Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862
(From The Confederate Military History, Volume 3, Chapter XIV)
BEFORE the opening of active military operations in the spring of 1862, Lincoln determined to reopen the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. Jackson held the portion of this road, which he had badly damaged, between Harper's Ferry and Hancock, and he must be forced back from the Potomac before the road could be repaired and reopened. To effect this Banks marched, February 22nd, from his winter camp at Frederick, Md., and his advance entered Harper's Ferry the 24th, and laid a bateau bridge across the Potomac on which two brigades crossed on the 26th and occupied the town. McClellan himself reached that place the same day and ordered the establishment there of a depot of army supplies, preparatory to another forward movement, while the railroad was being opened. After going to Charlestown, on the 28th, he instructed Banks to locate Abercrombie's brigade at that place and Hamilton's at Smithfield, a few miles to the westward; Sedgwick, to whose division these belonged, to establish himself at Charlestown. Shields, now in command of Lander's force from the South Branch valley, was ordered to Martinsburg, and Williams from Hancock to Bunker Hill; thus establishing a line entirely across the Valley, in front of the Baltimore & Ohio. These camps were all connected by fine macadam roads. All arrangements were completed by March 6th and the three brigades of Banks were well placed, not only for guarding the Baltimore & Ohio, but also for an advance on Winchester.
On the same day Banks marched from Frederick to attack him, Jackson, in obedience to Johnston's orders, sent the Seventh and Fourteenth Tennessee regiments to Manassas and the Third Arkansas to Strasburg, to take the cars for Fredericksburg. He retained for further orders the rest of Loring's men who"were not Virginians. Having been thus depleted, Jackson asked Johnston, by letter, February 24th, whether he desired additional fortifications at Winchester, stating that he was arranging to construct a raft bridge over the Shenandoah so that his troops and those at Leesburg could quickly co-operate. At that very time Johnston was sending his stores and baggage to the rear, and on the 7th of March, Whiting withdrew toward Fredericksburg, from his camp on the lower Occoquan, and D. H. Hill, from his at Leesburg, by way of Warrenton, toward the Rappahannock; and on the 9th, the center, under Johnston himself, abandoned Centreville and Manassas. By March 11th all the Confederate infantry and artillery from the Blue ridge to Fredericksburg, were aligned on the south bank of the Rappahannock.
These movements left Jackson exposed to both front and flank attacks; but Johnston had confidence in his ability to take care of himself, and instructed him "to endeavor to employ the invaders in the valley, but without exposing himself to the danger of defeat, by keeping so near the enemy as to prevent him from making any considerable detachment to reinforce McClellan, but not so near that he might be compelled to fight." Jackson was ready enough to obey orders as far as keeping the invaders in the valley, and constantly employed, were concerned; but he doubtless fully intended to fight them, notwithstanding these instructions, if opportunity offered for so doing.
By Jackson's field return of February 28th, he had 4,297 infantry, 369 artillery and 601 cavalry; a total of 5,267, officers and-men, present for duty. This little army of three brigades (among them the already famous "Stonewall brigade") was made up of ten regiments of Virginia volunteer infantry and a battalion of Virginia Irish regulars; five Virginia artillery companies with 24 guns, and a cavalry regiment composed of Virginia companies and Chew's horse artillery of 3 guns, under the already renowned Ashby. Included among these men were some fragments of militia brigades, mostly on special duty.
By McClellan's field return of March 2d, Banks had present for duty, of all arms, 38,484 men. After the occupation of Winchester, Sedgwick's brigade was sent back to guard the Potomac from the mouth of the Monocacy down to the Great Falls, still leaving Banks full 30,000 men when he followed Jackson, with about one-sixth as many, as he retired up the Valley, after evacuating Winchester on the 11th of March.
Banks' advance occupied Charlestown, 22 miles from Winchester, February 26th; the advance of his right, marching from Bunker Hill, appeared at Stephenson's, four miles in front of Winchester, March 6th, when Jackson promptly formed line in front of his fortifications and offered battle; but the Federals as promptly fell back. On the 11th Banks cautiously advanced his left to Berryville, 10 miles east of Winchester, by a good stone road. Jackson again drew up his little army, in front of Winchester, covering the three roads by which Banks was advancing his whole army, and all day awaited an attack from the large force that came to within four miles of his position. When this did not come on to combat, he, late in the day, reluctantly followed his trains to the vicinity of Newtown, after having called a council of war (the first and the last he ever called), consisting of General Garnett and his regimental commanders, in Winchester, after dark, to which he proposed that they should make an attack on Banks' advance, at Stephenson's, before daylight the next morning. The council, as yet ignorant of the manner of man that counseled, rejected his proposal. He doubtless would have carried out his plans regardless of this conclusion if he had not then learned that, without orders, his army was already five miles away from Winchester; too far to recall them for a night march and attack. He later followed his army and bivouacked in its rear, with "Little Sorrel," in a fence corner. The next day he marched to Strasburg, 18 miles from Winchester, where he halted until the 15th. Banks occupied Winchester the 12th, but Ashby, with his cavalry, many of them bold riders reared in the lower valley, kept him so occupied in protecting the rear and flanks of his army as well as its front, that he did not follow after Jackson until the 18th, when he started Shields' division in pursuit. This reached Strasburg, the sally-port of the western middle section of the Valley, the next day, when Jackson, leaving the gateway open, with Ashby as its sentinel, again fell back, first to Woodstock, 12 miles, and then to Mt. Jackson, 24 miles from Strasburg.
On the 16th of March, McClellan, convinced that his grand movement on Jackson, by which he had so easily secured control of the lower Valley, would enable him to hold that lovely country with a small force, ordered Banks to cross the Blue ridge, establish and strongly intrench his Command at and near Manassas, and proceed to open the railway from Washington to that point and thence to Strasburg; then intrench a brigade of infantry with two batteries, near Front Royal, where the railway crosses the Shenandoah; intrench another brigade at Strasburg; build and occupy blockhouses at the railway bridges; leave two regiments of cavalry at Winchester, and keep his front covered by constantly employed cavalry well advanced--" the general object being to cover the line of the Potomac and Washington," and, he doubtless mentally added, protect the right of the army moving toward Fredericksburg. Banks hastened to comply with these orders. Shields' division was recalled from Strasburg, and on the 20th, Williams' division took up its line of march for Manassas.
Ashby, who kept up a constant skirmish with the Federal advance between Woodstock and Strasburg, routing its pickets and peering into its camps, reported to Jackson on the evening of March 21st, that the enemy had evacuated Strasburg and he was following them. Jackson, having been instructed by Johnston to hold in the valley the enemy already there, followed after Ashby at dawn of the 22nd, Fulkerson's brigade from Woodstock and Garnett's and Burks' from Mt. Jackson, all reaching Strasburg and encamping there that night. Ashby with 200 to 300 cavalry and three cannon, attacked and drove in the Federal pickets, about a mile from Winchester, at 5 p.m. of the 22nd. Banks ordered his command under arms and sent a brigade of infantry, two batteries and some artillery to meet this attack. Ashby skirmished for a time and then withdrew, three miles, to Kernstown, for the night, reporting to Jackson that he had learned that all but four regiments of the Federal army had left for the north and that these would follow the next morning. Ashby's information was only partly correct. The last of Williams' division of Banks' command had marched for Manassas the morning of the 22nd, but Shields' division, some 7,000 men, had not yet left Winchester.
Shields, whose arm had been broken in the skirmish of the 22nd, reported to Banks that he thought the attack was only by a small cavalry force, but during the night, as a precautionary provision, he posted Kimball's brigade of infantry and a battery across the Valley turnpike, well toward Kernstown, with Sullivan's brigade in supporting distance, and covered all roads leading to Winchester from the north, west and south. Tyler's infantry brigade and Broadhead's cavalry he held in Winchester. On the morning of the 23rd, after a careful reconnaissance of the front, it was concluded, as before, that only a small Confederate cavalry force was there, and that Jackson would not venture so far from his support. Thus satisfied, Banks took his departure, under orders, for Washington, leaving his staff to ride toward Manassas in the afternoon.
Jackson knew that a large body of Banks' men had left the Valley and concluded, from Ashby's reports, that but a small force remained at Winchester. This he determined to attack, with the expectation that by so doing he could recall Banks' whole army to the Valley. At daybreak, on Sunday, the 23rd of March, he sent four companies of infantry to support Ashby, following these with his whole force. It was 14 miles from his camp at Strasburg to Kernstown, a fair day's march, so his advance did not reach Ashby until about 10 a.m. and his main body until 1 p.m.
Jackson's men were much wearied by the long march of 26 miles, that most of them had made in about a day and a half, over a somewhat muddy stone road, so he gave orders to go into bivouac for the night, intending to attack, with rested troops, the next morning. On a further examination, he found that the position he had taken, about a mile south of Kernstown, could be seen from Pritchard's hill, about a mile north of Kernstown, which was occupied by Federal artillery, and that it would be dangerous to delay his attack, now it was known he was present in force, as the enemy might be reinforced during the night; so he decided to give battle as soon as he could arrange to do so.
Ashby, with his cavalry and Chew's battery, had engaged the enemy's attention from early dawn; when Captain Nadenbousch arrived, at 10 a.m., with his four companies of infantry skirmishers, he again advanced and made a spirited attack. Colonel Kimball, commanding the Federal forces in Shields' enforced absence, met this by more than a regiment of Ohio skirmishers, deployed across the Valley turnpike, flanked by batteries and followed by Sullivan's brigade. These forced Ashby to retire, a few hundred yards, to Kernstown. When Jack. son's main body came up, he was ordered to prepare for the attack in force by threatening the Federal left, resting on the old Front Royal road, and also its right on the Opequon road. To the latter he sent Major Funsten with 140 cavalry, leaving himself but 150.
Jackson mustered, on this' Kernstown battlefield, 3,087 infantry, of which 2,742 became engaged; 27 cannon, 18 of which came into action, and 290 cavalry. Shields reported that he had for fighting duty 6,000 infantry, 750 cavalry and 24 cannon. Of his thirteen infantry regiments, six were from Ohio, three from Indiana, and one each from Illinois and West Virginia; of his artillery, two companies were from West Virginia, two from Ohio and one from the Fourth regular United States artillery. Of his sixteen companies of cavalry, four were from Michigan, two each from Ohio and Maryland, six from West Virginia, and two appear to have been regulars. McClellan's return for March indicates that Shields had 9,000 men present for duty at this time.
Scanning the topography of the field of battle and the positions his foe had occupied, from a rising ground near Kernstown, Jackson saw that a front attack would be hazardous, since the Federals were protected and concealed by a wood on their left, while their batteries, on commanding hills, guarded their right and swept the roads and open fields in their front. He quickly discovered that the dominating feature of the whole field was a prominent, but rather low ridge, partly wooded and partly cleared, that ran northeast and southwest, nearly parallel to the Valley turnpike and about three miles from it where he had massed his troops, and two miles from it where the Federal line crossed that road. This Sandy ridge, as it was called, was about four miles long; it sank down, its end crossed by a cleared field, into a large open forest at its northeastern end; this forest extended to and, concealed the Cedar Creek turnpike, which diverged to the west from the Valley turnpike some three miles beyond Kernstown.
Satisfied that he could easily flank Shields' right and force him in retreat from his position if he could gain the crest of the Sandy ridge and advance to its northeastern end, Jackson at once proceeded to execute his designs. Burks' brigade was left on the turnpike, a mile south of Kernstown, to support Ashby, guard the train and form a reserve. Fulkerson's brigade, followed by part of Carpenter's battery, was marched northward, as if to attack the enemy's right center, passing bravely through a storm of shot and shell, from Pritchard's hill, to which Carpenter made brief reply in passing. Nearing the Federal batteries, Fulkerson turned northwest and, rapidly moving, soon gained and deployed across Sandy ridge, at right angles to its trend, securing a very strong position, on its crest, for his left, behind a stone fence overlooking and dominating the field that extended down the slope of the northeastern end of the ridge to the forest that reached from the foot of that end to the Cedar Creek turnpike. Garnett's brigade followed, but much farther to the left, and having gained the crest of the ridge, marched along that to Fulkerson's line, where most of it took position on his right, thus extending a strong line of battle across Sandy ridge and into the open field, on its eastern slope, which extended from near the crest and overlooked the Federal position. Jackson quickly saw its advantages and ordered up McLaughlin's and Waters' batteries and Carpenter's other guns, and placed them, nearly at right angles to his infantry line, in front of the wood above this field, supported by some of Fulkerson's men. This dis. position of his fighters was admirable. It was a right-angled salient with a protecting wood in the rear at each side. The angle looked into the midst of the Federal position; the batteries protected his right and commanded those of the enemy.
Ashby was ordered to keep up a bold demonstration on the right and Jackson now opened on the left, and soon forced his foe to withdraw from his chosen position. Seeing that his right was in extreme danger, Kimball promptly provided to counteract Jackson's movements. Tyler's brigade, which at about 2 p.m. had reached the junction. of the Cedar Creek and Valley turnpikes, and was there waiting in reserve, was ordered to vigorously attack the Confederate left. Jackson was now master of the situation, and unless he could be driven from his position he would, undoubtedly, gain the day.
