Reports of Maj. Gen. John Pope, U. S. Army, commanding the Army of Virginia, with congratulatory orders.*
Headquarters Army of Virginia,
Near Cedar Creek, August 10, 1862 —5.45 a.m.
The enemy crossed the Rapidan day before yesterday, and yesterday advanced in heavy force against Culpeper. Their advance under Ewell had a very severe engagement yesterday with Banks’ corps, in which the loss was heavy on both sides without decisive results. Both parties at dark occupied their original positions.
The army under my command and the whole force of Jackson confront each other, and the action has already begun. A very severe engagement will undoubtedly take place, the enemy being in very superior force and endeavoring to interpose between me and Fredericksburg. I will do the best I can, and if forced to retire will do so by way of Rappahannock Crossing. I hope, however, for better things.
So far the troops have behaved well.
H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.
August 11, 1862 — 7.50 a. m.
Matters remain as yesterday except that the enemy has retired about 2 miles from our front and now occupies strong position. The forces were maneuvering all day yesterday in sight of each other, skirmishing nearly all day. Our pickets now occupy the camp of the enemy which he occupied on Saturday. I am waiting the arrival of King, who will be here to-day, when I will advance upon the enemy.
The fight of Saturday was precipitated by Banks, who attacked instead of waiting, as I directed him, until the corps of Sigel was rested after its forced march. Both Banks and the enemy were severely punished, though owing to the straggling of Banks’ command I cannot give you anything like a definite account of the loss. The enemy left many of this wounded on our hands and his dead unburied. I hope every moment to hear of King’s arrival in the neighborhood, when I will push matters to a conclusion.
H. W. Halleck,
August 13, 1862 — 5 p. m.
On Thursday morning the enemy crossed the Rapidan at Barnett’s Ford in heavy force, and advanced strong on the road to Culpeper and Madison Court-House. I had established my whole force on the turnpike between Culpeper and Sperryville, ready to concentrate at either place as soon as the enemy’s plans were developed. Early on Friday it became apparent that the move on Madison Court-House was merely a feint to detain the army corps of Sigel at Sperryville, and that the main attack of the enemy would be at Culpeper, to which place I had thrown forward part of Banks’ and McDowell’s corps.
Brigadier-General Bayard, with part of the cavalry of McDowell’s corps, who was in advance near the Rapidan, fell slowly back, delaying and embarrassing the enemy’s advance as far as possible and capturing some of his men.
The forces of Banks and Sigel and one of the divisions of McDowell’s corps were rapidly concentrated at Culpeper during Friday and Friday night, Banks’ corps being pressed forward 5 miles south of Culpeper, with Rickett’s division of McDowell’s corps 3 miles in his rear.
The corps of Sigel, which had marched all night, was halted in Culpeper to rest for a few hours. On Saturday the enemy advanced rapidly to Cedar Mountain, the sides of which they occupied in heavy force.
General Banks was instructed to take up his position on the ground occupied by Crawford’s brigade, of his command, which had been thrown out the day previous to observe the enemy’s movements. He was directed not to advance beyond that point, and if attacked by the enemy to defend his position and send back timely notice. It was my desire to have time to give the corps of Sigel all the rest possible after their forced march and to bring forward all the forces at my disposal. The artillery of the enemy was opened early in the afternoon, but he made no advance until nearly 5 o’clock, at which time a few skirmishers were thrown forward on each side under cover of the heavy woods in which his force was concealed. The enemy pushed forward in strong force in the rear of his skirmishers, and General Banks advanced to the attack. The engagement did not fairly open until after 6 o’clock, but for one and a half hours was furious and unceasing. Throughout the cannonading, which at first was desultory and directed mainly against the cavalry, I had continued to receive reports from General Banks that no attack was apprehended, and that no considerable infantry force of the enemy had come forward; yet toward evening the increase in the artillery firing having satisfied me an engagement might be at hand, though the lateness of the hour rendered it unlikely, I ordered McDowell to advance Ricketts’ division to support Banks, and directed Sigel to bring his men upon the ground as soon as possible. I arrived personally on the field at 7 p.m. and found action raging furiously. The infantry fire was incessant and severe. I found Banks holding the position he took up early in the morning. His losses were heavy. Ricketts’ division was immediately pushed forward and occupied the right of Banks, the brigades of Crawford and Gordon being directed to change position from the right and mass themselves in the center. Before this change could be effected it was quite dark, though the artillery fire continued at short range without intermission. The artillery fire at night by the Second and Fifth Maine Batteries in Ricketts’ division of McDowell’s corps was most destructive, as was readily observable the next morning in the dead men and horses and broken gun carriages of the enemy’s batteries which had been advanced against it.
