With Fremont in the Valley
The Thorny Rose: The Americanization Of An Urban, Immigrant, Working Class Regiment In The Civil War. A Social History Of The 39th New York Volunteer Infantry
WITH FREMONT IN THE VALLEY
Next came the Wooly Horse with an overwhelming force
To ride down to Richmond by the Valley,
But he couldn't find the road and his onward movement showed
His campaigning was no more than shilly-shally.
Next Commissary Banks with his motley foreign ranks,
Kicking up a great noise, fuss and flurry,
Lost the whole of his supplies and with tears in his eyes
From the Stonewall ran away in a hurry.
Then pull off your coat and roll up your sleeves
For Richmond is a hard road to travel.
The Valley wouldn't do and we all had to leave,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel I believe. (1)
General George Brinton McClellan was irate at the transfer of 10,000 of his troops into a different Department at a time when he was planning a massive onslaught from sea and land against the rebel capitol at Richmond. But John C. Fremont, the new commander of the western Virginia Mountain Department, had problems of his own. His assignment from the President was to guard a frontier of 350 miles with very few interior lines of cross-communication due to the rough mountainous terrain. His troops, too scattered and too few to act as an effective and cohesive army, were prone to vicious attacks by guerrillas, irregulars, and bushwhackers. (2)
Fremont's initial strategy had been to cut off the railroad lines between Virginia and Tennessee and protect the western segment of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad against the minor nuisance of a small Confederate army under Stonewall Jackson in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Brigadier General James Shields, with a division of 11,000 men, had been performing that same function in the immediate vicinity of the Valley Turnpike so that General Nathaniel Banks could siphon off most of the other Union troops in the Valley and send them to McClellan's assistance in the drive against Richmond. When Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, with his army of less than 5000 men, heard that Banks was abandoning Winchester, where Union headquarters had been, he decided to retake the city. He was unaware of the presence of all 11,000 of Shields' troops, and was forced to retreat up the Valley in his only reversal of the campaign. (3)
But for the Union side, it was a Pyrrhic victory. Both Jackson and Gen. Robert E. Lee, overall commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, knew that if the Federal Army was convinced that a large enough rebel force existed in the Valley to threaten Washington City, enough troops might be pulled out of other commands to lessen the pressure on Richmond. They were right. The battle of Kernstown, Shields' "victory", caused a gigantic reshuffling of Union forces, of which Blenker's German Division was a part Moreover, Banks was called back to the Valley, and what had been a secondary operation suddenly took on the character of a crucial segment of a major campaign. (4 )
On May 8, Stonewall Jackson, having united his command with those of Confederate Generals Edward Johnson and Richard S. ("Old Baldy") Ewell had defeated the armies of Union Generals Robert C. Schenck and Robert H. Milroy at McDowell in the upper Valley. Schenck had withdrawn to Franklin on the 10th and was now waiting anxiously for reinforcements before Jackson could pursue him. Consequently, Fremont awaited Blenker's men with great anticipation. (5)
Blenker had been ordered to join him by way of Harper's Ferry in late March, but by the first week of May, only the soldiers of the German Division's advance had begun to straggle into the Department. Julius Stahel's Brigade, including the Eighth, Forty-fifth and Thirty-Ninth New Yorkers and the Twenty-Seventh Pennsylvania, had broken winter quarters on March 8 and marched from Hunter's Chapel to Smith's Farm, Virginia. They marched toward Centreville arriving at Fairfax Courthouse by March 16 with the Confederate forces retreating slowly before them. On March 24 they reached the rebel fortifications along the Centreville ridge, their old position during the battle of Bull Run, which, according to Leonhard Schlumpf, a soldier in the Forty-Fifth New York, had been "under siege the entire winter" but was now "surrendered by the enemy without a single blow from the sword." At Manassas Junction, Blenker's Division left the rest of McClellan's Army behind and marched across the mountains in a rendezvous that was subsequently labelled the "March of Death." (6) Along with official reports, the Schlumpf Diary is one of very few sources that sheds light on the treacherous march to Fremont's Mountain Department and how the men of the German Division responded responded to conditions along the march. It was obvious in Schlumpf's account that among Blenker's soldiers there was real animosity toward Major General Edwin Sumner, under whose jurisdiction Blenker's and one other division came at Warrenton Junction, where they arrived in early April. Schlumpf wrote that Sumner
is more of a traitor than a general, [because] as soon as we arrived he left us. The enemy cavalry was waiting for us here, we could have cut them off easily, but no orders came from our General Sumner. Imagine-our advance guard was strictly forbidden to shoot In addition to this he is more tyrant than soldier. It was very cold and we had no extra clothes and no tents to sleep in. So during the day we have to march hard and at night sleep in the open and how cold it is. We get only 1/2 food rations. Our General gave the enemy every advantage by reporting to them our position. (7)
Blenker's Division would continually be accused of straggling and foraging off the countryside in violation of orders. Schlumpf's diary explains how some of these accusations may have come about:
All farmers belong to the enemy cavalry. Such a damned farmer came and made believe he was robbed and our General believed him and therefore gave strange new orders. Here is an example: One day a farmer comes and pretends that $1000 worth of money and belongings were stolen from him. And what does our grey-headed traitor do but believe him. He ordered our entire army corps to muster, personally leading this spy around each regiment to show him our ranks and the numbers of our troops. (8)
This upset many of Schlumpf's comrades tremendously. They could not at all understand Sumner's behavior and had no faith in his leadership. They not only felt gravely insulted; they believed Sumner to be treasonous: "Now anger began to ferment among the German soldiers. Woe to our General had he not given up voluntarily his command over us. Had it come to a revolt among us no power on this earth could have saved his life." (9)
The Division marched North/Northwest to Salem on the Manassas Gap Railroad and there spent four unforgettable days. Schlumpf continued:
As we arrived here it started to snow. It snowed the whole night and the following day. We had to stay and rest in the open without any shelter from snow and cold. Overcome by extreme exhaustion many of us lay down and fell asleep. In the morning many were found half frozen in the snow and had to be taken to a hospital. Our trials were hard and we suffered much as no food provisions could be sent to us. The streets are muddy and we find ourselves in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, cold and hungry.
