After the victory at Battle of Berryville as the month began, Union Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan sought information about the troop strength of Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early. Earlier in the year, his subordinate Union Gen. George Crook had met Rebecca Wright, a Quaker schoolteacher and Union sympathizer in Winchester, a commercial center and transportation hub at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley with many Confederate sympathizers and which changed hands 75 times during the war. Slave Thomas Laws of Millwood (between Berryville and Winchester) had a Confederate permit to sell produce in Winchester three days per week, and agreed to act as a Union spy. On September 16, Laws took Sheridan's letter (hidden in his mouth) to Wright, who consulted her mother and then replied (in a note which Laws also hid in his mouth) that a Confederate officer recovering from his wounds had recently bragged about Confederate artillery and infantry battalions under General Joseph B. Kershaw and Lt.Col. Wilfred E. Cutshaw had left Winchester to raid the B&O Railroad at Martinsburg, in the new state of West Virginia.
Accordingly, Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with the VI Corps and XIX Corps, crossing Opequon Creek. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy. The Confederate line was gradually driven back toward the town. Mid-afternoon, the Army of West Virginia and the cavalry turned the Confederate left flank. Early ordered a general retreat. Because of its size, intensity, serious casualties on both sides (particularly among the general officers) and its result (Confederates never again controlling Winchester and President Abraham Lincoln winning re-election), many historians consider this the most important conflict of the Shenandoah Valley. Sheridan would later give much of the credit for the victory to "the brave Quaker girl", whose intelligence he thought worth a brigade of troops.
Sheridan was given command of the Army of the Shenandoah and sent to the Shenandoah Valley to deal with Early's Confederate threat. For much of the early fall of 1864, Sheridan and Early had cautiously engaged in minor skirmishes while each side tested the other's strength. Early mistook this limited action to mean that Sheridan was afraid to fight, and he left his army spread out from Martinsburg to Winchester. Sheridan learned of Early's dispersed forces and immediately struck out after Winchester, the location of two previous major engagements during the war, both Confederate victories.
Early quickly gathered his army back together at Winchester just in time to meet Sheridan's attack on September 19. The Union forces coming in from the east had to march on the narrow road through Berryville Canyon, which soon got clogged up with supply wagons and troops, delaying the attack. This delay allowed Early to further strengthen his lines. Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon's division arrived from the north and took up position on the Confederate left.
At 11:40 A.M., Sheridan attacked with Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright's Union VI Corps on the left flank astride the Berryville Turnpike and the XIX Corps, under Maj. Gen. William H. Emory, occupying the ground from Wright's right flank northward to Red Bud Run. The Sixth Corps was supported by well placed batteries but Emory had no artillery going into the battle due to the rugged and wooded nature of the terrain. After encountering heavy resistance from the Confederate divisions of Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur on the Berryville Pike and John B. Gordon's division (located in the Second Woods and Middle Field) in front of the XIX Corps, Sheridan succeeded in driving back the Confederates from their initial positions in confusion.
Although Sheridan's initial attack was successful, the terrain and road network combined with fierce Confederate artillery created a large gap in the center of the Union battle line. Fortuitously for Early, Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes division arrived on the battle field and counterattacked into this gap, forcing both the VI and XIX Corps to retreat. Ramseur and Gordon rallied their divisions and joined in the counterattack. Shortly after Rodes's troops advanced to the attack, he was struck by a shell fragment that mortally wounded him, robbing Early of his best subordinate general. His troops continued their attacking unaware of his fall. Sheridan, however, closed the breach by advancing the reserve divisions of the VI and XIX Corps. The VI Corps division of Brig. Gen. David Russell, who like Rodes, lost his life restoring the broken battle line, restored the broken line in the vicinity of the Berryville Pike to Ash Hollow in the center. In the northern sector of the battlefield, Brig. Gen William Dwight's division held the Union right flank after much bitter fighting against Gordon and elements of Rodes's command. At this time, approximately 2:00 P.M., a lull developed over the Berryville Pike sector of the battlefield, although Gordon kept up the pressure against Emory's XIX Corps in the Middle Field near Red Bud Run.
