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:
HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 10, 1863.
Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON,
Actg. Adjt. and Insp. Gen., Hdqrs. Dept. of N. Virginia.
GENERAL: I returned to McDowell on May 14 from the pursuit of Generals Milroy and Schenck toward Franklin.
On the following day I crossed the Shenandoah Mountain, and encamped that night near the Lebanon White Sulphur Springs. Here the troops were halted for a short rest after their fatiguing marches, to enable them to attend divine service and to observe the fast recommended by the proclamation of the President of the Confederate States. On the 17th the march was resumed toward Harrisonburg. In the mean time, while the pursuit of the Federal troops west of the Shenandoah Mountain was in progress, General Banks had fallen back to Strasburg, which position it was understood he was fortifying. We moved from Harrisonburg down the Valley turnpike to New Market, in the vicinity of which a junction was effected with Ewell’s division, which had marched from Elk Run Valley. Leaving the Valley turnpike at New Market we moved via Luray toward Front Royal, with the hope of being able to capture or disperse the garrison at the latter place and get in the rear of Banks or compel him to abandon his fortifications at Strasburg. To conceal my movements as far as possible from the enemy, Brigadier-General Ashby, who had remained in front of Banks during the march against Milroy, was directed to continue to hold that position until the following day, when he was to join the main body, leaving, however, a covering force sufficient to prevent information of our movements crossing our lines. My command at this time embraced Ashby’s cavalry; the First Brigade, under General Winder; the Second Brigade, Colonel Campbell commanding; the Third Brigade, Colonel Fulkerson commanding; the troops recently under command of Brig. Gen. Edward Johnson; and the division of General Ewell, comprising the brigades of Generals Elzey, Taylor, Trimble; and the Maryland Line, consisting of the First Maryland Regiment and Brockenbrough’s battery, under Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart; and the Second and Sixth Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel Flournoy. On Thursday, the 22d, my entire command moved down the road leading from Luray to Front Royal, the advance (under General Ewell) bivouacking about 10 miles from the last-named place. Moving at dawn on Friday, the 23d, and diverging to the right, so as to fall into the Gooney Manor road, we encountered no opposition until we came within 1 miles of Front Royal, when about 2 p.m. the enemy’s pickets were driven in by our advance, which was ordered to follow rapidly. The First Maryland Regiment, supported by Wheat’s battalion of Louisiana Volunteers, and the remainder of Taylor’s brigade, acting as a reserve, pushed forward in gallant style, charging the Federals, who made a spirited resistance, driving them through the town and taking some prisoners. The main force of the enemy now retired a short distance beyond Front Royal, and took position on a commanding height, to the right of the turnpike. From this point they opened rifled artillery upon our troops as they advanced beyond the town. Colonel Crutchfield, chief of artillery, placed some rifled guns in position to dislodge them, and the Sixth Louisiana Regiment was moved to the left, through the woods, to flank their battery; but in the mean time Wheat’s battalion, Major Wheat, and the First Maryland Regiment, Col. Bradley T. Johnson, advancing more directly, and driving in their skirmishers, the Federals retreated across both forks of the Shenandoah, attempting in their retreat to burn the bridge over the North Fork; but before they could fully accomplish their purpose our troops were upon them, and extinguished the flames, crossed the river, the enemy in full retreat toward Winchester, and our artillery and infantry in pursuit. The cavalry, under General Ashby and Col. Thomas S. Flournoy, had crossed the South Fork of the Shenandoah at McCoy’s Ford, above the enemy’s position, for the purpose of destroying the railroad and telegraphic communication between Front Royal and Strasburg, and also to check the advance of any re-enforcements from Strasburg or the retreat of any portion of the enemy in that direction from Front Royal. Colonel Flournoy kept a short distance west of that river, and, having executed his orders, was now in readiness to join in pursuit of the retreating Federals.
