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Chapter 13: Port Republic.

It has been related how General Jackson. assembled his army at Strasbourg before the occupation of that place by Fremont, and thus eluded the combination designed by him and Shields, in his rear. On the evening of June 1st, he resumed his retreat up the Valley. The object immediately demanding his attention was the rescue of his army from its perilous situation. The indirect purpose of the campaign was already accomplished; his rapid movements and stunning blows had neutralized the efforts of General McDowell against Richmond --Banks was driven from Winchester the 25th of May, and the Federal authorities were panic-struck by the thought of a victorious Confederate army, of unknown numbers, breaking into Maryland by Harper's Ferry, and seizing Washington City. Just at this juncture, McClellan had pushed his right wing to a point north of Richmond, at Hanover Court House, and within a single march of McDowell's advanced posts. On the 27th of May, the Confederate General Branch was defeated at that place with loss, and the fruit of this success was the occupation of all the roads, and of the bridges across the waters of the Pamunkey, connecting Richmond with Fredericksburg and Gordonsville, by the Federalists. Had the advice of McClellan been now followed, the result must have been disastrous to General Lee, and might well have been ruinous. The Federal [394] commander urged his Government to send General McDowell, with all the forces near Manassa's, under Sigel and Augur, by the route thus opened to them, to effect an immediate junction with his right wing, to hold permanently these lines of communication between Lee and Jackson, and to complete the investment of Richmond. These operations, which the Confederates had no means to resist, with the addition of the forty thousand troops which they would have brought to McClellan's army, already so superior in numbers, would have greatly endangered Richmond and its army. .But the terror inspired by Jackson caused the President to refuse his consent; he was unwilling to expose his Capital to a sudden blow from this ubiquitous leader; and instead of sending General McDowell forward, he commanded him to retire nearer to Washington. General McClellan was further ordered by telegraph, to burn the bridges across the south Pamunkey, won by his recent victory, and by which his reinforcements should have joined him, lest the Confederates should move by them against Washington! Thus Providence employed the movements of General Jackson's little army to paralyze the forces of Fremont, Banks and McDowell, amounting to eighty thousand men, during the critical period of the campaign. It is therefore with justice, that his successes in the Valley are said to have saved Richmond and Virginia. When the small means, the trivial losses, and the short time, with which this great result was wrought, are considered, it will be admitted that military genius has never, in any age, accomplished a more splendid achievement. It was indeed so brilliant, that the doubt has been suggested, whether the mind of Jackson or of any other strategist, was prophetic enough to forecast and provide for so grand a conclusion, or whether it was the fortunate and unforeseen dispensation of chance, or of Providence. To the latter he delighted to attribute all his success; and he would [395] have been the first to concur in the estimate, which made him only an humble instrument in the hand of an omniscient Guide, who superintended his fallible judgment, overruled the efforts of his enemies, and, among the variety of possible effects, connected his measures with those consequences which were most beneficial to his country. But while this Christian solution is fully admitted, the honor of General Jackson, as an instrument, is vindicated by these facts, that, from the first, he strongly urged the movements which were at length made, as the surest means for these ends, and that he continued steadfastly of the same mind amidst all the mutations in others, produced by the fluctuating appearances of the campaign. The wisdom of his plan was seconded by a devotion and energy in action, which gave it such success as no other could have commanded.

A more glorious sequel yet remains to be narrated, in which General Jackson extricated himself from his baffled enemies, and assisted in crushing the remainder of the Federal forces near Richmond. The former of these results was effected at Port Republic; and to this spot the narrative now leads. When General Jackson, on the evening of June 1st, resumed his retreat from Strasbourg, he was aware that Shields had been for nearly two days at Front Royal. The fact that he had not attempted an immediate junction with Fremont suggested the suspicion that he was moving for a point farther upon the rear of the Confederates, by way of Luray and New Market Gap. To frustrate this design, General Jackson now sent a detachment of cavalry to burn the White House bridge across the South Shenandoah, by which the Luray turnpike passed the stream, and also the Columbia bridge, a few miles above it. He knew that Shields had no pontoon train, for Banks had been compelled to sacrifice it at Newtown; and the rivers were still too much swollen to be forded. Having taken this precaution, he retreated up the [396] Valley turnpike in his usual stubborn and deliberate fashion, with his cavalry and Chew's light battery in the rear. It was the saying of his soldiers, that his marches were always easy when in retreat, but hard when pursuing. This calmness of movement not only promoted order, and gave time to bring off his supplies, but wrought an invaluable effect upon the spirits of the troops. A hurried march in retiring from the enemy suggests insecurity, and ministers a constant excitement to the minds of the men akin to panic, and easily converted into it. General Jackson's deliberation reassured his army; and they never lost confidence or spirit because they were compelled to retire for a time. It was by this means that he was enabled to preserve the order of his troops equally in retreat and in advance.

General Fremont, having ascertained that the Confederates were withdrawing, pursued with spirit; and, after nightfall, a portion of his horse came so near the rear-guard that they were challenged by them. They replied, “Ashby's cavalry” ; and, having thus deceived our forces, availed themselves of the advantage to charge the 6th regiment of cavalry, which was next the rear. These were thrown into disorder; and a few of them were ridden down, and wounded, or captured. Confusion was also communicated, to some degree, to the 2nd regiment next it; but the commander, Colonel Munford, soon reformed it, gallantly charged the enemy, repulsed them, and captured some prisoners. On the 2nd of June, the enemy succeeded in taking position where their artillery was able to cannonade the Confederate rear. The cavalry was thrown into disorder by the shells, and fled, carrying a part of its supporting battery with them. The Federal cavalry now pushed forward to reap the fruits of this success, when Ashby displayed that prompt resource and personal daring which illustrated his character. Dismounting from his horse, he [397] collected a small body of riflemen who were lagging, foot-sore and weary, behind their commands, and posted them in a wood near the road-side. Awaiting the near approach of the enemy, he poured into their ranks so effective a fire that a number of saddles were emptied, and a part of the survivors retired in confusion. The remainder were carried past by their momentum and even broke through the ranks of the rear regiment in a brigade of infantry,--that of Colonel Campbell,--commanded since his wounding at Winchester by Colonel J. M. Patton. But that officer, filing his next regiment from the road in good order, made way for the onset of the enemy, and, as they passed, gave them a volley which terminated their audacity. Only one of the party returned alive to his comrades, the remainder being all killed or captured. Colonel Patton, while reporting the events of the day to the General, at nightfall, remarked that he saw this party of foes shot down with regret. He seemed to make no note of these words at the time, but pursued his minute inquiries into all the particulars of the skirmish. After the official conversation was ended, he asked: “Colonel, why do you say that you saw those Federal soldiers fall with regret?” It was replied, that they exhibited more vigor and courage than anything which had been attempted by any part of the Federal army; and that a natural sympathy with brave men led to the wish that, in the fortunes of the fight, their lives might have been saved. The General drily remarked: “No; shoot them all: I do not wish them to be brave.” It was thus that he was accustomed to indicate, by a single brief sentence, the cardinal thought of a whole chapter of discussion. He meant to suggest reasonings which show that such sentiments of chivalrous forbearance, though amiable, are erroneous. Courage in the prosecution of a wicked attempt does not relieve, but only aggravates, the danger to the innocent party assailed, and the guilt of the assailants. There [398] is, then, a sense in which the most vigorous are the most worthy of death; and the interests of those who wage a just defence prompt them to visit retribution, first, upon those who are most dangerous.

