Sunday, September 2, 2012

September 1, 1862

September 1, 1862:  Battle of Chantilly, Virginia – Gen. Lee sends Stonewall Jackson, once again, on a flank march around the Union right flank.  On Aug. 31, in a driving rain, Jackson’s corps moves in a wide arc to the north of Centreville, where Pope has established a strong line in anticipation of Lee attacking across Bull Run in a frontal assault (which Lee was not about to do). 
Northern Virginia, showing Centreville and the route of Jackson's march
Jackson’s plan is to take Germantown and Fairfax, and thus cut off Pope’s retreat route to safety in Washington’s fortifications.  Pope has placed troops---the IX Corps, now under command of Gen. Isaac Stevens---east of Centreville to hold the crossroads at Germantown.  On the morning of this date, Jackson finds Union cavalry harassing his right flank.  He stops at the crossroads hamlet of Chantilly, to wait for Longstreet to come up.  This allows Pope time to move the rest of his army back, but he does nothing for several hours.  Stevens puts 6,000 men into line for an assault on Jackson’s line on Ox Hill, 15,000 strong.  The Federals’ advance gets entangled, snarled and disorganized.  Stevens himself grabs the colors of his old regiment, the 79th New York, and leads a charge; he is shot in the head and dies on the spot. 
General Isaac Stevens, killed at Chantilly
In the pouring rain, Gen. Philip Kearney brings up his division on Stevens’ left, and as he rides forward to inspect the enemy lines, he stumbles onto a Rebel position, and is shot, mortally wounded.  After sporadic fighting, where each side loses about 500 men, the Union troops retire.  But Pope realizes that he cannot stay in Centreville, and so marches his army to Fairfax.  Confederate Victory.
Battle of Chantilly: map by Robert Knox Sneden

---Gen. John Pope, in a letter to Gen. Halleck, complains of what he perceives as disloyalty and insubordination amongst the Army of the Potomac officers assigned to his command, giving a preview of the mood that will cause him to press charges, shortly:

. . . I think, it my duty to call your attention to the unsoldierly and dangerous conduct of many brigade and some division commanders of the forces sent here from the Peninsula. Every word and act and intention is discouraging, and calculated to break down the spirits of the men and produce disaster. One commander of a corps, who was ordered to march from Manassas Junction to join me near Groveton, although he was only 5 miles distant, failed to get up at all, and, worse still, fell back to Manassas without a fight, and in plain hearing, at less than 3 miles' distance, of a furious battle, which raged all day. It was only in consequence of peremptory orders that he joined me next day. One of his brigades, the brigadier-general of which professed to be looking for his division, absolutely remained all day at Centreville, in plain view of the battle, and made no attempt to join. What renders the whole matter worse, these are both officers of the Regular Army, who do not hold back from ignorance or fear. Their constant talk, indulged in publicly and in promiscuous company, is that the Army of the Potomac will not fight; that they are demoralized by withdrawal from the Peninsula, &c. When such example is set by officers of high rank the influence is very bad amongst those in subordinate stations.

    You have hardly an idea of the demoralization among officers of high rank in the Potomac Army, arising in all instances from personal feeling in relation to changes of commander-in-chief and others. These men are mere tools or parasites, but their example is producing, and must necessarily produce, very disastrous results. . . .

---David Schenk, a lawyer in North Carolina, exults in the Confederate victory at Manassas in his journal:

A cool autumn day ushers in the Fall the “summer is ended” and the Confederacy still survives the shock of war and the carnage of battle, and finds our armies in hot pursuit of the flying, lying braggart Pope who vaunted that he was “accustomed to look only on the backs of his foes and who wished to know the forward route and not the lines of retreat”. The classic plains of Manassas have again become historic and witnessed a grander victory than first covered our infant republic with glory. The particulars have not yet arrived by Gen. Lee, the greatest living hero of the age thanks God for another decisive victory on 28th and 29th Aug.

Providence has graciously sent us this great man in the hour of our most imminent peril and the man who, Scott said was worth 30,000 men, has well fulfilled the traitors prophecy to the traitors ruin. This news sheds gladness over the community and cheers our drooping spirits.

---George Michael Neese of the Confederate artillery writes in his diary of what he encountered on the Bull Run battlefield as his battery drove across it:

The first indications that I observed of a recently fought battle were hundreds and hundreds of small arms of all descriptions that had been gathered on the battle-field and piled up along the road. When we got to the part of the field where the struggle had been the most desperate and destructive the Federal dead still lay there by the hundreds. At one place I could distinguish where the enemy’s line of battle had been, by the many dead lying in line where they fell. Where their batteries had been in position dead horses lay thickly strewn around. A disabled gun and the wreck of blown-up caisson marked the spot where the fire of the Confederate batteries did its destructive work.

At one place I saw the guns of a Yankee battery that had been charged and taken by the Confederates, still in position. White flags were flying all over the field to-day, and the Citizens’ Relief Committee of Washington, with two hundred ambulances, were on the field burying the dead and gathering the wounded. I saw at one place where they were burying eighty men in one trench. Some have lain on the field four days and their upturned faces were as black as African negroes.

Neese then adds an episode of meeting a Yankee surgeon with the Washington Relief Corps:

As a couple of us were passing over the battle-field we met a well dressed, fine-looking man, probably he was a surgeon belonging to the Relief Corps. He stopped and in a snappish manner, remarked, “Well, you have defeated us again, and this is the second time on this field, but it will have to be tried over.” We replied, “All right, give us a fair shake and we will thrash you again.” That shot was a surpriser and silenced his mouth-piece.

He drove on then, looking as sour as if his mother-in-law had drenched him with double-proof crab apple vinegar for a month.


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