enterprising that he could not make
a safe retreat into Virginia. He resolved therefore to halt at
Sharpsburg, which offered an excellent field for a defensive battle,
leaving himself free to resume his aggressive campaign or to retreat
into Virginia according to the result.

McClellan had ordered Richardson's division of the Second Corps to
support the cavalry in the advance, and Hooker's corps followed
Richardson. [Footnote: Hooker's Report, Official Records, vol. xix.
pt. i. p. 216.] It would seem most natural that the whole of
Sumner's wing should take the advance on the 15th, though the
breaking up of organizations was so much a habit with McClellan that
perhaps it should not be surprising that one of Sumner's divisions
was thus separated from the rest, and that Burnside's right wing was
also divided. [Footnote: We must not forget the fact, however, that
the order dividing the army into wings was suspended on that
morning, and that this gives to the incident the air of an
intentional reduction of the wing commanders to the control of a
single corps. Official Records, vol. xix. pt. ii. p. 297.] The Ninth
Corps was ordered to follow the old Sharpsburg road through Fox's
Gap, our line of march being thus parallel to the others till we
should reach the road from Boonsboro to Sharpsburg.

But we were not put in motion early in the day. We were ordered
first to bury the dead, and to send the wounded and prisoners to
Middletown It was nearly noon when we got orders to march, and when
the head of column filed into the road, the way was blocked by
Porter's corps, which was moving to the front by the same road. As
soon as the way was clear, we followed, leaving a small detachment
to complete the other tasks which had been assigned us. In the
wooded slope of the mountain west of the gap, a good many of the
Confederate dead still lay where they had fallen in the fierce
combats for the possession of the crest near Wise's house. Our road
led through a little hamlet called Springvale, and thence to
another, Porterstown, near the left bank of the Antietam, where it
runs into the Boonsboro and Sharpsburg turnpike. Sumner's two corps
had taken temporary position on either side of the turnpike, behind
the line of hills which there borders the stream. Porter's corps was
massed in rear of Sumner, and Hooker's had been moved off to the
right, around Keedysville. I was with the Kanawha division, assuming
that my temporary command of the corps ended with the battle on the
mountain. As we came up in rear of the troops already assembled, we
received orders to turn off the road to the left, and halted our
battalions closed in mass. It was now about three o'clock in the
afternoon. McClellan, as it seemed, had just reached the field, and
was surrounded by a group of his principal officers, most of whom I
had never seen before. I rode up with General Burnside, dismounted,
and was very cordially greeted by General McClellan. He and Burnside
were evidently on terms of most intimate friendship and familiarity.
He introduced me to the officers I had not known before, referring
pleasantly to my service with him in Ohio and West Virginia, putting
me upon an easy footing with them in a very agreeable and genial
way.

We walked up the slope of the ridge before us, and looking westward
from its crest, the whole field of the coming battle was before us.
Immediately in front the Antietam wound through the hollow, the
hills rising gently on both sides. In the background, on our left,
was the village of Sharpsburg, with fields enclosed by stone fences
in front of it. At its right was a bit of wood (since known as the
West Wood), with the little Dunker Church standing out white and
sharp against it. Farther to the right and left, the scene was
closed in by wooded ridges with open farm lands between, the whole
making as pleasing and prosperous a landscape as can easily be
imagined.

[Illustration: Map]

We made a large group as we stood upon the hill, and it was not long
before we attracted the enemy's attention. A puff of white smoke
from a knoll on the right of the Sharpsburg road was followed by the
screaming of a shell over our heads. McClellan directed that all but
one or two should retire behind the ridge, while he continued the
reconnoissance, walking slowly to the right. I think Fitz-John
Porter was the only general officer who was retained as a companion
in this walk. I noted with satisfaction the cool and business-like
air with which McClellan made his examination under fire. The
Confederate artillery was answered by a battery of ours, and a
lively cannonade ensued on both sides, though without any noticeable
effect. The enemy's position was revealed, and he was evidently in
force on both sides of the turnpike in front of Sharpsburg, covered
by the undulations of the rolling ground which hid his infantry from
our sight.

The examination of the enemy's position and the discussion of it
continued till near the close of the day. Orders were then given for
the Ninth Corps to move to the left, keeping off the road, which was
occupied by other troops. We moved through fields and farm lands, an
hour's march in the dusk of evening, going into bivouac about a mile
south of the Sharpsburg bridge, and in rear of the hills bordering
the Antietam.

