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[94] driving the opposing force back to its former position. Ewell, finding no attack on his left was designed by the enemy, advanced and drove in their skirmishers, and at night was in position on ground previously occupied by the foe. This engagement has generally been known as the battle of Cross Keys.

As General Shields made no movement to renew the action of the 8th, General Jackson determined to attack him on the 9th. Accordingly, Ewell's forces were moved at an early hour toward Port Republic, and General Trimble was left to hold Fremont in check, or, if hard pressed, to retire across the river and burn the bridge, which subsequently was done, under orders to concentrate against Shields.

Meanwhile the enemy had taken position about two miles from Port Republic, their right on the river bank, their left on the slope of the mountain which here threw out a spur, between which and the river was a smooth plain of about a thousand yards wide. On an elevated plateau of the mountain was placed a battery of long-range guns to sweep the plain over which our forces must pass to attack. In front of that plateau was a deep gorge, through which flowed a small stream, trending to the southern side of the promontory, so as to leave its northern point in advance of the southern. The mountainside was covered with dense wood.

Such was the position which Jackson must assail, or lose the opportunity to fight his foe in detail—the object for which his forced marches had been made, and on which his best hopes depended.

General Winder's brigade moved down the river to attack, when the enemy's battery upon the plateau opened, and it was found to rake the plain over which we must approach for a considerable distance in front of Shields' position. Our guns were brought forward, and an attempt made to dislodge the battery of the enemy, but our fire proved unequal to theirs, whereupon General Winder, having been reenforced, attempted by a rapid charge to capture it, but encountered such a heavy fire of artillery and small arms as to compel his command, composed of his own and another brigade, with a light battery, to fall back in disorder. The enemy advanced steadily, and in such numbers as to drive back our infantry supports and render it necessary to withdraw our guns. Ewell was hurrying his men over the bridge, and there was no fear, if human effort would avail, that he would come too late. But the condition was truly critical. General Taylor describes his chief at that moment thus: ‘Jackson was on the road, a little in advance of his line, where the fire was hottest, with reins on his horse's neck, seemingly in prayer. Attracted by my approach, he said, in his usual voice, “Delightful excitement.” ’

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