SHERIDAN IN THE VALLEY
The 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign
September to October 1864
A Module for Stonewall in the Valley
[Revised May 12, 1998]
NOTE: Sheridan in the Valley is not a complete game. You MUST own Stonewall in the Valley in order to use this module.
Designer's Note: This is my first "module" for the GCACW series. It looks fine to me (but I'm biased) - however, I realize it will require a lot of work if it is ever to be published (which is my ultimate goal.)
Most of you probably have much more experience with the game system that I do. I would appreciate any feedback you can give me to help improve this module. Please feel free to (constructively) criticize any and all parts of this module - be merciless!
GENERAL: In pushing up the Shenandoah Valley, where it is expected you will have to go first or last, it is desirable that nothing should be left to invite the enemy to return. Take all provisions, forage, and stock wanted for the use of your command; such as cannot be consumed destroy. It is not desirable that the buildings should be destroyed; they should rather be protected, but the people should be informed that so long as an army can subsist among them recurrences of these raids must be expected, and we are determined to stop them at all hazards. Bear in mind the object is to drive the enemy south, and to do this you want to keep him always in sight. Be guided in your course by the course he takes.
The Sixth and Nineteenth Corps have not left the Valley. I fought them both yesterday. I attacked Sheridan's camp on Cedar Creek before day yesterday morning, and surprised and routed the Eighth and Nineteenth Corps, and then drove the Sixth Corps beyond Middletown, capturing 18 pieces of artillery and 1,300 prisoners; but the enemy subsequently made a stand on the pike, and, in turn, attacked my line, and my left gave way, and the rest of the troops took a panic and could not be rallied, retreating in confusion. But for their bad conduct I should have defeated Sheridan's whole force. On the retreat back to Fisher's Hill the enemy captured about thirty pieces of artillery and some wagons and ambulances. The prisoners were brought off. My loss in men was not heavy. General Ramseur was seriously wounded while acting with gallantry, and was captured by the enemy.
Sheridan in the Valley depicts the duel between Generals Philip Sheridan and Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley during the latter part of 1864. This module uses the rules, maps and informational counters from Stonewall in the Valley - the only additional components required are this rule booklet and the included countersheet.
1.1 RULE CHANGES
This section describes what changes were made to the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook. Unless otherwise noted, all rules from Stonewall in the Valley are used as written.
1.0 Introduction (Change)
Units consist of a varying number of points, each of which about 500 infantrymen, 600 Union cavalrymen or 750 Confederate cavalrymen.
2.2 Playing Pieces
Military Units (Change)
Military units come in three sizes:
| | | = Regiment X = Brigade XX = Division
The leader counters represent army and corps commanders. Army commanders have a Command Value (only); corps commanders have a Tactical Value and a Command Value.
The Strength Markers included with Stonewall in the Valley have a maximum value of 8. Players will need to use Strength Markers that have a maximum value of 16. These are available from other games in the series.
3.0 BASIC GAME SEQUENCE OF PLAY (Change)
Replace the Basic Game Sequence of Play with the following:
ACTIVATE LEADER (Addition)
Union Leader Torbert: The Union player rolls two dice. The sum of the dice is Torbert's movement allowance.
All other leaders determine their Movement Allowance normally.
7.4 Combat Dice Roll Modifiers (Addition)
If a Union corps leader successfully undertakes a corps assault action and the army leader Sheridan is currently stacked in the same hex as the active leader, the Union player adds 1 to his attack die roll. This bonus, which is in addition to the +1 modifier due to assault, is applied regardless of whether or not a "grand assault" takes place. The Sheridan bonus may never be applied to defending units.
12.0 RANDOM EVENTS (Change)
Since Random Events apply only to the Advanced Game, these rules have been moved to Section 15.0, below.
13.0 BASIC GAME SCENARIOS
There are two basic Game scenarios in this module. Unless otherwise noted in the following instructions, all units begin the game with their front (normal) sides face-up at Fatigue Level 0 with organized Strength markers. Before starting, place the Turn marker on the Turn Record Track in the box corresponding to the date on which the scenario begins. This is Turn 1.
13.1 Scenario 1: From Winchester to Fisher's Hill
NOTES: See "Game as History" section.
MAP: This scenario requires only the north map. If both players agree, they may add the middle map to give them more room to maneuver. Join the maps as described in the Stonewall in the Valley rules.
GAME LENGTH: 4 turns; September 19 to 22, 1864
1. If hexes N3633 or N3733 contain any friendly units (regardless of their Manpower Value), the moving unit must pay a movement penalty of +3 MPs to enter that hex. This is instead of the normal +1 MP cost to enter a hex occupied by friendly units.
The Union player gains and loses Victory Points (VP) for the following occurrences:
VP Reason +2 If Winchester (N3332) is controlled by the Union player at the end of the game. +4 If Fisher's Hill (M3613) is controlled by the Union player at the end of the game. -5 If Martinsburg is occupied by a Confederate unit at any time during the game. -2 For each point of Union Manpower Value lost in combat, retreat or cavalry retreat (not in extended march, force march, or moving from one enemy ZOC to another). +3 For each point of Confederate Manpower Value lost in combat, retreat or cavalry retreat (not in extended march, force march, or moving from one enemy ZOC to another).Union VP Winner 16 or more Union Decisive Victory 11-15 Union Substantive Victory 6-10 Union Marginal Victory 1-5 Confederate Marginal Victory 0 to -3 Confederate Substantive Victory -4 or less Confederate Decisive Victory
Unit/Leader Size Cmd Type Manpower Hex Sheridan Army AS Ldr - N3633 Wright Corps VI Ldr - N3633 Russell Div VI Inf 9 N3633 Getty Div VI Inf 8 N3633 Rickets Div VI Inf 8 N3633 Emory Corps XIX Ldr - N3733 Dwight Div XIX Inf 8 N3733 Grover Div XIX Inf 16 N3733 Crook Corps VIII Ldr - N3833 (Tollgate) Thoburn Div VIII Inf 8 N3833 (Tollgate) Duval Div VIII Inf 6 N3833 (Tollgate) Torbert Corps Cav Ldr - N3930 Custer Brig Cav Cav 2 N3930 Devin Brig Cav Cav 2 N3930 Lowell Brig Cav Cav 2 N3930 Moore Brig Cav Cav 1 N3823 (Bunker Hill) Capehart Brig Cav Cav 2 N3829 (Leetown) McIntosh Brig Cav Cav 2 N3633 Chapman Brig Cav Cav 2 N3633
Unit/Leader Size Cmd Type Manpower Hex Early Corps II Ldr - N3533 Gordon Div II Inf 6 N3630 (Stephenson's Depot) Breckinridge Div II Inf 3 N3630 (Stephenson's Depot) Ramseur Div II Inf 5 N3533 Rodes Div II Inf 7 N3630 (Stephenson's Depot) Wharton Div II Inf 7 N3630 (Stephenson's Depot) F. Lee - A Brig - Cav 1 N3630 (Stephenson's Depot) F. Lee - B Brig - Cav 1 N3731 (White Sulphur Springs) Lomax - A Brig - Cav 1 N3632 (Red Bud Church) Lomax - B Brig - Cav 1 N3534
13.2 Scenario 2: Cedar Creek
NOTES: See "Game as History" section.
MAP: Use only the middle map.
GAME LENGTH: 1 turn; October 19, 1864
1. All Union units begin the game with their Strength Markers on their Disorganized side.
2. All Confederate units begin the scenario at Fatigue Level 2.
3. Surprise: To simulate Confederate surprise, the following rules are used:
4. Sheridan's Ride: The first time the Union player wins initiative, Sheridan has arrived on the battlefield. The following actions are the only actions allowed by the Union player during this Action Phase:
Once the above actions are complete, the current Union Action Phase is complete.