Tyler, equal to the emergency, marched rapidly along the Cedar Creek road to opposite the northeastern end of Sandy ridge, and there, concealed and protected by the intervening forest, formed his line of battle, parallel to and longer than Jackson's, and at 3:30 p.m. advanced to the attack, just as Jackson had placed his men in position and was advancing to flank Sullivan's right. Tyler's vigorous onset was unexpected, but Fulkerson, on Jackson's left, behind the stone fence, met it with a withering fire, at short range, and the two attacking regiments were repulsed with severe loss and broke to the rear, the One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania so demoralized as to be of no further use that day. Tyler, with his other regiments, soon renewed the attack, which Fulkerson again repulsed from his front, but which fiercely continued for two hours in front of Garnett. Shields says of it: "Here the struggle became desperate, and for a short time doubtful."
Observing that the great contention was now on his right, and that there was no fighting force to detain him on the left, Kimball hastened six of his and Sullivan's regiments to Tyler's left, extending his line so that in advancing it would overlap Jackson's right and turn that flank. Jackson made heroic efforts to meet this superior force, inciting his thin line of weary veterans to stubborn resistance, bringing up the Fifth Virginia, which had been held in reserve, ordering up the Forty-second and sending for the Forty-eighth, which had been left to guard his train, that he might throw the last man and the last gun into the final struggle. Tyler did not wait for Jackson to get even these small additions to his force, but with added strength, again led forward his men and by their vigorous charge, the front of which fell on Garnett, caused the Confederate line to waver, and then, by order of its brigadier, to fall back.
Jackson, who was directing the artillery on his right and forcing back the advancing Federals, knew nothing of this order, and was highly indignant, when, just about dark, his army, which he tried in vain to rally, swept by him in retreat. Fulkerson was easily holding his position on the left when Garnett's retreat exposed his right and forced him to retreat, stubbornly fighting the superior numbers now rushing to attack him. The Fifth Virginia was coming to his relief in this emergency when Garnett, ordered that also to retreat, but Jackson met and halted it in the edge of a wood in rear of his former position, and ordered the retreating infantry to form behind that. The Forty second, coming up, was placed on the right of the Fifth. These regiments and some batteries resisted the enemy's advance, twice repulsing their attacks, and gave the retreating men opportunity to rally and other batteries time to withdraw. By extending their lines the Federals finally forced these regiments from the field.
The mass of the Confederate army retreated along Sandy ridge for some distance, then took a road leading to the Valley. turnpike, and then, slowly but sullenly, retired five or six miles to their trains in the vicinity of Newtown, having lost 691 men, of whom 80 were killed, 340 wounded (some 70 of these left on the field) and 260 missing. The Federals held the field of battle, captured two disabled guns and 200 or 300 prisoners. They made no pursuit, and Jackson's rear spent the night where his command had massed in the afternoon. Six days after the battle Shields was uncertain as to his losses, but reported his killed as 103, the wounded as 441, and the missing as 24, a total of 568.
The day after the battle the citizens of Winchester, mainly men past middle age, obtained permission to bury the Confederate dead, and its noble women did all they were allowed to do in caring for the wounded. Jackson firmly believed that his failure was the result of the retreat ordered by General Garnett, and circumstances, months afterward, showed that he continued in that belief. To teach his subordinates a lesson, and to show them and others what he expected should be done under similar circumstances, he placed Garnett under arrest and relieved him from his command. For this he has been censured by writers ignorant of the facts in the case. Those who knew Jackson can testify that in this case, as in others for which he has been blamed, he was not animated by animosity or personal feeling. After the Seven Days' battles, Garnett was released from arrest and subsequently fell at Gettysburg leading a brigade.
On the 24th Jackson retired to the south side of Cedar creek and then fell back to his former camps near Mt. Jackson, holding the line of Stony creek which his engineer, after a careful examination, had recommended as the best one for defense in all that region.
Shields, confident that Jackson would not have brought on such an engagement without expecting reinforcements, hastened, the night after the battle, to bring together all the troops within his reach; Williams was recalled from his march toward Manassas, with the request that his rear brigade, already 20 miles away, should march all night and rejoin him on the morning of the 24th. He gathered all the men he could find in his rear to join him by forced night marches. Banks was halted, on his way to Washington, at Harper's Ferry. He promptly ordered back all of Williams' division and returned at once to Winchester, retaining Sedgwick at Harper's Ferry. Jackson's prompt action and bold attack had completely changed McClellan's plans, and instead of establishing Banks near Manassas with 20,000 men, he ordered him to remain in the Valley with all these forces and sent him 10,000 more, detached from his own army, to aid in driving back Jackson or to meet another anticipated attack.
McClellan sent his orders to Banks on the 1st day of April, from the steamer on which he was just starting to join his command at Fortress Monroe. Disquieted by what had happened, Lincoln ordered the retention of McDowell's corps in front of Washington until further orders. On the 1st of April, 73,456 men and 109 cannon were held for the defense of that city. Of these, 18,000 were in the forts around Washington, 1,350 along the Potomac above that city, 10,859 at Manassas, 7,780 at Warrenton, and 35,467 (including the 10,000 under Blenker ordered to him) were with Banks in the Shenandoah valley. When Lincoln, on the 3d of April, detained McDowell's corps, it was, as he informed McClellan on the 9th, because he feared that the Confederates might turn back from the Rappahannock and sack Washington. On the 4th, McDowell was put in command of the forces between the Blue ridge and Fredericksburg, including those in the defenses of Washington; his command, thus made independent of McClellan, was called the department of the Rappahannock; Banks was placed in command of the department of the Shenandoah, including that valley and its extension into Maryland, and Fremont was put in command of the Mountain department, embracing the Appalachian region west of the Valley.
Jackson established his headquarters at Woodstock March 24th, at Narrow Passage the 26th, and at Hawkinstown on the 29th. Banks made an advance on the 1st of April and forced Ashby's pickets back to Edinburg, on the line of Stony creek, which Jackson had decided to hold. He established his headquarters at Rude's hill, April 2d, and there remained until the 17th, when the Federals again moved forward in force, occupying himself, as well as the cold and raw weather, with snow and rain would permit, in recruiting and drilling his troops, marching them back and forth, almost daily, from their camps to the line of Stony creek, and otherwise keeping them in fighting trim, doing all in his power to get to his command the regiments of Virginia militia that had been ordered to him from the counties of Augusta and Rockingham in the Shenandoah valley. He was greatly aided in reorganizing his army by the anticipated general conscription bill, placing all the able-bodied men of the country, between eighteen and thirty-five years of age, in the military service, which became a law on the 16th of April, as patriotic Virginians preferred to volunteer rather than be conscripted.
When Banks again began his forward movement, on the 17th of April, he captured some of Ashby's outposts, but that fearless trooper turned on him at every favorable opportunity, and forced him to contend for every mile he made up the valley. Jackson retired before the oncoming enemy and reached Harrisonburg, 25 miles beyond Mt. Jackson, during the morning of the 18th. To the east of this town the Massanutton mountains, beginning opposite Strasburg and dividing the middle section of the Shenandoah valley into two parts, drop off abruptly and the valley widens to near 30 miles between the North mountain and the Blue ridge. Sending all his surplus trains and his tents on to Staunton, with orders to burn the Valley Turnpike bridge at Mt. Crawford after these had crossed the North river of the Shenandoah, Jackson, at Harrisonburg, turned abruptly to the left, abandoning the Valley turnpike and taking the one leading from Harrisonburg around the southwestern end of the Massanutton mountains to Conrad's store, and thence across the Blue ridge, by Swift Run gap, to Gordonsville, halting the night of the 18th at Peale's cross roads, six miles from Harrisonburg, and the next day crossing the main Shenandoah to camps on Elk run near the western entrance to Swift Run gap of the Blue ridge; thus placing himself in a thoroughly secure position, where he could easily hold the road leading to Ewell's division, of Johnston's army, which had fallen back and was holding the line of the Rapidan, taking the precaution of sending to burn the bridges across the South Fork Shenandoah in the eastern, or Page valley, below him.
When Banks learned of Jackson's unexpected movement to the left, he informed his government that he believed Jackson had abandoned the valley. Continuing his tardy pursuit, his cavalry entered Harrisonburg on the 22nd of April and part of his infantry on the 26th. Looking out at the broadly widening valley before him, recalling that his base of supplies was nearly 100 miles in his rear by a wagon road, and uncertain as to what had become of his elusive foe, he hesitated what to do and asked for instructions.
Jackson, in his secure position but with his men exposed in open bivouacs to the snow, rain and sleet that made memorable the closing days of April, completed the reorganization of his army, received additions by enlistments and the Tenth Virginia, ordered to him from Ewell's division, increasing his force to near 6,000 men; in the meantime stimulating Ashby to keep Banks busy guarding his encampment and his long line of communication to his rear, which presented so many favorable points of attack to the horsemen of the Valley who knew all its byways as well as its highways and the sally-ports to these from the mountains on either side. He had his engineers, as well as his cavalry, on the outlook for opportunities to attack any exposed positions occupied by Banks. On the 28th, Jackson appealed to Lee, now the acting commander-in-chief of the Confederate forces, to let Ewell's command cross the' Blue ridge and join him, that thus reinforced he might march out and attack Banks and drive him back down the Valley, suggesting also that some additional men could be spared him from the force covering Fredericksburg. General Lee was favorably impressed with Jackson's suggestion, writing, that "a decisive and successful blow at Banks' column would be fraught with the happiest results, but regretting that the large force of the enemy now threatening Fredericksburg would not admit of the withdrawal of troops from that line, but suggesting that he might combine the forces of Ewell and Edward Johnson with his own, if he thought that by so doing he could hold Banks in check. Jackson gladly accepted Lee's suggestions, and, at his headquarters at Conrad's store, in the Elk Run valley, worked out his plan of operations.
When Jackson retired from Harrisonburg, on the 19th, to the Blue ridge, and left the road to Staunton, 25 miles by the Valley turnpike, uncovered, Edward Johnson's command, consisting of six regiments of infantry, three batteries and a small force of cavalry, in all about 3,000 fighting men, fell back to West View, 7 miles west of Staunton, to be prepared for any movement Banks might make in that direction; the two brigades of Milroy and Schenck, of Fremont's command, that had been opposing Johnson, following him up and establishing a Federal advance at the eastern foot of the Shenandoah mountain, about 20 miles west of Staunton.
There was no enemy in front of Ewell to prevent his joining Jackson, as McDowell's army, now that all threatened danger of an attack on Washington was apparently removed, had been diverted toward Fredericksburg. It was different with Edward Johnson's force. That could not be removed without endangering Staunton, a base of supplies for Lee's as well as Jackson's army; that town was also on the important line of railway leading to Richmond. This condition of things compelled Jackson to strike his first blow at Fremont's advance under Milroy, and thus release Johnson's command for co-operating with his. Only common country roads led from Jackson's camp, along the western foot of the Blue ridge, to Staunton, and these were rendered almost impassable by the well-nigh continuous wet weather and the freezings and thawings that characterized that season. To solve this difficulty, and at the same time to effectually cover his strategic movement, Jackson, after having had the roads examined and ascertained that he could secure railway transportation, decided to march his own army along the foot of the Blue ridge, some 18 miles, to the vicinity of Port Republic, the way for most of the distance leading through fiat woods, and there take the turnpike across the Blue ridge to Meechum's River station of the Virginia Central railroad, whence, by the aid of the railway, he could speedily transfer his command to Staunton and join Johnson, just beyond, in a rapid movement that would unexpectedly fall upon and demoralize Fremont's advance; arranging that Ewell's division should cross the Blue ridge and occupy the camps at Elk run even before he left their vicinity. To cover the changes decided on and deceive Banks, Jackson, on the 29th of April, sent Ashby, reinforced by infantry and artillery, to make a demonstration in front of Harrisonburg, sending Captain Hotchkiss, of the engineers, to the peak of the Massanutton mountains during the previous night, to observe the effect of the movement, as this outlook commanded a full view of Banks' camp, and regulate the movements of Ashby by signal. His-whole army followed after Ashby, thus clearing his camps, which Ewell, crossing the Blue ridge the same day, occupied immediately after. Banks sent his trains to the rear and formed a line of battle on a very advantageous position, but made no attack. His object accomplished, late in the day Jackson countermarched to Conrad's store, but instead of going into his former camps, as his men expected, he turned up the river, just as a driving rain began, and marched several miles in the direction of Port Republic before going into camp. Jackson and his staff rode a dozen miles to "Lewiston," the home of Gen. S. H. Lewis, for the night. Ashby's cavalry covered and concealed the movement by advancing along the roads on the western side of the Shenandoah.
