In the Shenandoah Valley and the alarm of Washington.
Men Jackson could afford to lose: Confederate prisoners captured in the Shenandoah
These two hundred Confederate soldiers captured the day after “Stonewall” Jackson's victory at Front Royal, were an insignificant reprisal for the damage done to the Federal cause by that dashing and fearless Confederate leader.
When Richmond was threatened both by land and water in May, 1862, Johnston sent Jackson to create a diversion and alarm the Federal capital.
Rushing down the Valley of the Shenandoah, his forces threatened to cut off and overwhelm those of General Banks, who immediately began a retreat.
It became a race between the two armies down the Valley toward Winchester and Harper's Ferry.
Forced marches, sometimes as long as thirty-five miles a day, were the portion of both during the four weeks in which Jackson led his forces after the retreating |
Federals, engaging them in six actions and two battles, in all of which he came off victorious.
Just after these prisoners were taken, Banks
was driven back to the Potomac
Once more a panic spread through the North
, and both the troops of Banks
were held in the vicinity of Washington
for its defense.
's purpose was accomplished.
He had held Banks
in the Shenandoah Valley until McClellan's Peninsula Campaign was well advanced.
Then again by forced marches his men disappeared up the Valley
to join Lee
in teaching the overconfident Union administration that Richmond
was not to be won without long and costly fighting.
But a year later the Confederacy
lost this astonishing military genius.
Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible, and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow. . . . The other rule is, never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail.--“Stonewall” Jackson.
The main move of the Union
army, for 1862, was to be McClellan
's advance up the Peninsula
Everything had been most carefully planned by the brilliant strategist.
With the assistance of McDowell
's corps, he expected in all confidence to be in the Confederate
capital before the spring had closed.
But, comprehensively as he had worked the scheme out, he had neglected a factor in the problem which was destined in the end to bring the whole campaign to naught.
This was the presence of “Stonewall
in the Valley of Virginia
The strategic value to the Confederacy
of this broad, sheltered avenue into Maryland
Along the northeasterly roads the gray legions could march in perfect safety upon the rear of Washington
so long as the eastern gaps could be held.
No wonder that the Federal
authorities, however much concerned with other problems of the war, never removed a vigilant eye from the Valley
had taken possession of Winchester
, near the foot of the Valley
, in November, 1861.
He then had about ten thousand men. The Confederate army dwindled greatly during the winter.
At the beginning of March there were but forty-five hundred men. With Banks
and his forty thousand now on Virginia
soil at the foot of the Valley
, and Fremont
“Stonewall” Jackson at Winchester 1862
It is the great good fortune of American hero-lovers that they can gaze here upon the features of Thomas Jonathan Jackson precisely as that brilliant Lieutenant-General of the Confederate States Army appeared during his masterly “Valley Campaign” of 1862.
Few photographers dared to approach this man, whose silence and modesty were as deep as his mastery of warfare.
Jackson lived much to himself.
Indeed, his plans were rarely known even to his immediate subordinates, and herein lay the secret of those swift and deadly surprises that raised him to first rank among the world's military figures.
Jackson's ability and efficiency won the utter confidence of his ragged troops; and their marvelous forced marches, their contempt for privations if under his guidance, put into his hands a living weapon such as no other leader in the mighty conflict had ever wielded. |
army approaching the head, why should the Federal
commander even think about this insignificant fragment of his foe?
But the records of war have shown that a small force, guided by a master mind, sometimes accomplishes more in effective results than ten times the number under a less active and able commander.
The presence of Banks
to withdraw to Woodstock
, fifty miles south of Winchester
ever experienced any anxiety as to affairs in the Valley
, it seems to have left him now, for he ordered Banks
on March 16th to cover Washington
, leaving General Shields
and his division of seven thousand men to hold the Valley
heard of the withdrawal, he resolved that, cut off as he was from taking part in the defense of Richmond
, he would do what he could to prevent any aggrandizement of McClellan
hastened to his station at Winchester
, and Jackson
, on the 23d of March, massed his troops at Kernstown
, about three miles south of the former place.
Deceived as to the strength of his adversary, he led his weary men to an attack on Shields
' right flank about three o'clock in the afternoon.
He carried the ridge where the Federals
were posted, but the energy of his troops was spent, and they had to give way to the reserves of the Union
army after three hours of stubborn contest.
The Federal ranks were diminished by six hundred; the Confederate
force by more than seven hundred.
was a Union victory; yet never in history did victory bring such ultimate disaster upon the victors.
the alarm was intense over Jackson
's audacious attack.
' division of Banks
' troops was halted on its way to Manassas
and sent back to Winchester
's division, nine thousand strong, to Fremont
These things were done at once, but they were by no means the most momentous consequence of Kernstown
The President began to fear that Jackson
's goal was
McDowell and McClellan-two Union leaders whose plans “Stonewall” Jackson foiled
In General McClellan's plan for the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, General McDowell, with the First Army Corps of 37,000 men, was assigned a most important part, that of joining him before Richmond.