Our troops rested on their arms during the night in line of battle, the heavy shelling being kept up on both sides until midnight. At daylight the next morning the enemy fell back 2 miles from our front and still higher up the mountain. Our pickets at once advanced and occupied the ground. The fatigue of the troops from long marches and excessive heat made it impossible for either side to resume the action on Sunday. The men were allowed to rest and recruit the whole day, our only active operations being of cavalry on the enemy’s flank and rear. Monday was spent in burying the dead and in getting off the wounded. The slaughter was severe on both sides, most of the fighting being hand-to-hand. The dead bodies of both armies were found mingled together in masses over the whole ground of the conflict. The burying of the dead was not completed until dark on Monday, the heat being so terrible that severe work was impossible. On Monday night the enemy fled from the field, leaving many of his dead unburied, and his wounded on the ground and along the road to Orange Court-House, as will be seen from General Buford’s dispatch. A cavalry and artillery force under General Buford was immediately thrown forward in pursuit, and followed the enemy to the Rapidan, over which he passed with his rear guard by 10 o’clock in the morning. Parts of our infantry followed; the remainder moved forward in the morning.
The behavior of Banks’ corps during the action was very fine. No greater gallantry and daring could be exhibited by any troops. I cannot speak too highly of the intrepidity and coolness of General Banks himself during the whole of the engagement. He was in the front and exposed as much as any man in his command. His example was of the greatest benefit to his troops, and he merits and should receive the commendation of his Government. Generals Williams, Augur, Gordon, Crawford, Prince, Greene and Geary behaved with conspicuous gallantry. Augur and Geary were severely wounded; and Prince, by losing his way the dark while passing from one flank of his command to the other, fell into the enemy’s hands.
I desire publicly to express my appreciation of the prompt and skillful manner in which Generals McDowell and Sigel brought forward their respective commands and established them on the field, and of their cheerful and hearty co-operation with me from beginning to end. Brigadier-General Roberts, chief of cavalry of this army, was with the advance of our forces on Friday and Saturday, and was conspicuous for his gallantry and for the valuable aid he rendered to Generals Banks and Crawford. Our loss was about 1,500 killed, wounded, and missing, of whom 290 were taken prisoners.* As must be expected from the character of the engagement a very large proportion of these were killed. The enemy’s loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners we are now satisfied is much in excess of our own. A full list of casualties will be transmitted as soon as possible, together with a detailed report, in which I shall endeavor to do justice to all.
Headquarters Army of Virginia,
Near Cedar Mountain, Va., August 16, 1862.
The following dispatch has been received from the General-in-Chief of the Army, and, with this order, will be published at the head of every regiment and detachment in its command:
Washington, August 14, 1862.
Your telegram of last evening is most satisfactory, and I congratulate you and your army, and particularly General Banks and his corps, on your hard earned but brilliant success against vastly superior numbers.
Your troops have covered themselves with glory, and Cedar Mountain will be known in history as one of the great battle-fields of the war.
H. W. HALLECK,
The major-general commanding the Army of Virginia has little to add to this dispatch. It is a feeble expression of his feelings to say that he was delighted and astonished at the gallant and intrepid conduct of his command, and especially of the Second Corps.
Success and glory are sure to accompany such conduct, and it is safe to predict that Cedar Mountain is only the first of a series of victories which shall make the Army of Virginia famous in the land, and draw very close [to] the hearts of their country every officer and soldier who belongs to it.
Headquarters Army of Virginia,
Rappahannock Crossing, Va., August 21, 862.
The major-general commanding takes occasion to acknowledge the very valuable services rendered by the signal officers of this army, and the parties under their charge, during the recent operations of this command against the enemy and the engagement with him at Cedar Mountain.
Second Lieut. Joseph H. Spencer, Second Minnesota Volunteers, who during this period was stationed on Thoroughfare Mountain, overlooking the camp of the enemy, was at one time driven with his party from that post by a regiment of rebel cavalry, but returned thereto at great personal risk and re-established his station within two hours thereafter. The information furnished by him from this station was of an important nature, and assisted materially in the prosecution of operations.
First Lieutenant Brooks, Fourth Vermont Volunteers, and First Lieutenant Adams, Sixty-sixth New York Volunteers, during the entire action on Cedar Mountain were posted on the field of battle. First Lieut. E. C. Pierce, Third Maine Volunteers, stationed at Culpeper, and First Lieutenant Wilson, Fifth Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, by their energy and universal attention to duty during this time in furnishing and receiving signal messages, rendered valuable service to the major-general commanding the army.
By command of Major-General Pope:
GEO. D. RUGGLES,
Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General, and Chief of Staff.