During the whole of May 1st and 2d all of Jackson's command was engaged in an arduous struggle in getting his trains and artillery through the rain, the mud and the quicksands between their camp of the night of the 30th and Port Republic, 12 miles distant. The 3d proved a genuine sunny May day and the troops marched rapidly over the hard, well-graded road across the Blue ridge, and Saturday night found their advance at Meechum's River station of the Virginia Central railroad. The next day, the troops that had reached the railway were conveyed by train to Staunton, while those in the rear marched to the nearer Afton station, to which the cars returned for them. The artillery and army trains took the country road to Staunton, recrossing the Blue ridge at Rockfish gap. The despair of the citizens of Staunton when apprised that Jackson had left the valley was unexpectedly turned into joy, when, just as the church bells were ringing for the Sunday morning service, the trains rolled in with the advance of Jackson's army, all of which was there concentrated by the afternoon of the 5th. Taking the next day for rest and to settle with the Lord of the Sabbath for the day that had, of necessity incurred from bad roads, been taken for a march, Jackson was ready to move against the enemy on the morning of the 7th. During the afternoon of the previous day Johnson marched his brigade from his camps at West View, through Buffalo gap and up the eastern slope of Big North mountain, and at dusk rested his advance, in bivouac, in Dry Branch gap or Notch, of that mountain, 15 miles west of Staunton. Milroy's advance was encamped near the eastern foot of Shenandoah mountain, across the Big Calf Pasture valley, in sight of Johnson's pickets. Jackson's engineers had previously conferred with Johnson, after a reconnaissance of the Federal advance, and it had been agreed that Johnson should send a flanking party, by a detour to the left, in advance of his front attack, to fall upon the rear of Milroy's camp.
Learning from his spies that a junction had been made between the forces of Jackson and Johnson, Milroy ordered his detachments to concentrate at McDowell, and calling for reinforcements from Fremont, who was advancing up the South Branch valley, he prepared to make a stand. When Johnson's flanking party reached Milroy's previous camp they found there only a picket, the most of which was captured. Jackson, by rapid riding from Staunton, was early on the ground at Rodgers', at the foot of the Shenandoah mountain, 23 miles from Staunton, and under his personal direction the pursuit was continued across that mountain to Shaw's Fork, the Federal artillery opposing a further advance from the crest of Shaw's ridge. The march was resumed early on the morning of the 8th, Johnson's regiments still in advance. The enemy had retreated during the night, and Jackson met with no opposition in crossing Shaw's ridge, the Cow Pasture valley and the western slope of Bull Pasture mountain, the summit of which was reached early in the forenoon. From a projecting rock on the right of the road Jackson was enabled to see the camp and the position taken by the enemy across the Bull Pasture river, on the terraces and bottoms of that valley in the vicinity of McDowell; while his engineer, who was familiar with the locality, sketched for him the topography and the approaches to the Federal position, which were partly concealed by a forest along the eastern bluffs of the river. Generals Jackson and Johnson then rode up into the fields on the undulating top of the mountain, on the left, and from that locality further reconnoitered the ground Milroy had chosen for defense, observing at the same time arrangements for placing a battery on a cleared spur to the northeast of McDowell. Noticing this group of horsemen with but a line of skirmishers to protect them, Milroy sent a flanking party up the mountain side, through the woods on his right, to try and capture these officers. Johnson reinforced his skirmishers and after a lively engagement the enemy retired. Concluding from this, and the appearance of things in the Federal camp, that no further attack would be made that day, Jackson gave instructions for the posting of Johnson's brigade in rear of the fields on the summit of the mountain south of the turnpike, and ordered the opening of a road by which artillery could be taken to the same position, expecting to attack the enemy the next morning unless they should attack him in his chosen position. At the same time he desired to await the movements of a flanking column. which he had sent around to the left into the Bull Pasture valley, to ascend that valley and fall upon Milroy's right while he attacked in front. With these arrangements made and Johnson's brigade in position for attack or defense, and Taliaferro's and Campbell's brigades near at hand, Jackson sent his staff back to headquarters, at Wilson's on the Cow Pasture, intending himself soon to follow for refreshments and rest. In the meantime Schenck's brigade, which had left Franklin at 11 a.m. of the preceding day, had covered 34 miles in twenty-three hours and reached McDowell at 10 a.m. of the 8th, thus adding some 1,300 infantry, a battery of artillery and about 250 cavalry to Milroy's command, now in charge of the former as the senior in rank.
Informed by his scouts and skirmishers that the Confederate force was increasing and that there were indications of the moving of a flanking party, Milroy, with the approval of Schenck, at about half past three in the afternoon of the 8th, formed and moved forward a line of battle, composed of portions of his own and of Schenck's brigade, across the Bull Pasture and up the slope of Sitlington's hill, as the part of the mountain held by Johnson was called, to seize that hill and drive the Confederates from it. A skirt of woods concealed his initial movement, but as soon as his skirmishers appeared in the bushy field, Jackson, who was still on the lookout, ordered up four regiments of Johnson's brigade which had been halted in concealment along the turnpike. He deployed the Fifty-second Virginia as skirmishers and advanced them to engage the enemy; posting in their rear, in the center of his position on the summit of the hill, the Twelfth Georgia, and on its right the Forty-fourth Virginia. The Fifty-eighth Virginia was marched to the left to support the Fifty-second. The Confederate line then formed an arc of a circle, with its convexity toward the enemy so that its right was nearly perpendicular to its left. As the Federal skirmishers, in line of battle, advancing up the mountain side, came in sight they became engaged with Johnson's skirmishers. Two Federal regiments attacked the Confederate left, advancing boldly and steadily and pushing back the skirmish line until they became engaged with the line of battle in a fierce struggle on the brow of the hill. In the meantime, Milroy had sent two Ohio and a West Virginia regiment to attack and attempt to turn the Confederate right. The two Ohio regiments vigorously attacked Johnson's right, while the West Virginia one pushed up the turnpike to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. Anticipating such a movement, Jackson had placed the Thirty-first Virginia on the turnpike below the point where the Confederates had climbed to Sitlington's hill. The attack on Johnson's right led Jackson to withdraw the Thirty-first from guarding the turnpike and send that and the Twenty-fifth Virginia to Johnson, who placed them in support of the Forty-fourth on his right, thus extending his line not only across the field on Sitlington's hill, but down the slope of that hill northward toward the turnpike. Jackson then committed the guarding of the turnpike to the Twenty-first Virginia. Milroy next ordered two cannon and a force along the turnpike, but their attack amounted to nothing. The main contention was with Johnson's right by the combined attack of all the Federal forces that had climbed up the mountain side. Again and again were the brave attacks of the Ohio and West Virginia troops repulsed in their efforts to drive the Confederates from the crest of the hill; the issue being joined at close quarters while the musketry firing was incessant. The Confederates had some little advantage of position, and the uneven ground, such as is characteristic of most limestone regions, gave them some advantage, but, on the other hand, facing to the west as they did, they were clearly outlined against the eastern sky, and so were plain targets for the Federals, who were themselves advancing not only up the slope but in the shadows of the waning day; consequently the Confederates suffered terribly from the long range rifles of the Federals, especially the Twelfth Georgia, which became the special object of attack, but which unflinchingly held its position and drove back its assailants.
The attack all along Johnson's line, even as extended by some of Jackson's men, indicated that the Federal leader was throwing all his force into this engagement. This led Jackson to order Taliaferro's brigade to Johnson's aid; when this reached him, he placed the Twenty. third and Thirty-seventh Virginia regiments near the center of his line, and advanced them to reinforce the gallant Twelfth Georgia, just in time to promptly meet the movement of the enemy on the Confederate right and drive it back. To still further strengthen his right, Johnson sent portions of the Twenty-fifth and Thirty-first Virginia regiments to occupy an elevated piece of woods on his right and rear, thus securing a commanding position. Campbell's brigade, which Jackson had hastened toward the field of carnage, came up about this time, and that and the Tenth Virginia, from Taliaferro's rear, were also ordered to support Johnson's right in the woods down the slope of the spur toward the turnpike. These arrangements thwarted all the enemy's movements, and by securing the larger tactical force on the immediate field of action made certain the result of the conflict.
The battle lasted from half past four until half past eight of the afternoon. Every movement of the enemy was promptly met and defeated, and Johnson held firmly to his first position. Jackson had no hesitancy in leaving the immediate field of contention in charge of the hero of Alleghany mountain, but taking no chances, he located himself on the turnpike, where it crosses the top of the mountain, to watch the right, guard the roads which were concealed from Johnson, and at the same time hurry forward reinforcements, having promptly ordered his whole army forward to meet any emergency. Late in the day General Johnson was wounded in the arm and had to retire from the field, leaving Taliaferro in immediate command. Learning from Johnson, as he was taken, badly wounded, to the rear, the condition of things on the field of battle, he quickly ordered Taliaferro, now left in command, through a staff officer, to hold his position at all hazards, and he would soon be there with the Stonewall brigade to help him, if necessary. But the conflict was then over, and Milroy had become satisfied that he was no match for his antagonist, so in the coming darkness he withdrew to McDowell and Schenck hastened to retreat toward Franklin, where he expected to meet Fremont, with the main body of his command, coming up the South Branch valley.
The Federal artillery placed on the terrace to the south of McDowell was quite active, but uselessly so, prior to the advance of its infantry, because of the elevation of the position held by the Confederates. A single gun on Hull's hill, a spur of the mountain opposite the Federal left, did a little damage but not much. The Confederates that did the fighting were five Virginia regiments and one Georgia of Johnson's brigade, and three Virginia regiments of Taliaferro's brigade, about 4,500 men. They were supported by the three Virginia regiments and the Irish battalion of Campbell's brigade, but which did not become engaged; making the Confederate force on the immediate battlefield about 6,000 men. Of these, 71 were killed and 390 wounded. Milroy's force that took part in the battle was, parts of four Ohio and two West Virginia regiments, and parts of two Ohio batteries, in all about 2,500 men, who, considering the disparity of forces, made a most determined and brave fight. Schenck reported the losses as 28 killed, 225 wounded and 3 missing.
Jackson prepared himself to renew the conflict on the morrow unless the Federals did it, arranging to have his artillery in position on Sitlington's hill by daylight and his whole army closed up and ready for action, issuing strict orders to those in advance to be on the alert to detect any movement of the enemy. Schenck, satisfied that Jackson, from his position, could very soon make McDowell untenable, evacuated that place early in the night, after lighting his camp-fires and making a show of remaining there, and fell back during the night in the direction of Franklin.
On the morning of the 9th, Jackson sent a laconic dispatch to General Cooper, the adjutant-general of the Confederate States at Richmond, saying, "God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell yesterday;" then mounting his horse at dawn, he rode in the keen and frosty air to the summit of the mountain, there to learn from officers he had sent in advance to reconnoiter that his enemy had fled. He at once took possession of McDowell and proceeded to close up and ration his men preparatory to a pursuit. Following the road to Monterey for a few miles from McDowell, Schenck turned to the northeast, by the road to Franklin, resting his wearied men for a short time when his rear guard reached the junction of the two roads on the morning of the 9th, but moving on before Jackson could close up on his rear. A retreat is easily managed in a narrow valley and through a wooded country like that which Schenck was traversing, so he was able to make Jackson's pursuit on the l0th a slow one; but the latter managed to press the Federal rear, and on the 11th came very near to it in the vicinity of Franklin, although impeded by the smoke and flames from the forests that hemmed in the road, which his crafty foe had set on fire.
During the march on the l0th, Jackson sent Captain Hotchkiss, of the engineers, to ride rapidly back to the Valley and there take a cavalry company which had been left on guard, and blockade the North river and the Dry river gaps of the Shenandoah mountain, by either of which Fremont might cross from the South-Branch valley and join Banks in the Shenandoah valley, at or near Harrisonburg, Jackson's positive orders being that these roads must be blockaded by daylight of the 11th. The execution of this order required a ride of over 60 miles during the afternoon and night of the loth, but the order was executed, and when Lincoln telegraphed to Fremont to make the move Jackson had said to his engineer he should make (although he did not think he would), the reply was, that the road was blockaded and he could not do it.
Having advanced to within two miles of Franklin and finding Schenck in a very strong position which could only be reached by a combat at a disadvantage in a gap of the mountain, and ascertaining that Fremont was near at hand with large reinforcements, and being very desirous of getting back to the Valley to look after Banks' army, and that he might also be at hand to respond to a call from General Lee, Jackson, after resting his army, fell back toward the Valley on Monday, May 12th, leaving a company of cavalry to look after Fremont's army of from 15,000 to 20,000 men enveloped in the smoke of the burning forests, which had now become Jackson's ally instead of his foe.
Having used the previous Sunday, or a part of it, in the pursuit of his enemy, Jackson devoted the forenoon of Monday, May 12th, to Sunday observances as well as to rest, and issued the following order to his troops:
Soldiers of the Army of the Valley and Northwest: I congratulate you on your recent victory at McDowell. I request you to unite with me this morning in thanksgiving to Almighty God for thus having crowned our arms with success, and in praying that He will continue to lead you on from victory to victory until our independence shall be established and make us that people whose God is the Lord. The chaplains will hold divine service at 10 a.m. this day in their respective regiments.
