1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Jackson's Valley Campaign - The Battle of Harrisonburg

Discussion in 'Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson' started by James N., Jun 5, 2015.

  1. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    6,075
    Location:
    East Texas
    DSC03266.JPG

    Following Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson's stunning twin victories at Front Royal and Winchester over the small army of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks May 23 - 25, 1862, the Federal general now derisively called Commissary Banks retreated all the way across the Potomac to escape, reorganize, and replace his losses of men and materiel. In order to keep up the pressure and continue to divert units from joining the Federal host gathering near Richmond, after a short rest at Winchester Jackson again moved northward, some of his troops going as far as Charlestown and Harpers Ferry in what is now the state of West Virginia. President Abraham Lincoln took the direction of troops moving to intercept Jackson upon himself, ordering the divisions of Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont west of the Shenandoah Valley and those of Brig. Generals James Shields and Edward Ord east of the Blue Ridge Mountains to converge on the tiny town of Strasburg, thereby cutting off and isolating the Confederates in their exposed position as shown on the map below.

    Jackson_Valley_Campaign_Part2.png
    Attribution: Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

    Once Jackson received word of the Federal pincer movement he lost no time in retracing his steps to avoid being either isolated or having his column attacked while on the march. He ordered the division of Maj. Gen. Richard Ewell to hold open the road at Strasburg against Fremont while his rearmost unit, the Stonewall Brigade marched rapidly all the way from Schoolhouse Ridge outside Harpers Ferry. As they approached Strasburg, men of the Stonewall Brigade heard desultory firing as Ewell held back the vanguard of Fremont's army. Meanwhile, Shields had arrived at nearby Front Royal only ten miles to the east. Jackson led his now-reunited force south up the Valley Pike all the way to Harrisonburg near the southern terminus of Massanutten Mountain which divides the Shennandoah into the Main Valley to its west and Luray Valley to its east.

    DSC03265.JPG

    The sometimes sluggish Fremont had received a jolt in the person of Col. George D. Bayard whose brigade of cavalry had joined the Pathfinder near Strasburg; originally attached to Shields' division, Bayard proved an aggressive pursuer of the elusive Confederates. As Bayard dogged Jackson south to Harrisonburg, skirmishes with the cavalry screen commanded by Brig. Gen. Turner Ashby became a daily occurrence. Leaving Harrisonburg the afternoon of June 6, Jackson turned from the Valley Pike east onto a lesser road which led to the hamlet of Cross Keys and on to the town of Port Republic. A short distance outside Harrisonburg Ashby drew up his cavalry to oppose the pursuit.

    june6ashbydeath.jpg
    Above, left to right: English soldier-of-fortune Col. Sir Percy Windham, captured at the outset of the battle; Brig. Gen. Turner Ashby, probably the only general on either side in the war to be photographed in death; and Lt. Col. Thomas Kane of the Pennsylvania Bucktail Regiment, who was also captured.

    Bayard's leading regiment was the 1st New Jersey Cavalry led by English soldier-of-fortune Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, who supposedly had boasted that in the next fight he would "bag" Ashby. However, when Windham's horsemen charged, they were met by intense fire and turned and fled; it was instead the unhorsed Wyndham who found himself "bagged"! Outraged at the behavior of his men, Windham was led to the rear as Confederate infantry of the 1st Maryland Regiment entered the fight; at the same time Union sharpshooters, 150 men of the Pennsylvania "Bucktails" regiment stiffened the Union side. Ashby prepared to lead the Marylanders in a charge when he was shot and instantly killed by one of the Bucktails; the monument seen above and below marks where the noted cavalryman fell.

    DSC03264.JPG

    The outnumbered Bucktails withdrew after losing their Colonel Thomas Kane who was also wounded and captured; this brought an end to this small affair which cost the South one of its best partisan leaders. Jackson continued his withdrawal to Cross Keys where he left Ewell to confront Fremont the following day while Jackson's Division took position along the road nearer Port Republic.

    DSC03298.JPG

    Following the war, remains of the Confederates who fell in the battles at Harrisonburg, Cross Keys, and Port Republic were brought into Harrisonburg and reinterred in a section of the town cemetery seen here. Union fatalities were relocated to National Cemeteries like the one at Winchester.

    DSC03299.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2016

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. truthckr

    truthckr Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,204
    Location:
    Waynesboro, Virginia
    Great photos and description. JMU has grown up at the south side of the Turner Ashby Memorial. Most people have no idea it's even on top of the hill, even with great signage.
     
  4. Frederick14Va

    Frederick14Va First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,481
    Location:
    Virginia
    Very nice write up and synopsis of the campaign. Spent a lot of time exploring and venturing up and down the valley in past years... (was dating a girl that lived in Harrisonburg at the time, worked at New Market Museum)... so we would seek out all the lessor known historical sites around the valley she knew about as well... Actually will be up around Cross Keys next weekend working with a Civil War Kids Camp program...
     
  5. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2013
    Messages:
    3,137
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Nice presentation, James!

    My wife and I visited this spot last September.

    I was very impressed with the JMU campus.

    We spent the night just south of this campus. We visited the Cross Keys and Port Republic battlefields the next day.
     
    truthckr likes this.
  6. dlavin

    dlavin Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Messages:
    956
    Location:
    North Balt Co., MD
    I want your job. Lol. Great write up. Someone told me that doing a Valley Campaign tour is worth the trip.
     
    James N. likes this.
  7. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    6,075
    Location:
    East Texas
  8. SharonS

    SharonS Private

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I can't tell you how much I love your Valley Campaign series. About Harrisonburg...I always thought it was considered some kind of rear guard action rather than an actual battle. But the marker there obviously says otherwise.
     
    James N. likes this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Loading...

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)