Delayed by difficulties at the bridge over the North Fork, which the Federals had made an effort to burn, Colonel Flournoy pushed on with Companies A, B, E, and K, of the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, and came up with a body of the enemy near Cedarville, about 5 miles from Front Royal. This Federal force consisted of two companies of cavalry, two pieces of artillery, the First (Federal) Regiment Maryland Infantry, and two companies of Pennsylvania infantry, which had been posted there to check our pursuit. Dashing into the midst of them, Captain Grimsley, of Company B, in the advance, these four companies drove the Federals from their position, who soon, however, reformed in an orchard on the right of the turnpike, when a second gallant and decisive charge being made upon them, the enemy’s cavalry was put to flight, the artillery abandoned, and the infantry, now thrown into great confusion, surrendered themselves prisoners of war. In this successful pursuit our loss was 26 killed and wounded. Among the killed was Captain Baxter, of Company K, while gallantly leading his men in the charge. While these occurrences were in progress General Ashby, who after Grossing at McCoy’s Ford had moved with his command farther to the west, so as to skirt the base of the Massanutten Mountain, met with a body of the enemy posted as a guard at Buckton in a strong position, protected by the railroad embankment. Ashby drove back and dispersed the enemy, but with the loss of some of the most valuable of his followers, among them Captains Sheetz and Fletcher. The infantry and artillery pursued but a short distance before darkness rendered it necessary to go into camp. The results of this first day’s operations were the capture of about 700 prisoners, among them about 20 officers, a complete section of rifled artillery (10-pounder Parrotts), and a very large amount of quartermaster and commissary stores. The fruits of this movement were not restricted to the stores and prisoners captured; the enemy’s flank was turned and the road opened to Winchester. In the event of Banks leaving Strasburg he might escape toward the Potomac, or if we moved directly to Winchester he might move via Front Royal toward Washington City. In order to watch both directions, and at the same time advance upon him if he remained at Strasburg, I determined, with the main body of the army, to strike the turnpike near Middletown, a village 5 miles north of Strasburg and 13 south of Winchester. Accordingly the following morning General Ashby advanced from Cedarville toward Middletown, supported by skirmishers from Taylor’s brigade, with Chew’s battery and two Parrott guns from the Rockbridge Artillery, and followed by the whole command, except the troops left under command of General Ewell near Cedarville. General Ewell, with Trimble’s brigade, the First Maryland Regiment, and the batteries of Brockenbrough and Courtney, had instructions to move toward Winchester. Ashby was directed to keep scouts on his left to prevent Banks from passing unobserved by Front Royal. Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart, who was now temporarily in command of the Second and Sixth Virginia Cavalry, had been previously dispatched to Newtown, a point farther north and 9 miles from Winchester, with instructions to observe the movements of the enemy at that point. He there succeeded in capturing some prisoners and several wagons and ambulances, with arms and medical stores. He also advised me of movements which indicated that Banks was preparing to leave Strasburg. I accompanied the movement of the main body of the army to Middletown. Upon arriving there we found the Valley turnpike crowded with the retreating Federal cavalry, upon which the batteries of Poague and Chew, with Taylor’s infantry, promptly opened, and in a few moments the turnpike, which had just before teemed with life, presented a most appalling spectacle of carnage and destruction. The road was literally obstructed with the mingled and confused mass of struggling and dying horses and riders. The Federal column was pierced, but what proportion of its strength had passed north toward Winchester I had then no means of knowing. Among the surviving cavalry the wildest confusion ensued, and they scattered in disorder in various directions, leaving, however, some 200 prisoners, with their equipments, in our hands. A train of wagons was seen disappearing in the distance toward Winchester, and Ashby, with his cavalry, some artillery, and a supporting infantry force from Taylor’s brigade, was sent in pursuit. But a few moments elapsed before the Federal artillery, which had been cut off with the rear of the column, opened upon us with the evident intention of cutting its way through to Winchester. Our batteries were soon place,. in position to return the fire, and General Taylor was ordered with his command to the attack. After a spirited resistance this fragment of the Federal army retreated to Strasburg, and from thence made its escape through the mountains across the Potomac. A large amount of baggage fell into our hands at this point. Entire regiments, apparently in line of battle, had laid down their knapsacks and abandoned them.
