Banks, setting comfortably in and around Winchester was satisfied with his accomplishments and concluded that Jackson was ‘removed’ from the Valley for good.
During this period President Lincoln, now Commander-in-Chief, agreed with plans formulated by McClellan and others to launch an amphibious assault against Johnston and his army. A flotilla of 400 ships transported 150,000 troops to Fort Monroe from the environs of Washington. Banks, with Jackson expelled from the Valley, was to move east at once. Therefore, Shields Division was sent back to its original camp north of Winchester and A. S. Williams Division was dispatched to Manassas. Banks himself for Harper’s Ferry to discuss further details of the upcoming campaign with General Sedgewick.
Stonewall Jackson, still in Strasburg, wrote to General Johnston at 6:50 am on Sunday the 23rd: “with the blessing of the everkind providence I hope to be in Winchester this evening......”. Colonel Ashby had informed Jackson of the Federal movement of Shields’ men from Kernstown to the north of Winchester. Ashby also informed Jackson that only four regiments of infantry were left in and around Winchester, approximately 3,200 men. This, as it turned out later, was exactly what Shields wanted Jackson to think. Shields’ second brigade marched north of Winchester using an easterly route around the town, suggesting to the people that they too were moving east with the remainder of Banks’ forces.. This, however, was a ploy as Sullivan moved his men, under the cover of the forest east of Winchester, south to support Kimball.
An important ingredient in any battle is of course the battlefields topography. The area immediately south of Winchester is of a general rolling and undulating nature with many ravines, creeks, and stands of timber. There are two major roads which lead into Winchester from the south; the road to Front Royal, which is the road farthest to the east and the Valley Turnpike which runs south through Kernstown to Strasburg. Approximately one mile south of Winchester is a toll gate on the Valley Turnpike, here the Cedar Creek Road and the Middle Road converge from the west and southwest respectively. Continuing down the Valley Turnpike on the right, west, continuously rising ground which reaches its summit about one half mile northwest of Kernstown. This summit is referred to as Pritchard’s Hill and affords good visibility of both sides of the Turnpike and also a good distance south. To the east of the turnpike the ground is rolling in nature for approximately one half to three quarters of a mile then there are several ravines and creeks as you near the Old Front Royal Road. The ravines are large enough to conceal troops in considerable numbers and Hogg Run, which runs east and west just north of Kernstown, was cut deep enough to hide a considerable number of men. The area east and directly south of Kernstown was generally rolling farm land. An old dirt road runs east and west from Kernstown to the Old Front Royal Road and extends west at various angles to the Middle Road approximately one mile south of Pritchards Hill west of the Valley Turnpike. There is also a dirt road which runs from Cedar Creek Road south along Opequon Creek then turns east and joins the Valley Turnpike about three miles south of Kernstown. The land between Middle Road and this dirt road was very hilly and full of ravines and heavy forested areas, while an occasional farmers field would break up the landscape. It was here, between Middle Road and Opequon Creek where the hardest fighting would occur. It was know by the locals as Sandy Ridge. Being late March much of this land had been plowed and was ready for planting. The winter thaws and early spring rains had made these fields very muddy and consequently rendered them difficult for military maneuvers.
When Jackson met Ashby near the Valley Turnpike the latter informed Stonewall that the enemy had but four regiments of infantry and the federal troops visible to the east of the turnpike was nothing more than a rear guard. His informants claimed that even these men were under orders to move to Harpers Ferry. This, as it would seem, would be the first opportunity for General Jackson to lead an army into battle. With the information from Ashby in hand he wasted little time in acting. Again he never informed any of his subordinates of his intentions, never once asking for advice or council, and silently calculated his movements. Four regiments of the enemy with possibly some cavalry would be no match for his forces and he could easily return to Winchester.
The Battle of Kernstown or 1st Battle of Winchester
Under the cover of night on March 22nd, Saturday, Shields pushed Colonel Kimball’s Brigade to a position about 2 miles south of Winchester, on the Valley Turnpike. Artillery was posted on both the east and west sides of the Turnpike in an advantageous position so as to support Kimball should he be surprised. Colonel Sullivan was put in a position to support Kimball should it be necessary, covering all approaches to Winchester by Cedar Creek Rd.- Colonel Thornton Brodhead and the 1st Michigan Cavalry, Front Royal Road- Captain John Keys and the Pennsylvania Cavalry, Berryville Rd., and Romney Rd. Colonel Tyler’s Brigade and Broadhead’s Cavalry were held in a reserve position north of Winchester. This was the Federal position on the night of March 22nd.
Major General Banks, in the meantime, had received orders to report to Washington but delayed his departure until he was assured Jackson’s force was not near enough to strike Shields’ men. After a short conversation Shields decided to send Colonel John S. Mason of the 4th Ohio, a reputable officer, to scout the countryside for Jackson’s presence. He departed the generals quarters at about 8 am and made a quick tour of both flanks and the village of Kernstown and found no sign of Jackson’s main forces, for the exception of Ashby’s Cavalry, which they knew were there. Colonel Mason reported his findings to Generals Shields and Banks at about 9:30 am, which would have been reasonable since Jackson’s main force did not arrive until after noon. With this information at hand Major General Banks decided to depart for Washington immediately.
General Shields, knowing Jackson’s ability, was not about to take any chances of being surprised. About 9 a.m. he ordered Colonel Kimball to move several batteries south to be placed upon Pritchards Hill so as to control the Valley Turnpike and Kernstown (See Map 2). Lt. Colonel Philip Daum was chief of artillery and ordered Captain Jenks to advance 4 rifled pieces to the designated hill. Immediately Jenks opened an effective fire upon the Confederate guns positioned the day before just south of Kernstown. Shortly thereafter Daum ordered Captain Clark to move his battery to the left of the position of Captain Jenks which was accomplished in a short period. Both Jenks and Clarks’s men poured a heavy fire into the Rebel battery and, after a short time, was forced to relocate. At this time Daum placed Captain Robinson’s Ohio Battery in a position about 500 yards to the right of Captain Jenks, to cover the right wing should Jackson appear from the woods 1,500 yards away, which was reported to be occupied by some of Ashby’s men.
Between 8 and 10 am Kimball had made further troop movements just north of Kernstown. Lt. Colonel Alvin C. Doris, of the 67th Ohio, moved with three companies (A,F, and I) to the east into the fields towards the Old Front Royal Road and north of Hogg Run, as skirmishers, while the remaining 6 companies were detached to support Daum’s battery by the Turnpike. Another 5 companies of the 5th Ohio, under Lt. George Whitcomb, were also dispatched to support one of Daum’s batteries just west of the Turnpike. Companies C & D of the 8th Ohio were sent out as pickets on the west side of the road
Late in the morning, about 10 am, Shields ordered Colonel Kimball to send out a reconnaissance mission to Kernstown, Kimball ordered Colonel Carroll of the 8th Ohio to send 5 companies immediately. Lt. Colonel Franklin Sawyer was dispatched with companies B, E, and H and proceeded south along the west side of the Turnpike. Colonel Carroll, himself, proceeded south along the east side of the turnpike with companies F, K, A, and G. Companies C and D were on picket duty around Kernstown and joined Sawyer’s men later. Company I was on picket duty near Winchester and remained there. Sawyers men moved into the village and then west along the dirt road to the old Opequon Church. Here the sounds of cannon to their south and east prompted Sawyer to proceed in that direction. Kimball, seeing the potential danger on the right, also placed one section of Battery B, 1st Virginia Artillery, to support Sullivan’s Brigade. These he supported with the 14th Indiana Regiment under Colonel William Harrow, both coming under heavy fire from the enemy.
