Battles & Leaders of the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah by John D. Imboden
John Daniel Imboden (February 16, 1823 – August 15, 1895) earned renown for leading his “Rangers” during the Civil War as a Confederate cavalry general and partisan fighter. After the war he returned to practicing law, began writing, and also was active in developing natural resources.
Despite having no military training, Imboden received a commission as captain in the Staunton Artillery of the Virginia State Militia on November 28, 1859. He commanded the unit during the capture of Harpers Ferry. While commanding an artillery battery at the First Battle of Bull Run, Imboden perforated his left eardrum firing an artillery piece, causing subsequent deafness in that ear. On September 9, 1862, Imboden left the artillery to recruit a battalion of partisan rangers and was promoted to colonel of the 62nd Virginia Mounted Infantry (1st Partisan Rangers). He fought with Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in the Valley Campaign at Cross Keys and Port Republic. He was promoted to brigadier general on January 28, 1863.
This raid covered 400 miles (640 km) in 37 days. In the Gettysburg Campaign, Imboden’s brigade served under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart as the rearguard for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s movement north through the Shenandoah Valley. (His brigade did not participate in Stuart’s foray away from Lee’s army, but instead raided the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.) They spent the Battle of Gettysburg guarding ammunition and supply trains in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. During the Confederate retreat, Imboden was in charge of escorting the wagon trains of thousands of wounded soldiers back to Virginia. On July 6, 1863, the Potomac River was flooding at Williamsport, Maryland, and Imboden’s wagon train was trapped. He put together a defensive force that included an artillery battery and as many of the wounded who could operate muskets. This hastily organized force turned back attacks from Union cavalry generals John Buford and Judson Kilpatrick, saving the wagon train. Robert E. Lee praised Imboden for the way in which he “gallantly repulsed” the Union cavalry.
After the war, Imboden wrote an account of Stonewall Jackson’s legendary Shenandoah Valley Campaign that became part of the well known Battles & Leaders of the Civil War Series, discussing Stonewall’s movements up and down the valley with his “foot cavalry” marching over 600 miles in less than 50 days while tying up 3 different Union armies in the Valley.