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Part Three addresses each of the battlefields in chronological order, summarizing the battle's statistics, size, and significance. The battle action is described in phases. Important events are linked with features that can be located on the ground. The current condition of the battlefield is assessed in narrative form, and perceived threats to the sites are summarized in detail. Also included for each site, is a list of features that were mentioned in battle accounts, including place names, topographical features, standing structures and buildings, ruins, sites of lost features, and archeological sites.

1. FIRST KERNSTOWN (23 March 1862)

County: Frederick, VA and City of Winchester.

General Location: West of US 11 (Valley Pike) and N. of Hoge Run; Rte. 37 (4-lane bypass) bisects the area of heaviest fighting along Sand Ridge.

Size of Study/Core Areas: 4,029/1,554 acres

GIS Integrity of Study/Core Areas: 56/71 percent; Fair/Fair

Field Assessment of Study Area Integrity: Fair

USGS Quadrants: Winchester, Stephens City

Select to view a summary of 1991 LAND USE / LAND COVER

Campaign: Jackson's Valley Campaign

Principal Commanders: [c] Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson; [u] Col. Nathan Kimball, commanding Brig. Gen. James Shields' division.

Forces Engaged: [c] Jackson's infantry division of three brigades (Garnett, Burks, and Fulkerson), 27 guns, and a cavalry contingent under Col. Turner Ashby; total strength did not exceed about 3,600-3,800, of which most were engaged; [u] One infantry division of three brigades (Kimball, Sullivan, and Tyler), 24 guns, and 16 companies of cavalry under Broadhead; total force between 8,500 and 9,000, three-fourths of which were brought into action.

Casualties: [c] 718 (80k/375w/263mc); [u] 590 (118k/450w/22mc).

Significance: This battle is considered by many historians as the opening conflict of the famous Valley Campaign of 1862. It was the only battle recorded as ``lost'' by Stonewall Jackson, but in many ways he gained as much by losing as by winning. After the battle, President Lincoln was disturbed by Jackson's potential threat to Washington and redirected more than 35,000 men to defend approaches from the Valley before the campaign was finished. Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's army was deprived of these reinforcements, which he claimed would have enabled him to take Richmond during his Peninsular campaign. Because of this redeployment of Federal troops, First Kernstown is considered one of the decisive engagements of 1862.

Description of the Battle

Prelude: Acting on faulty intelligence that suggested that his small army outnumbered the Federal forces at Winchester, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson moved to strike his opponents and prevent US reinforcements from leaving the Valley to aid McClellan's army on the Peninsula. The division of Brig. Gen. James Shields in fact outnumbered Jackson more than two-to-one. On the afternoon of 22 March, Ashby's cavalry and horse artillery skirmished with US forces near Kernstown. General Shields was wounded in this affair, his arm broken by a shell fragment, and divisional command devolved to Col. Nathan Kimball.

Phase One. Skirmishing at Kernstown: At dawn Kimball moved against Ashby's advance on the Valley Pike north of Kernstown. Sullivan's and a portion of Kimball's US brigades advanced, straddling the pike, and pushed Ashby south of Hoge's Run, taking possession of Pritchard's Hill. Ashby's troopers formed a new defensive line, which was later supported by infantry and maintained throughout the battle. Jenks' US battery unlimbered on Pritchard's Hill and responded to Ashby's artillery in position near the Opequon Church. About 1100 hours, Jackson's infantry began to concentrate south of Kernstown. It was soon evident to Kimball that Jackson's army was arriving on the field. Kimball consolidated his position and awaited reinforcements.

Phase Two. CS Flank Movement: By 1400 hours, Jackson's infantry was on the field, massed south of Kernstown. Jackson launched a feint toward Kimball's main position along the Pike with a portion of Burks' brigade, but this was to disguise a flanking movement to his left along Sand Ridge. Jackson directed Fulkerson's and Garnett's brigades to the ridge, leaving Burks to support Ashby. Confederate artillery (3 batteries) were positioned on the eastern face of the ridge and engaged US batteries on Pritchard's Hill. Fulkerson advanced on the left, seizing an east-west stone fence on the Glass farm under fire. Garnett came up on Fulkerson's right, extending the CS battle line from Opequon Creek east across the front of the ridge, then bending back south to cover the artillery. A regiment was deployed across the Middle Road to maintain a connection between the CS flanks. Recognizing the threat to his right, Kimball moved Tyler's brigade forward from its reserve position near the toll gate at the intersection of the Valley Pike and Cedar Creek Grade to confront Fulkerson and Garnett. As the artillery duel continued, skirmishers closed and the fighting began to heat up.

