Reports of Maj. Gen. James Shields, U. S. Army, commanding First Division: Department of the Rappahannock, of operations May 30- June 9. MAY 15--JUNE 17, 1862.
Operations in the Shenandoah Valley.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 15 [S# 15]
 

FRONT ROYAL, May 30, 1862.

       GENERAL: The First Brigade of this division, General Kimball commanding, preceded by four companies of Rhode Island cavalry, under Major Nelson, entered this place at 11 o'clock this morning and drove out the enemy, consisting of the Eighth Louisiana and four companies of the Twelfth Georgia and a body of cavalry. Our loss is 8 killed, 5 wounded, and I missing, all of the Rhode Island cavalry. We captured 6 officers and 150 men. Among the officers captured are Capt. Beck-with West, Forty-eighth Virginia; First Lieutenant Grinnell, Eighth Louisiana: Lieuts. J. W. Dixon and Waterman, Twelfth Georgia. We captured 18 of our troops taken by the enemy at this place a week ago; among whom are Maj. William D. Collins, First Vermont Cavalry; George H. Griffin, adjutant Fifth New York Cavalry; Lieutenant Dwyer, Fifth New York Cavalry, and Frederick C. Tarr, adjutant First Maryland Infantry. Captured a large amount of transportation, including 2 engines, 11 railroad cars, 5 wagons with teams, much quartermaster stores, and a quantity of small-arms recently captured from us have been recaptured. The loss of the enemy in killed is not yet known. The names of all prisoners captured and recaptured will be forwarded to-morrow.

Your obedient servant,
JAS. SHIELDS,
Major-General.


HDQRS. FIRST DIV., ARMY OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK,
Front Royal, Va., May 31, 1862-- -11 p.m.

Colonel SCHRIVER,
Chief of Staff, Front Royal, Va.

       COLONEL: The Fourth Brigade of this division, General Carroll commanding, was pushed forward in the direction of the Winchester and Strasburg turnpike this afternoon for the purpose of making a reconnaissance. A considerable force of the enemy, consisting of a brigade of infantry, a large force of cavalry, and four pieces of artillery, were found in position in the vicinity of a turnpike about 6 miles from this place. When attempting to form they were briskly attacked by our troops, driven from their position, and pursued back in the direction of Winchester until darkness prevented further pursuit. They covered their retreat with their numerous cavalry, and we, having no cavalry, were unable to make the pursuit effective. We succeeded in capturing 7 prisoners, one 10-pounder rifled gun, 12 wagons, and a number of horses and mules, and recapturing 6 men of the First Maryland Regiment, namely: John Corcoran, William T. Fowler, Edward Lockmond, Henry Roper, Thomas Mitchell, and Sergeant Uhler.
       We lost 1 man killed and 2 wounded. The loss of the enemy we are as yet unable to ascertain.
       Frémont's forces have not yet made their appearance. We are now running one of the engines saved from the flames yesterday by our troops.
       The telegraph station is established 2 miles from this place.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. SHIELDS,
Major-General, Commanding Division.


HDQRS. FIRST DIV., DEPT. OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK,
Columbia Bridge, June 8, 1862-- 7 p.m.
(Received June 9, 4.30 a.m.)

Colonel SCHRIVER,
Chief of Staff.

       COLONEL: A dispatch has this moment arrived from Colonel Carroll, commanding the advance of this division, stating that he moved forward to-day with some cavalry, infantry, and two pieces of artillery on Port Republic, drove a small force of the enemy from the bridge, and crossed the bridge in pursuit of this force. Three brigades of Jackson's army, covering at least three batteries, assailed them at once on both flanks. The cavalry fled the first fire; his two guns were captured, and he, with the residue of the brigade, is in full retreat on Conrad's Store, where he (Carroll) sent me the dispatch, no time being mentioned. It must have been this morning.
       There is another brigade advancing to his support; and a third brigade moving forward at this time from this place to support them. The Fourth Brigade is still at Luray, awaiting the arrival of forces from Front Royal. I have sent information of this to General Frémont, who seems to be lying at Harrisonburg, urging him to attack them with all his force in their rear at once, while I am hurrying forward the others to maintain our position, and try to repulse the enemy. The general commanding will see at once the necessity of immediate action to recover this loss.

Very respectfully, &c.,
JAS. SHIELDS,
Commanding Division.


