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Doc. 55.-the battle of Kernstown, Va.

Report of General T. J. Jackson.

headquarters Valley District, near Mt. Jackson, April 9, 1862.
Major: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle near Kernstown,1 Va., on Sunday, the twenty-third of March, 1862. On the preceding Friday evening a despatch was received from Colonel Turner Ashby, commanding the cavalry, stating that the enemy had evacuated Strasburg. Apprehensive that the Federals would leave this military district, I determined to follow them with all my available force. Ashby with his cavalry and Chews' battery were already in front. Colonel S. E. Fulkerson's brigade, consisting of the Twenty-third and Thirty-seventh regiments Virginia volunteers, and Shumaker's battery, was near Woodstock.

Brigadier-General R. B. Garnett's brigade, consisting of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-third regiments of Virginia volunteers, and McLaughlin's, Carpenter's, and Waters' batteries, was near two miles below Mount Jackson.

Colonel J. S. Burks' brigade, consisting of the Twenty-first, Forty-second, and Forty-eighth regiments Virginia volunteers, and the First Virginia battalion P. A. C. S., and Marye's battery, was near two miles above Mount Jackson. The three brigades were ordered to march at dawn of the following morning.

All the regiments except the Forty-eighth, Colonel John Campbell, which was the rear guard, arrived within a mile or two of Kernstown by two o'clock P. M. on the twenty-third, and directions were given for bivouacking. During the march, information had reached me from a reliable source that the Federals were sending off their stores and troops from Winchester; and after arriving near Kernstown, I learned from a source which had been remarkable for its reliability, that the enemy's infantry force at Winchester did not exceed four regiments. A large Federal force was leaving the valley, and had already reached Castleman's Ferry, on the Shenandoah. Though it was very desirable to prevent the enemy from leaving the valley, yet I deemed it best not to attack until morning.

But subsequently ascertaining that the Federals had a position from which our forces could be seen. I concluded that it would be dangerous to postpone it till the next day, as reinforcements might be brought up during the night. After ascertaining that the troops — part of which had marched over fourteen miles since dawn, and Garnett's and Burks' brigades, which had made a forced march of near twenty-five miles the day previous — were in good spirits at the prospect of meeting the enemy, I determined to advance at once. Leaving Colonel Ashby with his command on the Valley turnpike, with Colonel Burks' brigade as a support to the batteries, and also to act as a reserve, I moved with one piece of Carpenter's battery and Colonel Fulkerson's brigade, supported by General Garnett's to our left, for the purpose of securing a commanding position on the enemy's right, and thus, turning him by that flank, force him back from his strong position in front, which prevented a direct advance. Soon after Captain Carpenter brought up his other pieces, also McLaughlin's and Waters' batteries came forward, the eminence was reached, and the three batteries, under their respective Captains, commenced playing upon the enemy, whose position was now commanded. We continued to advance our artillery, keeping up a continuous fire upon the Federals upon our right; whilst Colonel John Echols with his regiment, the Twenty-seventh, with its skirmishers thrown forward, kept in advance and opened the infantry engagement, in which it was supported by the Twenty-first, under Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. Patton, as no other regiment of Garnett's had yet come up. Well did these two regiments do their duty, driving back the enemy twice in quick succession. Soon a severe wound compelled the noble leader of the Twenty-seventh to leave the field, and the command devolved upon its Lieutenant-Colonel, the dauntless Grigsby; great praise is due to the officers and men of both regiments. Colonel Fulkerson having advanced his brigade, consisting of the Twenty-third and Thirty-seventh, which were respectively under Lieutenant-Colonel Taliaferro, and Lieutenant-Colonel R. P. Carson, to the left of Colonel Echols, judiciously posted it behind a stone wall, towards which the enemy was rapidly advancing, and opened a destructive fire, which drove the Northern forces in great disorder, after sustaining a heavy loss, and leaving the colors of one of their regiments upon the field.

This part of the enemy's routed troops having, to some extent, rallied in another position, were also driven from this by Colonel Fulkerson. The officers and men of this brigade merit special mention. Soon after the Twenty-seventh had become engaged, General Garnett, with the Second, Fourth, and Thirty-third regiments, commanded respectively by Colonel J. W. Allen, Lieutenant-Colonel C. A. Ronald, and Colonel A. C. Cummings, moved forward and joined in the battle, which now became general.

The First Virginia battalion, P. A. C. S., under Captain R. D. Bridgford, though it unfortunately became separated in advancing, was in the engagement, and from near five to half-past 6 P. M., there was almost a continuous roar of musketry. The enemy's repulsed regiments were replaced by fresh ones from his large reserve. As the ammunition of some of our men became exhausted, noble instances were seen of their borrowing from comrades by [658] whose sides they continued to fight, as though resolved to die rather than give way. Lieutenant-Colonel Ronald, commanding the Fourth, having been injured during the early part of the engagement by being thrown from his horse, the command of the regiment devolved upon Major A. G. Pendleton. Though our troops were fighting under great disadvantages, I regret that General Garnett should have given the order to fall back, as otherwise the enemy's advance would, at least, have been retarded, and the remaining part of my infantry reserve have had a better opportunity for coming up and taking part in the engagement, if the enemy continued to press forward. As General Garnett fell back he was pursued by the enemy, who thus turning Colonel Fulkerson's right forced him to fall back. Soon after this the Fifth regiment, under Colonel W. H. Harman, came up, and I directed it to advance and support our infantry; but before it met the enemy, General Garnett ordered it back, and thus the enemy were permitted unresisted to continue the pursuit.

