Clement Anselm Evans.

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that, without orders, his army was already five miles
away from Winchester ; too far to recall them for a night
march and attack. He later followed his army and biv-
ouacked in its rear, with "Little Sorrel," in a fence
corner. The next day he marched to Strasburg, 18 miles
from Winchester, where he halted until the 15th. Banks
occupied Winchester the 1 2th, but Ashby, with his cav-
alry, many of them bold riders reared in the lower valley,
kept him so occupied in protecting the rear and flanks of
his army as well as its front, that he did not follow after
Jackson until the i8th, when he started Shields' division
in pursuit. This reached Strasburg, the sally-port of the
western middle section of the Valley, the next day, when
Jackson, leaving the gateway open, with Ashby as its
sentinel, again fell back, first to Woodstock, 12 miles, and
then to Mt. Jackson, 24 miles from Strasburg.

On the 1 6th of March, McClellan, convinced that his
grand movement on Jackson, by which he had so easily
secured control of the lower Valley, would enable him to


hold that lovely country with a small force, ordered
Banks to cross the Blue ridge, establish and strongly
intrench his command at and near Manassas, and pro-
ceed to open the railway from Washington to that point
and thence to Strasburg; then intrench a brigade of
infantry with two batteries, near Front Royal, where the
railway crosses the Shenandoah; intrench another bri-
gade at Strasburg ; build and occupy blockhouses at the
railway bridges ; leave two regiments of cavalry at Win-
chester, and keep his front covered by constantly em-
ployed cavalry well advanced — "the general object
being to cover the line of the Potomac and Washington, ' '
and, he doubtless mentally added, protect the right of
the army moving toward Fredericksburg. Banks has-
tened to comply with these orders. Shields' division was
recalled from Strasburg, and on the 20th, Williams' divi-
sion took up its line of march for Manassas.

Ashby, who kept up a constant skirmish with the Fed-
eral advance between Woodstock and Strasburg, routing
its pickets and peering into its camps, reported to Jackson
on the evening of March 21st, that the enemy had evacu-
ated Strasburg and he was following them. Jackson,
having been instructed by Johnston to hold in the valley
the enemy already there, followed after Ashby at dawn
of the 2 2d, Fulkerson's brigade from Woodstock and
Garnett's and Burks' from Mt. Jackson, all reaching
Strasburg and encamping there that night. Ashby with
200 to 300 cavalry and three cannon, attacked and drove
in the Federal pickets, about a mile from Winchester, at
5 p. m. of the 2 2d. Banks ordered his command under
arms and sent a brigade of infantry, two batteries and
some artillery to meet this attack. Ashby skirmished for
a time and then withdrew, three miles, to Kernstown, for
the night, reporting to Jackson that he had learned that
all but four regiments of the Federal army had left for
the north and that these would follow the next morning.
Ashby's information was only partly correct. The last
of Williams' division of Banks' command had marched for
Manassas the morning of the 2 2d, but Shields' division,
some 7,000 men, had not yet left Winchester.

Shields, whose arm had been broken in the skirmish
of the 2 2d, reported to Banks that he thought the attack
was only by a small cavalry force, but during the night,
as a precautionary provision, he posted Kimball's brigade


of infantry and a battery across the Valley turnpike, well
toward Kernstown, with Sullivan's brigade in supporting
distance, and covered all roads leading to Winchester from
the north, west and south. Tyler's infantry brigade and
Broadhead's cavalry he held in Winchester. On the
morning of the 23d, after a careful reconnoissance of the
front, it was concluded, as before, that only a small Con-
federate cavalry force was there, and that Jackson would
not venture so far from his support. Thus satisfied.
Banks took his departure, under orders, for Washington,
leaving his stafE to ride toward Manassas in the afternoon.

Jackson knew that a large body of Banks' men had
left the Valley and concluded, from Ashby's reports, that
but a small force remained at Winchester. This he deter-
mined to attack, with the expectation that by so doing
he could recall Banks' whole army to the Valley. At
daybreak, on Sunday, the 23d of March, he sent four
companies of infantry to support Ashby, following these
with his whole force. It was 14 miles from his camp at
■Strasburg to Kernstown, a fair day's march, so his ad-
vance did not reach Ashby until about 10 a. m. and his
main body until i p. m.

