Gen. Fremont's despatches.
Headquarters army in the field, camp near Port Republic, June 8, 9 P. M.the army left Harrisonburgh at six o'clock this morning, and at half-past 8 my advance engaged the rebels about seven miles from that place, near Union Church. The enemy was very advantageously posted in the timber, having chosen his own position, forming a smaller circle than our own, and with his troops formed in masses. It consisted undoubtedly of Jackson's entire force. The battle began with heavy firing at eleven o'clock, and lasted with great obstinacy and violence until four in the afternoon, some skirmishing and artillery firing continuing from that time until dark. Our troops fought occasionally under the murderous fire of greatly superior numbers — the hottest of the small-arm fire being on the left wing, which was held by Stahl's brigade, consisting of five regiments. The bayonet and canister-shot were used freely and with great effect by our men. The loss on both sides is very great. Ours is very heavy among the officers. A full report of those who distinguished themselves will be made  without partiality. I desire to say that both officers and men behaved with splendid gallantry, and that the service of the artillery was especially admirable. We are encamped on the field of battle, which may be renewed at any moment.
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
J. C. Fremont, Major-General.
headquarters Mountain Department, Harrisonburgh, Va., June 9.In my despatch of yesterday I omitted to state that Col. Cluseret's brigade, consisting of the Sixtieth Ohio and Eighth Virginia, afterward supported by the Garibaldi Guard, formed our advance, and commenced the <*>attle of Cross Keys, by sharp skirmishing, at nine o'clock in the morning. During the day they obtained possession of the enemy's ground, which was disputed foot by foot, and only withdrew at evening when ordered to retire to a suitable position for the night. The skill and gallantry displayed by Cluseret on this and frequent former occasions during the pursuit in which we have been engaged deserve high praise. Respectfully,
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
J. C. Fremont, Major-General.
General Schenck's report.
headquarters Schenck's brigade, Mountain Department, camp at Mt. Jackson, Va., June 12.I have the honor to report the part taken by the Ohio brigade, in the engagement at Cross Keys, on the eighth instant. It was about one o'clock P. M. when I arrived near the point of the road leading to Port Republic, where the advance-guard had already come upon the enemy. A staff-officer, after indicating the position where my cavalry was to be left in reserve, informed me that I was to pass into the field and take position on the right, forming my line of battle and placing my batteries so as to support Brig.-Gen. Milroy, whose brigade, preceded mine in the march, was already getting into line. I was entirely without knowledge of the ground, but immediately proceeded to find the best position I could, according to these instructions, in the direction indicated. I turned my artillery (De Beck's and Rigby's batteries) into and across the fields, supported by infantry, throwing the body of my infantry into line of battle, and extending it in the rear of Milroy's brigade. As I advanced, however, upon the open ridge first pointed out as probably the best on which to establish my batteries, about one fourth of a mile from the main road by which our column arrived, I discovered that I was brought into the rear of a line of woods, through which Milroy was passing also to the right. These woods at the same time concealed the enemy and the character of the ground he was occupying, while they afforded no eligible position for placing my guns so as to reach him. I became satisfied, too, from the character of the ground beyond, as it now opened to us, that the enemy would seek to extend the line of his forces on his left, so as, if possible, to outflank us. I hastened, therefore, to press forward to the right to anticipate any such movement, and to occupy an extended ridge of higher grounds, half a mile further to the south, which I found gave me a more commanding range, and advanced me further to the point, while it enabled me also to cover an easy pass leading up from the enemy's position in front, between the two ridges, and all the open ground sloping away to the valley at the foot of the mountain, by one of which approaches the rebels were to be expected to advance on that side. This position placed my brigade on the extreme right wing, which I occupied for the rest of the day. To reach this point of advantage I had to cross a road in front of my first position, and passing through the skirt of the wood in which Gen. Milroy had advanced, went over some wheat-fields, along the edge of another wood. This I accomplished without loss, though exposed to a pretty severe fire of shell from the enemy, marching my line, composed of the Seventy-third, Fifty-fifth, and Eighty-second regiments of Ohio volunteer infantry, directed by the flank, detaching the Seventy-fifth and Thirty-second Ohio to cover the artillery moving by a more circuitous route. While effecting this, I was ordered by a message from the General commanding to detach Rigby's battery, and send it to the relief of Gen. Milroy. This was immediately done. Reaching the