McDowell’s Plan for the Proposed Movement from Alexandria to Leesburg

24 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 718-719

Hdqrs. Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, June 24, 1861.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Army:

Colonel: I have the honor to submit the following, in answer to your letter of June 21, in reference to a column to co-operate from this position with a movement to be made with a portion of Major-General Patterson’s command “to sweep the enemy from Leesburg towards Alexandria.” For a better understanding of what follows, I have the honor to transmit a map, which I have had prepared, showing the position of our troops and of that of the enemy in front of it. There is at Manassas Junction and the places in its front or immediate vicinity a force of from 23,000 to 25,000 infantry and about 2,000 cavalry and a supply of well-provided artillery. The advanced position of this force is at Centreville, Germantown, Fairfax Court-House, and Fairfax Station, the numbers and proportion at each varying from time to time. How much of a force is beyond Manassas Gap, in the valley, and could be brought within the operations here contemplated, I have no means of judging. There is nothing to hinder their coming, and unless they are kept engaged by our troops around Harper’s Ferry, re-enforcements, in case of serious operations from that section would have to be guarded against, as would also those from places to the south of Manassas, on the line of the railroad to Richmond or Lynchburg, which would be pressed forward whenever it should become known we were moving upon them or they upon us in any force.

I have not learned that the troops in our front are fully provided with transportation, though I am satisfied they are not so deficient as we have supposed, and not as much so as we are at this time ourselves, for the Quartermaster-General, after supplying yesterday transportation for two regiments to move each about six miles, had but three horses left.

We have in this department, good, bad, and indifferent, twenty regiments of infantry, giving an aggregate of less than 14,000; four companies of cavalry, giving about 250; one battery of regular artillery of six rifled guns; one battery of volunteer artillery, smooth-bores—an excellent company, but not accustomed to their guns, and hardly fit for service in the field. There are three companies of regular artillery, but they are in the earthworks, and not available for field service. The General-in-Chief was pleased to say he wished I would fight this project of a combined movement to sweep away the enemy from Leesburg towards Alexandria with him step by step. I take advantage of this permission, if, indeed, I do not obey a command, to say that it seems to me the distance between General Patterson’s force and this one is so great, and the line of march each has to take is such (a flank exposed), that, in my view, the force to move from each position should be constituted without reference to material support from the other. I am thought by those for whose judgment I have great respect, and who have been on the ground, to hazard something in having my advanced position so near Falls Church, when it is thrown forward from the right of the line, Fort Corcoran, and there are means of re-enforcing it promptly by the Georgetown turnpike and the railroad to Alexandria.

What would be our position if a movement is made to the right, at this the right bank of the Potomac, towards Leesburg? In the first place, as we are for any such purpose without means of wagon transportation, we should be obliged to repair and use the railroad; but whether this was done or not, we should march with the left flank of the column exposed to attack from their advanced positions, and on getting as far to the right as Vienna, have our line exposed to interruption, for Vienna is nearer to the enemy than it is to Falls Church or the camps on the Georgetown road.

To go farther to the right could not safely be done, even by a force superior to that the enemy can bring against us. I think a glance at the map will show this. Any reverse happening to this raw force, pushed farther along, with the enemy on the flank and rear and an impassable river on the right, would be fatal. I do not think, therefore, it safe to risk anything from this position in the direction of Leesburg farther than Vienna, seven miles by the Leesburg turnpike from Falls Church, and even to go there the force should be large. Vienna could be supplied or re-enforced—

1st. By the Leesburg road from Falls Church.
2d. By the railroad from Alexandria.
3d. By the dirt road from Ball’s Cross-Roads.

The first two are liable to interruption unless strongly guarded, and the third is an indifferent road and a long one. The force, then, to go as far as Vienna should be large enough to hold the position for several hours, and should be well supplied with artillery and cavalry and strengthened by such defenses as could be readily thrown up. Vienna being held in force, and offensively, would cover the country from the Difficult Creek well towards Goose Creek from any force of the enemy operating from Manassas Junction or its dependencies, and I have never heard of there being over 500 men, mostly local troops, at Leesburg. As it would be constantly liable to be attacked by all the available force of the enemy and is only a few hours’ march from him, it would be necessary to have strong reserves ready at either Falls Church or the camp of the Ohio brigade.

The force sufficient to hold Vienna cannot well be stated, because of the changes which are taking place in front of us. I do not think it prudent to go there with less than 8,000 infantry, a battery of field regular rifled artillery, with some guns in position, and six companies of cavalry, and the line from Fort Corcoran to General Tyler to be held as strong as at present, and a reserve on that line of 3,000 men; some of the force to be organized into small field brigades, as heretofore proposed, under regular colonels.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN MCDOWELL,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.





