Numbers 41. Report of Brigadier General Robert C. Schenck, U. S. Army, commanding brigade, of the battle of Cross Keys.
HDQRS. SCHENCK'S BRIGADE, MOUNTAIN DEPARTMENT, Camp at Mount Jackson, Va., June 12, 1862.
I have the honor to report the part taken by the Ohio Brigade in the engagement at Cross Keys on the 8th instant.
It was about 1 p. m. when I arrived near the point of the road leading to Port Republic, where the advance guard had already come upon the enemy. A staff officer, after indicating the position where my cavalry was to be left in reserve, informed me that I was to pass into the field and take position on the right, forming my line of battle and placing my batteries so as to support Brigadier-General Milroy, whose brigade preceded mine in the march and was already getting into line. I was entirely without knowledge of the ground, but immediately proceeded to find the best position I could, according to these instructions, in the direction indicated.
I turned my artillery (De Beck's and Rigby's batteries) into and across the fields, supported by infantry, throwing the body of my infantry into line of battle and extending it in the rear of Milroy's brigade. As I advanced, however, upon the open ridge first pointed out as probably the best on which to establish my batteries, about one-fourth of a mile from the main road by which our column arrived, I discovered that I was brought into the rear of a line of woods through which Milroy was passing, also to the right. These woods at the same time concealed the enemy and the character of the ground he was occupying, while they afforded on eligible position for placing my guns so as to reach him. I became satisfied, too, from the character of the ground beyond, as it now opened to us, that the enemy would seek to extend the line of his forces on his left, so as, if possible, to outflank us. I hastened, therefore, to press forward to the right to anticipate any such movement, and to occupy an extended ridge of higher ground half a mile farther to the south, which I found gave me a more commanding range and advanced me farther to the point, while it enabled me also to cover an easy pass leading up from the enemy's position in front between the two ridges and all the open ground sloping away to the valley at the foot of the mountain, by one of which approaches the rebels were to be expected to advance on that side. This position placed my brigade on the extreme right wing, which I occupied for the rest of the day.
To reach this point of advantage I had to cross a road in front of my first position, and passing through the skirt of the wood in which General Milroy had advanced, went over some wheat fields, along the edge of another wood. This I accomplished without loss, though exposed to a pretty severe fire of shell from the enemy, marching my line-composed of the Seventy-third, Fifty-fifth, and Eighty-second Regiments of Ohio Volunteer Infantry-directed by the flank, detaching the Seventy-fifth and Thirty-second Ohio to cover the artillery moving by a more circuitous route. While effecting this I was ordered, by a messenger from the general commanding, to detach Rigby's battery and send it to the relief of General Milroy. This was immediately done.
Reaching the farther position, which I had selected, I found the line of woods extended still to the right and shutting in our front. An examination of these woods by companies of the Seventy-third and Thirty-second, immediately thrown forward as skirmishers, discovered the