Report of Stonewall Jackson on the Battle of Cedar Mountain

 

 

On August 9, 1862, Stonewall Jackson, spearheading General Lee’s offensive against General John Pope’s hastily assembled Army of Virginia.  At Cedar Mountain in Culpepper County Virginia he attack his old Valley adversary General Nathaniel Banks, known affectionately by Confederates as Commissary Banks due to the fact that forces under his command usually were whipped and Confederates then feasted on the captured supplies of his defeated forces.  Banks commanded 8,000 men and Jackson had 16,000.  Banks and his men, surprisingly, put up a good fight and Jackson’s victory was hard fought.  Here is Jackson’s report which he submitted on April 4, 1863, paperwork tacking a back seat to all the fighting which occurred between Cedar Mountain and April 4, 1863:

 

 

 

General R. E. LEE.

HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 4, 1863.

Brigadier General R. H. CHILTON,

A. A. and I. G., Hdqrs. Army of Northern Virginia:

GENERAL: I forward herewith my official report of the battle of Cedar Run and accompanying reports of others officers.

I am, general, your obedient servant,

T. J. JACKSON.

[Inclosure.]

HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 4, 1863.

GENERAL: I have the honor herewith to submit to you a report of the operations of my command in the battle of Cedar Run, on August 9, 1862:

Intelligence having reached the commanding general that Gordonsville was endangered by the approach of the enemy, I was ordered to move in that direction with Ewell’s and Jackson’s division from my position on the Mechanicsville turnpike, near Richmond. I arrived near Gordonsville on July 19. From information received respecting the strength of the opposing Federal army, under General Pope, I requested the commanding general to re-enforce me. He accordingly sent forward Major General A. P. Hill, with his division.

On August 2, while Colonel (now Brigadier General) W. E. Jones, by direction of Brigadier-General Robertson, was moving with the Seventh Virginia Cavalry to take charge of picket posts on the Rapidan, he received intelligence before he reached Orange Court-House that the enemy was in possession of the town. Finding the man street filled with Federal cavalry, Colonel Jones boldly charged the head of the Federal column, while its flank was attacked by another portion of the regiment, under Major Marshall. Both attacks were successful, and the enemy was hastily driven from the town; but as our cavalry was vastly outnumbered it was soon after forced to fall back, in consequence of the enemy’s greatly superior force in front and the fire from his flanking parties. Upon Colonel Jones’ subsequent show of resistance, near where the engagement commenced, the enemy retired a short distance, and about an hour afterward retreated. While Colonel Jones was gallantly leading his men in the charge he received a saber wound. I regret to say that during the engagement Major Marshall was captured.

Having received information that only part of General Pope’s army was at Culpeper Court-House, and hoping, through the blessing of Providence, to be able to defeat it before re-enforcements should arrive there, Ewell’s, Hill’s, and Jackson’s divisions were moved on the 7th in the direction of the enemy from their respective encampments near Gordonsville.

On the morning of the 8th the enemy’s cavalry north of the Rapidan was driven back by ours, under Brigadier-General Robertson. Our cavalry pursued the enemy’s on the direct road from Barnett’s Ford to Culpeper Court-House and was followed by the other troops, Ewell’s division leading. As the Federal cavalry subsequently displayed unusual activity, and, from reports received by me, was seriously endangering the train of Jackson’s division, I directed General Lawton to guard it with his brigade. He was thus thrown in rear of the division and prevented from taking part in the battle of the following day.

