Friday, August 22, 2014

the last book I ever read (Shelby Foote's The Civil War, Volume One, excerpt eleven)

from The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume One: Fort Sumter to Perryville by Shelby Foote:

In essence that was all there was to the Battle of Cross Keys. Ewell, fretting because he could not get the Pathfinder to make another attack, at last pushed forward for more than a mile until he occupied the ground from which the Federals had advanced that morning. There he stopped, having been warned not to put too much space between the two wings of the army. Frémont, with 10,500 infantry effectives, faded back before Ewell’s 5000. It was finished. The North had lost 684 men, nearly half of them lying dead of their wounds in the grainfields; the South had lost 288, only 41 of them killed. Jackson’s trust in Old Bald Head was confirmed. Except for a quick ride out, to see how things were going, he had let Ewell fight his own battle while he himself remained on the heights above Port Republic. Asked if he did not think there was some danger that Shields would advance to help Frémont, whose guns were within earshot, Stonewall gestured toward his batteries and said grimly: “No, sir; no; he cannot do it! I should tear him to pieces.” As he stood there, listening to the sound of Ewell’s battle, intoxicated as if by music, he remarked to his ministerial chief of staff: “Major, wouldn’t it be a blessed thing if God would give us a glorious victory today?” One who overheard him said that as he spoke he wore the expression “of a child hoping to receive some favor.”

But, childlike, having received it, he was by no means satisfied. He wanted more. That night he issued orders for Ewell to leave a reinforced brigade in front of Frémont and march the rest of his division through Port Republic to join the other wing for a combined assault on the Union troops beyond the river. Once Shields was properly broken up, they could both return and fall on Frémont, completing the destruction Ewell had begun today.

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