COLUMBIA BRIDGE,
June 12, 1862-- 9 a.m.

Colonel SCHRIVER.

       COLONEL: We are now passing this place to Luray. There I must take a few days' rest to refit for the march to Catlett's. At Catlett's I hope to be within reach of ample supplies. I find that about half my command are barefoot and foot-sore. Hard bread and salt are indispensable to take us to Catlett's. Our men fought like devils. The enemy suffered terribly. The odds were overwhelming. The officer (Colonel Carroll) neglected to burn the bridge at Port Republic. This report that the bridge was burned five days ago deceived me. He held it three-quarters of an hour and wanted the good sense to burn it. They took up an indefensible position afterward instead of a defensible one. But notwithstanding all these blunders the men behaved nobly; left the ground in perfect order; brought off everything but the guns, which had to be abandoned, the horses being killed. Eight pieces they report abandoned. I had concerted a combined attack with General Frémont next day, which must have proved successful. The position and peremptory orders compelled me to come on. Please let General McDowell know that my artillery needs refitting, and to let me have the Napoleon guns if possible. I will have a perfect memorandum of our wants forwarded you from Luray as soon as I have time to halt.

JAS. SHIELDS,
Major-General, Commanding Division.


HEADQUARTERS SHIELDS' DIVISION,
Luray, Va., June 13, 1862-- -6.30 a.m.

Colonel SCHRIVER,
Chief of Staff, Dept. of the Rappahannock, Manassas Junction.

       The telegrams from General Banks and giving extracts from Richmond papers received.
       The engagement of Monday, the 9th instant, was between General Jackson's whole force and the advance of this division, under Brigadier-General Tyler, near Port Republic. The unequal contest was maintained successfully for four hours.
       On Sunday, at 6.30 a.m., Colonel Carroll, leading a small body in advance, found Jackson's army and train on the opposite side of the river at Port Republic. The river was impassable, and the bridge across it still standing. By some unaccountable misapprehension he neglected to burn it, although he held possession of it three-quarters of an hour. The destruction of the bridge would have insured the destruction of Jackson's army, placing him between General Frémont and us, with an impassable river in his front. This first fundamental error was not redeemed afterward either by Colonel Carroll or General Tyler, who commanded the advance, by falling back at once upon a defensible position. On the contrary, they took up a position utterly indefensible, within 2 miles from Port Republic.
       Jackson crossed his whole army over the bridge, thus left, as it were, for his use, on Sunday night and on Monday morning, and attacked our advance, consisting of about 2,500 men, with his whole force. The folly of attempting to hold such a position against such overwhelming odds was redeemed by the fearless and reckless courage of our troops.
       They repulsed the enemy at every point for four hours. Our artillery hurled destruction through his ranks. The infantry drove the enemy back from the guns at the point of the bayonet. The artillerists stood to their guns, especially those of Captain Clark's battery (E), Fourth Artillery, until their horses were killed, and then defended themselves in a hand-to-hand fight with the enemy s infantry, and were only compelled to abandon the field at length by a fatal mistake of General Tyler's in stripping the left flank of all infantry support. They then fell back in good order, carrying off all the guns except those whose horses were killed. I reached them in time to cover the retreat with the residue of the command, and took up a strong and defensible position between Conrad's Store and Port Republic, which Jackson feared to attack, falling back at once.
       On the evening of the 9th I was concerting a combined attack on Jackson next morning with General Frémont, with whom I kept up constant communication by means of a ferry which we had previously established, when I received a positive and peremptory order to return to Luray. There was no option left me. I never obeyed an order with such reluctance, but I had to return.
       Jackson, with that sagacity which characterizes his course, burned the bridge between himself and Frémont after having crossed the river to our side, but General Frémont, whose conduct throughout cannot be too highly praised, had a pontoon bridge to throw across next morning to attack Jackson's flank, while I with my whole command should attack him in front. The result could not have been doubtful. Thus lay a kind of fatality. This man, who dared to insult our capital, whom '2,500 of this division fought for four hours, who fell back in haste before my whole division, not deeming himself safe until he put 5 miles between us, is left to escape. The first fatality was in not burning the bridge on Sunday morning. Colonel Carroll, in whom I placed implicit confidence, was hurried on by an excess of daring to neglect this important duty in his pursuit of the enemy. The second was in attempting to maintain an indefensible position in the face of such tremendous odds. Brigadier-General Tyler, in command of the advance, must have had unbounded confidence to have hazarded this. The third was in recalling my command peremptorily to Luray when General Frémont and myself had the enemy still in our grasp.
       The plan for Jackson's destruction was perfect. The execution of it, from inexplicable causes, was not what was to be expected, but the hardihood and indomitable courage of my brave but misguided advance in giving battle to the whole of Jackson's army, in repulsing him for four hours, in destroying numbers of the enemy, which he himself admits was much heavier than in the battle of the previous day with the whole of Frémont's force, and then in carrying everything off the field but the unhorsed guns, is an exhibition of fearless confidence and courage that must extort admiration even from the enemy. This division has not been defeated. The advance, instead of falling back upon the main body as it should have done, gave battle and was repulsed, after killing, as the citizens report, 1,000 of the enemy. Few prisoners were taken on either side.
       This is in brief the history of the affair of the 9th, which will be given in detail in the reports now in course of preparation. I beg that this may be forwarded to the War Department, to relieve the President and Secretary from their natural solicitude on our account.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. SHIELDS,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.


HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, DEPT. OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK.

Col. E. SCHRIVER,
Chief of Staff, Department of the Rappahannock.

       COLONEL: I have the honor to report, now that I have found time to do so, that on the 1st instant it became apparent at Front Royal to the general commanding that, the enemy under Jackson had effected his escape through Strasburg the day previous, and that our forces under Frémont were in hot pursuit of him. My division was therefore ordered to take the. Luray road, in order to operate against him.
       The route which I thus took was parallel to that taken by the enemy, the South Fork of the Shenandoah and a range of mountains interposing between us as the enemy had gained something like a day's march upon us, my first object was to find some mode of crossing the Shenandoah, in order to fall upon his flank while Frémont assailed him in the rear. About 5 o'clock p.m. next day my advance guard reached the Shenandoah at Honeyville, but found the White House Bridge and Columbia Bridge both burned, thus cutting off all hope of attacking his flank at New Market. I then pushed forward the advance as rapidly as possible, in hopes of finding the bridge at Conrad's Store still standing, but that bridge was also found burned. During the whole of this time, which occupied nearly three days, the rain poured down in torrents, so that the Shenandoah overflowed its banks, and the mountain streams became rivers. It became impossible to move forward; the wagons sank in the mud to the axles, and all communication was cut off for a time between the main body and the advance guard. In this condition the first question was to live, to obtain supplies, as none could reach us over such roads.
       To meet this necessity we took possession of two mills, purchased wheat, and employed fatigue parties to grind flour, and were soon supplied with an abundance of that necessary article. We were not idle in other respects. It became necessary to open some kind of communication with General Frémont, and to effect this we set to work to construct a ferry across the Shenandoah at the site of the Columbia Bridge. While engaged in these operations our scouting parties discovered General Longstreet's pickets on the Luray side of Thornton Gap, and some deserters brought in gave his force at 10,000, moving from Culpeper to Thornton Gap upon Luray with the view of creating a diversion in favor of Jackson. This compelled me to post two brigades at Luray and remain there in person to make head against Longstreet, so that he might not fall on my rear.
       Just at this time Colonel Carroll, commanding Fourth Brigade, then at Conrad's Store, informed me by a dispatch that the bridge at Port Republic had been burned five weeks, and that the enemy's train was on the other side waiting for the river to fall.
       Communication having been now opened with General Frémont, I sent a messenger to ascertain his position and that of the enemy. The messenger found General Frémont within 5 miles of Harrisonburg, and brought back intelligence that the enemy had abandoned the turnpike to Staunton, owing to the bridges having been previously burned on that route, and had turned short in the direction of Port Republic. This corroborated the dispatch of Colonel Carroll. The enemy had an impassable river in his front; Frémont's cannon were in his rear. This river could not become fordable in less than three days. It was only necessary to place him between Frémont's artillery and mine, with an impassable river in his front, to insure his destruction, and to prevent him from effecting his escape by any by-road it was only necessary to cut the railroad at Waynesborough, 18 miles distant, to burn the bridge and depot at that place, and he would be compelled to lay down his arms.
       The Fourth and Third Brigades were sent forward for this purpose; also fourteen pieces of artillery, under Colonel Daum. Their mission was to guard the river at Port Republic at the place used as a ford in low water, but now impassable, and cut the railroad at Waynesborough-- an easy job if the bridge had been burned as reported-- while I remained with two brigades (the First and Second), not exceeding 4,000 men, to confront Longstreet, reported to have 10,000, if he should fall on Luray.
       These arrangements having been made, and while awaiting the result, at 7 o'clock p.m., 8th instant, I was startled by a dispatch from Colonel Carroll from Port Republic giving me intelligence that he found the bridge at that place still standing; that he dashed upon it, drove the enemy from it, captured it, and pursued him some distance on the other side, when on a sudden he was assailed by three brigades and eighteen pieces of cannon, and compelled to retreat with the loss of three guns, and that he was then in full retreat on Conrad's Store, and should be well satisfied if he could effect it decently.
       Conrad's Store is about 15 miles on the Luray side of Port Republic. I acted at once upon this intelligence; sent instant orders to General Tiler, who had command of the advance, as well as to Colonel Daum, chief of artillery, to take up a defensible position at or near Conrad's Store, and that I would join them with the residue of the command as speedily as it could march. I communicated the intelligence to General Frémont at Harrisonburg, with the request that he would fall with his whole force on the enemy's rear, while I would attack him in front in the morning. I sent a dispatch to Front Royal, giving the same intelligence to the general commanding, and earnestly urging that two brigades should be sent to protect Luray against Longstreet during my absence, as I was under the necessity of pushing forward my whole command to support the advance. This being done, I put my two other brigades in motion that night and moved forward as rapidly as the men could march.