At this time, 1 p.m., troop alignment on the east wing were as follows:
The 13th Indiana was placed to the extreme left, east, followed by the 39th Illinois, Companies A, G, F, and K of the 8th Ohio, the 14th Indiana, five companies of the 5th Ohio and Companies A, F, and I of the 67th Ohio. By noon there were approximately 3500 Federal forces between the Valley Turnpike and the Old Front Royal Road spread out North of Hogg Run. The Confederates had approximately 290 cavalry and 300 infantry on the field near Kernstown. Kimball had no way of knowing that he overwhelmingly outnumbered the Rebel forces thus did not pursue Ashby farther at this time.
Earlier, Jackson, armed with the information from Ashby, immediately sent his entire army north towards Winchester. Garnett, Fulkerson, and Burkes Brigades all commenced movement at dawn. Many of the troops under Jackson had been in continuous motion during the preceding days, men of the 33rd Virginia had marched 27 miles on Saturday, the day before, to reach Strasburg only to be ordered to move another 13 miles Sunday morning to Kernstown. About 6 am Colonel J.W. Allen of the 2nd Virginia (Garnett’s Brigade) marched from Cedar Creek towards Winchester on the Valley Turnpike. Before arriving Companies D,H, and I were detached under Captain Nadenbousch to move ahead in support of Colonel Ashby’s Cavalry south and east around Kernstown (as previously mentioned). Leaving Company D in a reserve capacity companies H and I proceeded and met with Ashby east of the Valley Turnpike. They were led by Captain’s Hunter and Moore respectively. The day was hot and the Turnpike very dusty as the forces began to arrive south of Kernstown around 2 p.m. Garnett had begun his march from Hupp’s Hill at daybreak, he was followed by Colonels’ Burke and Fulkersons’ brigades. Men had marched 27 and 22 miles respectively to reach Strasburg that Sunday morning, marching another 16 miles that same afternoon to reach Kernstown. Jackson, never one to enter into battle unless he’s assured himself of the best position, conferred, very briefly, with General Garnett and Colonels Fulkerson, Ashby, and Burke. At their disposal was approximately 3,100 infantrymen, 300 cavalry and 18 pieces of artillery. If the information from Ashby’s sources were correct it should be an easy fight on equally numbered terms. After the 1st Battle of Manassas the Confederates truly believed that any battle with the Federal forces under equal numbers of troops would always be considered an easy victory for the south.
Seeing this increased enemy activity Shields ordered Colonel Tyler to move the Third Brigade south of Winchester and hold his position at the tollgate on the Turnpike until further notice. “The exultant rebels (townspeople) could scarce restrain their joy while they looked upon us marching down, as they thought, to inevitable doom and death. But from many weary months, and even years, they were forced to witness, by the ever changing vicissitudes of war, the alternate advance and retreat, advance and retreat, advance and retreat, of friend and foe, until the once beautiful valley, ‘the Garden of the South,’ had become utterly devastated, shorn of its beauty, a barren waste.”
Afternoon 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
As the skirmish on the east side of the Turnpike concluded General Jackson’s forces began to arrive. The 27th Virginia under Colonel John Echols was one of the first to arrive with his 250 or so men. The 4th Virginia under Colonel Charles A. Ronald marched 26 miles on Saturday from Mt. Jackson to Strasburg and rested at Cedar Creek Saturday night. Sunday morning they moved, without breakfast, the 13 miles to Kernstown and joined the 27th Virginia in Barton’s Woods, there were 203 men in the 4th. Next arrived the 5th Virginia under William H. Harmon with 350 men, all removing to Barton’s Woods to rest until the remainder of the army arrived. By 2 p.m. Jackson’s forces were all south of Kernstown the 33rd Virginia under Colonel Arthur C. Cummings- 275 men; the 42nd Virginia under Colonel Langehorn- 293 men; the 23rd Virginia under Lt. Colonel Alexander Taliaferro- 160 men; the 37th Virginia under Colonel Carson- 557 men; the First Virginia Battalion under Captain D.B. Bridgeford- 187 men; the 21st Virginia under Colonel John Patton- 270 men; Captain McLauglin’s Artillery left Cedar Creek at 7 am and arrived at noon- 80 men; Captain James’ Artillery- 90 men; and Captain Joe Carpenters Battery with 48 men. These numbers reflect only those which arrived at Kernstown and were able to participate in the fighting. Many stragglers were left along the roadside between Strasburg and Kernstown during the march. Hundred’s of Jackson’s men were ‘worn out’ by the continuous movements of the previous weeks movements.
When General Jackson arrived at Kernstown he quickly met with Ashby and his Brigade commanders, Fulkerson, Burks, and Garnett to ascertain the Federal position. His initial plan was to bivouac for the day and attack Shields on Monday morning. This, however, was quickly discounted as he learned the position of the Federal forces in his front. On Jackson’s right, east of the Valley Turnpike, rested several Union regiments holding strategic positions north of Hogg Run. Colonel Ashby’s informant had claimed that these men were rear guards and were actually under orders to move to Harper’s Ferry. Between them and Jacksons men was mostly wheat fields and a few orchards, not good grounds to mount an assault. Directly in Jacksons front, along the Valley Turnpike, was stationed the Federal artillery, the most commanding of which was posted atop Pritchards Hill giving them the range to control a great distance with their guns. With the Federal Army in this alignment Jackson decided to turn the Federal right and pin his forces between him and the city of Winchester.
There remained but one problem, it was Sunday, the Lord’s day. It was against Jackson’s belief that a battle should be fought on the day of worship. It was with much personal remorse that he decided to do battle this day- that it may be a bigger sin to his men not to attack the enemy during their weakened state. The General would not write letters, nor would he even mail them to be carried on Sunday. His troops would not march nor drill on Sunday- unless he believed the Lord would consider it an absolute necessity. So his decision was, for him to fight this day, a very trying one.
Stonewalls plan called for Ashby to split his cavalry. Major Funsten was to take half of Ashby’s men and proceed west upon the ridge overlooking Opequon Creek and the dirt road leading from Kernstown, covering Jackson’s left flank. Ashby would then make his presence felt on the extreme right giving the Federals a feint movement to occupy their troops on that portion of the field. Burkes command consisting of the 21st, and 42nd Virginia, and the First Virginia Battalion was ordered to move east of the Turnpike south of Kernstown and support the battery there and stay in a reserve position. Fulkersons men consisting of the 23rd and 37th Virginia, and Carpenters Battery, would move north from Barton’s Woods and lead the attack on the Federal right. Garnett’s men, less the 5th Virginia who was ordered to stay with Burkes men in a reserve capacity, was to pressure the Federals in the middle.
