THE ROAD TO FRONT ROYALVirginia, May 23, 1862
He had earned his name -"Stonewall" -the summer before; now he stood ready to earn his reputation. In the first three weeks of May in 1862, Major General Thomas J. Jackson had baffled and beaten Federal forces in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. His goal was to keep Federal forces from moving against the Confederate capital from the north while General George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign threatened Richmond from the east. In the Valley before him now lay the General Nathaniel P. Banks' powerful Northern army -which even Jackson's superior believed unbeatable.
To obtain permission to strike Banks, Jackson had been forced to appeal to Confederate authorities in Richmond -where he had received the approval of General Robert E. Lee. Driving his hard-marching foot soldiers relentlessly, Jackson moved his troops near the speed of cavalry. On May 23, 1862, marching over little-used back roads, he struck Banks a surprise blow at Front Royal. In response, Banks moved his army northward toward Washington - but Jackson led his troops on a grueling overnight march and surprised Banks again at the Battle of Winchester. Although the Federal forces outnumbered Jackson's Confederates, the Northerners were stunned by Jackson's fierce surprise attack. After brief resistance, Banks' army stampeded across the Potomac in a panic.
The victorious Confederates hereafter would be renowned as Jackson's "foot cavalry" - and Stonewall Jackson would be proclaimed a military genius for his Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
First of Four Limited Edition Prints in the "Jackson Valley Campaign" Series
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