       About 9 o'clock next morning I reached Conrad's Store, and my surprise and disappointment may be imagined when I learned by a messenger from General Tyler that they were still posted within 2 miles of Port Republic, and urging me to push forward re-enforcements. I cannot describe my feelings when I received this intelligence. I saw our previous efforts and struggles to prevent the escape of the enemy were now worse than thwarted. I needed no further information to assure me that the enemy must secure his only avenue of retreat. He had from Sunday morning till Monday morning to cross his troops without interruption to effect this object, and no enemy could neglect such an opportunity. I sent an order for them to extricate themselves from their false position and fall back as speedily as possible, but they were compelled to fall back before the order reached them.
       I pushed forward my command, and placed it in a position upon which the whole force of the enemy would break itself. I proceeded next to post guns and fresh troops on commanding points to cover their retreat, but before I had advanced 10 miles beyond Conrad's Store a crowd of fugitives from the field gave evidence of retreat. It required all my influence to get these fugitives to deploy in the woods as skirmishers. Soon after the main force came in sight, not, however, as fugitives or an army in retreat, but marching as proudly and calmly as if they were on parade, while the Fifth Ohio, a gallant regiment, with two pieces of artillery, under Colonel Carroll, brought up the rear, and by their noble conduct kept the advancing foe in check; but I just arrived in time, as the enemy's cavalry, which is very active, was enveloping the column, and our cavalry, the First Virginia, was nowhere <ar15_688> to be seen. Our fresh troops soon drove back the cavalry, and the retreating column reached the other brigades in position without fur their accident. There I prepared for battle, but the enemy fell back from before it much more rapidly than he had advanced.
       At this moment I received a message from Major-General Frémont, giving me an account of his engagement of the previous day. I prepared a dispatch for him in return, giving him the intelligence of the day, and urging him to throw his pontoon bridge across the Shenandoah in the morning (surmising, as it happened, that the enemy would burn the bridge the moment he crossed) and attack Jackson's flank, while I would attack him with my whole force in front.
       The messenger with this dispatch had started on his way when an orderly arrived with a dispatch from the general commanding, then in Washington, giving me positive orders to return to Luray immediately. I recalled the messenger and communicated this intelligence to Major-General Frémont, assuring him that I deeply regretted I could be of no further use to him. I report the facts and abstain from all comments, but I cannot omit to notice the courage and confidence which inspired such a small force, whose effective strength did not exceed 2,500 men, calmly await the attack of an army of from 10,000 to 20,000. The battle which followed shows that this confidence was not ill-founded; for, although the enemy must have made his dispositions during the previous night to overwhelm them, they contested the field for several hours, repulsing him with great slaughter several times. The artillery generally, in which I took such just pride, was managed splendidly, shattering the enemy's columns with canister, and frequently driving them in dismay from the field. The infantry never failed to repulse the enemy in close conflict. The right wing, as it appears from the reports, not only drove the enemy before it, but took possession of the ground he occupied. Our batteries on the left wing, as it appears, were unfortunately left without adequate infantry support, and it was only when 30 of their horses were killed and the enemy's bayonets at their breasts that Captain Clark and his gallant artillerists withdrew from the field, carrying off all their guns except such as had been wholly unhorsed by the enemy's fire. Nothing could exceed the general courage and daring of the force engaged, but I prefer referring to the reports of the different commanders engaged on the field for the names of those entitled to special praise. The number of guns engaged on our side was eighteen, of which they had to abandon seven, all the horses being killed. Our loss is severe for the number engaged, amounting to 40 killed and 313 wounded. There were but few prisoners taken on either side. The list of missing is large, but many of them have since joined us. The enemy's loss must have been immense. Their advancing columns were several times broken and repulsed with canister by our batteries, leaving the ground covered with their killed and wounded. The Seventh Louisiana Regiment, 748 strong, left the field, it is said, with only 36 effective men.
       Considering the locality, which was not defensible, being liable to be turned on both flanks, and the disparity of forces engaged, it is truly wonderful that our little army was able to effect its escape. This can only be attributed to the splendid manner in which the artillery was handled and the desperate manner in which the infantry fought in its close contests with the enemy. But defeat was unavoidable. It is fortunate they withdrew when they did. My whole division in that position, or rather in that locality, would have protracted the struggle and made it more bloody, but could not have maintained the field. There is much to be regretted in this affair, but nothing which does not reflect honor upon the courage and conduct of the gallant troops engaged.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. SHIELDS,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.


