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town of New Market. Confederate General John Breckinridge hurried forces from southwestern Virginia to block Sigel's advance, but in doing so left a weakened force to oppose Crook and Averell as the Union generals moved to destroy the vital transportation link in the area, the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.

Confederate defenders met Crook at Cloyd's Mountain as Averell and his cavalry moved to the west to attack Saltville. The battle fought between Crook and Albert Gallatin Jenkins, and later John McCausland, continued for only fifty-two minutes before the Confederates were forced to withdraw, but it was filled with tremendous violence that was matched perhaps only by Antietam. This initial battle of the spring campaign was essentially a draw because Crook and Averell were forced to withdraw into the mountains of West Virginia after destroying the vital bridge over New River.

Sigel continued his march in the Shenandoah even as Crook and Averell were withdrawing. He drew near Breckinridge's waiting regiments, which had been reinforced by cadets from the Virginia Military Institute—young men who were about to experience their first battle. By the end of the day, May 15, Sigel was retracing his steps down the valley. He had been beaten by the

PAGE 85: Resolute Union General Lee Wallace led his men in a crucial defense of Washington, D.C., against Confederate invasion at the Battle of Monocacy. RIGHT: This painting of the heroic charge of the cadets of Virginia's Military Institute is located in the Jackson Memorial Hall It shows the youthful cadets attacking through heavy fire toward a Federal artillery batter}'. Their participation in the battle—as Breckinridge's last reserves—closed a gap in the Confederate lines and saved the southern army from probable defeat.

Battle MonocacyModern Confederate ArmyWounded Confederates

TOP: Virginia's Military Institute cadet Jack Stanard was severely wounded at New Market and died. ABOVE: Cadet F. W. James was also a veteran of New Market.

These five young men from Virginia's Military Institute were already veterans at the time this photograph was taken; they had served at New Market.

Confederate Army

hastily assembled troops under Breckinridge. Grant, in no mood to forgive the failure of the political general from Germany, replaced Sigel with General David Hunter. Grant's plan wasn't working well—he had lost forty thousand men since crossing the Rapidan only a few weeks earlier and there were far too few replacements in the depots to satisfy his needs. In addition, the rest of his strategic planning was not going well. The victory at New Market had allowed Breckinridge to send two of his brigades to reinforce Lee just before the Battle of Cold Harbor, where Grant again lost heavily.

LEFT: Federal General Franz Sigel led his small army against John Breckenridge's force on this battlefield. When the guns fell silent, Brecken-ridge had managed to cripple Sigel's army and temporarily save the Shenandoah Valley for the Confederacy. ABOVE: This antebellum photograph shows John C. Breckenridge when he was Vice President of the United States.

General David Hunter was different from most of the other officers available for command at the time. An aggressive Virginian who had remained with the Union army, he was back on the march in the Shenandoah Valley within a week of assuming Sigel's command. Grant had ordered him to unite with Averell and Crook before moving against and destroying the critical rail junctions at Charlottesville and Lynchburg. He was then to return to his base in the northern part of the valley or reinforce the Army of the Potomac.

As he moved through the rich farm areas toward his goal. Hunter freely retaliated against Confederate partisan raiders and ambushes against his supply line by ordering the burning of every rebel dwelling within five miles of each incident. He was able to defeat the Confederate defenders at the Battle of Piedmont and open the rest of the valley for the safe march of his army to Lynchburg. Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland, the man who had led the attempted breakout at Fort Donelson, was the commander of a small cavalry brigade that remained in front of Hunter, attempting to delay his march. By the time Hunter arrived in front of Lynchburg, the small garrison defending the city had been reinforced by Jubal Early and his infantry corps. Hunter, short of food and ammunition by this time, was forced to retreat into the mountains of West Virginia (and on to supply bases in the Kanawha Valley) in order to avoid the destruction of his command.

The Shenandoah Valley clear of Union forces, Early moved to take full advantage of

Major General David Hunter replaced Sigel after the Union defeat at Neiv Market. Known as "Black Dave" by his own men. this evil-tempered general ordered the destruction of civilian homes in the Shenendoah Valley.

