Friday, May 25, 2012

First Battle of Winchester

First Battle of Winchester marker A-7 in Winchester, VAMarker No. A-7
City of Winchester, VA

Marker Text: Here Stonewall Jackson, in the early morning of May 25, 1862, halted his advance guard and observed the union position.

Location: At 2120 Valley Avenue, in the south end of the City of Winchester on U.S. Route 11 next to a parking lot for Burger King. Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1928.

First Battle of Winchester  A-7 along Valley Pike in Winchester, VA  Today's earlier marker by the same title is located about two south of this marker on the same road, the old Valley Pike. As Jackson's main body of his army rest at the southern location, an advance guard of troops observed the defensive positions the Union army were establishing in Winchester. The main action of the Battle would occur another half a mile north.

  During the night, the advance of Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's division (four brigades) reached Buffalo Lick. Ewell’s division converged on Winchester from the southeast using the Front Royal Pike. On May 25, Ewell attacked Camp Hill, while the Louisiana Brigade of Jackson’s division outflanked and overran the Union position on Bowers Hill.

  In conjunction with Ewell's advance on the Front Royal Pike, Jackson advanced on the Valley Pike at early dawn in a heavy fog. At Jackson's command, the Winder's brigade swept over a hill to the left of the pike, driving off the Union skirmishers who held it. Jackson quickly placed a section of artillery on the hill to engage Union artillery on Bower's Hill at a range of less than half a mile. Union sharpshooters along Abrams Creek began picking off the cannoneers. Jackson brought up the rest of his artillery and a duel ensued with the Union guns on Bower's Hill.

First Battle of Winchester  A-7 along the Valley Pike  Jackson deployed Brig. Gen. Richard Taylor's Louisiana brigade (led by the Louisiana Tigers) reinforced by two regiments of Fulkerson's brigade and backed up by Scott's brigade, to the left along Abrams Creek. Taylor marched under fire to a position overlapping the Union right and then attacked Bower's Hill. The Confederate assault swept irresistibly forward over the crest in the face of determined resistance. With three enemy brigades in its front and three coming at its right flank, Gordon's Union brigade gave way and Union soldiers began streaming back into town.

  Union forces retreated through the streets of Winchester and north on the Valley Pike to Martinsburg. After resting in Martinsburg, Banks command continued north to the Potomac river, crossing it at Williamsport.  Confederate pursuit was listless, as the troops were exhausted from the non-stop marching of the previous week under Jackson's command.

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