The Memoirs of General Philip H. Sheridan, Volume II., Part 4
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The Memoirs of General Philip H. Sheridan, Volume II., Part 4

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MEMOIRS OF GENERAL SHERIDAN, Vol. II., Part 4
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of General Philip H. Sheridan, Vol. II., Part 4, by P. H. Sheridan This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Memoirs of General Philip H. Sheridan, Vol. II., Part 4 Author: P. H. Sheridan Release Date: June 6, 2004 [EBook #5857] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MEMOIRS GENERAL SHERIDAN ***
Produced by David Widger
PERSONAL MEMOIRS OF P. H. SHERIDAN
VOLUME II.
Part 4
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VOLUME II. Part 4
CONTENTS
CHAPTER I. Organizing Scouts—Miss Rebecca Wright—Important Information—Decides to Move on Newtown—Meeting General Grant—Organization of the Union Army —Opening of the Battle of the Opequon —Death of General Russell—A Turning Movement —A Successful Cavalry Charge—Victory—Three Loyal Girls—Appointed a Brigadier—General in the Regular Army—Remarks on the Battle
CHAPTER II. Pursuing Early—A Secret March—Fisher's Hill —A Great Success—Removal of Averell—The Retreat —Capturing an Old Comrade—The Murder of Lieutenant Meigs CHAPTER III. Reasons for Not Pursuing Early Through the Blue Ridge —General Torbert Detailed to Give General Rosser a "Drubbing"—General Rosser Routed —Telegraphed to Meet Stanton—Longstreet's ...

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MEMOIRS OF GENERAL SHERIDAN, Vol. II., Part4The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of General Philip H. Sheridan,Vol. II., Part 4, by P. H. SheridanThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Memoirs of General Philip H. Sheridan, Vol. II., Part 4Author: P. H. SheridanRelease Date: June 6, 2004 [EBook #5857]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MEMOIRS GENERAL SHERIDAN ***Produced by David WidgerPERSPO. NH.A LS HMEERMIDOAIRNS OF VOLUME II.Part 4
 <VOLUME II.Part 4CONTENTSCHAPTER I.Organizing Scouts—Miss Rebecca Wright—Important Information—Decides to Move on Newtown—Meeting General Grant—Organization of the Union Army—Opening of the Battle of the Opequon—Death of General Russell—A Turning Movement —A Successful Cavalry Charge—Victory—Three Loyal Girls—Appointed a Brigadier—General in the Regular Army—Remarks on the BattleCHAPTER II.Pursuing Early—A Secret March—Fisher's HillCA aGprteuraitn Sg uacnc eOslsd CRoemrmaodveal oTf hAev eMruerllder Tohf eL iReeuttreenaatnt MeigsCHAPTER III.
Reasons for Not Pursuing Early Through the Blue Ridge—General Torbert Detailed to Give General Rosser a "Drubbing"—General Rosser Routed —Telegraphed to Meet Stanton—Longstreet's Message—Return to Winchester—The Ride to Cedar Creek—The Retreating Army—Rallying the Troops—Reforming the Line—Commencing the Attack—Defeat of the Confederates—Appointed a Major-General in the Regular Army—Results of the BattleCHAPTER IV.General Early Reorganizes His Forces—Mosby the Guerrilla—General Merritt sent to Operate Against Mosby—Rosser Again Active—General Custer Surprised—Colonel Young Sent to Capture Gilmore the Guerrilla—Colonel Young's Success—Capture of General Kelly and General Crook—Spies—Was Wilkes Booth a Spy—Driving the Confederates Out of the Valley—The Battle of Waynesboro'—Marching to join the Army of the PotomacCHAPTER V.Transferred to Petersburg—General Raw'ins's Cordial Welcome—General Grant's Orders and Plans—A Trip with Mr. Lincoln and General Grant—Meeting General Sherman—Opposed to Joining the Army of the Tennessee—Opening of the Appomattox Campaign—General Grant and General RawlinsILLUSTRATIONS.Steel Portrait—General P. H. Sheridan Portrait of Miss Rebecca M. Wright Fac-simile Letter from Abraham Lincoln, Sept. 20, 1864 Fac-simile Letter from Abraham Lincoln, Oct. 22, 1864 Portrait of General William H. Emory Portrait of General George Crook General Sheridan and Staff. Dinwiddie Court HouseLIST OF MAPS.Battle-field of Fisher's Hill Battle-field of Cedar Creek Fourth Expedition—Merritt's Raid to Loudoun Fifth Expedition—Torbert's Raid to Gordonsville Battle-field of Waynesboro Sixth Expedition—Winchester to Petersburg 
