The Battle of Fisher’s Hill was an excellent example of a surprise flanking movement against a defending force in a strong position. The battle opened the Shenandoah Valley to the destruction of its agricultural base
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Following his defeat at Third Winchester (Opequon) on September 19, Gen. Early withdrew and took up strong defensive positions at Fisher’s Hill, south of Strasburg. On September 21, the Federal army advanced, driving back skirmishers and capturing important high ground opposite the Confederate works. On the 22nd, Gen. George Crook’s Federal VIII Corps, hidden from Confederate view, moved along North Mountain to outflank the left of Early’s line. About 4 p.m. Crook attacked Early’s flank, held only by Confederate cavalry who offered little resistance. As Crook began to roll up the Confederate line, Sheridan ordered a frontal assault. Facing overwhelming force from the front and rear, the Confederate defenders broke and ran to avoid capture.
During the retreat, Col. A.S. “Sandie” Pendleton, Early’s Chief of Staff, was mortally wounded while trying to rally Confederate troops. Early retreated south to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, opening the Valley to a Federal “scorched earth” operation. Mills and barns from Staunton to Strasburg were subsequently burned in what became known as The Burning.