Thanks to @NedBaldwin and his recommendation, when I spied this title in the stall of a book vendor in a local antique mall I snapped it up and have just finished it. It is one of a very few titles to examine fully a single battle of Stonewall Jackson's legendary 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, although since Kernstown was the first of them author Gary Ecelbarger also devotes a great deal of attention to setting up the situation that campaign had its genesis in. One of the very positive strengths of this book is the fair balance given to both sides in his excellent account which is too often told entirely or mostly from the perspective of Jackson and his men. One shadowy figure who is given a great deal of attention is Union Brig. Gen. Frederick Lander who was the original commander of the Federal division that fought at Kernstown and later at Port Republic. Ecelbarger explains how Lander molded the command into one of the few Union forces that enjoyed success in the otherwise dismal winter of 1861-62, toughening it and giving it some small victories to enhance morale. Unfortunately the often abrasive Lander fell victim to illness, dying before the Valley Campaign got underway. Replaced by the at first well-regarded and Irish-born Brig. Gen. James Shields, the division was at first assigned to the V Corps of Nathaniel Banks before being ordered to leave the Valley to join that of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell at Manassas. Shields' move brought about the battle that is really the focus of the story. The author uses many divergent and often contradictory sources to explain and illustrate what can at times be a confused and confusing series of events that have often obscured the actual ebb and flow of the battle. One very positive and welcome aspect has been his careful analysis of troop strengths and casualty figures to show that although Jackson was seriously outnumbered, it was not by the huge margin often stated: Shields' regiments had been weakened in much the same way the Confederates had, and by the same wearing effects of weather and problems of supply. Subordinate commanders on both sides also dealt with problems created by their superiors. Shields was wounded in the opening moments, and although he made some ineffectual effort to direct events from his bed in Winchester, the colonels commanding his brigades and regiments acted in many cases on their own with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, post-battle Shields attempted to grab most of the credit, leaving his able subordinate Nathan Kimball largely unrecognized. Jackson's notorious secrecy and lack of communication played havoc with the efforts of his brigade commanders, particularly Richard Garnett, Samuel Fulkerson, and to a lesser extent Turner Ashby. Garnett's subsequent efforts to exonerate himself from the charges brought against him by Stonewall are fully examined and described in the postscript. For anyone wishing an in-depth study of the first battle at Kernstown or the first phase of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign I highly recommend Ecelbarger's excellent addition to the Stonewall Jackson Bookshelf!