The Union player gains and loses Victory Points (VP) for the following occurrences:
VP Reason +3 If the Union player controls Middletown (M2712) at the end of the game. +5 If the Union player controls Strasburg (M3018) at the end of the game. -2 For each point of Union Manpower Value lost in combat, retreat or cavalry retreat (not in extended march, force march, or moving from one enemy ZOC to another). +3 For each point of Confederate Manpower Value lost in combat, retreat or cavalry retreat (not in extended march, force march, or moving from one enemy ZOC to another).Union VP Winner 13 or more Union Decisive Victory 10-12 Union Substantive Victory 7-9 Union Marginal Victory 4-6 Confederate Marginal Victory 1-3 Confederate Substantive Victory 0 or less Confederate Decisive Victory
Unit/Leader Size Cmd Type Manpower* Hex Wright Army** AS Ldr - M4109 Ricketts Corps** VI Ldr - M4109 Russell Div VI Inf 5 M4109 Getty Div VI Inf 7 M4109 Ricketts Div VI Inf 5 M4109 Emory Corps XIX Ldr - M4010 (Belle Grove) Dwight Div XIX Inf 6 M4010 (Belle Grove) Grover Div XIX Inf 11 M4010 (Belle Grove) Crook Corps VIII Ldr - M4011 Thoburn Div VIII Inf 4 M4011 Duval Div VIII Inf 4 M4111 (Log House) Kitching Div - Inf 2 M4111 (Log House) Torbert Corps Cav Ldr - M4008 (Woolen Mills) Custer Brig Cav Cav 2 M4008 (Woolen Mills) Devin Brig Cav Cav 2 M4008 (Woolen Mills) Lowell Brig Cav Cav 2 M4008 (Woolen Mills) Moore Brig Cav Cav 1 M4212 (Buckton Ford) Capehart Brig Cav Cav 2 M4615 (Front Royal) McIntosh Brig Cav Cav 2 M4109 Chapman Brig Cav Cav 2 M4109 *All Union units start with their Manpower counters on their Disorganized side. ** These Leaders hold these positions only while Sheridan is off-map. When Sheridan returns, flip the Wright counter over to its Sheridan side and flip the Ricketts counter over to its Wright side.
Unit/Leader Size Cmd Type Manpower* Hex Early Army AV Ldr - M3912 (Bower's Mill) Gordon Corps II Ldr - M4012 Ramseur Div II Inf 6 M4012 Rodes Div II Inf 5 M4012 Gordon Div II Inf 7 M4012 Kershaw Div - Inf 8 M3912 (Bower's Mill) Wharton Div - Inf 4 M3911 (Burnt Mills) F. Lee - A Brig - Cav 2 M3908 F. Lee - B Brig - Cav 1 M3911 (Burnt Mills) Lomax - A Brig - Cav 1 M4516 Lomax - B Brig - Cav 1 M4516 * All Confederate units start at Fatigue Level 2
ADVANCED GAME RULES
14.0 ADVANCED GAME SEQUENCE OF PLAY
15.0 RANDOM EVENTS
Dice Result 2 Rain (Current +2) 3 Rain (Current +1) 4 Confederate Command Paralysis 5 No Effect 6 No Effect 7 Breckinridge is Transferred 8 No Effect 9 No Effect 10 Union Command Paralysis 11 Sheridan Goes to Washington 12 Rain (Current +1)
Explanation of Random Event Table Results:
Command Paralysis: If this result occurs, the indicated player subtracts 1 from all his initiative die rolls in the Action Cycle of the current turn only.
Rain: As per the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook.
Breckinridge is Transferred: The first time this result is obtained, the Confederate player must withdraw Breckinridge's division. Rules for withdrawing Breckinridge are given in Section 18.0 Withdrawal, below. Every time this event is obtained after the first, treat it as "No Effect".
Sheridan Goes to Washington: When this result occurs, Sheridan has been ordered to Washington for a meeting with Secretary of War Stanton. Immediately flip the "Wright" counter over to its "Ricketts" side and flip the "Sheridan" counter over to its "Wright" side. The Union player then rolls one die. On a roll of 6, Sheridan returns to play two turns from the current turn, otherwise he returns during the next turn. Sheridan returns on the appropriate turn only when the Union player wins initiative or has it passed to him. When Sheridan returns, the Union player flips the "Wright" counter back to its "Sheridan" side and the "Ricketts" counter back to its "Wright" side as soon as the Union player wins initiative. The Union player then performs the following steps for all units within 5 hexes of Sheridan:
Remove all Demoralization-1 and -2 markers.
All units at Fatigue Level 1 or more lose three Fatigue Levels (to a minimum of Fatigue Level 0). Replace each unit's Fatigue marker with a new marker three less than the one being removed. (Units at Fatigue Level 0 do not have markers.)
Once the above actions are complete, the current Union Action Phase is complete. Sheridan can only be sent to Washington once per game.
The Union and Confederate players have certain reinforcements they may receive during the game. In addition, units withdrawn from the game (see below) may be brought back into play as reinforcements. The Union player may gain or lose VP depending upon when these reinforcements are brought into play.
16.1 Requesting Reinforcements
During the Reinforcement Request Segment of each Strategic Cycle, both players may request reinforcements if they have any uncommitted forces. To request reinforcements, the owning player designates which reinforcements he wants, then rolls one die. The requested reinforcement arrives on the map that many games turns in advance of the current turn. Exception: On a roll of 6, the requested reinforcement is permanently removed the game and may not be requested again.
Units requested as reinforcements may be withdrawn from the game later in the game if desired.
16.2 Union Reinforcements
Union reinforcements may be requested beginning with Turn 20. These reinforcements arrive at hex M5816. Reinforcements cannot be placed in M5816 if it is Confederate-occupied, but it may be placed in a Confederate ZOC. Exception: If the Union player delays the scheduled placement of Kitching's division by one or more turns, he may instead deploy the unit in any hex from M5806 to M5832.
16.3 Confederate Reinforcements
The Confederate player may request reinforcements beginning with Turn 5. Confederate reinforcements arrive in any of the hexes shown in the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook, Section 18.1, Reinforcement Entry Areas.
16.31 Confederate Cavalry Reinforcement
Once during the game, the Confederate player may request cavalry reinforcements. The same procedure as above is used to determine when these reinforcements will arrive. On the turn of arrival, immediately increase the Manpower of any one Confederate cavalry unit by 1.
16.4 Victory Point Gain/Loss
The number of VP lost or gained for requesting reinforcements is shown on the Reinforcement Commitment Chart. The number of VP gained or lost by the Union player is based on the turn the reinforcements were requested, not on the turn they arrive.
The Union player may gain or lose VP if either player withdraws units from the map.
If the "Breckinridge is Transferred" result is obtained on the Random Events Table, the Confederate player must immediately withdraw the Breckinridge unit.
To remove the unit, first reduce its Manpower Value by one. If the remaining Manpower Value is 1 or more, add that Manpower Value to the nearest Confederate unit. Finally, remove the Breckinridge counter from the board.
17.2 Union Withdrawal
The Union player may withdraw units as per Section 19.2, Union Withdrawal, of the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook. All withdrawn units are set aside and may be brought back into play as reinforcements.
18.0 UNION OFF-MAP MOVEMENT
Union off-map movement is not allowed.
19.0 COUNTY CONTROL
In this module, only the Union player determines County Control. Having control of a county allows the Union player to devastate that county (see Section 24.0, Scorched Earth).
In the County Control Segment, the Union player controls a county if one or more Union infantry (not cavalry) unit(s) with a Manpower Value total of 2 or more occupies the control seat. Counting this unit, the Union player must also have a combined Manpower Value among all his units (including cavalry) in that county of at least 20.
20.0 BRIDGE DESTRUCTION AND REPAIR
No change from Section 23.0 of the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook.
21.0 SHERIDAN'S CAPTURE
This rule simulates the effort the Confederates put into trying to capture Sheridan. Sheridan can only be captured if the unit(s) he is stacked with are forced to retreat, rout and/or are completely eliminated. If this occurs, use the following procedure to determine if Sheridan is captured:
Sheridan is the only Leader subject to this rule. No other Leaders can be captured.
22.0 CONFEDERATE ARMY REORGANIZATION
At the beginning of the campaign game, Early is the commander of the Second Corps; all infantry units fall under his command. Immediately prior to Cedar Creek, Gordon was placed in command of Ramseur's, Pegram's and Gordon's divisions, effectively making him a corps commander and Early an Army commander. To simulate this, the Confederate player is allowed to reorganize his army during each Lull. This is done as follows:
23.0 SCORCHED EARTH
During the Scorched Earth Segment the Union player may devastate each Union-controlled county, as determined in the immediately preceding County Control Segment. To devastate a county, the Union player merely announced the fact to his opponent.
Each county may be devastated only once per game. The Union player can devastate any number of counties during each Scorched Earth Segment, provided the county is Union controlled.
Devastation gives the Union player Victory Points as shown on the Victory Point Schedule of Scenario 3. No Victory Points are awarded for devastating any county not listed. In addition, each devastated county has a Forage Value of 1 for the remainder of the game.
Both players must determine the supply status of all their units during each Strategic Cycle, beginning with Turn 10. The Supply Status Segment does not take place on Turn 5.
Both players have one depot each on the map at the beginning of the game. The Union depot is located in Martinsburg (N4317). The Confederate depot is located at Staunton Depot (S2630). Both depots begin the game on their "Complete" side. No other depots may be built by either player during the game.
