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160 Years ago Today: Stonewall's 2nd fiasco starts

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MengJiao:

  I'm reading Peter Cozzen's monster opus on things in the Shenandoah in 1862.  It starts with the surreal nightmares of Jackson's earliest independent efforts.  for example:

A setback more chilling than the weather froze Jackson to Unger’s Store for the next five days. As he shepherded his scattered command toward the crossroads hamlet on the night of January 7, Jackson learned from a dispatch rider that two thousand Federals from Romney had overwhelmed the seven hundred militia and cavalry stationed at Blue’s Gap, the only Confederate outpost on the Northwestern Turnpike (Romney Pike). In taking the gap, the Yankees had marched fifteen miles in six hours under the same conditions that had slowed Jackson’s march column to a crawl; there was no reason to doubt they could cover with similar speed the twenty-three miles that now separated them from Winchester—especially as not a single Southern soldier stood in their path.14

Cozzens, Peter. Shenandoah 1862 (Civil War America) (p. 85). The University of North Carolina Press. Kindle Edition.

Anyway, Jackson did set off on this nightmare on Jan 1, 1862 from Winchester.  Things did not go well for Jackson early on.

ArizonaTank:
I really like the author, but haven't read this book.

Even though 1862 may start off slow for Jackson, he makes up for it by spring. Pretty much put Union general Nathanial Banks in a deep, dark place.

I once had the opportunity to do a deep dive into the Spring of '62 campaign. Had access to a copy of the "Official Records" (it's online now, but having access to a physical copy at the time was a big deal). Reading Banks' telegrams, I could feel the rising level of panic that Jackson put into him. Banks was poster child for why picking "political generals" did not work. Banks had been Governor of Massachusetts and Speaker of the US House before the war; not good prep for meeting a professional soldier like Jackson.

As a side study, I do recommend perusing the Official Records regarding operations in Shenandoah...at first, the organization of the OR makes it a little difficult to find what you are looking for...but after a while it does kind of make sense.   

Here is the link to the Official Records:
http://collections.library.cornell.edu/moa_new/waro.html

Tripoli:

--- Quote from: ArizonaTank on January 01, 2022, 12:46:53 PM ---.....at first, the organization of the OR makes it a little difficult to find what you are looking for...but after a while it does kind of make sense.   

--- End quote ---

That is the understatement of 2022 (in the Civil War Geek Category)  :)    I have the OR on a searchable disk, which makes it a little bit easier to  navigate.  But it is still difficult to find your way around.

MengJiao:

--- Quote from: ArizonaTank on January 01, 2022, 12:46:53 PM ---I really like the author, but haven't read this book.

Even though 1862 may start off slow for Jackson, he makes up for it by spring. Pretty much put Union general Nathanial Banks in a deep, dark place.

I once had the opportunity to do a deep dive into the Spring of '62 campaign. Had access to a copy of the "Official Records" (it's online now, but having access to a physical copy at the time was a big deal). Reading Banks' telegrams, I could feel the rising level of panic that Jackson put into him. Banks was poster child for why picking "political generals" did not work. Banks had been Governor of Massachusetts and Speaker of the US House before the war; not good prep for meeting a professional soldier like Jackson.

As a side study, I do recommend perusing the Official Records regarding operations in Shenandoah...at first, the organization of the OR makes it a little difficult to find what you are looking for...but after a while it does kind of make sense.   

Here is the link to the Official Records:
http://collections.library.cornell.edu/moa_new/waro.html

--- End quote ---

  In the Cozzen's book, spring kicks off with the first battle of Kernstown.  Banks was away and Shields was wounded so Federal command devolved onto Kimball who did a crude but effective job of completely trashing Stonewall Jackson.  Kimball had twice as many men and cavalry that was at least well-armed.  Supposedly some of Turner Ashby's troopers rode barebacked and carried clubs and apparently a lack of sabers was a problem for the cavalry of the south for the whole war.
 Kernstown was a crushing defeat for Jackson tactically, but it is usually credited with triggering the weird command structure set up where three "Departments" (Banks, Fremont and McDowell) were supposed to protect Washington and chase Jackson.  Actually, the real problem seems to have been McClellan as usual and the "Departments" were Lincoln's way of detaching troops from McClellan as Lincoln took over supreme command de facto, at least in Cozzen's view.
  In any case, the stage was set and Jackson (on interior lines with good communications and in a aggressive frame of mind) was about to face Federal forces moving into the Shenandoah from three sides.

MengJiao:

--- Quote from: MengJiao on January 02, 2022, 06:06:25 AM ---


  In the Cozzen's book, spring kicks off with the first battle of Kernstown.  Banks was away and Shields was wounded so Federal command devolved onto Kimball who did a crude but effective job of completely trashing Stonewall Jackson.  Kimball had twice as many men and cavalry that was at least well-armed.  Supposedly some of Turner Ashby's troopers rode barebacked and carried clubs and apparently a lack of sabers was a problem for the cavalry of the south for the whole war.
 Kernstown was a crushing defeat for Jackson tactically, but it is usually credited with triggering the weird command structure set up where three "Departments" (Banks, Fremont and McDowell) were supposed to protect Washington and chase Jackson.  Actually, the real problem seems to have been McClellan as usual and the "Departments" were Lincoln's way of detaching troops from McClellan as Lincoln took over supreme command de facto, at least in Cozzen's view.
  In any case, the stage was set and Jackson (on interior lines with good communications and in a aggressive frame of mind) was about to face Federal forces moving into the Shenandoah from three sides.

--- End quote ---

 


  But I guess not quite.  In the valley so far Jackson has sort of lost every battle tactically while strategically (since otherwise there are only southern defeats) doing well.  The battle at McDowell on May 8 was definitely a tactical victory for the outnumbered Federals:

  A number of factors accounted for the low Federal losses. First was the superior range of the Enfield rifled muskets, which most of the Ohioans carried. Second, the Southerners, in firing downhill, tended to overshoot. They also fired fast, as they were exposed from the waist up when they delivered their shots. Crouched among boulders and brush and aiming upward, the Yankees presented smaller targets. (Said Lt. McHenry Howard: “Uphill shooting is more accurate than down, which is apt to overshoot the mark, as every sportsman knows.”) Third, the Confederates fired into the setting sun, while the Federals aimed into a clear, deep-blue horizon. Finally, Jackson was unable to employ his artillery. It “was not brought up,” he explained in his report, “there being no road to the rear by which our guns could be withdrawn in event of disaster, and the prospect of successfully using them did not compensate for the risk.”34 That Jackson imagined any risk of defeat at the hands of a vastly weaker foe (and Jackson could easily see all the Union forces on the field and across the Bull Pasture River) speaks well of Schenck and Milroy’s tactics. They had accomplished their stated purpose of delaying an enemy attack and had inflicted heavy casualties in the bargain. By any reasonable calculation, McDowell was a tactical Union victory. But in a larger sense, the fruits of victory rested with the Confederates. Jackson was not prevaricating when he told Richmond the next morning, “God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell yesterday.” The battle was of no strategic consequence to the Federals. But for the Southern people, who had come to know only defeat after defeat, Jackson’s perceived tenacity at McDowell, and his subsequent pursuit of Schenck and Milroy, was a tonic they imbibed eagerly.

Cozzens, Peter. Shenandoah 1862 (Civil War America) (pp. 273-274). The University of North Carolina Press. Kindle Edition.

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