War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0027 Chapter LVIII. THE RICHMOND CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

ville on the evening of the 10th. On the 12th a reconnaissance was thrown out in front of Fort Stevens, to ascertain the enemy's position and force. A severe skirmish ensued, in which we lost about 280 in killed and wounded. The enemy's loss was probably greater. He commenced retreating during the night. Learning the exact condition of affair at Washington, I requested by telegraph, at 11.45 p. m. on the 12th, the assignment of Major General H. G. Wright to the command of all the troops that could be made available to operate in the field against the enemy, and directed that he should get outside of the trenches with all the force he could, and push Early to the last moment. General Wright commenced the pursuit on the 13th. On the 18th the enemy was overtaken at Snicker's Ferry, on the Shenandoah, when a sharp skirmish occurred; and on the 20th General Averell encountered and defeated a portion of the rebel army at Winchester, capturing four pieces of artillery and several hundred prisoners. Learning that Early was retreating south toward Lynchburg or Richmond, I directed that the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps be got back to the armies operating against Richmond, so that they might be used in a movement against Lee before the return of the troops sent by him into the Valley, and that Hunter should remain in the Shenandoah Valley, keeping between any force of the enemy and Washington, acting on the defensive as much as possible. I felt that if the enemy had any notion of returning the fact would be developed before the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps could leave Washington. Subsequently the Nineteenth Corps was excepted from the order to return to the James.

About the 25th it became evident that the enemy was again advancing upon Maryland and Pennsylvania, and the Sixth Corps, then at Washington, was ordered back to the vicinity of Harper's Ferry. The rebel force moved down the Valley, and sent a raiding party into Pennsylvania, which, on the 30th, burned Chambersburg and then retreated, pursued by our cavalry, toward Cumberland. They were met and defeated by General Kelley, and with diminished numbers escaped into the mountains of West Virginia. From the time of the first raid the telegraph wires were frequently down between Washington and city Point, making it necessary to transmit messages a part of the way by boat. It took from twenty-four to thirty-six hours to get dispatches through and return answers back, so that often orders would be given, and then information would be received showing a different state of facts for those on which they were based, causing a confusion and apparent contradiction of orders that must have considerably embarrassed those who had to execute them, and rendered operations against the enemy less effective than they otherwise would have been. To remedy this evil, it was evident to my mind that some person should have the supreme command of all the forces in the Departments of West Virginia, Washington, Susquehanna, and the Middle Department, and I so recommended.

On the 2nd of August I ordered General Sheridan to report in person to Major-General Halleck, Chief of Staff, at Washington, with a view to his assignment to the command of all the forces against Early. At this time the enemy was concentrated in the neighborhood of Winchester, while our forces, under General Hunter, were concentrated on the Monocacy, at the crossing of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, leaving open to the enemy Western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. From where I was, I hesitated to give positive orders for the movement of our forces at Monocacy, lest by so doing I should expose Washing-