From The Constitution, Wednesday, September 10, 1862 (volume 25, number 1289)
A Large Force on the Opposite Shore
Washington, Sept. 6.
Farmers from the upper part of Montgomery county, Maryland, arriving here early to-day, report that heavy firing was heard late yesterday evening in the direction of Noland’s Ferry. They also confirm the rumor that the rebels crossed the river yesterday this side of the Point of Rocks.
They did not venture any considerable distance from the Potomac. The force consisted of a battalion of cavalry and four pieces of artillery. After remaining a short time they recrossed. There is no doubt of the fact that the rebels in strong force are posted at several points on the opposite shore.
Large bodies of rebel infantry were plainly visible from this side during the day, and the camp fires at night indicated the presence of a larger force of rebels than at first supposed.
INVASION OF MARYLAND
Frederic held by the Rebels !
On Friday last a large force of rebel cavalry made its appearance on the Virginia side of the Potomac, opposite Edwards’ Ferry, having reached the point by the road from Leesburgh. They endeavored to effect a landing, but were shelled by our troops stationed on the Maryland side and severely repulsed.
At 2 1/2 o’clock, Saturday morning, a second attempt was made to cross the river simultaneously at Edward’s, Conrad’s, Nolan’s and Smith’s ferries, and proved successful. The rebel force consisted of between two and three regiments of cavalry. As soon as Poolesville was invested, our pickets communicated with the troops in the rear, who, being numerically weak, retired. Some fifteen or twenty soldiers of the First Maryland Regiment are missing and supposed to have been captured.
Our force at Poolesville consisted of the infantry regiment named, the First Massachusetts Cavalry, and a detachment of the Twelfth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
The four ferries named on which the rebels crossed the Potomac are each but a few miles from Poolesville, and bear down upon it by direct roads.
From this point the Rebels proceeded to Darnestown—a small place on Seneca Creek, nine miles from Poolesville—in a south-easterly direction and directly communicating with the District of Columbia, Georgetown, Washington, etc. This point was reached at about 4 o’clock this morning ; and the cavalry entered pell-mell, almost taking our pickets by surprise. At this place a branch of the Military Telegraph had been established, communicating with the War Department. The operator was fortunately warned of his danger in time to tear the recording instrument from the table, cut the wire and escape. His rapid progress towards Darnestown, however, was interrupted by the appearance of some of our troops coming down the road.
The raid ceased at Darnestown, the rebels probably fearing an attack in force from our troops already moving to frustrate this audacious enterprise.
There seems to be little doubt that the rebels are crossing into Maryland in force at the point named and others higher up.
On Friday, also, the rebels fired and destroyed the funnel bridge across the Monocacy River, and inflicted great damage on the canal at that point, besides destroying several boats.
The rebel force in the neighborhood of Darnestown and Clarksburgh is estimated at 3,000, and is composed entirely of cavalry.
A body of the enemy, about 1,500 strong, crossed the river at White’s Ferry, and are supposed to be en route Frederic. Our forces hold the bridge across Seneca Creek, which was not injured by the rebels on their return from the recent dash on Darnestown. It has been ascertained that Jackson crossed the Potomac opposite the north mouth of the Monocacy, and passed along the bank of the stream to Frederick. A rebel picket, captured near Clarksburgh to-day, says Jackson’s force is 45,000 men.
The news this week is anything but encouraging. Our armies are now employed in guarding Washington, while the rebels are invading Maryland. On Friday night and Saturday morning they crossed the Potomac at several points in the neighborhood of Point of Rocks, and on Saturday noon they were in possession of Frederick, the capital of the State. About 5000 occupied the city. Poolesville is also in their possession. Gen. Jackson was reported to have crossed below Point of Rocks.
Gen. Pope was on Friday, at his own request, relieved of his command, and at once prepared charges against Generals Porter, Franklin, and Griffin. It is stated that Gen. Pope has been assigned to the department of the Northwest.
Gen. Wallace was to leave Cincinnati and make his headquarters at Covington, Ky. Ohio is promptly sending forward large forces for military operations in Kentucky.
Gen. White, at Martensburg, Va., telegraphs to General Wool at Baltimore that 400 rebel cavalry attacked his position and were defeated with a loss of about 50 prisoners. Our loss was two killed and ten wounded.
The impression is strong throughout the country that there has been exceedingly bad management, and perhaps, something infinitely worse among those who occupy high military position. Something has been said about an investigation which is to be instituted. There should certainly be a strict examination into the conduct of some of our generals and public officers. Things have gone wrong, and the national cause has been greatly imperiled. It may be the result of pure incompetency or ignorance. Our generals should be held to a strict accountability for their conduct.
Major General O. M. Mitchell has been assigned to the command of the department of the South, in place of General Hunter. Gen. T. W. Sherman, formerly in command at Port Royal has gone out to supersede General Phelps at New Orleans.