Leaving the front of Franklin on the afternoon of May 12th, Jackson's army reached McDowell on the afternoon of the 14th, at about the same time that Fremont arrived in Franklin with reinforcements for Schenck, and where he remained quietly for the next ten days, leaving Jackson free to prosecute his intentions. Continuing his march from McDowell, Jackson encamped on the night of the 15th at Lebanon Springs, in the Big Calf Pasture valley, where the Warm Springs and Harrisonburg turnpike crosses the Parkersburg and Staunton turnpike, giving his troops opportunity to speculate as to his next movement while he rested there on the 16th to observe the day of fasting and prayer which had been proclaimed by the President of the Confederate States.
While on his way back from Franklin, Jackson sent a message to Ewell asking him to meet him for a conference, which took place at Mt. Solon on the evening of the next day, the 17th, on which the army marched with alacrity down the valley, its advance reaching North river, opposite Bridgewater, the troops in high spirits in anticipation of a victorious movement. Sunday, the 18th, was spent resting in camps in one of the most delightsome portions of the Shenandoah valley, its charms heightened by the full flush of springtime, and in religious observances; the general himself tiding to the camp of the Stonewall brigade, on the south bank of North river, where his adjutant-general, Maj. R. L. Dabney (a revered doctor of the Presbyterian church), preached a soul-stirring sermon.
Nineteen days had now elapsed since Jackson left Ewell in his old camps in the Elk Run valley. Learning that Jackson had been reinforced by Ewell, although probably not informed as to Jackson's movements to attack Fremont's advance, Banks evacuated Harrisonburg on the 1st of May and withdrew to New Market, whence, after detaching Shields' division to march toward Luray, on the way to join McDowell's "on to Richmond," he continued down the valley to Strasburg, which he proceeded to fortify, in compliance with his first orders from McClellan. Shields left New Market May 12th, after the departure of Banks, with orders to march by way of Luray and Front Royal toward Fredericksburg, taking with him about 11,000 men and leaving Banks about 8,000; of this number, the latter placed 1,000 at and near Front Royal, on May 16th, to protect the Manassas Gap railroad, the bridges of that road, and the bridges of the turnpike leading to Winchester, in that vicinity; in this also obeying McClellan's original orders.
With Fremont's large command safely disposed of at Franklin and the large force of Shields removed from the valley, Jackson found himself possessed of a larger tactic force than Banks had in hand, after he had arranged with Ewell, with the consent of General Lee, to join him in a movement on Banks, holding now the portal of the western part of the Shenandoah valley at Strasburg with the aid of defensive works.
On May 17th, the day Jackson's advance reached North river at Bridgewater and was again fairly in the Valley, with Ewell's division only some 20 miles away to the east, as the crow flies, the Federal authorities ordered McDowell to move upon Richmond, as soon as Shields' division should join him, to become the right wing of McClellan's army, now in front and in sight of that city, but always holding himself in position "to cover the capital of the nation against the sudden dash by any large body of the rebel forces."
On the morning of the 19th, Jackson advanced to the vicinity of Harrisonburg, and on the 20th continued to near New Market, a portion of Ewell's command, which had marched around the southwest end of the Massanutton mountains, joining him on the way while the rest of his division marched down the eastern, or Page valley, to opposite New Market. Ashby, under instructions, demonstrated all along Banks' front, which held the line of Pugh's run with cavalry pickets, below Woodstock, while Jackson proceeded, with urgent expedition to maneuver Banks from his position at Strasburg by capturing his exposed left at Front Royal, and, that turned, reaching his rear somewhere between Strasburg and Winchester. The great Massanutton chain not only screened, but absolutely concealed and protected this movement.
On the 21st, Jackson crossed the Massanuttons by the turnpike leading from New Market, to Luray, and being joined on the road by the portion of Ewell's division that had followed down the eastern valley, he, with between 16,000 and 17,000 men and 48 guns, encamped that evening on the South Fork of the Shenandoah. On the 22nd, with Ewell in advance, he marched quietly, but rapidly, down the Luray valley and bivouacked his advance within 10 miles of Front Royal.
On Friday morning, May 23rd, the cavalry of Ashby and Flournoy, which had preceded the army, crossed the South Fork of the Shenandoah at McCoy's ford, and, following along the eastern foot of the Massanuttons by a road between that mountain and the river, soon reached a fork of the road, where it divided into two bodies, one under Flournoy proceeding down between the rivers to capture the bridges at the fork and prevent a retreat of the Federals at Front Royal toward Winchester, while the other under Ashby, moving farther to the left, was to cut the railroad and telegraph at Buckton, between Front Royal and Strasburg, thus breaking communication between those places and preventing the sending of reinforcements to the latter. In order to flank the enemy's position at Front Royal, concerning which he was well informed through Ashby's local scouts, and prevent a retreat eastward across the Blue ridge, Jackson, when his advance reached Asbury chapel on the river road, 4 miles from Front Royal, turned the head of his main body eastward, by a by-road up the slope of the Blue ridge, until he reached the turnpike leading from Gooney Manor to Front Royal, which was well up on the side of the mountain and led into the eastern side of the town. That road reached, the head of his column, consisting of the First Maryland Confederate regiment and a Louisiana battalion, supported by Taylor's Louisiana brigade, advanced rapidly into and through the town to the camp of the Federal forces which were mainly Maryland troops with two pieces of artillery, on a hill between Front Royal and the Shenandoah, overlooking the forks of the river and near the railway and turnpike bridges which they were specially guarding. Two companies of cavalry had just arrived from Strasburg in time to resist the Confederate advance. The Federal opposition was spirited, but being attacked in front by the force that first reached them, and then in flank by one that Ewell had turned to the left from his command, and discovering the advance of Flournoy's Confederate cavalry between the rivers that would soon block his way toward Winchester, Colonel Kenly, the Federal commander, abandoned his position before the infantry closed down upon him, and retreated across the two rivers, firing his camp and attempting to fire the bridges. The Confederates pressed him so closely that he did but little damage to the bridge over the South Fork, but did sufficient to that over the North Fork to check the pursuit. Having gained the commanding bluff of Guard hill, beyond the rivers, which the road to Winchester crosses, Kenly attempted to further check the Confederate advance with the artillery that he had brought off, but Flournoy's cavalry soon dashed through the river, after a few shots from a Confederate battery had driven off the Federal artillery, and continued the pursuit. Covering his retreat with two companies of New York cavalry, Kenly hurried toward Winchester. With invincible ardor Flournoy pressed after him with his four companies of cavalry, charged and routed Kenly's cavalry rear guard, and came upon the rear of his infantry, which he found drawn up on either side of the road with his artillery in the road to meet him. Jackson had joined in the pursuit, and, inspired by his presence and enthusiastic bearing, Flournoy did not hesitate to attack the enemy's artillery and infantry in position, but dashed upon and routed them. They rallied again and made a gallant stand in an orchard in the rear of the position from which they had been driven; but this stand was in vain; they had become thoroughly demoralized and so magnified Flournoy's troopers into an army of 'horsemen, when they dashed among them with the assurance of victory and scattered them, in wild disorder, but taking most of them prisoners when they threw down their arms and surrendered. Reinforced by the coming of two more of his companies, Flournoy pushed the pursuit to within four miles of Winchester, capturing one gun near the fighting ground and soon after the wagon train and the other gun, abandoned in the road, sending the latter back with two plough horses taken from a farmer's field.
The victory was complete. A large quantity of stores was captured in Front Royal; the Federal camp was taken; the wagon bridges across the two rivers were saved for the passage of the Confederate army and its trains and artillery, and 904 of the enemy made the list of killed, wounded and captured, while the Confederate loss was but 26 killed and wounded. Ashby's movement had been successful, he having reached Buckton before the enemy were aware of the move on Front Royal, and cut the telegraph and railway, capturing the blockhouse guarding that station, after a spirited resistance, his attacking party being the troopers from that immediate vicinity; his attack turned back a train of cars, which was captured near Front Royal.
Late in the day Jackson established headquarters at Cedarville, some 5 miles from Front Royal on the road to Winchester, near the scene of the last conflict between Flournoy and Kenly, where a country road leaves the Front Royal and Winchester pike and leads to the Valley turnpike at Middletown, some 8 miles in the rear of Banks' position at Strasburg, which he was firmly holding in anticipation of a front attack while Jackson was successfully turning his left, at Front Royal, routing and capturing his men and cutting his communications with Manassas and Washington, concerning which he had no information until after nightfall, attaching but little importance to the message which Kenly sent him by a courier, informing him that an overwhelming force had descended from the Blue ridge on his position at Front Royal. Jackson and his staff slept near the picket line, on the ground in the front yard of McCoy's house at Cedarville, while his army bivouacked along the road between that place and Front Royal.
By the dawn of Saturday, May 24th, Jackson was on the alert, pushing his cavalry scouts forward toward Winchester and to points along the Valley turnpike between that place and Middletown, dispatching his topographical engineer toward the latter place to find out the movements of the enemy. That officer soon struck the Federal pickets, within less than a mile of where Jackson had bivouacked, and following after these were cavalry, infantry and artillery that he had successively sent for, he reached the vicinity of Middletown early in the day in time to cut Banks' retreating column just a: Jackson himself came up with a larger force, which he formed into two bodies, one pushing after Banks' men retreating toward Winchester, and the other following those that fell back toward Strasburg when they found their line of march interrupted at Middletown. This latter body destroyed the bridge as they crossed Cedar creek, thus checking the Confederate pursuit, and then hastened through Strasburg and retreated by the Strasburg and Capon road and by the Winchester and Capon road, through the mountains to Winchester, which they reached during the night. These disposed of, Jackson reunited his men and pressed toward Winchester, having ordered Ewell's division forward along the Front Royal and Winchester road on which he was constantly coming nearer and nearer to Banks' line of retreat, as that road and the Valley turnpike converged toward Winchester. Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart, who had been temporarily placed in command of the Second and Sixth Virginia cavalry, was sent in advance of Ewell to Newtown, 8 miles from Winchester, to observe the enemy's movements. There he attacked the flank of Banks' retreat and made some captures of prisoners, wagons and ambulances.
Banks, now fully realizing his perilous situation, and alarmed at the rapid and incomprehensible movements of Jackson, and realizing that his only safety was in flight, retreated, pressed in rear and flank. as rapidly as possible toward Winchester, making vigorous efforts to ward off the Confederate attacks; constantly strengthening his rear guard and right flank for that purpose, ordering back, among others, a New York and a Massachusetts regiment, under the brave Col. George Gordon, an intimate classmate of Jackson at West Point, with two sections of artillery, from Bartonsville to Newtown. Gordon checked the confusion in the rear and boldly drove back the Confederate advance, aided by the considerable cavalry force that General Hatch brought around the Confederate left to his assistance. Apprised of the near presence of Ewell on his right flank and that the Federal infantry cut off at Strasburg had escaped Gordon fell back from Newtown at dusk, steadily resisting Jackson's pursuit, burning loaded commissary wagons and a pontoon train in and beyond Newtown, and reaching Winchester about midnight, leaving the Second Massachusetts infantry as a rear guard. With this Jackson, with regiment after regiment of the Stonewall brigade, contended during all the night, its leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews, taking advantage of the darkness and of the stone fences along the turnpike, hotly and courageously disputed every mile of the way with Jackson's advance, led by that indomitable leader in person, who was anxious to occupy the heights overlooking Winchester before dawn of the next day. Ewell, keeping even pace with Jackson's movements, but rather in advance of them, brought his command, on the Front Royal road, to within two or three miles of Winchester, then bivouacked along that road, thus preventing any retreat of Banks to the eastward. Steuart's cavalry moved still farther to the right and occupied the roads leading to Millwood and Berryville from Winchester.
Banks was in a state of uncertainty, until he reached Winchester, as to what had actually happened to him; but soon learning that all of his detachments had been routed and that a large force was pressing after his main column, he became satisfied that Jackson was upon him with overwhelming numbers; and although the day before he had concluded that his safety lay "in a foot race," he decided, on the morning of May 25th, that he would stand an attack "to test the substance and strength of the enemy by actual collision." He had at Winchester about 6,400 men for duty, including infantry, cavalry and artillery, while Jackson, by his magnificent strategy, was confronting him with a tactic force of near 15,000 of all arms.
Banks selected a fine defensive position in front of Winchester. The gallant Gordon, with his brave New Englanders and western men and one Pennsylvania regiment, was placed by Banks on a low ridge, sloping gently to the south but abruptly to the north, just in front of the town, with its left on the Valley turnpike and its right extending westward along the ascending ridge in front of Winchester, while skirmishers were thrown out in advance and guns were placed on either flank. Hatch's cavalry supported the center. Donnell's brigade, of Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania troops, was placed on the left of the turnpike and extended around to the eastward of Winchester, covering the Front Royal and Millwood roads, with eight pieces of artillery in a commanding position; the Federal line, forming the are of a circle, covering Winchester from the west around by the south to the east.