Having become satisfied that the main body of Banks’ army had already passed this point on its way to Winchester, our troops, which had been halted, moved on in pursuit in that direction. The large number of wagons loaded with stores and abandoned by the enemy between Middletown and Newtown plainly indicated his hurried retreat. From the attack upon Front Royal up to the present moment every opposition had been borne down, and there was reason to believe, if Banks reached Winchester, it would be without a train, if not without an army; but in the midst of these hopes I was pained to see, as I am now to record the fact, that so many of Ashby’s command, both cavalry and infantry, forgetful of their high trust as the advance of a pursuing army, deserted their colors, and abandoned themselves to pillage to such an extent as to make it necessary for that gallant officer to discontinue farther pursuit. The artillery, which had pushed on with energy to the vicinity of Newtown, found itself, from this discreditable conduct, without a proper support from either infantry or cavalry This relaxation in the pursuit was unfortunate, as the enemy was encouraged by it to bring up, about two hours later, four pieces of artillery, which were planted on the northern skirt of Newtown and opened upon our batteries. Their fire was replied to by Captain Poague’s two rifled guns with skill and accuracy. When I overtook the advance it was thus held in check by the enemy’s artillery. We were retarded until near dark, when the Federals retreated and the pursuit was renewed. As we advanced beyond Newtown the same profusion of abandoned Federal wagons loaded with stores met the eye; but we derived no benefit from this property, as the time lost during the disorder and pillage, before referred to, and the consequent delay of our advance at Newtown, enabled the enemy to make arrangements for burning them. Shortly after leaving Newtown the advance was fired upon by a body of the concealed enemy; but they were soon driven off by the Thirty-third Virginia Regiment (Colonel Neff) and the march resumed. On reaching Burtonsville another ambuscade from the right, left, and front was encountered, and heavy firing kept up for some time. In repelling this, the Twenty-seventh (Colonel Grigsby), Second (Colonel Allen), and Fifth Virginia Regiments (Colonel Baylor) acquitted themselves with credit. Skirmishing continued during the night, the enemy ambuscading from point to point. So important did I deem it to occupy before dawn the heights overlooking Winchester, that the advance continued to move forward until morning, notwithstanding the darkness and other obstacles to its progress. The other troops were permitted to halt for about an hour during the night. In the mean time Major-General Ewell, with Trimble’s brigade, the First Maryland Regiment, and Steuart’s cavalry, which had now joined him from Newtown, and Brockenbrough’s and Courtney’s batteries, was advancing to Winchester by the turnpike from Front Royal to that place, and had occupied a position about 3 miles from the town as early as 10 o’clock in the night, and thrown forward his picket about a mile in advance of his position.