24.2 Determining Supply Status
The supply status of each unit (both Union and Confederate) must be determined. For each unit, determine the distance between it and its side's supply depot; the distance is measured in counties. Roll one die and consult the Supply Table. Apply any applicable modifiers as shown on the table. If the modified die roll is less than or equal to the number shown on the Supply Table, the unit is "in supply." If the modified die roll is greater than the number shown, the unit is "out of supply."
The only changes from the foraging rules of Section 24.3 of the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook are listed below:
All other foraging rules are used as shown in the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook.
24.4 Ammunition (Optional)
If this rule is used, all normal ammunition rules are followed. The only change is to the ammunition replenishment rules, which are shown below.
Ammunition Replenishment (Change)
Both players may attempt to replenish ammunition for all their units in the Ammunition Segment of the Strategic Cycle starting with turn 15. The Ammunition Segment is skipped on Turns 5 and 10. A unit may attempt to replenish even if it is not out of ammo.
To determine the number of ammo boxes erased by each unit, roll one die and apply any applicable modifiers shown on the Ammunition Table. Cross-reference the distance between the unit and its supply depot (measuring the distance in counties) and the modified die roll. The number shown is the number of boxes erased from the unit's Ammo Roster.
25.0 SUBSTITUTE UNITS (Change)
The only change to this section is to the Attachment Restrictions paragraph: "A substitute may not attach to another unit if the addition of its Manpower Value would raise the Manpower Value of the unit remaining on the board to 17 or more."
26.0 ADVANCED GAME SCENARIO
There is one Advanced Game scenario in this module. Units on the map begin the game on their normal sides at Fatigue Level 0 with organized Strength Markers. Some units begin the game in off-map boxes. Do not place Strength markers under these units until they are placed on the map. Place the turn marker on the Turn Record Track in the September 18 box. This is Turn 1.
Scenario 3: The 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign
NOTES: This scenario simulates the "active" part of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign, from the Third Battle of Winchester (Opequon) to the final battle at Cedar Creek.
MAPS: Use all three maps, joining them together as described in Section 27.1 of the Stonewall in the Valley rulebook.
GAME LENGTH: 32 turns; September 18 to October 19, 1864
The Union player gains Victory Points for the following events:
VP Reason -2 For each point of Union Manpower Value lost in combat, retreat or cavalry retreat (not in extended march, force march, or moving from one enemy ZOC to another). +3 For each point of Confederate Manpower Value lost in combat, retreat or cavalry retreat (not in extended march, force march, or moving from one enemy ZOC to another). -10 Sheridan is captured. +/-? Variable amount when reinforcements requested or units are withdrawn. +5 During each Withdrawal Segment that Breckinridge remains in play. This only applies after the "Breckinridge is Transferred" result is obtained from the Random Events Table. +5 If Frederick County is devastated. +5 If Page County is devastated. +7 If Shenandoah County is devastated. +10 If Rockingham County is devastated. +15 If Augusta County is devastated. Union VP Winner 50 or more Union Decisive Victory 40-49 Union Substantive Victory 30-39 Union Marginal Victory 20-29 Confederate Marginal Victory 10-19 Confederate Substantive Victory 9 or less Confederate Decisive Victory
Unit/Leader Size Cmd Type Manpower* Hex Sheridan Army AS Ldr - N4331 (Clifton) Emory Corps XIX Ldr - M5702 (Berryville) Dwight Div XIX Inf 8 M5702 (Berryville) Grover Div XIX Inf 16 N4334 (Whitington's Shop) Wright Corps VI Ldr - N4333 (Fairfield) Russell Div VI Inf 9 N4333 (Fairfield) Getty Div VI Inf 8 N4332 Rickets Div VI Inf 8 N4331 (Clifton) Crook Corps VIII Ldr - N4330 Thoburn Div VIII Inf 8 N4330 Duval Div VIII Inf 6 N4329 (Summit Point) Torbert Corps Cav Ldr - N4329 (Summit Point) Custer Brig Cav Cav 2 N4329 (Summit Point) Devin Brig Cav Cav 2 N4329 (Summit Point) Lowell Brig Cav Cav 2 N4329 (Summit Point) Moore Brig Cav Cav 1 M4615 (Front Royal) Capehart Brig Cav Cav 2 N3829 (Leetown) McIntosh Brig Cav Cav 2 M5702 (Berryville) Chapman Brig Cav Cav 2 M5702 (Berryville) Kitching Div - Inf 12 Reinforcement Complete Depot - - - - N4317 Martinsburg All Union infantry units begin the game under Breastwork markers.
Unit/Leader Size Cmd Type Manpower* Hex Early Corps II Ldr - N3533 Gordon Div II Inf 6 N3823 (Bunker Hill) Breckinridge Div II Inf 3 N3630 Ramseur Div II Inf 5 N3533 Rodes Div II Inf 7 N3630 Wharton Div II Inf 7 N3630 F. Lee - A Brig - Cav 1 N3630 F. Lee - B Brig - Cav 1 N3731 Lomax - A Brig - Cav 1 N3632 Lomax - B Brig - Cav 1 N3534 Kershaw Div - Inf 8 Reinforcement Complete Depot - - - - S2630 (Staunton Depot)
by John Menichelli
Let me use this space to explain a few of the design decisions that were made in this module.
Union cavalry: Prior to 1863, Confederate cavalry was markedly superior to its Union counterpart. The Confederate edge began to slip in 1863 and, in 1864, the situation was reversed. Union cavalry was better equipped, both in terms of horseflesh and weaponry, and the troopers themselves had become proficient horsemen. It is for these reasons that two changes were made to the Union cavalry. First, they were given a movement advantage to reflect their better training and equipment. Second, they were changed to 600 men per strength point, instead of the standard 750 men. This shows the effect of improved weaponry without the need for an additional rule.
Confederate Cavalry: Players will notice that the Confederate cavalry brigades are named for the division commanders and not for each brigade (i.e., "Lomax-A", "Lomax-B", etc.) This is because the Confederate cavalry was severely understrength in this campaign. The individual cavalry brigades could have been represented, each with a Manpower Value of 1. However, this would give the Confederate cavalry more men than they actually had. In addition, Early consistently misused his cavalry, and did not seem to trust the information they brought him. Limiting each cavalry division to two brigade-sized counters seems to be a workable compromise to these problems.
Mosby's Rangers: Confederate guerrillas (of which Mosby's Rangers were the most notorious, but not the only, irregular forces operating in the Valley) were a constant problem during the campaign. The main effect of these guerrillas was to harass Union supply lines. Because of guerrilla raids, Sheridan was forced to divert troops to escort supply wagons. However, Sheridan believed that Mosby's Rangers were actually good for his army, because they kept straggling to a minimum. The supply rules are an attempt to show the effect these forces had on the campaign.
Cedar Creek: The Cedar Creek scenario does not have rules for looting of the Union camps by the Confederates. While it's true that there was some looting, my reading of the battle indicates the problem was minimal. What really slowed down the Confederate pursuit was the fact that they had been marching all night - they were just plain exhausted.
Campaign Game: I chose to focus on the September 18 to October 19 period, mainly because this was the most active period of the whole campaign. Before September 18 (the eve of the Third Battle of Winchester), Sheridan and Early were merely sparring with each other; Sheridan was under orders to remain on the defensive since he did not have numerical superiority over Early. After October 19 (Cedar Creek), Early didn't have much of an army left to spar with, nor could Lee spare him any more reinforcements. Even though he did try offensive operations in mid-September, Early's army had ceased to be effective after Cedar Creek.
THE GAME AS HISTORY
by John Menichelli
May to August, 1864
Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of all Union armies in March of 1864. By May, he had developed a plan for his armies that would simultaneously hit the Confederate capital of Richmond and the Confederacy's railroad hub of Atlanta. In the west, Major General William T. Sherman was to march on Atlanta. In Virginia, Grant proposed a three-pronged thrust: Major General George Meade and his Army of the Potomac would advance against General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Major General Benjamin Butler and the Army of the James would move on Petersburg. The third operation had Major General Franz Sigel moving south into the upper Shenandoah Valley to cut Lee's rail links with the fertile valley.
As with most plans, this one did not survive contact with the enemy. Sherman was slowed as General Johnston's Army of the Tennessee fell back from one defensive position to another, refusing to become decisively engaged. Butler was stalled near Bermuda Hundred by a numerically inferior Confederate force. On May 15, Sigel ran into a Confederate force under Major General John C. Breckinridge at New Market (M2133); Sigel was defeated and forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Grant and the Army of the Potomac engaged the Army of Northern Virginia in three major battles between May 5 and June 11: the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. In this month Grant's casualties were 56,000 versus Confederate casualties of 20,000. Northerners began to wonder if their War for the Union justified the enormous cost in human lives.