When the outcome of the 11:40 A.M. attack seemed in doubt, Sheridan sent the Army of West Virginia under Brig. Gen. George Crook to locate the Confederate left flank and look out for and protect the right flank of the XIX Corps. Sheridan also ordered Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson's cavalry division to advance toward Early's right flank and cut off his line of retreat from Winchester. Wilson started late and did not succeed in his mission in spite of the weak nature of the Confederates in his front. Sheridan rode to his right flank where he found the hard pressed XIX Corps and vociferously assured General Emory that Crook was coming up and that the Union forces would whip the rebels. Crook reached the Union right flank, he found Sheridan waiting for him and advanced into the First Woods toward the Middle Field where Dwight's division was still hanging on after taking heavy losses in its fight with Gordon. Crook decided to relieve the XIX Corps with Col. Joseph Thoburn's division and then personally led Col. Isaac Duval's division on a flank march north of Red Bud Run and attack Gordon's left flank.
Just before Crook's attack struck, Col. George Patton, grandfather of Gen. George Patton, and his brigade of Confederate infantry took position behind a stone wall along Hackwood Lane and covered Gordon's left flank and rear. Crook began the attack north of Red Bud Run and was soon joined by Thoburn's division. Although Duval's encountered a nearly impassable swamp, the men quickly detoured around the morass with some struggling through to continue the assault. At the same time, Thoburn's direct attack on Gordon combined with Duval's threatening presence caused the Confederate position to collapse. Patton found his brigade sandwiched between converging columns of Crook's infantry from the east and north and Col. Thomas Devin's Union cavalry brigade from the west. Patton was mortally wounded by a shell fragment during the withdrawal and his brigade was shattered, losing hundreds of men cut off and captured with every regimental battle flag being captured by the Union cavalry. Gordon rallied his men behind a stone wall that ran at right angles to his original position and checked Crook's continued advance.
When Crook attacked, Sheridan ordered the VI Corps to join the attack. Ramseurs' and Brig. Gen. Cullen Battle's (Rodes) divisions and Col. Tom Carter's southern artillery offered stout resistance to the VI Corps attack. Sheridan rode along its battle line, rallying and inspiring the troops as he moved toward the Berryville Pike. General Emory Upton (commanding Russell's division) was driving back Battle's left flank when a Confederate shell fragment knocked him out of the battle. The surgeon was able to stop the bleeding and Upton ordered a stretcher brought forward from which he watched the closing scenes of the battle while Col. Oliver Edwards led the division in the final advance on Winchester.
As the infantry pressed the stubborn Confederates back toward Winchester, Maj. Gen. Alfred Torbert's two divisions of charged down the Valley Pike shattering Early's left flank and getting behind his infantry. Early counterattacked with Brig. General Gabriel Wharton's two brigades of infantry, temporarily halting the horsemen. The division of Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt regrouped and crushed the entrenched Confederate left while Crook's infantry hit Wharton and Gordon head on driving them back to the Smithfield Redoubt where they made another brief stand. At the same time, the division of Brig. Gen. William W. Averell charged up the western side of the Valley or Martinsburg Turnpike, driving back the remnants of Early's cavalry and capturing one piece of artillery. Averell continued his attack routing Confederate cavalry who attempted to rally at Star Fort and then pressing on toward Winchester. Col. Thomas Munford's Confederate brigade drove Averell's advance back on Fort Hill, buying enough time to allow thousands of Early's troops to avoid entrapment and capture before Colonel James Schoonmacher's brigade secured the heights. The Confederate army was in full retreat, "whirling through Winchester." As the Southern troops raced through Winchester in confusion, a number of ladies of the town including the wife of General Gordon joined arms and attempted to shame the men back to the battlefield, but the reality of the situation rendered their efforts fruitless. Sheridan had won the Third Battle of Winchester and U. S. forces held Winchester for the balance of the war and into Reconstruction.
The battle marked a turning point in the Shenandoah Valley in favor of the North. Early's army for the most part remained intact but suffered further defeats at Fisher's Hill and Tom's Brook. Exactly a month later, the Valley Campaigns came to a close after Early's defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Victory in the Valley, along with other Union victories in the fall of 1864, helped win re-election for Abraham Lincoln, as Sheridan would later point out as a male attempted to oust Wright from her government job.
