The First Battle of Kernstown was Jackson’s only tactical defeat in the Valley. Indeed, this is the only recorded loss of his career. However, it was a strategic victory.
- See Kernstown I Today
President Abraham Lincoln was disturbed by Jackson’s threat to Washington and redirected substantial reinforcements to the Valley, depriving McClellan’s army of these troops. McClellan claimed that the additional troops would have enabled him to take Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign and perhaps even end the war that much earlier.
As commander of the Valley District, Confederate Gen. Jackson was tasked with keeping the Federal Army in the Shenandoah Valley from moving east to join Federal Gen. McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign. In a rare intelligence miscue, Col. Turner Ashby reported to Jackson that most of the Federal troops at Winchester had left the area.
Relying on this faulty intelligence Jackson rushed his small force north to attack the few Federals at Winchester commanded by Col. Nathan Kimball. Jackson quickly learned that he was facing an entire Federal division of 8,500 men. The Federals stopped Jackson at Kernstown and then counterattacked turning Jackson’s left flank and forcing him to retreat.