As we approached Winchester soon after dawn the enemy’s skirmishers were occupying the hill to the southwest overlooking the town. An order was given to General Winder to seize that height as speedily as possible. The Fifth Virginia Regiment (Colonel Baylot) was accordingly thrown out in advance as skirmishers, and the Second, Fourth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-third Virginia Regiments being placed in order of battle the whole line was ordered to advance, which was done in handsome style, and the position on the crest secured, although the enemy made a resolute but unsuccessful effort to dislodge our troops from so commanding a position. Two Parrott guns from the Rock-bridge Artillery and the batteries of Carpenter and Cutshaw were promptly posted on the height to dislodge a battery of the enemy which was playing from the front with great animation and effect upon the hill. At this moment a body of the enemy’s sharpshooters was seen crossing the ridge to our left between us and a battery, which soon opened an enfilade fire upon our batteries. Poague’s guns were promptly turned to the left, which compelled the infantry to seek shelter behind a stone fence, from which their fire upon our cannoneers and horses was for a while very destructive. By the well-directed guns of Carpenter and Cutshaw the Federal battery in front had now become silenced, but the battery upon the left still kept up a brisk and damaging fire. Withdrawing his battery to the left and rear, so as to avoid the exposure under which he was severely suffering, Poague opened his guns upon the enfilading battery of the enemy. He was also directed by General Winder to throw some solid shot against the stone wall, under the shelter of which their sharpshooters were pouring a fatal fire into our ranks. During these operations valuable officers and privates suffered; among the number Col. J. A. Campbell, commanding Second Brigade, was wounded. While the enemy’s artillery was playing upon our position his infantry moved to the left, as if designing to get possession of that portion of the hill immediately to the north of us. General Taylor was ordered to advance his brigade to the left and check the movement. Promptly leaving the turnpike, he passed under cover of the hill in rear of Winder, and formed his line of battle in the face of a heavy fire of artillery and musketry from the sharpshooters, the Tenth Virginia Infantry taking position upon the left and the Twenty-third Virginia on the right of his line.
Steadily, and in fine order, mounting the hill, and there fronting the enemy, where he stood in greatest strength, the whole line magnificently swept down the declivity and across the field, driving back the Federal troops and bearing down all opposition before it. In this gallant advance all the troops of General Winder joined except those left as supports to the batteries.
This successful charge being followed by the giving way of the whole Federal army, General Elzey, who had been in reserve on the Valley turnpike, was now ordered to pursue, and eagerly uniting in the general advance soon entered Winchester with the other troops. On the right the attack, under General Ewell, was executed with skill and spirit. The Twenty-first North Carolina and the Twenty-first Georgia gallantly drove back the advance post of the enemy. The Twenty-first North Carolina soon became exposed to a destructive fire from a Federal regiment posted behind a stone wall, and after suffering severely, in both officers and men, was forced to fall back. The Twenty-first Georgia, having succeeded in driving that regiment from its shelter, re-enforced its brigade. With the First Maryland on his left and Trimble’s brigade on his right General Ewell now moved toward the eastern outskirts of the town. That advance was made about the time that Taylor’s brigade was so gallantly crossing the hill and charging toward the western side of the town. This simultaneous movement on both his flanks, by which his retreat might soon have been cut off, may account for the suddenness with which the entire army gave way and for the slight resistance which it made while passing through the town. The Federal forces were now in full retreat. As our troops, now in rapid pursuit, passed through the town they were received with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of joy by its loyal people, who for more than two months had been suffering under the hateful surveillance and rigors of military despotism. Notwithstanding the fatiguing marches and almost sleepless nights to which the mass of our troops had been subjected they continued to press forward with alacrity. The Federal forces, upon falling back into the town, preserved their organization remarkably well. In passing through its streets they were thrown into confusion, and shortly after, debouching into the plain and turnpike to Martinsburg and after being fired upon by our artillery, they presented the aspect of a mass of disordered fugitives Never have I seen an opportunity when it was in the power of cavalry to reap a richer harvest of the fruits of victory. Hoping that the cavalry would soon come up, the artillery, followed by infantry, was pressed forward for about two hours, for the purpose of preventing, by artillery fire, a reforming of the enemy, but as nothing was heard of the cavalry, and as but little or nothing could be accomplished without it in the exhausted condition of our infantry, between which and the enemy the distance was continually increasing, I ordered a halt, and issued orders for going into camp and refreshing the men. I had seen but some 50 of Ashby’s cavalry since prior to the pillaging scenes of the previous evening and none since an early hour of the past night. The Second and Sixth Virginia Regiments of Cavalry were under the command of Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart, of Ewell’s command. After the pursuit had been continued for some distance beyond the town, and seeing nothing of the cavalry, I dispatched my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Pendleton, to General Steuart, with an order “to move as rapidly as possible and join me on the Martinsburg turnpike, and carry on the pursuit of the enemy with vigor.” His reply was that he was under the command of General Ewell and the order must come through him. Such conduct, and consequent delay, has induced me to require of Lieutenant (now Major) Pendleton a full statement of the case, which is forwarded herewith. About an hour after the halt of the main body had been ordered Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart, with his cavalry, came up, and renewing the pursuit, pushed forward in a highly creditable manner, and succeeded in capturing a number of prisoners; but the main body of Banks’ army was now beyond the reach of successful pursuit and effected its escape across the Potomac. Before reaching Bunker Hill General Steuart was joined by General Ashby with a small portion of his cavalry. Upon my inquiring of General Ashby why he was not where I desired him at the close of the engagement, he stated that he had moved to the enemy’s left, for the purpose of cutting off a portion of his force. General Steuart pushed on to Martinsburg, where he captured a large amount of army stores. There is good reason for believing that, had the cavalry played its part in this pursuit as well as the four companies had done under Colonel Flournoy two days before in the pursuit from Front Royal, but a small portion of Banks’ army would have made its escape to the Potomac. On the following day (26th) divine service was held for the purpose of rendering thanks to God for the success with which He had blessed our arms and to implore His continued favor.