The 2nd and 6th regiments of cavalry were now transferred from the command of General Stewart, to that of Ashby. When the latter returned to Winchester the week before, from the pursuit of Banks, he was met by his commission of BrigadierGen-eral of cavalry; an honor well earned by his arduous and important services. He was now raised to that position best adapted to his powers. While unsuited for the drudgery of the drill and the military police, General Ashby had every quality of a brilliant commander in the field. Seconded by diligent and able Colonels in his regiments, he would have led his brigade to a career of glory surpassing all his previous successes. But such a destiny was not in store for him; and his sun was now about to set in its splendid morning.

On the 3rd of June, the Confederate army placed the north fork of the Shenandoah behind it; and General Ashby was entrusted with the duty of burning the bridge by which it passed over. Before this task was completed, the Federalists appeared on the opposite bank, and a skirmish ensued, in which his horse was struck dead, and he himself very narrowly escaped. The necessity of replacing this bridge, arrested Fremont for a day, and gave the tired Confederates a respite, which they employed in retiring slowly and unmolested, to Harrisonburg. A mile south of that village, General Jackson left the valley road, and turned eastward, towards Port Republic; a smaller place upon the south fork of the Shenandoah, and near the western base of the Blue Ridge. It was not until the evening of June 6th, that the Federal advance overtook his rearguard, which was still within two miles of Harrisonburg, [399] posted at the crest of a wooded ridge, commanding the neighboring fields. General Ashby, as usual, held the rear; and the division of General Ewell was next. In part of the Federal army was a New Jersey regiment of cavalry, commanded by one of those military adventurers, whose appetite for blood presents so monstrous and loathsome a parody upon the virtues of the true soldier. A subject of the British crown, and boasting of his relationship to some noble English house, this person had offered his services to the Federal Government, siding with the criminal and powerful aggressors, against the heroic and righteous patriots, without one of those pleas of native soil and sentiments, which might rescue his acts from the criminality of naked murder. It had been his blustering boast, that at the first opportunity, he would deal with the terrible Colonel Ashby; and for this he sought service in this part of the Federal armies. His opportunity was now come; he advanced his regiment to the attack, when General Ashby, taking a few companies of his command, met them in the open field, and at the first charge, routed them, and captured their Colonel with sixty-three of his men. The remainder fled into Harrisonburg in headlong panic; and the braggart mercenary found his fitting recompense in a long captivity.

The sound of the firing now brought General Ewell to the rear; and General Ashby assuring him that the Federal attack would be speedily renewed in force, asked for a small body of infantry, and proposed a plan, most brilliantly conceived, for turning their onset into a defeat. General Ewell entrusted to him the 1st Maryland regiment, of Colonel Bradley Johnston, and the 58th Virginia, under Colonel Letcher. Ashby disposed the Marylanders in the woods, so as to take the Federal advance in flank, while he met them in front at the head of the 58th. Indicating to General Ewell the dispositions of the enemy, which [400] he had exactly anticipated, and his own arrangements to meet them, he seemed to the spectators, to be instinct with unwonted animation and genius. At this moment, the enemy's infantry advanced; and a fierce combat began. They, approaching through the open fields, had reached a heavy fence of timber; whence, under the partial cover, they poured destructive volleys into the ranks of the 58th regiment. Ashby seeing at a glance their disadvantage, galloped to the front, and ordered them to charge, and drive the Federals from their vantage. ground. At this moment his horse fell; but extricating himself from the dying animal, and leaping to his feet, he saw his men wavering. He shouted, “Charge men; for God's sake, charge!” and waved his sword; when a bullet pierced him full in the breast, and he fell dead. The regiment took up the command of their dying General, and rushed upon the enemy, while the Marylanders dashed upon their flank. Thus pressed, the Federals gave way, the Confederates occupied the fence, and poured successive volleys into the fleeing mass, who were fully exposed to them until they passed out of musket range. If blood, by comparison so vile, could have paid for that of the generous Ashby, he would have been fully avenged. The Lieutenant Colonel commanding the foremost Federal regiment, remained a prisoner in the hands of the Confederates, and the field was sprinkled over with killed and wounded.

With this repulse, the combat ceased: resulting in a loss to the confederates of seventeen killed, and fifty wounded, which fell chiefly on the 58th Virginia. The place where it occurred was not the one selected by General Jackson to stand the brunt of a general action, and it was therefore necessary to remove the wounded and the dead at once. The oversight of this humane task he entrusted to General Ewell. All the wounded who could bear a hasty removal were set on horses, and carried to a [401] place of safety. A few remained whose hurts were too painful to endure the motion; and of these General Ewell was seen taking a tender leave, replenishing their purses from his own, that they might be able to purchase things needful for their comfort in their captivity, and encouraging them with words of good cheer. The glorious remains of Ashby were carried to Port Republic, and prepared for the grave. After all the sad rites were completed, General Jackson came to the room where he lay, and demanded to see him. They admitted him alone; he remained for a time in silent communion with the dead, and then left hiM, with a solemn and elevated countenance. It requires little use of the imagination to suppose that his thoughts were, in part, prophetic of a similar scene, where his corpse was to receive the homage of all the good and brave. But the duties of the hour were too stern to give a longer time to grief. At a subsequent day, his official report paid this brief but emphatic tribute to his companion in arms.

“ In this affair, General Turner Ashby was killed. An official report is not an appropriate place for more than a passing notice of the distinguished dead; but the close relation which General Ashby bore to my command, for most of the previous twelve months, will justify me in saying that, as a partisan officer, I never knew his superior. His daring was proverbial, his powers of endurance almost incredible, his tone of character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy.”

