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Battle of Cross Keys
New York Times Articles

The following articles is from the New York Times, dated June 16, 1862:

THE SHENANDOAH BATTLES.; The Battle of Cross Keys, between Fremont and Jackson. Full Particulars from Our Special Correspondent. The Enemy Posted Entirely Under Cover. The Field won by the Superior Fighting of Our Troops. The Battle of Port Republic, between Shields and Jackson. THE HOTTEST FIGHT OF THE WAR. PARTIAL LIST OF CASUALTIES.

BATTLE-GROUND OF THE CROSS KEYS, Monday Morning, June 9, 1862.

          The glorious sun is looking over the hill-tops, and the smouldering ashes of our camp-fires grow gray in the early light, but the soldiers that slumber around me with their faces turned sky ward, know not that the night has passed and day dawned. Nor will they wake to the reveille, though bugle and drum play it ever so loudly. Poor pate faces, these, looking upward but seeing no sky, their lips parted as though to reproach the fate that stretched them here, but uttering no complaint. But yesterday and these men were busy with all the little problems that agitate the camp and the world, what should they eat, where should they sleep, were they well used, did their comrades encroach noon their individual rights and privileges. What care they now, whether rations are short or long, whether the supply train comes up in season or lags Behind, until the year has run its round? Their bitterest enemy, from whom yesterday they would not have borne a look, may now pluck them by the beard and no hand will be raised to resent the insult. They are wiser than they were a few hours ago; vaster problems occupy them, for they are now solving the mighty secrets that only the dead can know. The petty marches of a day will vex them no more, for they have gone on that long, eternal march whose end is never reached, and where the soldier carries neither canteen nor knapsack, musket nor blanket, -- in this case, not even a winding-sheet.

          I am writing on the ground where so many of the Eighth New-York met their doom. Seldom is a wheat field as terribly sown. The poor fellows lie around me in all postures and positions, some on the very spot where they fell, others propped up against the fences where they crawled to die. I think the horrors of the battle-field have been very much exaggerated. The features of these men, save where they have perished from strangulation or received wounds in the face, are as calm and placid as though they had died peacefully in bed. Many of them lie on their backs with their arms stretched wearily, carelessly out, in the attitude of men who have thrown themselves on the ground to rest and suddenly sunk into slumber. I noticed one man in this attitude very particularly. It was impossible to believe him dead, even when he failed to reply to repeated calls, until I endeavored to raise his head in a more comfortable position, and the rigidity of the body told that life was not there. The groans of the wounded, that form one of the great staple horrors, are mainly a fiction. Where the pain is very acute a low moaning is heard, but in the most cases they lie mutely wrapped up in their own thoughts, silent in despair. Their only request is water -- this given them, and they sink back to silence or to death. I apprehend that from a bullet wound life must ebb unconsciously away, the sufferer not knowing that it is going. Hope is so strongly developed within us that I question whether any one ever really believed himself mortally wounded. To a strong man thus suddenly struck down, it seems impossible he should die, and his spirit floats away into space while he is thinking of the glory that will redound to him from his scars. Many of our wounded have lain upon the field all night, and it is questionable whether ambulances will come to their relief much before the middle of the day. I am glad to learn from their lips that they have been kindly treated by the Southern soldiers. Two Germans have just told me how the latter came during the night, covered them over with blankets, brought them water, and in some cases washed their wounds. What I have here witnessed, entirely dispels any faint faith I ever had in what is commonly termed "rebel barbarity." When the news came of ASHBY's death, one of our officers cried like a child -- he was wounded on some field, and ASHBY, he said, came and sat by him all the night through, taking as tender care of him as though he were a brother. I am especially pleased to have learned the truth in this case from the lips of the wounded soldiers themselves, for one of the scouts came into camp a while ago saying that he had been over the field, and the wounded told him the rebels came down and teased them all night long, taking away their canteens and rifting their pockets. These stories arc rife on both sides; manufactured by knaves, they are told to [???] with the intention of engendering a mutual hate. Of nearly every prisoner taken within the past week the question has been asked: How about that courier of ours you blew away from the mouth of a cannon, Yesterday a Louisiana Tiger replied to his interlocutor: Why, you Northern men are as big fools as the Virginians we tell such stories as these about you to them, but didn't expect to find you believing them!

          I have been pretty much over the whole battle-ground of yesterday, and find my hastily-formed conclusions in only correct. The enemy in no case advanced to meet us, but lay in ambush in the wood and behind tences, pouring bolleys into our advancing columns. In choosing his position, JACKSON showed a sylvan science that should entitle him to wear an [???] leaf for an [???], as General of the Woods. Every one knows what a horror men have of encountering an unknown force -- of venturing into dark, [???] paths, where it is known that a [???] lurks, but nothing of his numbers or strength. I fancy that a [???] well posted in any respectable who is could [???] a [???] at bav -- unless the brigade knew that only a regiment was there.

          Yesterday I [???] our men as they entered a belt of forest. The enemy were shelling the woods from an opposite elevation, and huge bolts came crashing through the tree tops, scattering boughs and leaves in all directions, but of this open, known danger they seemed little afraid, breasting onward with resolute steps, but starting with nervous, convulsive fear if a leaf rustled or a twig cracked behind them. This is undoubtedly the reason that flank movements are so much dreaded. I apprehend that a hundred muskets suddenly opening fire in the rear of a regiment could scatter it in panic and confusion.

          I should like to make a few remarks on the affair of yesterday, but it is so excessively mean to sit down and criticise a game after it has been played that I refrain. Certainly had we known that a force was posted here, and a platoon disposed there; that this edge of the woods was lined with rebels, and that lower down our path through the forest was unobstructed, we could have done better. But what use to tell over like beads hours that have fled.

          In a former letter I gave you an order of battle. Gen. STAHEL, who, with his brigade, had the left, asked permission to advance. It was given him. He advanced, driving the enemy's outposts through a thin belt of woods and over an open wheat-field into quite a thick woods. It was while crossing this wheat-field in pursuit that his own Eighth New-York Regiment suffered such loss. The enemy, ambushed in the wheat on the edge of the field, behind the fence and in the woods, suddenly revealed themselves by a terrible fire that cut down nearly the whole of the two companies in advance. In accordance with their usual tactics they then gave way, and STAHEL drove them back at the point of the bayonet until he found his brigade with its batteries nearly surrounded. They pressed around the guns, but the pelting storms of grape and canister, with the rifles of my brave "Bucktails," who were detailed to the support of the batteries, held them at bay. STAHEL's command then fell back, at first in some confusion, but finally in good order, and took position on the open ground, expecting the enemy to follow, out they preferred the woods and made no pursuit.

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