016 Winchester, Virginia - May 25, 1862
May 25, 1862
Jackson's victory at Front Royal on May 23 threatened Bank's line of retreat, so he evacuated Strasburg and marched toward Winchester. Jackson also headed north, but Bank's Union forces reached Winchester before Jackson and deployed south of the city.
Despite religious scruples, Jackson prepared to order the attack on Sunday May 25. A morning mist was gathering as Winder, now commanding the Stonewall Brigade, pushed forward in the center. The main Union force occupied the hills just west of Winchester and, in the mist, looked much stronger to Winder as his force took the forward hill.
No sooner was the hill secure than the Union guns began to plaster the Confederate position. Ewell's force, which had advanced up the Front Royal–Winchester Road, was just south of Abraham's Creek when he heard this cannon fire. Jackson moved his artillery to the hill to support Winder, but could not match the superior position of the Union guns. The center attack stalled. As Jackson rode to find Taylor's Louisiana Brigade, he knew that if he was to win, the Union right flank must be turned. When Jackson found Taylor, he pointed with his index finger toward the Union artillery position on the hills and said four words: "You must carry it." Three thousand troops, in strict cadence, advanced in perfect formation. Northern cavalry advanced on the force, but was repulsed. The Confederates now could see the Union gunners limbering their pieces, as the command "Forward, double quick, charge!" rang out over the field.
For a time, Banks had held off Jackson and Ewell, but broke under Taylor's grand assault. The Union army pulled back in confusion toward Harper's Ferry as Confederate units entered Winchester.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
Nathaniel P. Banks
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Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson
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