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644

EFFORTS TO CHECK HIS ADVANCE.

passage toward Washington. In the afternoon of that day, Gen. Bayard's cavalry pickets were driven back toward Culpepper, by the much larger force of the enemy, but fell back slowly, and contesting every foot of the ground. It was not certain, at this time, whether the object of the enemy's attack would be Culpepper, or Madison Court House ; but on Friday, Gen. Pope had satisfied himself, that the movement on the latter point was only a feint, and that Culpepper was the point really aimed at ; and he accordingly moved forward the remainder of Gen. Banks' corps— Crawford's brigade was already near Cedar or Slaughter's Mountain - and directed Ricketts' division of McDowell's. corps to follow them, and take up a position within easy supporting distance. Gen. Sigel's corps were also ordered forward from Sperryville, and, making a forced march of twenty miles, arrived about daylight on Friday, the 9th of August, at Culpepper.

On Saturday morning, the enemy showed himself in considorable force on the sides of Cedar or Slaughter's Mountain, a sugar-loaf eminence, about two miles from the Orange and Alexandria rail-road. Gen. Banks was directed to occupy the position already held by Crawford's brigade, but not to advance beyond that point, and if attacked by the enemy, to defend himself, and send back timely notice. The design of this order was to give Gen. Sigel's corps as much time as possible for rest, after their forced march.

During the morning, there was no fighting beyond slight skirmishing between the pickets, and though the enemy's artillery opened early in the afternoon, it was too remote and too ill directed to do any harm. Gen. Banks did not think that the enemy in his front was in very great force, and did not expect any general engagement to be brought on, but, near five o'clock in the afternoon, he pushed forward a small body of skirmishers, and attacked those of the enemy who appeared on a plain, in front of the heavy woods with which that part

BATTLE OF CEDAR MOUNTAIN.

645

of the mountain was covered. In the woods were concealed a strong force, ready to support the skirmishers, when driven back by the Union troops. This attack brought on the battle, which did not fairly open till about 6 o'clock P. M., but raged for an hour and a half, with a violence which has seldom been equaled during the war. The cannonading was incessant; furious, and admirably directed on both sides ; the batteries on each side having the range of their foe, and firing with such precision and rapidity as to produce terrible slaughter. Gen. Banks held his position without re-enforcement for more than an hour, when Gen. Ricketts' division came up, and Gen. Sigel's division arrived late in the night, though not till the battle was mainly over. The advantage of position was with the enemy, as they occupied the higher ground, and they had also greatly the advantage of numbers, their force engaged being, according to their own admissions, over thirty thousand, while Gen. Banks had but seven thousand in the fight. The loss on the Union side was about eighteen hundred, of whom about thirty, including Gen. Prince, were prisoners. The rebel loss was very heavy, and probably nearly equal to that of the Union troops. They admitted a loss of one thousand. During the night of the 11th, Jackson evacuated his position, and retreated across the Rapidan, leaving many of his dead and wounded on the field, and along the road from Cedar Mountain to Orange Court House. Gen’s Buford and Bayard, with the cavalry, pursued him to the Rapidan, and captured many stragglers.

This battle was important, and served all the purposes of a victory to the Union troops, though attended with heavy loss, inasmuch as it retarded for several days, the onward movement of the enemy, at a period when time was everything to the Union army. Gen. Banks may have been a little rash in provoking a fight with a force of nearly five times the number of his own, but his intrepidity and daring, and the determined

646

GEN. POPE CROSSES THE RAPPAHANNOCK.

.

bravery of his troops, saved the country from a greater disas ter than the loss of those gallant men.

On the 14th of August, Gen. Reno, with eight thousand men from Gen. Burnside’s corps, which had arrived at Falmouth, joined Gen. Pope, and with this re-enforcement, he pushed forward to the line of the Rapidan, and sent his cavalry out to cut the enemy's lines of communication with Richmond.

On the 16th, a squadron of cavalry penetrated to Louisa Court House, and captured the rebel General Stuart's Adjutant General. Among the papers found upon that officer, was an autograph letter from Gen. R. E. Lee, to Gen. Stuart, dated at Gordonsville, August 15th, in which he informed Gen. Stuart, that he was moving the main body of the rebel army, by forced marches, to attack Gen. Pope, before he could form a junction with the army of the Potomac.

