« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
The enemy had now also put in motion a cavalry column to strike the railroad northward, and to break Sherman's communications with his base. Wheeler made his appearance at Calhoun on the 10th of June, cut the railroad and seized a train of cars laden with grain, which was on its way to the army. A train going northward was telegraphed and stopped at Adairsville, about twelve miles below, when Gen. Hovey, who was on board, collected a battalion of two hundred convalescent soldiers, who proceeded with the train, moving cautiously on. About half way to Calhoun, a torpedo exploded under the train, throwing the locomotive from the track, and demolishing four cars-no person on board being seriously injured. On reaching Calhoun, the enemy was found to have retreated, and the train passed on uninterruptedly to Resacca. Wheeler appeared again the same evening, destroying the track below Calhoun. This raid, however, only delayed the trains for two or three days. Meanwhile, there were reports of a much more formidable expedition under Forrest, aiming at the communications farther north, and, perhaps, across the Tennessee. Early in the month of June a large cavalry force, under Gen. Grierson, had set out eastward from Memphis, with the evident purpose of watching Forrest and keeping him in check.
A campaign, undertaken by the Rebel Gen. Pillow, with all the confidence of a Burgoyne, to force Sherman into hasty retreat, prematurely ended in his mortifying repulse, with severe loss, before Lafayette, on the 24th of June.
Instead of continuing his retreat, on the 19th, Johnston had established his lines in a position of great strength upon the crest of Kenesaw, defying assault and arresting a further advance. Sherman intrenched again, and remained in this position, with only occasional skirmishing, until the 27th of June, when an attempt was made to carry the enemy's lines by assault. The battle of this day, in which our losses were somewhat severe, resulted in a repulse at all the intrenched points attacked. Schofield, however, with the Army of the Ohio, succeeded in flanking the enemy, driving a column of Rebel cavalry before him. On the 3d of July, Johnston's forces évacuated their works on Kenesaw Mountain, and fell back to
a position designed to cover the crossing of the Chattahoochee. On the morning of the 4th, McPherson's column crossed Nickojack Creek, at Ruff's Mills, and forming on the south bank, assailed the enemy, who retired within his intrenchments. During the day our forces constructed rifle pits, and, just at dark, a brilliant charge, made by the 39th and 27th Ohio Regiments, grandly carried the enemy's works. So complete a success, in a direct assault upon formidable works, had rarely, if ever, occurred during the war. It cost many losses in killed and wounded. Among the latter was Col. Noyes, of the 39th, who lost a foot.
The army now advanced on the right, pressing closely upon the lines of the enemy, the right and left of which rested on the Chattahoochee. Marietta was now securely in the possession of Sherman, who had driven back the enemy from one stronghold after another, with a steadily lengthening line of communication, for the distance of one hundred and twentyfive miles, during a campaign of two months. Many were the complaints of Rebel observers, and great the discontent manifested at Richmond, by reason of the repeated evacuations and retreats of Johnston's army, from positions of almost unparalleled strength. It is not to be denied that, on the other hand, there was some anxiety among loyal men, as the season wore on, and the difficulties in Sherman's path were apparently increasing, instead of his achieving the prompt capture of Atlanta, which the too sanguine had anticipated. So much as this is now manifest: Johnston handled his army with great skill, making the most of his resources-wisely, no doubt, determining to avoid any desperate stake or heavy losses until Sherman should have advanced far into the interior, when his communications could be effectively assailed, and his further advance indefinitely prolonged by elaborate fortifications, at last desperately defended, near the Rebel base. The arrival of our army at Marietta, confronting the enemy, resolutely defending the north bank of the Chattahoochee, terminates one distinct period of this campaign. The rough mountains, the gorges, creeks and forests were passed. A large river was now to be crossed, and only a brief space of gently rolling and open
country lay beyond, between our victorious troops and the elaborate fortifications of Atlanta.
