Battle of McDowell, 8 May 1862

The second battle of Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 (American Civil War). Despite suffering a defeat at the first battle of Kernstown (23 March 1862), Jackson’s attack had briefly stopped the transfer of Union troops east to join McClellan on the Peninsula. However, by the end of April, one of General Bank’s three divisions had already moved east, and a second was about to move. To the south west, Jackson also faced a threat from General Fremont, in charge of the Mountain Division of West Virginia. Fremont was actually hoping to cross the mountains into Unionist East Tennessee, but could also threaten Jackson.

Battle of McDowell
McDowell, battle of:
8 May 1862

Jackson’s plan of attack made great use of the railway system. First, he headed east across the Blue Ridge Mountains to Charlottesville. Everyone believed he was leaving the valley to reinforce Lee at Richmond, but instead he took another railroad, southwest to Staunton, before heading even further west to McDowell. There he found a small detachment from Fremont’s 25,000 men, which he defeated heavily enough on 8 May to stop Fremont’s invasion of East Tennessee before it had even started. Later in the summer, when Fremont’s army took part in the Union attempt to capture Jackson, this first encounter may have played a part in its sluggish movement.

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 McDowell, 8 May 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_mcdowell.html

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