Meanwhile, Breckinridge's division was called east from the Valley to reinforce the Army of Northern Virginia at Hanover Junction. Brigadier General William E. "Grumble" Jones assumed command of the remaining Confederate forces in the Valley.
While Lee and Grant were engaged at Cold Harbor, Grant sent Major General Philip H. Sheridan, at the head of two cavalry divisions, on a raid against the Virginia Central Railroad. In addition, Grant ordered Major General David Hunter (who replaced Sigel after his repulse at New Market) into the Valley to link up with Sheridan and assist in destroying this vital rail link between Lee's army and the harvests of the Shenandoah Valley. When Lee learned of the raid, he countered by sending General Wade Hampton and two cavalry divisions after Sheridan. Sheridan and Hampton clashed at Trevilian Station on June 11; the Southern cavalrymen were able to keep Sheridan away from the vital railroad and his appointed link-up with Hunter.
On June 12, Grant crossed the James River and advanced on Petersburg. However, he was unable to reach Petersburg before Lee's army occupied the works. The siege of Petersburg had begun.
On June 5, Hunter crushed the smaller Confederate army at Piedmont (S3526), killing "Grumble" Jones and taking nearly 1,000 prisoners. The disorganized Confederates could not delay Hunter's advance to Staunton (S2629). After passing through Staunton, Hunter continued south, sporadically destroying mills, barns, and public buildings, and condoning widespread looting by his troops. On June 11, Hunter swept aside a small cavalry force and occupied Lexington, where he burned the Virginia Military Institute and the home of former Virginia Governor John Letcher. Hunter also ordered Washington College (originally endowed by George Washington) put to the torch, but his officers were able to dissuade him.
Confederate General Braxton Bragg, Davis's military advisor, realized that Hunter must not be allowed to reach Lynchburg, which was the nexus of three vital railroads: the Orange and Alexandria, the Virginia and Tennessee and the Southside. He wrote to President Jefferson Davis of the importance of expelling the Federal force from the Valley. He also wrote that "If it [Hunter's force] could be crushed, Washington would be open to the few we might then employ." Davis forwarded the letter without comment to Lee, who replied, "I acknowledge the advantage of expelling the enemy from the Valley. The only difficulty with me is the means. It would take one corps of this army. If it is deemed prudent to hazard the defense of Richmond, the interests involved by thus diminishing the force here, I will do so."
Consequently, Lee returned Breckinridge and the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, under Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early, to the defense of Lynchburg. Early's mission was to protect the rail hub at Lynchburg, protect the crops of the Valley until they could be harvested, threaten Washington and prevent reinforcements from reaching Grant in Petersburg. Lee hoped to break the siege of Petersburg by forcing Grant to detach troops to protect the Federal capital.
Hunter, who wasted valuable time destroying property in Lexington, further delayed his arrival in Lynchburg by marching across the Blue Ridge via the Peaks of Otter, instead of the taking the direct road from Lexington to Lynchburg. Because of this, Hunter's army reached the outskirts of Lynchburg as Early's vanguard began to arrive by rail from Charlottesville. Hunter and Early clashed on the outskirts of Lynchburg on June 17. The next day Hunter made several feeble probes of the Confederate positions, but was repulsed. That night Hunter began his retreat into West Virginia. Early pursued Hunter for sixty miles over the next three days, but then returned to the Valley and started his troops north to the Potomac River. Hunter reached Charlestown (N4927) by June 29.
Early Moves On Washington
Hunter's retreat left the Shenandoah Valley virtually undefended, and Early moved swiftly north, reaching Winchester (N3333) by July 2. General Sigel, commanding a reserve division, was in Martinsburg (N4317). On July 3, Early sent his cavalry out to get behind Martinsburg, while his infantry and artillery advanced directly on the town. Early hoped to surround Sigel and force him to surrender. General Sigel, learning of Early's maneuvering, rapidly withdrew to Maryland Heights at Harpers Ferry (N5524). On July 4, Early occupied Bolivar Heights; that night the Federals evacuated Harper's Ferry and joined Sigel. Early was unable to occupy Harper's Ferry itself due to the powerful artillery posted on Maryland Heights, but was able to collect a sizable cache of supplies before moving on.
Following Hunter's repulse from Lynchburg, Grant and the Union War Department did not know the whereabouts of Early's force. On July 3, Halleck wired Grant that Sigel had reported Early and Breckinridge, and Mosby's raiders, moving down the Valley. In response, Halleck ordered Hunter to move up to the line of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. Hunter, however, had not replied to the order; if fact, Hunter's whereabouts were unknown. Grant replied to Halleck's message, stating that Early could not be in the Valley, since he was opposite the Army of the Potomac at Petersburg.
Before pressing on the Washington, Early decided to remove the threat to his flank and rear by forcing Sigel from Maryland Heights. On July 5, Early sent Breckinridge's command across the Potomac in an effort to outflank Sigel. Gordon's division was sent across Antietam Creek the next day. However, Early found the defenses too strong to assault, and so decided to bypass Maryland Heights and approach Washington via the South Mountain passes, then on through Frederick. While Breckinridge and Gordon were maneuvering around Sigel, McCausland's cavalry brigade rode into Hagerstown (N5505) and collected a $20,000 levy from the citizens.
By this time Grant had received updated intelligence that Early had in fact slipped away from Petersburg and was on his way to Washington. On July 5, General Meade reported to Grant that he had been informed by Confederate deserters that the news in Richmond and Petersburg was Early was making an invasion of Maryland, with the intent of capturing a supposedly defenseless Washington. On July 7, six companies of the Eighth Illinois (Union) cavalry skirmished with Johnson's cavalry brigade. Accordingly, Grant ordered Meade to send Major General Horatio G. Wright's VI Corps to Washington. He also diverted Brevet Major General William H. Emory's XIX Corps, then en route from Louisiana to the Army of the Potomac, to the Federal capital.
Early realized he would have to move fast now, since word of his approach to Washington would spread quickly. On July 8, Johnson's cavalry carefully probed towards Frederick, where he learned the town was defended by a mixed force of infantry, cavalry and artillery. The next day, Early's infantry and artillery advanced on Frederick, while his cavalry fanned out to the north and south, with orders to cut the rail and telegraph lines to Washington.
Opposing Early was the commander of the Middle Military Department, Major General Lew Wallace (who later wrote Ben Hur) with a force of about 2,000 men. Wallace withdrew his force from Frederick and posted it on the far side of the Monocacy River, thus putting a river between him and his opponent. Arriving to bolster Wallace's force was Brigadier General James B. Rickett's division of the VI Corps. The Confederates successfully forced Wallace's position but at a high cost; half of Gordon's division was reported dead or wounded. The rebels gave pursuit, but were held back by Early, who did not want to be burdened with an excessive number of prisoners that he would have to guard and feed. Early then demanded a tribute of $200,000 from the people of Frederick or risk having their town burned down. Since they could no longer count on Wallace for protection, they paid.
Even though defeated, Wallace's troops had bought another day for Washington to prepare for the approaching rebels. Early's army approached Washington on July 11 and probed the weakly manned defenses at Fort Stevens that afternoon. On hand was President Lincoln, his stovepipe hat probably visible to the Confederates above the parapet. An officer, supposedly Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., roughly told Lincoln "to get down or he would have his head knocked off." (The President complied.) Early decided to assault the defenses on July 12, but called off the attack when he was informed that the VI and XIX Corps had arrived and were manning the Washington entrenchments. Early remained in front of the fortifications all day, then began withdrawing shortly after midnight on July 13. Major General Horatio Wright pursued Early's army with the VI and XIX corps, but he could not prevent the rebels from escaping nearly intact. The Confederates recrossed the Potomac River at White's Ford and reentered the Valley by Snickers Gap. Wright's "pursuit" thoroughly disgusted Lincoln, who wanted an end to rebels incursions against the capitol.
On July 18, a Union division crossed the Shenandoah River west of Snickers Gap but was thrown back at the battle of Cool Spring. Union cavalry were turned back at Berry's Ferry, nine miles farther south, the next day. On July 20 Union Brigadier General William Averell's mounted command, backed by infantry, moved south from Martinsburg on the Valley Turnpike. Averell attacked the infantry division of Major General Stephen D. Ramseur at Rutherford's Farm near Winchester and routed it. In response to this setback and converging threats, Early withdrew to Fisher's Hill south of Strasburg (M3712).
Early's withdrawal convinced Wright that he had accomplished his task of driving off the Confederate invaders. He therefore ordered the VI and XIX Corps to return to Alexandria, where they would board transports to join the Army of the Potomac. Wright left Crook with three small infantry divisions and a cavalry division at Winchester to cover the Valley.
