War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0714 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

General Taylor, of the Eighth Brigade of Louisiana troops, having arrived from the vicinity of the bridge at Port Republic, toward which he had moved in the morning, reported to General Ewell about 2 p. m. and was placed in rear. Colonel Patton, with the 42nd and 48th Virginia Regiments and 1st Battalion of Virginia Regulars, also joined, and with the remainder of General Elzey's brigade was added to the center and left, then supposed to be threatened. General Ewell - having been informed by Lieutenant Hinrichs, of the Engineer corps, who had been sent out to reconnoiter, that the enemy was moving a large column on his left - did not advance at once, but subsequently ascertaining that no attack was designed by the force referred to, he advanced, drove in the enemy's skirmishers, and when night closed was in position on ground previously held by the enemy. During this fighting Brigadier-Generals Elzey and Steuart were wounded and disabled from command.

This engagement with Fremont has generally been known as the battle of Cross Keys, in which our troops were commanded by General Ewell. I had remained at Port Republic during the principal part of the 8th, expecting a renewal of the attack. As no movement was made by General Shields to renew the action that day, I determined to take the initiative and attack him the following morning. Accordingly General Ewell was directed to move from his position at an early hour on the morning of the 9th toward Port Republic, leaving General Trimble, with his brigade, supported by Colonel Patton, with the Forty-second Virginia Infantry and the First Battalion of Virginia Regulars, to hold Fremont in check, with instructions, if hard pressed, to retire across the North River and burn the bridge in their rear. Soon after 10 o'clock General Trimble, with the last of our forces, had crossed the North River and the bridge was destroyed.

In the mean time, before 5 in the morning, General Winder's brigade was in Port Republic, and having crossed the South Fork by a temporary wagon bridge placed there for the purpose, was moving down the River road to attack the forces of General Shields. Advancing 1 1/2 miles he encountered the Federal pickets and drove them in. The enemy had judiciously selected his position for defense. Upon a rising ground, near the Lewis house, he had planted six guns, which commanded the road from Port Republic and swept the plateau for a considerable distance in front. As General Winder moved forward his brigade a rapid and severe fire of shell was opened upon it. Captain Poague, with tow Parrott guns, was promptly placed in position on the left of the road to engage, and if possible dislodge, the Federal battery. Captain Carpenter was sent to the right to select a position for his battery, but finding it impracticable to drag it through the dense undergrowth, it was brought back and part of it placed near Poague. The artillery fire was brought back and part of it placed near Poague. The artillery fire was well sustained by our batteries, but found unequal to that of the enemy.

In the mean time, Winder being now re-enforced by the Seventh Louisiana Regiment, Colonel Hays, seeing no mode of silencing the Federal battery or escaping its destructive missiles but by a rapid charge and the capture of it, advanced with great boldness for some distance, but encountered such a heavy fire of artillery and small arms as greatly to disorganize his command, which fell back in disorder. The enemy advanced across the field, and by a heavy musketry-fire forced back our infantry supports, in consequence of which our guns had to retire. The enemy's advance was checked by a spirited attack upon their flank by the Fifty-eighth and Fifty-fourth Virginia Regi-