Battle of Front Royal, 23 May 1862

The third battle of Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 (American Civil War). Having temporarily knocked Fremont out of the campaign at the battle of McDowell (8 May), Jackson turned back to deal with General Banks. Two of Banks’s three divisions had already been moved east to join McClellan on the Peninsula, leaving Banks vulnerable with only one division. Aware that he was suddenly vulnerable, Banks had retreated to Strasburg.

T55
Shenandoah Valley
in 1862 showing
Stonewall Jackson's
movements

This was not a great position. At Strasburg, the Shenandoah Valley was split in two by the Massanutten Mountains, which run up the middle of the valley from Harrisonburg to just north of Strasburg. Jackson advanced up the main (western) valley until he reached New Market, about half way along the Massanuttens, where he crossed over into the Luray Valley (the eastern valley). His cavalry continued up the main valley, hoping to trick Banks into stopping at Strasburg for long enough to Jackson to attack him from the rear.

Instead, Jackson found a small Federal garrison at Front Royal, at the northern end of the Luray Valley. Jackson’s 16,000 men crushed the 1,000 strong Union garrison. Only 150 men escaped. However, this brief battle lost Jackson the element of surprise, and allowed Banks to begin a rapid but skilfully conducted retreat north to Winchester.

Shenandoah Valley 1862, Clayton and James Donnell. Looks at the campaign that established 'Stonewall' Jackson's reputation as a battlefield commander, and saw him defeat a series of larger Union armies in a series of battles where he was rarely outnumbered on the battlefield. A good account of the campaign, supported by a series of useful campaign and battle maps that help demonstrate Jackson's dizzying pace of movement. [read full review]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 August 2006), Battle of Front Royal, 23 May 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_front_royal.html

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