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When Jackson reached Kernstown his troops were very weary, Three-fourths of them had marched thirty-six miles since the preceding morning. He therefore gave directions for bivouacking, and says in his report: “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 the attack until the next day, as reinforcements might be brought up during the night.”

Jackson therefore led his men to the attack. His plan was to gain the ridge upon which the Federal right flank rested, turn that flank and get command of the road from Kernstown to Winchester in the enemy's rear. He gained the top of the ridge, but Shields was able to hold him in check until Tyler's brigade and other troops could be hurried to that flank, when Jackson in turn became the attacked party. For three hours of this Sunday afternoon the sanguinary and stubborn contest continued. The left half of the Confederate line was perpendicular to the ridge, the right half, which was mainly composed of artillery, ran along the ridge to the rear, and was thus at right angles to the other part. The brunt of the Federal attack was borne by the centre, near the angle presented by that part of the line. Fulkerson's brigade, holding the extreme Confederate left, firmly maintained its position, but the centre was thinned and worn out by the persistent Federal attacks, until General Garnett, whose brigade was there, deeming it impossible to hold his position longer, ordered a retreat. This of course caused a retreat of the whole, which was effected with the loss of two disabled guns, and from 200 to 300 prisoners.

Jackson's whole force at this time consisted of 3,087 infantry, of which 2,742 were engaged in the battle of Kernstown; of twenty-seven guns, of which eighteen were engaged, and of 290 cavalry. General Shields states his force at 7,000 of all arms. The total Confederate loss was nearly 700-the Federal is put by General Shields at less than 600.1

Weary and dispirited was the little army which had marched fourteen miles in the morning to attack a force more than double its own, and which had for three hours wrestled for victory in so vigorous a fashion as to astonish and deceive the enemy. Baffled and overpowered, it slowly retraced its path for six miles more,

1 Jackson's and Shields' reports.

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James Shields (4)
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