Tuesday, May 8, 2012

150th Anniversary of the Battle of McDowell, VA

Today, 150 Years ago, the Valley Army of CS Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson fought a battle with forces of the Union Mountain Department at McDowell in Highland County, Virginia.

Back in March, Jackson had forcefully attacked superior Union forces around Winchester, VA at Kernstown, pinning down Union troops for the defense of Washington, DC and forcing Lincoln to allocate more men to eradicate him from the Shenandoah Valley.  Now Jackson was being pinched -- US Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks was coming up the Valley from Harpers Ferry, and troops of the Mountain Department of US Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont approached from West Virginia.  Meanwhile, a third force sat in Fredericksburg under Gen McDowell (who commanded Union forces at First Manassas).  Jackson resolved to strike Fremont's men as the emerged from the Alleghenies.

At McDowell, Jackon's 9,000 men attacked Fremont's advance guard of 6,000 under US Generals Milroy and Schenck.  Union forces attacked, but, in the end retired from the field, inflicting twice the casualties they received (256US to 500CS).  This action, however, slowed the Union advance into the Valley, causing them to fall back into modern West Virginia and gave Jackson the time he needed to turn north to face the force under Banks back around Winchester.  The chase is on!

For more description, this link goes to the National Park Service summary of the battle: http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/va102.htm

This link gives you the Civil War Daily Gazette description:

File:Jackson Valley Campaign Part1.png
The strategic situation -- Jackson's march from the Battle of Kernstown, VA 23 March, to today's fight at McDowell, 8 May 1862.  Map by Hal Jespersen

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