Out of necessity, the men of the German Division began resorting to the kinds of actions that would feed nativist sentiment against them: "We are forced in order not to starve to death to find our own food in farms, sometimes 4-5 miles out of our way. Do we find such a farm we plunder it for what is edible. (10)
On April 11, Blenker's Army marched "from Salem through Upperville to Paris" (11) and on the 12th to the Shenandoah River. There, a terrible tragedy occurred. In order to facilitate passage:
General Bohlen's brigade built rafts. The entire first regiment had already crossed when a raft overloaded at the General's direct command sank with 74 soldiers aboard, even though the danger of this undertaking was pointed out to him by many other officers. Never will I forget the moment the raft began to sink in the wild waters of the strong pulling stream. The unfortunate victims screaming for help, were endangering each other by holding and clinging to each other in the water. Even if it had been possible for some soldiers to save their lives, they were pulled under water by their frightened helpless comrades. Therefore the whole troop drowned. (12)
Schlumpf's tone was sullen and full of bitterness. Here, again, it was obvious who was at fault: "The one person bearing most of the blame had to watch these unfortunate people helplessly murdered by his poor judgement" Moreover, in his contempt for this fellow European, we see a tinge of rank-and-file contempt for their officers, the class antagonism of the army that cut through any sense of ethnic solidarity. Ironically, Alexis de Toqueville in a speech to the French Chamber of Deputies in 1848 had warned that the working masses believed that "everything above them is incapable and unworthy of governing." And that seems to describe the tone of the Schlumpf diary. Toqueville warned of the volcano from below that would soon topple the French monarchy and the "top layer of men" who had helped reform it toward the republican interests of the bourgeois classes, after the French insurgency of 1830 which, compromised, put Louis Phillippe on the throne. (13) Lafayette, who helped effect that Bonapartist compromise by his actions on the streets of Paris was the benefactor who secured for young Henry Bohlen his first military appointment in 1831 in the French Army, and he served at the siege of Antwerp, in Mexico, and as an observer for France during the Crimean War. He also found time out of a tight schedule of filibustering to amass a fortune from wise investment in the liquor industry in Philadelphia. And it was in Philadelphia that he raised a German regiment "at his own expense," (14) a regiment sacrificed to the diabolical waters of the Shenandoah before Leonhard Schlumpf's horrified eyes. Schlumpf's regimental commander, Colonel George von Amsberg, refused to permit his men to attempt to cross and they and the remaining regiments countermarched to a safer crossing. (15)
Blenker's troops had not been given adequate supplies to make the journey. By the time they reached Martinsburg, Virginia, forage was scarce and the animals were starving. The German Division needed at least forty more horses to move the artillery batteries any further, and a minimum of thirty-six more ambulances to carry the sick. By April 19th the command was five miles outside of Winchester. They had been without adequate shelter in extraordinarily severe spring weather for thirty-eight cold and rainy days. They were in terrible need of shoes, without which marching was-to say the least-painful. (16)
On May 1, the Division began the march west to Romney through the gaps of the mountains. Along the way they passed the ruins and ashes of many "burnt down farms." At Romney the soldiers were finally issued new clothing, "as ours were totally unfit to wear. We looked more like bandits than U.S. soldiers, as the local farmers will say of the German Yankees years from now." (17) On May 10, after three days of marching, Blenker's Division encamped in Petersburg, which Schlumpf called a "miserable nest." There General Fremont awaited them and took command of the German Division. (18) About the condition of his new troops, Fremont reported:
The men...were worn and exhausted by hardships scarcely credible, and in spite of efforts by myself and others to supply their wants, a large portion were without articles of first necessity for service in the field...Of shoes, blankets and overcoats, there were especially great need. Wagon and artillery teams...were found...to be very much jaded and weak. The horses of a portion of the cavalry were so nearly starved and broken down as to be well-nigh useless...but one-fifth of the necessary ambulances had been brought along. One regiment had none. In the important matter of arms, there was a great deficiency, Belgian or Austrian muskets of old and indifferent patterns being carried by many of the regiments. (19)
To Brigade Surgeon George Suckley, the Medical Director in the Field, even the spartan lifestyle of a soldier did not require the hardship to which Blenker's men had been subjected. He directed a frantic dispatch to the Assistant Adjutant General Albert Tracy. "In the name of humanity" Suckley implored Tracy to earnestly direct his attention to the "sanitary condition" of Blenker's men. Nearly two hundred men of the German division were "left behind in hospitals or straggling in [the] rear of the army. At least two hundred more at Franklin were sick. There were no animals available to haul the medical wagons, and for a whole division of men, there existed only one hospital tent." Suckley ended with a subtle accusation:
The question naturally arises whether the necessary measures were taken to have them forwarded. As a military officer I well know the exigencies of the service in an active campaign necessarily cause much human suffering, but I can think of no excuse for a lack of proper endeavor to mitigate these evils. (20)
Blenker's men, suffering from exposure, exhaustion and widespread illness, were given less than twenty-four hours rest and, even without the desperately needed provisions, they were sent to reinforce General Schenck. (21)
On May 12 the Garibaldians and their comrades in Stahel's Brigade forded the swollen South Branch of the Potomac River at Petersburg, and on May 14 they reached Franklin, having camped one night on the route.
To Leonhard Schumpf, a native of Switzerland, the march along the Potomac River valley reminded him of home. But the soldiers' hardships were not yet over:
We will remember this place for a long time because here we almost starved to death. For 5 days we had to live on one half ration of plain crackers, then we received every day one ration of crackers. Nothing else to eat since nothing could be bought since nothing was available. (22)
The reinforcement of Fremont's Mountain Department by Blenker's troops had the overall desired strategic effect, at least temporarily. Jackson retreated in a southeasterly direction toward Shenandoah Mountain and Fremont finally had time to order up the much needed supplies and reorganize his command. (23)
But there was to be no convalescence for Blenker's men. In another act of daring, Jackson turned abruptly back North and attacked the army of Nathaniel P. Banks at Front Royal, pressed him to Strasburg and Winchester, and further threatened the valley of the Potomac River. President Lincoln, on May 24, ordered Fremont to march on Harrisonburg immediately, and trap Jackson. On May 25 Leonhard Schlumpf wrote in his diary: "Something of great importance has probably occurred behind our back. We received therefore orders to turn back and withdraw. In haste we marched back to Petersburg. There we heard the news that our enemy General Jackson had chased our army back over Winchester." But in Petersburg, for the first time since leaving the defenses of Washington, the men of Stahel's Brigade were able to eat their fill. (24)
With one more day's rest, Blenker's men were on the march again on May 27. "In a big hurry" they marched from Petersburg through Moorefield and Wardensville toward Strasburg, "hoping to cut off the enemy's path." (25)
Fremont was now faced with a major dilemma. His troops were dead on their feet from forced marches. His animals were dying. Rations sufficient for everyone had not yet arrived, and many more of his men were sick. A full-blown howling spring thunderstorm had swept the foggy and treacherous mountain roads for four days and the roaring, swollen rivers at his rear were impossible to ford. Moreover, Jackson's pioneers had obstructed every road in the line of Old Jack's retreat but one, and had everything to gain by Fremont's march toward Harrisonburg. Thus, Fremont felt he had no choice but to improvise his own plan and retrace his supply line to feed his troops, waiting to strike Jackson at another point. On May 28th Fremont reached Fabius on Branch Mountain. It was at Fabius on that Medical Director Suckley demanded twenty-four hours rest for the men. As Fremont described it:
Hundreds of stragglers and broken down men from the Blenker division had been left along the road in the ascent of the mountain, and it was plain their condition demanded consideration. They were weak and reduced not only from recent fatigue and want of food, but from previous hardship and privation on the route from the Potomac. I could not venture to proceed with them in disorder and with safety undertake the work in prospect.
Out of the 10,117 men that the Blenker Division reported in February 1862, there were now less than 6000 present and fit for duty. (26)
There was to be no reprieve, not even from nature. Even as the men slipped into an exhausted slumber in the desolate cold on the night of May 29, the gathering of clouds and the rumble of thunderdrums reverberating threateningly from one mountainside to another announced yet another violent storm. The march resumed in the morning, and on the 31st, with the rain falling in torrents, Fremont reached Cedar Creek. His new orders were to march to Strasburg. There had as of yet been no word from General Irwin McDowell, who was expected near Front Royal with a force of 20,000 to work in harmony with Fremont to snare Jackson. What Fremont did not know was that Jackson was at Strasburg with a superior force, and, probably due to heavy rains and impassable roads, he stopped his army short of the rebel pickets at Cedar Creek. (27)
At 4 A.M. of the morning of June 1, according to Leonhard Schlumpf, Fremont's advance attacked rebel outposts four miles from Strasburg and drove them back to Jackson's fortifications. The Federals were ordered into position as the advance skirmished with several regiments under the command of Confederate General Richard Ewell and rebel artillery batteries opened up a brisk fire. A "fiery artillery battle" erupted, lasting until almost noon when Confederate batteries withdrew, and Fremont's men encamped. (28) Ironically, the day had dawned bright and sunny, but, as if in retaliation for its rude awakening to a storm of bursting, crashing cannonfire, the sky broke open with a raging display of lightning and thunder, which poured forth "hailstones as large as hens' eggs." (29) In the extreme blackness of the hellish night, Fremont's cavalry, with nothing to guide their way but the light of Confederate campfires, passed Strasburg on a reconnoitering mission, and ran smack into Turner Ashby's rebel troopers. Not knowing the numbers of the enemy that they faced, the advance refused to charge and retreated in panic, "carrying with them the artillery." But the supporting infantry soldiers, green Ohio troops in their first enemy encounter, cooly held their line, pouring a steady fire into the rebel horsemen. The advance brigade, having ascertained that Jackson was in retreat, fell back to Fremont's encampment. (30) Schlumpf wrote:
As we found out later, had we pursued them we could have captured the whole enemy brigade and in addition the approximately 2500 prisoners taken by General Jackson from our General Banks. Our Generals, except for one had thought we would encounter the entire army of Jackson, approximately 25-30,000 men. Therefore they decided not to pursue the enemy further this day.
