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1862. straight on, was one of the most exasperating things with
which we had to contend. Having no knowledge of what was going on about us, it was as uninteresting as the work of a galley-slave.
Resumed our march toward Manassas, but on reaching Thursday, Hay Market we were ordered to leave our knapsacks and August 28. push on to Thoroughfare Gap to prevent Longstreet's
corps from reënforcing Jackson. As we recall the work of that day we are not able to rid ourselves of the impression that we might easily have gained possession of that Gap had we started earlier, or if we had not dallied so long on the road after we did start. It seems that Longstreet left White Plains, eight miles west of the Gap, about 10 A.M., and succeeded in reaching it just before our arrival, so that when we got there the woods on the sides of the mountain were filled with “ Johnnies.” Thoroughfare Gap is naturally fortified, and whoever occupied it might easily keep possession against a nuch superior force.
The testimony of General Ricketts, on this movement, given at the McDowell Court of Inquiry is interesting :
I received an order on that day (the 28th) to send a brigade and a battery of artillery to support Colonel Wyndham at Thoroughfare Gap, and to push on to the same place with the rest of my division. I do not know what hour of the day the order was received, but should judge some time in the forenoon. I was at the time with my division on the road from Buckland Mills to Gainesville, and marched directly across the country by Hay Market. This order was brought to me by Captain Wadsworth, of General McDowell's staff, and was in writing. Somewhere between Hay Market and Thoroughfare Gap I saw Captain Leski, of General McDowell's staff, who gave pretty much the same order, - to go there and support Colonel Wyndham at the Gap. That is all I recollect.
On reaching the entrance of the Gap we filed to the left along the base of the mountain, which was covered by dense woods already occupied by the skirmishers of Longstreet's corps. Though we could not see the enemy, we were made aware of his presence by the bullets which flew about our heads in too great a profusion for comfort. Protecting ourselves as well as we could behind a stone wall, we prepared to return the fire of our invisible enemy. After a few moments we were again formed in line, retiring to the open field,
where we were deployed as skirmishers, facing the woods
on the mountain, as before. Here we remained for a short time loading and firing at will, until an order was given to fall back to another piece of woods in our rear which afforded some protection from the enemy's fire. About dark the brigade was withdrawn and marched with the division toward Manassas bivouacking shortly after midnight.
In connection with our day's work the experiences of companies D, H, and K ought not to be omitted.
Upon our arrival at the Gap Company D was deployed as skirmishers and advanced up the mountain. On the way, the boys suddenly came across a lot of blueberries. Such an abundance they had not seen since leaving home. Hungry and thirsty, they forgot their dangerous position and proceeded at once to gather what they coull. While thus engaged, the Eleventh Pennsylvania, which was in their rear, unaware that Company D was in their front, began to fire. Between two fires was a perilous position to be in. The Eleventh Pennsylvania was immediately notified, and their firing ceased. Company K was at the same time ordered into the Gap to take possession of a stone mill, followed by Company H as support. Longstreet had already entered the Gap with the head of his corps of 30,000 men, making it a specially dangerous service for these three companies. While Company D pursued its way, K, the next company on the right, was detailed to go up the railroad to the stone mill. H was sent to support K, a few minutes later; it followed a small stream to the rear of the mill, entering it at what might be called the cellar or basement. These companies, in column of fours, , then in twos, and finally in single rank, marched as rapidly as possible, without running, under a hot fire from the enemy, without losing a man. Upon their arrival they returned the fire of the enemy, who, being concealed by the woods, probably escaped any loss. Just as the boys were getting in their work, a full, fresh-looking regiment of rebels came in sight, marching across from the railroad toward the skirinish line of D. As our boys were about to fire into this regiment an aid appeared for the second time to inform them that they were firing into their own men, a mistake he made in
1862. misapprehension of the situation. This time he gave no
order or hint what the boys were to do, but his previous instructions having been opposed to defending the mill, our men were forced to abandon it before being taken prisoners, and returned to the regiment, as did also Company D.
Our losses at Thoroughfare Gap were two men killed and two wounded.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD CORPS,
REYNOLDS' CAMP, Aug. 28, 1862. I. Major-General Sigel will immediately march with his whole corps on Manassas Junction, his right resting on the Manassas Railroad.
II. Brigadier-General Reynolds will march on the turnpike immediately in the rear of General Sigel, and form his division on the left of General Sigel, and march upon Manassas Junction.
III. Brigadier-General King will follow immediately after General Reynolds, and form his division on General Reynolds' left, and direct his march upon Man. assas Junction.
