The Mistakes of the Federal Commanders at Cross Keys and Port Republic

Stonewall Jackson

by Joshua Horn
from Conquering the Valley by Robert Krick

On June 8th, 1862, the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley, commanded by Stonewall Jackson, was camped near Port Republic, a small village near the convergence of South River and North River into the South Fork of the Shenandoah. Two Federal armies commanded by Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont and Maj. Gen. James Shields respectively were converging on Jackson from two different directions. Richard Ewell, Jackson's second in command, faced Fremont north of Port Republic, near a small crossroads called Cross Keys, and Shield's army was preparing to move toward Jackson at Port Republic from the east. In the next two days, June 8th and 9th, the Confederates fought and won two battles. If the Confederates had lost these battles, Richmond would have been captured, and the war would have been over. These victories were won primarily because of the mistakes that the Union Generals made. We will now look at those mistakes in detail.

On June 8th the Federal army under Fremont moved out to attack Ewell, whose troops were placed in a strong position on a wooded hill overlooking a stream. General Trimble, commanding the brigade on the right, obtained permission from Ewell to advance his troops to a strong position across the creek. Soon after he moved there, they saw a single Union regiment, the 8th New York, moving toward them across the field. The Federals advanced and drove in the Confederate skirmishers. Skirmishers are a thin line of men in front of a larger body, to alert the main body of any enemies that are ahead. As the Federals marched across the field, suddenly the hidden Confederates jumped up from behind a wooden fence and poured in a volley. The 8th NY was destroyed. They suffered more than 250 casualties, making that volley one of the deadliest in the entire war. This regiment suffered these loses because of a simple mistake that their commanding officer made. He should have sent ahead two or more companies as skirmishers. If the 8th NY would have done this, they would have been alerted of the presence of Confederates ahead, and would not have suffered these terrible casualties.

On the center and left, after heavy artillery duel, two Union brigades moved forward and engaged in a firefight with the Confederates. By this time Fremont's left was being driven back by repeated attacks by Trimble, and he decided to stop the attack after a short time. This was virtually the end of the battle of Cross Keys. Fremont attacked the left and center very badly. There was no chance that the Unions could take the Confederate's strong position on the ridge by simply marching up to it and opening fire. Fremont was too cautious in his attack. He should have attempted a flanking movement, or at least charged the Confederate line vigorously. He did nether, and consequently lost the battle of Cross Keys.

A Civil War Battle

On the night of June 7/8, Jackson decided to pull Ewell from in front of the defeated Fremont, and concentrate his entire army on the advance force of Shield's army, under the command of General Erastus B. Tyler. On the morning of June 8th, Jackson's army began to move slowly across a rickety wagon bridge built during the night. The soldiers could only cross in single file, and so the troops were very slow in crossing. As soon as the Stonewall Brigade crossed the bridge, Jackson sent them forward. Tyler had placed his cannons in a very good position on a hill called the Coaling. There they could sweep the plain below across which the Confederates were advancing. Jackson split the Stonewall Brigade into two groups, sending half to capture the Coaling, and half to make a feint on the plain. Tyler therefore moved his troops into position between the Coaling and the Shenandoah River. This was a mistake. Instead of positioning his troops to resist the Confederate feint, he should have put many more troops to guard the Coaling.

The next problem is that Tyler used his reserves, the 84th and 110th Pennsylvania, unwisely. As the Confederates attacked different portions of the line, he moved the reserves to the threatened part of his line. But when the reinforcements reached the threatened part, the crisis was already over. Therefore when the Confederates attacked the Coaling in strength, the reserves were on the other side of the battlefield. If the 84th and 110th PA had been on the scene, the Confederates would probably have lost the battle. Tyler did not realize that the Coaling was the key to the location, and so he did not focus his reserves on that area.

The last mistake that the Union generals made at the battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic was Fremont's. After Jackson pulled back Ewell's troops from in front of Fremont, he pursued very slowly. The troops and officers even had time to make breakfast. They did not march the five miles to Port Republic until noon, and by then the Confederates had burned the bridge over the North River, which meant that Fremont was stranded on the other side within sight of Tyler's retreated army. If Fremont had pursued vigorously, the Federals could have easily destroyed Jackson's army, which was having trouble enough with just Tyler. This one mistake of not pursuing cost the Unions the battle.

We have just examined five of the Union commander's mistakes at the battles of Port Republic and Cross Keys. These are that the 8th New York Regiment moved toward the Confederate position without skirmishers, that Fremont did not attack Ewell's center vigorously, that General Tyler did not put enough troops on the Coaling, misused his reserves, and finally Fremont pursued the Confederates slowly. These mistakes resulted in the defeat of the Federal armies, which greatly outnumbered Jackson. This defeat had great implications on the war. At this time as Jackson was fighting in the Shenandoah Valley, Gen. George B. McClellan was sieging Lee at Richmond. If Jackson had been defeated at Port Republic, he could not have reinforced Lee and defeated McClellan during the Seven Day's battle. If Fremont and Tyler had defeated Jackson, the war would have ended much sooner. The battles of Port Republic and Cross Keys are great examples of how little things can have great impact.