The men of Stahel's Brigade slept that night in a muddy bivouac "with [their] weapons in their hands thinking about the upcoming battle the next morning." (31)
At 8 A.M. the next morning, a Monday, Fremont's army marched past Strasburg in pursuit of Jackson. He was reinforced by eight hundred cavalrymen, some artillery and the Pennsylvania Bucktails sent by McDowell. All day the chase continued, with Jackson's army turning to make a stand periodically, then fleeing once again. All along the line of retreat were enemy dead, cast off weapons, dead horses, broken artillery caissons, and other accoutrements thrown away in haste by the rebels. At one point, fewer than a hundred yards separated the two armies. Over five hundred rebel prisoners were taken captive and a number of Federal prisoners from Banks Army were liberated. At 5 P.M. Stahel's Brigade, including Schumpf's 45th New York and the Garibaldi Guard occupied Woodstock. (32)
The next day the pursuit was temporarily delayed. Schlumpf explained:
General Jackson gave orders to destroy all the bridges after passing over them. So his soldiers burnt them hoping to escape from us. But we built new bridges and followed and fought the enemy. Last night we spent the whole night building a new bridge over the Shenandoah River near Mount Jackson. The bridge was almost finished when it started to rain so heavily that the river rose within twelve hours five feet The bridge had to be taken apart and we had to wait until the water level went down until we could put the new bridge back and cross safely. (33)
The Federals made it safely across the river on Fremont's pontoon bridge, and Stahel's Brigade reached New Market that evening, a "rather big town" Schlumpf reported but just as "in the rest of the Shenandoah valley [they] did not encounter many people." Most of them, according to Schlumpf, had fled. (34)
Jackson had taken advantage of Fremont's delay, so that contact was not made with him again until the next day, June 6. The 6th of June was a day of heavy human casualties on both sides. Fremont's cavalry and artillery skirmished with the enemy several times before sunset, and the Pennsylvania Bucktail regiment lost more than forty men killed, missing and wounded. The Confederates sustained even heavier losses, made greater as far as morale was concerned, by the death of the already legendary son of the Valley, Turner Ashby. (35) After this "tragic happening," according to Schlumpf, "the enemy withdrew." (36)
On June 7 Fremont sent a large force under General Robert Milroy to discover Jackson's further intentions. Milroy reported that Jackson had left the Valley turnpike and struck out on a "troublesome route" to Port Republic, where he intended to turn and give battle. The next morning, the cat and mouse chase began again. Fremont headed for Cross Keys by way of a road through the woods from Harrisonburg. It was at this point that the diary accounts from Leonhard Schlumpf ended to resume a year and a half later on the road to Lookout Mountain. He had, for a time, with his comrades in the Garibaldi Guard, sat in the front row of the grandstand of battle, now and then being drawn onto the periphery of the field. But now Stahel's Brigade was on the eve of their first major frontal confrontation with the enemy after over a year of service to the Union. They had until this time cheated hell, and now there was hell to pay.
It was at this point that the Garibaldians were detached from their brothers in Stahel's Brigade to become reinforcements for two infantry regiments in French Colonel Gustave Paul Cluseret's advance guard. (37) There is little doubt that the certainty of battle electrified the men's blood for better or for worse, even through the dragging stupor of their exhaustion. Some of the older soldiers among them must have approached this first battlefield with a grim resolve, attempting unsuccessfully to banish the memory of other battlefields from their consciousness, to neutralize the mental flashes of torn, bleeding human flesh, men's screams and moans, cow pastures turned into scenes of human carnage, comrades with whom they had shared libations, food and even bodily warmth, traded friendly insults and amusements, and confided personal and family concerns turned to cold clay before their eyes. Others, who had long since abandoned their ambitions, or their zeal, to cynicism, must have wondered what had led them to offer their youth and honor in return for misuse as soldiers and mistreatment as men. Imbued with fatalistic irony, they no longer had much to lose. But perhaps for many more, there was still something to salvage here—not only the personal dignity and self-esteem that is one of the few remaining links to sanity within the hysteria of battle-but a sense of belonging to the group, to the community of those who shared the same ancient tongue, with the same memories of ancient hearths, the sweet consanguinity of shared traditions. To the foreign-born of Blenker's division and the men of the Garibaldi Guard, the overwhelming pre-battle sentiment besides tension was not just the desire to prove their dedication to a new homeland, but a fierce, ethnic pride bordering on arrogance that drove them to spare no efforts to belie those who would underestimate them, and marching under the banners of European liberators to rescue European honor from patronizing American skepticism. As modem ethnic sociologists would propose, this defensive national pride, this situational ethnicity was a survival mechanism against adversity and discrimination, which their service history so far, from the European-ness of their recruitment to the ethnic bonds created by perceived ill-treatment of the mass, tended to strengthen. As Nancy Cott spoke of the dual "bonds" of womanhood, so, too, here were the dual bonds of ethnicity, ties that bound soldier-comrades together in the line of battle just as they had done so in the ethnic organizations, the labor unions, the parishes and the streets of the immigrant wards.
That comradeship was only augmented by Blenker's troops' ethnic derivation. Most students of war and masculinity have pondered that almost mystical bond that seems to be so much more obvious among soldiers in battle than in any other situation requiring male closeness and encouraging camaraderie. That "communal effort," according to J. Glenn Gray in his The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle, creates an unprecedented ecstasy which many soldiers remember as the "high point in their lives." As Glenn proposes, this heightened communal feeling "derive[s] from a consciousness of power that is supra-individual:
We feel earnest and gay at such moments because we are liberated from our individual impotence and are drunk with the power that union with our fellows brings. In moments like these many have a vague awareness of how islated and separate their lives have hitherto been and how much they have missed by living in a narrow circle of family or a few friends. With the boundaries of the self expanded, they sense a kinship never known before. Their 'I' passes insensibly into a 'we,' 'my' becomes [as it did to Leonhard Schlumpf] 'our,' and individual fate loses its central importance. (38)
It is this new relationship of passion, this new joyous and pervasive communal liberation, that causes soldiers to go forward into the inferno with a certain lightheartedness and resolve, according to Gray. Combat creates a scenario in which men "discover some of the mysteries of communal joy in its forbidden depths. Comradeship reaches its peak in battle." And self-sacrifice attains its immediate and ultimate meaning.
Gray laments that it is only in the wholesale destruction of war that men can seek, and nurture this kind of closeness and comradeship and it is at this point that one must look more closely at the mid-Nineteenth century man, product of an upbringing that still nurtured the sensibilities as an important part of male character and yet centered upon Victorian self-discipline. If, as Michael Barton contends in his Goodmen: The Character of Civil War Soldiers, "men's images of women were a most interesting screen for their projections" of the emotions and sensitivity not permitted them as men, then the camaraderie of soldiers offered men a rare chance to experience the extremely loving, almost sensual, and collective relationships permitted to women: "The amount of praise for women's 'soft natures' may be directly proportional to the amount of tension men felt as they lived out their own almost passionless contracts." (39) Barton's use of the term 'contract' is appropriate, for these tacitly agreed upon middle class Victorian cultural values, such as moralism, honor and duty and self-control, compassion, kindness, and religiosity were products of a communal life that was at mid-century in conflict with the drastically individualistic and materialistic non-ethic of competitive capitalism. Perhaps that is why many of us who study the lives of these mid-century soldiers are so moved by their reactions to battle, to death, to each other, because of the wounded world of illusive sensibilities that was dying with them.