General Ashby was of a spare and graceful figure, irregular features, and swarthy complexion. His hair and beard were profuse, and of jetty black, while his eye was a clear, piercing gray. Accomplished from his youth in all the feats of horsemanship and wood-craft, he was already trained for irregular warfare, before he girded on his sword. His private life had [402] been marked by purity, generosity, and a chivalrous spirit; and the modest dignity and cultivation of his manners showed him the true gentleman. These qualities remained untarnished, and shone only the more, when he became a military commander. No coarse excess soiled for a moment the maidenly delicacy of his morals; no plunder ever stained his hands, nor did woman, nor disarmed enemy, ever meet anything but magnanimous kindness from them. IHe was necessarily entrusted, as commander of outposts and patrols, in a district subject to martial law, with a large discretion in dealing with private rights; but his measures were always directed with such wisdom and equity, as to command the approval of friends and foes. His was an understanding formed by nature for war. As a citizen, he would have passed through life unmarked, save for his virtues, modesty, and high breeding. But when his native State called her sons to the field, he found his proper element. Excitement roused his powers, danger only invigorated and steadied them; and his comrades instinctively recognized in his decision, unerring judgment, magnanimity, and resource, one born to command. When he fell, the presence of the enemy in his native county forbade his burial among his kindred; so that although his venerable mother, who had now given to her country her last son, with the devotion of a Roman matron, anxiously awaited his remains there, it was necessary to seek for them another resting place. His friends selected the grave-yard of the State University: thither they were conveyed with martial pomp, and buried while the thunders of the distant battle at Port Republic tolled a fitting knell for the great soldier. There, the tomb of Ashby should remain, a memorial to the generous youth of Virginia, to suggest to them in all future times, the virtues and patriotism which he illustrated by his life and death. [403] In all the qualities of the citizen, the young man could find no nobler or purer exemplar.

On the 7th of June, the main body of the army was assembled in the neighborhood of Port Republic. General Jackson was now repeating with Fremont the manoeuvre by which he had confounded Banks, by turning aside toward the base of the Blue Ridge. But his ready skill dictated some important differences in his strategy, to meet the different conditions of the case with which he now had to deal. The mountain was, to the Confederates, not only a fastness, but a base of operations; for the regions of Eastern Virginia beyond it offered them, by the various roads crossing it, both supplies, and a safe place of retreat. The line of operations of the Federalists was along the great Valley Turnpike; and this was parallel to the mountain. Hence, when Jackson took a position at the western foot of the Blue Ridge, he gained the advantage of a military base parallel to his enemy's line of operations, which enabled him to strike it at right angles, if it were prolonged by further advance into the country. Twice he resorted to this strategy, and each time it arrested the career of the superior army. His march from Swift Run Gap in May had taught him another advantage, belonging to the point which he now selected. A good road led from Port Republic across the mountain into Albemarle by Brown's Gap, offering him a safe outlet in case of disaster, and a means for drawing supplies from that fertile country. Before this road crowns the summit of the Blue Ridge, it passes through a valley, which constitutes the most complete natural fortress in all these mountains. Two arms of the mountain, lofty and ragged as the mother ridge, project from it on the right and left hand, embracing a deep vale of many miles' circuit, watered by a copious mountain stream; and while the mighty rim of this cup is everywhere impracticable for artillery and cavalry, [404] the narrow gorge through which the road enters it from the west, affords scarcely room to set a regiment in battle array, between the two promontories of the mountains. Here was obviously the place for a small army to stand at bay against superior numbers.

But General Jackson did not purpose to withdraw into this fortress, save in the last resort; for to do this, he must sacrifice the advantage which the unscientific strategy of his adversaries gave him, by keeping their two armies apart, and attempting to approach him upon convenient lines, while his army was already concentrated. Befooled with the old fallacy of crushing an inferior force by surrounding it from different directions, Fremont and Shields were pursuing this method, instead of uniting their troops before the collision; and they were destined to illustrate again, by their disasters, the correctness of the maxim, that the inferior force possessing the interior position between its enemies, must have the advantage, if it strikes them in detail while separated. The two Federal Commanders had neglected a junction below Strasbourg. By burning the Columbia and White House Bridges, General Jackson had prevented their union at New Market; and he was now prompt to make them continue their error. Shields was. still east of the Shenandoah, and there remained but two bridges, above or below, by which he could cross to the west side, to reach Fremont. One of these was at Port Republic, and was in Jackson's possession; the other was at the mouth of Elk Run valley, fifteen miles below. This General Jackson now sent a detachment of cavalry to burn; when there occurred one of those manifest interpositions of Providence, which from time to time shewed the answer to his prayers for the divine blessing. A quarter of an hour before the Confederate troopers reached the bridge, the advanced guard of General Shields arrived there, sent by him to ascertain whether [405] [406] the structure was still standing; for he had now awakened to some conception of its importance to him. They found it safe: but hearing that there was a corporal's guard of Confederate soldiers a few miles above, watching a parcel of stores, they dashed off to capture them, instead of remaining to guard the bridge, or else returning to report its condition to their commander. The stores were captured, and the guard escaped; but when the head of Shields's main column reached the bridge, the Confederates had arrived, and the work was-hopelessly involved in flames. The Shenandoah, still swollen by the rains of a late and ungenial spring, was nowhere fordable, and the construction of a bridge in the presence of such a foe as Jackson was not an inviting enterprise. He was now master of the situation: he had comprehended all the conditions of the critical problem upon which he staked the very existence of his army; and while all others were full of anxious forebodings, he awaited the issue with calm determination.

The part which remained to him in the coming tragedy was to hold fast his command of the brigade at Port Republic, and to seize his opportunity to crush the one of his assailants, now approaching from opposite directions, whom he judged it most judicious to attack. But the nearness of both of them, (within less than a day's march,) left little room for seeking the advantage which he knew so well how to use, by rapid movements, and successive blows. To any inferior leader, the danger would have been imminent of a simultaneous attack in front and rear; for if the converging detachments of enemies are allowed time to make such attacks, then indeed, all the success expected from the bungling plan of thus surrounding an army, may be realized. To understand the consummate union of skill and audacity with which Jackson obviated this danger, and still compelled his enemies to fight him in detail, although within sight of the smoke [407] of each others' guns; a more particular description of the ground is necessary. Between Harrisonburg and Port Republic the country is occupied by the wooded ridges characteristic of a limestone region, elevated but rounded, and practicable for the movements even of artillery; and these are interspersed with farms and fields which fill the vales. These bold hills extend to the river's brink on that side; while between the waters and the mountain, where Shields was approaching, the country stretches out in low and smooth meadows, everywhere commanded from the heights across the stream. Between these level fields and the mountain itself, is interposed a zone of forest, of three miles' width, broken into insignificant hillocks, and interposed with tangled brush-wood, which stretches parallel with the river and the Blue Ridge, for a day's march above and below. The little village is seated on the southeastern side of the Shenandoah, in the level meadows, and just within the angle between the main stream and a tributary called South River. The only road to Brown's Gap, descending from the bold highlands of the northwest bank, over the long wooden bridge, passes through the hamlet, crosses the South River by a ford, and speedily hides itself, upon its way to the mountain-base, in the impenetrable coppices of the wood.

