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The Last Battle of Winchester

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  • Posted July 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Some towns are unlucky and located on military ┬┐roads┬┐ during a

    Some towns are unlucky and located on military “roads” during a war.
    Armies advance and retreat thru the town many times during the war.
    During the Civil War, Winchester Virginia was an unlucky town.
    In addition to being occupied and reoccupied, the town is the site of three battles.
    In 1862, Stonewall Jackson defeated Nathanial P. Banks as part of his storied Valley Campaign.
    In 1863, Richard Ewell defeated Robert Milroy at the start of the Gettysburg Campaign.
    Jubal Early’s 1864 campaign forced Grant to rethink how to handle the Shenandoah Valley and the city of Winchester.
    Grant’s solution was to consolidate the multiple commands, reinforce the area and Phil Sheridan.
    Sheridan’s orders are to defeat Early while closing the “road” to the Confederacy.
    Sheridan did an effective job, totally defeating Early while destroying the valley’s resources.
    Cedar Creek, largely because of Thomas Reed’s poem, captures our imagination.
    However, Third Winchester is the major battle in this campaign.
    Scott Patchan wrote a battle history that includes a campaign history that never loses sight of the overall war.
    This is a lot to pack into a book. Doing so, without burdening the narration is no small feat.
    Sheridan and Early is a sideshow to the main tent at Petersburg. Lee hoped to repeat the success of 1862 as Grant was determined not to have another Peninsula Campaign.
    The author never allows the reader to lose sight of this and of Lincoln’s delicate political situation.
    Neither Grant nor Lee can commit unlimited resources both understand that Petersburg is the major theater.
    Early is stuck without a unified command structure coupled with personality issues between the two commanders.
    Sheridan is “outnumbered” and cannot take chances.
    The lead up to the battle captures the give and take of scouting, probes and bullying involved in campaigning and formulating plans.
    Third Winchester is a very hard fought battle. Early’s success at the game of bluff, causes him to misread Sheridan resulting in an unexpected battle.
    William McKinley and Rutherford B. Hayes are on the field.
    George Scott Patton, grandfather of the WWII General Patton, is mortally wounded here.
    Robert Rhodes, one of the best division commanders in the AoNV, dies here.
    Over 200 pages cover the battle. This detailed description coupled with Hal Jespersen’s excellent maps produce a truly outstanding history.
    Excellent maps and good writing keep the reader from becoming “lost” on the battlefield.
    Seven Appendixes, a Bibliography, index and footnotes at the bottom of the page should satisfy even the fussiest of readers.

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