May 8, 1862
At the beginning of May 1862, the defeats at Pea Ridge and Shiloh, and a federal Army advancing on Richmond, gave little hope for the Confederacy. Even “Stonewall” Jackson, in his first battle as an independent commander a few months earlier, was defeated at Kernstown.
Jackson, who now led a small Confederate army, knew Gen. Robert H. Milroy was near the town of McDowell. On May 8, forward elements of Jackson’s infantry, his “foot cavalry” as they came to be known, were in sight of McDowell. Having completed a series of tough marches, they now stood atop Sitlington’s Hill. Although outnumbered, the Union made the first move. Milroy launched an assault up the jagged slopes and through the tangled forest around Sitlington’s Hill. Taking advantage of depressions and the trees, the Union force dealt Johnson’s Confederates an alarming number of casualties. Johnson appealed to the nearest of Jackson’s Brigades, led by Taliaferro, for help. At this point, both sides were losing cohesion. Johnson was severely wounded, but Taliaferro took charge and, despite the confusion, was able to blunt a final enemy attempt to take Sitlington’s Hill. Around 9 p.m. the musketry sputtered to a conclusion. Milroy burned his camps and retreated northward toward Franklin.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
Robert C. Schenck
Take 6 Command Cards
You move first
Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson
Take 4 Command Cards
Reduce the Union player’s hand size by one card for each Union flag lost. Whenever that player loses a unit, he or she chooses a card from hand and discards it.