Col. Ambrose Burnside to Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott on the Progress of the 1st Rhode Island Infantry to Brig. Gen. Patterson’s Command

23 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 715-716

Camp Sprague,
Washington, D. C., June 22, 1861.

Lieut. Gen. W. Scott, Headquarters U. S. Army:

Sir: I have the honor to report that the regiment under my command, in pursuance to orders from headquarters of the U. S. Army, departed from Washington on Monday, June 10, for the purpose of joining the column of Major-General Patterson, then moving from Chambersburg upon Harper’s Ferry. The battery of artillery attached to the command, with the baggage, preceded the main body of the regiment twelve hours.

Early upon Monday morning we left camp, and, marching to the station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, entered the cars prepared for our transportation, and were carried to Baltimore. The command was composed of 1,128 men and 117 officers, accompanied by a long wagon train. The passage through Baltimore was peacefully made, and, taking the cars of the Northern Central Railroad, the entire regiment reached Chambersburg, Pa., on the morning of Tuesday, June 11, when I immediately reported to Major-General Patterson for duty. Still proceeding by rail, we reached Greencastle at noon, and encamped. The command remained in camp at Greencastle until Saturday morning, when, in conjunction with the First Brigade of Major-General Patterson’s column, under command of Colonel Thomas, the line of march was taken up for Williamsport, Md. That place was reached at noon, and occupied by the force of which this regiment formed a part.

On Sunday a portion of the battery of artillery was ordered across the Potomac to Falling Waters; but, in accordance with orders from Major-General Patterson, it was recalled on Monday, and the regiment, once more complete, commenced its march at an early hour for Frederick City. The route lay through Hagerstown, Boonsborough, and Middletown, and in these places the command was received with enthusiastic demonstrations of favor. The march continued through the entire day and a part of the following night, with an interval of three hours for rest at Boonsborough.

At 12.30 a. m. on Tuesday the regiment bivouacked in the immediate vicinity of Frederick, having accomplished a march of thirty-three miles. Soon after sunrise the regiment marched into the city, and remained there through the day.

At 7 p. m. we left Frederick by rail and proceeded to Washington, arriving at 6 o’clock on Wednesday morning, June 19. It gives me pleasure to assure the General-in-Chief of the gratification which I feel at the bearing and conduct of the command during this expedition. The fatigues of the way were endured with fortitude, and had any danger threatened I have no doubt that it would have been bravely met. As it is, I cannot avoid the expression of my satisfaction that the object of the expedition in which this regiment participated was attained in safety and without the loss of life. The command is now in an effective condition for the further service of the Government of the United States.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. E. BURNSIDE,
Colonel, Comdg. First Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers.





Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler to Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell on Intimated Retrograde Movement to Ball’s Crossroads

22 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 713-715

Headquarters Tyler’s Brigade,
Camp McDowell, June 22, 1861.

To Brigadier-General McDowell,
Commanding Department N. E. Virginia:

General: Your intimation yesterday that we might be ordered to fall back to Ball’s Cross-Roads took me so by surprise, that I went at once to your headquarters to see if there was not some mistake in the matter, and, not finding you, returned immediately back.

Since I have been in my present position I have used every possible means to connect it with our present line of operations, and also with the probable movements of the enemy, and I am satisfied that to abandon it would be the greatest mistake we could commit, and for the following reasons:

  1. It is so situated as to give you the best possible position to observe the enemy and to obtain the very earliest possible information as to any movement he can make towards Washington.
  2. It is the strongest and most defensible military position, except that about Shooter’s Hill, that I have seen between Washington and four miles of Fairfax Court-House, and is so situated that it must be attacked and carried before it would be safe for any enemy to make any forward movement on Ball’s Cross-Roads or Bailey’s Cross-Roads, as a movement on Bailey’s Cross-Roads would expose the enemy to a flank attack from the troops situated at Falls Church and a movement on Ball’s Cross-Roads to a rear attack, and neither of these crossings is more than two and a half miles from Falls Church.
  3. As the enemy’s pickets before our arrival here were in possession of the ground in our front, I am satisfied the moment we leave the position it will be occupied, and, in connection with the possession of Vienna, will give him the possession of a line that it will cost us thousands of men to drive him from it, and we shall have to do it if he is strong enough to sustain an advance.
  4. A retrograde, if followed by the occupation of the Falls Church position, as it will be, will enable the enemy to control the entire valley of the Four Mile Run, from Vienna to within two miles of Roach’s Mills, and if they have twenty thousand men, everything else being equal, fifty thousand men cannot drive them out.
  5. A retrograde movement (I will not consider its effects on the country) will have a most injurious effect on the Union men in this vicinity (and they are in considerable numbers), and thus must necessarily leave with us or be killed.

