General Stonewall Jackson’s victory on May 23 at Front Royal placed the Confederate Army on Federal Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’ right flank, forcing him to abandon his strong position at Strasburg to prevent being cut off from his base at Winchester. Once Banks reached Winchester, he attempted to reorganize his men and defend his base from the hills on the south side of the town. As Jackson’s Army approached the Federal defenses from the south, Gen. Richard Ewell’s Confederate division converged on Winchester from the southeast. On May 25, Ewell attacked Camp Hill, while the Louisiana Brigade of Jackson’s Army outflanked and overran the Union position on Bowers Hill. As both lines gave way, panic spread through the Federal ranks as Banks’ men raced through the streets of Winchester in an attempt to escape. Banks’ shattered army withdrew north across the Potomac River. During the battle and the subsequent retreat Banks lost more than 2,000 men along with most of his supplies while Confederate casualties were only about 400.
As a result of Gen. Bank’s defeat, President Abraham Lincoln feared for the safety of Washington D.C. and withheld Gen. Irvin McDowell’s corps from joining the Federal operation against Richmond, the Confederate capitol.
The Battlefield Today:
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Civil War Orientation Center & Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center
1400 S. Pleasant Valley Road
Winchester, VA 22601
Open Daily: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.