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JACKSON RETREATS.

473

the advancing line of smoke that rose above the green tree tops, Fremont saw that Cluseret was pushing the enemy before him. The batteries were now ordered

up and quickly from every commanding eminence, white puffs of smoke arose, and a fierce artillery fight along the whole line followed. The enemy's guns were worked with the precision of rifle practice, and scarcely a shot missed its intended mark.

While this tremendous fire of the batteries was going on, Milroy with his brigade, moved straight on the center, while Stahl, supported by Bolen took the woods on the left, and soon from out its dark bosom came incessant crashes of artil. lery and volleys of musketry. The fight here for a time was desperate, but Jackson moving forward a heavy body of infantry to outflank Stahl, the latter was compelled to fall back; to a more open position. This was about three o'clock in the afternoon, and soon after Milroy was compelled to retira also. Cluseret, however, still held his position in the woods on the right until he was ordered to fall back. All this time Fremont, surrounded by a conspicuous group, occupied a hili top, a fair target for the enemy, until a shell at length burst right in their midst, when they moved away.

The fight was over before dark, and Fremont finding the position too strong to be carried, did not renew the atta The rebel loss must have amounted to a thousand men in this determined onset, while ours could have been little less than six or seven hundred. Jackson leaving his dead behind him and two cannon in our possession, retreated at midnight towards the south branch of the Shenandoah.

This was construed by Fremont into 3 confession of defeat, but it was a mistake. Jackson had heard that Shields was advancing on Port Republic, directiy in his rear, and he left the battle field at Cross Keys to give the latter battle next day before our forces could form a junction

474

SHIELDS MOVEMENTS.

When McDowell received orders to send aid to Fremont, he dispatched Shields up the Luray valley, along the south branch of the Shenandoah, to intercept Jackson, while an other column moved direct on Strasburg.

Carroll led the advance, and pushing on by heavy marches, reached a place called Conrad's store, on the fourth, where he received orders to push on to Port Republic, some thirty-five miles distant. But heavy rains had so swollen the creeks on his routė, that he was totally unable to move till the seventhi, when with less than a thousand infantry, and six pieces of artillery, and only a hundred and fifty cavalry, he set out. With this small force, he pressed forward with desperate energy, hoping to be able to reach Port Republic and destroy the bridge across the Shenandoah there, before Jackson reached it. The next day, Sunday, while Fremont was fighting the battle of Cross Keys, he reached the place, with his advance, driving the small force of the enemy there,

He immediately planted two guns which he had brought forward so as to protect himself from an attack of the train guard, until his command could arrive. His orders were, after destroying the bridge here, to proceed nearly thirty miles farther up stream to Waynesboro, and thus hem in Jackson, so that he could be finished by the combined forces of Fremont and McDowell. But before he had been in the place twenty minutes, he was suddenly attacked by three regiments of infantry, with eighteen pieces of artillery, and a large body of cavalry. Compelled to retire before this overwhelming force before he could destroy the bridge, he slowly retreated about two miles and a half, and took the first lefensibie position he could find, where he was soon after joined by General Tyler, with two thousand men. The next day, Jackson having eluded Fremont, and crossed the river in safety, burning the bridge behind him, advanced with his whole army against him. It was a skillful move on

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the part of the rebel leader, and Fremont, while moving forward next morning in pursuit, as he supposed, of a flying foe, was saluted with the roar of cannon in the distance, that told him his adroit, daring enemy, was breaking in pieces the force sent to cut off his retreat. The fates seemed to favor his escape, for had it not been for the heavy rains that fell, while he was beating back Fremont at Cross Keys Carroll would have been destroying the bridge over which the former the next night marched in safety. But every farmer in the region was a spy, and undoubtedly Jackson was kept perfectly informed of all our movements; and had not Shields' column been delayed, he would not have fought the battle of Cross Keys at all, but continued his retreat until he had put the river between him and his pursuer.

