« PreviousContinue »
“Now, if you were in command of this sub-district, what would you do? Report your answer here at nine o'clock to-morrow morning.”
Garfield studied the situation. At nine o'clock he laid his plan before Buell, whose skilled eye mastered it in a moment. He was satisfied.
“All right,” he said, "proceed with the least possible delay, to the mouth of the Sandy, and move with your force in that vicinity up that river. Drive the enemy back or cut him off. I must commit all matters of detail, Colonel, to your discretion."
Garfield had fifteen hundred men. Marshall had forty-six hundred, and they were entrenched.
Three roads led out from Garfield's headquarters to where the enemy lay. Strategy must be made to make up for lack of men.
Bradley Brown, a man Garfield had known on the Ohio canal, had been brought in by the pickets. He asked to see the colonel.
Garfield received him, and said:
“Yes,” said the visitor, “I belong to Marshall's force, and I've come straight from him to spy on your army.”
"Well, you have a queer way of going about it,” said Garfield.
"Well, you see, when I heard that you was in command down here, I determined, for old times' sake, to help ye.”
“I advise you to go back to Marshall," said Garfield, “and tell him all about my strength and intended movements.”
"But how kin I? I don't know a thing about it.” "Guess," said Garfield.
“You'd orter have ten thousand men to do anything against Marshall, I reckon.”
“That will do for a guess,” said Garfield. “Now, tell Marshall I shall attack in about ten days.”
Brown did as Garfield suggested, and Marshall awaited an attack in force. Garfield sent a detachment along each of the three roads, strong enough to drive in Marshall's outposts.
One after another these Confederate pickets came in to camp and reported that the Yankees were coming in large numbers. Marshall was puzzled. He did not know where to look for the attack, and, in his dilemma, withdrew with his whole force. Garfield quietly took possession.
The whole thing was a huge practical joke; but one which the enemy would not appreciate. Garfield had showed himself a strategist of the first order. He had executed a plan that required boldness and dash, and had done himself the greatest credit.
Garfield had gained a great advantage, but it must be followed up, despite the odds.
Marshall took a new position on a semi-circular hill at the forks of Viddle Creek. It was well chosen and supported by twelve pieces of artillery. But Garfield had been sent to cut Marshall off, or drive him out, and he prepared for the attack.
l'p one spur of the mountain he sent a detachment of Hiram College boys. Garfield on a rocky height watched the tide of battle. He saw that it was unequal, and that they would lose the hill if not supported.
Instantly he sent five hundred men under Major Pardee to the rescue. Then turning to his staff, he asked :
"Who will volunteer to carry the other mountain?”
From noon till dark the eleven hundred men under Garfield contended against overpowering odds, Alternate hopes and fears filled the heart of the Union commander.
Suddenly a starry banner was seen waving over an advancing host. It was Selden with reinforcements. Panic seized the enemy. The eleven hundred were fired by new energy, and with a final charge the day was won.
Shortly after dark a bright light blazed up behind the hill of battle. It was the Confederate general's last fire. In it he consumed everything that would hinder flight or be of value to his foe, and by the light started with his troops for Pound Gap.
Military writers have awarded Garfield great praise for the campaign. It was well planned and daringly executed. The victory at Middle Creek over an entrenched foe four times the number of his own is a feat almost unparalleled in the history of the war.
The little army was victorious, but it had less than three days' supply of provisions, and the roads were impassable from mud. There was the river ; but it was swollen with rain.
What was to be done?
Garfield asked the advice of the ex-canalman, Brown, who had again sought Garfield from Marshall's camp.
“It's which and t’other, General Jim," he said, “starvin' or drownin'. I'd ruther drown 'n starve. · So give the word, and, dead or " '11 git down the river.”
1 gave the word; but went with him on the perilous voyage. outh of the river he found and took possession of a little steamer in the service of the quartermaster. She was loaded with provisions and headed up the stream.