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the situation. He moved quickly, hoping to invade Maryland, force Grant to weaken the forces opposing Lee at Petersburg and Richmond, and attack the defenses of Washington. This was 1864, an election year, and the northern population was beginning to show the strains of the ongoing war. Grant's enormous losses and relatively few gains had contributed greatly to this state of affairs in the North. George McClellan had decided to oppose Lincoln in the fall elections as a peace candidate. An attack against the national capital would clearly serve to weaken the administration.

Lacking factories with machinery capable of manufacturing large numbers of military items, the Confederacy was forced to rely on individual craftsmen to manufacture supplies. /Is a result, individual Confederates could be seen carrying a wide assortment of equipment, as these canteens illustrate.

Early ordered his small army forward. He crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown on July 5, bypassing the frightened Sigel in barricaded positions on Maryland Heights, and marched quickly on Washington before Grant had time to react. Early decided to ignore Hunter as he moved slowly up the

Ohio River and then eastward on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad toward the Souths former base in the Shenandoah Valley. Early may have regarded the attack as a "forlorn hope," a suicide operation, but he continued to advance toward Washington.

Hagerstown, Maryland, would be the first to feel the force of the new invasion; John McCausland captured the town and collected twenty thousand dollars as a ransom (instead of burning it). Early had decided to collect money from northern towns captured to pay for the destructive reprisals that had been undertaken by "Black Dave" Hunter.

McCausland would soon face another veteran of the fighting at Fort Donelson, General Lew Wallace. Currently responsible for the defense of Maryland, Wallace was warned of the upcoming attack by a telegram from John W. Garrett, the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Wallace began to gather all available units to defend the open approach to Washington. His was a small army of about twenty-five hundred militia and home guards supplemented by a small cavalry unit, the 8th Illinois Cavalry.

Wallace received his first reinforcements on July 8, when the 10th Vermont arrived from the Army of the Potomac. Grant had finally seen the peril facing Washington and quickly ordered the remainder of VI Corps and two divisions from XIX Corps, then arriving at Fortress Monroe, to Washington.

Early's small army was a real threat, especially because there was the danger that one of his subordinates, Brigadier General Bradley T. Johnson, would be able to free the seventeen thousand Confederate prisoners at Point Lookout prison, effectively doubling the size of Early's army. Johnson was from Frederick, Maryland, and was now involved in the capture of his hometown.

Frederick was to receive the same treatment as had Hagerstown. Once the small city was occupied, Early demanded 200,000 dollars from them to pay for the damage done by Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley. The city fathers of Frederick, however, asked for a delay in making the payment. These shrewd

After forcing David Hunter to retreat westward though West Virginia after Black Dave's attack on Lynchburg had failed Jubal Early marched north through the Shenendoah Valley. By July 9, 1864, Early's Confederates arrived at the Monocacy River, where they found a smaller Union force under General Lew Wallace ivaiting for them. A quick victory here would have allowed the small Confederate army to occupy the national capital

Confederate Army


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Relative positions of Confederate and

Union forces and the connecting roads during the battle of July 9, 1864

Approximate scale in miles

John Gordon
Courageous Confederate General John B. Gordon had suffered severe wounds at Antietam, but continued to fight. In fact, his division did much of the fighting at Monocacy.

businessmen knew that a battle was about to be fought in the vicinity and they were simply waiting to see who would win. Should the Confederates lose, they would save themselves a considerable expense.

Wallace and fames B. Ricketts, a division commander in the Union VI Corps, had their men in the best positions available to them outside Frederick by 4 a.m., but the troops began to worry as they saw the huge dust clouds to the west that announced the approach of a large Confederate force.

Early knew that the Union army near Frederick would attempt to dispute his passage, but he was not worried. Bradley Johnson, unaware of the arrival by rail of Rickett's division, had reported that the Federal force was composed of what was essentially raw militia. Crossing the Mono-

Lew Wallace
Federal General Lew Wallace had distinguished himself at Fort Donelson and although he was not as successful at Shiloh, he saved the Union's capital at Monocacy.

cacy River with a substantial portion of his force was Early's immediate concern. He knew his men would have difficulty making the crossing while under fire and that the few bridges were closely held or threatened with immediate destruction. He sent Bradley Johnson north to cut the railroads connecting Frederick to Baltimore and to raid in the vicinity before continuing on to free the Point Lookout prisoners.