further position which I had selected, I found the line of woods extended still to the right, and shutting in our front. An examination of these woods by companies of the Seventy-third and Thirty-second, immediately thrown forward as skirmishers, discovered the enemy concealed there in force, and still endeavoring to extend himself to the left, with the evident object of turning our right, as I had expected. A few shells thrown into the woods on that side by De Beck's battery, checked this movement and drove back the rebel infantry further to our left. The whole of the Seventy-third, Eighty-second, and Fifty-fifth regiments, being then deployed in the woods on my left-front, formed in line of battle, and slowly advanced, feeling the enemy's position and gradually bringing the concealed line of the rebels to close quarters. The firing of small arms at once became brisk, especially with the Seventy-third, which seems to have been brought nearest the enemy's line, and at this time had several men killed and wounded by the fire. It was at this point of time, too, that Dr. Cantwell, surgeon of the Eighty-second, fell, severely wounded by a shot through the thigh, received while he was passing along the line of his regiment, carefully instructing the men detailed from each company to attend to conveying the wounded to the ambulances. I believed that the moment for attacking and pressing the rebels successfully on this wing had now arrived, and I brought forward the Thirty-second to advance also in the woods and form on  the Seventy-third, extending thus the line to the right, and intending to order a charge which should sweep around the enemy's left flank and press him back towards our sustaining forces on the left. Never were troops in better temper for such work. But just as the Thirty-second was marching to the front for this purpose, leaving only the Seventy-fifth in the rear to cover the battery, I received the order of the General Commanding to withdraw slowly and in good order from my position and go to the relief of the left wing, composed of the brigades of Blenker's division. I felt reluctant to obey, because I was satisfied that the advantageous and promising position and condition of my brigade could not have been known at headquarters. I held my place, therefore, and sent back instantly to ascertain whether the emergency was such as to require me with all haste to retire. The order came back repeated. To prevent my being followed and harassed by the rebels while falling back, I then began to withdraw my infantry, moving them carefully by the flank towards the left, until I could uncover the enemy's line sufficiently to enable my battery to throw shot and shell into the woods. This done, I returned the Thirty-second to the support of the battery, and commenced drawing off the whole of my force to the left along the same lines in which I had advanced them. Here again, however, I was met by a messenger from the General Commanding, informing me that if I thought I could hold my ground I might remain, but stating that Milroy's brigade, my supporting force on the left, had also been directed to retire. I stopped, and threw the artillery again into battery, at a point a few rods in the rear of the place which it had at first occupied, and ordered a number of rounds of quick, sharp firing into the woods occupied by the rebels. The severe effect of this firing was discovered the next day, by the number of rebels found lying on that part of the battle-field. But while thus engaged, Captain Piatt, my Assistant Adjutant-General, ascertained for me that Gen. Milroy, under the order he had received, was rapidly withdrawing his brigade, passing towards the left; and so I had to follow him or be left separated from all the rest of the forces. I returned, however, only to the ridge half a mile to the left, which I had at first occupied, and there remained, in pursuance of orders, encamped for the night. My other battery, (Rigby's,) which I understood had been very effectively engaged during the action, on the left, was here returned home. It was now, perhaps, half-past 5 or six o'clock. Late in the evening, the enemy from the opposite point opened a brisk fire upon our camp and upon Hyman's battery, occupying the point of a hill at our left, with what seemed to be a battery of two six-pounders. This was probably a cover to his retreat. But he was replied to with so quick and hot a return by Hyman, Rigby and De Beck, that his fire was very soon silenced, and as afterwards ascertained, both his guns dismounted. Subsequently, a company of skirmishers from the Seventy-third had an encounter with skirmishers of the rebels, in the woods immediately in front of us, in which we had one man killed and another man wounded; but otherwise we rested undisturbed, until called to march in pursuit of the enemy again in the morning. I regret to have to state that in the night a party detailed from the battalion of Connecticut cavalry, Sergeant Morehouse and four men of company D, being sent to ascertain the position of Col. Cluseret, commanding the advance brigade, lost their way, and were captured, as is supposed, by the enemy's pickets. The whole number of effective men of my brigade that I was enabled to take into action was as follows:
Col. Albert Tracy, A. A.G.:
Col. Albert Tracy, A. A.G.:
Robert C. Schenck, Brigadier-General.
