previous next


Chapter 21:

  • A New phase to our military problem
  • -- General Johnston's position -- defenses of James River -- attack on Fort Drewry -- Johnston crosses the Chickahominy -- position of McClellan -- position of McDowell -- strength of opposing forces -- Jackson's expedition down the Shenandoah Valley -- panic at Washington and the North -- movements to intercept Jackson -- his rapid movements -- Repulses Fremont -- advance of Shields -- fall of Ashby -- battle of Port Republic -- results of this campaign.

The withdrawal of our army to the Chickahominy, the abandonment of Norfolk, the destruction of the Virginia, and the opening of the lower James River, together with the fact that McClellan's army, by changing his base to the head of York River, was in a position to cover the approach to Washington, and thus to remove the objections which had been made to sending the large force retained for the defense of that city to make a junction with McClellan, all combined to give a new phase to our military problem.

Soon after, General Johnston took position on the north side of the Chickahominy; accompanied by General Lee, I rode out to his headquarters in the field, in order that by conversation with him we might better understand his plans and expectations. He came in after we arrived, saying that he had been riding around his lines to see how his position could be improved. A long conversation followed, which was so inconclusive that it lasted until late in the night, so late that we remained until the next morning. As we rode back to Richmond, reference was naturally made to the conversation of the previous evening and night, when General Lee confessed himself, as I was, unable to draw from it any more definite purpose than that the policy was to improve his position as far as practicable, and wait for the enemy to leave his gunboats, so that an opportunity might be offered to meet him on the land.

In consequence of the opening of the James River to the enemy's fleet, the attempts to utilize this channel for transportation, so as to approach directly to Richmond, soon followed. We had then no defenses on the James River below Drewry's Bluff, about seven miles distant from Richmond. There an earthwork had been constructed and provided with an armament of four guns. Rifle pits had been made in front of the fort, and obstructions had been placed in the river by driving piles and sinking some vessels. The crew of the Virginia, after her [85] destruction, had been sent to this fort, which was then in charge of Commander Farrand, Confederate States Navy.

On April 15th the enemy's fleet of five ships of war, among the number their much-vaunted Monitor, took position and opened fire upon the fort between seven and eight o'clock. Our small vessel, the Patrick Henry, was lying above the obstruction, and cooperated with the fort in its defense—the Monitor and the ironclad Galena steamed up to about six hundred yard's distance; the others, wooden vessels were kept at long range.

The armor of the flagship Galena was badly injured, and many of the crew killed or wounded. The Monitor was struck repeatedly, but the shot only bent her plates. At about eleven o'clock the fleet abandoned the attack, returning discomfited whence they came. The commander of the Monitor, Lieutenant Jeffers, says in his report that ‘the action was most gallantly fought against great odds, and with the usual effect against earthworks.’ He adds, ‘It was impossible to reduce such works, except with the aid of a land force.’ The enemy in their reports recognized the efficiency of our fire by both artillery and riflemen, the sincerity of which was made manifest in the failure to renew the attempt.

The small garrison at Fort Drewry, adequate only to the service it had performed, that of repelling an attempt by the fleet to pass up James River, was quite insufficient to prevent the enemy from landing below the fort, or to resist an attack by infantry. To guard against its sudden capture by such means, the garrison was increased by the addition of Bryan's regiment of Georgia Rifles.

After the repulse of the enemy's gunboats at Drewry's Bluff, I wrote General Johnston a letter to be handed to him by my aide, Colonel G. W. C. Lee, an officer of the highest intelligence and reputation—referring to him for full information in regard to the affair at Drewry's Bluff, as well as to the positions and strength of our forces on the south side of the James River. After some speculations on the probable course of the enemy, and expressions of confidence, I informed the general that my aide would communicate freely to him and bring back to me any information with which he might be intrusted. Not receiving any definite reply, I soon thereafter rode out to visit General Johnston at his headquarters, and was surprised in the suburbs of Richmond, viz., on the other side of Gillis's Creek, to meet a portion of the light artillery, and to learn that the whole army had crossed the Chickahominy.

General Johnston's explanation of this (to me) unexpected movement was that he thought the water of the Chickahominy unhealthy, and had [86] directed the troops to cross and halt at the first good water on the southern side, which he supposed would be found near to the river. He also adverted to the advantage of having the river in front rather than in the rear of him—an advantage certainly obvious enough, if the line was to be near to it on either of its banks.

