Jackson’s Valley Campaign was Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s famous spring 1862 campaign through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia during the American Civil War. Employing audacity and rapid, unpredictable movements on interior lines, Jackson’s 17,000 men marched 646 miles in 48 days and won several minor battles as they successfully engaged three Union armies (52,000 men), preventing them from reinforcing the Union offensive against Richmond.
Jackson suffered a tactical defeat (his sole defeat of the war) at the First Battle of Kernstown (March 23, 1862) against Col. Nathan Kimball (part of Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’s army), but it proved to be a strategic Confederate victory because President Abraham Lincoln reinforced the Union’s Valley forces with troops that had originally been designated for the Peninsula Campaign against Richmond. On May 8, after more than a month of skirmishing with Banks, Jackson moved deceptively to the west of the Valley and drove back elements of Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont’s army in the Battle of McDowell, preventing a potential combination of the two Union armies against him. Jackson then headed down the Valley once again to confront Banks. Concealing his movement in the Luray Valley, Jackson joined forces with Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell and captured the Federal garrison at Front Royal on May 23, causing Banks to retreat to the north. On May 25, in the First Battle of Winchester, Jackson defeated Banks and pursued him until the Union Army crossed the Potomac River into Maryland.
Bringing in Union reinforcements from eastern Virginia, Brig. Gen. James Shields recaptured Front Royal and planned to link up with Frémont in Strasburg. Jackson was now threatened by three small Union armies. Withdrawing up the Valley from Winchester, Jackson was pursued by Frémont and Shields. On June 8, Ewell defeated Frémont in the Battle of Cross Keys and, on the following day, crossed the North River to join forces with Jackson to defeat Shields in the Battle of Port Republic, bringing the campaign to a close.
Jackson followed up his successful campaign by forced marches to join Gen. Robert E. Lee for the Seven Days Battles outside Richmond. His audacious campaign elevated him to the position of the most famous general in the Confederacy and has been studied ever since by military organisations around the world.
SHENANDOAH VALLEY CAMPAIGN 1861-1862 A Study Of The Strategy And Tactics
This is one of a series of studies on campaigns and battles by Lt Col Kearsey, designed to help the student of military history, particularly those studying for Staff College, and for promotional examinations on Military History. This account was intended for officers studying Jackson’s audacious Valley Campaign during the American Civil War, and considers the battles of Bull Run, Kernstown, McDowell, Winchester, Cross Keys and Port Republic. This work is the result of a very great deal of study by a respected and decorated British Army officer who served in the Second Boer War and the First World War.