Cincinnati Commercial account.
107] of the engagement. Yesterday we expected would be a more severe struggle than ever. Many thought the rebels to be in force in their old position, while others were of the opinion that they would make a final stand at or near this place. This, in connection with a desire to present you a list of Ohio and Indiana killed and wounded, has induced me to delay writing till to-day. Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful. The birds were singing their sweet melodies as if in worship of Him who made the Sabbath, and the soft air that came balmily from the South, reminded us that the summer was well-nigh here. A movement had been ordered that morning. They say that history shows that battles begun on Sunday seldom are successes for the attacking party. Whether this will prove an exception to the general rule, I will not say, but leave the sequel to tell. A reconnoissance made on Saturday by Gen. Milroy, with the Second, Third, Fifth and Eighth Virginia, and Fifty-fifth and Sixtieth Ohio, clearly revealed the fact that Jackson, after having travelled the pike from Winchester, had suddenly turned to the left in the direction of Port Republic, over a miserably bad road, and with the intention of crossing the river. At this place, twelve miles south-east of Harrisonburgh, was a bridge over the Shenandoah. Other bridges had previously been destroyed, and it seemed pretty clear that he intended to use this. Part of Shields's force, as early as Saturday, had a little fight over the bridge, but could not hold it. Early in the morning the army was in motion, Col. Cluseret having the advance as usual with his brigade. As long as there was an enemy in our rear, this brigade was there. As soon as one appeared in front, then these boys were at the post of danger there. We passed slowly over the bad roads, feeling our way along, and rather expecting the enemy not far distant. About eleven o'clock our advance discovered the rebels, and immediately sent skirmishers forward. Occasional shells were thrown by the enemy at our troops, who gradually advanced, pressing him before them, and compelling him to take more remote positions. Sherman's battery soon came up and began a well-directed fire. This increased the fire of the enemy, which now became pretty brisk. One of the shells thrown about this time fell only a few feet from Gen. Fremont, who was early upon the ground, taking observations and making dispositions of his forces, which now began to arrive rapidly. The country through here is rolling; woods, generally of oak, from the size of a small sapling to that of a man's body. Occasionally, too, a pine is seen. The ground upon which the battle was fought is a succession of hillocks. In front, and to the west where our troops were formed in line of battle, there are several farms stretching two or three miles from north to south. This belt of cleared land is lowest in the centre, gradually rising as you approach the timber in either direction. Our line was formed upon the high lands to the west, where the farms, distant woods, and gentle hills were spread out before us in full view. To the north, as if standing sentinel and gravely looking down upon the scene transpiring, rose a lofty mountain-peak, its top enveloped in a blue haze, and its steep sides bathed in the sunlight of the beautiful morning. Far off to the east, stretching up and down the Shenandoah, the distant peaks of the Blue Ridge formed a background of indescribable beauty. General Schenck was assigned the right. His forces were disposed as follows: at his left was the Eighty-second Ohio, Col. Cantwell; next came the Fifty-fifth Ohio, Col. Lee; Seventy-third, Col. Smith; Seventy-fifth, Col. McLean, while the Thirty-second Ohio, Col. Ford, held the extreme right. The centre, under the command of the intrepid Milroy, had the Third Virginia, Lieut.-Col. Thompson commanding, on the left; next the Fifth Virginia, Col. Zeigler, the Second Virginia, Major J. D. Owens commanding; while the Twenty-fifth Ohio, under the command of Lieut.