In order to make a demonstration toward the Potomac, General Winder, early on the morning of the 28th, left his encampment near Winchester with the Fourth, Fifth, Thirty-second, and Twenty-seventh Virginia Regiments and Carpenter’s and Poague’s batteries, and took up the line of march for Charlestown by Summit Point. When about 5 miles from Charlestown he received information that the enemy was in possession of that place in heavy force. Upon being advised of this I ordered General Ewell, with re-enforcements, to his support. Notwithstanding the report of the large number of the enemy, and the expectation of re-enforcements in the course of the day, General Winder moved forward cautiously toward Charlestown, and, as he emerged from the woods, less than a mile distant from the town, he discovered the enemy in line of battle about 1,500 strong; and decided to attack them. Upon the appearance of our troops they were fired upon by two pieces of artillery. Carpenter’s battery was immediately placed in position, the Thirty-third Virginia Regiment to support it. This battery was so admirably served that in twenty minutes the enemy retired in great disorder, throwing away arms, blankets, haversacks, &c. The pursuit was continued rapidly with artillery and infantry to Halltown.
A short distance beyond that point, observing the enemy in position on Bolivar Heights, General Winder returned to the vicinity of Charlestown.
On the following day the main body of the army took position near Halltown, and the Second Regiment Virginia Infantry was sent to the Loudoun Heights, with the hope of being able to drive the enemy from Harper’s Ferry across the Potomac. In the mean time Shields was moving from Fredericksburg, on my fight, and Fremont from the South Branch, on my left, with a view to concentrating a heavy force in my rear and cutting off my retreat up the valley. To avoid such a result orders were issued for all the troops, except Winder’s brigade and the cavalry, to return to Winchester on the 30th. Directions were given to General Winder to recall the Second Regiment from Loudoun Heights, and as soon as it should return to its brigade to move with its command, including the cavalry, and rejoin the main body of the army.
Before I reached Winchester the enemy’s cavalry had appeared at Front Royal, and Colonel Conner, who held that town with the Twelfth Georgia and a section of Rice’s battery, hastily and improvidently abandoned the place, permitting not only Federal prisoners then in our possession but some of his own men to fall into the hands of the enemy. Quartermaster and commissary stores, which we had previously captured at that place, and which Major Harman in his report estimates at the value of $300,000, were, before they could be recaptured by the enemy, through the energy and vigilance of Captain Cole, assistant quartermaster Thirty-seventh Virginia Regiment, fired, with the depot and buildings in which they were stored, and destroyed. Early on the morning of the 31st the Twenty-first Virginia Regiment (Colonel Cunningham commanding) left Winchester in charge of some 2,300 Federal prisoners and moved up the valley toward Staunton. It was followed by the other troops then near Winchester, which at that time embraced all my command except that part which had been left with Winder. The command encamped that night near Strasburg.