General Shields, disappointed in the hope of joining Fremont by the bridge at Elk Run valley, continued his march up the southeastern bank of the river, by the same difficult road which the Confederates had followed in their march from Swift Run in April. On the evening of Saturday, the 7th of June, his advance appeared at Lewiston, the country-seat of General Lewis, three miles below the village. The main object dictated by General Jackson's situation now was, to keep his enemies apart, separated as they were by the swollen stream, and to fight first the one or the other of them, as his interest might advise him. [408] The defeat of one would obviously procure the retreat of both; for their cautious and timid strategy required the concert of the two armies to embolden them for coping with their dreaded adversary. It was manifest that good generalship should select Shields as the victim of the first blow. His force was smaller than that of Fremont, and so it was reasonable to expect an easier victory over it. If he were beaten, his retreat would be hemmed in between the river and the mountain, to a single scarcely practicable road; whereas General Fremont would be able, if overthrown, to withdraw by a number of easy highways. If, on the other hand, the attack of the Confederates upon Shields were unsuccessful, they would be able to retire into their own country, and nearer their supplies; while if they were defeated in an assault on Fremont upon the other side of the river, they would have that barrier to a retreat in their rear, with Shields's army unbroken, threatening them with destruction. It might appear, at first thought, that the obvious way to carry out the purpose of attacking Shields and defeating him separately, was to withdraw the whole Confederate army at once to the same side of the river with him, burn the bridge, thus leaving Fremont alone and useless upon the other bank, and then fall with full force upon the former. This, any other good soldier than Jackson would probably have done; but his designs were more audacious and profound still. With whatever promptitude he might attack Shields, he saw that the battle-field must be upon the southeastern margin of the Shenandoah, and under the heights of the opposite bank; which, if he yielded all the country on that side to Fremont, would of course be crowned by his artillery. And then, the struggle would have been virtually against both his foes combined; although the waters still flowed between their troops. In addition, his powerful artillery, the right arm of his strength, would then [409] [410] have been paralyzed by the inferiority of its positions as compared with those ceded to Fremont upon the northwestern bank. Further, General Jackson was not willing to deprive himself of the power to take the aggressive against Fremont, after disposing of Shields, should his success in assailing the latter prove sufficiently crushing to encourage him to a second battle.

For these reasons, General Jackson neither ceded the northwestern bank to Fremont, nor burned the bridge. Where an inferior genius would have purchased the full union of his forces at the expense of allowing to his two enemies a virtual concert as injurious as an actual junction; he accepted a nominal separation of his own troops, perceiving that he would thus have the most effective co-operation. He purposed thus to hold both his adversaries at bay, until the propitious moment arrived to strike one of them a deadly blow. For this end, he selected for General Ewell an excellent position upon the road leading to Harrisonburg, five miles from the bridge, while he posted tile other division of his army, with several batteries of artillery, upon the heights next the river, but still upon the northwest side. Thence his guns could overlook and defend the bridge, the village, the narrow champaign extending towards Brown's Gap, and all the approaches on the side of Shields. In Port Republic itself he stationed no troops save a detachment of horse, which guarded the roads towards Lewiston, and protected his own quarters in the village. His dispositions were completed by bringing all his trains across the bridge and placing them near by, where they might be withdrawn either to the mountain or to Staunton. Two companies of cavalry were detached to watch the approach of General Shields, of which one was sent to reconnoitre, and the other was stationed as a picket guard upon the road to Lewiston. [411]

The morning of June 8th, which was the Sabbath day, dawned with all the peaceful brightness appropriate to the Christian's sacred rest; and General Jackson, who never infringed its sanctity by his owi choice, was preparing himself and his wearied men to spend it in devotion. But soon after the sun surmounted the eastern mountain, the pickets next the army of Shields came rushing to the Headquarters in the village, in confusion, with the Federal cavalry and a section of artillery close upon their heels. So feeble was the resistance which they offered, the advance of the enemy dashed across the ford of the South River almost as soon as they, and occupied the streets. The General had barely time to mount and gallop towards the bridge, with a part of his staff, when the way was closed; two others of his suite, attempting to follow him a few moments after, were captured in the street; and one or two, perceiving the hopelessness of the attempt, remained with the handful of troops thus cut off. But out of this accident, to them so involuntary, Providence ordained that a result should proceed essential to the safety of the army. As the captured Confederate officers stood beside the commander of the Federal advance, some of his troopers returned to him, and pointed out the long train of wagons hurrying away, apparently without armed escort, just beyond the outskirts of the village. He immediately ordered a strong body of cavalry in pursuit; and the hearts of the Confederates sank within them; for they knew that this was Jackson's ordnance train, containing the reserve ammunition of the whole army; and that all its other baggage was equally at the mercy of the enemy. But as the eager Federals reached the head of the village, they were met by a volley of musketry, which sent them scampering back; and when they returned to the charge, two pieces of artillery opened upon them, to the equal surprise and delight of their anxious captives, and speedily [412] cleared the streets with showers of canister. The explanation was, that one of the officers separated from the General's suite, seeing the impossibility of joining him, had addressed himself to rallying a handful of the fugitive picket guards, and with these, and a section of raw artillerists from the reserves, had boldly attacked the enemy. Thus the trains were saved, and a diversion was made, until the General could bring forward more substantial succors.

Nor was it long before these were at hand. Galloping across the bridge, and up the heights, to the camp of the 3rd and 1st brigades of his own division, he ordered the long roll to be instantly beaten, and the artillery to be harnessed. The horses were still grazing in the luxuriant clover-fields, and the men were scattered under the shade of the groves; but in a few moments the guns were ready for action, and two or three regiments were in line. Jackson ordered the batteries of Poague, Wooding, and Carpenter to crown the heights overlooking the river, and placing himself at the head of the leading regiment of the 3rd brigade,--the 37th Virginia of Colonel Fulkerson,--rushed at a double-quick toward the all-important bridge, now in the enemy's possession. When he approached it, he saw the village beyond crowded with Federal cavalry, but now checked in their pursuit of his trains; while one of their two field-pieces was replying to the Confederate artillery, and the other was placed at the mouth of the bridge, prepared to sweep it with murderous discharges of grape. One lightning glance was enough to decide him. Ordering Captain Poague to engage with one of his pieces the gun at the southern end of the bridge, he led the 37th regiment aside from the high road, so that they descended the declivity obliquely against the upper side of that structure, marching by the flank. Without pausing to wheel them into line, as they came within effective distance, he commanded them, with a tone [413] and mien of inexpressible authority, to deliver one round upon the enemy's artillerists, and then rush through the bridge upon them with the bayonet. They fired one stinging volley, which swept every cannoneer from the threatening gun, and then dashed with a yell through the narrow avenue. As soon as Jackson uttered his command he drew up his horse, and, dropping the reins upon his neck, raised both his hands toward the heavens while the fire of battle in his face changed into a look of reverential awe. Even while he prayed, the God of battles heard; or ever he had withdrawn his uplifted hands the bridge was gained, and the enemy's gun was captured. Thus, in an instant, was a passage won, with the loss of two men wounded, which might have become a second bridge of Lodi, costing the blood of hundreds of brave soldiers. So rapid and skilful was the attack, the enemy were able to make but one hurried discharge, before their position and their artillery were wrested from them. To clear the village of their advance was now the work of a moment, for the batteries frowning upon the opposite bank rendered it untenable to them; and the Confederate troopers next the baggage trains, plucking up heart, scoured the streets of every foe. Their retreat was so precipitate that they left their other piece of artillery behind them also, and dashed across the fords of South River by the way they came.

