One feature of the Civil War that sometimes is overlooked in histories of that conflict, is that the official reports of campaigns and battles usually were written months after the event. So it was with the Valley Campaign. Jackson did not have the leisure to write-up his official report until April of 1863, a month before his death from the fatal wound he received at Chancellorsville. It would have been a great loss to the history of the Civil War if Jackson had been killed before he wrote down his report on his remarkable campaign.
In an earlier post, which may be read here, we looked at the first portion of the Valley Campaign. After chasing the Union force which he defeated at McDowell on May 8, 1862 almost to Franklin, Jackson began a return march to the Valley on May 15.
Jackson’s goal was now to drive Bank’s army from the Valley. Swiftly concentrating his troops, he struck at a Union outpost at Front Royal on May 23. With 3,000 men, Jackson swiftly routed the Union force of a 1,000, capturing two-thirds of them. Jackson’s victory at Front Royal rendered the position of Bank’s position at Front Royal untenable, and he began to retreat. Jackson pursued with the customary swiftness that caused his infantry to be dubbed “foot cavalry” and defeated Banks at the battle of First Winchester, Jackson’s 16,000 man force inflicting 2000 casualties on Bank’s army of 6500, in exchange for 400 casualties.
Jackson’s victory cleared the Valley of any substantial Union forces and caused consternation in Washington. Lincoln rapidly began assembling forces for an offensive against Jackson, and that will be the subject of a final post on the Valley campaign in June. Here is Jackson’s official report dealing with this portion of the Campaign: (more…)