This was General Jacksons plan all based on the information passed to him by Colonel Ashby and the scouts who had returned from Winchester- still believing that the enemy in their front was the entire Union contingent available. Jackson was totally unaware of the presence of Tyler’s Third Brigade. Colonel Tyler had a rough reputation. He was a trapper and fur trader in Western Virginia prior to the war and was accustomed to inhospitable climates. Jackson would also meet for the first time, but definitely not the last time, the Ohio Regiments under Tyler. Tyler himself was a very popular man with his troops considering the fact that the 7th Ohio voted him to be their Colonel over president to be James A Garfield. Jackson would gain much respect for the 3rd Brigade after the battle of Kernstown. The Seventh had indeed become a force: “When the Seventh Regiment 0. V. I. entered the ‘First Battle of Winchester’ (Kernstown) on March 23rd 1862, it was numerically at the zenith of its battle strength. In no other engagement of the war did it go into action in as good ‘fighting trim’. At Cross Lanes, seven months previous, only nine of its ten companies were present, and of the nine but five were together, the remainder being detailed on picket by companies. The loss of one hundred and twenty men in that unfortunate affair, had been in a measure replaced by recruits, and in its individuality the regiment could now properly be compared to an athlete who has been brought to the perfection of ‘form’ by long and rigorous training. For more than twelve months nearly all had been subjected to a continuous course of discipline and military experience, which had sifted form its ranks everything except the essence of chivalry, vigorous manhood.
During the period just before the Sevenths first movement into action we see how the men’s mental status was in the following excerpts from the men themselves: The first by Corporal Seldon Day of Company C: “As we stood in line behind the hill on which the battery was posted, frequent shots would come over and cut through our ranks, Colonel Tyler of the Seventh Ohio, commanding the brigade, sat on his horse waiting for developments and further orders. He was calm, cool, and patient. I noticed, however, that he was pale, and that he too was feeling the strain of inaction under the trying circumstances. After a while an aide rode up to him from the left and front and evidently delivered an order. The Colonel, when the staff-officer had ridden away, turned to his command, and in a low but far-reaching voice said, ‘Boys, put on your bayonets, adding, ‘you will need them.’
“The answer to this command must have been gratifying to the leader who gave it, as mingled with the clatter of fixing bayonets a shout of exultation went up from every man in the ranks. The terrible strain of inaction and waiting under fire was over.
The next from Mr. McKay of Co. C also: Soon after taking position the ball commenced. The shells of the enemy shrieking over us, and some exploding immediately over our heads, making it decidedly unpleasant to people of a nervous temperament to stand the noise and other things connected with shrieking and exploding shells. Before the music had lasted long, however, acting General E. B. Tyler, who was our Colonel, at the time commanding a brigade, rode up to us on horseback and notified us in a very methodical manner that he had been ordered to the a battery on our right flank, asked us ‘if we would do it’, not taking into consideration that our consent, generally speaking, was not asked.
I suppose that he was speaking metaphorically, for if our opinion had been asked from a literal standpoint we would probably have answered that our health was in a delicate condition, and would have declined the undertaking with the greatest pleasure in the world.
But as he received no answer couched in these words, he probably judged we rather liked the fun than not, and moved us by the flank of the artillery so as to get upon the left flank of the enemy. Then moving steadily forward in close columns by division we entered a clump of woods, where we were halted long enough to send out a few skirmishers on our right, so that in case we were attacked we would have time to deploy column into line of battle, so as to be ready for action.
Colonel Kimball was situated atop Pritchards Hill and had full view of the Confederate Army. When the Rebels began their movement west of the Turnpike he immediately countered with troop movements of his own to protect his right flank. The time was now about 1:30 p.m. and Kimball sent orders for the 14th Indiana, detachments of the 8th, 67th, and 5th Ohio to move from their present locations east of the Valley Turnpike to support the batteries located around Pritchards Hill. This left the 39th Illinois, 4 Companies of the 67th Ohio and 4 Companies of the 8th Ohio, companies A, G, F, & K, to hold the left flank or east side of the Turnpike, which was done with great effectiveness. Colonel Carroll of the 8th Ohio lead the detachment which encountered Colonel Ashby’s Cavalry and drove them south of Kernstown, where they remained for the remainder of the day (See Map 6).
The stage was set and the worst of the battle was about to unfold. Confederate artillery was placed as follows: At 1 p.m. Captain William McLaughlin’s Rockbridge Artillery was ordered to place 8 batteries on a hill west of the Turnpike to return and harass the Federal batteries on top of Pritchards Hill and allow the Confederates to move their troops on the field. During this movement they lost two pieces of artillery due to enemy fire. The first regiment to see action on the left was that of the 27th Virginia under Colonel Echols. The 27th was pushed forward as skirmishers and not long after their arrival on the field Colonel Echols sustained a severe wound, which proved to be fatal, and was forced to relinquish command to Colonel Grigsby. They were supported by Lt. Colonel Patton’s 21st Virginia Infantry. At 3:30 p.m. Captain Waters Battery of 2 pieces was sent forward with the support of the 1st Virginia Battalion under Captain Bridgeford. Once these batteries were in place, and shelling of the Federal positions commenced, Jackson would begin the movement of his infantry. Conflicting reports show that the confederate infantry was placed into motion at about 3:30 p.m. In conjunction with Fulkerson’s men Lt. Pogue of the Rockbridge Artillery was ordered west in front of Fulkerson’s men with three pieces of artillery. They proceeded to shell the Federal troops located on and around Pritchards Hill (14th Indiana, etc.) enabling the deployment of Jackson’s men.
It was approximately 4 p.m. now and the engagement became general. To counter the Confederate movement Kimball ordered the troops to swing into a westerly movement to prevent a flanking movement by Jackson. Colonel Tyler’s Third Brigade had arrived at the Toll gate at 2 p.m. and was now ordered to move west and take the Confederate Batteries located on a ridge overlooking the valley. Tyler’s Third Brigade was entirely unknown to Jackson. As the battle continued between Pritchards Hill and Sandy Ridge the 3rd Brigade was proceeding down a ravine towards the woods on the right, west, then through the woods to position themselves in another stand of timber at the enemies left flank and slightly to their rear. Tyler moved his brigade as far right as the Cedar Creek Rd. with the Seventh Ohio (details later) commanded by Lt. Colonel Creighton, resting on the right; the 7th Indiana, commanded by Lt. Colonel Cheek next; followed by the 1st Virginia, commanded by Colonel Thoburn; 110th Pennsylvania, commanded by Colonel Lewis; and the 29th Ohio, commanded by Colonel Buckley, resting on the left near a mud road. Cavalry was pushed forward on both roads flanking Tyler’s men. They proceeded a short distance then turned to the left and slowly and silently approached the enemy position through the woods for about one half mile. Leaving the woods Tyler’s men entered a sparsely wooded area when they again rotated his force left and was approximately 200 yards from the enemy.
On the Confederate side of the field the 33rd Virginia under Colonel A. C. Cummings was ordered to support the 37th and the 23rd Virginia. Momentarily there were conflicting orders issued by Jackson to General Garnett. The first was to support Fulkerson’s Brigade with but one regiment, which he did with the 33rd Virginia. The other telling Garnett to support Fulkerson with his entire brigade. By the time Garnett received this order Jackson had already found the 2nd, 4th, 5th Virginia sitting comfortably in Bartons’ Woods and Jackson personally led them to the front. Garnett, not knowing what Jackson was up to, ordered the 33rd Virginia to hold its position and wait for the remainder of his brigade. Through continuous miscommunications Garnett’s men were scattered with no clear direction.