As they retired toward Lewiston, they met the infantry of Shields's army advancing to their support. But it was too late: the batteries were now all in position, and greeted their approach with a storm of projectiles from the farther side of the river, before which they were compelled to recoil with loss. The novel sight was now presented, of a retreating army pursued by two or three batteries of field guns, and retiring before them in helpless confusion. For as the Federal troops withdrew along the south side of the stream, the Confederates limbered [414] their guns and galloped over the swelling fields upon the north side, to other lofty positions, whence they still commanded the ground occupied by the retreating foe, until he concealed himself behind the forest near Lewiston. He thus verified the judgment of General Jackson, by finding himself as effectually debarred, by these masterly dispositions, from co-operating in the contemplated attack of Fremont, as though he had been separated from him by many days' marches. And although the most urgent motives prompted Shields to renew his attack in concert with his associate on the other side, so manifest was the triumph of Jackson's generalship, he did not again venture the hopeless attempt; but sat all day idle, within sound of the cannonade, which told him that Fremont was compelled to risk and lose the field, without his aid. One element of General Jackson's greatness and success was the decision and confidence with which he held the conclusions of his own judgment after he had once matured them. His reflection was careful, his caution in weighing all competing considerations great; but when his mind once adopted its verdict, it held to it with unwavering and giant grasp. This characteristic was strongly illustrated in these events. As the reader viewed the considerations detailed above, by which the plan of action was dictated at Port Republic, some of them have probably appeared to him so nice and delicate, that he was inclined to deem it rashness, to stake the existence of an army upon deductions drawn from them. But when General Jackson had weighed them all, his decision was made with an absolute confidence, and he was calmly prepared to risk everything upon it. When it was argued with him that, surely, General Shields would not suffer the critical hour to pass, without attempting again to co-operate with Fremont by a more serious and persistent attack, his only answer was, to wave his hand towards the commanding positions of his [415] artillery, and say; “No sir! No! He cannot do it; I should tear him to pieces.” And he did not do it! During all the remainder of the day's struggle, he remained passive; visited, doubtless, by misgivings not very comfortable, as to his own coming share in the attentions of the Confederate General. The latter now placed the third brigade, under Brigadier-General Taliaferro, in the village, to watch the fords of South River and the roads toward Lewiston, on the one hand, while on the other, he guarded the course of the Shenandoah above the village and opposite to General Ewell's left, by a few pickets. The first brigade of, General Winder was sent down the river with a portion of the artillery, and posted upon the north side, to observe the discomfited enemy about Lewiston. The remainder of his division was disposed so as to be ready for the support of Ewell.

These dispositions had not been completed, when the firing to the north told that he was seriously engaged with Fremont. This General had moved out to the attack from Harrisonburg, (doubtless expecting the assistance of Shields upon the other side,) with the divisions of Blenker, Milroy and Schenck, making seven brigades of infantry, a brigade of cavalry, and a powerful train of artillery. This army was correctly estimated by General Ewell, at eighteen thousand men. His own division had now been recruited, by the addition of the six regiments of General Edward Johnson, known as the army of the northwest. Of these, the 12th Georgia, and the 25th and 31st Virginia, had been attached to the Brigade of Elzey; and the 52nd, 58th and 44th Virginia, lately under Colonel Scott, had been given to General George Stewart, and associated with the Maryland line. The position chosen for meeting Fremont was a continuous ridge, a little south of the point where the Keezletown road crosses that from Harrisonburg to Port Republic. This range of hills crosses the latter highway obliquely, in such manner that [416] General Ewell's left, occupying it, was much advanced beyond his right, and rested, at its extremity, very near the prolongation of the Keezletown road, toward the west. The hills are elevated, but occupied by arable fields. In front runs an insignificant rivulet, while the rear and flanks of the position are covered by woods of noble oaks, penetrable even by a column of artillery, in many places, but yet affording excellent cover for sharpshooters. On this ridge, then, General Ewell deliberately posted his troops to receive the shock, while Colonel Canty, with the 5th Alabama infantry, stubbornly contested the advance of the enemy along the road from Harrisonburg. In the centre, upon the best positions, he placed four picked batteries, those of Courtney, Lusk, Brockenborough, and Rains, with General Elzey's brigade in their rear, as a reserve force. On his right was the brigade of General Trimble, in advance of the centre, and on his left, that of General Stewart. The guns were placed on the reverse of the hills, a little behind the crest, where the cannoneers were protected from all missiles which came horizontally; and the lines of infantry lay in the valleys behind them, almost secure from danger.

About ten o'clock A. M., the Federal artillery was posted opposite to this position, and a spirited cannonade began, which continued for several hours. Indeed, the battle was chiefly one of artillery; for this arm was the only one which the Federalists employed with any perseverance or courage. After feeling the Confederate lines for a time with this fire of cannon, Fremont advanced a part of Blenker's German division, upon his left. Finding no enemies near the front of his left, save a few videttes, who were easily repulsed, he sent back glowing accounts of his success, in driving in the Confederate right wing. When he had thus swung around for nearly a mile, he was rudely undeceived. The veteran General Trimble, held his excellent [417] brigade well in hand, behind the crestof a forest ridge, which, in front descended by a gentle declivity, to the margin of a wide meadow, and was there bounded by heavy fence of timber. He commanded the troops to reserve their fire until the enemy appeared above the hill, within point-blank range, when he poured a deadly discharge into their ranks. The Germans recoiled in disorder, and Trimble, seizing the moment, charged them with the bayonet, and drove them down the slope and across the meadow. It was then, especially that the foe paid the penalty of his assault. The Confederates pausing at the fence, and firing from it in security, and with deliberate aim, continued their murderous discharges, until the enemy had crossed the open ground, and taken refuge in the opposite wood. The green vale was strewn with hundreds of the dead and wounded; and the remainder left the field, to be rallied no more that day. The Federals now attempted to arrest Trimble's career, by posting a battery a half mile in front of his extreme right. But having received the 25th and 13th Virginia regiments, of Elzey's brigade, as reinforcements, he at once advanced with the purpose of capturing it. After several spirited skirmishes with its infantry supports, he forced his way to the ground, and found it deserted. General Trimble had now advanced more than a mile from his original position, while the Federal advance had fallen back to the ground occupied by them before the beginning of the action.