1 Krick, Robert K. Conquering the Valley (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2002) p. 179

The Great Christian Revolution Essay


The Doctrines Of Grace Tie In With The Reformation

Stephen Horn
based on The
Great Christian Revolution
Otto Scot

The Great Christian Revolution is mainly about the Reformation in England, but it talks about the Reformation in some other countries as well. The Reformation in England was a great work of God. God raised up many leaders to do his works. Three of the doctrines of grace that the Reformers fought for were total depravity, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. These were doctrines that the Protestants held to and the Roman-Catholics did not. These were not the only ones that they fought for. These were things which the Protestants held and died for to reform the church in these ways. These were the important issues in their days, and they are still important in our day too. Disagreeing with these is
Arminianism, which is still alive in our culture today.

The first doctrine to discuss that they got wrong is the doctrine of total depravity. The Roman-Catholics held to this doctrine because they are at nature Arminian. They say that man can save himself, and that leads to that man still has a spark of good in him, or that the body is evil but the mind is good, which are both wrong. This was a doctrine that the Reformers thought was important and some even died for this doctrine. The Roman Catholics also believed that the pope was not sinful, and he was actually the representative of Jesus Christ. They believed he was a perfect man and could say anything he wanted and could do anything that he wanted. The Roman-Catholics were not the only one who had this problem. “‘The King,’ James said, ‘is above law.’ He asserted that Kings were not only God’s ‘lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself are called Gods.’”1 Which is a false quotation of the bible because God does not say that. The verse that he is paraphrasing is, Psalm 82:6, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” This passage certainly does not prove the divine right of Kings. If it did, then it means that everyone who is saved is a God too. The Roman-Catholics believed that the pope was in the place of God. They believed that he could save people, or excommunicate someone. When the Church of England rose, the Roman-Catholics fell. The Roman-Catholics believed that you could save yourself by buying things from them because they were greedy and being a priest or a clergy man was a business, not a religion. The Roman-Catholics Priests supposedly were righteous and they fasted and prayed, but really they used the money they got for worldly pleasures. They were righteous on the outside and dirty on the inside like the Scribes and
Pharisees as it says in Matthew 23:25-28:

Woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of
the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and
excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the
cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited
sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within
full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also
outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of
hypocrisy and iniquity.

The Roman-Catholics believed that you could do things to make yourself be saved and you could resist the grace of God.

The Roman-Catholics believed that people could choose to be saved or could choose not to be saved. This doctrine got pushed out by the reformation as in:

During the Dort
synod of 1619 the Remonstrants, or Arminians, were emphatically
rejected. The English clergymen voted, together with the majority, to
uphold Calvin's principles in their entirety, including the
irresistible Grace of God and Man’s inability to determine
God’s judgment.2

Thisis what was ruled by the synods once they had been reformed and they decided that Calvinism was correct and Arminianism was wrong. This was only on the outside as, “Behind the scenes in England,
however, Arminianism found an increasingly warm reception, especially inside the Church of England.”3

“Dissenters from Calvinism came increasingly to be identified
as a group, and they in turn felt obliged to seek out allies in
defense of a common cause.”4

The Dort Synod showed that the clergymen were with Calvinism, but
there were still Arminians behind the scenes which were growing
larger because they were in favor by the church of England. This was
not the only party they were in favor with, they “found tacit
allies among the Humanists...and even among
cs...One of the first English Arminians was Lancelot
Andrewes, Master of Pembroke College, Oxford...and his contemporary
John Overall, Regius Professor of divinity. Andrewes became Bishop of
Winchester, and supported in eminence by his fellow Arminian Richard
Niele, Bishop of Durham...”5
As is seen here that they were embraced by Catholics and Humanists
alike, all in the general cause of fighting Christianity. This
doctrine was pushed out, but was pushed back in. The opposite of
irresistible grace is one of the main doctrines of Arminianism, and
Roman-Catholicism. They believed that you could chose to be saved,
and if you did, then you could chose not to be saved

The Roman-Catholics and Arminians also opposed the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, because it follows that if you can choose to be saved, you can choose not to be saved when you are saved. The Protestants and Calvin did not hold to this because they believe that God saves them, and their salvation is sure. We can say like David in 2 Samuel 22:3, “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.” The Roman-Catholics can not say this, because they think that they save themselves, and they are their own shields. They believe that they help God to save them, and God helps them to stand fast, but they canfall away unless they are the elect.

These three of the
doctrines of grace that the Reformers fought for were total
depravity, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. These
were not the only ones that they fought for, they also fought for
other doctrines, like the sufficiency of Scripture. Of these
doctrines the most important one is total depravity, because if you
do not think that you are totally depraved, then it follows that you
have some good in you so that you can decide if you want to be saved,
and if you want to stay saved. Total depravity is the root of the
other two, even though the Reformation fought hard against all of
them, because they were all problems.