Jackson, personally, had with his Valley men pressed, with all the energy at his command, the pursuit of the Federal army, and just at dawn he discovered the coveted position in front of Winchester occupied by the enemy. He promptly ordered Winder, of the Stonewall brigade, to drive them from this position as speedily as possible, first taking possession of a commanding crest in the enemy's front, from which Gordon promptly moved the Second Massachusetts further to his right to lengthen his line and guard against the threatened flank attack. Jackson massed his abundant artillery and opened fire on the Federal guns in place, extended his left by ordering up Taylor with his Louisianians, who, passing behind Winder, formed on his left, overlapping the Federal right. He sent the Tenth Virginia to extend Taylor's line still further to the left, and the Twenty-third to promptly strengthen his right. This formidable battle array soon moved forward, regardless of the enemy's destructive fire of musketry and artillery, swept them from the crest of the hill down the steep to the northward and across the fields and through the town of Winchester, bearing down all opposition, cheered forward by old men and matrons, maidens and children who crowded the sides of the streets as the Confederate veterans swept through them in pursuit of the retreating Federals. Jackson, cap in hand, dashed to the front, cheering as wildly as the men that followed him, and when cautioned that he was rushing into the midst of the retreating foe, said to the officer who cautioned him, "Go back, and tell the whole army to press forward to the Potomac," in utter forgetfulness of the fact that that army had been fighting and marching almost without rest for the past thirty hours.
Ewell was not standing idly by while this contest was raging. He had encamped in the immediate presence of the enemy, and when daylight came, on the 25th, he moved forward, and at 5 a.m. his North Carolinians, under Kirkland, boldly dashed on Donnell's line, stretched across the Front Royal road. These met with a hot reception, for the Federals were posted behind stone fences at right angles to the road, and Kirkland was forced to retire with a large loss in killed and wounded; but in the meantime Col. B. T. Johnson, with the First Maryland, moved forward between the Front Royal road and the Valley turnpike and turned Donnell's right, while the Twenty-first Georgia turned his left, and by an enfilade fire routed him from behind the stone fences. Donnell took a new line, nearer the town, but at Trimble's suggestion, Ewell sent the Sixteenth Mississippi and the Fifteenth Alabama, the remainder of Trimble's brigade, still farther to the right, threatening Donnell's flank and rear just as Jackson's men broke in wild triumph over the Federal center and right. These movements caused the entire Federal line to give way and retreat, as rapidly as possible, toward Martinsburg, between 8 and 9 a.m. Elzey's brigade shared in the attack by obeying Jackson's order and following the Valley turnpike through the town as the enemy gave way on each side. At first the Federals fell back in very good order, but they were thrown into confusion in passing through the town, from which they were unable to rally, especially as Jackson's pursuit with his infantry was quick and vigorous, while his artillery promptly took advantage of favorable positions and shelled the retreating enemy.
Never was there a better opportunity for capturing the remnant of an army and all of its artillery and wagons that had started in retreat, if a well organized and well led cavalry force were at hand to reap the fruits of victory; but, unfortunately, such was not the condition of Jackson's cavalry at that time. Ashby's poorly disciplined cavalry had been diverted and demoralized by the tempting sutlers' and other stores that had been scattered along the Valley turnpike by Banks' retreating army, many of them being unable to resist the temptation to secure many things that they had long been in need of and which, now to be had for the taking, they hastened to appropriate and conceal, thus greatly depleting his command. Ashby himself, with the few faithful men who had remained with him, had ridden to the enemy's right to prevent their retreat by way of Berryville to Harper's Ferry, hoping to capture a part of Banks' force by so doing. This movement delayed him so that he did not reach the Martinsburg road and join Steuart in the pursuit, some 10 or 12 miles beyond Winchester, after Banks had passed that point. Steuart, with the Second and Sixth Virginia cavalry, was under the immediate command of Ewell and led the advance of his movement. When he was ordered by Jackson, through one of his aides, to pursue the retreating Federals, he refused to do so until ordered by General Ewell, and so much time was lost and Banks had made considerable distance in his rapid retreat before Steuart took up the pursuit, which accomplished but little except that he captured a large quantity of stores at Martinsburg, :o miles beyond Winchester, where Banks had halted for an hour or two before he continued his retreat to the Potomac, at Williamsport, which he reached about sundown, after having fought the battle of Winchester and marched 34 miles during daylight of the 25th. The next morning he crossed the Potomac with two-thirds of his previous command in a thoroughly disorganized condition, thankful that he was safe from the blows of his sturdy antagonist.
Jackson's immediate victory was a glorious one, even if he had not accomplished all that his ardent desires and unconquerable energy thought desirable. In two days he had driven his enemy, that in fancied security dreamed he had permanent possession of the lower valley of the Shenandoah, nearly 60 miles from Front Royal and Strasburg to the Potomac, and freed the valley of his presence. He had captured immense military stores of all kinds; had sent to the rear some 2,300 prisoners, besides leaving enough in hospitals to make a total Federal loss of 3,050; while his own loss was less than 400 in killed, wounded and missing, the killed being but 68. But this is a narrow view of the results accomplished with a force only about one-fourth that of his enemy in the strategic field. The wider and more important result was that affecting the movements of the entire Federal army in and near Virginia. On May 23rd, the day Jackson struck Banks' left at Front Royal, President Lincoln visited McDowell at Fredericksburg, and wired McClellan on the 24th that Shields, with his 10,000 men, had joined McDowell, and that on the following Monday, the 26th, the 40,000 men of his command would march from Fredericksburg to reinforce McClellan's right in front of Richmond. Returning to Washington the night of the 23rd, he heard of the attack on Front Royal. The next day more alarming intelligence came, and Fremont was ordered, by telegraph, to move from Franklin to Harrisonburg, to intercept Jackson and capture or destroy his forces, and so relieve Banks; McDowell was ordered to lay aside his movement on Richmond and put 20,000 men in motion for the Shenandoah valley, to capture Jackson, either with or without the co-operation of Fremont, informing McClellan of these orders at 4 p.m. of the 24th, adding, "the enemy are making a desperate push on Harper's Ferry." On the 25th the alarm at Washington increased as Jackson drove Banks from Winchester, and Lincoln again telegraphed McClellan: "I think the time is near when you must either attack Richmond or give up the job and come to the defense of Washington. Let me hear from you instantly." Later, on the same day, he again telegraphed: "Banks ran a race with the rebels, beating them into Winchester yesterday morning. This morning a battle ensued between the two forces, in which Banks was beaten back into full retreat toward Martinsburg, and probably is broken up into a total rout.''
The news of Banks' defeat caused the Federal government to call upon all the loyal States for all their militia and other troops, to be forwarded immediately to Washington, and an order was issued taking military possession of all the railways in the United States for the transportation of these troops. The alarm at Washington produced an almost indescribable panic throughout the North, on Sunday the 25th and for several days thereafter. The governor of Massachusetts, at 11 p.m. of the 25th, ordered the whole active militia of that State to report on Boston Common the next day, "to oppose with fierce zeal and courageous patriotism the progress of the foe." The .governor of Ohio proclaimed, on the same day, "The seat of our beloved government is threatened with invasion, and I am called upon by the secretary of war for troops to repel and overwhelm the reckless invaders." In consequence of Jackson's movements threatening to pass through the gateway of the Potomac and attack Washington, a half million men, within twenty-four hours after the issue of Lincoln's proclamation, offered themselves for the defense of the Federal capital. McClellan's plans were all disconcerted, and although he protested against the detachment of McDowell to intercept Jackson, claiming that it could lead to no results because of his distance from the field of operations, his protests were of no avail, and McDowell's march toward the Valley began while McClellan stood hesitating on the banks of the Chickahominy, and the plans of the army of the Potomac, in all of its departments, were thoroughly demoralized by the boldness and results of Jackson's grand strategic movements.
Jackson's infantry followed after Banks, on Sunday the 25th, as far as Stephenson's, five miles beyond Winchester, when he handed over the pursuit to the cavalry and ordered his wearied men into camp, taking up his own headquarters in Winchester, whose citizens, mostly women, had first put out the fires which the retreating Federals kindled in the warehouses where their great army stores, including gunpowder and explosive shells, were accumulated, and then cared for the wounded and buried the dead.
A Sabbath having been appropriated in the pursuit of Banks, Jackson ordered the observance of the 26th as a day of rest and devotion, issuing this stirring order:
Within four weeks this army has made long and rapid marches, fought six combats and two battles, signally defeating the enemy in each one, captured several stands of colors and pieces of artillery, with numerous prisoners, and vast medical, ordnance and army stores; and finally driven the boastful foe, which was ravaging our beautiful country, into utter rout. The general commanding would warmly express to the officers and men of his command his joy in their achievements, and his thanks for their brilliant gallantry in action and their patient obedience under the hardships of forced marches, often more painful to the brave soldier than the dangers of battle. The explanation of the severe exertions to which the commanding general called the army, which were endured by them with such cheerful confidence in him, is now given in the victory of yesterday. He receives this proof of their confidence in the past with pride and gratitude, and only asks a similar confidence in the future.
But his chief duty today, and that of the army, is to recognize devoutly the hand of a protecting Providence in the brilliant successes of the last three days (which have given us the results of a great victory without great losses), and to make oblation of our thanks to God for His mercies to us and our country in heartfelt acts of religious worship. For this purpose the troops will remain in camp to-day, suspending as far as possible all military exercises; and the chaplains of regiments will hold divine service in their several charges at 4 o'clock p.m.
It is noteworthy that after this battle of Winchester there was inaugurated a humanitarian movement, in reference to surgeons left in charge of wounded prisoners, that has since become the rule among civilized nations engaged in war. Immediately after Banks was driven out of Winchester, Dr. Hunter McGuire, the medical director of the army of the Valley district, visited the Federal hospital, which had been established in the old Union hotel, where he found among the captured prisoners eight Federal surgeons or assistant surgeons. He reported this fact to General Jackson, and asked his permission to unconditionally release these medical officers upon their parole of honor that they would remain in charge of the Federal sick and wounded in Winchester for fifteen days, after which, by the terms of their paroles, they would be permitted to report to their commanding officers for duty. It was further understood that these surgeons should use every effort to have released, on the same terms, the medical officers of the Confederate States who were then held as prisoners by the Federal government, or who might thereafter be captured.
General Jackson readily assented to Surgeon McGuire's proposition, and directed him to carry out his suggestions. Accompanied by Dr. Daniel B. Conrad, of the Second Virginia regiment, he then went to the Federal hospital and released, on their paroles, the surgeons, assistant surgeons, attendants and nurses, but not the sick and wounded, who were afterward paroled by the regular officers of the army, not to take up arms again until properly exchanged. General Jackson issued no regular order to perform this duty, but he frequently discussed with Dr. McGuire, subsequently, the policy and humanity of such a measure. This rule established, by this precedent, was kept up by Dr. McGuire during his term of service as medical director with Generals Jackson, Ewell, Early, and Gordon, with whom he successively served as medical director until the close of the war. Near the end of February, 1864, some Confederate scouts captured the medical inspector of Sheridan's army in the Valley. Dr. McGuire promptly released him on his parole, and returned him to his command. About a week after that, Dr. McGuire was captured in the defeat of Early at Waynesboro, when General Sheridan promptly released him on the same terms he had accorded to his medical inspector. In consequence of this action of General Jackson and Dr. McGuire, a number of Confederate surgeons were released and sent back from Northern prisons.
The Confederates had another day of well-earned rest on May 27th, while Jackson was busy providing for the safety of the vast military stores he had captured at Front Royal, Winchester and Martinsburg, and waiting for instructions from Richmond, in response to dispatches he had sent by a trusty aide immediately after the capture of Winchester, as to his future operations. He had now shown the character of his military genius and established his fame as an independent commander. He had relieved Richmond from the danger of an immediate attack by the overwhelming force of the army of the Potomac, and the authorities were only too willing to direct him to press the enemy still hovering in the defense of Harper's Ferry, threaten an invasion of Maryland and an attack upon Washington, and thus still further derange the plans of McClellan by stimulating the fears of the Federal authorities and inducing them to deplete the army of the Potomac for the defense of their capital.