The considerations which induced General McClellan to make his base on the York River had at least partly ceased to exist. From the corps for which he had so persistently applied, he had received the division which he most valued, and the destruction of the Virginia had left the James River open to his fleet and transports as far up as Drewry's Bluff, and the withdrawal of General Johnston across the Chickahominy made it quite practicable for him to transfer his army to the James River, the south side of which had then but weak defenses, and thus by a short march to gain more than all the advantages which, at a later period of the war, General Grant obtained at the sacrifice of a hecatomb of soldiers.

Referring again to the work of the Comte de Paris, who may be better authority in regard to what occurred in the army of the enemy than when he writes about Confederate affairs, it appears that this change of base was considered and not adopted because of General Mc-Clellan's continued desire to have McDowell's corps with him. The count states:

The James River, which had been closed until then by the presence of the Virginia, as York River had been by the cannon of Yorktown, was opened by the destruction of that ship, just as York River had been by the evacuation of the Confederate fortress. But it was only open as far as Drury's Bluff; in order to overcome this last obstacle interposed between Richmond and the Federal gunboats, the support of the land forces was necessary. On the 19th of May Commodore Goldsborough had a conference with General McClellan regarding the means to be employed for removing that obstacle. . . . General McClellan, as we have stated above, might have continued to follow the railway line, and preserved his depots at Whitehouse, on the Pamunkey, . . . but he could also now go to reestablish his base of operations on James River, which the Virginia had hitherto prevented him from doing. By crossing the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge, and some other fords situated lower down, . . . could have reached the borders of the James in two or three days. . . . This flank march effected at a sufficient distance from the enemy, and covered by a few demonstrations along the upper Chickahominy, offered him great advantages without involving any risk. . . . If McClellan could have foreseen how deceptive were the promises of reenforcement made to him at the time, he would undoubtedly have declined the uncertain support of McDowell, to carry out the plan of campaign which offered the best chances of success with the troops which were absolutely at his disposal.1


Without feeling under any obligations for kind intentions on the part of the government of the North, it was fortunate for us that it did, as its friend the Comte de Paris represents, deceive General McClellan, and prevent him from moving to the south side of James River, so as not only to secure the cooperation of his gunboats in an attack upon Richmond, but also to make his assault on the side least prepared for resistance, and where it would have been quite possible to cut our line of communication with the more Southern states on which we chiefly depended for supplies and for reenforcements.

It is hardly just to treat the failure to fulfill the assurance given by President Lincoln about reenforcements as ‘deceptive promises,’ for, as will be seen, the operations in the Valley by General Jackson, who there exhibited a rapidity of movement equal to the unyielding tenacity which had in the first great battle won for him the familiar name ‘Stonewall,’ had created such an alarm in Washington, as, if it had been better founded, would have justified the refusal to diminish the force held for the protection of their capital. Indeed, our cavalry, in observation near Fredericksburg, reported that on the 24th McDowell's troops started southward, but General Stuart found that night that they were returning. This indicated that the anticipated junction was not to be made, and of this the Prince de Joinville writes:

It needed only an effort of the will: the two armies were united, and the possession of Richmond certain! Alas! this effort was not made. I can not recall those fatal moments without a real sinking of the heart.2

General McClellan, in his testimony December 10, 1862, before the court martial in the Case of General McDowell, said:

I have no doubt, for it has ever been my opinion, that the Army of the Potomac would have taken Richmond had not the corps of General McDowell been separated from it. It is also my opinion that, had the command of General McDowell joined the Army of the Potomac in the month of May, by the way of Hanover Court-House, from Fredericksburg, we would have had Richmond within a week after the junction.3

Let us first inquire what was the size of this army so crippled for want of reenforcement, and then what the strength of that to which it was opposed. On April 30, 1862, the official report of McClellan's army gives the aggregate present for duty as 112,392;4 that of June 20th —omitting the army corps of General Dix, then, as previously, stationed at Fortress Monroe, and including General McCall's division, which had recently joined, the strength of which was reported to be 9,514— [88] gives the aggregate present for duty as 105,825, and the total, present and absent, as 156,838.5

Two statements of the strength of our army under General J. E. Johnston during the month of May—in which General McClellan testified that he was greatly in need of McDowell's corps—give the following results: first, the official return, May 21, 1862, total effective of all arms, 53,688; subsequently, five brigades were added, and the effective strength of the army under General Johnston on May 31, 1862, was 62,696.6

I now proceed to inquire what caused the panic at Washington.

