ePub 版

]i;ifcs with the enemy in a race or a battle, as he should choose, fur the possession of Winchester, the key of the Valley." But he was not destined to reach his promised haven of security without disaster.

On the day following the sudden apparition of Jackson at Front Royal, the untiring commander had by a rapid movement succeeded in piercing Banks' main column while retreating from 'Strasburg to Winchester; the rear, including a body of the celebrated Zouaves d'Afrique, retreating towards Strasbarg.

The Yankee General reached Winchester only to find fresh causes of alarm. The people of that ancient town, already sure of their deliverance, received the Yankees with shouts of derision and defiant cheers for Jackson. Some Confederate officers came into the enemy's camp with entire unconcern, supposing that their own troops occupied the town as a matter of c<Mirst\ and when captured, gave the Yankees the delightful assurance that an attack would be made by the terrible Jackson at daybreak.

On the 25th of May, Gen. Jackson gave the crowning stroke to the rapid movements of the past two days by attacking Winchester and driving out the cowardly enemy •almost without resistance. Gen. BariKS speaks of his retreat with a shamelessness that is at once simple arid refreshing. He says " pursuit by the enemy was prompt and vigorous; but our movements were rapid;" and he writes to the authorities at Washington of his crossing of the. Potomac: "There never were more grateful hearts in the .game number of men than when at midday on the 30th of May we stood on the opposite shore." He had escaped with the loss of all the material and paraphernalia that constitute an army. He had abandoned at Wiuelfester all his commissary and ordnance" stores. He had resigned that {own and Front Royal to the undisputed possession of the Confederates. . He had left in their hands four thousand prisoners, and stores amounting to millions of dollars. And all these prizes had been obtained by the Confederates hi the brief period of a few days, and with a loss pot exceeding one ■hundred in killed and wounded.

When Generab Jack&on fell back from "Winchester, after routing Banks, he managed, with great address, boldness and energy, to carry off his prisoners and spoils, and to bring oft his army between the converging columns of Fremont, who approached his rear from the west, with eight brigades, and Shields, who approached from the east, with four brigades. If these brigades averaged twenty-five hundred men, the force of Fremont was twenty thousand and that of Shields ten thousand men. At Harrisonburg, Jackson left the main turnpike road of the Valley and marched towards Port Republic, the distance between these two places being about twelve miles. Port Republic is situated at the junction of South river, flowing north, and North rivar, flowing east. Jackson could retire no further without crossing North river, w7hich was swollen, and there was then no bridge over it except at Port Republic, ^he two rivers uniting at that village form the' Shenandoah, which flows north, and which could not then be crossed by an army. On the east side of that stream was the army of Shields, :and on the west side were the armies of Fremont and Jackson. The latter halted near North river without crossing«it, and, while in that position,*his rear was approached and attacked fey Fremont's whole army, on the morning of Sunday, the* 8th of June, and, at the* same time, Shields' force approached on the east side of the Shenandoah near Port Republic.

That part pf Jackson's army which engaged Fremont on Sunday was commanded by General Ewell, while the rest of the army under General Jackson held Shields in check with artillery firing across the Shenandoah near Port Republic. *Fhe battle of Sunday took place1 about five miles from that village in the direction of Harrisonburg.

It began early in the morning and lasted all day, with occasional intervals. It was mainly an artillery fight, but now and then, here and there, the infantry became hotly engaged. The force under Fremont was mu<?h larger than that under Ewell, but the latter was strongly posted on, eminences which favored the effectiveness of artillery and sheltered the infantry, .while the enemy could only approach through open fields. JEwell's command was handled with remarkable skill, while Fremont's generalship was indifferent. Ewell's artillery was served with admirable precision and effect, and his infantry, whenever 'engaged, displayed great steadiness and gallantry. The result was, that when night put an end to the contest, Fremont had been driven back between one and two miles> with a loss, in killed and wounded, not less than* two thousand, and probably much larger, while our loss did not exceed thr^e hundred, and probably not two hundred. The judicious selection of a position in which to receive the enemy favored this result, but it was largely due to the superiour fighting qualities of our men.