Ashby's tireless and everywhere-watching spies and scouts kept Jackson informed as to the movements of the enemy, and he quickly divined their plans for intercepting his way of retreat up the Valley, should the necessity arise for so doing; but his cardinal rule of action in military, as well as in other matters, was to "take no counsel Of his fears," therefore, early on the morning of the 28th he dispatched Winder with four regiments and two batteries toward Charlestown by the direct road. Nearing Charlestown and learning that the enemy held that place in force, he notified Jackson, who promptly ordered Ewell to move in the same direction. A small Federal force had been holding Harper's Ferry, but when the defeat of Banks became known, troops were hurried by rail to that point from all directions, and by the morning of the 28th, 7,000 men and 18 cannon had been collected there, under the command of General Saxton, who at once occupied the commanding plateau of Bolivar heights, in front of that place, and located a formidable battery on Maryland heights, across the Potomac in its rear, which, from its still more commanding position, dominated nearly all the approaches from the Virginia way to Bolivar heights and Harper's Ferry. Finding that it was only a reconnaissance that had advanced to Charlestown, Winder pressed forward and drove the enemy back to Bolivar heights, where Saxton had drawn up his main body in line of battle. Seeing he could accomplish nothing more, Winder fell back to Charlestown and went into camp, having marched 21 miles and had an engagement with the enemy during the day. There Ewell joined him after dark and Jackson in person, with the main body of his army, during the next day, when he made a demonstration against Bolivar heights and sent a part of his infantry force to Loudoun heights. Saxton, being informed that Jackson was crossing a division over the Potomac above Harper's Ferry, moved a part of his infantry: force to Maryland heights to defend his rear, and withdrew his line in front of Harper's Ferry to the crest of the plateau nearest that town, thus not only shortening his line, but securing protection from his own batteries on Maryland heights which could fire over his men at an approaching enemy.
Jackson having accomplished the object of his advance to Harper's Ferry, which was to gain time for the removal of the captured stores from Winchester, was now ready to extricate his army from the seemingly perilous position into which he had brought it, a position which induced the Federal commanders, who were seeking to intercept his line of retreat, to say to their men, to stimulate their marching ability, that they now had Jackson in a bottle, and all they had to do was to be in time to close it with a stopper, at Strasburg, and so end the war. They had not yet learned that Jackson was not to be caught by any combination of movements they could bring about, for while it was true that he only had about 15,000 men to meet the 60,000 that were concentrating toward his rear, he knew the strategic advantages that the great flank-protecting bulwarks of the mountains placed at his disposal farther up the Valley, and had no doubt of his ability to reach these, avail himself of their impregnable protection of his flanks, and at the same time divide the strategic forces of his enemy and enable him to meet them on his own grounds with superior tactic strength. While demonstrating in front of Harper's Ferry, Jackson was definitely informed on the morning of Friday, May 30th, that Fremont was marching his 15,000 men down the South Branch valley to Moorefield and had there turned toward Strasburg, and that his advance had reached 10 miles east of Moorefield, where he halted the 29th to rest his army, and on the 30th had moved to the western foot of the Shenandoah mountain, to within some 20 miles of Strasburg, and that McDowell's advance was already crossing the Blue ridge and not far from Front Royal. Thus advised of the strategic situation, Jackson, on the morning of the 30th, ordered all his troops back to Winchester except Winder's brigade, the First Maryland, and a body of cavalry which he left to continue threatening Harper's Ferry. After dinner at the home of Major Hawks, his chief commissary in Charlestown, he took the railway train which he had captured at Winchester, and with most of his staff rode back to that town, reaching it late in the afternoon of the 30th, where he received intelligence that McDowell's advance had that morning reached Front Royal and surprised the Twelfth Georgia, which had been left there to guard the captured stores and the bridges across the Shenandoah, and that he was now in force at that town, within 12 miles of Strasburg by the direct road leading past the northern end of the Massanutton mountains. Fremont had reached Wardensville, 20 miles from Strasburg, and had telegraphed Lincoln that he would enter that place by 5 p.m. of Saturday, May 31st. The main body of Jackson's army had marched 25 miles on the 30th and encamped in the vicinity of Winchester, 20 miles from Strasburg; Winder's brigade had spent most of the day skirmishing with the Federals at Harper's Ferry and collecting his men together, and late in the afternoon had encamped near Halltown, some 43 miles from Strasburg by way of Winchester.
Fully apprised by Ashby of the movements of the enemy and of the points which they had reached in marching from opposite directions toward Strasburg, Jackson prepared with the utmost calmness to meet the threatening emergency. At 10 that night he dispatched Captain Hotchkiss, of his staff, to Harper's Ferry, with orders to bring Winder's force to Strasburg with the utmost dispatch, informing him of the points reached by Fremont and McDowell at that time, and saying that he would remain at Winchester as long as he could. To the question of Captain Hotchkiss as to what he should do if he found Winchester occupied by the enemy before reaching that place, Jackson replied, with a wave of his hand to the westward, "Come round through the mountains." Winder was reached at an early hour and hastened to bring in his pickets, some of which were across the Shenandoah on Loudoun heights, and then marched rapidly, passing through Winchester late in the afternoon, to the vicinity of Newtown, within about 10 miles of Strasburg, where he encamped after dark after a march of 28 miles for the main body, and of 35 miles for a portion of the brigade. Early on the morning of the 31st, Jackson put everything in motion from Winchester for Strasburg. The 2,300 Federal prisoners marched first, guarded by the Twenty-first Virginia; then followed, in double column, 7 miles of wagons loaded with captured stores and the ordnance and supplies of the army, the main body of which followed these, and the whole reached and passed through Strasburg late in the afternoon and the army bivouacked just beyond, in line of battle, within the portal of the narrow western valley of the Shenandoah, with its flanks safely guarded by the Massanuttons on the right and the North mountains on the left, and ready to meet either the advance of Fremont from the northeast or that of McDowell from the southeast, or of both combined; well satisfied that in such a strong defensive position he could easily defeat any force they could bring against him.
The next morning, Sunday, June 1st, the heavy rainstorm that had been prevailing the previous day passed by, and the encouraging and cheerful sun gladdened Jackson's men who were resting at Strasburg, and helped Winder's men in their early march to the same place, which they reached about noon and passed to the rear of their comrades, who in line of battle had been waiting for them. Maj. John Alexander Harman, Jackson's tire. less quartermaster, was busy all day pushing the great wagon train to the rear, while those in charge of the Federal prisoners made a full day's march in the same direction. Fremont's advance did not put in an appearance in front of Strasburg until late in the afternoon, Ashby having contested the way in a series of remarkable engagements, in which hundreds contended with thousands, impeding the enemy's progress and keeping them within the mountains until Jackson had safely passed his trains and his collected army to beyond Strasburg.
Once in the valley where he could deploy his forces, Fremont drove in the cavalry, but Jackson supported these with Ewell and other troops, who repulsed the Federal attack and induced Fremont to withdraw to the rear, where he remained idle the rest of the day, fearful of results if he should bring on a general engagement with Jackson while he was not certain of any support from McDowell, whose advance, instead of marching directly to Strasburg as ordered, had by mistake taken the road toward Winchester from Front Royal, and so did not appear upon the scene during the day, except a cavalry brigade under Bayard, which took the direct road to Strasburg, but failed to reach it in time to be of any assistance to Fremont.
It is interesting to pause for a moment and review the movements of the past three days. Friday morning Jackson was 50 miles from Strasburg, in front of Harper's Ferry; Fremont was at Moorefield, 38 miles from Strasburg, with the head of his army 10 miles in advance; the main body of Shields' division of McDowell's army was not more than 20 miles from Strasburg, for his advance had entered Front Royal, but 12 miles away, before midday, while McDowell, in person, was following with two divisions close in his rear; yet, by Sunday night Jackson, encumbered with prisoners and a long train of captured stores, had marched between 50 and 60 miles, reached Strasburg before either of his adversaries, and passed safely between their converging armies, holding Fremont at bay on the left by an offer of battle, and blinding and bewildering McDowell on the right by the celerity and secrecy of his movements.
Retiring on the afternoon of June 1st from the front of Strasburg, Jackson withdrew to Woodstock, 12 miles, for the night, his cavalry holding the rear four miles from Strasburg, followed by a small party of Federal cavalry, which it repulsed in a slight engagement. Fremont bivouacked on the Capon road, on the line of battle he had chosen, and only entered Strasburg the next morning at about the same time that Bayard's cavalry reached there from Front Royal. Ordering these to take the advance, Fremont followed after Jackson with quite a display of vigor. McDowell held one division of his troops at Front Royal and started another, under Shields, up the valley of the South Fork, to co-operate with Fremont in his pursuit of Jackson. The latter concluding, from what he could learn, that a Federal force was moving up the Luray or South Fork valley, dispatched a small body of cavalry under Captain Boswell, of the engineers, by way of New Market, to burn the three remaining bridges across the South Fork, thus destroying the possibility of a junction between Fremont and Shields either at New Market or near Luray, owing to the swollen condition of the South Fork as well as of the other streams in the valley, in consequence of the heavy and almost continuous rains that characterized that season.
Jackson's strategy had now brought all the Federal forces in the Valley or on either side of it into the lower valley. Banks, with the shattered remnant of his army, was still resting at Williamsport. Saxton, with his 7,000, made a show of following after Winder, but soon returned to his safe quarters at Harper's Ferry. Fremont and McDowell had failed to combine before Strasburg, and now they feared to do so and leave either the eastern or the western valley open, and so each was pursuing his own way up the Valley, Fremont following after Jackson, and Shields following an objective the location of which he did not know, and that Jackson knew he could not reach with his army closed. up, through the mud and quicksands of the road leading up the South Fork valley, such as Jackson had encountered on his way to McDowell.
The military problem for Jackson, as it now presented itself, was to get his trains and prisoners safely to Staunton and find an opportunity to defeat his oncoming foes separately, before they could form a junction in the vicinity of Harrisonburg. The grand bulwark of the Massanuttons had divided them, and it was for him now to conquer and dispose of them. Knowing the road difficulties in the way of Shields, Jackson felt secure in falling back leisurely up the great macadam road leading to Staunton. On the 2d he reached Mt. Jackson. Bayard's cavalry force, which had not yet had a taste of Ashby's tactics, pressed with unusual vigor on Jackson's rear guard, which broke and was thrown into some confusion; but Ashby promptly rallied his men behind the bushes and fences, and with the help of an infantry regiment that filed to the roadside, sent the Federals back in confusion. On the 3d, Jackson retired to New Market, Ashby destroying the bridge across the North Fork of the Shenandoah near Mt. Jackson as he fell back, checking Fremont there for a day. From his camp near New Market, Jackson sent Captain Hotchkiss in the night to the peak at the southwestern end of the Massanuttons, accompanied by signal men, to watch the movements of the two Federal armies from that commanding height and report their progress to Jackson as he marched up the valley. Harrisonburg was reached before midday of the 5th, and a cavalry force was promptly sent to destroy the bridge across the South Fork at Conrad's store, by which Shields had hoped to cross and join Fremont near Harrisonburg, thus anticipating the arrival of Federal cavalry which Shields had hastened forward to seize that bridge and which was already near at hand when Jackson's men fired it. There was now but one bridge left across the swollen South Fork, that over its North river fork at Port Republic.
Sending his sick and wounded on to Staunton, Jackson tarried at Harrisonburg with his rear guard till about midday of the 6th, being kept constantly informed by Captain Hotchkiss from the peak signal station. He then left the Valley turnpike and retired toward Port Republic, that he might place himself on the shortest line of communication with General Lee, through Brown's gap, which he had crossed when starting for McDowell a little more than a month before. Upon the approach of a body of Fremont's cavalry under Sir Percy Wyndham, an English soldier of fortune, Ashby followed the infantry toward Port Republic, halting in a body of woods on a ridge about two miles south from the Valley turnpike. Wyndham moved through Harrisonburg at a rapid trot and followed after Ashby, having in hand about 800 New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut cavalry. He advanced some little distance, but seeing no enemy, halted and sent skirmishers ahead. These returned after some time and reported no force of the enemy visible. Impatient and fearing that he had lost an opportunity to capture Ashby, a job he was said to have undertaken, Wyndham again pushed forward contrary to his orders, and soon discovered the Confederate cavalry drawn up across the road, but with its flanks concealed in the woods and in a field of standing grain. Making an impetuous dash on these forces, the Federals were met by volleys in front and on their flanks, and were quickly thrown into confusion and retreat, Sir Percy himself, in a remarkable personal encounter with Captain Conrad of Ashby's staff, and 63 of his men being taken prisoners.
General Ewell, whose command was next to Ashby, coming back at the sound of this engagement, responded to a call for infantry by sending back Johnson's First Maryland and Letcher's Fifty-eighth Virginia, Ashby rightly concluding that the Federal attack would be renewed. This was soon done, and General Bayard, with the Bucktail rifles, the First Pennsylvania cavalry, and Cluseret's brigade of the Sixtieth Ohio and the Eighth West Virginia infantry, was ordered forward, the first to attack the Confederates and the second to hold the farther end of the town and its approaches. The Ohio and West Virginia regiments and the Pennsylvania Bucktails moved forward and attacked the Confederates in a fierce combat, especially with the Fifty-eighth Virginia, which they had approached under cover of a heavy rail fence. Seeing his men waver, Ashby galloped to the front and ordered them to charge. At that moment his horse fell, mortally wounded, and leaping from his saddle he shouted, "Charge, men! For God's sake, Charge!" waving his sword, when a bullet pierced him in the breast and he fell dead. The Virginians heeded the command of their dying general and rushed upon the front of the foe, while the Marylanders dashed upon their flank. The Federals gave way under this courageous attack and the Confederates gained the fence which they had occupied, and from that poured volleys into the retreating mass until it got beyond musket range. The Federal left had, in the meantime, driven in the Confederate skirmishers, but the defeat of the right forced that to retreat also. The Bucktails left their commander in the hands of the Confederates, and lost 55 out of the 125 that went into action. The Federals retired to Harrisonburg and the Confederate guard followed the army toward Port Republic.