Phase Three. US Assault on Sand Ridge: At 1600 hours, Tyler deployed his five regiments (about 3,000 men) and attacked the CS position on Sand Ridge, supported by his batteries on Pritchard's Hill and a small cavalry force on his far right flank. Several attempts to turn the CS left flank were repulsed with heavy casualties. Tyler now focused his attention on the CS center on the crest of the ridge. Recognizing that Ashby's activity on the Valley Pike was a demonstration only, Colonel Kimball marched his brigade and part of Sullivan's (about 3,000) to the right, joining with Tyler to assault the CS center and right on Sand Ridge. Garnett's outnumbered brigade lacked the protection of a stone fence like Fulkerson's and soon began to fall back. Jackson dispatched two regiments to the support of Garnett but before they arrived, Garnett ordered a withdrawal, believing his position untenable. This movement opened Fulkerson's right flank to a heavy fire and he too retired. The retreat soon became badly disorganized. The CS artillery kept US forces in the open ground east of Sand Ridge at bay, firing canister, but no fire could be brought to bear along the wooded ridge itself. The Union advance along the crest forced the guns to retire.

Phase Four. Rear Guard Action: Jackson deployed two regiments (5VA and 42VA) across the ridge to slow the US advance. Several regiment-sized attacks were repulsed, and for a brief time fighting was fierce and hand-to-hand. According to Henderson, colors of the 5th Ohio changed hands six times. A body of US cavalry advanced south along the road (rte. 621), but were checked by Funston's cavalry. Darkness ended the fighting.

Phase Five. CS Retreat: Jackson withdrew along ``Stone Lane'' past the Magill House and south along the Valley Pike. Ashby remained with the cavalry at Bartonsville, while the infantry went on to Newtown (Stephens City). Jackson slept in the corner of a rail fence near Bartonsville. US forces did not pursue.

Current Condition of the Battlefield

The core area of the battlefield where the major Union attacks occurred is bisected by the four-lane rte. 37-bypass, but the western and eastern portions of the field are in relatively pristine condition. The western portion, scene of the most intense fighting, is the Glass property, site of the 1840s Glass House (in the same family). The property preserves all of the original land contours and remnants of stone fences that figured prominently in the battle. Part of the property is farmed as it was during the Civil War, but the woodland along Sand Ridge is more extensive now than at the time of the battle. To the east is Pritchard's Hill and the Pritchard-Grim property. Pritchard's Hill served as a Union artillery strongpoint during First Kernstown and was the center of fighting for Second Kernstown. This property from rte. 628 to the historic Opequon Church and north of rte. 652 is also in very good condition. The area of skirmishing on the morning of the battle along the Valley Pike (US 11) has been claimed by industrial, commercial, and residential developments and is lost. Little remains of the original hamlet of Kernstown other than Hoge's Ordinary, which has been renovated into office space. The area where the rear guard action was fought on Sand Ridge is occupied by a housing development. The importance of this ground is enhanced by its significance in two major Shenandoah Valley campaigns.

Perception of Threats to Battlefield

Land east of US 11 along the railroad tracks has been developed for a large-scale industrial/business park. Route 11 is zoned commercial/industrial and has been densely developed from south of Kernstown to the Winchester city limits, causing concern over potential development plans west of US 11. A county planning official noted, however, that watershed and ground water considerations make development in the Pritchard's Hill and Sand Ridge areas less desirable. These factors would need to be considered before any development plans would be approved. Residential development is encroaching on the northern part of Pritchard's Hill. For the present, a large portion of this land remains in private ownership and has been altered little since the Civil War. The Glass property has been placed in the Glen Burnie Trust and Pritchard-Grim farm and adjacent portions of Pritchard's Hill are owned by the Charles Hardy Grim Estate.

Identified Sites and Features Associated with the Battlefield

Select for Civil War Sites Advisory Commission battle description and related information.


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Last Update 7/17/95 by VLC