Early, under orders to prevent Union reinforcements from reaching Grant, was quick to take advantage of Wright's departure. He attacked and routed Crook's command at Second Kernstown on July 24, and pressed the retreating Union forces closely. When Crook retreated toward Harpers Ferry, Early sent McCausland and his cavalry to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to exact tribute. Early's orders to McCausland were simple: receive $500,000 in United States currency or $100,000 in gold. If the townspeople refused to pay, burn the town in retaliation for Hunter's destruction of private homes in June. McCausland and his cavalry arrived in Chambersburg on July 30 and presented their demands to the townspeople. The citizens informed McCausland that they were not able pay; furthermore, they openly expressed doubt that the Confederates would damage their property. McCausland became annoyed, and promptly ordered the city burned to the ground. The irony is that Chambersburg could have been saved, or at least a fight made for it: General Averell and his cavalry division, numbering 2,500 men, were 11 miles away in Greencastle, Pennsylvania on the same day McCausland entered Chambersburg. Even though Averell knew of Early's approach to Chambersburg, he did nothing to oppose the movement.
Up to this point, Grant has been running the war from his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac at Petersburg. However, Early's threat to Washington, Crook's defeat at Second Kernstown, and the burning of Chambersburg convinced Grant it was time to get personally involved. Grant proceeded to Washington on August 1.
Grant realized early on that the separate military commands in the Washington and Valley areas would operate more efficiently if commanded by a single, able general. Hunter, even though he was the ranking general in the West Virginia and Washington departments, had demonstrated that he was too timid for the job. Grant previously suggested Generals Franklin and Meade to Lincoln, but they had both been rejected. He then recommended Sheridan, but Secretary of War Stanton objected, saying that Sheridan was too young. Grant's solution was to promote Hunter to administrative head of the Middle Military Division (the name given to the consolidation of the Department of the Susquehanna, the Middle Department, the Department of Washington and the Department of West Virginia), while Sheridan would command the forces in the field.
Before going to Washington, Grant stopped in Frederick to meet with General Hunter, whose forces were encamped along the Monocacy River. When Grant questioned Hunter regarding the whereabouts of Early's army, Hunter replied that he did not know where Early was. Exasperated, Grant ordered all of Hunter's troops to Halltown; the idea being that a Union advance up the Valley would force Early to reveal himself. Grant then informed Hunter of his new command, but advised him that it would be best if Sheridan were given command of all troops in the field. Hunter felt he had lost the confidence of General Halleck and asked to be relieved; Grant obliged him and wired Sheridan to meet him at Monocacy Junction. Sheridan arrived there on August 7 and officially assumed command of the Middle Military Division.
The Mimic War
Sheridan quickly organized his forces, now designated the Army of the Shenandoah. With Early encamped at Bunker Hill, Sheridan's plan was to move up the Valley in an attempt to get on Early's flank and rear and thereby threaten Winchester. On August 10, Sheridan began his move towards Berryville (M5702), arriving there early that evening. The Confederates pulled back towards Winchester, skirmishing lightly with the Federals as they went.
The Army of the Shenandoah continued its advance up the Valley on August 11 and 12. By the evening of the 12th the Confederates had reached Fisher's Hill (M3613), while Sheridan was encamped along Cedar Creek near Middletown (M4209).
Sheridan received disturbing news that Longstreet's First Corps, now under the command of Anderson, was reinforcing Early. Sheridan was especially anxious to know if this is true and, if so, where these reinforcements would enter the Valley. An approach by a strong force via Front Royal would put the Confederates beyond his left flank and threaten his already extended supply line.
Consequently, Sheridan acted with caution on August 13, ordering only a reconnaissance in force towards Strasburg. On August 14, Sheridan ordered Devin's cavalry brigade to Cedarville. The same day, he received a message from Grant, confirming that Confederate reinforcements have indeed been sent to the Valley. These troops were estimated at "two divisions of infantry, some cavalry and twenty pieces of artillery." The reinforcements sent by General Lee actually consisted of Major General Joseph B. Kershaw's infantry division, Major Wilfred E. Cutshaw's artillery battalion and Major General Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry division, all under the command of Lieutenant General Richard S. Anderson.
Grant ordered Sheridan to assume the defensive, since Early's combined force, which Grant now estimated at about 40,000 men, was too strong to be attacked. Sheridan withdrew his army late on August 15, and arrived in Winchester early the next morning. Sheridan and his staff moved their headquarters to Winchester on the evening of August 16. As they did, they heard the sounds of cannon fire coming from the direction of Front Royal (M4615): the Yankee cavalry was engaging the advance elements of the rebel reinforcements.
Sheridan completed his withdrawal to Winchester by August 17; the Union forces then moved immediately towards Berryville. During the march, the Union cavalry burned all the crops within reach and seized all the livestock they could find.
Early ordered an immediate pursuit, and signaled Anderson to move towards Winchester, but it began to rain heavily on August 17. The rain continued intermittently through August 20, slowing both armies. On August 21, Early and Anderson launched a converging attack against Sheridan. Early struck the main body of Union infantry at Cameron's Depot (N4526), while Anderson moved north from Berryville against Sheridan's cavalry at Summit Point (N4329). Casualties were light, and Sheridan continued his withdrawal. The next day, Early advanced on Charlestown N4927), which panicked a portion of the retreating Union army, but by late afternoon, Sheridan had retreated into formidable entrenchments at Halltown (N5325), where he was beyond attack.
The morale of the Union troops remained high, though most of them were puzzled by the progress of the campaign so far. The army was nicknamed "Harper's Weekly", due to the frequency of their departure and return from that place.
Early then attempted another incursion into Maryland, hoping by this maneuver to maintain the initiative. Leaving Anderson with Kershaw's division entrenched in front of Sheridan at Halltown, he directed the rest of the army north toward Shepherdstown (N5118). On August 25, two divisions of Sheridan's cavalry intercepted Early's advance, but the Confederate infantry drove them back to the Potomac River in a series of actions along the Kearneysville- Shepherdstown Road. Early's intentions were revealed, however, and on August 26, Sheridan's infantry attacked and overran a portion of the Confederate entrenchments at Halltown, forcing Anderson and Kershaw to withdraw to Stephenson's Depot (N3630). Early abandoned his raid and returned south, establishing a defensive line on the west bank of Opequon Creek from Bunker Hill (N3823) to Stephenson's Depot.
This phase of the campaign came to be called the "mimic war" by the troops, due the lack of any real combat. In fact, Sheridan's actions up to this point led Early to classify him as "timid." Actually, Sheridan's conduct was based on military and political factors. Militarily, Grants orders were specific, calling for him to remain on the defensive. Politically, the Lincoln administration could not afford a defeat, especially one so close to the Federal capitol.
Unless something happened to break the current stalemate, Lincoln believed his chances for re-election were slim. On August 23, Lincoln met with his cabinet: "This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President-elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterwards."
On September 2, Averell's cavalry division rode south from Martinsburg, struck the Confederate left flank at Bunker Hill and defeated the Confederate cavalry, but they were driven back by rebel infantry. Meanwhile, Sheridan concentrated his infantry on an extended line from Berryville to Summit Point (N4329). On the afternoon of September 3, Anderson's command encountered and attacked elements of Crook's VIII Corps (the so-called "Army of West Virginia") at Berryville but was repulsed. Early brought his entire army up on the 4th, but found Sheridan's position at Berryville too strongly entrenched to attack. Early again withdrew to the Opequon line.
A major topic of conversation among the troops of both armies was Sherman's capture of Atlanta on September 2. Upon receiving the news, the citizens of the North exploded in exultation; it appeared they were finally winning the war. The capture of Atlanta occurred only two days after McClellan was nominated as the Democratic party's Presidential candidate on a peace platform. Sherman's victory had given Lincoln his chance for re-election. The North's attention now shifted to Sheridan and events in the Valley.
Both armies marked time into the middle of September. The Northern press howled for action, Lincoln became anxious and even Grant, who completely trusted Sheridan's judgment, began to fret about Sheridan's inactivity. However, Sheridan was keeping his army in place for a reason: based on intelligence he received early in September, it appeared that Kershaw's division was to be returned to Lee. Sheridan did not want to do anything that might cause Early to delay or even cancel this withdrawal. The withdrawal did indeed take place on September 15; Anderson with Kershaw's division and an artillery battalion left the Winchester area to return to Lee's army at Petersburg. By September 18 they had nearly reached Woodville in the Virginia Piedmont.