Jackson's men were much wearied by the long march
of 26 miles, that most of them had made in about a day
and a half, over a somewhat muddy stone road, so he
gave orders to go into bivouac for the night, intending
to attack, with rested troops, the next morning. On a
further examination, he found that the position he had
taken, about a mile south of Kernstown, could be seen
from Pritchard's hill, about a mile north of Kernstown,
■which was occupied by Federal artillery, and that it
would be dangerous to delay his attack, now it was known
he was present in force, as the enemy might be reinforced
during the night; so he decided to give battle as soon as
he could arrange to do so.

Ashby, with his cavalry and Chew's battery, had en-
gaged the enemy's attention from early, dawn; when
Captain Nadenbousch arrived, at 10 a. m., with his four
companies of infantry skirmishers, he again advanced and
made a spirited attack. Colonel Kimball, commanding
the Federal forces in Shields' enforced absence, met this
by more than a regiment of Ohio skirmishers, deployed
across the Valley turnpike, flanked by batteries and fol-
lowed by Sullivan's brigade. These forced Ashby to


retire, a few hundred yards, to Kernstown. When Jack-
son's main body came up, he was ordered to prepare for
the attack in force by threatening the Federal left, rest-
ing on the old Front Royal road, and also its right on the
Opequon road. To the latter he sent Major Funsten with
140 cavalry, leaving himself but 150.

Jackson mustered, on this Kernstown battlefield, 3,087
infantry, of which 2,742 became engaged; 27 cannon, 18
of which came into action, and 290 cavalry. Shields
reported that he had for fighting duty 6,000 infantry, 750
cavalry and 24 cannon. Of his thirteen infantry regi-
ments, six were from Ohio, three from Indiana, and one
each from Illinois and West Virginia ; of his artillery, two
companies were from West Virginia, two from Ohio and
one from the Fourth regular United States artillery. Of
his sixteen companies of cavalry, four were from Michigan,
two each from Ohio and Maryland, six from West Vir-
ginia, and two appear to have been regulars. McClellan's
return for March indicates that Shields had 9,000 men
present for duty at this time.

Scanning the topography of the field of battle and the
positions his foe had occupied, from a rising ground near
Kernstown, Jackson saw that a front attack would be haz-
-ardous, since the Federals were protected and concealed
by a wood on their left, while their batteries, on com-
manding hills, guarded their right and swept the roads
and open fields in their front. He quickly discovered
"that the dominating feature of the whole field was a
prominent, but rather low ridge, partly wooded and
-partly cleared, that ran northeast and southwest, nearly
parallel to the Valley turnpike and about three miles
from it where he had massed his troops, and two miles
from it where the Federal line crossed that road. This
Sandy ridge, as it was called, was about four miles long;
it sank, down, its end crossed by a cleared field, into a
large open forest at its northeastern end; this forest
-extended to and concealed the Cedar Creek turnpike,
which diverged to the west from the Valley turnpike
■some three miles beyond Kernstown.

Satisfied that he could easily flank Shields' right and
force him in retreat from his position if he could gain the
-crest of the Sandy ridge and advance to its northeastern
-end, Jackson at once proceeded to execute his designs.
;Burks' brigade was left on the turnpike, a mile south of


Kernstown, to support Ashby, guard the train and form
a reserve. Fulkerson's brigade, followed by part of
Carpenter's battery, was marched northward, as if to
attack the enemy's right center, passing bravely through
a storm of shot and shell, from Pritchard's hill, to which
Carpenter made brief reply in passing. Nearing the
Federal batteries, Fulkerson turned northwest and, rapidly
moving, soon gained and deployed across Sandy ridge, at
right angles to its trend, securing a very strong position,
on its crest, for his left, behind a stone fence overlooking
and dominating the field that extended down the slope of
the northeastern end of the ridge to the forest that reached
from the foot of that end to the Cedar Creek turnpike.
Garnett's brigade followed, but much farther to the left,
and having gained the crest of the ridge, marched along
that to Fulkerson's line, where most of it took position on
his right, thus extending a strong line of battle across
Sandy ridge and into the open field, on its eastern slope,
which extended from near the crest and overlooked the
Federal position. Jackson quickly saw its advantages
and ordered up McLaughlin's and Waters' batteries and
Carpenter's other guns, and placed them, nearly at right
angles to his infantry line, in front of the wood above this
field, supported by some of Fulkerson's men. This dis-
position of his fighters was admirable. It was a right-
angled salient with a protecting wood in the rear at each
side. The angle looked into the midst of the Federal
position ; the batteries protected his right and commanded
those of the enemy.