Jackson and his army, as well as the whole South, mourned the loss of the brave, high-minded and noble Ashby, who had just been promoted, at the instance of his commander, brigadier-general, in command of the cavalry of the Valley. Capable and able officers succeeded him, but none was found who could take his place in guarding the outposts or holding back, with a handful of men and a few pieces of artillery, the advance of a whole army of the enemy miles in the rear of the main body of the army of the Valley district. He was the idol of his men and the beloved of every one who had the honor of knowing him intimately. His exploits have been embalmed in song and story, and his memory lives with that of Stonewall Jackson.
Jackson's army enjoyed a well-earned and much-needed rest on the 6th and 7th beside the bright waters and in the green pastures and park-like forests along the road between Cross Keys, where Ewell held the rear, and the north bank of the rivers at Port Republic, where the advance encamped, the surplus trains having crossed the North river and gone into camp just beyond Port Republic between the rivers and on the road to Staunton. A small cavalry force scouted down the river, watching Shields' slow and toilsome progress over the road through which Jackson had so lately floundered for nearly three days. Jackson established his headquarters at Port Republic, on the line of communication with Staunton and with General Lee by way of Mechum River.
Fremont having ascertained that the rear of Jackson's army was in position near Cross Keys, about six miles from Harrisonburg on the road to Port Republic, and having concentrated his army, gave orders to advance on Sunday morning, June 8th, and attack the Confederates. Ewell had made an excellent disposition of his division on opposite sides of the road, on rising ground behind a creek that ran along his front, and with his flanks extending into forests on either side, placing batteries in the road in his center, which swept the open country between him and the Keezletown road, which ran nearly parallel to his line of battle, and along which Fremont deployed his five brigades of infantry, a regiment of cavalry and several batteries. Another brigade followed his trains as rear guard. Bayard's cavalry, left as a guard at Harrisonburg, subsequently joined him. His entire force present for duty on the field of battle was about 11,500 men. To resist these, Ewell had Trimble's brigade of North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi regiments; Elzey's, of three Virginia and one Georgia regiment; Steuart's, of one Maryland and three Virginia regiments; Taylor's, of four Louisiana regiments and a Louisiana battalion; besides five companies of artillery; about 5,000 present for duty on the field of action.
Ewell's first position was nearly at right angles to Fremont's; his right rested on the road to Port Republic, about a mile from Cross Keys, thence his line extended nearly parallel to the Port Republic road to within half a mile of Cross Keys, with his left retired. Fremont advanced his left, turning on his right, and brought his whole line into position, parallel to Ewell's, on the hills northeast of Mill creek, protecting his right with batteries and a detached brigade. This movement, which was boldly and skillfully executed, brought his whole line into a dangerous position, which he, apparently, did not comprehend in his ignorance of the topographic conditions of the field, but it gave Ewell an opportunity to detach Trimble's brigade from his right, move it through a forest, and reform it opposite Fremont's left. This disposition made and reinforced with two Virginia regiments of Elzey's brigade, under Col. James A. Walker, on his right, he pressed forward and drove Blenker, of Fremont's left, from his position, and forced him to retreat to the Keezletown road, Walker advancing still further on the right and by his desperate courage adding to the success of Trimble's movement. During this time Fremont advanced Milroy against the Confederate center, and a fierce artillery duel followed, but with no results.
Schenck's brigade, of four Ohio regiments and two batteries, arrived at 1 p. m, when Fremont placed him on his right and advanced him cautiously through the woods to attack the Confederate left. Detecting this movement, Ewell strengthened that part of his line with his reserves, extending it more to the left, and by so doing delayed Schenck's aggressive movement, which Fremont abandoned when his left was driven back by Ewell's flank movement on Blenker. Ewell's skirmishers followed closely the Federal lines as they fell back to their original position, but his inferior force and the approach of night rendered it prudent for him to rest on his arms and make no further aggressive movement, being well assured that Fremont, after the experiences of the day, would make no further advances. Ewell's loss was 287; Fremont's, 664; small losses to either army considering the issues involved, as this battle of Cross Keys, or Union Church as the Federals call it, not only defeated but paralyzed Fremont's army, so that for the time being it ceased to be a very important factor, in so far as Jackson was concerned, in the field of action.
Taking a backward look, the movements of Shields during those of Fremont just described, demand attention. Marching up the Luray valley, when he reached Columbia bridge, 8 miles above Luray, he found that destroyed, so he could not follow the turnpike which there crossed the river, and found himself condemned to follow the muddy common road, which made his progress not only difficult, but extremely slow; but he hastened forward his advanced brigades to harass Jackson's flank, which he expected to reach by the bridge at Conrad's store, which he supposed his cavalry had held, and with orders to go as far as Waynesboro and break the Virginia Central railroad. Carroll's cavalry regiment led the advance. It reached Conrad's store on the 4th, when Shields ordered it to move rapidly forward and capture the bridge at Port Republic; but he could not follow in consequence of the condition of the streams, swollen by heavy rains, which crossed his road at right angles, descending with rapid flow from the Blue ridge and breaking up his command into fragments along the road, his infantry support, on that day, being held back at Naked creek, five miles below Carroll; a fact which Captain Hotchkiss had communicated to General Jackson from his signal station on the Peak. On Saturday, June 7th, Carroll received fresh orders to press forward to Waynesboro, some 37 miles, by way of Port Republic, doing all the damage he could, in passing, to Jackson's flank and rear. He marched that afternoon with less than 1,000 infantry, a battery of six guns and 150 cavalry, and reached the vicinity of the Lewiston farm, six miles below Port Republic, that night, where his scouts informed him that Jackson's train, lightly guarded, was parked near Port Republic. The same day Shields sent Tyler's brigade from Columbia bridge to aid Carroll; this reached Lewiston at 2 p.m. of the 8th, while the battle of Cross Keys was raging.
On the morning of the 8th, while quiet reigned in Jackson's camps near Port Republic, and just as the general was mounting his horse to ride to Ewell's command, Carroll, who had learned from renegade spies the condition of affairs at Port Republic, and whom he had for guides, dashed forward with his cavalry and two pieces of artillery, drove in the Confederate pickets, and, rapidly crossing South river, took possession of the little village; and a portion of his force, turning to the right, with one gun, seized the south end of the bridge over which the road leading to Cross Keys crosses, and planted there a piece of artillery, while another portion of his force turned to the left to seize the trains parked to the southwest of the town. Providentially, Jackson had time to ride rapidly across the bridge before the street was occupied by the Federal cavalry, but a portion of his staff was captured and affairs were in a critical condition for a short time. Capt. S. J. C. Moore had a few men of his company on picket at the western end of the town. These he promptly rallied behind a fence and poured a checking volley into the Federal cavalry pushing in that direction. Carrington's not fully organized battery was in camp just beyond, near the wagon tram; Maj. R. L. Dabney, Jackson's chief of staff, who was remaining at headquarters preparing to conduct religious services in Jackson's camps at a later hour, hastened to this battery, the guns of which were soon brought into position, and joined Captain Moore in a raking fire down the street, which forced the Federals to retreat toward the bridge and to the shelter of the houses in the cross streets. As soon as Jackson got across the bridge and gained the bluff beyond, he took in the situation of affairs and brought into action the forces which had encamped there ready for such an emergency. Three batteries were quickly brought into position, and fire was opened through the bridge, followed by volleys from the infantry of Taliaferro's brigade, which was promptly available as it was just then drawn up for inspection. The Thirty-seventh Virginia charged through the bridge and captured the gun, and Carroll's force was rapidly driven back across South river, abandoning another gun. His infantry advance, coming up the river road to his support, was soon routed by the concentrated fire of three batteries from the bluff on the north side of the river, and the whole Federal force was quickly obliged to retreat, first toward the Blue ridge along the Brown's gap road to get out of range of Jackson's artillery, and then back toward Lewiston, but still subjected to the fire of the Confederate batteries that followed along the bluff on the opposite side of the river for over two miles, and shelled the retreat until it got out of range. This affair lasted about an hour: Carroll reported his loss as 40 men, two guns and 14 horses.
Jackson's cavalry that was picketing the road toward Lewiston, had failed to do its duty and disgracefully fled when Carroll advanced, and so Jackson had no warning of his approach. This affair over, Jackson stationed Taliaferro's brigade in the village, covering the fords of South river, and marched the Stonewall brigade, with artillery, to opposite Lewiston, to watch any further advance of Shields' column, still holding a force in reserve along the Cross Keys road to aid Ewell, if necessary, in his contention with Fremont.
At this time Shields was still at Luray and writing to Fremont, at 9:30 a.m., that he thought that at that hour there would be 12 pieces of artillery opposite Jackson's train at Port Republic, and two brigades of infantry; also that some artillery and cavalry had pushed on to Waynesboro to burn the Virginia Central railroad bridge, and that he himself would follow with two other brigades. He wished to know if Jackson changed direction and hoped Fremont "will thunder down on his rear" if he attempted to force a passage eastward, concluding, "I think Jackson is caught this time."
Carroll remained quietly in the woods on the bluff below Lewiston, to which he had retired on the morning of the 8th, after his discomfiture at Port Republic, watching the Confederate batteries and their supports on the bluffs across the river threatening destruction to his flank if he should again advance. Tyler's infantry brigade of about 3,000 men, accompanied by 16 guns, after floundering through the mud from Conrad's store, joined Carroll about 2 p.m. Tyler concluded that his force was too small to attack Jackson and create a diversion in Fremont's favor, therefore he remained in bivouac with Carroll the rest of the day.
Convinced that Fremont was either disposed of, or could be kept at bay by a portion of Ewell's command, Jackson provided for falling upon Shields' advance on the morning of the 9th. A foot-bridge, made of the running gear of heavy farm wagons pushed into the river in a continuous line and planked over, was constructed across South river, and at dawn Winder was ordered to cross both rivers and march down the river road to attack Shields, whose advance, under Tyler, had taken position on the bluff of the terrace near Lewiston, overlooking the wide bottom lands between that bluff and the South Fork of the Shenandoah, with his infantry so disposed that he could quickly swing on his left and throw them into line of battle across the meadows and at right angles to the general direction of the river and the road to Port Republic. Ewell was instructed to leave Trimble's brigade and part of Patton's to look after Fremont and to follow Winder at an early hour with the rest of his command. Taliaferro's brigade was left with the batteries on the bluff north of the river, whence he could aid Trimble in holding back Fremont at or near Cross Keys, it being Jackson's intention, if he could quickly dispose of Shields' advance, to turn back with his whole force and again attack Fremont in the afternoon of the 9th, but providing, in case he could not do this, for Trimble to retire across the bridge and burn it, thus leaving Fremont without the means of crossing to aid Shields or to attack Jackson's rear.
By 5 o'clock in the morning of June 9th, Winder was crossing South river and Jackson was moving with him against the Federal troops at Lewiston, without waiting for Taylor, whose brigade was following, but which was delayed in crossing South river by a derangement of the foot-bridge. Tyler had selected a strong position. Upon his left, on a hearth leveled for burning charcoal, on the slope of the terrace overlooking the stream valley and from the crest of which a dense forest extended eastward, for miles toward the Blue ridge, he placed six guns, with a supporting force above them in the woods looking across a ravine, through which a run made its way from the mountains toward the river. His main body he disposed along a narrow road at right angles to the main road and leading to the river at Lewis' mill, the fences of which were a good defense in his front, which was concealed by an extensive field of standing wheat just ready for the harvest. Tyler's command consisted of two Pennsylvania, four Ohio, one West Virginia and one Indiana regiment, with 16 guns, and a detachment of West Virginia cavalry, in all about 3,000 men.
