August 29, 1862, The New York Herald
OUR SPECIAL ARMY CORRESPONDENCE.
WASHINGTON, D.C, August 27, 1862.
I have just returned from the Union advanced lines on the Rappahannock, at two points. I visited a point near the railroad bridge on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, about nine miles from Warrenton Junction and eleven miles south of Warrenton. All was quiet in that direction, the rebels seemingly indisposed to attempt to make an impression upon our force there, where we have been strengthened. While at this point, about half-past eight o’clock yesterday morning, heavy artillery firing was heard in the direction of the White Sulphur Springs, about five miles from Warrenton. This firing continued for some hours. I immediately hastened to ascertain the cause of the firing on what was evidently Sigel’s point. I learned from undoubted authority that the affair was unimportant. The object was to […..] the enemy’s strength and position.
Not a doubt is entertained but that Sigel can maintain his position on the right, as large numbers of troops are being sent to reinforce him in his position, in case of his being attacked by an overwhelming force of the enemy and threatened with a flank movement. In the latter attempt the enemy would be outwitted, as they were in the attack on his right previously, where, by a judicious and well executed military movement, he threw his left on his right, allowing Banks and Reno to take his old left. By that movement his right has been extended somewhat.
On the 25th a number of the rebel regular cavalry, and not guerillas, who were concerned in the raid on the railroad and Pope’s train, at Catlett’s station, were captured by a body of our cavalry scouts belonging to the First new Jersey regiment. The results of this bold dash of Stuart’s men amply paid them for the rashness of the attempt. They secured on the occasion an extra prime lot of government horses, which had been been selected with care from the government corrals for the use of staff officers. They also secured other horses. Besides this they secured the personal effects of General Pope and staff, some money, and, worse than all, the instructions, maps and topographical charts; in fact, the plan of the campaign. Will not this necessitate a change in important particulars in the original design; unless we are immediately sufficiently strengthened to carry out any proposed plan?
As this matter has brought home so forcibly to the very doors of the Commanding General the enormity of guerilla aggressions, it is to be devoutly hoped that he will act in his usual and decided style with these semi-savages. An example should be instantly made of these desperadoes and all who may hereafter succeed them. Either this, or the law of retaliation by our own cavalry eye for eye, tooth for tooth, must be administered to these bold and desperate rebel brigade, if we would end their career.
Your correspondent did not suppose that his account of the raid of Stuart’s men on Friday, together with his strictures on it, would be still so fresh in the minds of your readers when he would be called on to record a repetition of the same style of warfare by the rebels. But, alas!, it is too true, Stuart has been again allowed to come within our lines and within sight and almost hearing of superior forces, throw our railroad train into confusion, cause a skedaddle on the part of the employees and the collision of trains, and a temporary suspension of railroad communication — at a time, too, when everything depends upon celerity of movement.
Your correspondent left Warrenton at two o’clock P.M., on the 26th. We were detained until dusk at Manassas Junction station on account of numerous trains passing up with supplies. When we passed Bristow’s station everything was quiet, and no one dreamed of the appearance of even a ghost of a guerilla. The alarm was given about eight o’clock, and immediately a panic ensued, and the consequent colliding of an up and down train. Cannot an end by put to guerilla cavalry incursions into our own lines? Though the loss ensuing by this last raid to the government is small, the moral effect upon the troops and our cause everywhere is tremendous. For God’s sake let our arrangements in the future be sufficient to secure immunity from rebel incursions far within our lines. Your correspondent was not on the train which collided, having proceeded in another train to Alexandria.
The rebels have now in their chief commands the following able officers: — Lee, Smith, Jackson, Ewell and Longstreet. Thus far their main efforts have been directed to turn our right with a large force. General Sigel has thus far proven a match for their united powers. Our right still commands the Rappahannock, preventing effectually its passage by the enemy. Sigel’s “Jackass Artillery” has made its marks upon the rebels, and bids fair to become as famous in history as its chief is renowned in the battles of his country.
Our forces in certain positions have pickets and videttes thrown across the Rappahannock. They are generally placed in positions where the least movement of the enemy is reported to our main body. Our generals are busily engaged in arranging forces preparatory to a grand denouement, to come off speedily. Sigel holds the post of honor among the Union commanders, the brunt of the rebel shock being against him. It is certain that this officer will continue to hold the enemy where he is, while demonstrations are being made by an increased and constantly increasing force in another direction by the federal commanders.
The junction between McClellan’s and Pope’s armies is now rapidly being accomplished. Already a portion of the veterans of the Army of the Potomac have united their destinies with the equally brave Army of Virginia.
The rebels have left no opportunity unimproved to waste their gunpowder and shot and shell. A day or two ago they fired nearly a hundred times at an ammunition train, which they discovered as it toiled its way along. Fortunately, though the shells fell all around it, they did not explode at any point to do damage.
Our combined army is now in a matchless fighting condition — healthy, and well conditioned in all respects. Most of the regiments facing the enemy are well tried and veteran and only pant for a struggle for supremacy over the rebels. The rebels will pit against them their choicest men. The impending engagement will therefore be decisive in its character.
Five civilians were yesterday morning arrested and place in durance vile, on suspicion of spying into our movements and strength, and indicating our weak spots to the rebels.