On the following morning General Fremont, who was approaching by way of Wardensville, attacked my outpost in that direction. As it was necessary for me to maintain my position at Strasburg until Winder should arrive with his command, General Ewell was ordered, with his division, to hold Fremont in check. Other troops were subsequently sent to his support, and after a spirited resistance the enemy’s advance fell back a short distance. Toward evening Winder arrived, part of his brigade (the Second Virginia Regiment) having in one day marched 36 miles. The command being again united, the retreat was resumed toward Harrisonburg. The public property captured in this expedition at Front Royal, Winchester, Martinsburg, and Charlestown was of great value, and so large in quantity that much of it had to be abandoned for want of necessary means of transportation. Major Harman, my chief quartermaster, had but one week within which to remove it, and, although his efforts were characterized by his usual energy, promptitude, and judgment, all the conveyances that within that short period could be hired or impressed were inadequate to the work. The medical stores, which filled one of the largest store-houses in Winchester, were fortunately saved. Most of the instruments and some of the medicines, urgently needed at that time by the command, were issued to the sun genus; the residue was sent to Charlottesville and turned over to a medical purveyor. Two large and well-furnished hospitals, capable of accommodating some 700 patients, were found in the town and left undisturbed, with all their stores, for the use of the sick and wounded of the enemy. Commissary supplies, consisting of upward of 100 head of cattle, 34,000 pounds of bacon, flour, salt, sugary coffee, hard bread, and cheese, were turned over to the proper officers, besides large amounts taken by the troops and not accounted for. Sutler’s stores valued at $25,000, and for want of transportation abandoned to the troops, were captured. Quartermaster’s stores to the value of $125,185 were secured, besides an immense amount destroyed. Many horses were taken by the cavalry. Among the ordnance stores taken and removed in safety were 9,354 small-arms and two pieces of artillery and their caissons. The official reports of the casualties of my command during this expedition, including the engagements at Front Royal and Winchester, show a list of 68 killed and 329 wounded, with 3 missing, making a total loss of 400. In addition to the prisoners in Colonel Cunningham’s charge there were found in the hospitals at Winchester about 700 sick and wounded of the enemy, and at Strasburg some 50, making the total number who fell into our hands about 3,050. Those left in the hospitals were paroled. Eight Federal surgeons, attending the sick and wounded at Winchester, were at first held as prisoners of war, though paroled, and the next day unconditionally released. While I have had to speak of some of our troops in disparaging terms, yet it is my gratifying privilege to say of the main body of the army that its officers and men acted in a manner worthy of the great cause for which they were contending; and to add that, so far as my knowledge extends, the battle at Winchester was on our part a battle without a straggler.
Col. S. Crutchfield, chief of artillery, discharged his duties to my entire satisfaction. For the prompt transmitting of orders my thanks are due to Maj. R. L. Dabney, assistant adjutant-general; First Lieut. A. S. Pendleton, aide-de-camp; First Lieut. H. K. Douglas, acting assistant adjutant-general, and First Lieut. J. K. Boswell, chief engineer. Dr. H. Black, acting medical director, discharged his duties well. The commissary and quartermaster’s departments were efficiently managed during the expedition by their respective chiefs, Majs. J. A. Harman and W. J. Hawks. My thanks are also due to Second Lieut. R. K. Meade, acting chief of ordnance. Second Lieut. J. M. Garnett, General Winder’s ordnance officer, rendered valuable service in removing the captured ordnance from Winchester. For further particulars respecting the conduct of officers and men and the detail movement of troops I would respectfully call your attention to the accompanying reports of other officers. Accompanying this report are two maps, by Mr. J. Hotchkiss-one giving the route pursued by the army from Franklin, Pendleton County, Virginia, to Winchester, and during the pursuit of the enemy; the other is a map of the battlefield.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant, T. J. JACKSON, Lieutenant-General.