On the morning of June 9 Colonel Cluseret, the French filibuster who had fought with distinction in the Crimea and Algeria and commanded the French Legion under Garibaldi in 1860, ventured forward with Fremont's advance brigade toward the hamlet of Cross Keys. At approximately 9 A.M. the impetuous soldier-of-fortune with his two small regiments of Ohio and western Virginia infantry reinforced by the Garibaldians, came suddenly upon the right of the Confederate line, its pickets spread out in the patch of woods where tiny Union Church and its graveyard flanked the Port Republic road.
As the line of march deployed into battle formation, the officers of the Garibaldi Guard sent the command ringing down the files of men in seven different languages "Fix bayonets!" The men went through the actions now almost involuntarily, bayonets whisked out of waist-belt scabbards and clinked onto lugs at the end of their muskets, then locked in place, stepping back into "order arms," hands steady even as their heartbeats thudded to the the drum roll in their ears, pounding high in the chest The precision of the actions themselves prevented you from losing control, the touch of your comrade's shoulder, the inevitable string of orders that you no longer needed to strain to hear but dared not anticipate. "Shoulder arms!" barrel into the right shoulder, swell of stock in the palm of the hand. "Charge bayonet!" It was not the mad rush of romantic poetry. You risked bayonetting the man in front of you. But the line of cold shiny steel-bearing men lunged forward in adrenalin burst and unfaltering array, faster and faster, but not so fast as to lose formation, officers holding them back, holding than steady with the sword. The Garibaldians, the 1848 tri-color flying, were the first to reach the Confederate line, pushing it back yard by yard. Musketry fire crackled all along the lines of men and artillery, opening up from the rear, sent a barrage of missiles shrieking overhead. The fight grew more furious by the moment for those trapped within its fiery parameters, and now the rest of the German Brigade under Stahel was coming up into line to the left of Cluseret who tenaciously held the center. Led by the Eighth New York, Stahel's men drove in the enemy pickets and surged forward, still in perfect formation.
The Confederate line had pulled up into a secure position on a ridge, with a small valley to their front, their position masked by thick woods and farm fences. Confederate General I.R. Trimble, whose troops faced Leonhard Schlumpf's comrades, told his men to hold their fire until Blenker's old brigade was "fifty steps" from their line. Stahel's men tramped down through the ravine and swept forward up the crest of the hill still in perfect formation when the rebels opened up on them, according to their commander, "dropping the deluded victims of Northern fanaticism and misrule by scores." The Eighth New York was now under attack in front and on its flanks by four regiments of Confederate infantry, and yet they came forward, again and again, forming and reforming, charging into the maelstorm, not permitting a rebel advance beyond the timber. Men were falling all along the front, blood spattering their accoutrements and their soldier-brothers who sprung forward to replace, them tripping and jumping over their bodies, muttering curses that they themselves couldn't hear in the all-embracing frenzy of combat.
At one point, no fewer than three regiments of rebels laid hands on a Union battery and the German brigade, blinded now by the destructive fury of combat, hacked its way through, again with the dreaded bayonet, to extricate the cannoneers and their guns. The enemy was concentrating its forces now against Stahel's Brigade to cut off Union lines of communication to the left, but, despite overpowering numbers, the Europeans held their line, refusing to be beaten back, even when attacked from both front and flank. But after three hours of a vicious firefight, and vastly outnumbered, they were forced to fall back through the woods on their supports.
The fighting in the woods was particularly severe. The Twenty-Seventh Pennsylvania, also of Stahel's Brigade, repelled a charge of Mississippians, who were howling the rebel yell. The artillery barrage soon became a full-scale cannon battle, the air filled with all manner of screaming, bursting hot metal projectiles. Cluseret's advance attempted unsuccessfully to take a rebel battery, and the men held their ground against repeated assaults. The Garibaldians now occupied the center of Fremont's line, a line so vastly outnumbered that the rebels were attempting to envelop them by rolling in the Union flanks, attacking on both sides at once. Fortunately, nightfall intervened, and Fremont ordered his soldiers back as the firing slowly subsided on both sides. (40) That night the men rested on their arms on the field of battle. Of the casualties on the field that day, Stahel's men accounted for 398 out of a total of 482 killed, missing and wounded in Blenker's Division. There were 684 casualties in all on the Union side. The Eighth New York sustained over a third of the losses, with sixty-five dead and more than twice that number wounded. The Garibaldians and Schlumpf's Forty-Fifth New York were close behind. (41)
To the Confederates, still on their ridge, but preparing to retreat, fell the task of cleaning up Blenker's dead, and their scorn for the Germans was profound. General Richard S. Ewell, who would later discount Union descriptions of bayonet charges and frontal attacks, in a report laden with exaggeration, placed the Union losses at "not less than 2000 in killed, wounded and prisoners":
On one part of the field they buried 101 at one spot, 15 at another, and a house containing some of their dead was said to have burned by them, and this only a part of what they lost. They were chiefly of Blenker's division, notorious for months on account of their thefts and dastardly insults to women and children in that part of the State under Federal domination. (42)
One supposes these were the same women and children, that, according to Leonhard Schlumpf, had fled from the Valley in the wake of Jackson's Army. The modern chroniclers of Jackson's Valley Campaigns, both armchair and purportedly serious historians, brought Ewell's nativism into modem scholarship with little changed. Based upon his own experiences with German stereotyping, Leonhard Schlumpf had prophesied that the Valley would have tales to tell of the German Yankees. One would expect a daughter of the Valley like Laura Virginia Hale in her Four Valiant Years to write about "Blenker's Dutch" and "hired Hessians" who compared in their "mettle" unfavorably with other Union troops sent against Jackson. (43) But the most recent "serious" work about Stonewall in the Valley. by Robert Tanner, is not only totally partisan to Confederate sources, but also replicates nineteenth century Southern nativism with its amazing reference to "Blenker's division, a horde of befuddled German emigrants who spoke little English and understood less of the reasons for the war." (44) Southerners on the road to Port Republic and historians on the road to publication have rarely bothered to challenge that characterization. Nor have they dared to challenge the years of historiographical placation of the South by a serious attempt to consider that the suffering, both mental and physical, in Fremont's Army may have had anything to do with Stonewall Jackson's invincibility in a campaign that has led generations of military historians to characterize Jackson as one of the greatest commanders of all time. The image of rag-tag Confederates fighting rag-tag Federals would damage even the New South's romantic fantasy of its past and dampen just a little the otherwise deserved reputation of Thomas Jonathan Jackson.
On the Cross Keys field, late in the afternoon of June 8, Fremont received a dispatch from General Shields, who was massing his army at Port Republic-Jackson's destination. Shields implored him to hold Jackson at Cross Keys and, if Jackson should attempt to move on Port Republic before all of Shields' men should come up, to attack his rear. (45) Shields and Fremont now had Jackson in a trap, between Cross Keys and Port Republic. They were in a position to crush him and take most of his force prisoner.
A combination of events prevented this from happening. Shields had intended to burn the bridge at Port Republic to prevent Jackson from crossing and getting out of the trap. But a dispatch had come from Washington ordering Shields to prepare his command to depart for Fredericksburg, Virginia. Thus, not realizing that Fremont had not stopped the Confederates at Cross Keys, and that Jackson's army was marching in concentration towards him, Shields sent only three brigades to the Port Republic bridge. Moreover, the commander of Shields' brigades forgot to burn the bridge, and Jackson fell upon him, annihilating his men.