Soon aft$r nightfall, General" Jackson* began to withdraw his men from this battle-field, and pass them over North river by the bridge at Port Republic, with a view to attack Shields the next morning. He left in front of Fremont a small force to amuse and detain him, and, after retiring before him to Port Republic, to burn the bridge behind them, and thus to prevent Fremont from rendering any aid to Shields. All this was accomplished.

On Monday morning, Jackson passed the greater part of his army across the' South river (the smallest of the streams) by means of a bridge made of planks laid on wagons placed in the river. Early in the morning a sufficient number had crossed to commence the battle, and they were led to the field between^ one and two miles distant, on the east bank of the Shenandoah. The enemy's force was found drawn up awaiting the attack.

The enemy's line extendedfrom the river about half a mile across* a flat bottom, free from timber, and covered with wheat, grass, &c. His left rested on the point of a low ridge coming out from the woods which skirt the bottom. On a slight elevation there and in some small knolls in the bottom, he had his artillery commanding the road and the wide uncovered level plain, over which Jackson's army was' obliged to advance. The level and exposed ground offered scarcely any suitable position for planting our-artillery. The advantage of position belonged altogether to the enemy. The capital fault of his disposition for battle was that the battery on his extreme It,ft was poste 1 near the woods without any infantry in* the woods to defend it. • By availing himself of this circumstance?, and by a brilliant manoeuvre and charge, Jackson turned the fortune of the day at a critical moment.

. For some two hours the battle raged with great Airy. Our infantry, at first but few, advanced with marvelous intrepidity in the free of a withering fire of artillery and musketry. At one moment the enemy advanced a section of a battery several hundred yards so as to enfilade our left wing, which 'already, suffered terribly froln the fire*in front. It seemed that nothing could withstand the fury of the.enemy's fire of all arms. His artillery was very fine, and was served with great effect by regulars. But other troops coming at double quick from Port Republic, came on the field, and, at the same time, the Louisiana brigade, under ■ Taylor, emerged from the woods on'the enemy's left. They had been sent by a considerable circuit through the woods which extend all along the battlefield be(tween the cleared ground and the neighbouring mountain. By a si ght error of direction they came out of the woods a little too soon, and found themselves almost in front; of the battery, which instantly began to shower grape upon them. But, immediately rectifying their direction, they charged the battery with irresistible impetuosity, and carried it. The contest then was speedily ended. The enemy's whole line gave way and was presently retreating in disorder, pursued by our cavalry. The pursuit was .kept up about ten or twelve miles, but the flight continued all that day and the next. About five hundred prisoners were taken that day, and others after that were brought in daily. The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was heavy, and so was our own. Six splendid cannon were

captured on the field, another was taken in the pursuit, and still another had been captured on Sunday. 'The fo;ce of the energy engaged-was about six or seven thousand, and ours a little larger. 'Shields was not present, tiut his troops were commanded by General Tyler.

After the rout of the enemy had commenced, the last of our troops crossed over.the bridge at Port Republic and burnt it. Fremont, cautiously following, appeared sometime afterwards, and drew up his army in line of battle on the heights along the west bank of the Shenandoah, from which he overlooked the field of battb. While he stood there in impotent idleness, Jaekfron's army, hnvirfk finally disposed of Shields, moved off at leisure to Brown's Gap, and there encamped, to rest for a few days from the fatigues of a month's campaign more arduous a.:;d more successful than any month's operations of the war. The exhaustion of our- men and the interposition of a river, no hinger bridged, secured Fremont from a second battle or a hasty flight. The-next day he commenced his retreat down the Valley.

This f mous campaign must, indeed, take a rank in the history of the war, u:.rivalled by any other in the rapidity of its, inover.ents and/in the brilliancy of the results accomplished, compared with the means at its command. Its heroic deeds revived the hopes of the South, and threw the splendour of sunlight; over the long lines of the Confederate host. By a series of rapid movements, which occupied but a fe\v weeks, General Jackson had, with inferhtar numbers, defeated successively four Generals, with as many armies, swept the Valley of Virginia, of hostile forces, made the Federal authorities tremble in their-capital, and frustrated the combinations by which the enemy had purposed to'a id General Model Ian and environ .Richmond by large converging armies.

Our loss of life in this campaign was inconsiderable in numbers; but on the black list of killed, there was one name conBpfcuous throughout the Confederacy, and especially dear to Virginians. Colonel Turner Ashby, whose name was linked

« 上一頁繼續 »