On May 23d, General Jackson, with whose force that of General Ewell had united, moved with such rapidity as to surprise the enemy, and Ewell, who was in advance, captured most of the troops at Front Royal, and pressed directly on to Winchester, while Jackson, turning across to the road from Strasburg, struck the main column of the enemy in flank and drove it routed back to Strasburg. The pursuit was comtinued to Winchester, and the enemy, under their commander in chief, General Banks, fled across the Potomac into Maryland. Two thousand prisoners were taken in the pursuit. General Banks in his report says, ‘There never were more grateful hearts in the same number of men, than when, at mid-day on the 26th, we stood on the opposite shore.’

When the news of the attack on Front Royal, on May 23d, reached General Geary, charged with the protection of the Manassas Gap Railroad, he immediately moved to Manassas Junction. At the same time, his troops, hearing the most extravagant stories, burned their tents and destroyed a quantity of arms. General Duryea, at Catlett's Station, becoming alarmed on hearing of the withdrawal of Geary, took his three New York regiments, leaving a Pennsylvania one behind, hastened back to Centreville, and telegraphed to Washington for aid. He left a large quantity of army stores. The alarm spread to Washington, and the Secretary of War, Stanton, issued a call to the governors of the ‘loyal’ states for militia to defend that city.

The following is the dispatch sent to the governor of Massachusetts:

Washington, Sunday, May 25, 1862.
To the Governor of Massachusetts.
Intelligence from various quarters leaves no doubt that the enemy in great force are marching on Washington. You will please organize and forward immediately all the militia and volunteer force in your State.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.


This alarm at Washington, and the call for more troops for its defense, produced a most indescribable panic in the cities of the Northern states on Sunday the 25th, and two or three days afterward. The governor of New York on Sunday night telegraphed to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and other cities, as follows:

Orders from Washington render it necessary to send to that city all the available militia force. What can you do?

Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania issued the following order:

General order, no. 23.)

headquarters of Pennsylvania militia, Harrisburg, May 26, 1862.
On pressing requisition of the President of the United States in the present emergency, it is ordered that the several major-generals, brigadier-generals, and colonels of regiments throughout the Commonwealth muster without delay all military organizations within their respective divisions or under their control, together with all persons willing to join their commands, and proceed forthwith to the city of Washington, or such other points as may be designated by future orders. By order:

A. G. Curtin, Governor and Commander-in-Chief.

The governor of Massachusetts issued the following proclamation:

The wily and barbarous horde of traitors to the people, to the Government, to our country, and to liberty, menace again the national capital. They have attacked and routed Major-General Banks, are advancing on Harper's Ferry, and are marching on Washington. The President calls on Massachusetts to rise once more for its rescue and defense.

The whole active militia will be summoned by a general order, issued from the office of the adjutant-general, to report on Boston Common to-morrow. They will march to relieve and avenge their brethren and friends, and to oppose, with fierce zeal and courageous patriotism, the progress of the foe. May God encourage their hearts and strengthen their arms, and may he inspire the Government and all the people!

Given at headquarters, Boston, eleven o'clock, this (Sunday) evening, May 25, 1862.

The Governor of Ohio issued the following proclamation:

Columbus, Ohio, May 26, 1862.
To the gallant men of Ohio.
I have the astounding intelligence that the seat of our beloved Government is threatened with invasion, and am called upon by the Secretary of War for troops to repel and overwhelm the ruthless invaders. Rally, then, men of Ohio, and respond to this call, as becomes those who appreciate our glorious [90] Government! . . . The number wanted from each county has been indicated by special dispatches to the several military committees.

David Tod, Governor.

At the same time the Secretary of War at Washington caused the following order to be issued:

Washington, Sunday, May 25, 1862.
Ordered: By virtue of the authority vested by an act of Congress, the President takes military possession of all the railroads in the United States from and after this date, and directs that the respective railroad companies, their officers and servants, shall hold themselves in readiness for the transportation of troops and munitions of war, as may be ordered by the military authorities, to the exclusion of all other business.

