Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 10, 1862 (Tuesday): The Aftermath of Battle

Hotchkiss Map-Port Republic

FRONT ROYAL, June 10, 1862.
I. McDOWELL, Major-General:
I send you the following communication from General Shields:

LURAY, June 10, 1862-5.30 p. m.
Colonel SCHRIVER, Chief of Staff:
    In obedience to orders I am now marching to Luray, and am about 12 miles from Columbia Bridge. I must remain at Luray until shoes are procured, about one-third of my command being barefoot and in an exhausted condition. We cannot reach Luray to-night, and must remain the two or three days to recover. I wish you would hasten Quartermaster Johnson forward to Luray with shoes and other stores. I propose to go through Thornton's Gap, by Washington, to Warrenton, it being turnpike. We need at least six days' subsistence and some forage to take my command from Luray to Catlett's. I forward herewith a memorandum of our wants, and hope they will be supplied at Catlett's Station. This division has been so overworked that it will take some time to refit it for the field: 4,000 blankets, 9,200 caps, 12,000 shoes, 20,000 socks, 12,000 pants, 10,000 blouses, 12,000 shirts, 12,000 drawers, 5,000 haversacks, 6,100 canteens, 1,600 shelter-tents, 3,500 rubber blankets, 60 drums, 6 bugles, 300 pants (re-enforced), 300 artillery jackets, 50,000 rounds caliber. 71 (can use.69); 24,000 caliber 69; 6,000 caliber .58.
    In an engagement with the enemy near Port Republic by my advance guard, which took place yesterday morning, our artillery was greatly damaged, and some regiments suffered severely. The conflict was maintained for four hours by about 2,000 men against the main body of Jackson's command. The loss on both sides is very great, but the superior numbers of the enemy were so overwhelming that our advance was compelled to fall back, which it did in perfect order. The retreat was continued until joined by the residue of the command between Conrad's Store and Port Republic, where the enemy at once abandoned the position and fell back. I will send a more detailed report of this engagement as soon as I have time. General Fremont and myself were projecting a combined attack upon the enemy this morning, which in all probability must have destroyed him, when peremptory orders reached me, which I did not feel at liberty to disobey. General Fremont is at Port Republic, on the other side of the river, and will throw a bridge across this morning. We expected to join forces and attack the enemy, but for the peremptory orders to return.
    The remark of the general commanding in reference to sending part of the command ahead without support from the residue would be applicable in my case were it not that my command was separated by the torrents that rushed upon us from the mountains, and that I was compelled, in order to subsist them, to keep the greater portion on Luray. I have been utterly unable to bring them together until yesterday. My greatest fault has been that I have not calculated upon the effect of sudden rains in this narrow valley.
I repeat that I must time to refit at Luray before I can go any farther; also to provided for my sick, who are there, and must be remove.
     Very, &c.,


    The above is a sorry picture of Shields' division, but I do not think it overdrawn. This town is filled with so-called sick officers and men, who, it is said, will never be of use again. In any calculations you may take as to numbers do not rely on more that half what the returns call for. I do not think any of our army will be fit to take the field, unless King's division, in less than fortnight. Horses are used up as well as the men. The want of discipline and ignorance of the plainest duties are distressing. There in nothing but confusion and plainest duties are distressing. The is nothing but confusion and disorder. The frequent changes contribute much to this state of things.
    7.30 p. m.-I have just received your telegram for General Shields.

Colonel and Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, page 368.

 It is easy to reduce Jackson's valley campaign to audacity, maps, and movementsIt detracts not at all from Jackson's mastery of time and distance to say he was opposed by foes who were not as well lead or disciplined, or to point out the role logistics and weather played.  All these elements are in abundance here, as well as a vivid picture of what happened to military organizations in the wake of battle.  Schriver, McDowell's Chief of Staff, is blunt in his assessment of the usefulness of Shield's division after the battle at Port Republic.  It was, simply stated, used up and not fit for action.

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