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[109] 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.

Stahl's brigade,427
Milroy's brigade,118
Bohlen's brigade80
Cluseret's brigade,17
Schenck's brigade,14

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

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Robert C. Schenck (3)
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