Fremont's men were on the road the next morning, marching past hundreds of Confederate dead horribly mutilated by cannon shot. (46) But by the time Fremont's army arrived at Port Republic the next day, Jackson had disappeared and nothing remained but a burning bridge (Jackson remembered.) and the debris of battle. (47)
Fremont found himself isolated and the strength of his men expended. He now received a letter from Lincoln ordering him to cease the pursuit of Jackson and fall back on a defensive position at Harrisonburg. But for an army as small and weakened as Fremont's, Harrisonburg was a dangerous place, exposed on all sides by nine roads. So Fremont ignored the order and encamped instead at Mount Jackson. (48)
The men of the Garibaldi Guard as a whole had distinguished themselves in the battle of Cross Keys, both as the initiating infantry force in the advance, and in the as the anchoring force of the Union center throughout the day. But the battle was not without its humiliations for the Garibaldians, humiliations that further eroded their morale and faith in their officers.
Perhaps the most serious offense against military discipline and the community of the Army for a Civil War officer or rank-and-file soldier was cowardice before the enemy. (49) Foreign-born officers who needed to demonstrate and highlight their loyalty and dedication to their newly chosen homeland in order to use their military service as a short-cut to upward mobility had the most to prove in the test of battle. However, for urban working class soldiers, the American experience thus far could very well have meant initiation into urban life at the bottom of the economic ladder, worry about families at home not receiving their scant soldiers' pay, unkept promises, lack of supplies and petty discriminations-enough to dampen anyone's enthusiasm at critical points in the battle. Not only did an immigrant officer have his own reputation to worry about, but the members of a particular ethnic group had as much to lose, due to nativism, from the misconduct of an individual. As an Italian-American doing this research, I myself cringed at finding one too many instances of Italians of the Garibaldi Guard creating less than courageous or less than dedicated images in the history of the regiment There have been too many ethnic jokes about the natural antipathy of Italians to the front lines of the battlefield and their willingness to abandon a cause without regret at the first suggestion of possible serious injury. Unfortunately, in this case, the records do leave us more examples of scoundrels than of heroes. It was perhaps more difficult to be recognized for heroics than for misconduct if you were an ethnic soldier in a country with so recent a history of nativism. The behavior of 1st Lieutenant F. Ornesi, 2nd Lieutenant Rafaele Frixione and several men of Company C, 39th New York easily contribute to the makings of a stereotype. According to testimony, at the battle of Cross Keys, Lieutenant Ornesi was ordered to advance with and take command of his company when the Captain was wounded. Instead, Ornesi,
did when within reach of the enemy's fire, in the most shameful manner, leave his command and hide himself behind a house nearby, where he remained, notwithstanding Capt. E. Hollinde [of the SwissCompany] who told [him] to come away from his hiding place and take - command of his company, as such conduct could not sent a good example to the men. (50)
Lieutenant Woodbury of the 39th New York 1st Company saw Ornesi hidden in the house when his company came up. He testified that after they drove the rebels out of the woods, Ornesi "came out of the house giving a yell...he had hidden himself like a man afraid of bullets." Major B. Pollack saw Ornesi "trembling, turning back and retiring alone behind a house." Lieutenant Galluba, the quartermaster of the 39th, didn't see Ornesi until he and Frixione were 3/4 of a mile behind the battlefield "with 5 or six men laying in the woods: "They came towards me asking where the regiment was, to which question I gave no answer, thinking it altogether too absurd." The men who accompanied the two lieutenants testified quite plainly that the fire had gotten too hot and they hid in the woods. Private Traconovitch went so far as to inform the court that he had "found a fine haversack, which I took up. We were in the woods all day and night" Ornesi first claimed that he went too far to the right and lost the regiment, suggesting that he was still with his company. Major Pollack maintained that the company was with him. (51)
The court-martial, composed primarily of Germans (no Italians) found Ornesi guilty as charged and sentenced him "to the loss of rank and honors, and to be shot." The death sentence was subsequently rescinded and Ornesi was dismissed from the service. (52)
Captain Edward Venuti, the wounded commander of C Company, watched 2nd Lieutenant Frixione "absent himself without cause" from the company as it went forward. According to Venuti, Frixione "hid himself behind trees, when the line was already ahead a good ways." Venuti implored him to "save the honor of our company; if you, an officer, behave in such a manner, what may be expected of a common soldier?" Frixione "was not disturbed by the Captain's reprimand and kept back altogether." He was found guilty of the specification and the charge, "cowardice before the enemy and conduct unbecoming an officer" and was sentenced "to be cashiered; to loose[sic] all of his back pay, and this sentence to be published in the official Newspapers." (53)
Company officer court-martials were certainly bad enough, but the conduct of the regiment's second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Repetti at Cross Keys and elsewhere in the Valley campaign, affected already sagging soldier morale even more adversely. When the Tassilier faction was clamoring for Colonel D'Utassy to resign, they approached Repetti as a prospective replacement, and when D'Utassy remained in command, Repetti was set at odds with his commanding officer. Moreover at D'Utassy's court-martial, less than a year later, several men in the regiment would testify that Repetti was neither respected nor trusted by many of his men. Captain John H. Siegel, who resigned July 26,1861, and who liked neither D'Utassy nor Repetti, testified that he had heard men say that they would not trust Repetti, even under oath, to tell the truth and that his honesty had been questioned by the New York papers long before he raised a regiment. (54) Adolphus Baer of Company B, agreed that Repetti was "not very truthful." Another witness claimed that he was "not in good reputation" among the soldiers of the regiment, and that, furthermore, "he was a drunkard." (55) When asked what caused Repetti's less than savory reputation, the witness explained:
First, before the battle of Cross Keys, the Lieutenant Colonel disappeared before the battle and then he used language which would never do for a superior or even for a common soldier to use....When he came back after the battle of Cross Keys, I asked him where he had been during the battle. He told me he would not have been such a fool to have killed himself for such a stupid country. Those were words which in my view, coming from a superior officer, would make my feeling so bad mat I could not believe anything he said. (56)
Lieutenant Bernard Pollack declared that Repetti "abused everybody" and
said he would not fight for this country. I know where he even said one night when we had marching orders from Franklin that he would not march out under such humbug orders and we could never believe him under no circumstances and I don't believe that any even of those who profess to be his friends believe him. (57)
In what may have been the only comic relief in D'Utassy's Court Martial, Pollack, when asked to name one man who said he would not believe Repetti under oath,claimed he would have to name three hundred, and the next seven pages of testimony are filled with examples of who said Repetti could not be believed and under what circumstances. (58)
Repetti was finally permitted to resign and was discharged after a court martial indicting him for unsoldierly and ungentlemanly conduct towards a private soldier, whom he had threatened with his weapon for being too sick to march. His discharge from the service was effective June 19, 1862, while the 39th New York was encamped at Camp Jackson. (59)
The condition of the battle-scarred Union troops at Camp Jackson was just as bad as it had been at the beginning of the campaign. Most of the supplies had never arrived from Petersburg, and the men were forced to rely upon provisions captured from the Confederates. Men were breaking down, giving in to sickness, worn out by march, battle, wet and cold bivouacs, relentless weather. A great number were discharged due to disability.(60)
Concerned about Fremont's command, or perhaps looking for reasons to alter it, Lincoln sent Carl Schurz to Camp Jackson on a fact-finding tour. Schurz arrived ahead of Fremont on June 10, and watched his men arrive "marching in rather loose order." He wrote in his memoirs, "The men looked ragged, tired and dejected. I heard a good deal of hard swearing in the ranks in various tongues-signs of a sorry state of mind. " (61)
Schurz took command, at Camp Jackson, of the remains of Blenker's division and was shocked at what he found. Schurz could not completely fault Fremont's military actions against Jackson. According to Schurz, given the condition of his troops, "if Fremont had marched more rapidly and succeeded in placing his forces athwart Stonewall Jackson's line of retreat, he would probably not have been able to stop the enemy, very much superior numerically, commanded by the fiercest fighter of the South but would have exposed himself to a disastrous defeat."
