No. 26. General Robert E. Lee.

No. 26.

Report of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Northern Virginia.

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,          
April 18, 1863.

     General S. Cooper,
              Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:

       General:   I respectfully submit herewith my report of the operations of this army from the battles before Richmond* to and including the battle of Cedar Mountain.  The accompanying documents comprising reports of subordinate commanders, &c., are designated in the schedule attached to my report.

     I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,

R.E. LEE,          

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,       
April 18, 1863.

      General:    After the retreat of General McClellan to Westover his army remained inactive for about a month.  His front was closely watched by a brigade of cavalry and preparations made to resist a renewal of his attempt upon Richmond from his new base.   In the mean time another Federal army, under Major-General Pope, advanced southward from Washington and crossed the Rappahannock, as if to seize Gordonsville, and move thence upon Richmond.  The enemy also appeared in force at Fredericksburg and threatened the railroad from Gordonsville to Richmond, apparently for the purpose of co-operating with the movements of General Pope.   To meet the advance of the latter and restrain, as far as possible, the atrocities which he threatened to perpetrate upon our defenseless citizens, General Jackson, with his own and Ewell’s division, was ordered to proceed toward Gordonsville on July 13.   Upon reaching that vicinity he ascertained that the force under General Pope was superior to his own, but the uncertainty that then surrounded the designs of General McClellan rendered it in-expedient to re-enforce him from the army at Richmond.  He was directed to observe the enemy’s movements closely, to avail himself of any opportunity to attack that might arise, and assistance was promised should the progress of General Pope put it in our power to strike an effectual blow without withdrawing the troops too long from the defense of the capital.  The army at Westover continuing to manifest no intention of resuming active operations, and General Pope’s advance having reached the Rapidan, General A. P. Hill, with his division, was ordered on July 27 to join General Jackson.  At the same time, in order to keep McClellan stationary, or if possible to cause him to withdraw, General D. H. Hill, commanding south of James River, was directed to threaten his communications by seizing favorable positions below Westover from which to attack the transports in the river.  That officer selected Coggins Point, opposite Westover, and the conduct of the expedition was committed to Brigadier-General French.

     On the night of the 31st General French, accompanied by Brigadier-General Pendleton, chief of artillery, placed forty-three guns in position within range of the enemy’s shipping in the river and of the camps on the north side, upon both of which fire was opened, causing consternation and inflicting series damage.  The guns were withdrawn before daybreak, with the loss of 1 killed and 2 wounded by the gunboats and batteries of the enemy.  This attack caused General McClellan to send a strong force to the south bank of the river, which intrenched itself on Coggins Point.

     In the latter part of July the enemy’s cavalry from Fredericksburg attempted to cut Jackson’s communications by destroying the Central Railroad at Beaver Dam.  This force did no serious damage, but to prevent the repetition of the attempt and to ascertain the strength and designs of the enemy General Stuart was directed to proceed from Hanover Court-House, where he was posted, toward Fredericksburg.   His progress was delayed by high water until August 4, when he advanced, with Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade and the Stuart Horse Artillery, upon Port Royal.   Arriving at that place on the 5th without opposition, he proceeded in the direction of Fredericksburg, and the next day came into the Telegraph road at Massaponax Church just after two brigades of the enemy had passed that point on the way to the Central Railroad.   His vigorous attack caused the expedition to return in haste to Fredericksburg, and General Stuart retired with a loss of only 2 men, bringing off 85 prisoners, and a number of horses, wagons, and arms.  No further attempt was made upon the railroad.

     On August 5 our cavalry reported that the enemy had advanced in large force from Westover to Malvern Hill, and the next day the divisions of Generals Longstreet and McLaws and that commanded by General Ripley were moved down to the Long Bridge road.  The enemy was found occupying the ground on which the action of July 1 was fought, and seemed ready to deliver battle in as great force as on that day.  McLaws’ and Ripley’s divisions, re-enforced by D. R. Jones’ division, formed our left;  Longstreet the right.  The heat was intense, and the progress of the troops necessarily slow.  Before the road was cleared of the enemy’s pickets and his line of battle disclosed the sun had almost set.  Orders were given for our left wing to advance to Willis’ Church, threatening the communication with Westover by extending well to the left, while two brigades of Longsteet’s division were directed to advance upon Malvern Hill and drive in the enemy on Curl’s Neck.  The latter operation was handsomely executed by General Evans with his own and Cobb’s brigade, forcing the enemy back to his guns on Malvern Hill.

     The next morning, upon advancing, it was found that he had withdrawn during the night and retired to Westover.  Our pickets were re-established, and troops returned to their former positions.  This expedition, which was the last undertaken by General McClellan on James River, was attended with small loss on ether side.  General Hampton, with his brigade of cavalry, kept the enemy closely confined within his lines until his final withdrawal.

*Inclosures relating to operations before Richmond appear in Series I, Vol. XI.


