Upon learning of Jackson’s exploits in the Shenandoah, President Lincoln ordered General Irvin McDowell to the Valley. With Banks and Fremont sent back, three Union armies were now dedicated to Jackson’s apprehension. Fremont and McDowell set off in pursuit of Jackson following, respectively, the north and south forks of the Shenandoah River. Jackson had the option to escape, but resolved to make a stand at the confluence of the rivers, near Port Republic. After achieving the repulse of Fremont at Cross Keys on 8 June (the Union cavalry almost captured Jackson during the engagement), he turned upon McDowell’s forward division, led by Brigadier General Shields (9 June). Withering fire from a spur of the Blue Ridge Mountains decimated the initial assault of the Stonewall brigade, but repeated charges eventually captured the ridge. Forced onto the valley bottomlands, the Union troops were bombarded as they retreated. Victorious, Jackson now went to Robert E. Lee’s aid.
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