On the 18th, Gen. Pope, convinced that with the small force he had at command, not exceeding forty-five thousand, it would be impossible for him to hold the line of the Rapidan against Lee's immense force, made preparation to put the Rappahannock between his force and the enemy, as speedily as possible. By a masterly arrangement, the whole force, trains, artillery, and men, were, during the night of the 18th and the following day, brought safely and in perfect order, across the river, the cavalry masking the retreat, and finally crossing the river when it was all completed. The force was then stationed from the point where the Orange and Alexandria rail-road crosses the Rappahannock — Rappahannock Station—to Warrenton Sulphur Springs, guarding so strongly all the fords and bridges as to give the enemy no opportunity of crossing. Early on the morning of the 20th, the attempt to cross was made both at Kelley's Ford, and at Rappahannock Station, by the enemy's advance, but finding that the resistance was too strong to be overcome, the rebel commander halted, and awaited the arrival of the main body, which

GEN. LEE'S ADVANCE.

647

came up on the night of the 20th. For the next sixty hours, constant attempts were made to force a passage at every ford ir bridge along the line, but every one was repulsed with decided loss. The artillery fire was rapid and continuous along the whole line for this entire period.

Finding, at length, that it was impossible to effect a passage below Warrenton Sulphur Springs, Gen. Lee moved gradually farther up the Rappahannock, intending evidently to cross above that point. A glance at the map, will show the reader that to do this, if the line from Warrenton Sulphur Springs to Warrenton were strongly held, would compel Lee to move up the valley of the Blue Ridge, from whence his only hope of penetrating east of the Bull Mountain range, must be, by passing through some of the Gaps in that range, where it would be easier for the Union forces to prevent his passage. It was impossible for Gen. Pope to prevent his crossing the upper Rappahannock, which, above Waterloo bridge, is but a shallow stream, fordable at almost every mile, and the force he could mass upon Pope's extended line, would inevitably have swept

it away.

Gen. Pope labored under another difficulty, also ; Gen. Halleck's orders were peremptory, that he must inaintain his connection with Fredericksburg, until he could be re-enforced by the troops arriving there from Burnside's and other corps, and when he remonstrated against this weakening his line by two great extension, he was assured, on the 21st of August, that if he would hold that line for two days longer, he should be amply re-enforced, and to such an extent as would enable him to resume the offensive ; but on the 25th, only seven thousand men had been sent to him. This was not the fault of Gen. Halleck, who had done all in his power to bring forward the troops, but was the result of persistent delays in moving the army of the Potomac from the Peninsula, at a time when every day was fraught with danger to the army of Virginia.

648

RIVAL MANEUVERS.

From the 18th of August, to the close of the campaign, on the 2d of September, was a constant succession of battles. With hardly an hour's intermission, the deep roar of artillery, and the sharp crack of muskets, were incessant. From the 21st to the 24th, the enemy constantly pressed upon Gen. Pope's lines along the fords of the Rappahannock, and attempted its passage. A small force of cavalry crossing higher up, made a descent upon Warrenton, and thence following the line of the Warrenton rail-road, attacked, on the night of the 22d, the wagon train belonging to Gen. Pope's head-quarters at Catlett's Station, on the Orange and Alexandria rail-road, plundering four or five wagons and taking some money. They succeeded in escaping by the same route by which they had

come.

On the 22d, finding himself still compelled to maintain his connection with the lower Rappahannock, Gen. Pope proposed to re-cross that river, and attack the enemy in flank, an extremely hazardous movement, but the only one which seemed to afford him the possibility of delaying the progress of Lee's army, and of preventing them from forcing their passage across some one of the numerous fords he was compelled to guard ; but the occurrence of a heavy rain on that day and the succeeding night, while it rendered this measure impracticable, raised the Rappahannock over six feet, and prevented any farther crossing of Lee's troops, for thirty-six or forty-eight hours.

Gen. Pope then pushed forward Gen. Sigel's corps, and directed Gen. Banks to support him, to follow up and attack the advance under Jackson, which had already crossed, while Gen. Buford, with the cavalry, was to scour the country above the Warrenton Sulphur Springs, and ascertain what force was al. ready on the north side of the Rappahannock. Gen. Sigel encountered the enemy in some force near the mouth of Great Run creek, two miles below the Sulphur Springs, and drove

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