of Lieut. Gen. Jubal A. Early,
C. S. Army,
The Battle of the Monocacy and Operations Against Washington, D.C.
LEESBURG, July 14, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Norther Virginia.
GENERAL: After driving Sigel's whole force of several thousand men to Maryland Heights and demonstrating against him, I moved on the 8th around his force through Boonsborough, Fox's and Crampton's Gaps, and entered Frederick City on the morning of the 9th, driving the enemy's cavalry through the city. I found Wallace in force at Monocacy Junction, his force being stated in Northern accounts at 10,000, and consisting in part of the Third Division, of the <ar70_348> sixth Corps, under Ricketts, which had arrived the day before. This force we attacked on the afternoon of the same day, Ramseur demonstrating in front, while Gordon moved across the Monocacy on the enemy's flank by a route which had been opened by McCaus-land's brigade of cavalry in a very gallant manner. The enemy in a very short time was completely routed by Gordon, and left the field in great disorder and retreated in haste on Baltimore.
In this action our entire loss was between 600 and 700, including the cavalry, but I regret to say Brigadier-General Evans was wounded and some gallant officers killed.
On the morning of the 10th I moved toward Washington, taking the route by Rockville, and then turning to the left to get on the Seventh-street pike. The day was very hot and the roads exceedingly dusty, but we marched thirty miles.
On the morning of the 11th we continued the march, but the day was so excessively hot, even at a very early hour in the morning, and the dust so dense, that many of the men fell by the way, and it became necessary to slacken our pace. Nevertheless, when we reached the right of the enemy s fortifications the men were almost completely exhausted and not in a condition to make an attack. Skirmishers were thrown out and moved up to the vicinity of the fortifications. These we found to be very strong and constructed very scientifically. They consist of a circle of inclosed forts, connected by breast-works, with ditches, palisades, and abatis in front, and every approach swept by a cross-fire of artillery, including some heavy guns. I determined at first to make an assault, but before it could be made it became apparent that the enemy had been strongly re-enforced, and we knew that the Sixth Corps had arrived from Grant's army, and after consultation with my division commanders I became satisfied that the assault, even if successful, would be attended with such great sacrifice as would insure the destruction of my whole force before the victory could have been made available, and, if unsuccessful, would necessarily have resulted in the loss of the whole force. I, therefore, reluctantly determined to retire, and as it was evident preparations were making to cut off my retreat, and while troops were gathering around me I would find it difficult to get supplies, I determined to retire across the Potomac to this county before it became too late. I was led to this determination by the conviction that the loss of my force would have had such a depressing effect upon the country, and would so encourage the enemy as to amount to a very serious, if not fatal, disaster to our cause. My infantry force did not exceed 10,000, as Breckinridge's infantry (nominally much larger) really did not exceed 2,500 muskets. A considerable part of the cavalry has proved wholly inefficient. Sigel was at Maryland Heights. Hunter was making his way to get in my rear, and Couch was organizing a militia force in Pennsylvania. If, therefore, I had met a disaster I could not have got off, and if I had succeeded in the assault, yet my force would have been so crippled that I could not have continued their active operations so necessary in an expedition like mine.
All these considerations conduced to the determination to which I came, and accordingly, after threatening the city all day of the 12th, I retired after night, and have moved to this place in entire good order and without any loss whatever.
Late in the afternoon of the 12th the enemy advanced in line of battle against my skirmishers (of Rodes' division), and the latter being re-enforced repulsed the enemy three times. When I reached the vicinity of Frederick, General Johnson was sent with his brigade of cavalry to cut the Northern Central and the Philadelphia and Baltimore Railroads, which he succeeded in doing, destroying very important bridges; the bridges over the Gunpowder Creek, on the latter road (two miles in length), having been burned by Major Gilmer, who was detached for that purpose with the Maryland Battalion. He also upturned and destroyed two passenger trains, in one of which he found Major-General Franklin, but he subsequently escaped by reason of the carelessness of his guards. Johnson also burned a small bridge on the road between Washington and Baltimore, and was on his way to Point Lookout when my determination to retire made his recall necessary. An immense amount of damage has been done the enemy. Our cavalry has brought off a very large number of horses. Over 1,000 have been brought off and $220,000 in money was levied and collected in Hagerstown and Frederick, the assessment against the latter being $200,000, all of which was paid in Federal and Northern money. I shall rest here a day or two, and shall then move to the Valley and drive from Martinsburg a body of cavalry which has returned there, and then send the cavalry to destroy effectually the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad westward, and also to destroy the coal mines and furnaces around Cumberland unless I get different orders. I am sorry I did not succeed in capturing Washington and releasing our prisoners at Point Lookout, but the latter was impracticable after I determined to retire from before Washington. There was intense excitement and alarm in Washington and Baltimore and all over the North, and my force was very greatly exaggerated, it being reported that you were in command, having left Beauregard at Petersburg. Washington can never be taken by our troops unless surprised when without a force to defend it. Please send me orders by telegraph to Winchester.
J. A. EARLY,
P. S.--I was compelled to leave about 400 wounded men in Frederick because they could not be transported.
J. A. EARLY,
Since writing the above your letter of 11th received. A part of enemy's force has followed up to the other bank of the Potomac, but I am unable to find out whether any infantry has come up. There is no effort to cross. Hunter has entirely passed Williamsport two or three days ago. I will start for the Valley in the morning. The arrival of the Ninth Corps in Washington is again reported, and there is a report that a part of Banks' force has arrived, but I do not place much confidence in these reports. I think perhaps the heavy artillery from the Ninth Corps has come. I will retreat in forced marches by land toward Richmond.
J. A. EARLY,
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