Colonel Allen of the 2nd Virginia was ordered, at 2 p.m., to move at a ‘double quick’ march to the rear of Colonel Fulkerson’s Brigade. Just prior to their move Companies D, H & I returned after supporting Colonel Ashby’s Cavalry during the morning east of the Turnpike. Company B was sent out at this time as a skirmishing unit towards Pritchards Hill, ahead of the regiment. A 3 p.m. Captain Bridgeford was ordered to move forward with the 1st Virginia Battalion to support Carpenters Battery directly south of Pritchards Hill. Between 3 and 5 p.m. the 1st Va. Battalion moved in support of several batteries west until meeting General Garnett’s Brigade on Sandy Ridge. It was about this time when Colonel Charles Ronald of the 4th Virginia was injured when his horse became unmanageable due to the heavy bombardment from Daum’s batteries, which had been shelling the Rebel locations for several hours. Colonel Ronald was not able to participate in the battle due to his injuries and his command was turned over to Major Pendleton.
It was not until 4:15 to 4:30 before the Confederates untangled their communications and everyone knew what their orders were.
The Fight for Sandy Ridge
The object of both armies was a ridge running east and west about one half mile west of Pritchards Hill. This ridge would afford the holder complete control of the west flank. It was called Sandy Ridge. An old stone fence ran most of its length dividing it into two fields where the farmers kept their stock. This fence was the primary objective for both armies, the holder having a great advantage over the other. Kimball ordered Colonel Daum to increase the bombardment by the artillery so as to cover the troop movements he ordered in motion.
The 37th Virginia moved north from Barton’s Woods and then turned west under heavy pressure from the fire of Pritchards Hill. In moving west Fulkersons men had to traverse low marshy ground and destroy several fences along the way. They continued west still under heavy pressure. The 27th Virginia was now ordered out as skirmishers towards Sandy Ridge. The 37th followed behind the 21st Virginia and then onwards to a stone fence located just beyond the crest. Two regiments from Tyler’s Brigade was approaching the same stone fence as the Rebels arrived. The Confederates poured a continuous fire into Tyler’s men and were thus forced to retire to the woods behind.
Troop movements continued and fighting between Pritchards Hill and Sandy Ridge was very heavy, costly to both sides. Men from the 14th Indiana, led by Colonel Harrow, at 1 p.m., moved to the Turnpike to support batteries along the road. After about two hours they were ordered at a double quick movement crossing a stand of timber and up a slight incline before entering a field directly in front of and adjacent to Fulkerson’s 23rd and 37th Virginia Infantry. Moving forward through a low marshy area they arrived at the summit of a small rise, not more than 250 yards in front of the enemy, and met the fire of the 23rd and 37th Virginians directly. Several men were killed and wounded during this movement on both sides. They traded continuous fire for almost an hour with both sides firing as fast as humanly possible. “The noise was deafening, Lt. Catterson’s horse was killed when 6 balls struck him at an instant luckily missing the Captain....and for more than an hour the roar of musketry upon each side was terrific, almost beyond conception..” During this charge the color bearers carrying both the national and the regimental flags were wounded but promptly replaced, several times.
The 5th Ohio, under Lt. Colonel Patrick, was located at Pritchards Hill for approximately 45 minutes when the Battery they were supporting had to be retired after several hits from enemy artillery. They then moved further west to support Clark’s Battery, where they remained about 2 hours. At this time the 5th was ordered to proceed to the right to support the Third Brigade. After moving a short distance the order came to detach 5 companies to send back for guard duty on Pritchards Hill, which was done but cut the effective strength of the 5th in half. After passing through a small area of brush and timber the 5th approached the enemy line. The 84th Pennsylvania was on their left at this point. Lt. Colonel Patrick ordered the men forward into battle and reminded them ‘keep cool’, ‘hold their ground’, stand solid’, and ‘every man to his duty’, to ‘remember Cincinnati, their homes, and their country’, and ‘not to waste their powder.’ They reached the brow of a small hill and the enemy was gathered in their front amongst the brush and trees. At the first fire from the enemy the two color bearers fell, one killed the other wounded. Five times the colors of the 5th would fall only to be stood up again. Before the fight was over the national flag had 48 bullet holes and the regimental flag had ten. As Captain Whitcome grabbed the colors he was shot down and killed, taking a bullet in the head. “At that moment it was almost hand to hand combat. The enemy was within 30 feet. The fire was galling, and a perfect whirlwind of balls were flying, as if the air had been suddenly filled with hissing snakes. It appeared to rage with increasing fury.” Colonel Murray of the 84th Pennsylvania, who led for the third time a rally of his troops, was killed at this point. The men of the 84th Pennsylvania fell back leaving the 5th Ohio alone. Shortly thereafter the other 5 companies of the 5th returned to their aide as well as did the 14th Indiana.
The 13th Indiana, under Lt. Colonel Robert Foster, moved from the east side of the Turnpike, at about 5 p.m., to support the 14th Indiana, where they arrived at the edge of the battlefield at about 5:45 p.m. Here they met the awaiting 4th and 27th Virginia Infantry, which poured a continuous fire into their ranks. On the right of the 14th the 5th Ohio and the 84th Pennsylvania resided. The 42nd Virginia Infantry, under command of Colonel D. Langhorne, of Colonel Burks’ brigade, had been held in reserve until late, about 4:30 p.m., in the day when it was called to move forward through heavy cannonading from Daum’s Batteries. They arrived adjacent to the 5th Virginia just over a crest in the hill, and adjacent to McLaughlin’s Battery, facing the Federal troops of Sullivan’s Brigades. The 1st Virginia Battalion, also of Colonel Burkes Brigade, under command of Captain Bridgeford, moved to support the general engagement on their left arriving their at approximately 5 p.m. After a short period they were ordered to move further to the left by General Garnett or Colonel Grigsby. While this movement was being accomplished two companies were confused and moved to the right instead. These were companies C and E commanded by Captains Thom and Jones respectfully. The remaining companies formed in line of battle to the far left next to Colonel Echols men. At this point Bridgeford’s men were but 20 yards from the men of the 7th Ohio. In a very short period of time the ground became covered with dead and wounded men. The firing between Bridgeford’s men and that of the Tyler’s Third Brigade was incessant for approximately an hour. Captain Thom of Company C who, by accident, moved to the right had been hit in the chest with a bullet but was saved by a copy of the New Testament which he carried in his shirt pocket. The color bearer of the 2nd Virginia fell, a Lieutenant grabbed the flag then he too went down, then private R.H Lee held the flag until he also was severely hit. By nights end seven men proudly carried the colors of the 2nd Virginia- all eventually being hit. One member of Chew’s Battery fighting in his first battle remarked “There will be no more fighting between these two armies after today, for they will all be killed by evening.” The fierce pace of battle continued until about 6:30 p.m..