Schurz reported to Lincoln that Fremont had but 10,000 combatants and those "in a wretched condition:"
He has twenty-three regiments which do not average over 400; some of them are mere skeletons. A great many foot sore and without shoes, marching barefooted through the mud and over rocky ground. The horses are in a miserable condition, having fed on nothing but grass and clover, the artillery horses hardly able to draw their pieces. I have seen but one company of cavalry that is tolerably well mounted (62)
An understandable "temper of discontent" pervaded both officers and soldiers, "who thought themselves neglected." (63) Schurz wrote:
This morning I found General Fremont in a somewhat irritated state of mind, and I must confess I understand it. The Government has plenty of provisions, and our soldiers die of hunger; plenty of shoes, and they gobarefooted; plenty of horses and we are hardly able to move. I entreat you let it not be said that this army is more neglected than any other. It will appear that it is willfully so. and you know well how this will be interpreted. [emphasis added] The task this army has before it is an important one, and it ought to have the means to fulfill it. (64)
Schurz's comments are instructive. There are two possible reasons why Schurz was worried about public perception of Lincoln if Fremont's army seemed "more neglected than any other." It would be easy to assume that Schurz was concerned that Lincoln not alienate the foreign-bom, especially in light of his German political support, by anything that could be perceived to be nativistic, such as the careless under-provisioning of a largely immigrant army. But, it is more likely that Schurz was referring to the previous confrontation between Fremont and Lincoln over Fremont's emancipation proclamation in the West, his representation of more advanced anti-slavery elements, and Lincoln's desire not to alienate his political supporters. Fremont, with his reputation as the "Pathfinder" and his status as the first presidential candidate of the Republican Party, was a distinctly possible opponent for Lincoln in the very near future. His seeming lack of military organizational ability (65) permitted Lincoln to justly rationalize removing him from departmental commands, but he was still a political hot potato for Lincoln to deal with in his need to maintain the support of various Republican tendencies. Fremont was to the Republican left what McClellan was to the right. Only a romantic view of Lincoln would reject the contention that politics colored his military judgement mightily. Schurz may have been protecting Lincoln's political future by urging him to handle Fremont more delicately.
But Fremont had also nurtured a reputation as a patron of the foreign-born. He had had a large German following that included the Turner societies in the campaign of 1856. (66) He surrounded himself, much like McClellan, with soldiers-of- fortune and immigrant officers, who were particularly devoted to him and formed his much ridiculed "Bodyguard." One of them, Hungarian cavalry leader Charles Zagonyi, had led troopers in a dramatic and successful attack and capture of the city of Springfield, Missouri in October 1861, with "Fremont and Union!" as their battlecry.(67) The German citizenry of the West were tremendously angry at Lincoln when he removed Fremont from his western command. Ella Lonn suggests that German ire and pressure were responsible for Lincoln's awarding Fremont a new command even against his better judgement And the political support of the foreign-born was certainly a consideration when Lincoln chose German Forty-Eighter Franz Sigel to take over what had been Fremont's command in the Valley.(68) Sigel's transfer from the West, where he had distinguished himself, to the East, was the beginning of the end of Sigel's military ambitions, and Carl Schurz believed that there was something behind his decline other than his morose temperament. Schurz made an astute observation on the way nativism worked in the attitudes of regular army officers toward civilian volunteers. Schurz insisted that it was not surprising that the elite West Pointers would "club together for the protection or advancement of the pretentions or claims of their class" regardless of the effect on the public interest. And "in the East:"
the number of West Pointers...was much larger and their 'esprit de corps' more pronounced and exclusive. They would tolerate with good grace the appointment to high grades or the promotion of civilian volunteers who were men of local importance or who had distinguished themselves. But when a volunteer general, and a "foreigner," too, was transferred from the West to the East as a man of superior qualities and military competency, who might perhaps teach them something, it went much against their grain, and that man was often looked upon as a pretentious intruder and obliged to encounter very watchful and sometimes even rancorous criticism. (69)
Although Schurz was referring to Sigel's case in particular, his analysis was relevant to the careers of all foreign-bom officers, at the level of brigades, regiments and companies, as well as armies, corps and divisions, in their relationships not only with professional soldiers but with native-born volunteers as well. The foreign-born volunteer was subject to double jeopardy in his attempts to march up the military ladder, and even those who associated with the foreign bom could see their military fortunes flanked and repelled at the next turn in the road.
Carl Schurz could very well have been describing his own situation, but his tendency not to rock the boat made him set to work quietly and diligently organizing his new command. This command included part of Blenker's Division and would comprise by the time of Second Bull Run in August 1862 the Third Division under the First Army Corps, commanded by Fremont's successor, Franz Sigel. (70)
Meanwhile Confederate concentration and demonstrations in the area prompted Fremont to make the decision to retreat further down the Valley. His army now moved north to Strasburg and Middletown, where Fremont was finally able to join forces with Banks and General Franz Sigel, famous German Forty¬Eighter who had made his reputation in the Trans-Mississippi. Unfortunately, this unity of command occurred much too late. But in Stahel's Brigade, for the first time since they had left Hunter's Chapel, the men were given full rations. (71)
For the men of the Thirty-Ninth New York, the remaining days in June were filled with relative calm and routine camp duties. They changed the site of their bivouac a few times, did regularly assigned picket duty, and waited for the commanders of the Army to determine the new whereabouts of Stonewall Jackson. Jackson was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Scattered reconnoitering teams made contact with small sections of Jackson's Army, but for the most part, their Valley campaigning had slowed to a halt.
At Middletown, too, the army convened more courts-martial to try and punish those rank and file soldiers whose conduct at Cross Keys had been less than valorous. The military careers of several foreign-born soldiers came to an end with these regimental trials. Private Frederick Riegel of Company G of Schlumpf's 45th New York, sometimes called the Platt Deutsch Regiment, German Rifles (72) was arraigned before a court-martial to answer charges of menacing and disrespectful language toward a commanding officer and disobedience of orders while his regiment was advancing toward the battle of Cross Keys. (73)
What witnesses heard Riegel say to the men around him as they marched toward the battlefield and how the witnesses characterized his insistent remarks correlated directly with the witnesses' rank, nativity and familiarity with the German language. It is also imperative to remember the context of the incident: the heightened state of pre-battle apprehension, the recent defeat of General Nathaniel Banks' army at the hands of Stonewall Jackson's "foot cavalry" (74) and the utter need for discipline under the circumstances. Riegel was not just engaging in "noisy talking" as suggested by the charges, when, according to officer witnesses, he said to the soldiers around him, "we are treated here like robbers, but shall not submit to it and allow things to go on any longer (75)....General Schenck (76) may well call us a mob, but I would like to see him with a knapsack on his back and hear what he say then. It would be the best thing if we all refused to march in daytime. I should like to see what they could do then." (77) Apparently some men agreed, which alarmed the officers.
