On to the Shenandoah!
by Mort Kunstler
Gen. Jackson at Front Royal, May 23, 1862 In May of 1862
Confederate troops under the command of General Thomas ]. “Stonewall” Jackson took part in one of the most brilliant military campaigns in American history, the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. During that time over seventeen thousand rebels marched more than six hundred miles to participate in four major engagements including the Battle of Front Royal.
On May 23rd, Jackson’s cavalry commander, General Turner Ashby, forded the Shenandoah River and set out to capture a Union depot at Buckton Station. After defeating two companies of Federal infantry, they destroyed the railroad and cut the telegraph wires, isolating the town of Front Royal. With no threat of reinforcements, Jackson boldly moved into the city. With lethal horse-drawn artillery clearing the way, his infantry advanced through the streets, pushing the occupying Federals back. Ashby’s cavalry then swept around the Union Army's ﬂank. This tactic created a severe state of confusion among them. Certain of their defeat, hundreds of Union soldiers threw down their arms and surrendered.
The result was one of the most lopsided victories of the entire Civil War. Federal casualties were recorded at 773, of which 691 were captured. Confederate losses were only 36 killed or wounded. After the battle, members of the 1st Maryland CSA took charge of prisoners from the Union's 1st Maryland regiment. Many recognized friends and family on both sides. According to a witness, ”Nearly all recognized old friends and acquaintances, whom they greeted cordially, and divided with them the rations which had just changed hands.”
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