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[395] off Jackson. McDowell obeyed, but with a heavy heart, for, he said, “it is a crushing blow to us all.”

Fremont's army made as rapid a march as possible over the mountain region, through drenching rains, and with five days rations of hard bread. He took a more northerly road to the Valley than the one from Franklin to Harrisonburg, and reached Strasburg on the evening of the 1st of June, a little too late to intercept Jackson, for the latter had passed through that town a few hours before. Next morning Shields's vanguard of cavalry, under General Bayard, reached Strasburg, too late likewise for the intended service of interception. And now began a race up the Valley as exciting as the one down it ten days before. Shields marched vigorously up the South fork of the Shenandoah, between the Massanutten Mountains and the Blue, Ridge, along the lateral Luray Valley, hoping to head his foe at some point above, while Fremont followed directly in his rear, up the North fork, along the great pike to Harrisonburg. The rains had swelled many of the little mountain tributaries of the Shenandoah into torrents too formidable to ford, with safety, and Jackson destroyed all the bridges behind him, and sent cavalry through the Massanutten passes to break down or burn those in front; of Shields. Thus he kept his prisoners at least a day in his rear, reaching Harrisonburg on the 5th of June.

Jackson now perceived that his only chance for escape was to cross the swollen Shenandoah at Port Republic, where there was a strong bridge; so, after a brief rest, he diverged to the southeast from the pike to Staunton,, for that purpose. Another object in view was to prevent Shields, who was. near at hand on the east side of the river, crossing the stream or forming a, junction “with Fremont, when the united forces would equal his own in” numbers.

Jackson's rear was well covered with his cavalry (Second and Sixth Virginia), under General Turner Ashby. About two miles from Harrisonburg this rear-guard was attacked by a reconnoitering party of cavalry,, under Colonel Percy Wyndham. A smart skirmish ensued, and at first the. Nationals were repulsed, with the loss of that leader and sixty-three of his. men, who were made prisoners.1 General Bayard and Colonel Cluseret then pushed forward with cavalry and infantry, when Ashby, hard pressed, called for an infantry support. General Stewart's brigade was ordered up, and was soon engaged in a sharp fight, in which the little band of Kane's Pennsylvanians (Bucktail Rifles) performed uncommon deeds of valor. Kane was wounded and made prisoner, and lost fifty-five of his men. Ashby was, killed. His death was a severe blow for the Confederates. They regarded his loss as equal to that of a regiment, for he was one of the most fearless. and enterprising of their cavalry commanders.2

Fremont was so close upon the Confederates, that the latter were obliged to turn and fight before attempting the passage of the Shenandoah at Port Republic. Jackson left Ewell with three brigades (Elzy's, Trimble's, and

1 The record of Ewell's Adjutant, mentioned in note 1, page 891, was kept in a blank book captured at this time, in which Colonel Wyndham had begun to enter copies of his military orders.

2 A few minutes before his death, Ashby was riding a horse that belonged to Lieutenant Willis, his own very fine black English stallion being in the rear. Willis's horse was the same that was wounded under General Jackson at the battle of Bull's Run. He was now killed, and Ashby was on foot, just in front of the line of their Fifty-eighth Virginia, when he was shot through the body. He advanced a few paces and fell.

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