Thursday, May 24, 2012

First Battle of Winchester

First Battle Of Winchester marker A-5 on Handley Boul. Winchester, VAMarker No. A-5
City of Winchester, VA

Marker Text: On May 24, 1862, Confederate forces under Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson pursued Major General Nathaniel Banks' Union Army from Strasburg to Winchester. Banks made a stand south of Winchester, posting one of two infantry brigades on Bower's Hill, now known as Williamsburg Heights, and the other here in the plain below. In attacks the following day, Jackson routed the Union Army and drove it through the town towards Harper's Ferry.

Location: On U.S. Route 11 (Valley Avenue) 0.1 miles south of Handley Boulevard. Erected by the Conservation and Historic Resources in 1988.

  After the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, which basically resulted in eliminating the Union's 1st Maryland Infantry under the command of Col. John R. Kenly and the loss of vital communication lines, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks' Union Army based Strasburg, VA west of Front Royal. Banks believing he might be facing a larger Confederate army than actually existed moved his army north to Winchester to take defensive positions. He established his defense here near this marker on May 24.

First Battle Of Winchester  A-5 on Handley Boul. Winchester, VA

Marker is on Handley Boul. and John Handley High School is in the distance in the center of the photo.  This area is where most of fighting happened.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  This movement of both armies sets the stage for the First Battle of Winchester. The Battle to occur on May 25 would be the first of three battles to occur in and near Winchester. Other Civil War battles other than the battles called First, Second and Third Battles of Winchester also occurred near Winchester. The First Battle of Kernstown (south of Winchester) had occurred over a month earlier which began Jackson's Valley Campaign. The next year would be the Second Battle of Kernstown and in 1864 would be the Battle of Cedar Creek, occurring between Winchester and Strasburg. The Shenandoah Valley was an important military objective of both armies through the war. Many communities, like Winchester, found themselves occupied by one army or the other throughout the war.

  As described in the marker text, Bower's Hill is west of this marker behind the John Handley High School. In the above photo the high school can be seen in the distance behind the marker. Most of the features of the battlefield have been lost due to the growth of the City of Winchester since the Civil War and before individuals were working to preserve main features of the battle.

  From these positions, Banks would attempt to keep the Confederate Army under the command of “Stonewall” Jackson from taking control of the Shenandoah Valley.

1 comment:

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.