Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 8, 1862 (Sunday): Jackson Surprised at Port Republic

June 8, 1862.
Major-General EWELL, Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: The general commanding directs me to inclose this dispatch, just received. He is going down in person to see into it, but requests that you will not advance your pickets until you hear further from him.
    Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Major-General JACKSON:
    The enemy have had a scout of 20 near the bridge this morning at Port Republic. On our approach they fell back. We pursued them but did not see the scout at all. After passing General Lewis' about 2 miles we found ourselves in front of a regiment of cavalry. They are now just below General Lewis'.

Captain, Commanding Scout.

Columbia Bridge, June 8,
1862-6.30 p. m.
Major General JOHN C. FREMONT:
    I pushed forward Colonel Carroll with one brigade and four pieces of artillery to move on Port Republic to burn the bridge and check the advance of the enemy. He went forward, I fear, imprudently, crossed the bridge, which is still standing, and drove the small force there defending it before him. While pursuing this force he was attacked by the enemy in force, lost two pieces of artillery, and is now in retreat to Conrad's store. Part of the enemy, it seems is on this side and part on the other side of the river. There is one brigade en route for Conrad's store from this direction and another brigade a this point which I am moving forward to re-enforce them in front. I will also order a fourth brigade, with the exception of one regiment, which i will leave at Luray to check Longstreet, who is supposed to be in the mountains.
    I will earnestly urge that you attack the enemy in their rear at once with all you force, and will get my   command up as quickly as possible to operate in front.


HDQRS. FIRST DIV., DEPT. OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK, Columbia Bridge, June 8, 1862-7 p. m. (Received June 9, 4.30 a. m.)
    COLONEL: A dispatch has this moment arrived from Colonel Carroll, commanding the advance of this division, stating that he moved forward to-day with some cavalry, infantry, and two pieces of
artillery of Port Republic, drove a small force of the enemy from the bridge, and crossed the bridge in pursuit of this force. Three brigades of Jackson's army, covering at least three batteries, assailed them at once on both flanks. The cavalry fled the first fire; his two guns were captured, and he, with the residue of the brigade, is in full retreat on Conrad's Store, where he (Carroll) sent me the dispatch, no time being mentioned. It must have been this morning.
    There is another brigade advancing to his support; and a third brigade moving forward at this time from this place to support them. The Fourth Brigade is still at Luray, awaiting the arrival of forces from Front Royal. I have sent information of this to General Fremont, who seems to be lying at Harrisonburg, urging him to attack them with all his force in their rear at once, while I am hurrying forward the others to maintain our position, and try to repulse the enemy. The general commanding will see at once the necessity of immediate action to recover this loss.
    Very respectfully, &c.,

Commanding Division.

Columbia Bridge, June 8-8.15 p. m.
Major-General FREMONT,
Commanding U. S. Forces, Harrisonburg, Va.:
    The enemy, as you are aware, is on the Port Republic road, with perhaps four or five of his brigades on this side of the river. If not attacked in force to-night and hurled upon the river by your command, I apprehend that he may pass the bridge during the night and then burn it, so that you could render me no assistance. If such be the case, having but two brigades in front, I might find it difficult to resist him. Your only resource then would be to come around by way of New Market and cross the ferry at Columbia Bridge. If you are unable to employ your whole force sufficiently in his rear, I would respectfully suggest that a portion of it join me in this way anyhow.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, Page 23. and others.

The dispatches which describe the Carroll's Union cavalry raid into Port Republic (which nearly resulted in Jackson's capture) and the battle waged by Fremont against Ewell at Cross Keys illustrate the lack of coordination between Shields and Fremont.  Positioned along Mill Creek, Ewell repelled Fremont, sharply checking him due in no small part to a ferocious assault on the Union left by Trimble.  Here Shields is already engaging in historical revision, trying to blame Carroll for rashness in connection with what was very nearly a highly successful raid.  Shields would later blame Carroll for not burning the bridge, when he himself had ordered it not be destroyed.


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