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advantage, and were now pressing forward with triumphant cheers. They penetrated the opening, turned Fulkerson's right, and he was forced back in disorder. At the same moment the approaching roar of Ashby's artillery from the direction of the turnpike, indicated that the enemy were pressing down upon the right. The day was lost.
But Jackson would not yield. His stern temper was fully aroused, and with the heavy columns pressing him on both flanks and in front, he refused to abandon the struggle. Under his passionate appeals and orders the 5th Virginia, though almost entirely without ammunition, re-formed under a heavy fire, and taking position directly in front, held the enemy in check, without support, until the arrival of the 42d, under Colonel Langhorne. This regiment was hurried forward, and formed on the right of the 5th. But the day was lost. The enemy had pushed forward rapidly, and turned the Confederate left flank; and the handful of Southerners who still held their ground, saw the Federal columns sweeping round and nearly enveloping them. The two regiments supported for a time the weight of the masses thrown against them ; but the Federal flanking column having gotten almost entirely in the rear of the 5th Virginia, it was forced to fall back. This exposed the left flank of the 42d, and that regiment in turn was thrown into disorder, and retired before the enemy.
With his left thus enveloped, his cavalry retiring along the turnpike on his right, and his centre broken through, Jackson could no longer continue the contest. He gave no order to retreat, but that or destruction was the alternative, and the lines retreated sullenly from the field. It was Jackson's first and last defeat, and he “died hard,” fighting to the last. His sole remaining regiment had been ordered forward to continue the action, but before it arrived he determined to fall back. The troops, says an officer who was present, fell back “without panic” “—sole cheering incident —and the enemy was in possession of the field.
* “Such was their gallantry and high state of discipline, that at no time
Night had descended, and a chill wind sighed in its passage over the wide fields of broom-straw, and through the gloomy depths of the forest, where so many dead and wounded men were lying. The Federal troops had won the day, but the price of the victory had been bloody.
BEFORE passing to the events which succeeded the battle of Kernstown, let us glance at some particulars relating to this singular and comparatively unknown conflict. Many persons regarded it as a blunder in Jackson; others as one of his chief successes. Federal writers claim a victory certain from the first ; but Jackson died in the belief that if he had held his ground ten minutes longer, the enemy would have retreated. Northern accounts stated the Federal numbers at 10,000, and Jackson's at 12,000. Such were the various opinions. What was the truth?
The battle was not a blunder or an accident, but the result of calculation and design. Jackson was misinformed in relation to the force in his immediate front, but would have fought it, at the same time and place, with full knowledge of its amount. An attack was necessary to accomplish his object—the retention of the Federal forces in the valley; and this attack he would certainly have made. When he commenced his march from Mount Jackson, the Federal troops were leaving the valley; and as he approached Winchester, General Williams, with his 15,000 men, was below Upperville, east of the Blue Ridge, ready to press General Johnston, who, falling back from Manassas, had reached the Rapidan. It was important to divert this force from
during the battle or pursuit did they give way to panic."—General SHIELDs' Report.
its march, for the relief of General Johnston, and the battle of Kernstown accomplished this. The roar of artillery from Winchester was plainly heard by the Federal commander ; and under the impression, no doubt, that Jackson had been strongly rečnforced, and had fallen upon General Shields, General Williams made a rapid countermarch to his assistance. It will be seen that Jackson's whole force up was 3,087, and that of General Shields estimated at 11,000. Thus the assault of about 3,000 men, kept about 26,000 from operating against Johnston. The action was, beyond doubt, one of the fiercest encounters of the war. Jackson states his force present on the evening of the battle to have been 3,087 infantry, 290 cavalry, and 27 pieces of artillery. Of this number, 2,742 infantry, the whole of the cavalry, and 18 pieces of artillery were engaged. The Federal force seems to have considerably exceeded this. Jackson estimated their numbers on the field at 11,000, and stated that “probably over 8,000 were engaged.” He was always extremely cautious in his statements, and this is doubtless not far from the truth, though it would seem improbable, that in a conflict so obstinate and doubtful, the Federal commander would keep out of action reserves amounting to about 3,000 men— more than Jackson's whole force engaged. Taking this estimate, however, the Federal force was three times greater than the Confederate. The loss of the latter was 80 killed and 342 wounded—422. A Federal officer stated, some days afterwards, that their loss