     While the main body of the army awaited the development of McClellan’s intentions, General Jackson, now re-enforced by A. P. Hill, determined to assume the offensive against General Pope, whose army, still superior in numbers, lay north of the Rapidan.

     On August 2 Col. (now Brig. Gen.) W. E. Jones, with the Seventh Virginia Cavalry, of Robertson’s brigade, was sent to take charge of the outposts on the Rapidan.  Arriving near Orange Court-House, he found it occupied by a large cavalry force, which by a bold and vigorous charge he drove from the town.  The enemy rallied, and Colonel Jones was in turn compelled to fall back before superior numbers to the place where the engagement began.  The enemy soon after withdrew.

     Learning that only a portion of General Pope’s army was at Culpeper Court-House, General Jackson resolved to attack it before the arrival of the remainder, and on August 7 moved from Gordonsville for that purpose.

     The next day the Federal cavalry on the north side of the Rapidan was driven back by General Robertson, and on the 9th Jackson’s command arrived within 8 miles of Culpeper Court-House, when the enemy was found near Cedar Run, a short distance northwest of Slaughter Mountain.  Early’s brigade, of Ewell’s division, was thrown forward on the road to Culpeper Court-House;  the remaining two brigades — those of Trimble and Hays, the latter under Colonel Forno — diverging to the right, to position on the western slope of Slaughter Mountain.  Jackson’s own division, under Brigadier-General Winder, was placed on the left of the road;  Campbell’s brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Garnett commanding, being on the left;  Taliaferro’s parallel to the road, supporting the batteries, and Winder’s own brigade, under Colonel Ronald, in reserve. Lawton’s brigade, having been detached by General Jackson to guard the train, was prevented from taking part in the engagement.

     The battle opened with a fierce fire of artillery, which continued for about two hours, during which Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder, while directing the movements of his batteries, received a wound from the effects of which he expired in a few hours.  I can add nothing to the well-deserved tribute paid to the courage, capacity, and conspicuous merit of this lamented officer by General Jackson, in whose brilliant campaign in the valley and on the Chickahominy he bore a distinguished part.

     The enemy’s infantry advanced about 5 p.m. and attacked General Early in front, while another body, concealed by the irregularity of the ground, moved upon his right.  Thomas’ brigade, of A. P. Hill’ division, which had now arrived, was sent to his support, and the contest soon became animated.

     In the mean time the main body of the Federal infantry, under cover of a wood and the undulations of the field, gained the left of Jackson’s division, now commanded by Brigadier-General Taliaferro, and poured a destructive fire into its flank and rear.   Campbell’s brigade fell back in confusion, exposing the flank of Taliaferro, which also gave way, as did the left of Early’s.  The rest of his brigade, however, firmly held its ground.   Winder’s brigade, with Branch’s, of A. P. Hill’s division, on its right, advanced promptly to the support of Jackson’s division, and after a sanguinary struggle the enemy was repulsed with loss. Pender’s and Archer’s brigades, also of Hill’s division, came up on the left of Winder’s, and by a general charge the enemy was driven back in confusion, leaving the ground covered with his dead and wounded.  General Ewell, with the two brigades on the extreme right, had been prevented from advancing by the fire of our own artillery, which swept his approach to the enemy’s left.  This obstacle being now removed, he pressed forward under a hot fire and came gallantly into action.

     Repulsed and vigorously followed on our left and center, and now hotly pressed on our right, the enemy gave way, and his whole line was soon in full retreat.   Night had now set in, but General Jackson, desiring to enter Culpeper Court-House before morning,  determined to pursue.    Hill’s division led the advance, but owing to the darkness it was compelled to move slowly and with caution.   The enemy was found about 1 ½ miles in rear of the field of battle, and information was received that re-enforcements had arrived.  General Jackson thereupon halted for the night, and the next day, becoming satisfied that the enemy’s strength had been so largely increased as to render a farther advance on his part imprudent, sent his wounded to the rear, and proceeded to bury the dead and collect the arms from the battle-field.

     On the 11th the enemy asked and received permission to bury those of his dead not already interred.  General Jackson remained in position during the day, and at night returned to the vicinity of Gordonsville.

     In this engagement 400 prisoners, including a brigadier-general, were captured, and 5,300 stand of small-arms, 1 piece of artillery, several caissons, and 3 colors fell into our hands.

     Our casualties will appear from the report of the medical director.  For a more detailed account of the action reference must be made to the clear report of General Jackson, herewith transmitted, and the accompanying reports of his officers.

     The conduct of his troops is commended in terms of well-deserved praise by their distinguished leader, and the success achieved was worthy of the skillful management and bold and vigorous execution of the entire enterprise.

     Respectfully submitted.

R. E. LEE,  General.

     General S. Cooper,
           Adjutant and Inspector General, C.S. Army, Richmond, Va.