The battle was particularly damaging due to the number of casualties among key commanders. In the Union army, Brig. Gen. David A. Russell was killed and Brig. Gens. Emory Upton, George H. Chapman, and John B. McIntosh were seriously wounded. Confederate Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes was killed and Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, Brig. Gens. William Terry, Archibald C. Godwin, and Col. William Wharton were wounded. Also among the Confederate dead was Col. George S. Patton, Sr. His grandson and namesake would become the famous U.S. general of World War II, George S. Patton, Jr.
During the battle, fourteen Union enlisted men and one officer received the Medal of Honor for their actions.
Most of the preservation effort at the battlefield has been privately oriented. The Civil War Trust (a division of American Battlefield Trust) and its partners have acquired and preserved a total of 473 acres (1.91 km2) of the 567-acre battlefield. One acquisition was made in 2009 by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, with participation by the Trust and the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. At that time, these preservation groups purchased a 209-acre parcel known as the "Huntsberry Farm" tract, named for a family who lived on the land at the time of the battle, for $3.35 million.
The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is presently engaged in restoring the battlefield, focusing first on the key battle area south of Redbud Run. Restoration and interpretation of this area is underway, focusing on the infamous 30-acre Middle Field, in time for the 150th Anniversary of the battle in September, 2014.
The 38th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Companies A, B, and C organized at Camp Cameron in Cambridge, Massachusetts in July and August 1862. The remaining seven companies were organized at Camp Stanton in Lynnfield, Massachusetts and mustered into service from August 20 to 22. Colonel Timothy Ingraham initially commanded the regiment.After two month’s garrison duty in Baltimore, the regiment embarked for Louisiana, being assigned to the Army of the Gulf which was commanded by Major General Nathaniel P. Banks. The regiment saw its first combat during the Battle of Fort Bisland in southern Louisiana. During May and June 1863, the 38th Massachusetts took part in the Siege of Port Hudson and the assaults on that city on May 27 and June 14, suffering considerable casualties. After the surrender of Port Hudson on July 9, the regiment participated in the ill-fated Red River Campaign.In July 1864, the XIX Corps, of which the 38th Massachusetts was a part, was transferred to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and were attached to the Army of the Shenandoah commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan. The 38th Massachusetts was engaged in several battles of the Valley Campaigns of 1864, mostly notably the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864 and the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864 where they suffered significant casualties.In January 1865, the 38th Massachusetts left the Shenandoah Valley, being transferred to North Carolina. They served guard duty in various locations during the spring of 1865 including Morehead City and Goldsboro. The regiment’s 3-year term of service ended in July 1865. Although the war was over, regiments were still needed to serve garrison duty in the South. A portion of the remaining men of the 38th Massachusetts chose to reenlist and were transferred to the 26th Massachusetts. The rest were shipped home and the 38th Massachusetts was mustered out of service on Gallops Island in Boston Harbor on July 13, 1865.Battle of Fisher's Hill
The Battle of Fisher's Hill was fought September 21–22, 1864, near Strasburg, Virginia, as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864 during the American Civil War. Despite its strong defensive position, the Confederate army of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early was defeated by the Union Army of the Shenandoah, commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan.Charles H. Seston
Charles H. Seston (1840 – September 19, 1864) was a Union Army soldier killed in action during the American Civil War. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.
Seston joined the army from Indiana in August 1861.Chester B. Bowen
Chester Bennett Bowen (April 1, 1842 – March 16, 1905) was a Union soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864. Corporal Bowen was one of two members of the 1st New York Dragoons to receive the Medal of Honor for this action. The other was Sgt. Andrew J. Lorish.Conrad Schmidt (Medal of Honor)
Conrad Schmidt (February 27, 1830 – December 26, 1908) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.Fort Collier
Built by Confederate Lieutenant Collier and Virginia militia with the aid of Federal prisoners, the Fort Collier redoubt guarded the north entrance of Winchester, Virginia on the east side of the Martinsburg Pike. During later Federal occupations, it was known as Battery No. 10. The fort was set on low ground, and generally offered little military advantage, except as a guard post for the pike. LtGen Jubal Early used it as part of his defensive works in the Third Battle of Winchester.Gabriel Cole (Medal of Honor)
Gabriel Cole (March 22, 1831 – January 9, 1907) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry and the capture of the flag of the 45th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.George E. Meach
George E. Meach (1844 – March 21, 1873) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.