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ORGANIZING SCOUTS—MISS REBECCA WRIGHT—IMPORTANTINFORMATION—DECIDE TO MOVE ON NEWTOWN—MEETING GENERALGRANT—ORGANIZATION OF THE UNION ARMY—OPENING OF THEBATTLE OF THE OPEQUON—DEATH OF GENERAL RUSSELL—ATURNING MOVEMENT—A SUCCESSFUL CAVALRY CHARGE—VICTORY—THREE LOYAL GIRLS—APPOINTED A BRIGADIER-GENERAL IN THEREGULAR ARMY—REMARKS ON THE BATTLE.While occupying the ground between Clifton and Berryville, referred to in thelast chapter of the preceding volume, I felt the need of an efficient body ofscouts to collect information regarding the enemy, for the defective intelligence-establishment with which I started out from Harper's Ferry early in August hadnot proved satisfactory. I therefore began to organize my scouts on a systemwhich I hoped would give better results than bad the method hitherto pursued inthe department, which was to employ on this service doubtful citizens andConfederate deserters. If these should turn out untrustworthy, the mischief theymight do us gave me grave apprehension, and I finally concluded that those ofour own soldiers who should volunteer for the delicate and hazardous dutywould be the most valuable material, and decided that they should have abattalion organization and be commanded by an officer, Major H. K. Young, ofthe First Rhode Island Infantry. These men were disguised in Confederateuniforms whenever necessary, were paid from the Secret-Service Fund inproportion to the value of the intelligence they furnished, which often stood usin good stead in checking the forays of Gilmore, Mosby, and other irregulars.Beneficial results came from the plan in many other ways too, and particularlyso when in a few days two of my scouts put me in the way of getting newsconveyed from Winchester. They had learned that just outside of my lines, nearMillwood, there was living an old colored man, who had a permit from theConfederate commander to go into Winchester and return three times a week,for the purpose of selling vegetables to the inhabitants. The scouts hadsounded this man, and, finding him both loyal and shrewd, suggested that hemight be made useful to us within the enemy's lines; and the proposal struckme as feasible, provided there could be found in Winchester some reliableperson who would be willing to co-operate and correspond with me. I askedGeneral Crook, who was acquainted with many of the Union people ofWinchester, if he knew of such a person, and he recommended a MissRebecca Wright, a young lady whom he had met there before the battle ofKernstown, who, he said, was a member of the Society of Friends and theteacher of a small private school. He knew she was faithful and loyal to theGovernment, and thought she might be willing to render us assistance, but hecould not be certain of this, for on account of her well known loyalty she wasunder constant surveillance. I hesitated at first, but finally deciding to try it,despatched the two scouts to the old negro's cabin, and they brought him to myheadquarters late that night. I was soon convinced of the negro's fidelity, andasking him if he was acquainted with Miss Rebecca Wright, of Winchester, hereplied that he knew her well. There upon I told him what I wished to do, andafter a little persuasion he agreed to carry a letter to her on his next marketingtrip. My message was prepared by writing it on tissue paper, which was thencompressed into a small pellet, and protected by wrapping it in tin-foil so that itcould be safely carried in the man's mouth. The probability, of his beingsearched when he came to the Confederate picket-line was not remote, and insuch event he was to swallow the pellet. The letter appealed to Miss Wright'sloyalty and patriotism, and requested her to furnish me with informationregarding the strength and condition of Early's army. The night before the negrostarted one of the scouts placed the odd-looking communication in his hands,with renewed injunctions as to secrecy and promptitude. Early the next morning
it was delivered to Miss Wright, with an intimation that a letter of importancewas enclosed in the tin-foil, the negro telling her at the same time that she mightexpect him to call for a message in reply before his return home. At first MissWright began to open the pellet nervously, but when told to be careful, and topreserve the foil as a wrapping for her answer, she proceeded slowly andcarefully, and when the note appeared intact the messenger retired, remarkingagain that in the evening he would come for an answer.