-Col. Richardson, formed the right. Between Milroy's right and Schenck's left lay the Sixtieth Ohio, Col. Trimble, and Eighth Virginia, Col. Loeser, commanded by Col. Cluseret, in addition to the Garibaldi Guards, of Blenker's division. Gen. Stahl's brigade, consisting of the Eighth, Forty-first, and Forty-fifth New-York, and Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania, with the invincible band of Bucktails, that survived the slaught<*>r of Friday, formed the left. Gen. Bohlen's brigade was to support Stahl, while the remainder of Blenker's division was a reserve. Thus formed, the line was probably a mile and a half in length, and moving down the slope, with the old flag floating from every regiment, was a spectacle too grand for description. Now they begin to ascend, and as they approach the woods, the enemy's batteries pour in their shot and shell. But our boys are not to be daunted. On they go. A battery or two take position in a wheat-field that penetrates the woods in the centre, while battery after battery and regiment after regiment disappear in the thick woods in front, Looking across a little to the right of our centre, a battery dashes along, and a company of horse-men follow it hurriedly across the field. They, too, enter the wood. At the head of that band was Gen. Milroy. He never asks his men to go where he will not go himself. Now the cannonading quickens. Our guns are at work, and the enemy are doing all they can. Milroy presses forward at the head of his men. Johnson's battery passes through the wood and over an intervening field, taking position near a barn. Now we hear musketry. The skirmishers of the enemy are lying along the fence near by. Here Capt. Charlesworth, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, falls mortally wounded. Johnson has lost four horses, but he still deals out the deadly missiles. Gen. Milroy has his horse disabled by a ball, but he exchanges him for another. In the centre, all goes encouragingly. Hyman's and Ewing's batteries are both at work. To the right, Gen. Schenck, with his characteristic energy, presses on. De Beck is shelling the  woods, both to the right and in front. Captain Morgedant, of Gen. Schenck's staff, in a reconnoissance, discovered the enemy, in considerable numbers, bearing down upon them as if to turn our right, and such no doubt was their intention. Gen. Schenck, with his keen perception, at once discovers the enemy's intention, and frustrates his plans by an increased fire and by a steady advance. The Seventy-third Ohio, Col. Ford, is advanced two or three hundred yards, throwing out skirmishers and pressing the enemy before them. Now let us turn to the left. Stahl, with his German regiments, had long since disappeared. Capt. Dilger's mountain howitzers had now opened fire; the cannonading was furious; the deep thunders of the artillery reverberated through the valleys; the sharp crash of musketry rang through the woods; shells went screaming on their errand of death; and the cloud of sulphurous smoke that hung like a funeral pall over the advancing and receding waves, told too well of the work of carnage and death then going on. Gen. Stahl, with the Eighth New-York, Col. Wutschel, and Forty-first, Col. Von Gilsa, had penetrated the woods and passed over to the remote side of a clover-field that lay beyond. Here the ground gradually rose till it came to a belt of woods, when it descended. This declivity had been taken advantage of by the rebels, by posting behind a considerable force of infantry, which opened a murderous fire upon the columns of our men as they ascended. This, combined with the continued stream of shot and shell poured into them, produced sad havoc. Their ranks were terribly thinned. They fell on all sides. Col. Wutschel was wounded. A few moments more, an advance of a few feet, and the German regiments could have poured into the enemy a fire which would have driven him before them. This, with a combined movement of Schenck, Milroy having already penetrated the centre, would have swept the enemy along his whole line, and gained a most complete victory, putting him to rout and capturing his guns. But just at this juncture a most unfortunate mistake occurred. Two of Col. Bohlen's regiments were ordered up to relieve those in advance. By some means it appears that this order was construed into one to retire, and accordingly those decimated regiments withdrew from the scene of conflict, while the entire left of our forces retired in good order from the wood, and took a position in the rear. The misfortune of this misunderstanding can scarcely be estimated. One more effort and these regiments, which had forced themselves right up to the enemy's guns, would have gained a splendid triumph. But the opportunity was lost, and “Stonewall” Jackson again slipped through our fingers, after we had marched through mud and rain for fifteen days to cultivate a more intimate