The beginning of August 1862 found Gen. Jacob D. Cox still in West Virginia, and he devised a way to move men under his command to Washington, D.C., that was later adopted by other Army generals.
On Aug. 13, he was ordered to move east. The 23rd Ohio Vol. Infantry with Col. Rutherford B. Hayes and Sgt. William McKinley were in the First Brigade under Col. Scammon. Other Ohio units in the 1st Brig. were the 12th OVI, 13th OVI and McMullin's Ohio Battery. The Second Brigade under Col. Moor, included the the 11th OVI, 28th OVI, 36th OVI and Simmonds's Kentucky Battery. One troop of horses for orderlies and headquarters escort also went with the Brigades. The other troops under the command of Warren native Gen. Cox were left in West Virginia to guard the Kanawha Valley. Aug. 14 they moved, Cox's orders were to march for 50 minutes then rest the remaining 10 minutes of each hour. Each day they marched 15 miles with a long rest at noon and a half day's interval between each brigade.
In August, the warm weather prompted Gen. Cox to start marching at 3 a.m., so during the heat of the day the men could rest. This plan worked well as the men were not tired or distressed and did not straggle. Traveling by Raleigh Court House and Fayettville to Gauley Bridge then down the right bank of the Kanawha River to Camp Piatt which was 13 miles north of Charleston. A distance of 90 miles covered in 3 1/2 days. On Aug. 15, Gen. Cox telegraphed Quartermaster-General Meigs in Washington that the troops should reach Parkersburg on Aug. 20, where at the terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad the troops would need railway transportation for 5,000 men, two batteries of six guns each, 1,100 horses and 270 wagons.
Safely moving his men in this manner was the basis for General Hooker's movement of the 2nd Corps from Washington to Tennessee the following year, an important logistic of the war. Gen. Cox could have moved the men faster without the wagons and animals, but they were needed in the eastern army for when the Army of the Potomac under Gen. McClellan returned from the Peninsula Campaign, Gen. Cox provided rations to the 9th Corps after the Battle of Antietam.
Gen. Cox unknowingly was moving toward that battle near Sharpsburg, Md., called Antietam, which occurred Sept. 17, 1862. The last part of the troop movement was by boat, at this time of year all the rivers were shallow. At Letart's Falls on the Ohio River the boats had to be warped one at a time past broken rapids and at Blennerhassett's Island there was only two feet of water in the channel, for this the boats had to be "sparred" along by poles, pushing the boats over the shallows. This delayed the troops only a day for they were boarding the train on August 21. Boarding the troops took several days, the last regiments to board were Col. Moor commanding the 28 Ohio and Col. R.B. Hayes commanding the 23rd Ohio along with Sgt. William McKinley, the artillery and cavalry arriving in Washington on August 26.
In Washington Gen. Cox reported to the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, who was born in Steubenville.. Stanton had a reputation for being abrupt and unpleasant, but he was very cordial and pleasant with Gen. Cox. Constantly visiting the railway offices to greet the troops, the General also visited Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, another Ohioan and Governor Dennison of Ohio who, as General Cox said, was mediating between Gen. McClellan and President Lincoln. Dennison was providing diplomatic wisdom and good-will in his pleasant manner which was much needed at this time for Gen. McClellan was being seriously questioned as to his movement or rather non-movement of the Army. McClellan had recently been removed from command of the Army of the Potomac and recalled to Washington. Three regiments were to report to Gen. Pope and were to leave on August 26 but Gen. Robert E. Lee was already flanking Gen. Pope's army and this caused a delay of railway cars. Arrangements were made for the troops to leave on August 27; however, during the night a report was sent over the telegraph that enemy cavalry had attacked the Union's supply depot at Manassas Junction just outside Washington, the telegraph operator had to flee for his life after sending the message.
War Dept. Col. Haupt authorized the movement of the 11th and 12th Ohio Vol. Inf. to protect the bridges crossing Bull Run. Gen. Cox was unaware of this and was waiting for the train. He soon heard of the enemy's attack and went to the telegraph office across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Va. At the telegraph office he met Col. Haupt and Gen. McClellan who had just come from Fort Monroe. They learned that Stonewall Jackson's infantry and cavalry were at Manassas and the Bull Run Bridge had been burnt. On Aug. 28 Gen. Cox met with Col. Scammon and learned that the two Ohio units had held Stonewall Jackson's men, delaying a movement to the east. There was a ring of forts surrounding and protecting Washington and Gen. Cox was ordered to occupy a ridge on Upton's Hill in front of Fort Ramsey. They could hear artillery fire and on August 30 the wounded men were brought in ambulances, reporting that it was a victory for Federal troops.
August 31 Gen. McClellan brought a map of the area and both Generals rode on horseback looking over the topography. At this time McClellan wore a plain blouse, with no indication of rank. Gen. Cox had been close to McClellan but knowing his rank and the army had been taken from him, Gen. Cox was watchful not to be inquisitive or disrespectful. Cox knew McClellan did not think Gen. Pope or Gen. McDowell were capable of command, but McClellan never vilified those men.
On Sept. 2 General McClellan again visited Gen. Cox for a ride; however, this time he was in full uniform, with sash and sword and a determined look on his face. President Lincoln had made him commander of all the defenses of Washington and hoped he would again organize the demoralized army. Cox congratulated him. They had been confidants and Cox thought he was the most accomplished officer he'd met. McClellan drilled the troops and made sure the army was well supplied, making the men proud of themselves, and boosting morale, the men always cheered him as he rode by, but McClellan said himself that when it came to ordering men into battle, he was reluctant for he did not want to lose or hurt his boys. So McClellan was and still is condemned for inaction.
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.