FIRST REGIMENT VIRGINIA INFANTRY.
THE whole army, as before stated, fell back to Centreville and the heights in the vicinity, Lee's army being apparently very well satisfied to let Pope retire in peace. Had the result been different the latter would have been compelled to seek a point near Washington in order to subsist his men; the nearest point to which supplies had been brought was Fairfax Station, and these insufficient to furnish his whole command. There was a very heavy rainfall in the night. Many carriages with surgeons arrived from Washington, having been sent out by order of the President. Nothing important to the command transpired this day (Sunday). On September 1 there appeared to be heavy fighting on the right, towards Chantilly. Generals Kearny and Stevens were killed in this engagement. The death of these officers was a great loss to the Union cause, General Kearny, in particular, being highly respected by the whole army and beloved by his own command, especially by the New Jersey troops. The brigade marched at five A.M. to Fairfax Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, arriving there at ten A.M. The surgeons were busy here, there being a string of ambulances nearly a mile long waiting to deposit their bloody loads. The improvised hospital here was a sight to make humanity shudder. Surely no man would be able to recognize his own arm or leg among that mass of severed members. A large quantity of commissary stores had been collected here, most of which were burned by order of the brigade commander, to prevent them, as he stated, from falling into the hands of the enemy. The men were called out at one A.M. on the 2d to repel a threatened attack, which, however, was not made, the enemy probably thinking at this time to make an easy capture, being undeceived by the force shown. The main body of the Union army had retired in the direction of Chantilly and Vienna, leaving, so far as was known, but few troops in the vicinity of Manassas Junction. General Pope's loss during these several days' fights was about ten thousand killed and wounded. The brigade marched about five P.M. six miles in the direction of Alexandria; rested at eight P.M. Marched again on the 3d at six A.M. for the place named, arriving there at four P.M. It was not a cheering sight to look upon the thinned ranks, the worn and haggard look of the men, and the spiritless movements of all. During the whole war if at any time the Union feelings or patriotism of the men were ebb, this was the time; disaster had followed upon defeat, murmuring and discontent prevailed, and the loss of all confidence in the leaders, resulting in almost the demoralization of the army. Colonel Thoburn, who had been ailing for some time, - and it is probable that the disasters of the week had added to his sickness, though he never despaired of the final success of the cause he had so much at heart, - was at this time reported unfit for duty. It is proper to say that had he been in command of the brigade at the time there is no doubt that the stores at Fairfax Station would have been saved, which were destroyed in face of the remonstrance of Lieutenant-Colonel Hubbard.
On the evening of the 30th, after the command had fallen back to the vicinity of Centreville, the writer in company with a comrade went over to the little town to see the rebel prisoners captured in the engagements of the past three days. There were collected on this spot about seven or eight hundred of them, the majority of them engaged in hunting, having their shirts off for the purpose, the game being of nearly the same color as the garment, and very successful they appeared to be. These prisoners were guarded by an Ohio regiment. Looking over the collection, one small young man, cleanly and neatly dressed (very striking among all the rags and dirt of his companions), wore a sergeant-major's sash, and was engaged in conversation with a larger fellow-prisoner. Something in the appearance and actions of the smaller man struck the writer as familiar, and after a closer look recognized J. L. B., of Wheeling. Calling him by a familiar name, he turned around, and the recognition was mutual. Asking permission of the officer of the guard, the writer and his companion were allowed to cross the line, and, to the no little astonishment of the guards and on-lookers, they saw the blue and the gray greet one another most cordially and enter into close conversation. The larger man, J. A., was also from Wheeling. The writer and his companion had the pleasure of getting them coffee, bread, and bacon, and it should be recorded that it was discovered, after presentation of the matter to them, - pressing on the attention of the first one referred to the deep-seated sorrow of his family, and particularly that of his father, at his course, - that if there was an honorable way to do it, he would sever his connection with the rebel army. This way was found, and he never re-joined it. What became of J. A. is not known.
The command remained at this camp until the 6th, when the brigade was marched to Upton's Hill, and on the 7th took up the line of march, passing the fortifications opposite Washington, crossing the Potomac by the aqueduct bridge, and bivouacked at three P.M. one mile north of Georgetown. On the 8th, Lieutenant-Colonel Hubbard in command, the men were mustered for pay, and on the 9th marched at ten P.M. through Georgetown and Washington City. The amount of drunkenness here was astonishing, particularly among the high officers. The command crossed the long bridge, and were again on the south side of Potomac, camping at six A.M. on the 10th near Fort Ellsworth, a large earthwork mounting probably twelve or fifteen guns of heavy calibre. Remained at this camp until the 12th, when the regiment was ordered to Arlington Heights; bivouacked between Forts Cass and Tillinghast, a short distance from the old Lee mansion. The regiment remained in this camp a month, General McClellan being in command of all the troops here concentrated for the defence of Washington, General Pope having asked to be relieved of the command after the second battle of Bull Run. On the 26th the men received two months' pay, and on the 27th some of the men captured at Port Republic returned to the regiment, which, on the 29th, was reviewed by General Whipple. The regiment at this time numbered nine commissioned officers, a full complement being thirty-eight, fifty-four non-commissioned officers, and one hundred and seventy-three privates, - total, two hundred and thirty-six men; not a field-officer fit for duty, and several of the companies under command of non-commissioned officers. In this condition application was made for the return of the regiment to Western Virginia to recruit the men and fill up the ranks; the regiment, it may be added, never had been quite full, having mustered a little over the minimum number allowed on leaving Camp Carlisle.