Rebecca Wright, a loyal Quaker schoolteacher who lived in Winchester, confirmed the news of Anderson's withdrawal. A message requesting information was passed from Sheridan to Rebecca by a black man named Tom Laws, who was allowed passage through the Confederate lines three times a week to sell vegetables. Laws carried the message and the reply, wrapped in tinfoil, in his mouth. Rebecca's reply, based on what a convalescing Confederate officer told her the night before, was received by Sheridan the same day.
Sheridan, who had been summoned by Grant to Charlestown (N4927) on September 15, now had the information he needed to go ahead with his attack. He proceeded to the meeting on September 17 and enthusiastically explained his plan to his superior. Sheridan also explained that since Early had been weakened by the loss of Kershaw's division, now was the time to strike. Grant asked, "Could you be ready to move by next Tuesday [September 20]?" "Oh, yes," Sheridan replied, "I can be off before daylight on Monday." Satisfied, Grant gave probably the shortest command ever issued for an army offensive: "Go in."
A soldier who observed the meeting between Grant and Sherman had this to say about Grant: "I hate to see that old cuss around. When that old cuss is around there's sure to be a big fight on hand."
Upon return to his headquarters at Charlestown, Sheridan put his plan into action, issuing orders for a movement on September 18, similar to his movement up the Valley in August. Everything was put on hold, however, when Sheridan received a message from Averell's cavalry: Early was moving an estimated two divisions of infantry to Martinsburg. Realizing that Early was dividing his army, Sheridan immediately changed his plans. Instead of outflanking the Confederates, he now decided to attack Winchester and crush Ramseur's and Wharton's divisions before Early could consolidate his forces.
Early visited the telegraph office in Martinsburg on September 18, where he learned of Grant's meeting with Sheridan. Realizing that Grant's visit was probably not a social call, Early quickly ordered Gordon's troops to retrace their steps. By force marching his men, Gordon was able to reach Bunker Hill by the evening of the same day.
The game is about to begin.
September 19, 1864
Sheridan advances his army on the Berryville Turnpike, precipitating the Third Battle of Winchester (also know as the Battle of Opequon). Sheridan's plan calls for all his infantry to pass through Berryville Canyon (N3633-N3733). General Wright insists his artillery and wagons remain with his corps, thus slowing the advance of Emory's XIX Corps, following directly behind Wright. This delay allows Early time to concentrate his army. The battle rages all day on the hills east and north of Winchester. Early's veterans decimate two divisions of the XIX Corps and a VI Corps division. Confederate division commander Major General Robert E. Rodes and Union division commander Brigadier General David A. Russell are killed within a few hundred yards of one another in the heat of the fighting. Late in the afternoon a flanking movement by Crook's corps and the Union cavalry finally break Early's overextended line north of town.
Early's losses among his infantry and artillery are nearly 30 percent, while Sheridan's are only 12 percent. Sheridan's victory did not result from tactical ability, but rather from overwhelming numbers.
Early's army begins his retreat towards Fisher's Hill during the night; the lead elements reaching there by dawn.
September 20, 1864
Sheridan begins his pursuit of Early's army at 5:00 a.m., with the cavalry divisions of Merritt and Averell in the lead. Merritt advances along the Valley Pike, while Averell takes the Back Road (which is known as "Zane's Road" to the inhabitants of the Valley.) Rebel cavalry harasses them during their approach, but are easily brushed aside. The Federal cavalry halts just north of Strasburg and waits for the main body to come relieve them; this occurs at about 5:00 p.m. Confederate skirmishers, using the building in Strasburg for cover, trade shots with Union pickets well into the evening.
At the same time the main Union army begins its advance, Wilson's cavalry division is ordered to proceed towards Front Royal. Around noon he encounters Wickham's cavalry across the Cedarville-Front Royal road at Crooked Run (M4612). The Yankees, outnumbering the rebels two-to-one, manage to drive off Wickham's troopers. Wilson then rests his men for the remainder of the day.
Early decides to make his stand on Fisher's Hill, in an attempt to slow Sheridan's advance up the Valley. He occupies good ground; if adequately manned, Fisher's Hill is impregnable. However, Sheridan will not be "timid" as he was in August. Outnumbering the Confederates better than three-to-one, Sheridan decides to attack. The only question is, how?
That night, Sheridan meets with his corps commanders to decide a plan of attack. All agree that a frontal assault is not possible. A proposed flanking maneuver around Early's right is also dismissed. Crook then suggests a turning movement against the Confederate left. Sheridan believes that would succeed, but Wright and Emory do not. Sheridan, knowing that success depends on achieving surprise, decides to try it. Crook is ordered to move his corps to the north come nightfall. Torbert is also instructed to have Merritt's cavalry division move to join Wilson at Front Royal. The cavalry are to move up the Luray Valley, cross the Massanutten at New Market Gap and form a barrier behind Early's army. Crook is to attack on September 22 and, if all goes according to plan, Sheridan will have destroyed Early's army by September 23. The movement is scheduled to begin the next day; in the meantime, Crook's VIII Corps is to remain hidden in a wooded location north of Cedar Creek.
September 21, 1864
The Confederates continue to straggle in towards Fisher's Hill; it is shortly after noon when the last of them fall in to their positions. Though they had been defeated at Winchester, they are in good spirits. One of them says, "Cheer up, boys; don't be worried. We'll lick them Yankees the first fair chance, and get more grub and guns than out poor old quartermaster mules can pull."
Meanwhile, Merritt's troopers are up before dawn, moving towards Front Royal. At daybreak, Wilson again attacks Wickham's cavalry. The outnumbered Confederates manage "to cut their way out." The Federals are slow to pursue. By the time Merritt arrives at Front Royal, Wilson is only six miles south, at Gooney Run (M4515).
The day passes relatively quietly at Fisher's Hill. Around noon, Sheridan's army is read telegrams from Washington, congratulating them on their victory at Winchester. They are also told one-hundred gun salute was fired in their honor at Washington. Grant also ordered the Army of the Potomac to fire a loaded, one-hundred gun salute at the Petersburg fortifications. Sheridan is also notified of his promotion to brigadier general.
After the telegrams are read, VI and XIX Corps begin their advance around Strasburg towards the base of Fisher's Hill. Skirmishers from both armies exchange fire until sundown.
VIII Corps remains hidden until after dark, when they begin their flanking movement. They are able to reach another wooded area north of Hupp's Hill before daybreak.
Early receives orders recalling General Breckinridge to command of the Department of Southwestern Virginia, a post he still officially holds. "I lost the benefit of his services," Early would later write, "He had ably co-operated with me, and our personal relations had been of the most pleasant character."
September 22, 1864
Daylight brings renewed skirmishing between the two armies. Sheridan worries that Early will discover Crook's flank movement, so he orders an escalation of the fighting around noon. Early is convinced the Federal will try a frontal assault. Even though he occupies a superior, fortified position, Early doubts he can hold Fisher's Hill for long. He therefore issues orders for a general withdrawal to begin at night.
Hidden from the Confederate signal station on Massanutten Mountain by the dense forest, Crook's two divisions continue their march along the shoulder of Little North Mountain (M3904) to get behind the Confederate lines. Crook, wearing a slouch hat and a plain blouse, rides at the head of his column. His soldiers have arranged their equipment so that it does not make a sound.
By 4:00 p.m. the VIII Corps is in position. The Yankees give a cheer, then rush the Confederate left flank "like a western cyclone." Lomax's dismounted cavalry holds the extreme left of Early's army, and are the first to be overrun. The Confederate infantry attempts to make a stand, but they are unable to check to Union onslaught. The routed Confederates beat a rapid retreat up the Valley, and are able to push south of Woodstock before stopping late at night.
Following the retreat of the rebel army, Sheridan organizes his army for a pursuit. He guesses that another day, maybe two, will be all that he will need to completely destroy Early's army. Sheridan's plan still depends on the Union cavalry forming a roadblock farther up the Valley, along Early's path of retreat.
However, Torbert's cavalry divisions have failed to get behind Early. Wilson and Merritt move to attack the Confederates at Gooney Run, but find the rebels had already withdrawn. The Union cavalry immediately pursues, and runs into the Confederate cavalry in fortified positions behind Overall's Run at Milford (M3823). The Federals attack but are repulsed.
September 23, 1864
The pursuing Federal army enters Woodstock (M3018) at about 3:30 a.m. Sheridan and his staff enter the town near dawn, where he waits for the sound of gunfire which will indicate that Torbert has gotten behind the Confederates. He later learns that Torbert's mission has failed.
Torbert begins his retreat north in the morning. Wilson's division proceeded towards Buckton's Ford (M4212), while Merritt took the Luray Road to Front Royal. At 4:00 p.m. Torbert receives word of Sheridan's victory at Fisher's Hill; he also receives orders to move up the Luray Valley. The Union cavalry returns to Milford and find the town abandoned; the Confederates had withdrawn to beyond Luray when they learned of Early's defeat.