"We cannot make it," said the captain. But Garfield ordered the chicken-hearted fellow away and himself took the helm.
The river surged and boiled. With every turn of the wheel the boat trembled from stem to stern. Three miles an hour was all they could make with all steam on.
At night the captain begged to tie up till morning, but Brown cried out:
“Put her ahead, General Jim,”: and he drove her on through the darkness. All night, all the next day and all the following night they struggled with the furious tide.
The waiting men were wild with joy as the boat rounded into view of the Union camp. The one-time canal boy had saved the army from starvation. He had risked his life a dozen times, and but for his early experience on the Evening Star he would never have been able to bring the steamer, up the foaming river.
Of the whole forty-eight hours spent in climbing the Big Sandy, Garfield had been absent from the wheel but eight hours.
He was formed for a soldier's idol.
Marshall disappeared in a shower of ridicule and sarcasm from both sides. Garfield was made brigadier-general.
The fortunes of war finally found him on that field of blood, glory and disaster at Chickamauga. Seventy thousand Confederates and fifty-five thousand Federal soldiers were massed against each other.
It is said Garfield wrote every order on that field except that fatal one to Wood. That order lost the battle on the right. McCook's whole corps was fleeing, a horde of panic-stricken, frightened soldiers, back towards Chattanooga.
A tramping flood of human beings, reft of reason, caught the general and chief-of-staff in its rush. Garfield, dismounted, with his figure towering above the surging mass, snatched the colors from the fleeing standard-bearer.
The general hastily planted the staff in the ground. Seizing men to the right and left he faced them about and formed the nucleus of a stand. His ringing appeals made no impression on the dead ears of the unhearing men, reft of all human attributes save fear.
A panic is a disease which noting can stay. His exertions were vain. The moment he took his hands from a man he fled. The maddened crowd swept on.
Garfield turned away to where the thunder of guns proclaimed the heart of the battle to beat fiercest. Almost alone he reached Thomas;
informed him how he could withdraw his right, form a new line and meet Longstreet.
Thomas, the army, and its honor, were saved. As night closed on that awful day, with the warm stream of blood from the ghastly wounded and recently killed rising from the burdened earth, Garfield still stood personally directing the loading and pointing of a battery that sent its shot crashing after the retiring foe. Thus closed the battle of Chickamauga.
What was left of the Union army was left in possession of the field. Garfield hurried to Washington with dispatches.
On his arrival he found himself a full major-general of volunteers —“for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Chickamauga."
CHRONOLOGICAL EVENTS OF GARFIELD'S LIFE. Was born in Orange, Cuyahoga county, Ohio, 19th of November, 1831.
Went to school in a log hut at three years of age.
By the time he was fourteen, young Garfield had a fair knowledge of arithmetic and grammar.
In 1848 he went to Cleveland and proposed to ship as a sailor on board a lake schooner, but became a canal boy and soon secured promotion from the tow path to the boat.
During the winter of 1849-50 he attended the Geauga seminary, at Chester, Ohio, about ten miles from his home.
He was converted under the instructions of a Campbellite preacher, was baptized and received into that denomination.
In 1851 he entered the Hiram Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College), at Hiram, Portage county, Ohio.
Entering Williams college in the autumn of 1854, he was duly graduated with the highest honors in the class of 1856.
On his return to Ohio, in 1856, he resumed his place as a teacher of Latin and Greek at Hiram institute, and the next year, 1857, being then only twenty-six years of age, he was made its president.
Without solicitation or thought on his part, in 1859 he was sent to represent the counties of Summit and Portage in the senate of Ohio.
In August, 1861, Governor William Dennison commissioned hini lieutenant-colonel in the Forty-second Regiment of Ohio Volunteers.
Promoted to the command of this regiment, he drilled it into military efficiency while waiting orders to the front.
In December, 1861, he reported to Gen. Buell, in Louisville, Ky. ; the general was so impressed by the coldierly condition of the regiment that