The 7th Ohio played a key roll in the struggle for Sandy Ridge. Many deeds of valor and heroism were displayed across the bloody grounds consecrated during the late evening hours of March 23rd. The accounts dispersed in the text of the following pages are from the men who survived to tell their stories about the personal hell that was Sandy Ridge.
Seldon Day of Company C: “The invisible guns in front of us were still firing to our left at the batteries we had been supporting. Steadily and in silence the brigade moved forward in double column for some distance as if upon the drill-ground. Then coming into a patch of woods, and commencing the descent of a gentle slope, we saw the smoke of the guns through the trees in front of us, on an elevation beyond a stone wall, over which the fire of musketry began to flash. Instantly the artillery was also turned upon us and we got the order, clear and distinct, from our commander, ‘Charge bayonets!’, A rush forward down the slope amongst the trees followed. As the musketry from the wall in front and the canister and shells from the elevation beyond began to tell in our ranks, they were soon broken up and the advance ceased. All began firing without orders, and after that very few orders could be heard at all. C and F’ of the Seventh Ohio being the right and left center companies, formed the first or leading division of the regiment and brigade, and I, being a corporal in Company C, was of course in the front rank.
“When the advance ceased I found myself near the bottom of the hill, but could still see the top of the stone wall ahead of us, on the slope of the opposite elevation, above which were bobbing heads and flashing rifles. More Confederates were running up to it through the grove beyond. Conspicuous amongst these was an officer on a white horse gallantly directing the movements. Some of us singled him out as a target and he was soon brought down.
“Men were falling all around me, and glancing backward I saw that the slope of the hill was barely sufficient to enable the men in the rear to fire safely over the heads of those of us in the front. A sergeant of Company H fell near me, shot through the neck, and I was quite sure it was done from the rear. After my second or third shot at the row of heads above the wall in front of us, as I threw up my rifle to reload, the bayonet went spinning away over my head, shot off near the shank. I replaced it quickly, taking the one from the musket of the sergeant who lay gasping at my feet, and replacing the stub of my own in its scabbard as far as it would go. I thought, even then, what a nice souvenir it would be when the war was over. It dropped out, however, later, and was lost.
“Standing on the slope of the hill down which we had come and firing as fast as I could, having loaded my musket, I was holding it at the balance, in my left hand, while feeling for a cap in the little wool-lined cap-box on my belt (we were using the old Harper’s Ferry muzzleloaders at that time), and something struck me on the left arm near the shoulder My gun dropped from the paralyzed hand and I saw that the overcoat was torn and blackened. As I grasped the injured arm with my available hand, Sterry, of Company C, who was standing beside me and firing away, said with a smile, as if it were a good joke, ‘You have got it, haven’t you?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, and finding that the place was scarcely bleeding, only bruised, added, ‘but not very bad.’ This souvenir, however, was destined to stay with me.
“Just then an order came to ‘deploy,’ and though I belonged in the center with my company had there remained any ranks or formation, in which case I should have stood fast, something was shouted about ‘the left’ and I picked up my gun from the ground and ran in that direction. At a short distance a few of us climbed’ over a fence into an open field, but as no more came over I went back to the hollow in the woods, from the bottom of which I could see nothing of the enemy. The air above our heads in the hollow seemed full of projectiles going in opposite directions. I crept cautiously up the hill until I could see well over the brow, and at one place the slope of the hill beyond, over which more of the enemy were hurrying to the front to reinforce those at the wall and be themselves sheltered as well.
“I fired quickly into the advancing men and fell forward on to the slope for shelter while I reloaded. This maneuver I repeated several times, advancing a little before each slot, until I was near the wall, a little below the brow of the hill. At the last advance-on hands and knees-I noticed a short distance farther on and close to the wall, fifteen or twenty feet from it perhaps, a low ledge of rock jutting from the ground, ten or twelve inches above the surface. It had a shallow gully washed out along the side diagonally, next to me, which I thought would afford some shelter from the enemy could I reach it. A brier-bush grew near one end of the rock, which would also serve to screen me from the sight of those behind the wall. Accordingly, I crept carefully forward and got into this natural rifle-pit. Though the height of the rock and the depth of the depression were scarcely sufficient to shelter my body when lying flat, the friendly brier-bush screened me from view from the front, and here, with comparative safety, I emptied my cartridge-box, enfilading the line behind the wall down the hill to the right of my position. While doing this my greatest danger seemed to be from the rear, as the jutting rock only afforded some little shelter from the front, while the depression gave almost none from the opposite direction. Bullets from the rear tore up the ground all around me.
“While firing down the line, turning on my back to reload each time, I noticed that a fine-looking young fellow whom I did not know, from some other company, had crawled up as near to me as he could get, within arm’s length, but not so well sheltered as I. He was firing away as fast as he could. I looked at him as he was loading his gun and preparing for another shot, when he said to me, ‘Isn’t it fun?’ I did not reply, and when I looked at him next he was dead.
“Having emptied my cartridge-box and put the last load in my gun, I crawled feet foremost into the depression where Colonel Tyler and some of the other officers were trying to form a line to renew the charge. Here I replenished my cartridges from the boxes of the dead lying about, but before falling in, as I was ordered to do, I ran up the hill until I could see over the brow as before, and then noticed that the enemy down to the right were breaking away from their position.
Lieut. Col. Creighton’s horse was struck by a bullet, and becoming unmanageable dashed toward the enemy, when his rider dexterously sprang from the saddle, thereby avoiding capture. He then picked up the gun of a disabled soldier and fought in the ranks until the order came to charge, when away he went abreast of the liveliest and best of his men.
Major Casement sat on his horse like a statue, several bullets passing through his clothing, but doing no harm, while Colonel Tyler, although commanding the brigade, took position near his regiment regardless of danger.
The next account is from Levi Bauder. “I happened to be the sergeant on the extreme left of the first division and was ordered to step forward five paces in front as a guide for the line, and to march to a big tree some two hundred yards ahead. As I neared the tree three rebels stepped from behind a tree and fired apparently at me. I felt like adjourning, not the sight of fifty lines of infantry behind me argued me out of that notion, and I went forward as a necessary evil..... soon other gentleman in gray clothes shot at us, but we kept on and they retired. Shortly we came to a pretty sharp slope, on the opposite rise of which was a stone fence, and behind that stone fence stood the rebel line of battle, with arms at a ready, not a hundred yards away. They were not saying a word and we made no remarks. ‘This is funny tactics,’ said I to myself. ‘Why don’t we deploy into line?’
When our first division reached the bottom of the hill I heard the rebel order, not fifty feet away- ‘Fire! !’ It seemed that no bullet out of that dreadful line could miss hitting somebody. With common accord every soldier on that slope dropped to one knee, and firing over those in front delivered one overwhelming volley that seemed to sweep the opposing line off the face of the earth..”