Meach enlisted in the Army from New York in November 1861, and was assigned to the 6th New York Cavalry. He transferred to the 2nd New York Provisional Cavalry in June 1865, and was discharged in August.George Patton (disambiguation)
George S. Patton (1885–1945), George Smith Patton, was a distinguished though controversial United States Army officer.
George Patton may also refer to:
George Patton, Lord Glenalmond (1803–1869), Scottish politician and judge
George S. Patton Sr. (1833–1864), Confederate general killed during the Third Battle of Winchester and the grandfather of George S. Patton
George S. Patton (attorney) (1856–1927), father of George S. Patton and mayor of San Marino, California
George Patton IV (1923–2004), George Smith Patton, Major General in the United States Army, son of George S. Patton
George S. Patton (Southern Victory), George S. Patton in the alternate history series Southern VictoryGeorge Reynolds (Medal of Honor)
George Reynolds (1839 - March 16, 1889) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.Henry W. Downs
Henry W. Downs (August 29, 1844 – July 2, 1911) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864. He is buried at Dayton National Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.James Martinus Schoonmaker
James Martinus Schoonmaker, Sr. (June 30, 1842 – October 11, 1927), was a German American Colonel in the Union Army in the American Civil War and a vice-president of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864.John T. Sterling
John T. Sterling (1841 – February 2, 1920) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.
Sterling joined the army from Indiana in August 1861, and was mustered out in July 1865.List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Third Battle of Winchester
The Third Battle of Winchester or Battle of Opequon, was fought in Winchester, Virginia, on September 19, 1864, during the Valley Campaigns of 1864 in the American Civil War. Fourteen Union Army enlisted men and one officer were awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the battle.
The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.Millbank (Winchester, Virginia)
Millbank, also known as Spout Spring and Hillwood, is a historic house at 3100 Berryville Pike, in Frederick County, Virginia east of the city of Winchester. The two story brick mansion was built c. 1850 by Isaac and Daniel T. Wood. It is one of the largest Greek Revival houses in the county, standing on a hill overlooking Berryville Pike and Opequon Creek, which flows east of the property. The house (vacant in 2014) has a typical I-house plan, with two entrances, one facing the highway and one the creek. Both were originally sheltered by Doric-columned porches, but the side entry's porch has been removed by vandals. The house was previously owned by the Winchester-Frederick Service Authority, who took the property in 1984 by eminent domain to construct the adjacent sewage treatment plant. It is now owned by The Fort Collier Civil War Center, Inc. (2014.) This nonprofit organization owns historic Fort Collier, another Third Battle of Winchester site.
The house has a documented association with the American Civil War. The nearby crossing of Opequon Creek was at that time a ford, and it was in this area that the Third Battle of Winchester raged. Millbank is documented as having been the site of a Union Army field hospital during the battle.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.Patrick H. McEnroe
Patrick H. McEnroe was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.
Aged 39, McEnroe enlisted in the Army from Schodack, New York in November 1862. He was mustered out in June 1865.Peter J. Ryan
Peter J. Ryan (1841 – January 8, 1908) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Opequon more commonly called the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.
Ryan joined the army from Indiana in July 1861, and was mustered out in July 1865.Robert E. Rodes
Robert Emmett (or Emmet) Rodes (March 29, 1829 – September 19, 1864) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War, and the first of Robert E. Lee's divisional commanders not trained at West Point. His division led Stonewall Jackson's devastating surprise attack at the Battle of Chancellorsville; Jackson, on his deathbed, promoted Rodes to major general. Rodes then served in the corps of Richard S. Ewell at the Battle of Gettysburg and in the Overland Campaign, before that corps was sent to the Shenandoah Valley under Jubal Early, where Rodes was killed at the Third Battle of Winchester.Union Army of the Shenandoah
The Army of the Shenandoah was a Union army during the American Civil War. First organized as the Department of the Shenandoah in 1861 and then disbanded in early 1862, it became most effective after its recreation on August 1, 1864, under Philip Sheridan. Its Valley Campaigns of 1864 rendered the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia unable to produce foodstuffs for the Confederate States Army, a condition which would speed the end of the Civil War.
Shenandoah Valley Campaign
|Raids and expeditions|
|Places and tourism|