Ashby was ordered to keep up a bold demonstration on
the right and Jackson now opened on the left, and soon
forced his foe to withdraw from his chosen position.
Seeing that his right was in extreme danger, Kimball
promptly provided to counteract Jackson's movements.
Tyler's brigade, which at about 2 p. m. had reached the
junction of the Cedar Creek and Valley turnpikes, and
was there waiting in reserve, was ordered to vigorously
attack the Confederate left. Jackson was now master of
the situation, and unless he could be driven from his
position he would, undoubtedly, gain the day.

Tyler, equal to the emergency, marched rapidly along
the Cedar Creek road to opposite the northeastern end of
Sandy ridge, and there, concealed and protected by the
intervening forest, formed his line of battle, parallel to


and longer than Jackson's, and at 3 130 p. m. advanced to
the attack, just as Jackson had placed his men in position
and was advancing to flank Sullivan's right. Tyler's
vigorous onset was unexpected, but Fulkerson, on Jack-
son's left, behind the stone fence, met it with a wither-
ing fire, at short range, and the two attacking regiments
were repulsed with severe loss and broke to the rear, the
One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania so demoralized as
to be of no further use that day. Tyler, with his other
regiments, soon renewed the attack, which Fulkerson
again repulsed from his front, but which fiercely contin-
ued for two hours in front of Gamett. Shields says of it :
"Here the struggle became desperate, and for a short
time doubtful. ' '

Observing that the great contention was now on his
right, and that there was no fighting force to detain him
on the left, Kimball hastened six of his and Sullivan's
regiments to Tyler's left, extending his line so that in
advancing it would overlap Jackson's right and turn that
flank. Jackson made heroic efforts to meet this superior
force, inciting his thin line of weary veterans to stubborn
resistance, bringing up the Fifth Virginia, which had been
held in reserve, ordering up the Forty-second and sending
for the Forty-eighth, which had been left to guard his
train, that he might throw the last man and the last gun
into the final struggle. Tyler did not wait for Jackson
to get even these small additions to his force, but with
added strength, again led forward his men and by their
vigorous charge, the front of which fell on Garnett,
caused the Confederate line to waver, and then, by order
of its brigadier, to fall back.

Jackson, who was directing the artillery on his right and
forcing back the advancing Federals, knew nothing of
this order, and was highly indignant, when, just about
dark, his army, which he tried in vain to rally, swept by
him in retreat. Fulkerson was easily holding his posi-
tion on the left when Garnett 's retreat exposed his right
and forced him to retreat, stubbornly fighting the
superior numbers now rushing to attack him. The Fifth
Virginia was coming to his relief in this emergency when
Garnett ordered that also to retreat, but Jackson met
and halted it in the edge of a wood in rear of his former
position, and ordered the retreating infantry to form
tehind that. The Forty-second, coming up, was placed


on the right of the Fifth. These regiments and some
batteries resisted the enemy's advance, twice repulsing
their attacks, and gave the retreating men opportunity
to rally and other batteries time to withdraw. By
extending their lines the Federals iinally forced these
regiments from the field.

The mass of the Confederate army retreated along
Sandy ridge for some distance, then took a road lead-
ing to the Valley turnpike, and then, slowly but sullenly,
retired five or six miles to their trains in the vicinity of
Newtown, having lost 691 men, of whom 80 were killed,
340 wounded (some 70 of these left on the field) and 260
missing. The Federals held the field of battle, captured
two disabled guns and 200 or 300 prisoners. They made
no pursuit, and Jackson's rear spent the night where his
command had massed in the afternoon. Six days after
the battle Shields was uncertain as to his losses, but
reported his killed as 103, the wounded as 441, and the
missing as 24, a total of 568.