The above, general, are only some of the reasons that present themselves to my mind in opposition to a retrograde movement, which I think can be prevented and our position here perfectly secured by posting three regiments at Ball’s Cross-Roads and as many at Bailey’s Cross-Roads, which will bring the whole front from Georgetown, Falls Church, and Alexandria within short supporting positions. With a single battery of light artillery and a couple of hundred of cavalry, with two Connecticut and the two Ohio regiments, I can hold our position at Falls Church for two hours against ten thousand men, counting time from the moment our pickets will notify us of the approach of the enemy, and that will give us time to be supported from Ball’s and Bailey’s Cross-Roads and the New Jersey regiments at Roach’s Mills, leaving the troops at Alexandria and those in the vicinity of Arlington, Georgetown, and Washington near enough to sustain us in case we should be overmatched, which I do not think we should be. At all events, we would give time enough for these troops to come to our relief.

Before a retrograde movement is made I would like to canvass this matter with yourself and General Scott. Since I came here my mind has been constantly occupied with the subject of my position here, and I think I understand as well as any engineer officer or officers who may come out here and pass half an hour examining it and then return to Washington with a report. I know that these things must be, but 1 must confess that I felt mortified that two gentlemen of the Engineers should come into my camp under instructions, as I now find, to examine and pass upon the most important military positions in our whole line, which had been selected by me, and not have the courtesy to invite my attendance or call my attention to the fact that they were on any official duty.

When I had the honor to have a commission in the line of the United States, many years ago, the etiquette of service would not excuse such neglect, even in the scientific officers of the Army.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

DANL. TYLER,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Ohio Brigade. Hagerstown, June 22, 1861.





Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson’s Plan for the Proposed Movement from Leesburg to Alexandria

21 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 711-712

Hagerstown, Md., June 21, 1861.

Col. E. D. Townsend,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., U. 8. Army, Washington City:

Colonel: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the telegram of the General-in-Chief calling for a plan of operations with a portion of my force to sweep the enemy from Leesburg, &c. Inclosed is a copy of my telegraphic reply. The following is my plan more in detail:

To carry out the views of the General-in-Chief I propose—

First. To occupy the Maryland Heights with a brigade (2,100 men); fortify and arm with Doubleday’s artillery, and provision for twenty days, to secure against investment.

Second. To move all supplies to Frederick, and immediately thereafter abandon this line of operations; threaten with a force to open a route through Harper’s Ferry, this force to be the sustaining one for the command on Maryland Heights.

Third. To send everything else available (horse, foot, and artillery) to cross the Potomac near Point of Rocks, and unite with Colonel Stone at Leesburg. From that point I can operate as circumstances shall demand and your orders require. If no blow is to be struck here, I think this change of position important to keep alive the ardor of our men as well as to force an enemy.

The reasons for this change of depot will be so apparent to the General-in-Chief that I need not refer to them. By the employment of the local transportation of the country I can soon make the necessary changes, and will hasten to carry out your orders.

I have many reports in regard to the movements of the force opposite us in Virginia, and have reason to believe that when the regulars were withdrawn, General Johnston, with thirteen thousand men and twenty-two pieces of artillery, was marching to the attack, and that night posted his force, expecting from us an attack the following morning. I regret we did not meet the enemy, so confident am I that, with this well-appointed force, the result would have been favorable to us, and that this portion of Virginia would now be peaceably occupied.

Reports of the enemy having returned to Harper’s Ferry and had driven the occupants to this shore reached me yesterday. I immediately dispatched a strong force to take position in the vicinity of Sharpsburg and protect all parties on this side of the river, and drive back any force which may attempt to cross.

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

R. PATTERSON,
Major-General, Commanding.

[Inclosure.]

Hagerstown, Md., June 21, 1861.

Col. E. D. Townsend, Washington City:

The telegram of the General-in-Chief of yesterday was received at midnight. To carry out proposed plan I think involves a change of depot to Frederick and evacuation of Williamsport and Hagerstown. With an enemy close at hand, a move suddenly, with present amount of transportation, necessitates sending a large mass of stores back to Harrisburg or their abandonment.