To maintain his communication with Chattanooga, and thence to Nashville; to force his way across the Chattahoochee, in spite of all the resistence his adversary could make, and to carry at last the manifold lines protecting Atlanta, without the possibility of establishing a close siege; such were the important problems which Sherman must solve. To fail in one of them was to ruin all. To succeed in each, could only be accomplished by the highest order of generalship. President Lincoln, while entertaining an exalted opinion of the military skill of the general commanding in Georgia, with a due appreciation of what he had thus far accomplished, had also such a conception of the obstacles still to be overcome, that he never spoke, without a degree of moderation bordering on apprehension, at this stage, of the probable issue of the advance on Atlanta.
If the campaign in Georgia, no less than that in Eastern Virginia, had, as yet, failed fully to satisfy the popular hope, the disasters which had attended the Red river expedition under General Banks still weighed with depressing effect upon the public heart. The returning steps of our army in Louisiana, and the work of extricating the fleet under Admiral Porter, were watched with an anxiety dreading further defeat, and not with any hope of redeeming success. By an effort of skill which will ever be memorable, Colonel Bailey had built his dam across the fails of the Red river, above Alexandria, and our gunboats and transports were thus relieved, on the 9th of May. General Canby, succeeding Banks, reached the mouth of Red river on the 14th, intending to coöperate with the latter in securing a safe withdrawal of his force, but no assistance was required. In moving from Alexandria to the Mississippi, Banks had two engagements with the enemy, first at Mansuna, then at Yellow Bayou, repulsing his assailants in both instances.
The dangers which threatened affairs in Arkansas, after the advance of General Steele toward Shreveport, and the failure of Banks to support the intended converging movement, were
averted by the bravery of our soldiers and by the skill of their general. When Banks and Porter had completed their withdrawal from the Red river, Steele had also made secure his possession of Little Rock, having gallantly fought his way backward in the face of the Rebel forces of Marmaduke and Price.
Another invasion of Kentucky, by the Rebel Morgan, was commenced on the 7th of June. After plundering Lexington, and proceeding as far as the Lexington and Covington Railroad at Cynthiana, which place was taken, the brief campaign was brought to an inglorious termination, by the capture or dispersion of nearly his entire force, as a result of the prompt measures taken by General Burbridge. By the 17th of June, this menacing raid was over, and pursuit of the raiders at an end, with little damage to the invaded district, and with the humiliating discomfiture of Morgan.
During the period over which the events of this chapter extend, there was a formidable naval expedition fitted out, which ere long put to sea, under the command of Admiral Farragut, and was subsequently heard of in connection with movements against Mobile. The blockading squadron was faithfully performing their work, with a success that left little to desire, save in regard to the port of Wilmington, where, from the nature of the coast, and the strong defenses commanding the entrance to Cape Fear river, the profitable contraband traffic with Nassau, and other ports, was still stealthily carried on to an extent that afforded substantial aid to the rebellion. The Government was earnestly considering by what means this deficiency in a blockade, otherwise unusually thorough and stringent, might best be remedied. The fruits of these deliberations were to appear at no distant day. Occasional attempts of guerrilla parties to obstruct the navigation of the Mississippi served to show at once the high estimate placed upon the possession of the great "inland sea," and the impotence of such efforts as could be spared, despite former boasts, for the interruption of transportation thereon.
A memorable naval victory was gained off the French port of Cherbourg, on the 19th of June, by which a pest of the
seas, the Rebel piratical vessel Alabama, was defeated und sunk by the United States ship Kearsarge, under the command of Commodore John A. Winslow. The Rebel commanderSemmes-escaped in the yacht of an Englishman, to the embrace of English friends. The enthusiasm with which the destruction of his vessel was received in America and by her friends every-where, was scarcely excelled by sympathy displayed by British blockade runners and republic haters for the ingloriously defeated champion of Rebel piracy. To unfriendly eyes in Europe, assuredly, the success of our Government in the subjugation of treason seemed as remote as in the beginning, while the Rebellion had still the ruddy glow of health and the robustness of insuperable vigor.