Nearing the Federal position, Winder deployed with his right in the edge of the woods on the slope of the same terrace occupied by Tyler's left, with the ravine intervening, extending his left toward the river, placing batteries in the road near his right and on swells of the broad bottoms toward his left. The Lewiston farmhouse, with its numerous outbuildings, was between the lines of the combatants near the foot of the wooded terrace. As he advanced, Winder soon found that his lines were commanded and enfiladed by the Federal battery on the coal hearth. He then sent Colonel Allen with two Virginia regiments and two guns into the forest on the terrace, on his right, to attempt to flank the Federal left and capture the battery that was impeding his progress, but he was met and promptly driven back by the superior fire of that battery and by the volleys of the four Federal regiments that were supporting it. To create a diversion, he sent the Fifth Virginia to his left to attack the Federal right, in which it met with some success, but this was promptly checked by Tyler, who reinforced his right with three regiments and drove the Fifth back after a stubborn fight. Finding that his 1,200 men were not equal to the enemy's tactic force, and that he was getting the worst of the battle, Winder called upon Jackson, who was watching the combat just in the rear of its center, for reinforcements. He sent Taylor's Seventh Louisiana, with batteries, to the left, but the Federals were still gaining ground in that direction. Just then the main body of Taylor's brigade, led by Taylor himself, approached by the Port Republic road on which Jackson, all alone, was watching the contest and seeing that the field was in danger of going against him. At that moment Captain Hotchkiss joined him. Catching sight of Taylor's advance, Jackson promptly ordered Hotchkiss to lead that command around through the forest, turn the Federal left and capture the battery on the coal hearth. The head of Taylor's column was promptly turned to the right, and, in concealment, marched as rapidly through the woods as the rough character of the ground and the thick growth of young timber would admit. Bearing well to the right, to be sure of completely turning the Federal left, the head of this column had nearly reached Deep Hollow, or Lewis' run, which flowed through the ravine between the contending forces, when an aide from General Winder informed the officer in charge of the movement that unless an immediate attack was made upon the Federal left he would be compelled to give way and abandon the field. After a consultation, it was agreed, in view of the present emergency, that the flank movement should be abandoned and an immediate attack, obliquing to the left, should be made upon the Federal position and battery across the ravine. Taylor quickly formed his brave Louisianians and charged upon the Federal position, from which a portion of the infantry supports had been withdrawn by Tyler to strengthen his right. Taylor's men, though opposed by a most galling fire of musketry and artillery at short range, succeeded in capturing the battery, but Tyler soon recaptured it with men brought from his right, when Taylor again rallied his forces and retook it; and so the contention went on for some time, for the possession of the Federal battery and the point of vantage for victory.
In the meantime, Winder reinforced his left with three regiments that had just come up, and ordered an advance which checked the charge, aided by two regiments under Scott, which Ewell had just sent in on his left, and captured and held the battery just as the Federals were starting in retreat and attempting to carry off the guns, although nearly all their horses had been killed. They succeeded in taking away one gun, but the Confederate attack was successful all along the line, and the Federals were soon in full retreat, followed by Taliaferro's brigade, which had just reached the field, joining with Winder in pursuit for over three miles, when Munford took it up with his cavalry, recaptured the piece of artillery that had been taken away, picked up many prisoners and followed the Federal retreat until dark overtook him.
Tyler made a brave and gallant fight, hotly contesting the possession of the field, on which he had so skillfully posted his men and guns, and stubbornly resisting every effort to drive him from it until Jackson's superior tactics made it no longer tenable. His loss was 66 killed, 382 wounded, and 382 missing, a total of 830; or, as stated by another Federal authority, 67 killed, 361 wounded and 574 missing, a total of 1,002, or fully one-third of his command--figures which tell the story of his courageous fight in which brothers and kindred from western Virginia met in opposing regiments on the bloodiest part of this decisive field of carnage.
Late in the forenoon, Fremont advanced against Trimble near Cross Keys, and was driving him slowly back, when Jackson thought it prudent to call him to the Lewiston, or Port Republic, battlefield, when he, with Taliaferro, withdrew as rapidly as possible, and without loss crossed the bridge at Port Republic, which he burned behind him and moved down toward the battlefield. Fremont arrived on the bluffs, overlooking the field of combat across the river, just in time to witness the retreat of Tyler and engage in the safe but shameful business of shelling the ambulances and the relief parties who were engaged on the field in looking after the wounded of both armies. Jackson quickly withdrew his men from the range of Fremont's guns, by byways leading from Lewiston through the woods directly to the mouth of Brown's gap, where he established his headquarters, and within which he gathered all his men in bivouac, but some of them not until midnight. His losses in the Port Republic battle were 816, killed, wounded and missing; 290 of these from Taylor's brigade, 199 from Winder's, 190 from Steuart's, and 128 from Elzey's. During the day all of Jackson's trains were removed to the cove, or amphitheatral basin, within Brown's gap, so that by the morning of the 10th, he was there concentrated and ready to either take the offensive or to retire toward Richmond.
Jackson rested his wearied and well-nigh exhausted men in their camps on the 10th. Tyler met Shields coming to reinforce him, at Conrad's store, and Fremont, baffled at every turn, fell back to Harrisonburg on the morning of that day and continued his retreat down the valley on the 11th and 12th, followed by Munford's cavalry, which crossed North river and reached Mt. Crawford the night of the 11th, and the next day took possession of Harrisonburg and of the 200 wounded which Fremont had left there. The latter did not halt, owing to "significant demonstrations of the enemy," as he says, until he joined Banks and Sigel (Saxton's command) at Middletown, in the lower valley, to which point they had advanced, respectively, from Williamsport and Harper's Ferry. Shields continued his retreat to Luray, which he reached on the 13th.
On the 12th of June, as soon as he could cross South river by fords made passable by his engineer, Jackson moved his army from Brown's gap into the noble, parklike oak forests between the forks of the Shenandoah, in the vicinity of Weyer's cave and Mt. Meridian, where, for five days of splendid June weather, he rested, recuperated and refitted his army, and where, as he proclaimed in general orders, "for the purpose of rendering thanks to God for having crowned our arms with success and to implore His continual favor," divine service was held in the army on the 14th, during which the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered. Jackson issued another inspiring order to his men, June 13th, in these words: "The fortitude of the troops under fatigue and their valor in action have again, under the blessing of Divine Providence, placed it in the power of the commanding general to congratulate them upon the victories of June 8th and 9th. Beset on both flanks by two boastful armies, you have escaped their toils, inflicting, successively, crushing blows upon each of your pursuers. Let a few more such efforts be made, and you may confidently hope that our beautiful valley will be cleaned from the pollution of the invaders' presence. The major-general commanding invites you to observe to-morrow evening, June 14th, from 3 o'clock p.m., as a season of thanksgiving, by a suspension of all military exercises, and by holding divine service in the several regiments."
It is interesting to review this Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862, which closed with the battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic. It occupied just three months --from the evacuation of Winchester. March 11th, when Jackson fell back with about 4,500 badly armed and equipped men, before the advance of Banks with his 30,000, as well equipped and supplied as men could possibly be, to the 11th of June, when Fremont and Shields were in full retreat for the lower valley and Jackson was resting near the triple forks of the Shenandoah, the acknowledged hero of one of the most famous campaigns in history.
Regarding his retreat from Winchester in March as a confession of weakness, the Federal government at once ordered the larger part of Banks' force from the Valley to the support of McClellan's columns advancing on Richmond. Marching rapidly from his apparent hiding in retreat, Jackson fell, on the 23rd of March, upon the remaining Federal force in the vicinity of Kernstown with 3,500 wearied men, and, though mistaken as to his enemy's numbers, joined issue with Shields' 7,000, and nearly becoming the victor on the battlefield, he compelled the return to the Valley of all the Federals that had left it, and to that extent weakened the Federal army moving toward Richmond and delayed its operations. Falling back from Kernstown, he drew Banks and his large army, still further reinforced, after him to Harrisonburg, where he disconcerted his pursuer by turning across to the Blue ridge, to a safe position near Swift Run gap, where he reorganized his army; submitted to Lee a plan of campaign for freeing the Valley and the mountains beyond, of three threatening Federal advances; got permission to carry out his designs, if he could do so with the aid of Ewell's division, then across the Blue ridge from his encampment, and with Johnson's brigade, which was holding back Fremont's advance just west of Staunton.
On the last of April, while he was deceiving Banks at Harrisonburg with a demonstration in his front, Ewell crossed to the camps Jackson had evacuated, while he took up his line of march, with his own immediate command, to join Edward Johnson, by a circuitous route, which involved the crossing of the Blue ridge twice, thus deceiving friend and foe alike..Joining Johnson on the 5th of May, he forced back Fremont's advance to McDowell, where he defeated him in battle, on the 8th, and followed after his retreat until it met his main body at Franklin where he left the whole Federal force safely disposed of on the 12th. Marching back to the Valley and down it to near New Market, taking up Ewell's command in passing, he crossed the Massanutton mountains, marched rapidly down the Page valley, and on the 24th fell on Banks' line of retreat, which his attack on Front Royal, on the 23rd, had forced from Strasburg, whither he had retired on learning that Ewell had reinforced Jackson at Conrad's store (Elkton). Defeating Banks m a pitched battle at Winchester on the 25th, capturing many prisoners and great quantities of stores, he drove the remnant of Banks' army across the Potomac at Williamsport, and made a demonstration at Harper's Ferry from the 28th to the 31st, as if he would move on Washington. Thus he threw the Federal government into consternation, causing it to order McDowell, who with 40,000 men had reached Fredericksburg on his way to join McClellan, to turn from his course and march to the Valley to oppose him; to order Fremont to withdraw from his advance toward Staunton, to co-operate with McDowell in blocking Jackson's way out at Strasburg, and to order a formidable force to Harper's Ferry, until more than 60,000 men were on the march to contend with his 16,000. Keeping up his threatening attitude until his converging foes were but a day's march from a junction at Strasburg, he then, having saved his captures and his prisoners, fell rapidly back and safely escaped those gathering to entrap him; divided this great force by calling to his aid the great topographic bulwarks of the Valley, and drew a portion of his foes under Fremont again to Harrisonburg, and to a chosen field of engagement at Cross Keys, where he dealt Fremont a staggering blow which caused him to halt and hesitate, while on the next day, June 9th, he met McDowell's advance coming up the eastern valley, which by his precautions he had kept from joining Fremont, and drove it back in total defeat. These two armies, which he had so success. fully outgeneraled, halted not in their retreat until they were again safe in the lower valley.
During these three months Jackson had marched more than 500 miles, fought five pitched battles, and had numerous engagements with the armies of his enemy. On June 11th, General Lee wrote to Jackson from Richmond: "Your recent successes have been the cause of the liveliest joy in this army as well as in the country. The admiration excited by your skill and boldness has been constantly mingled with solicitude for your situation."
The time had now come when it was necessary for General Lee to concentrate all his forces at Richmond to meet the threatened attack of the great army of the Potomac, which was now in position to the north and northeast of Richmond, within sight of the spires of its churches. Jackson's brilliant Valley campaign had delayed McClellan's attack by drawing to the Valley the 40,000 men under McDowell that the Federal commanding general expected to place on his right before proceeding, by one grand movement, as he confidently expected, to seize the Confederate capital. It was important that this force that had been withdrawn should be kept away, and this could best be done by again exciting the fears of the Federal authorities for the safety of Washington. To accomplish this, large reinforcements were hurried, by rail, to the Valley, most of them to Staunton, but Lawton's six Georgia regiments joined Jackson at his encampment near Weyer's cave. Federal prisoners, on their way from the Valley to Richmond, met these reinforcements in passing. These, promptly paroled, carried the news to Washington. The cavalry in Jackson's front, by various devices, spread the intelligence that Jackson, with 50,000 men or more, would soon again march down the Valley to fall on the Federal army there collected. Intelligent escaped "contrabands" reported the arrival of large numbers of troops at Staunton. All these tactics, allowable in time of war, had their effect, not only in persuading Fremont to retreat until he reached Banks at Middletown, but caused the latter to telegraph to the Federal authorities at Washington, on the 12th, "Jackson is heavily reinforced and is advancing," and on the 19th, "No doubt another immediate movement down the Valley is intended, with a force of 30,000 or more." On the 22nd he was still on the lookout for Jackson and Ewell, and on the 28th, when Jackson had joined Lee and was actually fighting McClellan before Richmond, Banks still believed "Jackson meditates an attack in the valley." McDowell had been ordered on the 8th of June to collect his forces and resume his march, by way of Fredericksburg, to join McClellan, but the victories of Cross Keys and Port Republic, and the fears of Banks and Fremont as to what Jackson might again do, delayed him in the Valley, and when he did move, it was toward Manassas, and not Richmond, and Ricketts' division did not leave Front Royal for Manassas until the 17th of June, when Shields followed him into Piedmont Virginia.
The object of his delay in the Valley being accomplished, Jackson left it on the night of the 17th of June, ordering his cavalry to continue its demonstrations down the Valley; and by rail and march, the "ride-and-tie" way, as it was called, he reached the vicinity of Richmond on the 26th day of June, and was in line of battle and ready to fall on McClellan's rear and participate in the bloody engagement of Gaines' Mill on the 27th, and become a potent factor in winning the victory of that great day of the Seven Days of battle around Richmond.
Swinton, the Federal historian of the army of the Potomac, in writing of Jackson's Valley campaign, says:
In this exciting month's campaign, Jackson made great captures of stores and prisoners; but this was not its chief result; without gaining a single tactical victory he had yet achieved a great strategic victory, for by skillfully maneuvering 15,000 men he succeeded in neutralizing a force of 60,000. It is perhaps not too much to say that he saved Richmond; for when McClellan, in expectation that McDowell might still be allowed to come and join him, threw forward his right wing under Porter to Hanover Court House on the 26th of May, the echoes of his cannon bore to those in Richmond who knew the situation of the two Union armies, the knell of the capital of the Confederacy.
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