By order of the Secretary of War:

M. C. Meigs, Quartermaster-General.

At the first moment of the alarm, the President of the United States issued the following order:

General Fremont has been ordered by telegraph to move to Franklin and Harrisonburg to relieve General Banks and capture or destroy Jackson's and Ewell's forces. You are instructed, laying aside for the present the movement on Richmond, to put twenty thousand men in motion at once for the Shenandoah, moving on the line or in advance of the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Your object will be to capture the forces of Jackson and Ewell, either in cooperation with General Fremont, or, in case want of supplies or transportation has interfered with his movement, it is believed that the force which you move will be sufficient to accomplish the object alone. The information thus far rereived here makes it probable that, if the enemy operates actively against General Banks, you will not be able to count upon much assistance from him, but may have even to release him. Reports received this morning are that Banks is fighting with Ewell, eight miles from Harper's Ferry.

When the panic thus indicated in the headquarters of the enemy had disseminated itself through the military and social ramifications of Northern society, the excitement was tumultuous. Meanwhile General Jackson, little conceiving the alarm his movements had caused in the departments at Washington and in the offices of the governors of states, in addition to the diversion of McDowell from cooperation in the attack upon Richmond, after driving the enemy out of Winchester, pressed eagerly on, not pausing to accept the congratulations of the overjoyed people at the sight of their own friends again among them. For he learned that the enemy had garrisons at Charlestown and Harpers Ferry, and he was resolved they should not rest on Virginia soil. General Winder's brigade in the advance found the enemy drawn up in line of battle [91] at Charlestown. Without waiting for reenforcements, he engaged them, and after a short conflict drove them in disorder toward the Potomac. The main column then moved on near to Harper's Ferry, where General Jackson received information that Fremont was moving from the west, and the whole or a part of General McDowell's corps from the east, to make a junction in his rear and thus cut off his retreat. At this time General Jackson's effective force was about fifteen thousand men, much less than either of the two armies which were understood to be marching to form a junction against him. We now know that General McDowell had been ordered to send to the relief of General Banks in the Valley twenty to thirty thousand men. The estimated force of General Fremont when at Harrisonburg was twenty thousand. General Jackson had captured in his campaign down the Valley a very large amount of valuable stores, over nine thousand small arms, two pieces of artillery, many horses, and, besides the wounded and sick, who had been released on parole, was said to have twenty-three hundred prisoners. To secure these, as well as to save his army, it was necessary to retreat beyond the point where his enemies could readily unite. The amount of captured stores and other property which he was anxious to preserve was said to require a wagon-train twelve miles long. This, under the care of a regiment, was sent forward in advance of the army, which promptly retired up the Valley.

On his retreat, General Jackson received information confirmatory of the report of the movements of the enemy, and of the defeat of a small force he had left at Front Royal in charge of some prisoners and captured stores—the latter, however, the garrison before retreating had destroyed. Strasburg being General Jaskson's objective point, he had farther to march to reach that position than either of the columns operating against him. The rapidity of movement which marked General Jackson's operations had given to his command the appellation of ‘foot cavalry’; never had they more need to show themselves entitled to the name of Stonewall.

On the night of May 31st, by a forced march, General Jackson arrived with the head of his column at Strasburg, and learned that General Fremont's advance was in the immediate vicinity. To gain time for the rest of his army to arrive, General Jackson decided to check Fremont's march by an attack in the morning. This movement was assigned to General Ewell, General Jackson personally giving his attention to preserving his immense trains filled with captured stores. The repulse of Fremont's advance was so easy that General Taylor describes it as offering a temptation to go beyond General Jackson's orders and make a serious attack [92] upon Fremont's army, but recognizes the justice of the restraint imposed by the order, ‘as we could not waste time chasing Fremont,’ for it was reported that General Shields was at Front Royal with troops of a different character from those of Fremont's army, who had been encountered near Strasburg, id est, the corps ‘commanded by General O. O. Howard, and called by both sides “the flying Dutchmen.” ’ This more formidable command of General Shields therefore required immediate attention.

