During the Civil War, Winchester, Virginia changed hands many times. The reason was its strategic position in the Shenandoah Valley affording advantage to both armies.
150 years ago today, May 25, 1862, Confederate General Jackson’s division outflanked and overran Federals stationed on Bowers Hill. The day prior, Jackson’s men had skirmished with Major General Nathaniel P. Bank’s Union soldiers in retreat at Middletown and Newtown. Afterward, Jackson’s army traveled north along the Valley Pike toward Winchester.
Jackson reconnected with Bank’s army outside of Winchester on the 25th. Although initially repulsed, Jackson’s army attached each Union flank causing the Federal line to break.
The Federal ranks panicked, fleeing through the town of Winchester. A few residents of the town fired on the retreating Union soldiers. Banks was forced to withdrawal from the Shenandoah into Maryland. But Jackson continued the fight. The Federal army listed 62 dead, 243 wounded and over 1,700 captured, while only 68 of Jackson’s men were killed with another 329 wounded.
All in all, Jackson’s 1862 valley campaign was a success. His men prevented Federal troops from applying pressure on Richmond and he won four battles against three armies. His casualties were only half of what he applied to the Federal army.
For more on the First Battle of Winchester, visit these sites: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-battle-of-winchester-virginia
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