Early sent his other cavalry commander, John McCausland, to the south to cut connections with Washington and to seize the railroad bridge over the Monocacy River. McCaus-land's men located a ford and crossed the Monocacy River, during which they were engaged by men of the 8th Illinois Cavalry. The Federals were driven off, but McCausland was slightly wounded. His cavalrymen

General John Mccausland

ABOVE: Confederate GeneralJubal A. Early had voted against leaving the Union during Virginia's Secession Convention, but soon became an unequivocal supporter of the Confederacy. Criticized by many other Confederates at the time, Early managed an excellent campaign in the Shenendoah Valley in 1864. OPPOSITE: Frequently outnumbered and always poorly supplied, the Confederate army fought valiantly for four years and frequently defeated their opponent's larger armies.

ABOVE: Confederate GeneralJubal A. Early had voted against leaving the Union during Virginia's Secession Convention, but soon became an unequivocal supporter of the Confederacy. Criticized by many other Confederates at the time, Early managed an excellent campaign in the Shenendoah Valley in 1864. OPPOSITE: Frequently outnumbered and always poorly supplied, the Confederate army fought valiantly for four years and frequently defeated their opponent's larger armies.

dismounted, leaving their horses with holders, and continued with the attack—reduced in strength by one hundred men. Seven hundred of McCausland's dismounted troopers were moving against a fence that they mistakenly supposed was being held by local militia. Instead, seasoned veterans from the Army of the Potomac were concealed and waiting.

The horse holders remained in the rear as McCausland's dismounted men began their advance through the waist-high corn toward a force three times their size behind the

Confederate Army The PotomacUnion Uniform Made Poorly Images

ABOVE: This is a Federal cavalry bugler uniform jacket (left) and an artillery bugler uniform jacket (right). Union cavalry units were poorly used during the early parts of the war and jokes such as "Have you ever seen a dead cavalryman?" were often heard. This attitude, however, changed as new, aggressive cavalry commanders rose in the Union ranks. By the end of the war, Federal cavalrymen operated as highly mobile mounted infantrymen and they made a difference on many battlefields. RIGHT: The 8th Illinois Cavalry engaged McCausland's troopers at Monocacy in a dismounted skirmish. BELOW: Spencer carbine bullets of the type used by Union cavalry.

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Buglers were normally found with the cavalry commanders' staff and many were killed or wounded while serving their country.

boundary fence. When the Confederates came into range, the Federal soldiers rose and fired a disciplined volley into the surprised cavalrymen. When the smoke cleared from the cornfield, it appeared to be empty. Survivors of the murderous volley were slipping to the rear, but many were dead or wounded. McCausland made a personal reconnaissance of the Federal positions and gathered his men for a second attempt that was more successful. Only a strong leader in charge of seasoned, disciplined troops would have been able to get his men to attack a second time. Unable to hold the exposed positions they captured, McCausland's cavalrymen again withdrew. Shortly afterward Major General John Gordon crossed the river with his infantry division.

The work of the cavalry was the key to the opening of the battle. Early, though long a critic of the cavalry, wrote that "Gordon moved across the Monocacy on the enemy's flank by a route that had been opened by McCausland's brigade of cavalry in a very gallant manner." McCausland's cavalrymen moved off to the south to block a retreat toward Washington by Wallace or the arrival of Union reinforcements.

Buglers, who ivere often adolescents, used bugles such as this one to signal commands to widely separated cavalrymen.

Gordon's division was in attack position by 3 p.m. Lew Wallace reassessed the situation. He wanted to evacuate from overextended positions that could be easily attacked on its flank and rolled up, but he could not retreat in the face of an imminent attack by Gordon. They had to remain and fight. Gordon, a veteran of much of the combat up to this point in the war, was eager to accommodate them.