in killed was 418. The Federal report is not at hand. The battle was an undoubted defeat of the Confederates. General Shields wrote: “The enemy's sufferings have been terrible, and such as they have nowhere else endured since the beginning of this war.” The Southern loss was heavy, the victory complete; but in spite of this, the affair was spoken of among Federal officers as one over which they had very little reason to rejoice. The bloody resistance made by the Southern troops was the topic of conversation in Winchester, and the officers, it is even said, “did not claim a victory, only a drawn battle.” We have quoted General Shields' statement, that the Confederates at no time “gave way to panic; ” the testimony of another Federal authority was, that the stubborn stand made by one of the Federal regiments, “alone saved them.” These are not recorded in order to glorify the Southern arms, but to show that this brief and desperate conflict with which the spring of 1862 opened, was at one time very uncertain. A further proof of this is a statement made by Ashby to Col. J. M. Patton. Ashby stated that when the Southern line fell back, in consequence of the movement of the Stonewall Brigade, an order for the Federal troops to retire was actually on the way from General Shields, and would have arrived in ten minutes. “This,” says Colonel Patton, “I had from Colonel Turner Ashby, who told me he knew it to be so.” Ashby's character was very high, and he would not make such a statement lightly. Jackson, it is certain, believed it; hence his displeasure at the order from General Garnett, one of the bravest men in the army, which virtually lost him, as he believed, the victory. Private letters brought through the lines seemed to indicate no depression of mind in those who sympathized with the Confederates. The people around Winchester were said to regard “ the gallant fight of Sunday in the light of a victory,” and another letter described the passage of the Confederate prisoners through the town as “a march of triumph rather than of defeat.” Every attention was paid to them by the ladies of Winchester, remarkable throughout the whole war for their Confederate sympathies, and the success of the Federal troops seemed only to intensify the bitterness of their dislike for the blue uniform. Contemporary narratives paint the scene vividly—the waving handkerchiefs as the Southern prisoners passed by, and the flushed cheeks, and eyes full of scornful tears, as the ladies glanced from the ragged scarecrows of Jackson to the finely dressed Federal officers. The saddest scene of all was the appearance of mothers and sisters upon the ghastly field of Kernstown. The mayor of Winchester and the citizens dug a pit on the battlefield, and buried the dead bodies of the Southern soldiers. Among the crowd were many of the ladies of Winchester, closely scanning the bodies as they were brought up one by one, and sobbing as they recognized some relation or friend. Many found their kindred among the dead left on the field, for the larger part of Jackson's force was from the valley, and the spectacle of the recognition of the bodies was harrowing. It affected even the Federal officers present; but one of these declares that every feeling of the Southern ladies, even grief for the dead, seemed merged into an intense hatred toward themselves. With flashing eyes and flushed faces, they would exclaim, “You may bring the whole force of the North here, but you can never conquer us!—we will shed our last drop of blood | * * Jackson had retreated from the field of Kernstown; but he did not go far, and did not seem to be aware of any danger in remaining near the victorious enemy. Retiring to the position on the turnpike which he had occupied in the morning, he issued orders for the troops to bivouac where they were, and soon the fires were seen sparkling like stars along the roadside, the men
* “There is nothing,” says the correspondent of a Northern journal, writing of the Southern ladies, “nothing they will not surrender with a smile —the gemmed ring, the diamond bracelet, the rich wardrobe. They cut up rich carpets for soldiers' blankets without a sigh; they take the fine linen from their persons for bandages. When four hundred of Longstreet's men came up to Nashville prisoners of war, about the roughest, dirtiest looking set of fellows the sun ever shone on, and a flight of stairs in the building they occupied fell, killing and wounding a large number of them, you should have seen the fair young traitoresses come forth from the old aristocratic mansions, bearing restoratives and delicacies in their hands, mingling in the dingy crowd, wiping away the blood with their white handkerchiefs, and uttering words of cheer; should have seen them doing this with hundreds of Union soldiers all around, and smiling back on the rough blackguards of rebels as they left. But in all there was a defiant air in their humanity strange to see. Of a truth, they carried it off grandly. And about all these girls were in mourning for dead rebels—brothers, lovers, friends, whom these same girls had sneered into treason and driven into rebellion, and billowed all the South with their graves; and the least they could do was to wear black for them and flaunt black from the window blinds. Clothed be their souls in black.”