Mr. Lewis Davis of Company A:…….Here I was requested to go forward, locate the rebel battery, see if any obstacle lay in our path, and, in short, give a hasty topographical description of the intervening space. With many misgivings as to the outcome of my mission and a strange occurrence about my hair, as if it wanted to rise in protest, I moved cautiously forward for about a quarter of a mile, when suddenly I came in full view of the battery. I was then in about the position the regiment in our rear afterwards occupied during the fight. The battery was planted behind a clump of trees which grew at the intersection of two open fields. The one directly in front was enclosed by a stone wall, and behind this I could see a line of infantry with the barrels of their rifles ominously pointed in the direction of our charging column. An open field to my left, enclosed by a rail fence, was the scene of a furious and sanguinary battle. I stood on a line about midway between the converging lines, thus being favored with a better view of both sides of a battle than I ever enjoyed again. Here I seen for the first time our glorious banner, the Stars and Stripes enveloped by the flame and smoke, waving defiance ‘amid the battle strife’. It was a sight to awaken patriotic enthusiasm in the most sluggish heart. Forgetful of my position, incautiously, I moved around to get a more extended view of the battle. A bullet from the direction of the stone wall admonished me that I was no longer concealed. By dropping to the ground, no doubt, I escaped instant death, for a hundred bullets cut the twigs where a second before my head had been. How I got back in safety has always been a mystery to me, but, this I do know, the speed I made would have hustled the record of some of the champion sprinters of the day.
The personal recollections of Mr. McKay during the battle for Sandy Ridge: “Your humble servant at that time had a red fez cap with a tassel on, which was his special pride and delight when in camp, but it was decidedly unpleasant now on account of drawing the fire to his individual person on account of its flashy color. Soon that cap was unlimbered and was then laid up in ordinary to repose on its own bosom inside of his overcoat during the balance of the battle.. To be bareheaded was good enough for me.
While firing in the field one ball struck the butt of my gun and another struck between ramrod and barrel both balls striking my piece while aiming, saving my body in each instance. After firing for awhile in the field, Captain Crane, commanding the division, ordered us to recross the fence and rejoin the command, which was done after leaving several dead and wounded there.
Mr. Lewis Davis of Company A continues: "Having given the facts as above related to the General, the charge was ordered. Noiselessly forward in ‘double quick’ we move; the brow of the hill is reached. We know that we can conceal ourselves no longer. A shout goes up from the charging column- loud enough and strong enough to startle the hearts of oak in their forest homes. Down over the southern slope we rushed with impetus sufficient, it seemed to me, to carry us to Richmond. Ere we stopped men began falling, others tumbling over them; but heedless of the groans of the wounded and dying, pushing aside the laggard, leaping over the fallen, on, on we rush- on, on, to the battery. But now we emerge into a partial opening, thus exposing ourselves the fire of a line of rebels off to our right. The ground about us was thickly strewn with dead and wounded comrades. Our pace has visibly slackened, and, finally, human endurance can stand it no longer, and massed as we are, by a common impulse, we settle down to return the fire. Creighton instantly saw the danger, and with frantic but futile efforts endeavored to deploy his regiment. The valiant Colonel partially succeeded, not in deploying but spreading his men out so that more guns could be brought into action. The battle raged now fast and furious. No orders given. None could be heard. Each man for himself and God for us all. Burning with the shame and slinging with self reproach at thus being checked by a foe whom we bad not yet learned to respect, by a common impulse, a dash would be made at the wall in front of us only again to be checked and forced to gradually back; so raged the battle, now creeping forward, loading and firing, now falling back among the dead and dying. The ground was becoming slippery with blood. Something must be done. That terrible stone wall must be taken and quickly. Twice had the rebels attempted to reinforce those behind it, but each time they melted away before that terrible hillside shower of lead, the weight of which, concentrated as it was, must have been awful; or they broke away and sought shelter in the woods beyond. A shout arose from our column, inspired as I always thought by Creighton, which was interpreted in accord with the feelings of all. ‘Charge ! Charge! ! Charge! ! ! was repeated from lip and tongue, from man to man; Charge! Charge! ! Charge! ! ! ! was heard above the roar of battle. Then as one man, the gallant, the mad rush was made. Spurning the stone wall, like Romulus of old, they leaped over it, took the battery and captured nearly four hundred prisoners. Their left was completely turned. Now their center, not being able to hold their position, gave way, and the battery and battle are ours! The fires of our bivouac are on the battlefield. We unfold our blankets and sleep beside comrades whose friendly hands we shall grasp no more in life
The Third Brigade began to flank Jackson’s left flank and the fighting became unnatural. Shortly thereafter there came a continuous increase in Federal guns bearing down on the center where Garnetts men were placed. Soon word came back from the front that their ammunition was running short and some men began falling back. With most of his men down to their last rounds of ammunition or already out General Garnett was forced to make a decision. He could either stay and face certain annihilation with great losses to both infantry and artillery or he could retreat. He had no orders to retreat and Jackson, who was in the rear gathering the reserves, was nowhere to be found. Garnett decided he could not wait for the reserves to arrive- he must pull back. As he did so he failed to communicate his movements to General Fulkerson and thus exposed his men on their right, which forced Fulkerson to retreat as well.
Corporal Seldon Day reflects on the retreat and the feelings of humility during the last moments battle: “Previously, while lying on the hill, I had witnessed two distinct charges on that part of the field, our men endeavoring to carry the wall. They were now making a third attempt. A few had gotten over, others were running up cheering, and the enemy were leaving, dodging behind woodpiles, that part of the field having been mostly cleared of its trees, and getting away as best they could, firing as they ran. Seeing this, instead of lying down after firing or going back to the ranks, as I should perhaps have done, I waved my cap to those behind and shouted, ‘We have got them started! Come on, come on !’ and those of us nearest made a rush for the wall.
“As soon as I was over the wall I fired at some men a few yards to the right, who were still hugging it for shelter. While reloading, immediately after, Dixon and Worcester, of Company C, came up and we all hastily shook hands, swearing that we would ‘stick together’ as we started on following up the retreating enemy, who singly and in squads were firing at us while dodging behind the woodpiles or running to a fence at the bottom of another wooded hill, some two or three hundred yards away, on which the battery was posted.
“While crossing the open field, Major Casement of the Seventh Ohio rode up from the right along the line. He had crossed the wall down there, and, outstripping the nimblest of his men on his beautiful little sorrel mare, he dashed up in front of us, and full of fire and enthusiasm, waving his sword, he shouted, ‘Who will go with me into that battery?’ ‘We will’ was the reply. ‘Come on, then, said the Major, as he urged his horse off to the front and left, taking the battery in flank as he entered the grove and rode up the hill.
“He was not wounded in that fight, that I remember, but as he spoke to us I noticed the wadding of the cape he wore was sticking out of several bullet holes.
“Following the Major as fast as we could toward the flank of the battery, when I reached the fence at the edge of the grove toward which some of the enemy had retreated, I discovered that Dixon and Worcester were not with me, nor did I see them again until the fight was over. It seems that in the rush across the open field Worcester was shot, his leg being shattered, and Dixon hearing him cry out had stopped to help him.
“When I got up to the battery in the grove I found the Major there taking a survey of the dead and dying men and horses, the crippled guns and overturned caissons. His command to us as we came up was, ‘Keep them going! Follow them up’ or something to that effect, which we endeavored to obey.
“Our few scattered men, after passing through the captured battery, dodged along through the grove, firing at such of the retreating enemy as we could see running from tree to tree and firing back as they went.
