War of the Rebellion: Serial 070 Page 0259 Chapter XLIX. OPERATIONS IN SHENANDOAH VALLEY, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

extended McCook's line just one mile to the right of the center of attack. We bivouacked on this line, part of the men in the trenches, the rest close in the rear. I slept in an orchard wrapped in a poncho, with my horse tethered to an apple tree.

The next morning I was ordered to take command of all the troops and defenses from Fort Stevens to Fort Slocum and thence to Fort Totten, and found myself in command of a division 5,000 strong, which I organized at once into three brigades, General Paine commanding the rifle-pits held by the left wing, General Rucker the right wing, and placing a provisional brigade under Colonel Farns-worth in the rear of Fort Slocum in reserve. We got up wagons, rations, shelter-tents, cooking utensils, entrenching tools, axes, and worked to perfect the defenses and clear the timber and brush from our front. During the day skirmishing was continuous in front of Stevens, where the advance of the Sixth Corps of veterans, under General Wright, engaged the enemy. I detached 40 men to a commander away to the left to go on picket. One hundred and five artillerists I found in the Provisional Brigade and sent them to report to Colonel Haskin, to strengthen Fort Stevens battery. The day wore away. I visited the lines to my right, in which no troops occupied the trenches or rifle-pits. the forts, however, which are about a mile apart and on commanding positions, were garrisoned. General Gillmore was at Fort Saratoga, several miles to the right, and toward evening telegraphed for re-enforcements, and I sent him 2,000 regulars, nearly the whole of my reserve, by order of general McCook. We received orders to have all our troops under arms at 3 o'clock next morning. Toward evening two houses which were occupied by the rebel sharpshooters on the Seventh-street road, some three-quarters of a mile in advance of the lines, were burned by shells from Forts Stevens and De Russy, and our skirmishers, after a sharp contest, costing each party 300 casualties, occupied their ruins and drove back the rebels and intrenched themselves.

I was up at 2 o'clock, my men were all under arms, and I rode to Fort Stevens and took position on the parapet to watch the breaking day. The gray dawn spread over the landscape widely extended in sight. An occasional shot from a suspicious picket and the low of a cow or the bray of a mule alone broke the stillness of the morning, and at last the sun arose and all remained quiet. Cavalry were sent out, who reported the rebel positions abandoned. The house of the Postmaster-General, Montgomery Blair, two miles our Seventh-street road, burned; old Francis P. Blair's house, on the farm, turned topsy-turvy, all his liquors consumed, and his papers ransacked and the enemy in retreat toward Rockville and the fords of the Potomac. We remained in position till full daylight,a nd then sent the men to their breakfast and continued our work of clearing off obstructions to our fire and completing our intrenchments. I rode along the lines right and left. In the course of the day an officer from the War Department handed me a letter from the Secretary, notifying me that the President has appointed me a major-general by brevet in the United States Army, and I accepted and thanked the President and Secretary for the honor and confidence. The commission happened to find me exercising a full major-general's command. I had command of the right wing of that portion of the army which was directly in front of the enemy; my command extended in line of battle two miles, and was 5,000 strong.