According to Captain C. Csermlye, Riegel was "very mutinous and always exiciting the men" and in this instance, 1st Lieutenant Tilback "took him by the coat and put him in his place." Tillback himself testified that Riegel was "generally noisy" and in "opposition against orders" insisting that "We are volunteers. We are not regular soldiers." Although one Captain Durban who was a 1st Lieutenant in Company G at the time of the incident stated that the prisoner was "always a good soldier" and "obeyed orders," it was at this juncture that commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers parted company in their interpretations of the accused's conduct. Corporal Frank Schmidt protested that Riegel was "always talking for fun" but that Lieutenant Tilback struck him in the face and "threatened to run his sword through him if he didn't shut up." Corporal Herman Lamprecht who claimed to have been behind Riegel in line testified that he didn't hear Riegel say it at all. Private John Ritter protested, "I march by his side," and that he was where he belonged in line when the Lieutenant struck him, which "brought the whole company into confusion." Ritter thought Riegel to be "generally funny" in his remarks. First Sergeant R. Ives testified that Riegel was "always a good soldier." When questioned about the altercation between the prisoner and Lieutenant Tilback, he answered,
As for what was said between them, I don't know, as I don't understand German. All that I saw was that I heard them talking pretty loudly and turned my head back to see what was going on. I saw Lieutenant Tilback go into the ranks and strike the prisoner with his fist. I heard General Schenck say something about the regiment looking like a mob on the battery at New York but I did not hear the prisoner say anything about staying in daytime in the woods and marching at night. (78)
In this particular court-martial, the testimony of sergeants, corporals and privates suggests that regardless of whether Private Riegel's remarks in the charged atmosphere of Fremont's advance up the Shenandoah Valley were intentionally mutinous or merely the empty mutterings of the company loudmouth, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men (or perhaps Riegel's friends) lined up behind the prisoner with the intention of minimizing the charges. Sergeant Ives' testimony serves as an additional critical comment, albeit subtle, on General Schenck's insult to the regiment on the battery in New York, as well as Lieutenant Tilback's assault on the prisoner. General Robert Schenck was one of two native-born general officers in Blenker's Division, in which "division and brigade commanders were almost all foreigners." (79) Therefore, his comment could easily have been construed by the foreign bom as an assault upon their ethnicity, a slight that came easily to mind thereafter in the midst of other difficulties.
In addition, although one should not make too much of a class analysis in one court-martial with its tiny sampling of witnesses subject to personal animosities, it is possible to suggest that at least petty antagonisms existed between enlisted men and officers in Company G, 45th New York Volunteers within the scenario of shifting blame for humiliating military defeat The 45th along with the Garibaldians and Blenker's 8th New York were in "the hottest part of the field" at Cross Keys and suffered the most severe casualties. (80) Whatever the company dynamics in this case, the Court-Martial declared Private Riegel not-guilty of the charges. (81)
On June 26 a telegram arrived from Lincoln announcing new plans for the Union forces in the Valley. Generals Fremont, McDowell and Banks were to consolidate their commands with troops under General Samuel D. Sturgis at Washington, in order to form an Army of Virginia under General John Pope. This army would operate from western Virginia to relieve McClellan's campaign against Richmond by overcoming Jackson and Ewell, and threatening the area near Charlottesville. (82)
Although Fremont was given command of the First Corps in this army, he considered himself wronged by Lincoln and the War Department. His rank in the Army was reduced by the change, and he felt that his previous service and military record had not been given due consideration. Thus, on June 27, he asked to be relieved from command and turned his troops over to General Schenck. (83)
Schenck soon passed this temporary command to Major General Franz Sigel. Sigel found the First Corps in a state of havoc. Blenker's command was virtually non-existent as a division, and the men of Stahel's Brigade now became the First Brigade, First Division(under Schenck), First Army Corps of the Army of Virginia. (84)
As June melted into July, military tension began to grow again. General George B. McClellan's Seven Days campaign in east-central Virginia had ended in a technical victory, although the Union Army had not captured Richmond. But Jackson and Lee had managed to unite their forces, and McClellan was unable to break through this "stone wall." Pope now outranked McClellan and the rank of general-in-chief was given to Henry "Old Brains" Halleck. The Union forces in the Valley were in a general state of alarm and exhaustion. They were demoralized by their losses to Jackson, by the changes in command, and by the continuing sense of betrayal by their superiors. In addition, Confederate cavalry raids, which because of Jackson's cunning and celerity could be portents of things to come, were becoming more frequent. (85)
The Garibaldians were now detached from the general command to assist in the garrisoning of Winchester, the central Union checkpoint in the Valley. (86) Colonel D'Utassy had joined them briefly after the battle of Cross Keys, and he was now awaiting them at Winchester. Lieutenant Colonel Repetti had resigned in mid-June, so they were now under the temporary command of Major Hugo Hildebrandt, another Hungarian exile who had served in the Magyar Revolution. (87)
On the evening of July 15 the regiment and one company of cavalry were marching to Winchester by way of Front Royal and Middletown, when they were attacked by three columns of Confederate cavalry with infantry support. Hildebrandt ordered his men to break ranks and deploy in line of battle to the right and left of the road to avoid being flanked. After what was described by Brigadier General A. Sanders Piatt, commanding at Winchester, as a "sharp engagement" that left two men wounded and four in enemy hands, the Garibaldians were compelled to fall back. (88) Piatt sent news of the affair to Pope, and Pope, with his usual pomposity, an arrogance that endeared him to none of the Eastern troops, returned an angry dispatch:
A regiment of infantry in such a country is more than a match for a dozen regiments of cavalry, and ought never to retreat before them. Neither do I quite understand your calling an affair in which 2 men were wounded a "sharp engagement" I hope you will infuse a much bolder spirit in your men. The idea of retreating before a cavalry force with only 2 men wounded in hardly up to the standard of soldiership. In such a country no cavalry force is able to make your infantry give back a foot if they will only fight....I do not like the idea of an infantry regiment of this army retreating without more loss and better reasons than are set forth in your dispatch. (89)
With this additional yoke of humiliation, the Thirty-Ninth New York began garrison duty, guarding the main Union supply depot at Winchester. The men set to work under the hot July sun building entrenchments, naming their completed works, Fort Garibaldi. (90)
John Pope, continually railing against his Eastern subordinates for their lack of boldness and overattention to "lines of retreat," prepared to grapple with Lee and Jackson. He ordered Piatt at Winchester to "defend that place to the last It is better to lose your whole force than to make a hasty or discreditable retreat." (91) But in August, the armies clashed again at the old battlefield at Manassas with results more disastrous than the first time and Pope's Army made another hasty retreat back to Washington, where both Pope's headquarters and his hindquarters were relieved of command. (92) The "On to Richmond" campaign was no more than the joke it had always been in the South. A Richmond balladier wrote:
Now that same dreaded Jackson, this fellow laid his whacks on,
And made him by compulsion a seceder.
Next Pope took off in flight from Manassas second fight,
Twas his very last appearance as a leader.
Then pull off your coat and roll up your sleeves,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel,
Pope did his very best but was evidently sold,
For Richmond is a hard road to travel I am told. (93)
The Union Army was cowering once again in familiar demoralization behind its Washington defenses and Robert E. Lee was about to invade the North. Then, on September 2nd, with a Confederate column of 20,000 men reportedly within twenty-miles of the city, the garrison at Winchester was ordered to evacuate and fall back on Harper's Ferry. (94)
Footnotes for Chapter 6
1 John R. Thompson, "Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel," in Irwin Silber, Songs of the Civil War.
2 Report of Maj.-Gen. John C. Fremont on operations of March 29-June 27, 1862, December 30, 1865, OR, I, xii-i, 4.
3 Bruce Catton, Terrible Swift Sword (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1963), 266-267.
4 Ibid., 267.
5 Fremont report, OR, I, xii-i, 9-10.
6 Transcription of the Diary of Leonhard Schlumpf, 45th New York Infantry, September 9, 1861-December 28, 1863, Translated from the German, Civil War Times Illustrated Collection, U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; Fremont's Report, 4-5.