Leaving Strasburg on the evening of June 1st, always intent on preventing a junction of the two armies of the enemy, Jackson continued his march up the Valley. Fremont followed in pursuit, while Shields moved slowly up the Valley via Luray, for the purpose of reaching New Market in advance of Jackson. On the morning of the 5th Jackson reached Harrisonburg, and, passing beyond that town, turned toward the east in the direction of Port Republic. General Ashby had destroyed all the bridges between Front Royal and Port Republic, to prevent Shields from crossing the Shenandoah to join Fremont. The troops were now permitted to make shorter marches, and were allowed some halts to refresh them after their forced marches and frequent combats. Early on June 6th Fremont's reenforced cavalry attacked our cavalry rear guard under General Ashby. A sharp conflict ensued, which resulted in the repulse of the enemy and the capture of Colonel Percy Wyndham, commanding the brigade, and sixty-three others. General Ashby was in position between Harrisonburg and Port Republic, and, after the cavalry combat just described, there were indications of a more serious attack. Ashby sent a message to Ewell, informing him that cavalry supported by infantry was advancing upon his position. The Fifty-eighth Virginia and the First Maryland Regiments were sent to his support. Ashby led the Fiftyeighth Virginia to attack the enemy, who were under cover of a fence. General Ewell in the meantime had arrived, and, seeing the advantage the enemy had of position, directed Colonel Johnson to move with his regiment so as to approach the flank instead of the front of the enemy, and he was now driven from the field with heavy loss. Our loss was seventeen killed, fifty wounded, and three missing. Here fell the stainless, fearless cavalier, General Turner Ashby, of whom General Jackson in his report thus forcibly speaks:

As a partisan officer I never knew his superior. His daring was proverbial; his power of endurance almost incredible; his tone of character heroic; and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy.

The main body of General Jackson's command had now reached Port Republic, a village situated in the angle formed by the junction of the [93] North and South Rivers, tributaries of the south fork of the Shenandoah. Over the North River was a wooden bridge, connecting the town with Harrisonburg. Over the South River there was a ford. Jackson's immediate command was encamped on the high ground north of the village and about a mile from the river. Ewell was some four miles distant, near the road leading from Harrisonburg to Port Republic. General Fremont had arrived with his forces in the vicinity of Harrisonburg, and General Shields was moving up the east side of the Shenandoah, and had reached Conrad's Store. Each was about fifteen miles distant from Jackson's position. To prevent a junction, the bridge over the river, near Shields' position, had been destroyed.

As the advance of General Shields approached on the 8th, the brigades of Taliaferro and Winder were ordered to occupy positions immediately north of the bridge. The enemy's cavalry, accompanied by artillery, then appeared, and, after directing a few shots toward the bridge, crossed South River, and, dashing into the village, planted one of their pieces at the southern entrance of the bridge. Meantime our batteries were placed in position, and, Taliaferro's brigade having approached the bridge, was ordered to dash across, capture the piece, and occupy the town. This was gallantly done, and the enemy's cavalry dispersed and driven back, abandoning another gun. A considerable body of infantry was now seen advancing, when our batteries opened with marked effect, and in a short time the infantry followed the cavalry, falling back three miles. They were pursued about a mile by our batteries on the opposite bank, when they disappeared in a wood.

This attack of Shields had scarcely been repulsed when Ewell became seriously engaged with Fremont, moving on the opposite side of the river. The enemy pushed forward, driving in the pickets, which, by gallant resistance, checked their advance until Ewell had time to select his position on a commanding ridge, with a rivulet and open ground in front, woods on both flanks, and the road to Port Republic intersecting his line. Trimble's brigade was posted on the right, the batteries of Courtney, Lusk, Brockenbrough, and Rains in the center, Stuart's brigade on the left, and Elzey's in rear of the center. Both wings were in the woods. About ten o'clock the enemy posted his artillery opposite our batteries, and a fire was kept up for several hours, with great spirit on both sides. Meantime a brigade of the enemy advanced, under cover, upon General Trimble, who reserved his fire until they reached short range, when he poured forth a deadly volley, under which they fell back; Trimble, supported by two regiments of Elzey's reserve, now advanced, with spirited skirmishing, more than a mile from his original line, [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.” ’ [95] He then briefly gave Taylor instructions to move against the battery on the plateau, and sent a young officer from his staff as a guide. The advance of the enemy was checked by an attack on his flank by two of our regiments, under Colonel Scott; this was only a temporary relief, however, for this small command was soon afterward driven back to the woods, with severe loss. Our batteries during the check were all safely withdrawn except one six-pounder gun.