So soon as I saw Colonel Harman filing his regiment to the rear, I took steps to remedy, as far as practicable, this ill-timed movement, by directing him to occupy and hold the woods immediately in his rear; and calling General Garnett's attention to the importance of rallying his troops, he turned and assigned the Fifth to a position, which it held until the arrival of Colonel Burks, with the Forty-second, under Lieutenant-Colonel D. A. Laugharne. Colonel Burks and the officers and men of the Forty-second proved themselves worthy of the cause they were defending, by the spirit with which this regiment took and held its position until its left was turned by the Federals pressing upon the Fifth as it fell back.

Colonel John Campbell was rapidly advancing with his regiment to take part in the struggle, but night, and an indisposition on the part of the enemy to press further, had terminated the battle, which had commenced at four o'clock P. M.

Leaving Ashby in front, the remainder of my command fell back to its wagons and bivouacked for the night. Our artillery had played its part well, and though we lost two pieces, one belonging to Waters' and the other to McLoughlin's — the former from having upset when hard pressed by the enemy, and the latter from having its horses killed, when it was on the eve of leaving the field which it had so well swept with canister as to have driven back the enemy from a part of it, over which he was pressing near the close of the battle.

During the engagement, Colonel Ashby, with a portion of his command, including Chews' battery, which rendered valuable service, remained on our right, and not only protected our rear in the vicinity of the Valley turnpike, but also served to threaten the enemy's front and left. Colonel Ashby fully sustained his deservedly high reputation by the able manner in which he discharged the important trust confided to him.

Owing to most of our infantry having marched between thirty-five and forty miles since the morning of the previous day, many were left behind. Our number present on the evening of the battle was, of infantry 3,087, of which 2,742 were engaged; twenty-seven pieces of artillery, of which eighteen were engaged. Owing to recent heavy cavalry duty and the extent of country to be picketed, only two hundred and ninety of this arm were present to take part in the engagement.

There is reason to believe that the Federal infantry on the field numbered over eleven thousand, of which probably over eight thousand were engaged. It may be that our artillery engaged equalled that of the enemy, and that their cavalry exceeded ours in number. Our loss was: killed, six officers, twelve non-commissioned officers, and sixty-two privates; wounded, twenty-seven officers, fifty-three non-commissioned officers, and two hundred and sixty-two privates, of which number some seventy were left on the field; missing, thirteen officers, twenty-one non-commissioned officers, and two hundred and thirty-five privates. Nearly all the missing were captured. A few days after the battle a Federal officer stated that their loss in killed was four hundred and eighteen.

Their wounded upon the supposition that it bears some relation to their killed, as ours, must be such as to make their total loss more than three times that of ours. Our wounded received that care and attention from the patriotic ladies of Winchester, which they know so well how to give, and our killed were buried by the loyal citizens of that town. The hospitality of Baltimoreans relieved the wants of the captured. For these acts of kindness, on both sides of the Potomac, I am under lasting obligations. The officers and men of the various regiments and batteries deserve great praise. In consequence of Major F. B. Jones, Second Regiment Virginia Volunteers, being familiar with the locality, he was detached from his regiment and acted as a staff officer during the engagement, and from his familiarity with the country, added to his zeal and daring, rendered very valuable service.

Dr. Hunter McGuire, Medical Director, discharged his duties in a manner which proved him admirably qualified for his position.

Major J. A. Harman, Chief Quartermaster, ably discharged his duties.

Major W. J. Hawkes, Chief Commissary, with his usual foresight, had the wants of his department well supplied.

First Lieutenant G. G. Junkins, A. D. C., and A, A. A. General, faithfully and efficiently devoted himself to his duties until near the close of the engagement, when I regret to say he was captured by the enemy.

First Lieutenant A. S. Pendleton, A. D. C., who [659] is an officer eminently qualified for his duties, discharged them in a highly satisfactory manner.

First Lieutenant J. K. Boswell, Chief Engineer, rendered valuable service.

Though Winchester was not recovered, yet the more important object of the .present, that of calling back troops that were leaving the valley, and thus preventing a junction of Banks' command with other forces, was accomplished in addition to his heavy loss in killed and wounded. Under these circumstances, I feel justified in saying that though the field is in possession of the enemy, yet the most essential fruits of the battle are ours.

Respectfully your obedient servant,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General. Major T. G. Rhett, A. A. General D. N., Va.

1 This battle is generally known as the battle of Winchester (See vol. 4, Rebellion Record, page 828.)

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