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1862 March 26: Battle of Kernstown

March 27, 2012

The First Battle of Kernstown, fought near Winchester, Virginia, was the opening battle of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign, and Jackson’s only defeat of the war. While technically a defeat for the South, it did prevent Union troops from moving from the Shenandoah Valley to reinforce McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.

This article is from the March 26, 1862, issue of The Hudson North Star.

James Shields, from “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War”1

A N O T H E R   V I C T O R Y !

BATTLE AT WINCHESTER.

GENERAL JACKSON DEFEATED

Rebel Loss Three Hundred.

Union Loss One Hundred and Fifty.

REBEL FORCE 15000—UNION FORCE 8000

GENERAL SHIELDS WOUNDED.

Cavalry Pursuing the flying Enemy.

Rumor that New Orleans is Ours.

MILWAUKEE, March 24.—Gen. Shields2 had a slight skirmish Saturday, in which he was slightly injured in the arm from a shell fragment.  It appears from the following despatch that this was the beginning of a hard fought battle:

WINCHESTER, March 23.— We have achieved a complete victory over General Jackson;3 have taken two guns and caissons.  About 100 rebels were killed, and twice as many wounded.  Our loss is not over 150 killed and wounded.  The enemy is in full retreat.

Another despatch says we have achieved a most glorious victory over the combined forces of Jackson, Smith and Langstreet [sic].4

The battle was fought within four miles of Winchester, from 10½ [10:30] this morning until dark.

The enemy numbered about 15,000; our forces not over 8,000.

The enemy’s loss was double that of our.

We captured a large numbers [sic] of prisoners.

The ground is covered with their muskets, cast away in flight.

Our cavalry is still in pursuit of, the flying rebels.  The particulars cannot be ascertained.

It is asserted as the prevailing opinion in Washington, that, by this time the National flag floats over New Orleans.

WE ARE ASSURED THE REBELS HAVE NO ARMSTRONG GUNS.

WASHINGTON, March 22.— We are assured from a perfectly reliable source that there is not an Armstrong gun in this country, nor has Sir William Armstrong ever made a gun for any other service than that of the British Government.

The large rifled ordinance procured from England by the rebels were made at the Low Moor works, and are made after designs of Capt. Blakely of the Royal Artillery.  About twenty of these Blakely guns delivered to the rebels are rifled hundred pounders, which with thirty smooth siege guns constitute all the heavy ordinance of the enemy received from abroad which have escaped capture.

Most of the rifled cannon used by the rebels have been smooth navy guns rifled, and many of them have burst from the enormous strain put upon them which they were not designed to bear.

LIEUT. WORDON [sic] WON’T LOSE HIS EYE SIGHT.

Lieutenant Wordon [sic]5 is improving. His friends are now confident that he will completely recover his eyesight.

From Burnside—Fort Macon blown up—Steamer Nashville Burned— Beaufort Probably Occupied.

FORTRESS MONROE, March 23— The steamer Chancellor Livingston, arrived from Hatteras last night.

Immediately on the occupation of Newbern [sic] an expedition to Beaufort was started by General Burnside [Ambrose E. Burnside].  The place was, however, evacuated before our troops approached.  Fort Macon was blown up by the rebels and the steamer Nashville burned.

On the day General Burnside occupied Newbern [sic], 1,600 rebel troops were on the road between Goldsboro and Newbern [sic].

1.  Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, by Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden, Chicago: McDonnell, 1866-68 (available in the UWRF Archives E 468.7 .G87 1866).
2.  James Shields (1810-1879) was an American politician, originally from Ireland. He was the only person in U.S. history to serve as a U.S. Senator from three different states: Illinois (1849-1855), Minnesota (1858-1859), and Missouri (1879 January-March). During the Civil War, he served as a brigadier general of volunteers from California. Although his troops handed Jackson his only defeat, Shields’ overall performance in the rest of the Valley Campaign was poor enough that he resigned and spent the rest of the war years in Mexico and then Wisconsin.
3.  Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-1863) is, perhaps, one of the best-known of the Confederate generals and military historians consider him to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders. He had received his famous nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run.
4.  Langstreet might refer to Lieutenant Colonel D. A. Langhorne of the 42nd Virginia Infantry. There wasn’t a “Smith” in command in either army.
5.  You will remember Lieutenant John Lorimer Worden (1818-1897) from the Battle of Hampton Roads. He was the captain of the USS Monitor and had received serious enough eye injuries that he had to relinquish command.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter J. Close permalink
    March 28, 2012 8:35 am

    Langstreet might have been Longstreet. Union papers liked to be very upbeat. Longstreet was one of the South’s best commanders and it would look good if the North defeated him. I have no idea if Longstreet was at that battle or not; but some history book would probably have that information.

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