On the 9th, as we arrived within about 8 miles of Culpeper Court-House, we found the enemy in our front, near Cedar Run, and a short distance west and north of Slaughter Mountain. When first seen his cavalry in large force occupied a ridge to the right of the road. A battery under Lieutenant Terry opened upon the cavalry, which soon forced it to retire. Our fire was responded to by some guns beyond the ridge from which the Federal advance had just been driven. Soon after this the enemy’s cavalry returned to the position where it was first seen. General Early was ordered forward, keeping near the Culpeper road, while General Ewell, with his two remaining brigades-Trimble’s and Hays’, the latter commanded by Colonel Forno-diverged from the road General Early, forming his brigade in line of battle, moved into the open field, and passing a short distance to the right of the road, but parallel to it, pushed forward, driving the Federal cavalry before him to the crest of a hill, along which the enemy’s batteries were posted. In his front the country was for some distance open and broken. A corn field, and to the left of it a wheat field, upon which the shocks were yet standing, extended to the opposite hill, which was covered with timber. So soon as Early reached the eminence described the Federal batteries were opened upon him. Large bodies of cavalry were seen in the wheat field to the left. General Early having retired his troops under the protection of the hill, Captain Brown, with one piece, and Captain Dement, with three pieces, of artillery planted their guns in advance of his right and opened a rapid and well-directed fire upon the Federal batteries. By this time General Winder, with Jackson’s division, had arrived, and after having disposed Campbell’s brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Garnett commanding, to the left, under cover of the wood, near the wheat field; Taliaferro’s brigade parallel to the road, in rear of the batteries of Poague, Carpenter, and Caskie, then being placed near the road, under the direction of Major Andrews, chief of artillery of the division, and Winder’s brigade, Colonel Ronald commanding, as a reserve, he was proceeding to direct, with his usual skill and coolness, the movements of these batteries, when he was struck by a shell, from which he expired in a few hours.

It is difficult within the proper reserve of an official report to do justice to the merits of this accomplished officer. Urged by the medical director to take no part in the movements of the day because of the then enfeebled state of his health, his ardent patriotism and military pride could bear no such restraint. Richly endowed with those qualities of mind and person which fit an officer for command and which attract the admiration and excite the enthusiasm of troops, he was rapidly rising to the front rank of his profession. His loss has been severely felt.

The command of Jackson’s division now devolved upon Brigadier General William B. Taliaferro, whose brigade during the remainder of the action was commanded by Colonel A. G. Taliaferro.

In the mean time General Ewell, with the brigades of Trimble and Hays, reached the northwest termination of Slaughter Mountain, and upon an elevated spot, about 200 feet above the valley below, had planted Latimer’s guns, which opened with marked effect upon the enemy’s batteries. For some two hours a rapid and continuous fire of artillery was kept up on both sides. Our batteries were well served and damaged the enemy seriously. Especial credit is due to Major Andrews for the success and gallantry with which his guns were directed until he was severely wounded and taken from the field.

About 5 o’clock the enemy threw forward his skirmishers through the corn field and advanced his infantry, until then concealed in the woods, to the rear and left of his batteries. Another body of infantry, apparently debouching from one of those valleys hid from the view by the undulating character of the country, moved upon Early’s right, which rested near a clump of cedars, where the guns of Brown and Dement were posted. The infantry fight soon extended to the left and center. Early became warmly engaged with the enemy on his right and front. He had previously called for re-enforcements. As General Hill had arrived with his division, one of his brigades (General Thomas’) was sent to Early, and joined him in time to render efficient service. While the attack upon Early was in progress the main body of the Federal infantry moved down from the wood through the corn and wheat fields, and fell with great vigor upon our extreme left, and by the force of superior numbers, bearing down all opposition, turned it and poured a destructive fire into its rear. Campbell’s brigade fell back in disorder. The enemy pushing forward, and the left flank of Taliaferro’s brigade being by these movements exposed to a flank fire, fell back, as did also the left of Early’s line, the remainder of his command holding its position with great firmness. During the advance of the enemy the rear of the guns of Jackson’s division becoming exposed they were withdrawn. At this critical moment Branch’s brigade, of Hill’s division, with Winder’s brigade, farther to the left, met the Federal forces, flushed with their temporary triumph, and drove them back with terrible slaughter through the wood. The fight was still maintained with obstinacy between the enemy and the two brigades just named, when, Archer and Pender coming up, a general charge was made, which drove the enemy across the field into the opposite wood, strewing the narrow valley with their dead. In this charge Archer’s brigade was subjected to a heavy fire. At this time the Federal cavalry charge upon Taliaferro’s brigade with impetuous valor, but were met with such determined resistance by Taliaferro’s brigade in its front, and by so galling a fire from Branch’s brigade in flank, that it was forced rapidly from the field with loss and in disorder.

In the mean time General Ewell, on the right, found himself kept back from advancing by the incessant fire from our batteries in the valley, which swept his only approach to the enemy’s left. This difficulty no longer existing, he moved with his two brigades (Trimble in the advance) and pressed forward under a heavy fire from the enemy’s artillery, the front covered by skirmishers from the Fifteenth Alabama, and the brigades advancing en echelon of regiments. Thus repulsed from our left and center, and now pressed by our right, center, and left, the Federal force fell back at every point of their line and commenced retreating, leaving their dead and wounded on the field of battle.