The day after the battle the citizens of Winchester,
mainly men past middle age, obtained permission to
bury the Confederate dead, and its noble women did all
they were allowed to do in caring for the wounded.
Jackson firmly believed that his failure was the result of
the retreat ordered by General Garnett, and circum-
stances, months afterward, showed that he continued in
that belief. To teach his subordinates a lesson, and to show
them, and others what he expected should be done under
similar circumstances, he placed Garnett under arrest
and relieved him from his command. For this he has
been censured by writers ignorant of the facts in the
case. Those who knew Jackson can testify that in this
case, as in others for which he has been blamed, he was
not animated by animosity or personal feeling. After
the Seven Days' battles, Garnett was released from arrest
and subsequently fell at Gettysburg leading a brigade.

On the 24th Jackson retired to the south side of Cedar
creek and then fell back to his former camps near Mt.
Jackson, holding the line of Stony creek which his engi-
neer, after a careful examination, had recommended as
the best one for defense in all that region.

Shields, confident that Jackson would not have brought
on such an engagement without expecting reinforce-
ments, hastened, the night after the battle, to bring-


together all the troops within his reach ; Williams was
recalled from his march toward Manassas, with the
request that his rear brigade, already 20 miles away,
should march all night and rejoin him on the morning
of the 24th. He gathered all the men he could find in
his rear to join him by forced night marches. Banks
was halted, on his way to Washington, at Harper's Ferry.
He promptly ordered back all of Williams' division and
returned at once to Winchester, retaining Sedgwick at
Harper's Ferry. Jackson's prompt action and bold
attack had completely changed McClellan's plans, and
instead of establishing Banks near Manassas with 20,000
men, he ordered him to remain in the Valley with all
these forces and sent him 10,000 more, detached from his
own army, to aid in driving back Jackson or to meet
another anticipated attack.

McClellan sent his orders to Banks on the ist day of
April, from the steamer on which he was just starting to
join his command at Fortress Monroe. Disquieted by
what had happened, Lincoln ordered the retention of Mc-
Dowell's corps in front of Washington until further
orders. On the ist of April, 73,456 men and 109 cannon
were held for the defense of that city. Of these, 18,000
were in the forts around Washington, 1,350 along the
Potomac above that city, 10,859 ^t Manassas, 7,780 at
Warrenton, and 35,467 (including the 10,000 under
Blenker ordered to him) were with Banks in the Shen-
andoah valley. When Lincoln, on the 3d of April,
detained McDowell's corps, it was, as he informed
McClellan on the 9th, because he feared that the Con-
federates might turn back from the Rappahannock and
sack Washington. On the 4th, McDowell was put in
command ol the forces between the Blue ridge and
Fredericksburg, including those in the defenses of Wash-
ington ; his command, thus made independent of McClel-
lan, was called the department of the Rappahannock;
Banks was placed in command of the department of the
Shenandoah, including that valley and its extension into
Maryland, and Fremont was put in command of the
Mountain department, embracing the Appalachian
region west of the Valley.

Jackson established his headquarters at Woodstock
March 24th, at Narrow Passage the 26th, and at Haw-
kinstown on the 29th. Banks made an advance on the


I St of April and forced Ashby's pickets back to Edin-
burg, on the line of Stony creek, which Jackson had
decided to hold. He established his headquarters at
Rude's hill, April 2d, and there remained until the
17 th, when the Federals again moved forward in force,
occupying himself, as well as the cold and raw weather,
with snow and rain would permit, in recruiting and
drilling his troops, marching them back and forth,
almost daily, from their camps to the line of Stony creek,
and otherwise keeping them in fighting trim, doing all in
his power to get to his command the regiments of Vir-
ginia militia that had been ordered to him from the
counties of Augusta and Rockingham in the Shenandoah
valley. He was greatly aided in reorganizing his army
by the anticipated general conscription bill, placing all
the able-bodied men of the country, between eighteen
and thirty-five years of age, in the military service, which
became a law on the i6th of April, as patriotic Virginians
preferred to volunteer rather than be conscripted.

