After a spring and summer of Union defeat in the Valley, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant cobbled together a formidable force under redoubtable cavalryman Phil Sheridan. His task was a tall one: sweep Jubal Early’s Confederate army out of the bountiful Shenandoah and reduce the verdant region of its supplies. Thus far, the aggressive Early had led Jackson’s veterans to one victory after another at Lynchburg, Monocacy, Snickers Gap, and Kernstown.
Author Scott Patchan, recognized as the foremost authority on the 1864 Valley Campaign, dissects the five weeks of complex maneuvering and sporadic combat before the opposing armies ended up at Winchester, an important town in the northern end of the Valley that had changed hands dozens of times during the war. Tactical brilliance and ineptitude were on display throughout the day-long affair as Sheridan threw infantry and cavalry against the thinning Confederate ranks, and Early and his generals shifted to meet each assault. A final blow against Early’s left flank collapsed the Southern army, killed one of the Confederacy’s finest combat generals in Robert Rodes, and planted the seeds of the sweeping largescale victory at Cedar Creek the following month.
Patchan’s vivid prose is based upon more than two decades of meticulous firsthand research and an unparalleled understanding of the battlefield. Nearly two dozen original maps, scores of photos, hundreds of explanatory footnotes, and seven invaluable appendices enhance our understanding of this watershed battle. Rich in analysis and dramatic character development, The Last Battle of Winchester is certain to become a classic Civil War battle study.
About the Author: A life-long student of military history, Scott C. Patchan is a graduate of James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of many articles and books, including The Forgotten Fury: The Battle of Piedmont (1996), Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign (2007), and Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge (2011). Patchan serves as a director on the board of the Kernstown Battlefield Association in Winchester, Virginia, and is a member of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation’s Resource Protection Committee.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction and Acknowledgments x
Chapter 1 Sheridan, Grant, Lincoln, and Union Strategy in the Shenandoah Valley 1
Chapter 2 Jubal Early and Confederate Strategy 23
Chapter 3 Sheridan, Early, and their Subordinate Commanders 37
Chapter 4 Sheridan Moves Against Early 55
Chapter 5 The Battle of Guard Hill (Crooked Run) 71
Chapter 6 Confederate Resurgence, August 17 - 19 93
Chapter 7 Confederate Charlestown Offensive, August 21 109
Chapter 8 Halltown to Kearneysville, August 22 - 25 129
Chapter 9 Halltown to Smithfield, August 26 - 29 147
Chapter 10 The Battle of Berryville, September 3 159
Chapter 11 Advance and Retreat, September 3-15 175
Chapter 12 Prelude to Battle, September 15 - 18 187
Chapter 13 The Battle of Opequon Creek, September 19 203
Chapter 14 The Berryville Pike 229
Chapter 15 The Middle Field and the Second Woods 261
Chapter 16 Russell and Dwight Restore the Union Line 291
Chapter 17 The U.S. Cavalry Advance 317
Chapter 18 Crook's Attack 335
Chapter 19 The Final Union Attack 375
Chapter 20 Confederate Collapse 397
Chapter 21 Winchester to Fisher's Hill and Beyond 425
Chapter 22 One of the Hardest Fights on Record 447
Appendix 1 Union and Confederate Orders of Battle 475
Appendix 2 The Army of the Shenandoah Strength Reports 482
Appendix 3 The Army of the Valley District Strength Reports 484
Appendix 4 Casualties in the Army of the Shenandoah 486
Appendix 5 Casualties in the Army of the Valley District 493
Appendix 6 Medals of Honor Awarded, August 16 to September 19, 1864 504
Appendix 7 Select Soldier Accounts of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign 507
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.