Though late, I was so desirous of reaching Culpeper Court-House before morning as to induce me to pursue. The advance was accordingly ordered, General Hill, with his division, leading; but owing to the darkness of the night it was necessary to move cautiously. Stafford’s brigade, which was in front, captured some prisoners. Before we had probably advanced more than 1 1/2 miles Farrow, my most reliable scout, reported to me that the enemy was but a few hundred yards from our advance. Pegram’s battery, supported by Field’s brigade soon took position just beyond the wood through which we had passed and opened upon the enemy. This well-directed and unexpected fire produced much disorder and confusion among that portion of the Federal troops. Three batteries were, however, soon opened in reply, and a heavy cannonade was continued for some time, causing Captain Pegram severe loss and silencing him.

In the mean time Colonel Jones, with the Seventh Virginia Cavalry, had passed to our right and front. He succeeded in capturing some prisoners, one of whom reported that Federal re-enforcements had arrived. Believing it imprudent to continue to move forward during the darkness, I ordered a halt for the night.

On the following morning (10th), having reason to believe that the Federal Army had been so largely re-enforced as to render it imprudent for me to attempt to advance farther, directions were given for sending the wounded to the rear, for burying the dead, and collecting arms from the battle-field. In the course of the same morning General J. E. B. Stuart arrived on a tour of inspection. At my request he took command of the cavalry, and made a reconnaissance, for the purpose of gaining information respecting the numbers and movements of the enemy. From his report, as well as from other sources of information, I was confirmed in my opinion that the heavy forces concentrated in front rendered it unwise on my part to renew the action. The main body of my troops were, however, so posted as to receive the attack if the enemy decided to advance.

On the 11th a flag of truce was received from the enemy, who requested permission until 2 o’clock to remove and bury his dead not already interred by our troops. This was granted, and the time subsequently extended, by request of the enemy, to 5 o’clock in the evening.

We captured some 400 prisoners, and among them Brigadier-General Prince; 5,302 small-arms; one 12-pounder Napoleon and its caisson, with 2 other caissons and a limber, and 3 colors by Winder’s brigade, one being from the Fifth Connecticut and another from the Twenty-eighth New York.

The official reports of the casualties of my command in this battle show a loss of 19 officers killed and 114 wounded, of non-commissioned officers and privates 204 killed and 949 wounded, with 31 missing, making 223 killed and 1,060 wounded; total loss of killed, wounded, and missing, 1,314. This loss was probably about one-half that sustained by the enemy.

I remained in position until the night of the 11th, when I returned to the vicinity of Gordonsville, in order to avoid being attacked by the vastly superior force in front of me, and with the hope that by thus falling back General Pope would be induced to follow me until I should be re-enforced.

The conduct of officers and men during the battle merits great praise.

My chief of artillery, Colonel S. Crutchfield, ably discharged his duties.

In the prompt transmission of orders great assistance was received from Major E. F. Paxton, acting assistant adjutant-general; Captain A. S. Pendleton, assistant adjutant-general; First Lieutenant J. K. Boswell, chief engineer; First Lieutenant J. G. Morrison, aide-de-camp; First Lieutenant H. K. Douglas, acting inspector-general; First Lieutenant Thomas T. L. Snead, of the engineer corps, and Cols. William L. Jackson and A. R. Boteler, volunteers aides-de-camp.

The wounded received special attention from my medical director, Dr. Hunter McGuire.

The quartermaster’s and commissary departments were well managed during the expedition by their respective chiefs, Majs. J. A. Harman and W. J. Hawks.

For further information respecting the detailed movement of troops and conduct of individual officers and men I would respectfully call your attention to the accompanying official reports of other officers.

Two maps,* by Mr. J. Hotchkiss-one of the route of the army during the expedition and the other of the battle-field-are transmitted herewith.

In order to render thanks to God for the victory at Cedar Run and other past victories and to implore His continued favor in the future divine service was held in the army on August 14.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. JACKSON,

Lieutenant-General.

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Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Report of Stonewall Jackson on the Battle of Cedar Mountain  
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