First Battle of Winchester, 25 May 1862

The fourth battle of Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 (American Civil War). Having lost 1,000 men at Front Royal on 23 May, General Banks had

T55
Shenandoah Valley
in 1862 showing
Stonewall Jackson's
movements

managed a skilful retreat to Winchester on 24 May. However, his 6,000 men were outnumbered by over two to one by Jackson’s Confederates. At Winchester Banks stopped and turned to face Jackson in a reasonably strong position on hills south of the town. However, Jackson’s men were not to be denied. After some sharp fighting during the morning of 25 May, Banks’s men broke and fled back towards the Potomac.

While Jackson’s men rested and refreshed their supplies from Union supplies, Washington panicked. A call was issued for new troops to defend the capitol. Fremont was ordered east into the southern valley. McDowell’s corps, which was meant to be part of McClellan’s army on the Peninsula, was now held near Washington, and two divisions ordered west in an attempt to trap Jackson. This decision poisoned the already poor relations between McClellan and the administration. It was probably a poor decision, but McClellan’s almost paranoid reaction did not bode well for the future of the Peninsula campaign.

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), First Battle of Winchester, 25 May 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_winchester1.html

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