Averell arrives at Sheridan's headquarters about noon. "We had some hot words" is how Sheridan later describes their meeting. Sheridan is furious because Averell failed to vigorously pursue the disorganized rebels. Sheridan gives Averell another chance to redeem himself, and orders him to assist Devin's cavalry brigade, which is now pursuing the enemy; VI and XIX Corps will follow in support.
Averell finds Devin engaged with the Confederate divisions of Wharton and Ramseur near Mount Jackson (M2226). Neither officer presses the attack, however. Sheridan is thoroughly disgusted with Averell's performance, and replaces him with Colonel William Powell.
The Union infantry never arrives to support the cavalry. Instead, they halt for the night in Edenburg (M2821).
After nightfall, Early withdraws his army to defensive positions on Rude's Hill (M2229-M2230).
Early's generalship comes under intense scrutiny following the twin defeats of Winchester and Fisher's Hill. William Smith, the governor of Virginia, calls for Early's replacement, as does the Southern press. The Richmond Enquirer even suggests Longstreet, who is still convalescing from the wounds he suffered during the Battle of the Wilderness. General Lee comes to Early's rescue, saying that while it is true that Early has suffered reverses, he has given creditable service with the resources he had on hand. Lee goes on to say that if a more able general could be found, he would replace Early. However, since there aren't any, "Old Jube" stays.
Lee believes that "one victory will put all things right", and so orders Kershaw's 3,100 man infantry division and Cutshaw's 12 artillery pieces back into the Valley.
September 24, 1864
The Union army makes a general advance beginning at dawn. They arrive at Rude's Hill about 10:00 a.m., where they observe the Confederates behind their fortifications. Sheridan orders Devin's cavalry brigade around the rebel right flank and Powell's cavalry division around the left. The infantry and artillery advanced directly on the Confederate position.
From their vantagepoint on Rude's Hill, the Confederates are able to see the Union troops movements. Early orders an orderly withdrawal, attempting to slow the Union army as much as possible while avoiding the flanking maneuvers.
Sheridan continues to nip at the Confederate rear guard until 5:00 p.m., when his army reaches New Market. Sheridan attempts to lure the Confederates into attacking him by sending forward Devin's brigade as bait, but the rebels refuse to bite. Sheridan realizes he cannot attack before nightfall, and so orders a halt. Early continues his retreat, marching until midnight.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Massanutten, Merritt and Wilson continue to duel with Wickham's cavalry. The Confederate cavalry successfully complete their mission, which is to hold New Market Gap (M2533) until Early's army had passed. Wichkam disengages late in the afternoon and falls back to the South Fork. The Union cavalry halts at the foot of the gap.
Kershaw's infantry and Cutshaw's artillery begin their march back to the Valley "in a blinding rain."
September 25, 1864
Early's army in on the move at dawn, where they pass through Port Republic (S3921) and continue on to Brown's Gap (S4423), which they reach by sunset.
Sheridan does not pursue, instead moving his army to Harrisonburg (S3712) (with the exception of VII Corps, which stops for the day at the intersection of the Pike and Keezletown Road).
September 26 to September 29, 1864
Kershaw's division and Cutshaw's artillery come through Swift Run Gap and join up with the Confederate army before noon on September 26.
Beginning September 26, and for the next ten days, Sheridan's army lays waste to the lush countryside. The Yankees seize foodstuffs and livestock; they burn everything else. The area of destruction encompasses Port Republic, through Staunton, to Waynesboro. Early does what he can to limit the destruction, but for the most part all he is able to do is stand by and watch as the Valley burned. Except for Sherman's "March to the Sea", no other Union operation approaches the destructiveness of what becomes known as "The Burning."
During this portion of the campaign, Confederate partisan groups under John S. Mosby and Harry Gilmor increased their activities against Union supply lines in the Lower Valley.
Things are looking up for the Union. Following the twin Union victories of Winchester and Fisher's Hill, gold prices fall. Even Horace Greely's New York Tribune announces its support for President Lincoln.
General Grant is pleased with Sheridan's accomplishments, and wants him to continue his advance towards Charlottesville. Sheridan, however, becomes cautious. He explains that it has become difficult to supply his army; he desires to fall back towards Front Royal. When Grant suggests reopening the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to supply his army, Sheridan again declines. His reasoning is that it will require an entire corps just to protect the railroad from guerrillas, and he cannot spare that many troops from his army. Sheridan believes the best policy will be to burn the crops of the Valley, "and let some of this army go somewhere else." Grant does not agree with Sheridan's strategic views, but does not countermand them.
September 30, 1864
Wilson is transferred to Georgia, where he will command Sherman's cavalry. Custer takes over command of the Third Cavalry Division. Custer proves to be popular with the men, even though they know they will be in for harder fighting in the days to come.
October 5, 1864
Rosser arrives at Mount Sydney with 600 cavalrymen, many of whom are natives of the Valley. Upon his arrival, he takes over Wickham's command. Wickham heads south, and resigns from the army on November 9, 1864. Rosser's arrival gives new hope to Early's army; Rosser himself soon becomes known as the "Savior of the Valley."
October 6 to October 8, 1864
Sheridan continues his move down the Valley, with the infantry, artillery and wagons moving on the Pike and the cavalry formed a screen behind them. The Union cavalry destroy everything that could sustain the rebel army between the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge mountains.
Early follows Sheridan's withdrawal, sending Rosser's cavalry to harass the Union rear guard. Angered by Rosser's constant skirmishing, Sheridan orders Torbert, to "whip the enemy or get whipped yourself."
The main body of Early's army reaches New Market on October 7, and are met by the cheering inhabitants of the Valley.
October 9, 1864
With Sheridan watching from nearby Round Top Hill (M3313), Torbert unleashes the cavalry divisions of Merritt and Custer on the Confederate cavalry, routing them at Tom's Brook. In the melee that follows, the victorious Union troopers chase the Confederates twenty miles up the pike and eight miles up the Back Road, in what later comes to be known as the "Woodstock Races."
October 10, 1864
Sheridan feels the campaign is over and, unlike the majority of Civil War generals who clamor for more troops, proceeds to break up his command. He retains VIII and XIX Corps, which halt between Middletown and Cedar Creek. The cavalry divisions of Merritt and Custer hold the ground in the vicinity of Fisher's Hill. Powell's cavalry division and the VI Corps, however, continue on towards Front Royal. Sheridan's plan is to send them on to Petersburg, as they are no longer needed in the Valley.
October 11 and 12, 1864
On the morning of October 11, Sheridan receives a telegram from Grant advising him to retain XIX Corps, and that "the time of sending VI Corps and a division of cavalry must be left to your judgment." He therefore decides to hold VI Corps at Front Royal "for a day or two, to watch the developments."
Sheridan informs Halleck that he will comply with Grant's desires for an operation against Gordonsville and Charlottesville. It will not, as Grant had wanted, a movement by the entire army. Rather, it will be a raid by Powell's cavalry division. Sheridan knows the raid will not be a decisive strike, but "it will spread consternation, and may force everything out of the Valley and onto the railroad [Virginia Central]." Powell departs on October 11.
The rest of the army remains in place throughout October 11 and 12, "awaiting the developments."
Early's Army of the Valley, meanwhile, marches north at dawn. The infantry reach Woodstock that evening. Rosser's cavalry halts at Columbia Furnace; Lomax's command halts in the Luray Valley.
October 13, 1864
Early reoccupies Fisher's Hill and pushes through Strasburg to Hupp's Hill where he engages and routs a portion of XIX Corps. When Sheridan realizes the proximity of Early's forces, he recalls VI Corps to Middletown.
October 14, 1864
Wright's VI Corps arrives at Middletown around noon. Sheridan had planned an attack as soon as Wright arrived, but the Confederates have withdrawn to Fisher's Hill, so Sheridan calls off the offensive.
Powell's cavalry raid, begun on October 11, is nearly complete. On this day he recrosses the Blue Ridge, on his way back to join Sheridan's army. Powell made it as far south as Sperryville and as far east of Amissville, fully 35 miles short of Gordonsville. The raid accomplished little, and the results were far short of what Grant had desired. The stalemate between Sheridan and Grant continues, with Sheridan refusing to mount a full-scale operation against Charlottesville and Grant refusing to give Sheridan a direct order to do it. Secretary of War Stanton decides to enter into the discussion, and telegraphs Sheridan, "If you can come here, a consultation on several points is extremely desirable. I propose to visit General Grant, and would like to see you first."