The enemy then developed a strong movement toward General Ewell's left, for which the Keezletown road, proceeding westward from Cross Keys, provided such facilities. This advantage, with the superior numbers of the opposing army, manifestly suggested the fear of such a movement, and nothing but the most impotent generalship on their part, could account for the fact that they allowed the day to close, disastrously for [418] them, without making it. General Ewell's left being necessarily thrown strongly forward, would have been enfiladed by troops advancing from that quarter. Hence, he wisely guarded that wing, and employed the most of his reinforcements to strengthen it. A little after mid-day, when the battle was at its height, General Jackson rode to the field, from his post near Port Republic, and calmly examined the progress of the struggle. Returning, he sent back to Ewell the Louisiana brigade of Taylor, which had been moved to his support during the alarm at the bridge, and also detached the second brigade of his division, under Colonel Patton. The remainder of General Elzey's brigade was then moved to the left, leaving their post in the rear of the centre to these troops. Thus prepared, General Ewell awaited for a long time the expected onset upon his flank. It resulted in nothing more than a feeble demonstration, which was easily repulsed by two or three regiments of Elzey. Seeing this, Ewell advanced his own line just before night-fall, drove in the enemy's skirmishers, and assumed a new position on ground which they had held during the battle. Thus the day closed, and his troops lay upon their arms, upon the vantage-ground they had won, ready to resume the strife, and hoping to rout Fremont at dawn on the morrow.

In this combat of Cross Keys, Ewell had about six thousand men in his line of battle, and only three thousand five hundred actually engaged. Yet Fremont reported to his government that he was compelled to yield to superior force, and found himself outnumbered at every point where he attempted a movement. The veteran Ewell remarked, that he felt all day as though he were again fighting the feeble, semi-civilized armies of Mexico. The loss with which the Confederates achieved this success, was surprisingly small, being only forty-two (42) killed, and two hundred and thirty-one wounded, The chief loss of [419] the enemy was probably in front of Trimble, where it amounted to many hundreds.

General Jackson, regarding Fremont as only repulsed, and not routed, still adhered to his purpose to risk his first decisive blow against Shields, for the reasons which have been explained; and he deemed the present the proper hour to strike it, while the former was reeling and confused from his rude rebuff, and the latter was standing irresolute in an exposed attitude. He therefore summoned General Ewell, after he had completed his dispositions for the night, to his quarters; and instructed him to send the trains over to the troops, for the purpose of issuing food to them; to have them again withdrawn to the south side of the Shenandoah, and at break of day to march to Port Republic, leaving a strong rear-guard to amuse and retard the enemy. Then, awaiting the rising of the moon, which occurred about midnight, he collected his pioneers; and caused them, under his own eye, to construct a foot-bridge across the fords of the South River, by which he designed to pass his infantry down toward Lewiston. This structure was hastily made by placing wagons, without their bodies, longitudinally across the stream. The axles formed the cross-beams for the support of the floor; and the latter was composed of long boards, borrowed from a neighboring saw-mill, laid loosely from one to another. This bridge, on the morrow, furnished an instance of the truth, that very great events may be determined by very trivial ones. It was intended that the flooring should occupy the whole breadth between the wheels of the wagons, giving passage to several men abreast. But by an oversight, just at the deepest and angriest part of the stream, the hinder axle of a large wagon was placed next. the foremost axle of the next. The inequality in the height, with the increasing depth of the current, made a space of nearly two feet, which, when the flooring was placed in order, presented a step, [420] or sudden descent, of that amount; and all the boards of the higher stage proved to be unsupported at their ends, and elastic, but one. As the men began to pass over in column, several were thrown into the water by this treacherous and yielding platform, until, at length, growing skittish of it, they refused to trust themselves, to any except the one solid plank; and thus the column was converted, at this point, into a single file.

The actual achievements of General Jackson at Port Republic were as brilliant as anything in the history of war. But his secret design embraced still more. It has already been explained that he did not arrest the pursuit of Fremont by at once burning the bridge across the Shenandoah, because he was unwilling to deprive himself of the ability to take the aggressive against that General. He now formed the bold purpose to concentrate his army, and fight both Shields and him, successively, the same day. Hence his eagerness to begin the attack on the former at an early hour. Stronger evidence of this startling design will be given. During the night he held an interview with Colonel Patton, commanding the 2nd brigade, which he then proposed to employ as a rear-guard to cover the withdrawal of General Ewell's forces from the front of Fremont. This officer found him, at two o'clock in the morning of the 9th, actively engaged in making his dispositions for battle. He immediately proceeded to give him particular instructions as to the management of his men in covering the rear, saying: “I wish you to throw out all your men, if necessary, as skirmishers, and to make a great show, so as to cause the enemy to think the whole army are behind you. Hold your position as well as you can; then fall back, when obliged; take a new position; hold it in the same way; and I will be back to join you in the morning.” Colonel Patton reminded him that his brigade was small, and that the country between Cross Keys and the Shenandoah offered few advantages [421] for protracting such manceuvres., He therefore desired to know for how long a time he would be expected to hold the army of Fremont in check. He replied: “By the blessing of Providence, I hope to be back by ten o'clock.”

Here then, we have revealed his whole purpose: He allotted five hours to crushing the army of Shields, and expected the same day to recross the Shenandoah and assail Fremont, or at least re-occupy his strong position upon the north bank, and again defy his attack. The Stonewall Brigade was accordingly ordered to begin the movement at the dawn of day; and by five o'clock it had crossed the South River, and was ready to advance against Shields. The Louisiana brigade of General Taylor came next, and as soon as they had passed the foot-bridge, the General eagerly moved with them to the attack, directing the trains to be passed toward Brown's Gap in the mountain, and the remainder of the troops to be hurried across as rapidly as they arrived, and sent to his support. But now the defect which has been described in the footway disclosed itself; proposals to arrest the passage of the troops long enough to remedy it effectually, or else to disuse the bridge, and force the men through the water, were all neglected by the commanders of brigades; and while six or eight thousand men were passed over in single file, ten o'clock arrived and passed by. The consequence was, that the first attack made upon the Federalists, being met with a stubborn resistance, and unsustained by adequate numbers, was repulsed with loss, and the battle was protracted far beyond the hour which permitted a second enlgagement that day on different ground. Thus three ill-adjusted boards cost the Confederates a hard-fought and bloody battle, and delivered Fremont from a second defeat far more disastrous than that of the previous day.