On reading my communication Miss Wright was much startled by the perils itinvolved, and hesitatingly consulted her mother, but her devoted loyalty soonsilenced every other consideration, and the brave girl resolved to comply withmy request, notwithstanding it might jeopardize her life. The evening before aconvalescent Confederate officer had visited her mother's house, and inconversation about the war had disclosed the fact that Kershaw's division ofinfantry and Cutshaw's battalion of artillery had started to rejoin General Lee. Atthe time Miss Wright heard this she attached little if any importance to it, butnow she perceived the value of the intelligence, and, as her first venture,determined to send it to me at once, which she did with a promise that in thefuture she would with great pleasure continue to transmit information by thenegro messenger."SEPTEMBER 15, 1864. "I learn from Major-General Crook that you are a loyal lady, and still lovethe old flag. Can you inform me of the position of Early's forces, thenumber of divisions in his army, and the strength of any or all of them, andhis probable or reported intentions? Have any more troops arrived fromRichmond, or are any more coming, or reported to be coming? "You can trust the bearer." "I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant, "P. H. SHERIDAN, Major-General Commanding." "SEPTEMBER 16, 1864. "I have no communication whatever with the rebels, but will tell you what Iknow. The division of General Kershaw, and Cutshaw's artillery, twelveguns and men, General Anderson commanding, have been sent away,and no more are expected, as they cannot be spared from Richmond. I donot know how the troops are situated, but the force is much smaller thanrepresented. I will take pleasure hereafter in learning all I can of theirstrength and position, and the bearer may call again. "Very respectfully yours," ............Miss Wright's answer proved of more value to me than she anticipated, for itnot only quieted the conflicting reports concerning Anderson's corps, but wasmost important in showing positively that Kershaw was gone, and thiscircumstance led, three days later, to the battle of the Opequon, or Winchesteras it has been unofficially called. Word to the effect that some of Early's troopswere under orders to return to Petersburg, and would start back at the firstfavorable opportunity, had been communicated to me already from manysources, but we had not been able to ascertain the date for their departure. Nowthat they had actually started, I decided to wait before offering battle untilKershaw had gone so far as to preclude his return, feeling confident that myprudence would be justified by the improved chances of victory; and then,besides, Mr. Stanton kept reminding me that positive success was necessary to
counteract the political dissatisfaction existing in some of the Northern States.This course was advised and approved by General Grant, but even with hispowerful backing it was difficult to resist the persistent pressure of those whosejudgment, warped by their interests in the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, wasoften confused and misled by stories of scouts (sent out from Washington),averring that Kershaw and Fitzhugh Lee had returned to Petersburg,Breckenridge to southwestern Virginia, and at one time even maintaining thatEarly's whole army was east of the Blue Ridge, and its commander himself atGordonsville.During the inactivity prevailing in my army for the ten days preceding MissWright's communication the infantry was quiet, with the exception of Getty'sdivision, which made a reconnoissance to the Opequon, and developed aheavy force of the enemy at Edwards's Corners. The cavalry, however, wasemployed a good deal in this interval skirmishing heavily at times to maintain aspace about six miles in width between the hostile lines, for I wished to controlthis ground so that when I was released from the instructions of August 12, Icould move my men into position for attack without the knowledge of Early. Themost noteworthy of these mounted encounters was that of McIntosh's brigade,which captured the Eighth South Carolina at Abraham's Creek September 13.It was the evening of the 16th of September that I received from Miss Wrightthe positive information that Kershaw was in march toward Front Royal on hisway by Chester Gap to Richmond. Concluding that this was my opportunity, I atonce resolved to throw my whole force into Newtown the next day, but adespatch from General Grant directing me to meet him at Charlestown, whitherhe was coming to consult with me, caused me to defer action until after I shouldsee him. In our resulting interview at Charlestown, I went over the situation verythoroughly, and pointed out with so much confidence the chances of acomplete victory should I throw my army across the Valley pike near Newtownthat he fell in with the plan at once, authorized me to resume the offensive, andto attack Early as soon as I deemed it most propitious to do so; and althoughbefore leaving City Point he had outlined certain operations for my army, yet heneither discussed nor disclosed his plans, my knowledge of the situationstriking him as being so much more accurate than his own.["Extract from Grant's Memoirs," page 328.] "....Before starting I had drawn up a plan of campaign forSheridan, which I had brought with me; but seeing that he wasso clear and so positive in his views, and so confident ofsuccess, I said nothing about this, and did not take it out of mypocket...." The interview over, I returned to my army to arrange for its movement towardNewtown, but while busy with these preparations, a report came to me fromGeneral Averell which showed that Early was moving with two divisions ofinfantry toward Martinsburg. This considerably altered the state of affairs, and Inow decided to change my plan and attack at once the two divisions remainingabout Winchester and Stephenson's depot, and later, the two sent toMartinsburg; the disjointed state of the enemy giving me an opportunity to takehim in detail, unless the Martinsburg column should be returned by forcedmarches.While General Early was in the telegraph office at Martinsburg on themorning of the 18th, he learned of Grant's visit to me; and anticipating activityby reason of this circumstance, he promptly proceeded to withdraw so as to getthe two divisions within supporting distance of Ramseur's, which lay across theBerryville pike about two miles east of Winchester, between Abraham's Creekand Red Bud Run, so by the night of the 18th Wharton's division, under