Reminiseences of the army of Northern Virginia.
Paper no. 6.
I closed my last sketch with a brief statement of how “Jackson
and his foot cavalry” were “caught” at Cross Keys
and Port Republic
There is abundant proof that Jackson
's plan was, after repulsing Fremont
's division, to concentrate on Shields
early the next morning, crush him, and then return to make finishing work of Fremont
But there was unexpected delay in crossing the river on account of a defect in the bridge, and the attack was thus postponed to a much later hour than was intended.
Besides this Shields
made a most gallant fight; his position was a strong one, well selected and most stubbornly held, and Jackson
was not able to fulfil his purpose as expressed to Colonel Patton
, whom he left to confront Fremont
on the other side of the river: “By the blessing of Providence
I hope to be back by 10 o'clock.”
It was after 10 o'clock before all of his troops had crossed the river.
's first attacks were repulsed with heavy loss, and when Shields
was finally driven from the field it was too late to go back after Fremont
even if it had been deemed advisable to attack him again in the then exhausted condition of our troops.
stood idly by while Jackson
was fighting Shields
, and did not cross the river (as he could easily have done at several fords) and fall on Jackson
's rear, has always been a mystery to us. In the afternoon he advanced into the open ground near the river, and as I gazed upon his long line of battle, his bright muskets gleaming in the rays of the sun, and his battle-flags rippling in the breeze, I thought it the finest military display I had ever seen, and only feared that he would cross the river.
But there he stood an idle spectator of the raging battle, content to play no part in the drama, except to throw shot and shell at our ambulances and litter-bearers who were caring for the Federal
wounded, and to shell the hospital into which we were gathering and ministering to the wounded of both armies.
retreated to Harrisonburg
and thence down the valley, where he formed with Shields
the juncture which they had so long coveted in vain, but which was now too late to be of value.
For five days Jackson
rested his weary men in the beautiful valley