Lincoln had reluctantly consented to the plan, fearing sufficient protection was not provided for Washington.
By the battle of Kernstown, March 23d, in the Valley of Virginia, Jackson, though defeated, so alarmed the Administration that McDowell was ordered to remain at Manassas to protect the capital.
The reverse at Kernstown was therefore a real triumph for Jackson, but with his small force he had to keep up the game of holding McDowell, Banks, and Fremont from reenforcing McClellan.
If he failed, 80,000 troops might move up to Richmond from the west while McClellan was approaching from the North.
But Jackson, on May 23d and 25th, surprised Banks' forces at Front Royal and Winchester, forcing a retreat to the Potomac.
At the news of this event McDowell was ordered not to join McClellan in front of Richmond. |
. After consulting six of his generals he became convinced that McClellan
had not arranged proper protection for the city.
and his corps of thirty-seven thousand men were ordered to remain at Manassas
grew to greater importance in the Federal
was made entirely independent of McClellan
and the defense of this region became his sole task.
, to his great chagrin, saw his force depleted by forty-six thousand men. There were now four Union generals in the East
operating independently one of the other.
with eight thousand troops on the upper Rappahannock
and General Johnson
with two brigades were now ordered to cooperate with Jackson
These reenforcements were badly needed.
, of Fremont
's corps, began to threaten Johnson
, with twenty thousand, was near Harrisonburg
The Confederate leader left General Ewell
to watch Banks
while he made a dash for Milroy
He fought them at McDowell
on May 8th and they fled precipitately to rejoin Fremont
The swift-acting Jackson
now darted at Banks
, who had fortified himself at Strasburg
stopped long enough to be joined by Ewell
He did not attack Strasburg
, but stole across the Massanutten Mountain
unknown to Banks
, and made for Front Royal
, where a strong Union detachment was stationed under Colonel Kenly
Early on the afternoon of May 23d, Ewell
rushed from the forest.
and his men fled before them toward Winchester
A large number were captured by the cavalry before they had gotten more than four miles away.
Banks at Strasburg
realized that Jackson
was approaching from the rear, the thing he had least expected and had made no provision for. His fortifications protected his front alone.
There was nothing to be done but retreat to Winchester
Even that was prevented by the remarkable speed of Jackson
's men, who could march as much as thirty-five
miles a day. On May 24th, the Confederates
overtook and struck the receding Union flank near Newtown
, inflicting heavy loss and taking many prisoners.
Altogether, three thousand of Banks
' men fell into Jackson
This exploit was most opportune for the Southern
It caused the final ruin of McClellan
received one more attack from Ewell
's division the next day as he passed through Winchester
on his way to the shelter of the Potomac
He crossed at Williamsport
late the same evening and wrote the President
that his losses, though serious enough, might have been far worse “considering the very great disparity of forces engaged, and the long-matured plans of the enemy, which aimed at nothing less than entire capture of our force.”
now rescinded his resolution to send McDowell
Instead, he transferred twenty thousand of the former's men to Fremont
and informed McClellan
that he was not, after all, to have the aid of McDowell
's forty thousand men.
was coming from the west; Shields
lay in the other direction, but Jackson
was not the man to be trapped.
He managed to hold Fremont
while he marched his main force quickly up the Valley
At Port Republic
he drove Carroll
's brigade of Shields
' division away and took possession of a bridge which Colonel Carroll
had neglected to burn.
in pursuit was defeated by Ewell
at Cross Keys
immediately put his force of twelve thousand over the Shenandoah
at Port Republic
and burned the bridge.
Safe from the immediate attack by Fremont
, he fell upon Tyler
, who had not more than three thousand men between them.
The Federals made a brave stand, but after many hours' fighting were compelled to retreat.
emerged through Swift Run Gap on the 17th of June, to assist in turning the Union
right on the Peninsula
, and Banks
, baffled and checkmated at every move, finally withdrew from the Valley
The German Division sent against Jackson
Blenker's division, composed of three brigades of German volunteers, was detached from the Army of the Potomac in March, 1862, to assist Fremont in his operations against Jackson.
The German troops were but poorly equipped, many of them carrying old-pattern Belgian and Austrian muskets.
When they united with Fremont he was obliged to rearm them with Springfield rifles from his own stores.
When the combined forces met Jackson and Ewell at Cross Keys, five of Blenker's regiments were sent forward to the first attack.
In the picture Brigadier-General Louis Blenker is standing, with his hand on his belt, before the door.
At his left is Prince Felix Salm-Salm, a Prussian military officer, who joined the Federal army as a colonel of volunteers.
At the right of Blenker is General Stahel, who led the advance of the Federal left at Cross Keys. |