When General Jackson led the brigades of Winder and [422] Taylor against the Federalists, he found their main army posted advantageously at Lewiston. The level tract which intervenes between the Shenandoah and the forest-zone which girdles the mountain's base, has been described. The whole space was here occupied with smooth fields of waving clover and wheat, divided by the zigzag wooden fences of the country. Near the edge of the forest stood the ample villa of General Lewis, surrounded by substantial barns and stables, and orchards; while a lane, enclosed by a double fence, led thence direct to a mill and dwelling upon the margin of the stream. This lane marked the basis of the enemy's line of defence. His right was supported upon the river, and his left upon the impenetrable wood, while his centre was defended by the extensive enclosures and buildings of Lewiston. Upon a hillock just at the edge of the thickets were planted six field-pieces, which commanded the road from Port Republic, and all the fields adjacent to it.

General Jackson's plan of battle was now promptly formed. He placed the Stonewall Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Winder, in front, supported on its right by one of the regiments of Brigadier-General Taylor, and on its left by the 52nd and 31st Virginia regiments. The battery of Poague was posted in its front, while that of Carpenter was ordered to make its way through the tangled forest upon the right and find some commanding position, whence they could silence the enemy's guns above Lewiston. The brigade of General Taylor was also sent to the right, by a detour through the woods, to capture those guns, and then to turn the position of the Federalists. But the almost impenetrable thickets rendered their progress slow, and by a slight mistake of their direction in these pathless coverts, they approached the left front, rather than the flank of the dangerous battery. Meantime the Stonewall Brigade, with its supports, had advanced across the level fields, [423] without any shelter from the animated fire of artillery and rifles, from the orchards and fences about Lewiston, and after a stubborn contest with overpowering numbers, was compelled to retire, leaving one six-pounder in the enemy's possession. As the Louisiana troops emerged from the woods on the hill-sides above, they saw with admiration the Virginians sustaining the unequal combat with heroic courage, until they were at length forced back, their ammunition exhausted, by sheer weight of numbers. The Federalists now advanced from their cover, with loud and taunting cheers, pierced the centre of Jackson's feeble line, and threatened to throw back the fugitives against the river which was upon their left, and thus to cut them off from retreat. But the regiments of Taylor, nothing daunted, charged the Federal battery, and driving the supports away, seized the six guns, which they held for a short time. General Ewell, who had now passed the whole of his division across the South River, was also hurrying to the front. He had just placed the 44th and 58th Virginia regiments, as a reserve, on the right of the road-way, and fronting towards it, under cover of the wood. Seeing Winder forced back, and two brigades of the enemy impetuously advancing through the Confederate centre, he now most opportunely launched the two regiments against their flank, and poured in a galling fire. The Federalists wheeled and confronted them, and, after a furious conflict, forced them back also with heavy loss. But a saving diversion had been made. The attack of Taylor upon their left had silenced their artillery for the time, and placed him far in rear of their advancing lines. The indefatigable Winder rallied his scattered infantry, and sought new positions for the remaining guns of Poague, and for the battery of Carpenter, who had now returned from his ineffectual struggle with the thickets; and the batteries of Chew, Brockenborough, Courtenay and Rains [424] contributed, to reinstate his battle, with such pieces as had not been crippled in the contest of the previous day. Thus the insolent foe was steadily borne back toward his original position at Lewiston, and the buildings, orchards and fences, which he occupied there, were scourged by a pitiless storm of cannon-shot.

But it is time to return to General Taylor, who was left in possession of the Federal battery of six guns, upon the right. He was now, in turn, driven from them, by a brigade which made a detour through the thicket, and fell upon his right flank. At this critical juncture, General Ewell brought up the 44th and 58th Virginia regiments to his support, which had been rallied after their bloody contest on the centre, and advanced under Colonel Scott, with a steadiness unexampled in volunteer troops, after losses so severe as theirs. By their assistance, and that of the 2nd Virginia regiment from the Stonewall Brigade, Taylor's attack was renewed. Twice more was the contested battery lost and won. The Confederates, driven off for a time by the enfilading fire of the enemy in the woods above them, and the murderous volleys of canister in front, rushed again and again to the charge; and after the third capture, the prize remained in their possession, while the Federalists sullenly retired. The dead of both armies were intermingled around the guns, while nearly all the horses belonging to them, lay slaughtered behind them.

Meantime, General Jackson perceived that the struggle had become too protracted and serious to permit another collision with Fremont that day. The brigade of General Trimble, with two regiments from that of Colonel Patton, were slowly retiring before him from Cross Keys toward the river. At 10 o'clock A. M., a messenger was despatched to them by the General, with orders to hasten their march to his assistance, and to burn the bridge behind them. The brigade of General Taliaferro, which [425] had been left to occupy the village, was also hurried to the front, and arriving with great celerity, gave the parting volley to the retreating foe. The cavalry of Ashby was now launched after them, and their flight became a rout. Nearly half of an Ohio regiment were separated from their comrades by General Taliaferro, and surrendered in a body; and the pursuit was continued eight miles farther by the cavalry, who gathered, as spoils of war, small arms and vehicles, with many prisoners.

In the battle of Port Republic, the Federalists had eight thousand men engaged, and the Confederates three small brigades of infantry, with three regiments of cavalry, and a superior artillery. The enemy fought with a steadiness and courage unwonted, and inflicted upon the troops of General Jackson, a serious loss of ninety-one officers and men killed, and six hundred and eighty-six wounded. They owed their escape from ruin, only to the narrow road by which they retreated, and the impenetrable wilderness by which it was bordered; which made the manoeuvres of cavalry impossible, and enabled a small rear-guard to cover their flight successfully. It was said that General Shields was fifteen miles in the rear with his reserves, when the battle occurred, and that the forces engaged were commanded by Brigadier-General Tyler.

As the evening approached, General Jackson recalled his jaded men from the pursuit, and led them by a side way, from Lewiston, towards the mouth of Brown's Gap, in the Blue Ridge. As they passed the field of battle on their return, they saw the hills opposite to Port Republic, black with the troops of Fremont, who had arrived in time to be impotent spectators of the flight of their friends. That commander now vented his disappointed malice in an act of inhumanity, for which he will be execrated until his name sinks into its merited oblivion. The tall wheat and the tangled thickets were full of the dead and of [426] mangled wretches, difficult to be discovered, and scattered over a length of three miles. A dreary and chilling rain was commencing. The Confederates were busy searching out and relieving the sufferers, and collecting the dead for a decent burial. Many wounded men had been carried into a farm-house near the river, and its surrounding buildings, and the yellow flag, the sacred badge of suffering, was conspicuously displayed from its roof, while the surgeons and chaplains were busily plying their humane labors. Suddenly Fremont advanced his artillery and riflemen, to the heights from which General Jackson had cannonaded the troops of Shields the previous day, and swept the whole field, and the hospital, with a storm of shot. The ambulances, with their merciful attendants, were driven away, and the wounded fled precipitately from their cots. The design of this outrage was obvious; it was supposed that the humanity of General Jackson, would prompt him to demand by flag of truce, an unmolested opportunity to tend the wounded; and on that request, the Federal General designed to found a pretext for claiming, in his despatches, the command of the field and the victory; which he knew belonged to Jackson. But the latter was as clear-sighted, and as determined, as he was humane. No flag of truce, no request was sent: Thanks to the affectionate zeal of the soldiers, all the Confederate dead and wounded had been already removed; and they were just proceeding to extend the offices of humanity to their enemies, when this treacherous interruption occurred. So that the only result of Fremont's savage generalship was, that his own suffering comrades lay under the drenching rain, until he retired to Harrisonburg. By that time, many had died miserably of hemorrhage, exhaustion and hunger, whom their generous enemies would have rescued; and not a few of their dead, with some, perchance, of the mangled living, were partially devoured by swine before their burial I [427]