acquaintance with him. Truly, “there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.” There was more than one who saw our forces come from the woods, but there was one whose eagle eye took in the whole field. How he watched those retiring columns. “See, Colonel,” said Fremont, “they retire in good order.” But now no time was to be lost. For four hours our men had been fighting. For them the roar of artillery had been incessant. With the left open, of course our centre, weak in numbers at best, must be exposed severely. The day was far spent, and it seemed best to have the centre fall back also. A messenger was accordingly sent to Milroy, telling him to retire in good order. But this man knows no such word as “retire,” and not having heard of the misfortune on the left, he replied: “What in the devil are you saying?” He had driven the enemy before him, and amid a shower of ball and shot, had almost reached their batteries. In a little while, he said, he would have had some of the enemy's guns. Schenck, too, having advanced, was ready to sweep around upon the rebels' left. Of course he was mortified at the necessity of leaving his position, and only did it when he knew the order to be imperative. It was now half-past 3 o'clock. There was a lull in the storm. Each party seemed satisfied to take a rest. What had become of the enemy? All was quiet as the grave. As we were revolving this in our mind a puff of smoke rose up in a new position, and here came a shell screaming like a demon, and falling not far from the position occupied by Gen. Fremont's staff; another puff, and here came another of those grim messengers that sing so unlike anything else, and which a man will always recognise after he has heard the first. We were being shelled and no mistake, and the result was a kind of separation among those who occupied the hill. Our guns, however, soon opened a brisk fire upon the “dog” that had been barking so fiercely, and a few shot completely removed the troublesome visitor. An occasional discharge of artillery reminded us that we were not yet free from the enemy. The wounded, with their quivering wounds, their lived countenances, their heart-rending groans, and their bloody clothes, were brought in, and as fast as possible their wants attended to. Cluseret, with the Sixtieth Ohio and Eighth Virginia, now fell back some two hundred yards behind the church, and thus our whole line had retired more or less. Night came on; the clouds which had obscured the sky disappeared, and the moon smiled down as peacefully upon the scene where carnage had held high carnival, as if no ghastly features, pale in death, were there. Feeling that the early position of Col. Cluseret was exposed, and not knowing that he had removed, Gen. Schenck, after dark, sent out Sergt. John B. Morehouse and four privates of company D, Connecticut cavalry, in search of him. But in the mean time the Colonel had changed his forces. Morehouse did not return, and he is supposed to have been killed. He was a bachelor and a man of wealth, and came from California here, when the war broke out, to join a Connecticut company. That night our troops, tired and drowsy, sank down to rest upon the ground which they had occupied before going into the thickest of the fight. This morning we were up betimes. Another  bloody day was expected, but the depression which seemed last night to weigh down many hearts, had been removed. All now seemed confident. The troops were early formed in line of battle, Schenck now taking the centre and Milroy the right. The American flag floated grandly in the morning breeze, and the boys moved with elastic step as the bands encouraged them with national airs. It was a grand spectacle to see them moving off in the direction of the ground strongly contested the day before. Skirmishers were thrown out, and the army advanced rapidly, but found only the wounded or the silent dead in possession of the field. The enemy had left the field the night before or early in the morning. When arriving at Mill Creek church, which had been used as a hospital by the rebels, we found twenty-six of our wounded. Thirty had been sent ahead, they said, with seventeen prisoners taken. The hospital had been a scene of woe. Here stood a pool of blood, there a horribly mangled foot, yonder an arm severed from the body, etc. Such is war. Let it be said to the rebels' credit that they treated our wounded humanely. Many left upon the field had blankets thrown over them and canteens