The fight at Port Republic was a very desperate one, for Jackson could lose no time in making cautious movements. He knew when he first entered the valley of the Shenandoai, to attack Banks, that he would be compelled to move rapidly; and pushing the latter as far as he dared, he depended for safety in his retreat on swift, long marches, and sudden onsets. So when he turned from Fremont on Shields, he threw himself in overwhelming force on that portion of the army at Port Republic, before the remainder could arrive. Tyler and Carroll, however, held their position firmly for nearly five hours. Most of their troops were western men, and fought with their accustomed gallantry. The Seventh In. diana almost annihilated the Seventh Louisiana regiment ia its desperate charges.

Carroll behaved with great gallantry, leading three regi. ments successfully to the charge. The fight was almost a hand-to-hand one, our artillery using nothing but canister, which cut frightful lanes through the close ranks of the enemy. But, at length, being outflanked, this gallant band was compelled to retire.

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476

OBJEOT OF JACKSON'S RAID.

Though various movements were now planned and set on foot, this virtually ended the pursuit, for Jackson was where he could easily be reinforced to any extent, and Fremont finally retired to Strasburg.

It had been confidently believed that Jackson's escape was impossible, and when it was found that he had slipped through our fingers, carrying all his immense spoils with him, and dealing us full as heavy blows as we had given him, the public disappointment was great, and McDowell, Shields, Carroll, and Fremont, were by turns the objects of popular clamor. Even at this late day, it is not easy to form a clear idea of the combined movements set on foot to intercept Jackson, or determine where the blame of his escape, if any,

should be laid. This much, however, may be said: Jackson, when he started on his raid down the valley, was perfectly aware of the position of the forces he would leave on his flanks, and had all his arrangements complete for receiving early information of every movement. He also knew every foot of the country, and hence could lay his plans with almost mathematical certainty. He had not, as the public fondly supposed, run his head into a noose, leaving us nothing to do except to tighten the rope. On the contrary, he knew so well what he was about, that his escape might be relied on as a certainty, unless some unexpected accident should interpose to disarrange his plans. The sudden movement of our forces on his flanks was certainly not that unexpected interposition. Our error was in giving him credit for a daring and skillful movement, and then expecting it to prove the hugest blunder imaginable.

Among the captures we made was a letter from the rebel leader, Johnston, which stated that the sole object of the movement was to prevent reinforcements being sent to McClellan. According to their own confession, therefore, the great object of the raid could be accomplished only by the

THE PRESIDENT VISITS SCOTT.

477

consent of our government. The rumors, however, that from time to time were received, that Jackson had been heavily reinforced, and with an immense army was about to move back towards Washington, more than offset the proof of this letter, and government was perplexed as to the course it ought to adopt.

Our position at the close of this movement against Jackson, was humiliating in the extreme. This daring leader, with probably less than twenty thousand men, had driven Banks to the Potomac-forced Fremont and McDowell into a long, wasting, and yet fruitless march, inflicting on them quite as much damage as he received-beaten back Shields' column with heavy loss, and escaped with all his spoils and trophies. All this had been done while at least eighty thousand troops were within striking distance of him.

The President now saw clearly the terrible blunder that had been made in the creation of these several independent corps, that could act in unison only as they received orde18 from Washington, and he resolved to remedy it at once. Feeling that he had listened to counsel that was not safe, he privately left Washington, and made a hurried visit io West Point, to consult with the old veteran Scott. He saw that in time of adversity and peril, the rash and the ignorant must be put aside, and those, whose counsels experience had shown to be wise, be consulted. This visit, so out of the ordinary course of action by the Chief Executive, gave rise to much conjecture, and some alarm. But the simple truth was, the condition of things along the Potomac-causing a still more perilous condition of the army of McClellan-required an entire reorganization of military affairs, and the President in doing it did not want to fall into a mistake worse than the first.

The first step in the new order of things, that rvas abont to take place, was the consolidation of the Departı ients of

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