It was as General Jackson was returning on this day from the pursuit of the routed Federalists, that he first saw their diabolical explosive rifle-balls. A soldier presented him several which he had found in the dust of the road, unexploded. On examination they were found to be composed of two pieces of lead, enclosing a cavity between them, and cemented together by pressure. The hollow space was filled with fulminating powder, which was intended to explode by percussion, upon the impact of the ball against the bone of the penetrated body. Thus the fragments of lead would be driven in various and erratic directions through the mangled flesh, baffling the surgeon's probe, and converting the wound into a mortal one.

While Jackson sought a season of secure repose for his overtasked men within the mountain cove of Brown's Gap, Fremont made pretence of bridging the Shenandoah River in order to assail him again. The Confederate pickets reported that on the evening of the 9th he was bringing timber to the bank, and on the morning of the 10th he was using it for some structure in the water. But soon after, he seemed to think better of his dangerous position, and disappeared from the neighborhood. Doubtless, he had now learned the true condition of General Shields's army. The Confederate cavalry, under Colonel Munford, crossing the river above Port Republic, pursued to Harrisonburg, which they entered June 12th, Fremont having retired precipitately down the Valley, leaving his hospitals, and many arms and carriages, to capture. Four hundred and fifty prisoners were taken upon the field; and the sick and wounded found in the hospitals swelled the number to nine hundred. One thousand small arms, and nine beautiful field-pieces, with all their apparatus, fell to the victors as prize of war. On the 9th of June, the loss of the Federalists in killed and wounded did not much differ from that of the Confederates. On the 8th the [428] disproportion was enormous. In front of General Trimble's brigade alone, the dead were two hundred and ninety. When the most moderate addition is made for the loss inflicted by the terrific cannonade of the centre, and the spirited skirmishing on the left of General Ewell's line, the whole number of Federal killed and wounded cannot be placed at less than two thousand. And to this agreed the testimony of the prisoners and of the citizens.

The, heavy loss of the Confederates on the 9th was due to the superior position occupied by the Federalists, to the fact that General Shields's brigades fought better than Fremont's, and to the detention of General Jackson's column at the imperfect footbridge across South River, which caused his first attack to fail through deficient numbers. His zeal and eagerness led him to forget that no subordinates could be expected to urge their commands to the field with his fiery energy; and, in this sense, he required them to undertake too much. If there had been no bridge, and the infantry had been required to ford the summer stream in dense columns, so as to reach the field more simultataneously, the victory would have been more promptly and cheaply won. Again, if the Louisiana brigade of General Taylor had been more accurately directed by its guides, through the tangled wilderness to the right of the battle-field, so as to strike the rear of the enemy's left, as was the purpose of their commander, instead of their left front; and if they had arrived at the moment of the front attack by Brigadier-General Winder, in place of appearing after he was repulsed, the army of Shields would have been destroyed. For, just below Lewiston, the champaign suddenly terminates, the hill-side thickets approach the river-bank, and to the mouth of the single narrow woodland track, by which the Federalists must have all retreated, General Taylor would have been nearer than they; while he would have commanded their approach to it from a superior and a [429] sheltered position. The discomfited enemy, thus arrested on the one side, and driven on the other, by the whole weight of the Confederate army, into the neck of such a funnel, would have been crushed to pieces. Such was Jackson's masterly plan: natural obstacles, and the mistakes of some subordinates, caused the performance to fall short of it.

But enough was accomplished to cover General Jackson with a blaze of glory. Fifteen days before, he was a hundred miles from his base, with a little army of fifteen thousand men, while forty thousand enemies were on his immediate front and flanks. Now, he was disembarrassed of them all, with a loss of not more than one thousand five hundred men; while two armies, whose aggregate was double his own, were flying from him, quivering with disaster, leaving his victorious hands full of trophies. From this hour, doubt and detraction were silenced; he stood forth acknowledged by all as a General of transcendent abilities. His mere name, henceforth, brought assurance of triumph to his friends, and panic to his enemies. Within forty days he had marched four hundred miles, fought four pitched battles,defeating four separate armies,--with numerous combats and skirmishes, sent to the rear three thousand five hundred prisoners, killed and wounded a still larger number of the enemy, and defeated or neutralized forces three times as numerous as his own, upon his proper theatre of war, besides the corps of McDowell, which was rendered inactive at Fredericksburg by the fear of his prowess.

On the 12th of June, before the dawn, the army were marched out from their confined and uneasy bivouac in Brown's Gap, to the plains of Mount Meridian, upon the middle fork of the Shenandoah, a few miles above Port Republic. The two days rain was now succeeded by the brilliant suns and genial warmth of June. The troops were encamped in a range of woodland [430] groves between the two rivers, surrounded with the verdure of early summer, and the luxuriant wheat fields whitening for the harvest. Ilt this smiling paradise they solaced themselves five days for their fatigues, the men reposing under the shade, or bathing in the sparkling waters of the Shenandoah, and the horses feeding in the abundant pastures. The Saturday following the battle; was proclaimed by General Jackson as a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and all the troops were called to join with their General and their chaplains, in praises to God for his deliverances. The next day, a general communion was observed in the 3rd Virginia brigade, at which the Lord's supper was dispensed, in the wood, to a great company of Christian soldiers from all the army. At this solemnity the General was present, as a worshipper, and modestly participated with his men in the sacred feast. The quiet diffidence with which he took the least obtrusive place, and received the sacred emblems from the hands of a regimental chaplain, was in beautiful contrast with the majesty and authority of his bearing in the crisis of battle.

The following brief extract from his correspondence with his wife exhibits the same humble and devout temper. which ever characterized him:

Near Wier's Cave, June 14th.
Our God has thrown his shield over me in the various apparent dangers to which I have been exposed. This evening we have religious services in the army, lor the purpose of rendering thanks to the Most High for the victories with which he has crowned our arms; and my earnest prayer is that our ever kind Heavenly Father will continue to crown our arms with success, until our independence shall, through his divine blessing, be established.


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