of water placed by their side, while they nearly all say that they were as well treated as the rebels themselves. But let us go on with our march: The army moves in the direction of Port Republic without resistance. As we draw near that place we see a dense volume of smoke rising. Our troops press on to see the cause. The last rebel had crossed the Shenandoah — their almost interminable train could be seen winding along like a huge snake, in the distant valley. Several regiments were drawn in line of battle on the opposite side of the river. An unfordable river was between them, and the only bridge was in flames. The battle of P “Cross Keys” was now a matter of history, and the famous pursuit of Jackson and his army was at an end. Gen. Fremont had left Franklin on Sunday, May twenty-fifth, taking up his line of march for the valley of Virginia. At Petersburgh he had left his tents and heavy baggage. With one exception, he had marched sixteen consecutive days. The rains had been heavy and severe. Frequently our soldiers had bivouacked in water and mud, and lain down in their drenched clothes to steal a little sleep, to have a dream of the loved ones at home, and to have a very few hours of rest that they might endure the fatigues of the coming day. Transportation had been difficult. Forage was scarce, the country having been cleaned of such things by former armies. Sometimes they had a short allowance of bread or perhaps none, while the shoes of some of them had given out and the poor fellows had to march barefoot. Day after day they had pressed forward in good spirits and with light hearts, enduring the trials with great patience. For seven days they had had skirmishing with the rebels and had taken over four hundred prisoners and liberated about thirty of Banks' men. After fourteen days of continued work the battle comes, and now what was the condition of our men? Of course they were not in the best. Many were sick-our force was weak. The division of Blenker, although strong in numbers, was nevertheless weak, for they had become so demoralized by their excesses on their various marches from Washington, that there was a lack of discipline, a thing indispensable to a good soldier. Under circumstances such as these, Gen. Fremont fought the battle of Cross Keys. Did it not require a man with a stout heart and steady hand? In spite of all untoward circumstances he gained much, and but for the misfortune on the left would have captured Gen. Jackson with both army and baggage. Do you ask why it is called “Cross Keys?” Well, there is, about the middle of the battle-ground, a store-house, a church, and a house or two; this is called by that name. I believe they have formerly had a post-office there. Our loss is severe, and foots up as far as I am now able to say, as follows: killed, wounded and missing.
This does not include the casualties in Steinwehr's brigade, which is probably small.
Some of the missing were taken prisoners, yet we have reason to believe the number of such small.
Some may yet come in, so that our loss in killed and wounded may be set down at about six hundred.
What the rebel loss is, of course we cannot tell.
Their dead were principally removed.
Some of our wounded at the hospital said they had three hundred and fifty wounded lying in the field adjacent to the church,but this is unreliable.
A pit at Mill Creek Church is supposed to be a receptacle for many of their dead.
They had far more horses killed than we. At one battery there are seventeen horses lying.
Their loss around their batteries must have been severe, for the ground is literally ploughed by our balls and shells.
Their loss at any rate must be equal to our own.
I could relate many incidents that would be interesting, but I will not do it. One instance, however, is too amusing to omit.
Capt. Morgedant, of Gen. Schenck's staff, happened, in the midst of the fight, to come upon one of our First Lieutenants and fourteen men squatted in a wheat-field, with plenty of plunder.
The brave Lieutenant, thinking with the Irishman that this man was about to surround his and his squad of marauders, quickly exclaimed, “Captain, I'm your prisoner!”
handing him his sword at the same time.
After he discovered that the Captain was of the Union army, he wanted his sword back, but the Captain said, “No, sir, I will arrest you for cowardice,” and he did so. This Lieutenant was a
member of the Garibaldi Guard.
Comment is unnecessary.
Captain Dunka, of General Fremont's staff, was killed.