In this critical condition of Winder's command, General Taylor made a successful attack on the left and rear of the enemy, which diverted attention from the front, and led to a concentration of his force upon him. Moving to the right along the mountain acclivity, he was unseen before he emerged from the wood, just as the loud cheers of the enemy proclaimed their success in front. Although opposed by a superior force in front and flank, and with their guns in position, with a rush and shout the gorge was passed, impetuously the charge was made, and the battery of six guns fell into our hands. Three times was this battery lost and won in the desperate and determined efforts to capture and recover it, and the enemy finally succeeded in carrying off one of the guns, leaving both caisson and limber. Thus occupied with Taylor, the enemy halted in his advance, and formed a line facing the mountain. Winder succeeded in rallying his command, and our batteries were replaced in their former positions. At the same time reenforcements were brought by General Ewell to Taylor, who pushed forward with them, assisted by the welldirected fire of our artillery.

Of this period in the battle, than which there has seldom been one of greater peril, or where danger was more gallantly met, I copy a description from the work of General Taylor:

The fighting in and around the battery was hand-to-hand, and many fell from bayonet-wounds. Even the artillerymen used their rammers in a way not laid down in the manual, and died at their guns. I called for Hayes, but he, the promptest of men, and his splendid regiment could not be found. Something unexpected had occurred, but there was no time for speculation. With a desperate rally, in which I believe the drummer-boys shared, we carried the battery for the third time, and held it. Infantry and riflemen had been driven off, and we began to feel a little comfortable, when the enemy, arrested in his advance by our attack, appeared. He had countermarched, and, with left near the river, came into full view of our situation. Wheeling to the right, with colors advanced, like a solid wall he marched straight upon us. There seemed nothing left but to set our back to the mountain and die hard. At the instant, crashing through the underwood, came Ewel, outriding staff and escort. He produced the effect of a reenforcement, and was welcomed with cheers. The line before us halted and threw forward skirmishers. A moment later a shell came shrieking along it, loud [96] Confederate cheers reached our delighted ears, and Jackson, freed from his toils, rushed up like a whirlwind.7

The enemy, in his advance, had gone in front of the plateau where his battery was placed, the elevation being sufficient to enable the guns without hazard to be fired over the advancing line; so, when he commenced retreating, he had to pass by the position of this battery, and the captured guns were effectively used against him—that dashing old soldier, ‘Ewell, serving as a gunner.’ Mention was made of the inability to find Hayes when his regiment was wanted. It is due to that true patriot, who has been gathered to his fathers, to add Taylor's explanation: ‘Ere long my lost Seventh Regiment, sadly cut up, rejoined. This regiment was in rear of the column when we left Jackson to gain the path in the woods, and, before it filed out of the road, his thin line was so pressed that Jackson ordered Hayes to stop the enemy's rush. This was done, for the Seventh would have stopped a herd of elephants—but at a fearful cost.’

The retreat of the enemy, though it was so precipitate as to cause him to leave his killed and wounded on the field, was never converted into a rout. ‘Shields's brave ‘boys’ preserved their organization to the last; and, had Shields himself, with his whole command, been on the field, we should have had tough work indeed.’

The pursuit was continued some five miles beyond the battlefield, during which we captured four hundred fifty prisoners, some wagons, one piece of abandoned artillery, and about eight hundred muskets. Some two hundred seventy-five wounded were paroled in the hospitals near Port Republic. On the next day Fremont withdrew his forces, and retreated down the Valley. The rapid movements of Jackson, the eaglelike swoop with which he had descended upon each army of the enemy, and the terror which his name had come to inspire, created a great alarm at Washington, where it was believed he must have an immense army, and that he was about to come down like an avalanche upon the capital. Milroy, Banks, Fremont, and Shields were all moved in that direction, and peace again reigned in the patriotic and once happy Valley of the Shenandoah.