7 Schlumpf Diary, April 1, 1862.
8 Ibid., April 1, 1862.
9 Ibid., April 1, 1862.
10 Ibid., April 7, 1862.
11 Ibid., April 11, 1862.
12 Ibid., April 12, 1862.
l3 Priscilla Robertson, Revolutions of 1848: A Social History (Princeton. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1952), 13-14.
14 Lonn, 295-6.
15 Ibid., April 12, 1862.
16 Telegrams from Brig.-Gen. W. S. Rosecrans to Fremont from Winchester, April 17-19, 1862, OR, xii-i, 28.
17 Ibid., May 1,5, 1862.
18 Ibid., May 10, 1862; Fremont's Report, 4-5.
19 Fremont's report, 8.
20 Dispatch from Mountain Dept. Medical Director George Suckley to Col. Albert Tracy, Franklin, May 22, 1862, OR, I, vii-i, 30.
21 Catton, TSS, 266-267.
22 Schlumpf Diary, May 14, 1862.
23 Fremont's report, 9-10.
24 Schumpf Diary, May 25, 1862.
25 Ibid., May 27, 1862.
26 Charles S. Tripler, Surgeon/Medical Director Army of the Potomac to Gen. S. Williams, February 6, 1862, Enclosure #1, OR, I, v, 716; Fremont's Report, OR, I, xii, 10-13.
27 Fremont's report, 13; William Allan, History of the Campaign of General T. J. Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (1880) (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside Press Facsimile Edition, 1987), 133.
28 Schlumpf Diary, June 1, 1862; Fremont's report, 13-14.
29 Allan, 133; Schlumpf Diary, June 1, 1862; Dispatch from Fremont to Lincoln, Strasburg, June 1, 1862, OR, I, xii, 650.
30 Fremont's report, 14.
31 Schlumpf Diary, June 1, 1862.
32 Schlumpf Diary, June 2,1862; Fremont's report, 14-15.
33 Schlumpf Diary, June 2,1862.
34 Schlumpf's Diary, June 6, 1862.
35 Fremont's report, 16-18.
36 Schlumpf Diary, June 7,1862.
37 Fremont's report, 18.
38 J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle (New York: Harper & Row, 1959, 1970), 45.
39 Michael Barton, Goodmen: The Character of Civil War Soldiers (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981), 75.
40 Fremont report, 20-21; Operations in the Shenandoah Valley May 15-June 17, 1862, particularly Fremont's dispatches to Stanton June 9-10-12,1862, OR. I, xii, 654-658; C.S. Gen. I. R. Trimble's report, June 11,1862, OR, I, xii, 795- 799.
41 Return of Casualties in the Union forces at the Battle of Cross Keys, OR. I, xii, 664-665; Robert G. Tanner, Stonewall in the Valley (New York: Doubleday, 1976), 293-295., Only partial reports of casualties came from the 39th New York.
42 Maj.-Gen. Richard S. Ewell, C.S. Army, commanding the Third Division, June 16, 1862, OR, I, xii, 783.
43 Laura Virginia Hale, Four Valiant Years in the Lower Shenandoah Valley (Front Royal, Virginia: Hathaway Publishers, 1986), 169-170;
44 Tanner, 293-294.
45 Fremont report, 21.
46 Fremont to Stanton, Port Republic, June 9,1862, OR, I, xii, 654.
47 Fremont's report, 23-24.
48 Ibid., 25.
49 Gerald F. Linderman makes much of this in his work Embattled Courage in which he claims very convincingly that courage was the centerpiece in the" constellation of values" of the American-Victorian Civil War soldier in the first years of war. (New York:Macmilllan Free Press, 1987), 8.
50 General Orders #22-Mountain Department, Court Martial Proceedings of 1st Lt. F. Ornesi, 39th New York Infantry, June 13, 1862,:2. (National Archives)
51 Court Martial of 1st Lt. F. Ornesi, 39th New York State Infantry, June 13, 1862.
52 General Orders #22: 3.
53 War Department Records: Court Martial of 2nd Lt Rafaele Frixione, 4.
54 D'Utassy Court Martial, March 1863, (Washington, D.C.: National Archives), 475-479.
55 Ibid., 405-407.
56 Ibid., 409-412.
57 Ibid., 489-493.
58 Ibid., 495-505.
59 Notice of Court Martial, Franklin, Va., May 17, 1862; also, Military Service Record of Alexander Repetti, National Archives, Washington D.C.; "Thirty-Ninth New York," Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States Army for the Years 1861-1862-1863-1864-1865 (Washington: Adjutant General's Office, August 31,1865), 476.
60 Fremont's report, 25.
61Carl Schurz, The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz, II (New York: The McClure Co., 1907), 343.
62 Carl Schurz to Lincoln, Mt. Jackson, Va., June 12, 1862, OR, I, xii-3, 435.
6 3Schurz, Memoirs, II, 346.
65 Schurz, Memoirs, II, 341-343,
66 Lonn, 44-45.
67 Ibid., 491-492.
68 Ibid., 490-491.
6 9Schurz Memoirs, II, 349.
70 Clarence Clough Buel and Robert Underwood Johnson, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, II (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1956) III,300-301, 497.
71 Fremont's Report, 26.
72 Lonn, 94.
73 War Department Records, Court-Martial of Private Frederick Riegel of Co. G, 45th New York, Middletown, Virginia, July 9, 1862. National Archives, Washington D.C., 1.
74 John B. Imboden, "Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah," Battles and Leaders, II, pp. 288-289;Nathan Kimball, "Fighting Jackson at Kernstown," Battles and Leaders, II, 310-311.
75 Riegel, Court-Martial, 2.
76 Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck commanded Schenck's Brigade under the command of Major-General John C. Fremont between June lst-9th, 1862 in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Clarence Clough Buel and Robert Underwood Johnson. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, II (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1956), 300.
77 Riegel Court-Martial, 3.
80 Dispatch from Maj. Gen. J. C. Fremont to Stanton, June 9,1862, "Operations in the Shenandoah Valley," OR I:12, 654-655.
81 Riegel Court-Martial, p. 4.(?) (need to get a copy of this CM from NA)
82 Lincoln to Banks, Fremont and McDowell at Middletown, Va., June 26,1862, OR, I, xii-3, 435.
83 Fremont to Stanton, Middletown, Va., June 27,1862, OR, I, xii-3, 437-438; Schenck to Stanton, June 28, 1862, OR, I, xii-3, 440.
84 Franz Sigel to Colonel Ruggles, chief of staff to Pope, Middletown, July 5, 1862, OR, I, xii-3, 455.
85 Donald and Randall, 216-217.
86 In some ways this transfer was fortuitous. Sigel's command would eventually become the Eleventh Corps, and Jackson's attack at Chancellorsville, cutting them off from the Union line in what was an impossible position made German soldiers scapegoats for the Union loss there, and according to Ella Lonn, was the height of nativist resentment toward foreigners in the Civil War.
87 D'Utassy Defense, 9.
88 Piatt to John Pope, July 15,1862, OR, I, xii-3, 475.
89 Pope to Piatt, July 16, 1862, OR, I, xii-3, 475.
90 Testimony of Colonel D'Utassy on the evacuation of Winchester, OR. I, xii-2, 786.
91 Pope to Piatt, July 18, 1862, OR, I, xii-3, 483.
92 A story of negligible veracity given the Puritanical disposition of T. J. Jackson has Jackson commenting derisively that Pope, who claimed that his headquarters were in the saddle, didn't know his headquarters from his hindquarters.
93 See note 1.
94 H.W. Halleck to Julius White, Winchester, Va., September 2, 1862, OR, I xii-3, 800; White to Halleck, September 2-3--OR, I, xii-3, 801.
Copyright by Catherine Catalfamo, 1989