The village of Sharpsburg is in the midst of a plateau which is
almost enclosed by the Potomac River and the Antietam. The Potomac
bounds it on the south and west, and the Antietam on the east. The
plateau in general outline may be considered a parallelogram, four
miles in length from north to south, and two and a half miles in
width inside the bends of the river. The northern side of this
terrain appears the narrowest, for here the river curves sharply
away to the west, nearly doubling the width of the field above and
below the bend. From the village the ground descends in all
directions, though a continuous ridge runs northward, on which is
the Hagerstown turnpike. The Boonsboro turnpike enters the village
from the northeast, crossing the Antietam on a stone bridge, and
continuing through Sharpsburg to the southwest, reaches
Shepherdstown by the ford of the Potomac already mentioned. The
Hagerstown turnpike enters the town from the north, passing the
Dunker Church a mile out, and goes nearly due south, crossing the
Antietam at its mouth, and continuing down the Potomac toward
Harper's Ferry.

The Antietam is a deep creek, with few fords at an ordinary stage of
water, and the principal roads cross it upon stone bridges. Of these
there were three within the field of battle; the upper one in front
of Keedysville, the middle one upon the Boonsboro turnpike, and the
lower one on the Sharpsburg and Rohrersville road, since known as
Burnside's bridge. McClellan's staff was better supplied with
officers of engineers than the staff of most of our separate armies,
and Captain Duane, his chief engineer, systematized the work of
gathering topographical information. This was communicated to the
general officers in connection with the orders which were given
them. In this way we were instructed that the only fords of the
Antietam passable at that time were one between the two upper
bridges named, and another about half a mile below Burnside's
bridge, in a deep bend of the stream. We found, however, during the
engagement of the 17th, another practicable crossing for infantry a
short distance above the bridge. This was not a ford in common use,
but in the low stage of water at the time it was made available for
a small force.

It was about noon of the 15th of September that Lee placed the
forces which he had in hand across the turnpike in front of
Sharpsburg. D. H. Hill's division was on the north of the road, and
on the south of it Longstreet's own old division (now under General
D. R. Jones), Hood's division, and Evans's independent brigade.
Stuart's cavalry and the reserve artillery were also present. The
rest of the army was with Jackson at Harper's Ferry, or co-operating
with him in the neighborhood of Maryland Heights. Out of forty-four
brigades, Lee could put but fourteen or fifteen in line that day to
oppose McClellan. He was very strong in artillery, however, and his
cannon looked grimly over the hill-crests behind which his infantry
were lying. Cutts's and Jones's battalions of the reserve artillery
were ordered to report to Hill for the protection of the left of the
Confederate line, and gave him in all the sixty or seventy guns
which he speaks of in his report, and which have puzzled several
writers who have described the battle. Whenever our troops showed
themselves as they marched into position, they were saluted from
shotted cannon, and the numerous batteries that were developed on
the long line of hills before us no doubt did much to impress
McClellan with the belief that he had the great bulk of Lee's army
before him.

The value of time was one of the things McClellan never understood.
He should have been among the first in the saddle at every step in
the campaign after he was in possession of Lee's order of the 9th,
and should have infused energy into every unit in his army. Instead
of making his reconnoissance at three in the afternoon of Monday, it
might have been made at ten in the morning, and the battle could
have been fought before night, if, indeed, Lee had not promptly
retreated when support from Jackson would thus have become
impossible. Or if McClellan had pushed boldly for the bridge at the
mouth of the Antietam, nothing but a precipitate retreat by Lee
could have prevented the interposition of the whole National army
between the separated wings of the Confederates. The opportunity was
still supremely favorable for McClellan, but prompt decision was not
easy for him. Nothing but reconnoitring was done on Monday afternoon
or on Tuesday, whilst Lee was straining every nerve to concentrate
his forces and to correct what would have proven a fatal blunder in
scattering them, had his opponent acted with vigor. The strongest
defence the eulogists of the Confederate general have made for him
is that he perfectly understood McClellan's caution and calculated
with confidence upon it; that he would have been at liberty to
perfect his combinations still more at leisure, but for the accident

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