John Rushdoony, The Great Christian Revolution,
ed. (California: Ross House Books) p.199



Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism, c. 1590
– 1640
, 1st
ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 87 As quoted in
p. 202

op. cit., p. 202

Church Life Conference

A few weekends ago we went to an NCFIC conference at our church on church life. The speakers were Scott Brown, Jason Dohm, Steve Breagy and Daddy. Daddy spoke twice. In one message he went through our church service and explained the Biblical reasons for what we do. His other message was called, When Church and Culture Clash. He spoke a lot on the Sunday school movement, and one of his main points is that we have to obey God even when we think that we have better ideas.

Mr. Brown

Mr. Breagy


This is Daddy, Mommy and Rachel listening to the messages

Playing airsoft with our friend

Last week, two of our friends, Jonathan, and Sarah, stayed with us because their parents were in California at a conference. We had a lot of fun with them. They stayed from Wednesday morning until Sunday morning. On Friday and Saturday, we played airsoft (which is a game where everyone has a gun that shoots plastic bb's and you shoot each other) and had a lot of fun. Jonathan brought his airsoft gun, but there was a problem with it that we could not fix so he used one of ours. It was broken, but it still worked a little so he used it. I had a rifle that had a magazine that could hold 20 bb's, Jonathan had one that had no magazine and you had to stick the bb into the barrel, and Joshua had one that had a magazine that held 12 bb's, but he had two cartridges.

At first we had Jonathan and Joshua against me. They hit me twice, and I hit each of them once, so we called it a tie even though there was one of me and two of them, so they should have been able to hit me better. They would not have hit me any, except that I was trapped in a trench, and they hit me twice as I climbed out.

After that we tried Jonathan and I against Joshua. Jonathan's gun did not shoot very far, and was not accurate, so he would get close to shoot Joshua. I had bare feet so it took me longer to get up to where they were fighting. Jonathan hit Joshua twice, and was hit three times. Joshua knew that my gun was more accurate, so he would shoot Jonathan, and then when I came up he would retreat, and it would happen again. Joshua hit Jonathan three times more like this, so Jonathan and I decided to switch. We were more successful then. When we decided to be done we had hit Joshua seven times, but he hit Jonathan eight times, and me zero times. Then, Joshua and Jonathan had a battle in the front yard, and I took pictures. Jonathan had my shotgun and the pistol, and Joshua had his pistol. These are the pictures of the fight that ensued.

Joshua behind his stump

Jonathan holding my shotgun

Joshua ready for action

Joshua aiming

Jonathan behind the fort

Joshua cocking his gun

Jonathan and Joshua

Picking up the bb's afterward

Looking down the barrel of my shotgun

Shooting a Possum

Also, when our friends Jonathan and Sarah were at our house we trapped a possum. We had set the trap, and were hoping to catch a possum. We had set it in the morning, and a cat(not our cat,) came into it in the afternoon. We saw the possum after dinner, and Joshua went out there and threw his shoe at it. We put our cat's food bowl on a swing. The possum is not tall enough to get on the swing, so he sticks his nose up through the hole, and tips the food bowl over and eats the food off the porch. It is kind of funny to watch the possum do it. The trap was closed, and Joshua said watch the opening, there is something in it, and he let it go. Sure enough there was something in it, a fat orange cat. It is a neighborhood cat so we would not want to have shot it.

We set the trap again, and sure enough the stupid possum went in it. The next day, we went out, and saw that the trap was set. We looked in there and saw the possum. Before that, however, we went to the Durham Book Sale(see the post about the last time we went there.) When we got back it was almost lunch time, but we shot it before lunch. Possums are marsupials, which means that they have pouches, like kangaroos. Once we shot it, the baby possum decided to come out of its pouch. At the time we thought it was giving birth, but we realized that it was wrong.

Daddy wheeling the possum trap

Joshua getting ready

Joshua shooting at it once it was dead

Visiting the Duke Gardens

We went to the Duke Gardens in Durham a few weeks ago, with my friend Sarah, who was staying at our house. There were a lot of flowers starting to bloom like pansies, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and others. We spent a good bit of time there, but the only problem was that it started to rain a little, so we ended up leaving sooner than we probably would have otherwise.
The main entrance into the gardens

A tulip and pansy bed

A bridge

Little daffodils

Some hyacinths blooming (one of my favorite flowers)

A mallard duck swimming in a pond

A weeping cherry tree

Shooting a .22

Today, my brother and I both shot his .22 rifle. It looks like a Winchester, but it was made by a different company. We used a metal can and a plastic milk jug for targets. By the end, the metal can was full of holes, and the milk jug had a lot of holes too, but it was bigger so it did not seem like it had as many holes. If you hit the target, it would fly up in the air, and land a few feet off. If you hit the ground next to the target the leafs would fly up everywhere. First we did short range target practice, and then we did long range target practice. I do not know if Joshua or I was more accurate, since we were not having a contest, but we had a lot of fun. We tried very hard to get a picture of fire coming out of the end of the barrel, and we have a picture of the exact moment it
fired, and we are sure that no fire comes out of the barrel. It did not make much smoke either.

Joshua just barely missed the target and the leaves are flying

Joshua about to shoot his gun

Me shooting his gun at long range

Joshua shooting at long range

Joshua holding the gun