Shenandoah Valley 1862: Stonewall Jackson outmaneuvers the Union (Campaign)
Clayton Donnell, James Donnell
"Stonewall" Jackson's Valley Campaign saw a Confederate Army outmaneuver and defeat three times their number of Union troops in a lightning-swift campaign in the following battles: First Kernstown, McDowell, Front Royal, First Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic.
On the morning of June 9 1862, victorious Confederate troops under the command of Major General "Stonewall" Jackson began a general advance in pursuit of the withdrawing Union forces following the battle of Port Republic. This was the sixth major battle fought between Union and Confederate troops during a three-month period in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in the spring of 1862. It was also, effectively, the final battle of what became known as Jackson's Valley Campaign. The campaign, which had begun with a Confederate defeat at the First Battle of Kernstown on March 23, became a showcase for the maneuverability and mobility of Jackson's forces as, heavily outnumbered, they kept the larger Union forces pinned and down and off balance.
"Stonewall" Jackson had performed his task of keeping General McDowell's Union forces away from the Peninsula Campaign better than anyone could have expected, and following his final victory at Port Republic he was able to force march his men to join up with Lee at Richmond in time to take part in the Seven Days Battles that saved Richmond for the Confederacy.
Jackson became a legend for his actions in the Valley Campaign. His army marched over 600 miles in 48 days to win five major battles. His forces, at no time numbering more than 17,000 men, overwhelmed a combined Union force of 50,000, demonstrating in every case his ability to maneuver his troops into a tactical advantage of at least four to three.
Army of the Valley is isolated in the Shenandoah Valley at Winchester. 3. On March 9, Major-General McClellan learns that Johnston has withdrawn from Centreville and directs the Army of the Potomac to advance southward. Banks is directed to march to Winchester. 4. On March 11, Jackson abandons Winchester and withdraws to Strasburg. 5. McClellan does not perceive Jackson as a major threat and moves two-thirds of Banks’s Corps to join him on the Peninsula. 6. Banks leaves 11,000 men in the valley.
Consequence was left in the vicinity of Winchester. Jackson was indeed receiving information on the enemy’s movements. His cavalry commander Col. Turner Ashby was shadowing the Federal troops, and Jackson had his own spies gathering information. McClellan, finally operating from the Peninsula, was the focus of attention for both sides. In his March 14 address to his troops, he stated, “the moment for action had arrived, and I know that I can trust in you to save our country,” while Confederate.
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Having over 100,000 troops under his direct command on the Peninsula, he determined that in order to successfully attack Richmond he must have the support of McDowell’s corps. Lincoln was skeptical of McClellan’s arithmetic, but was willing to give him McDowell, provided a force of comparable size was left behind to protect Washington, DC. His fear was that as McClellan was maneuvering to attack Richmond the Confederate Army would sweep north and attack the Federal capital. The South could more.