The failure of the Peninsular expedition against Richmond has lessened very materially the popular estimate of General McClellan’s qualities as a great commander, and has drawn upon him grave accusations from sundry quarters. It was expected that he would not again be entrusted with an important command, and the public were prepared to hear as they did that a major part of his army had been assigned to other generals. But the President still has confidence in General McClellan, and has given him command of the fortifications of Washington and of all the troops for the defence of the capital. It appeared that the army itself desired that McClellan should be its leader, and it is remarkable that through all the suffering and the disasters of the Peninsular campaign, the army has constantly shown a most enthusiastic attachment to its General.
The President has probably acted with wisdom in placing General McClellan in command of the fortifications of Washington. Whatever may be his deficiencies in other respects, he is certainly a master in all defensive operations. The fortifications of Washington were constructed under his direction. He knows every inch of ground around the city, and the national capital may be deemed perfectly secure as long as it is defended by General McClellan.
P. S. General McClellan has been appointed to the chief command of the army. He has taken prompt steps to wage a sharp offensive warfare against the enemy. The best wishes and the hopes of the country attend him.
The country has lost one of its most gallant and accomplished defenders in General Kearney. He was killed in battle near Fairfax Court House on the 1st inst., while gallantly leading his men into action. General Kearney was one of those men who loved his profession, and had devoted himself to it with an ardor which is rarely witnessed. He endeavored not only to become master of the theories on which the profession of arms is based, but also to become practically acquainted with the work to which he had devoted his life. He served through the Mexican war with distinguished honor, and subsequently participated in several campaigns in Europe. Much had been anticipated from the valuable services of General Kearney in the present war, but he has thus early met a soldier’s death on the battle field. The loss of such a man is deeply felt at a time when we realize that we have already too few leaders of capacity in the field.
It was hoped that later accounts from the west would show that the first statements with regard to the massacres were exaggerated. But it is not so. The first reports are fully confirmed. Gov. Ramsey of Minnesota telegraphed to the President that they could not defend themselves against the Indians and at the same time furnish the full quota to the Government. The President telegraphed back to him to take care of the Indians first, whether he could furnish the quota or not. The Third Minnesota Regiment, which was captured at Murfreesboro, and subsequently released on parole, has been ordered to the frontier. As they cannot fight the rebels, they are put to good use against the Indians.
Our Quota and the Draft.
Some complaint has been made that our quota in proportion to the number of voters seems large. It is not larger than that of many other towns where a fair enrollment has been made. The estimate of the number of men required of each town for the nine months service is based upon the number enrolled and upon the number which each town has furnished under the previous calls. Now Middletown was behind hand in furnishing her quota a year ago under the call for 500,000 men. Our quota was about 300, and we furnished only 150, or about half the requisite number. Under the late call for 300,000 for three years we raised 179. The deficiency of last year increases by so much the estimate of the number required from this town for the 600,000 called for this year. If we had raised our proportion a year ago, the quota of Middletown would have been not far from 300. As it is, it is 463. Counting out 179 raised this summer for three years service, there remained 284 to be raised for nine months. On Saturday afternoon about 100 had enlisted for nine months, and not far from 184 were then wanting.
Strenuous efforts have been made. Three recruiting offices have been in full operation and liberal bounties are offered. The town gives a bounty of $150 to each volunteer.
ONLY HALF A DAY !
But half a day now remains for volunteering. Our quota is not yet made up. About eighty men must be raised either by volunteering or by A DRAFT. It is certain that there will be a draft to-morrow (Wednesday) unless the men are raised to-day. Remember that to-day you can secure bounties ; to-morrow there are none. Now is your time.
Death of a Soldier.—A returned soldier belonging in Durham, named Luther B. White, died on Sunday soon after his return home, and was buried the same day. He was a son of Mr. Leander White, and belonged to the 10th regiment. He was aged 17 years.
Capt. Allison of Cromwell has been appointed Adjutant, and G. W. Dart of this city acting Quartermaster.
Generals Mansfield, Casey and Cadwallader, and Judge-Advocate Holt compose the Court-martial for the trial of Generals Porter, Franklin and Griffin against whom Gen. Pope has prepared charges. Gen. Mansfield was expected in Washington on Sunday from Fortress Monroe.
In Portland last week when the citizens of that place were enjoying a collation on the occasion of the visit home of their company from New Haven, some secessionists expressed their opinions a little too freely. After the collation, one man who had made himself conspicuous by talking against the government was visited by a party of loyal men who gave him the choice of retracting all he had said or taking a ride free gratis on a contrivance commonly called a rail. It was a clear case that he must either ride or retract. He concluded to retract, made an apology, said he was sorry, and would do so no more. The rail was immediately withdrawn.
Another secessionist who said he hoped the whole company would be shot, had his windows broken in the next night, an act of violence which, although committed under great provocation, was decidedly wrong.
The Comet, which has a long time been visible in the heavens, was estimated on the 30th ult. to be thirty-two and a half millions of miles distant. On the 5th inst., it passed the celestial equator, and about the 10th or 12th inst. it was calculated it would disappear in the southern latitudes.