By Robert L. Durham Confederate infantry on the northeastern outskirts of Port Republic in the Shenandoah Valley charged up the slopes of a ravine on June 9, 1862, against Union artillery that had been ravaging their ranks all morning. The Union cannoneers fired canister at the advancing Confederates, but they kept coming. Federal infantry protecting the battery fought back desperately. With no time to reload, the opposing infantry fought with bayonets, clubbed muskets, and fists. The Union artillerists used their rammers and extractors as bludgeons. Not even the horses escaped the bloodbath as the Confederates shot them to prevent the Union artillery from limbering their guns. The action was the turning point in two days of hard fighting in the broad expanse of the valley south of the southern terminus of the Massanutten Mountain. In spring 1862 Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, who had won fame for his determined stand with his brigade of Virginians atop Henry Hill at First Manassas in July 1861, had returned after the battle to the Union section of the Shenandoah Valley. Jackson suffered a tactical defeat at Kernstown on March 23 against Brig. Gen. James Shields’ Division, which at the time was part of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks’ army of the Union Department of the Shenandoah. Shields had been wounded in the arm by an artillery fragment the previous day, and had turned over command of his division to Colonel Nathan Kimball, who had led his troops in a well


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in