On the 11th of October, orders having been received for moving, the camp equipage was packed and loaded on the few wagons left to the regiment, and the men were marched across the Potomac, taking the cars in Washington homeward bound, arriving in Baltimore at four A.M. next morning, and in Pittsburg at eleven A.M. on the 13th, having gone by the way of Harrisburg. At Pittsburg the regiment was most generously and hospitably entertained, the ladies, apparently, being unable to do enough for the men, who, as may be supposed, had not been used to this kind of attention. Arrived at Camp Carlisle about eight P.M. The next day the men received a week's furlough, which was afterwards renewed for fifteen days. This was greatly enjoyed by them, and the time passed only too fast. On the 31st the regiment was mustered for pay by Lieutenant-Colonel Weddle, Lieutenant-Colonel Hubbard having been discharged for disability October 3, and Major Duval having been promoted to colonel of the Ninth Virginia Infantry September 9, E. W. Stephens, then captain of Company F, being promoted to the majority. Remained at this camp until November 27, when to please the citizens of Wheeling the regiment paraded through the city, then returning to camp, struck tents and packed up, and afterwards marching to Washington Hall, partook of an elegant supper prepared by the ladies. The regiment was also presented with a beautiful flag by the governor of the State. Then marched to the depot. Off again for the second year's service, destination being Cumberland, Maryland, arriving there at eight P.M. on the 28th. Next day pitched tents and made preparation for the cold weather. The regiment remained here until December 8, when orders were received for a move, when taking the cars were landed at Back Creek bridge, on ground quite familiar to the men, then marched to North Mountain, a few miles beyond, and pitched tents. On the 11th the regiment was visited by General Kelley, who ordered the removal of the camp a short distance, near a piece of woods, - a very good location, wood being near and coal-trains passing every day. This information may not appear important to the public, but the fact was to the men, as many of these trains were made to pay toll, run as fast as they might past the camp. Comfortable winter quarters were built by the men, and soon the little town assumed an orderly and neat appearance. The regular routine of camp-life was followed, the men soon falling into the old way. Drill was the order, and ere long the former precision in the manual and the movements was restored, and discipline was strictly enforced. The Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Regiment (Colonel Campbell) and a regiment of New York Cavalry (Colonel Reynolds) were also in winter quarters in this vicinity.
The end of the year 1862 found the regiment here, which at this time numbered between six and seven hundred men, many of the prisoners taken during the year having rejoined. Much had occurred since bringing up the record to August. After the evacuation of the Peninsula by McClellan and the battle of Gainesville, or Second Bull Run, the enemy under General Lee, after the engagement at Chantilly, crossed the Potomac below Harper's Ferry and invaded Maryland. General McClellan at this time, although named to command the defences around Washington, was again given command of the army advancing to meet Lee, and on the 14th of September engaged him at South Mountain, checking his advance and inflicting on him a serious loss. On the 17th he engaged him again at Antietam, where a very hard battle was fought, the result being indecisive, though, as Lee was the invader and ultimately compelled to abandon his plans, the failure undoubtedly was his. Very great credit is due the Union army for the result of these actions. Defeated and depressed in spirits as the men were, they nevertheless fought most gallantly, and gained on these fields practical victories, compelling Lee to recross the Potomac and to fall back and resume a defensive line covering Richmond.
Great fears at this time were entertained of the invasion of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Cincinnati and Philadelphia energetically made preparations to meet and repel such. In connection with the battles in Maryland before mentioned, on the 13th General Miles, in command of Harper's Ferry, surrendered the place with eleven thousand men to General Jackson, thus relieving the latter in time to assist his chief at the battle of Antietam. Mumfordsville with four thousand prisoners was captured by the enemy on the 16th, and on the 17th General Rosecrans put a period to the enemy's successes by defeating him at Iuka, Mississippi. On the 23d of September President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves free unless the States in rebellion discontinued the war in one hundred days (1st of January, 1863). October 3 the enemy was defeated at Corinth, Mississippi, and on the 8th and 9th the Union forces were victorious at the battle of Perryville, Kentucky. About this time the enemy's cavalry under Stuart raided round General McClellan's army lying inactive on the north side of the Potomac, capturing horses and stores. This activity on the part of the enemy and inactivity on the part of McClellan, followed by the complaint of the latter of want of shoes for men and horses, and alleging this as the reason for his remaining inactive, called from President Lincoln the characteristic reply, "If you would give the enemy more employment on your front he would not have opportunity of raiding in your rear." November 5 General Burnside relieved General McClellan of the command of the Army of the Potomac. The battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas, was fought on the 28th, the Union army being victorious. On December 7, at Prairie Grove, Generals Blunt and Herron defeated the Confederates. On the 13th was the terrible battle of Fredericksburg, which resulted in the repulse of the Army of the Potomac, under Burnside, with a very heavy loss to his army and small loss to the enemy. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was captured by General Banks on the 17th. On the 19th the enemy, under Van Dorn, captured Holly Springs, Mississippi, with an immense amount of stores for General Grant's army in the vicinity of Vicksburg. On the 27th General Sherman made an unsuccessful assault on the Vicksburg defences. And on the 31st was the battle of Stone River, being on the first day a Union repulse, but resulting in an indecisive engagement on the second day, - a hard-fought and bloody battle.
This closes the record of the more important events of 1862. Gloom and despondency appeared to settle down on the North. The advantages gained in the eyes of the public were on the enemy's side; and it is probable that at no time during the contest were the Union people of the North so depressed and possessed so little hope of the final triumph of the government as at this time.