Port Republic was the culmination of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s diversionary campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Now roles were reversed, and the Union’s remaining forces were trying to prevent Jackson from joining his commander Robert E. Lee’s defence of Richmond. Having repulsed General Fremont’s forces at Cross Keys, Jackson moved to confront General Shields’s remaining brigade. Building a pontoon bridge across the swollen Shenandoah, initial Confederate assaults across marshy bottomlands were repulsed by Union batteries on the ‘Coaling’ Hill. However, then General Ewell arrived with reinforcements, burning the bridge behind them. Union reinforcements led by Fremont were left stranded across the river, watching helplessly as Jackson’s augmented forces stormed the ridge. Several hundred Union prisoners were taken, and the remaining Union forces retreated, leaving Jackson in complete command of the Valley – and free to link up with Lee in the east.
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