[Addenda.]

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3, 1862.

To the ADJUTANT-GENERAL OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D.C.

       GENERAL: I respectfully inclose a nominal report of the killed and wounded in the engagement had by General Shields' division in the valley of Virginia last June. The report when received was incorrect and had to be returned, and when received back was overlooked.
       With reference to the remark made by the general that the order to him to cease following the enemy and return to Luray was received just "as he had planned a combined attack with General Frémont, by which Jackson was to be annihilated," I have to say that the order was given by me from the War Department by direction of the President, who at the same moment wrote a similar order to General Frémont, it being not considered expedient to continue the chase after Jackson up the valley, which could bring on nothing decisive for us, and it being greatly the desire of the President and myself that the forces under my command should as speedily as possible return to Fredericksburg to move on Richmond. Both the condition of General Shields' division and that of the roads and rivers, as represented by him, indicated anything than the success he anticipated.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
IRVIN McDOWELL,
Major-General.

 

[Inclosure.]

FRONT ROYAL, June 9, 1862.

Major-General SHIELDS,
Commanding Division, Luray.

       It being the intention of the President that the troops of this department be employed elsewhere, the major-general commanding directs that you cease all further pursuit and bring back all your division to Luray, and get ready for the march to Fredericksburg.
       I send herewith a telegram in cipher to Major-General Frémont, which I have been directed to inclose to you for transmittal to him.

ED. SCHRIVER,
Colonel, Chief of Staff.


FRONT ROYAL, June 9, 1862.

Major-General SHIELDS,
Commanding Division.

       I am directed to inform you that it is the order of the President of the United States that Major-General Frémont shall hold the valley in connection with Major-General Banks, and that the forces belonging to the Department of the Rappahannock be immediately marched on Richmond to cooperate with Major-General McClellan.
       It has been, and is still, no doubt much desired that Jackson shall be made to pay for his late dash down the valley, and if there is a reasonable expectation of his being caught no doubt the order for the advance on Richmond would be suspended. But it is not clear from your report what is the position of your command at this time, and it is inferred that the force at Port Republic is small, as well as the party expected to be at Waynesborough. If this is so, the general thinks you have forgotten your instructions not to move your force so that the several parts should not be in supporting distance of each other. If, however, you are in hot pursuit and about to fall on the enemy, and can do so with reasonable chance of success without relying on the troops at Front Royal, who are too far in rear to support you in your extended movements, the general is not disposed to recall you; but if you have only detachments thrown out in front your command should not be placed in such positions as to prevent compliance with the President's general plan of operations, and you should at once call in the advance parties and move upon Fredericksburg, there to be refitted for the march to Richmond.

The general desires an immediate reply.
ED. SCHRIVER,
Colonel, Chief of Staff.

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