When Banks again began his forward movement, on
the 17th of April, he captured some of Ashby's outposts,
but that fearless trooper turned on him at every favorable
opportunity, and forced him to contend for every mile
he made up the valley. Jackson retired before the on-
coming enemy and reached Harrisonburg, 25 miles
beyond Mt. Jackson, during the morning of the i8th.
To the east of this town the Massanutton mountains,
beginning opposite Strasburg and dividing the middle
section of the Shenandoah valley into two parts, drop off
abruptly and the valley widens to near 30 miles be-
tween the North mountain and the Blue ridge. Send-
ing all his suiplus trains and his tents on to Staunton,
with orders to bum the Valley Turnpike bridge at Mt.
Crawford after these had crossed the North river of the
Shenandoah, Jackson, at Harrisonburg, turned abruptly
to the left, abandoning the Valley turnpike and taking
the one leading from Harrisonburg around the south-
western end of the Massanutton mountains to Conrad's
store, and thence across the Blue ridge, by Swift Run
gap, to Gordonsville, halting the night of the i8th at
Peale's cross roads, six miles from Harrisonburg, and
the next day crossing the main Shenandoah to camps on
Elk run near the western entrance to Swift Run gap of
the Blue ridge; thus placing himself in a thoroughly


secure position, where he could easily hold the road lead-
ing to Ewell's division, of Johnston's army, which had
fallen back and was holding the line of the Rapidan,
taking the precaution of sending to burn the bridges
across the South Fork Shenandoah in the eastern, or
Page valley, below him.

When Banks learned of Jackson's unexpected move-
ment to the left, he informed his government that he
believed Jackson had abandoned the valley. Continuing
his tardy pursuit, his cavalry entered Harrisonburg on
the 2 2d of April and part of his infantry on the 26th.
Looking out at the broadly widening valley before him,
recalling that his base of supplies was nearly 100 miles
in his rear by a wagon road, and uncertain as to what
liad become of his elusive foe, he hesitated what to do
and asked for instructions.

Jackson, in his secure position but with his men
exposed in open bivouacs to the snow, rain and sleet that
made memorable the closing days of April, completed
the reorganization of his army, received additions by
enlistments and the Tenth Virginia, ordered to him from
Ewell's division, increasing his force to near 6,000 men;
in the meantime stimulating Ashby to keep Banks busy
guarding his encampment and his long line of commu-
nication to his rear, which presented so many favorable
points of attack to the horsemen of the Valley who knew
all its byways as well as its highways and the sally-ports
to these from the mountains on either side. He had his
engineers, as well as his cavalry, on the outlook for
opportunities to attack any exposed positions occupied
by Banks. On the 28th, Jackson appealed to Lee, now the
acting commander-in-chief of the Confederate forces, to
let Ewell's command cross the Blue ridge and join him,
that thus reinforced he might march out and attack
Banks and drive him back down the Valley, suggesting
also that some additional men could be spared him from
the force covering Fredericksburg. General Lee was
favorably impressed with Jackson's suggestion, writing,
that "a decisive and successful blow at Banks' column
would be fraught with the happiest results, but regret-
ting that the large force of the enemy now threatening
Fredericksburg would not admit of the withdrawal of
troops from that line, but suggesting that he might com-
bine the forces of Ewell and Edward Johnson with his
own, if he thought that by so doing he could hold Banks



in check. Jackson gladly accepted Lee's suggestions,
and, at his headquarters at Conrad's store, in the Elk
Run valley, worked out his plan of operations.

When Jackson retired from Harrisonburg, on the 19th,
to the Blue ridge, and left the road to Staunton, 25
miles by the Valley turnpike, uncovered, Edward
Johnson's command, consisting of six regiments of
infantry, three batteries and a small force of cavalry,
in all about 3,000 fighting men, fell back to West View,
7 miles west of Staunton, to be prepared for any
movement Banks might make in that direction ; the two
brigades of Milroy and Schenck, of Fremont's command,
that had been opposing Johnson, following him up and
establishing a Federal advance at the eastern foot of the
Shenandoah mountain, about 20 miles west of Staun-

There was no enemy in front of Ewell to prevent his
joining Jackson, as McDowell's army, now that all
threatened danger of an attack on Washington was
apparently removed, had been diverted toward Freder-
icksburg. It was different with Edward Johnson's
force. That could not be removed without endangering
Staunton, a base of supplies for Lee's as well as Jack-
son's army; that town was also on the important line of
railway leading to Richmond. This condition of things
compelled Jackson to strike his first blow at Fremont's
advance under Milroy, and thus release Johnson's com-
mand for co-operating with his. Only common country
roads led from Jackson's camp, along the western foot of
the Blue ridge, to Staunton, and these were rendered
almost impassable by the well-nigh continuous wet
weather and the freezings and thawings that character-
ized that season. To solve this difficulty, and at the same

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 22 of 153)