Gordon's soldiers advanced in the face of very heavy fire, losing men every few feet, across a field that was filled with shocks of freshly cut wheat, obstacles that forced them to break their formations. Gordon's attack began to bog down despite covering fire from several guns across the Monocacy under the command of Major William McLaughlin (in whose unit one of the author's ancestors served). These guns were fired at Federal sharpshooters concealed in a house on the battlefield. Reinforcements were rushed to aid Gordon; General Ricketts hurriedly moved his Union soldiers to shore up the threatened line, but this was precisely what the Confederate commanders wanted him to do. The thinned right side of the Federal line could no longer be anchored against the obstacle of the Monocacy River, opening it to a Confederate flank attack. Gordon quickly sent a Virginia brigade against the weakened right side of the Federal line of defense and forced the veterans to pull back, but not before the Federal soldiers inflicted severe casualties on the attacking Virginians. Ricketts was forced to withdraw while under fire, but he and his VI Corps veterans were able to move to the rear without the retreat becoming a retreat. The firing slowed and halted; it was too late in the day for Early to continue the attack.

Lew Wallace, who later wrote Ben Hur, had bought twenty-four hours for the defenders of Washington to prepare themselves while they waited for reinforcements to

Confederate Army
Exhausted, poorly supplied, and hungry, Confederate soldiers were capable of making tremendous sacrifices in the face of overwhelming numbers of Union soldiers. Regardless of the Confederates' reasons for fighting, the mystique of their heroism lives on to this day.

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arrive. The Battle of Monocacy had cost the Union 1,294 casualties, but the capital was saved. Early lost approximately seven hundred men—who could not be replaced—but continued to advance toward his target.

The Confederates moved down the dusty, hot roads toward Washington. They passed through Silver Spring, and by noon on July 11, Jubal Early was surveying Fort Stevens and planning his attack. His soldiers were exhausted—even the veteran, disciplined troops were worn out after the hot march. They were too tired to assault the Federal defensive line, which was held by hastily organized groups of walking wounded, convalescents, and untrained government clerks. Reinforcements from the VI and XIX Corps were en route, however.

The first men from VI Corps reached the trenches surrounding the capital in the early afternoon of July 11, and Jubal Early had lost his opportunity to win the war for the Confederacy. Severe skirmishing continued as the small Confederate army fought with the Federal reinforcements through July

12, hut there would he no general attack. Early had ordered the division commanders to be ready to move in the night and had recalled Bradley Johnson from the raid against Point Lookout.

President Lincoln came out to Fort Stevens to watch the battle and actually came under hostile fire, but there was no large-scale attack on July 12. Early was going back to the relative safety of the Shenandoah Valley before the assembling Federal armies at his rear were able to box his small army up and destroy it. He crossed the Potomac at White's Ford and rested at Leesburg, Virginia, before continuing his march.

Early continued to hold the Shenandoah Valley into the late summer and sent John McCausland north into Pennsylvania in late July. Ordered to capture Chambersburg and collect a ransom or burn the small city, McCausland set torches to the buildings when the townspeople refused (or were unable) to comply. This raid revealed the continuing threat to Washington presented by Confederates in the Shenandoah; Grant ordered substantial forces to move there and destroy Early and his army. Defeated at Winchester on September 19, Early was forced up the valley, but was able to fight a successful battle against enormous odds at Cedar Creek on October 19. His small force was overwhelmed later in the day, ending Confederate dominance in this critical area of Virginia.

The Battle of Monocacy was small when compared to Gettysburg and many of the transition battles of the Civil War. It was, however, possibly the most crucial battle of the war. If Lew Wallace had been unable or unwilling to fight this delaying action, Early would have been attacking the defenses of Washington one day before any substantial reinforcements from VI and XIX Corps could have arrived. The Confederates would have been unable to hold the national capital, but the crucial loss to Early in mid-July would have doomed the Republican administration and Abraham Lincoln in the November elections. George McClellan, the peace candidate, may have been elected, and as president would have witnessed an entirely different outcome to the Civil War.

George Wallace Confederate Statue

Lew Wallace and his small Union force were able to delay Early's Confederates for a full day, allowing reinforcements from Grant's army at Petersburg to enter Washington, D.C. Wallace's men saved the nation's capital from occupation and probably saved Lincoln's political career. Years later, veterans of the 15th New Jersey Infantry erected this monument on Monocacy battlefield to commemorate their deeds of 1864.

Lew Wallace and his small Union force were able to delay Early's Confederates for a full day, allowing reinforcements from Grant's army at Petersburg to enter Washington, D.C. Wallace's men saved the nation's capital from occupation and probably saved Lincoln's political career. Years later, veterans of the 15th New Jersey Infantry erected this monument on Monocacy battlefield to commemorate their deeds of 1864.

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