“In this way my attention was engaged when I suddenly came upon a party of three or four of the enemy in a fence corner at the edge of the grove. They were quite near me and on my left. I fired quickly into the party and dodged behind a tree for shelter and to reload. I felt quite confident that my shot was effective, especially as all but one other side. The other was lying upon the ground. Having reloaded, with cocked musket, I cautiously approached the prostrate form, and when I stood over him I saw that he was an officer and was dying. He gasped for breath, and in his delirium muttered, ‘Don’t, don’t.’ Strange as it may seem, I did not feel at that moment in the least like a murderer looking upon his victim. But as I knelt down to unbuckle his belt I discovered evidence that the wounded man had been perhaps carried to this spot, and with feelings of the interests horror it dawned upon me that I had fired into a party carrying away a wounded comrade. I was completely overcome for the time, and the tears ran down my face.”
Sergeant George McKay details his wound during the retreat: “When we got into the woods again we found everything in confusion, every man who could tree doing so, each man fighting on his own individual hook. I was struck in the left breast by a ball, which passed through my clothes, struck my left nipple, and ran around to my back.”
Levi Bauder continues on the retreat: “Nonetheless, the men went in each on his own hook and for an hour the battle waged furiously. Then another brigade came in on our left, we succeeded in outflanking the enemy and they retreated. We scaled the fence, took possession of the ground, and Stonewall Jackson had suffered his first and only defeat. Night closed in and we slept beside his captured guns, while the flickering camp fires lighted up the faces of his silent dead."
Federal cavalry pushed through to threaten the 42nd Virginia and cut them off. With uncanny timing Captain Sheetz appeared with part of Ashby’s Cavalry to head them off and save the day, for many men would have been captured. All this happened so fast that Jackson was unaware of the retreat. Upon arriving on the field he ordered a halt and literally grabbed a drummer boy and drug him to an open position where he ordered him to ‘beat out’ the rally. The scene was that of mass confusion. Garnett and Fulkerson’s men were in the retreat when Colonel Harman’s 5th Virginia was moving for the front. General Garnett ordered Harmon to set up and protect the retreat. When Jackson arrived he was stunned to see Fulkerson and Garnetts men retreating. He stood in the field and berated Garnett for the retreat and ordered him to organize his men to stand their ground. But it was too little too late as both Garnett and Fulkersons’ men were leaving the field of battle. Jackson’s only alternative was to bring up the two reserve regiments to stop the oncoming Federals. But Garnett had ordered them to stand their line and protect the retreat. At about this time the Union cavalry skirted around from the left and overwhelmed Jackson’s Headquarters Guards capturing Captains Morison, Langehorne, and Lyle, along with several hundred infantry. Several guns were captured when their horse and caissons were hit. The last Confederate regiment in the line of fire was that of the 5th Virginia under Colonel Harmon-protecting the retreat. The First and Third Brigades under Colonels Tyler and Sullivan were a mere 50 yards away when assisted by one of Burks regiments in their own retreat. Union regiments delivered a cross fire into the 5th Virginia for 20 minutes and reduced the 5th by a full quarter of its strength before night closed in and the fighting ceased. Lt. Junkin ordered the 5th to continue their retreat (See Maps 8&9).
The following is an account, as nearly as possible in his own words, of the first battle of Winchester, as it was seen and participated in by Corporal. Selden A. Day, of Co. C. It is also a record of the capture of Lieutenant Junkin, brother-in-law and staff officer of General Jackson (previously mentioned). For this achievement, coupled with Corporal Day’s gallantry at Cedar Mountain and Port Republic (where he was wounded in both legs), he was recommended for promotion and appointed by President Lincoln to be second lieutenant of artillery in the Regular Army. He did credit and honor to the selection, was wounded a number of times, but remained continuously on duty through the Civil and Spanish wars. He was retired after nearly 42 years’ active service as lieutenant-colonel, afterward being raised by law to the rank of Colonel.
“The battle was now nearly over, dusk was coming on. There was still some little firing over to the right where the cavalry were following a few fleeing men along a road near a house. I climbed over the fence into an open field and looked about me, my enthusiasm much diminished. Some of our men were near the fence and others in the wood beyond and on my right.
“To the left a column of troops was crossing the field, marching rapidly. I took them to be our left, advancing. As the twilight deepened the musketry off to the right together with the carbines of the cavalry began to show more of fire than smoke, in that respect differing from the appearance of firing in good daylight, especially in the times before the invention of smokeless powder.
“As I approached the column, now some two or three hundred yards away, I noticed a troop of horsemen, fifteen or twenty perhaps, marching alongside of the infantry, and between us. My object in approaching what I supposed to be our own troops was to inquire as to the whereabouts of my regiment. They turned out, however, to be the enemy’s right wing, falling back in good order, and the horsemen Jackson and his staff with their couriers. As I drew nearer, one of the horsemen rode out in front of me, crossing the field toward the right, where some little firing was still going on. He seemed to be an officer being followed by an orderly. As he got nearly in front of me I shouted, ‘Hold on, Hold on, please,’ and added, ‘I want to speak to you.’ He stopped, and I walked on toward him. When I got quite close, as, he sat on his horse, waiting to hear what I had to say, I discovered to my great fright that he was a Confederate, and it flashed on me at once that all those on my left must be the same and that I was a prisoner, unless, indeed, I could get him away, or away from him, to the woods behind, without undue commotion. So instinctively and quickly stepping to the left of the horse’s lead, I placed the muzzle of my cocked musket close to his breast and said (in a frightened voice, I have no doubt), ‘Get down, or I’ll shoot!’ A more astonished man one can hardly imagine. At this moment a couple of our men were coming up to see what was going on, knowing no more than I had that we were virtually in the enemy’s lines.
“The officer looked hastily and somewhat nervously, perhaps, first to one side and then on the other, and as he hesitated I repeated, ‘Get down ! Surrender, or I’ll pull !’ Seeing that I doubtless meant business and that I had the drop on him, he got down beside his horse. Turning toward us he said, ‘I want you all to understand I did not come up here to surrender. I thought you were some of our men.’ ‘Won’t surrender. eh?’ said one of our men. ‘Shoot him!’ ‘Stick him,’ said the other. ‘Damn him, let me stick him,’ said the first, and tried to elbow me aside to make room.
“At this I said, as I faced the men, my back to the prisoner:
“ ‘Look here, this man is my prisoner, and the one who shoots or sticks him has got first to shoot or stick me.’
“ ‘He says he won’t surrender,’ said one of the men. ‘But he has,’ said I; and turning to the prisoner I asked, ‘Haven’t you surrendered ?’ “ ‘Yes,’ said he; and straightening himself up, folding his arms on his breast, turning very pale, he said in a dry, hard voice, ‘But let them shoot and be damned!’
“It occurred to me at the time that if ever a man pronounced his own death sentence, this one thought he was doing it then.” ‘Well, that’s plucky,’ said one.
“ ‘He’s all right,’ admitted the other, and they turned their attention to the orderly, who all this time had been sitting his horse a few yards away without the least suspicion that anything was wrong.
“ ‘Come away from here,’ said I and we went up into the woods, followed by a couple of men with the orderly. Noticing the crossed silver arrows on the cap of the orderly, I asked him what he belonged to. ‘Ashby’s cavalry,’ was the jaunty reply, with a wag of his head and a laugh, as if it were all a huge joke. Whatever became of him, or who he was, I never knew.