Sheridan does not want to leave with the Confederates so close to his army, but reconnaissance by the Union cavalry convince Sheridan that the Confederates have retreated to Fisher's Hill and do not pose an immediate threat.
October 15, 1864
Leaving Wright in command of the Army of the Shenandoah, Sheridan departs for Washington and his meeting with Halleck. Sheridan takes all of Torbert's cavalry with him as far as Front Royal. From there they will proceed south, pass through Chester Gap, and move on Charlottesville to destroy the railroad bridge over the Rivanna River.
October 16, 1864
A courier from Wright finds Sheridan at the house of Mrs. Richards, where Sheridan had spent the night. A message sent by the Confederates via flag code had been intercepted the night before. The deciphered message reads,
To Lieutenant General Early:
Be ready to move as soon as my force joins you, and we will crush Sheridan.
Sheridan takes the ruse for what it is, but decides not to take chances. He cancels the cavalry raid and sends the troopers back to Wright.
October 17, 1864
Early directs Generals Gordon and Evans and Jedediah Hotchkiss to make a reconnaissance of the Federal position from Masanutten's "Three Sisters." From this vantagepoint the Confederates, using field glasses, can clearly make out the Federal dispositions. Hotchkiss sketches a map, showing the location and estimated strength of the Union infantry, cavalry and artillery.
October 18, 1864
The Union army rests the entire day, just as it has done the previous four. Some units vote in the national election. Crook sends a brigade out to Hupp's Hill on a reconnaissance; finding nothing, they return.
Early holds a council of war to determine how best to attack Sheridan's army. Gordon proposes sending Second Corps around the Union left flank, followed by an assault by the entire army. Gordon is questioned as to how he intends to move an entire corps between the sheer face of the Massanutten and the North Fork of the Shenandoah River that flows at its base. Gordon replies that a way will be found, and that he will accept full responsibility for its failure. The plan is approved. All the officers synchronize their watches; the attack will begin at 5:00 a.m. the next day.
The Second Corps begins its march at 8:00 p.m., marching east. The troops have taken every precaution to make sure they do not make noise; they do not even talk except in whispers. The soldiers make their march through the night by the light of a nearly full moon.
October 19, 1864
At 5:00 a.m., right on schedule, the Confederates attack. Between the thick fog and the fact that their pickets had been captured earlier in the morning, the Federals are taken completely by surprise. The soldiers of Crook's VII Corps and the XIX Corps run to the rear. Only the VI Corps maintains its order as it withdraws beyond Middletown, providing a screen behind which the other corps regroup.
The Confederates pursue the retreating Federals, but the pursuit bogs down. As the Confederates enter the Union camps, some of them begin looting. However, this does not draw away significant numbers of rebels from the fighting. The main difficulty the Confederate officers have is their men, having marched all night and fought all morning, are exhausted.
Sheridan, who had arrived in Winchester the previous night, leaves there with his escort at about 8:30 a.m., and proceeds towards Middletown. Leaning forward in his saddle, he can clearly heard the rumble of musketry and cannon fire in the distance. He also notices that the sound is becoming louder much faster than can be accounted for by the speed of his horse. Sheridan learns from an aide that the Union army has been defeated.
"Little Phil" did not possess exceptional tactical or strategic skills, but he had the ability to inspire men like no other Union commander. Arriving at Newtown (M4506) at 10:30 a.m., word of his return spreads like wildfire, and the army halts its retreat. He rapidly reorganizes the army and launches a counterattack at about 4:00 p.m.
The attack routs the rebels, who retreat south back to their old camps at Fisher's Hill. The Yankees do not pursue, but stop at the camps they fled from earlier in the same morning. General Early would later write, "Nothing saved us but the inability of the enemy to follow us with his infantry and his expectation that we would make a stand there."
The 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign is effectively over.
Aftermath: October 20, 1864 to March 2, 1865
Early retreated up the Valley under sharp criticism of his generalship, while President Abraham Lincoln rode the momentum of Sheridan's victories in the Valley and Sherman's successes in the Atlanta campaign to re-election in November.
Early attempted a last offensive in mid-November, advancing to Middletown. His weakened cavalry was defeated by Union cavalry at Newtown and Ninevah (M4711), forcing him to withdraw his infantry. The Union cavalry now so overpowered his own that Early could not maneuver offensively against Sheridan. On November 22, the cavalry fought at Rude's Hill, and on December 12, a second Union cavalry raid was turned back at Lacey Springs (S4205), ending active operations for the winter season.
The winter was disastrous for the Confederate army, which was no longer able to sustain itself on the produce of the devastated Valley. The cavalry and infantry were returned to Lee's army at Petersburg or dispersed to feed and forage for themselves.
Riding through sleet on March 2, 1865, the cavalry divisions of Custer and Devin advanced from Staunton, arriving near Waynesboro in the early afternoon. There, they found Early's small army, consisting of a remnant of Wharton's division and some artillery units. Early presented a brave front although the South River was to his rear, but in a few hours, the war for the Shenandoah Valley was over. Early's army fled before the Union cavalry, scattering up the mountainside. Early escaped with a few of his aides.
With the Confederate threat in the Valley eliminated, General Sheridan led his cavalry overland to Petersburg to participate in the final campaign of the war in Virginia.
Stackpole, Edward J. Sheridan in the Shenandoah, 2nd Edition. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1992.
Wert, Jeffry D. From Winchester to Cedar Creek. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1997.
U.S. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 128 Vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880-1902
QUICK REFERENCE TABLES AND CHARTS
Basic Game Sequence of Play
Advanced Game Sequence of Play
Random Events Table
Dice Result 2 Rain (Current +2) 3 Rain (Current +1) 4 Confederate Command Paralysis 5 No Effect 6 No Effect 7 Breckinridge is Transferred 8 No Effect 9 No Effect 10 Union Command Paralysis 11 Sheridan Goes to Washington 12 Rain (Current +1)
Distance From Depot Union Confederate Same County Automatic Automatic 1 county 5 or less Automatic 2 counties 4 or less 5 or less 3 counties 3 or less 3 or less 4 or more counties 1 or less 1 or less Die Roll Modifier: +1 Unit occupies Mineral, Hampshire, Hardy or Pendleton county.
Distance From Depot 3- 4-6 7 Same County 2 2 2 1 county 2 1 1 2 counties 1 1 0 3 counties 1 0 0 4 or more counties 0 0 0 Die Roll Modifier: +1 Unit occupies Mineral, Hampshire, Hardy or Pendleton county.
Reinforcement Commitment Chart
Turn Union Confederate 5-10 -(MVx2) +(MVx1.5) 15-20 -(MVx1.5) +(MVx1) 25-30 0 0 MV = Manpower Value. The Union player loses VP when he requests reinforcements and gains VP when the Confederate player requests reinforcements. Round all fractions up.
Turn Record Chart
Turn Numbers inred are Strategic Cycle Turns.
September 18: Begin Scenario 3
September 19: Begin Scenario 1
October 19: Begin Scenario 2
Union Army Leader Front Back Name Army Command Value Name Army Command Value Sheridan AS 7 Wright AS 5 Union Corps Leaders Front Back Name Corps TV CV Name Corps TV CV Wright VI 2 6 Ricketts VI 2 4 Emory XIX 2 5 (Blank) Crook VIII 3 5 (Blank) Torbert Cav 2 5 (Blank) TV = Tactical Value CV = Command Value Union Infantry Name Size Corps Division TV AV Russell Div VI 1 2 2 Getty Div VI 2 2 2 Rickets Div VI 3 2 2 Dwight Div XIX 1 2 2 Grover Div XIX 2 2 2 Thoburn Div VIII 1 2 2 Duval Div VIII 2 2 1 Kitching Div - Prov. 1 1 TV = Tactical Value AV = Artillery Value Union Cavalry Name Size Corps TV AV Custer Brig Cav 3 1 Devin Brig Cav 3 1 Lowell Brig Cav 3 1 Moore Brig Cav 3 1 Capehart Brig Cav 3 1 McIntosh Brig Cav 3 1 Chapman Brig Cav 3 1 Confederate Army Leader Front Back Name Army Command Value Corps TV CV Early AV 6 II 3 6 Confederate Corps Leader Name Corps TV CV Gordon II 3 6 Confederate Infantry Name Size Corps TV AV Gordon Div II 3 2 Breckinridge Div II 2 2 Ramseur Div II 2 2 Rodes Div II 2 2 Wharton Div II 2 2 Kershaw Div - 2 2 Confederate Cavalry Name Size TV AV F. Lee - A Brig 3 1 F. Lee - B Brig 3 1 Lomax - A Brig 3 1 Lomax - B Brig 3 1
"Sheridan in the Valley" copyright 1998 by John Menichelli