The material results of this very remarkable campaign are thus summarily stated by one who had special means of information:

In three months Jackson had marched six hundred miles, fought four pitched battles, seven minor engagements, and daily skirmishes; had defeated four armies, captured seven pieces of artillery, ten thousand stand of arms, four thousand prisoners, and a very great amount of stores, inflicting upon his adversaries a [97] known loss of two thousand men, with a loss upon his own part comparatively small.8

The general effect upon the affairs of the Confederacy was even more important, and the motives which influenced Jackson present him in a grander light than any military success could have done. Thus, on March 20, 1862, he learned that the large force of the enemy before which he had retired was returning down the Valley, and, divining the object to be to send forces to the east side of the mountain to cooperate in the attack upon Richmond, General Jackson, with his small force of about three thousand infantry and two hundred ninety cavalry, moved with his usual celerity in pursuit. He overtook the rear of the column at Kernstown, attacked a very superior force he found there, and fought with such desperation as to impress the enemy with the idea that he had a large army; therefore, the detachments, which had already started for Manassas, were recalled, and additional forces were also sent into the Valley. Nor was this all. McDowell's corps, under orders to join Mc-Clellan, was detained for the defense of the Federal capital.

Jackson's bold strategy had effected the object for which his movement was designed, and he slowly retreated to the south bank of the Shenandoah, where he remained undisturbed by the enemy, and had time to recruit his forces, which, by April 28th, amounted to six or seven thousand men. General Banks had advanced and occupied Harrisonburg, about fifteen miles from Jackson's position. Fremont, with a force estimated at fifteen thousand men, was reported to be preparing to join Bank's command.

The alarm at Washington had caused McDowell's corps to be withdrawn from the upper Rappahannock to Fredericksburg. Jackson, anxious to take advantage of the then divided condition of the enemy, sent to Richmond for reenforcements, but our condition there did not enable us to furnish any, except the division of Ewell, which had been left near Gordonsville in observation of McDowell, now by his withdrawal made disposable, and the brigade of Edward Johnson, which confronted Schenck and Milroy near to Staunton. Jackson, who, when he could not get what he wanted, did the best he could with what he had, called Ewell to his aid, left him to hold Banks in check, and marched to unite with Johnson; the combined forces attacked Milroy and Schenck, who, after a severe conflict, retreated in the night to join Fremont. Jackson then returned toward Harrisonburg, having ordered Ewell to join him for an attack on Banks, who in the meantime had retreated toward Winchester, [98] where Jackson attacked and defeated him, inflicting great loss, drove him across the Potomac, and, as has been represented, filled the authorities at Washington with such dread of its capture as to disturb the previously devised plans against Richmond, and led to the operations which have already been described, and brought into full play Jackson's military genius.

In all these operations there conspicuously appears the self-abnegation of a devoted patriot. He was not seeking by great victories to acquire fame for himself; always alive to the necessities and dangers elsewhere, he heroically strove to do what was possible for the general benefit of the cause he maintained. His whole heart was his country's, and his whole country's heart was his.

1 History of the Civil War in America, Comte de Paris, Vol. II, pp. 32-34.

2 Campaign on the Peninsula, Prince de Joinville, 1862.

3 Court martial of General McDowell, Washington, December 10, 1862.

4 ‘Report on the Conduct of the War,’ Part I, p. 322.

5 Ibid., p. 337.

6 Four Years with General Lee, by Walter H. Taylor, p. 50.

7 Destruction and Reconstruction, pp. 75, 76.

8 Stonewall Jackson, military biography by John Esten Cooke, p. 194.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Richmond (Virginia, United States) (11)
Port Republic (Virginia, United States) (9)
Harrisonburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (9)
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (8)
Strasburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (6)
Winchester, Va. (Virginia, United States) (5)
United States (United States) (5)
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (5)
Front Royal (Virginia, United States) (5)
York (Virginia, United States) (4)
Harper's Ferry (West Virginia, United States) (4)
Drewry's Bluff (Virginia, United States) (4)
Ohio (Ohio, United States) (3)
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (3)
South River (Virginia, United States) (2)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (2)
Charles Town (West Virginia, United States) (2)
Yorktown (Virginia, United States) (1)
Wheeling, W. Va. (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Shenandoah Valley (Ohio, United States) (1)
Shenandoah (United States) (1)
Rochester (New York, United States) (1)
Patrick Henry (Virginia, United States) (1)
North River (Virginia, United States) (1)
Norfolk (Virginia, United States) (1)
New Market (Virginia, United States) (1)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)
Manassas, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Luray (Virginia, United States) (1)
Harrisburg, Pa. (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Gordonsville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Franklin (Ohio, United States) (1)
Fortress Monroe (Virginia, United States) (1)
Centreville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Buffalo, N. Y. (New York, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: