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1862 June 18: More on the Battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic

June 19, 2012

The Hudson North Star published far less information on the three battles in the Shenandoah Valley in their June 18, 1862, issue than The Prescott Journal did.

First we start with a summary of the war news for the week.

The first actual article, about Colonel Cluseret, is about the Battle of Cross Keys.  The second article, following the map (which shows both Cross Keys and Port Republic), is actually about the Battle of Port Republic even though its headline reads Cross Keys.

THE NEWS.

We have no news of special importance.  Fort Morgan below Mobile has surrendered to the Morter [sic] fleet.

Generals Fremont and Shields repulsed Jackson, who retreated in great hast being closely pursued by our forces.

Our army is still menancing [sic] Charleston, and in a severe engagement on James Island the rebels met with considerable loss.

The rebels at Richmond are said to be struck with consternation by the news of our success, at Corinth and Memphis.

Mountain Department.

Pursuit of Jackson—Fremont not Defeated—Battle of Cross Keyes [sic].

WASHINGTON, June 13.—The following was received at the War Department:

HEADQU’RS MOUNTAIN DEPARTMENT, }
HARRISONBURG, June 10. }

To Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:

In my dispatch of yesterday I omitted to state that Colonel Cluseret’s1 brigade, consisting of the 60th Ohio and 8th Virginia, afterwards supported by the Garibaldi Guards formed our advances; and commenced the battle of Cross Keys with sharp skirmishing, at nine o’clock in the morning.

During the day they obtained possession of the enemy’s ground, which was disputed foot by foot, and only withdrew at evening when ordered to retire to a suitable position for the night.

The skill and gallantry displayed by Cluseret on this and former occasions during the pursuit in which we have been engaged, deserve high praise.

(Signed)                              J. C. FREMONT,
Major General Commanding.

Sketch of the Battles of Port Republic, Va., June 8th and 9th, 1862, by Jed. Hotchkiss, from “Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” plate 85, no. 5 (see footnote 2)

THE BATTLE OF CROSS KEYS.

The battle of Cross Keys or Fort [sic] Republic, fought in the valley of the Shenandoah, by General Fremont, was quite a severe action and resulted victoriously to our arms.  Stonewall Jackson made the attack, and for two hours the battle raged fiercely, when the left wing of our army gave way, and the whole line was withdrawn in good order for half a mile to a stronger position.  The rebels did not pursue, but had actually commenced a retreat before our army fell back.—Fremont then pursued, but the rebels succeeded in crossing the river and firing the bridge.  They left 400 dead unburied on the field.  Their loss is put down by General Fremont, in his official report, in killed and wounded, at between 700 and 800.  Federal loss 500.3  Our officers and men behaved with great gallantry.

1.  Gustave Paul Cluseret (1823-1900) was a French soldier and politician. He served in the Crimean War, joined Giuseppe Garibaldi’s volunteers in 1860, and in 1861 resigned his commission to take part in the American Civil War. He served under Generals Frémont and McClellan, and rose to the rank of brigadier general before resigning in 1863.
2.  Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,  published under the direction of Redfield Proctor, Stephen B. Elkins, and Daniel S. Lamont, Secretaries of War, by George B. Davis, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph W. Kirkley, Board of Publication ; compiled by Calvin D. Cowles (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891-1895). Available in Special Collections, UWRF University Archives & Area Research Center (E 464 .U6), or digitally at Ohio State University’s eHistory.
3.  The Union lost nearly a third of their force that was at Port Republic. Most sources cite the Union strength as 3,500 with just over 1,000 casualties; Confederate strength at 6,000 with just over 800 casualties.

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