IV. Brigadier-General Ricketts will follow Brigadier-General King and march to Gainesville; and if, on arriving there, no indication shall appear of the approach of the enemy from Thoroughfare Gap, he will continue his march along the turnpike, form on the left of General King, and march on Manassas Junction. He will be constantly on the lookout for an attack from the direction of Thoroughfare Gap, and in case one is threatened, he will form his division to the left and march to resist it. The headquarters of the corps will be at King's division. By command of Major-General McDowell, (Signed)
Colonel, Chief of Staff. HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF VIRGINIA,
BRISTOE STATION, Aug. 27, 1862, 9 P.M. MAJOR-GENERAL MCDOWELL:
At daylight to-morrow morning march rapidly on Manassas Junction with your whole force, resting your right on the Manassas Gap Railroad, throwing your left well to the east. Jackson, Ewell, and A. P. Hill are between Gainesville and Manassas Junction. We had a severe fight with them to-day, driving them back several miles along the railroad. If you will march promptly and rapidly at the earliest dawn of day upon Manassas Junction, we shall bag the whole crowd. I have directed Reno to march from Greenwich at the same hour upon Manassas Junction, and Kearney, who is in his rear, to march on Bristoe at daybreak. Be expeditious and the day is our own.
At the McDowell Court of Inquiry, the foregoing was
read, when the following question was asked of General Pope :
Question by the Court. After the order just read to you, had General McDowell any discretionary power to send Ricketts' division to Thoroughfare Gap, to check the approach of Longstreet?
To which General. Pope answered as follows:
Answer. At the time that the order in question was written, I was satisfied that we had completely interposed between the forces under Jackson and the main body of the enemy, yet to the westward of the Bull Run Range. The order directing General McDowell's march would have carried him eastward, and in the same direction in which the main body of the enemy was marching to join Jackson. I believed then, and believe now, that we were sufficiently in advance of Longstreet, who was supposed to lead the main body of the enemy, that by using our whole force vigorously, we should be able to crush Jackson completely before Longstreet, by any possibility, could have reached the scene of action. I sent nothing to General McDowell concerning Thoroughfare Gap, and regretted afterward that any portion of his forces had been detatched in that direction. General McDowell had the discretion, however, necessarily incident to his position, and to his distance from me, to make such a disposition to cover his rear, as he might consider necessary. From the order of General McDowell, which he showed me afterward (the order No. 10), I understood that the move. ment of Ricketts' division was made conditionally, and in view of the possibility of an attack upon his rear, from the direction of Thoroughfare Gap.
Question by the Court. Were you aware that King's division had a fight with the enemy near the evening of that day, and after the fight fell back to Manassas?
Answer. It was reported to me about 8 or 9 o'clock at night, on the 28th, that King's division of McDowell's corps had met the enemy retreating from Centreville, and after a severe fight had remained masters of the field, still interposing between Jackson's forces and the main body of the enemy. This report was brought to me by a staff-officer, I think, of General King's. Upon receiving this information I stated to several of my staff-officers who were present that the game was in our hands, and that I did not see how it was possible for Jackson to escape without very heavy loss, if at all. Immediately upon receipt of this intelligence I also directed General Kearney, whose division occupied Centreville, to push forward cautiously at I o'clock that night in the direction of Gainesville, to drive in the pickets of the enemy, and to keep himself in close contact during the night; to rest his left on the Warrenton turnpike, and to throw his right to the north, toward the Little River, and well to the front. I directed him at the first blush of daylight to attack the enemy with his right advanced, and informed him that Hooker and Reno would be with him immediately after daylight. To my surprise 1862. and dissatisfaction I learned toward daylight on the morning of ihe
29th that King's division had withdrawn in the direction of Manassas Junction, leaving open the road to Thoroughfare Gap. This withdrawal of that division made necessary a great change in the movement and the position of the troops, and was a most serious and unlooked-for mistake. I was so impressed with the necessity that that division should hold its ground during the night of the 28th, that I sent several orders to General King (one by his own staff-officer) during that night to hold his ground at all hazards and to prevent the retreat of the enemy, and informed him that our whole force from the direction of Centreville and Manassas Junction would fall upon the enemy at daylight.
Another hot day. At 5 A.M. we marched to Bristoe Friday, Station, about five miles, rested until 3 P.M., and then August 29. marched to the Bull Run battlefield of 1861, passing
through Manassas. An order had been issued for the muster-out of the band, but owing to the excitement of those busy days, no attention was paid to it. In the meantime they kept along with us, not knowing where else
This skurrying back and forth over almost the same ground day and night, with short rations and hard work, was harassing. The rank and file knew little about what was going on, though it did know that Jackson and Longstreet had crossed the Bull Run Mountains in spite of our efforts to stop or delay their movements. We also knew that Stuart had made a daring and successful raid on Pope's headquarters. Therefore, right or wrong, it betokened to us. an uncertainty and confusion at headquarters, and we felt the hour could not be far distant when we were to encounter some hard fighting. These reflections had no effect on our sleep, however, which was sound as usual.
We spent the first half of the day in marching back Saturday,
and forth in an aimless sort of way, occasionally halting August 30. as if waiting for some one to put us on the right road.
In one of these halts we were ordered to leave our knapsacks, whereupon we piled them up on the side of the road in the woods, and for aught we know they are there yet. [A.D. 1893.] Toward the middle of the afternoon, under the protection of a knoll, we hastily drew rations, - eighteen hard-tack, nine spoonfuls of