Maryland Heights can be secured, and Frederick also, and a strong force of infantry, some cavalry, and artillery sent via Frederick to Leesburg to sweep the enemy from that point to Alexandria. If no blow is to be struck here, and this meets the views of the General-in-Chief, I will at once commence moving, and be in position to act at the earliest practicable moment. I send a regiment to-day to Frederick at the urgent solicitation of the governor. I shall write in full by mail. Reconnaissance of heights being made. Send your telegrams via Harrisburg, Chambersburg, &c. Frederick line cannot be relied upon.

R. PATTERSON,
Major-General, Commanding.





Army A. A. G. E. D. Townsend to Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell on Proposed Movement from Alexandria to Leesburg

21 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 711

Washington, June 21, 1861.

Brigadier-General McDowell, U. S. A.:

Sir: The General-in-Chief sends you the inclosed copy of instructions to Major-General Patterson,* and desires you to propose a column to co-operate from this end, according to the outline plan indicated.
I am, &c.,

E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

*See Scott to Patterson, June 20, p. 709.





Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott to Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson on Proposed Movement from Leesburg to Alexandria

21 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 709

Washington, June 20,1861.

General R. Patterson, U. S. A., Hagerstown, Md.:

I desire you to cause to be examined the Maryland Heights, overlooking Harper’s Ferry, with a view to a battery sufficient to hold the same, and also without delay to propose to me a plan of operations with a portion of your force to sweep the enemy from Leesburg towards Alexandria, in co-operation with a strong column from this end of the same road. Of course it is designed that you should absorb the column of Colonel Stone, now covering the fords and ferries on the Potomac below Leesburg; the remainder of your troops (how many?) to be left to cover the detachment on the Maryland Heights. Reply promptly.

WINFIELD SCOTT.

(Copy to General McDowell.)





McDowell to Brig. Gen. Theodore Runyon and Col. David Hunter on Readiness to Move

21 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 710

Headquarters Department N. E. Virginia,
Arlington, June 20,1861.

Brigadier-General Runyon [and others]:

General Tyler reports enemy concentrating in his front. Hold all your command in readiness to move at a moment’s warning. If you have time, cook a day’s rations.

Irvin McDowell,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

P. S.—To Colonel Hunter.

Have the Sixty-ninth Regiment move forward to Ball’s Cross-Roads.

By order General McDowell:

W. H. WOOD,
Captain, Third Infantry, Acting Inspector General.





McDowell and Army Headquarters Discuss the Reconnaissance to Vienna

21 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 700

June 18,1861—1.35 a. m.

Brigadier-General Schenck: It is not intended you shall attempt to carry the position at Vienna.

Colonel Corcoran, with four companies, and Brigadier-General Tyler, with part of his brigade, will soon be with you.

Get your wounded attended to, and as soon as General Tyler arrives let them go down by the first train he may send.

Let me know when Colonel Corcoran and General Tyler arrive.

Let me have report early to-morrow morning.

IRVIN MCDOWELL,
Brigadier- General.


Arlington, June 18, 1861—5.20 a. m.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend:

Will it accord with the plans of the General-in-Chief that a movement be made in force in the direction of Vienna, near which the attack was made on the Ohio regiment?

IRVIN MCDOWELL,
Brigadier- General.


Washington, June 18, 1861—6.30 a. m.

General McDowell, Arlington:

The General-in-Chief says do not make a movement in the direction of Vienna which is not necessary to bring General Schenck back to his camp.

E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General.





McDowell Reports on Loudoun and Hampshire Road Reconnaissance

14 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 695

Hdqrs. Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, Va., June 17, 1861.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.:

Colonel: Brigadier-General Tyler, with part of the Connecticut regiment, made, agreeably to instructions, a reconnaissance up the Loudoun and Hampshire Road as far as Vienna. He found all the bridges and the road in good order. All the rolling stock of the road between Vienna and Leesburg he reports as having been burned, to prevent it falling into our hands. One of the sleepers, which had been set on fire by the droppings of the locomotive, gave rise to the report from the telegraph station near Arlington Mills that the bridges had been set on fire and were burning, and that General Tyler was beyond them.

Whilst near Falls Church one of the Connecticut regiment, Private George Bigbee, Captain Comstock’s company, was wounded in the shoulder by a shot from the roadside. The man suspected of having fired it was captured, and is in jail in Alexandria.

It is reported re-enforcements have been sent from Manassas to Fairfax Court-House.

I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

IRVIN MCDOWELL,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.





McDowell is Informed of Patterson’s Delay in Proposed Movement

14 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 690

Washington, June 15,1861.

General McDowell, Arlington: General Scott says, whether Harper’s Perry is evacuated or not, General Patterson cannot cross the river before Wednesday next [19th]. This in reference to a proposed movement of yours, on the expediency of which events must now decide.

E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General.