“As we walked along I asked the prisoner his name and regiment. I understood him to say he was Lieutenant Dunkin of General Jackson’s staff.
“When we had got into the woods it was nearly dark, and many men had come through, all in disorder. The man with me, who seemed to be one of the Indianians, said, ‘Oh, there is our doctor.’ I said, ‘Doctor, we have got a prisoner here. What shall we do with him?’
“ ‘Go to hell with him! I have got men dying all over this field,’ was the reply.
“This was anything but encouraging, but we went along with our prisoner up the hill. Seeing an officer on horseback giving orders to some men, my companion said to me, ‘That’s our Colonel.’ We approached him, and I said: ‘Colonel, we have a prisoner here and don’t know what to do with him. He is a staff officer,’ I added “’Indeed!’ said he. ‘What is his name?; “ Lieutenant Dunkin,’ said I, ‘of Jackson’s staff.’ “ ‘Junkin,’ the prisoner corrected, and then spelled it out for me in a disgusted, emphatic manner, ‘J-u-n-k-i-n.
“ ‘Well, take him up the hill,’ said the Colonel, and turned to shout some orders to the men who were coming around. “We went along up the hill until we reached the top near the captured battery, I think, and while standing there wondering what next to dc and feeling that we had an elephant on our hands, Dixon came up and said, ‘Oh, Day, have been looking for you! Come with me to bring in Worcester; he is wounded. His leg is broken and we must carry him.’
“I told him what I was doing, but that I would go with him, and turning the prisoner over to my companion I went with Dixon to where Worcester was lying on the field.
“He was later carried to the straw stack where some of the wounded were cared for. But our loved comrade lost much blood and died in the hospital at Winchester a few days later.
“The night was spent by both sides in caring for their wounded, and sometimes we met thus peacefully on the field
“In the morning Jackson had disappeared from our front.”
Jackson knew at this time that that was the end of it, he must now pull out and salvage what he can- keeping casualties to a minimum. Here he ordered Dr. Hunter McGuire, Medical Director, to get every wounded man off of the field of battle. Jackson would not move his forces until all the wounded were returned. It was known until late that night that Lieutenant George Junkin Jr., a brother of Jackson’s first wife and Joseph Morrison, Jackson’s present wife Anna’s brother were both missing after the battle.
George McKay relates the stunning recollection of the battlefield after the last gun had sounded and the Federals were in position of the field: “When the detail arrived at the scene of the late battle they found that the ghouls of the battlefield had been engaged in plundering the dead. Forms that had been left behind had been stripped and robbed. Some had been only wounded, and murder as well as plundering had taken place. In case any of the miscreants were caught while plundering, their days were few on the earth. Their time had been, but would be no more.”
Stonewall then moved his forces four miles south to Newtown, while Ashby remained at Bartonsville, only 1 ˝ miles south of Kernstown to shield the Confederate retreat. Jackson, never one to commence battle without all the appropriate details, could not blame his troops for ‘losing’ the battle. It was, as in many cases during the war, a clear lack of accurate and timely intelligence. The townspeople of Winchester had reported exactly what general Shields had hoped they would. It was one of the rare times that the federal leadership outsmarted the Confederates in the early days of the war. Therefore, Jackson “had lost tactically, but far more important, won strategically, thereby winning the only battle he ever lost.”
The Rebel force under Jackson retreated to a position between Bartonsville and Newtown where General Jackson himself found a quite corner in a field and fell asleep on the fence post.
Colonel Tyler’s official report on the Battle of Kernstown:
......”At about 4 o’clock Colonel Kimball ordered me to proceed with my command down a ravine to the rear of a piece of woods on our right, and thence along the woods to the rear of a point on the enemy’s left flank, where he had a battery of two pieces planted. I succeeded in reaching the enemy’s rear unperceived by him, but found him in large force, and on the eve of attempting a flank movement similar to ours to capture Robinson’s battery.
“Our front was within musket range of him when he opened on us, and with such force that I immediately ordered up my reserve. His position was a strong one, and stubbornly maintained for a time, but he was at length forced to fall back before the incessant and well-directed fire of our men. He was protected in front by a stone fence while our only breastworks were the scattered trees of the woods, and a small natural embankment, and the fact that all of his killed and wounded in that locality were struck in the head speaks in stronger terms than I can use of the skill of our men as marksmen.
“After my brigade had thus bravely stood their ground for at least an hour, I think I may safely say, the 14th Indiana arrived to my support, followed shortly after by the 84th Pennsylvania., 13th Indiana, 67th Ohio, and the 5th Ohio, when the complete rout of the enemy was effected, he leaving for me 2 pieces of artillery ( I iron 12-pounder and 1 brass 6-pounder) with caissons, and all his dead and wounded. Both men and officers of my command fought with most commendable bravery and determination, and are entitled to special mention. ‘the colors of the Seventh Ohio were struck by 28 balls, one carrying away the crescent of the spearhead, another breaking the staff. To Acting Assistant Adj.-Gen. E. S. Quay and Aide-de-camp Henry Z. Eaton, of my staff, I am greatly indebted for the prompt performance of their respective duties.”
The Seventh Ohio had the right and led the 3rd Brigade in this battle, where its losses were quite perceptibly heavier than that of any other regiment in it.
At dusk the battle of Kernstown ended, and the victors bivouacked upon the field, in the midst of the dead and dying and suffering, where great fires were built and around which the wounded were gathered, and made as comfortable as possible, in the open, on a damp frosty night in March.
Thomas Jackson had been misled by the statements of his cavalry commander, Colonel Ashby, in reference to the number of Union troops in and around Winchester, hastened with all dispatch to return to make the attack at Kernstown, where, after a determined struggle from behind stone walls, favorably located, was signally defeated, and pursued the next day, to beyond Strasburg, made the following report:
“As the enemy had been sending off troops and from what I could learn were still doing so, and having a prospect of success, I engaged him yesterday about 3 P. M. near Winchester, and fought until dusk; but his forces were so superior to mine that he repulsed me with the loss of valuable officers and men killed and wounded; but from the obstinacy with which our troops fought and from their advantageous position I am of the opinion that his loss was greater than mine in troops, but I lost I piece of artillery and 3 caissons. Shields appears to have had 17 regiments of infantry. I heard he had much less when I made the attack.”
In his initial report of the battle of Kernstown, General Shields estimated the force of the enemy at about 15,000, under Jackson, Smith and Longstreet, it is found, according to the official reports, that General Jackson had, in this engagement, but 2,742 men, and 18 pieces of artillery, while according to General Shields his own force amounted to 10,000 plus men, with 27 cannon. We know that Smith and Longstreet was not in the valley at this time and the closest forces to Jackson was Johnston’s men in Culpepper.
The casualties reported in the Seventh Ohio were 20 killed, 62 wounded, and 10 missing; but as 9 of the missing reported for duty, there was but 1 man captured, making the total loss 83. Sergeant-Major Webb was among the killed. The total loss in Shields’s division was 118 killed, 450 wounded, and 13 missing; total, 581. General Jackson reported 80 killed, 375 wounded, and 263 missing; total, 7I8. (Details Attached but often conflicting)
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