War Comes to the Valley

An illustration shows cavalrymen on the move with a burning town in the background.
During the burning of the Valley, the U.S. Army destroyed what they could not take: barns, mills, fields of grain, and livestock.

Library of Congress

"The war consumed everything and the simple everyday task of feeding one's family became troublesome, as food shortages were commonplace and the few supplies that can be found demanded a higher price."

Julia Chase

Although most Shenandoah Valley residents favored remaining in the Union, once Abraham Lincoln called for troops against the seceded Southern states, people opted to support their state. Virginia's westernmost counties stayed in the Union to form a new state, while most of the Shenandoah Valley went with the rest of Virginia to the Confederacy. The Valley's strategic geography made it a major theater of the Civil War, witnessing hundreds of skirmishes and engagements, including twenty battles.


Civil War battles, movements, and other actions in the Shenandoah Valley

January 1, 1862 

Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson begins winter campaign in Winchester, Virginia.

January 3-5, 1862 

Skirmishes at Bath and Hancock

January 10, 1862 

Confederates reach Romney (present day West Virginia).

January 23-30, 1862 

Jackson's Army returns to Winchester.

February 7, 1862 

Federal forces reoccupy Romney.

February 24-26, 1862 

US Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks Army cross the Potomac River into Virginia.

March 11,1862 

Jackson evacuates Winchester.

March 12, 1862 

Banks occupies Winchester.

March 18

Skirmish at Middletown

March 23

First Battle of Kernstown; first battle of Jackson's 1862 Valley Campaign

Forces Engaged: 12,300 total (US 8,500; CS 3,800)
Estimated Casualties: 1,308 total (US 590; CS 718)
Result: Federal Victory

April 30

Confederate Gen. Richard S. Ewell's division crosses the Blue Ridge at Swift Run Gap into the Shenandoah Valley.

May 3

Jackson's army departs the Valley via Brown's Gap.

May 4

Jackson returns his army to the Valley by rail, from Mechum's River Station via Rockfish Gap to Staunton.

May 8

Battle of McDowell

Forces Engaged: 12,500 total (US 6,500; CS 3,000)
Result: Confederate Victory

May 23

Battle of Front Royal

Forces Engaged: 4,063 total (US 1,063; CS 3,000)
Estimated Casualties: 960 total (US 904; CS 56)
Result: Confederate Victory

May 25

First Battle of Winchester

Forces Engaged: 22,500 total (US 6,500; CS 16,000)
Estimated Casualties: 2,419 total (US 2,019; CS 400)
Result: Confederate Victory

May 29-30

Jackson demonstrates against Harper's Ferry.

May 31

Jackson's army marches through Winchester.

June 6

Skirmish near Harrisonburg, Brig. Gen. Turner Ashby killed in action.

June 8

Battle of Cross Keys

Forces Engaged: 17,300 total (US 11,500; CS 5,800)
Estimated Casualties: 951 total (US 664; CS 287)
Result: Confederate Victory

June 9

Battle of Port Republic

Forces Engaged: 9,500 total (US 3,500; CS 6,000)
Estimated Casualties: 1,818 total (US 1,002; CS 816)
Result: Confederate Victory

June 17

Jackson leaves the Valley for Richmond, Virginia.

September 11

Part of the Maryland Campaign that included the Battle of Antietam

Jackson with three divisions crosses the Potomac back into Virginia from Williamsport, Maryland. Brig. Gen. Julius White's Federal garrison at Martinsburg retreats to Harper's Ferry.

September 12-15

Siege of Harper's Ferry

Forces Engaged: 36,900 total (US 14,000; CS 22,900)
Estimated Casualties: 12,922 total (US 12,636; CS 286)
Result: Confederate Victory, Federal surrender

September 19-20

Battle of Sheperdstown

Forces Engaged: (US 2,000)
Estimated Casualties: 654 total (US 363; CS 291)
Result: Confederate Victory

January 1

President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. US Gen. Robert Milroy occupies Winchester.

June 13-15

Second Battle of Winchester; part of Confederate advance during the Gettysburg Campaign

Forces Engaged: 19,500 total (US 7,000; CS 12,500)
Estimated Casualties: 4,709 total (US 4,443; CS 266)
Result: Confederate Victory

Federals leave Winchester.

June 15

Ewell's Second Corps crosses the Potomac River northward at Williamsport, Md. and Shepherdstown, W.V.

June 24

Hill's Third Corps crosses the Potomac River at Boteler's Ford (Shepherdstown, W.V.).

June 25

Longstreet's First Corps crosses the Potomac River at Williamsport, Md.

July 14

Army of Northern Virginia enters Martinsburg, W.V.

July 23

Battle of Manassas Gap (Wapping Heights), part of Confederate retreat from Gettysburg

Forces engaged: 14,000 (US 8,000; CS 6,000)
Casualties: 440 (US 243; CS 147)
Result: Indecisive

April 30

Federal army under Gen. Franz Sigel advances south from Martinsburg, W.V.

May 1

Sigel occupies Winchester.

May 11

Sigel's army encamps at Cedar Creek just south of Middletown.

May 15

Battle of New Market; first battle of the Lynchburg Campaign

Forces Engaged: 10,365 total (US 6,275; CS 4,090)
Estimated Casualties: 1,380 total (US 840; CS 540)
Result: Confederate Victory

May 16

Sigel returns to Cedar Creek

May 19

Sigel is relieved of command and posted to Harper's Ferry.

May 21

David Hunter takes command of Federal army at Cedar Creek.

May 26

Hunter advances southward.

June 2

Hunter's army reaches Harrisonburg, Va.

June 5-6

Battle of Piedmont

Forces Engaged: 14,000 total (US 8,500; CS 5,500)
Estimated Casualties: 2,375 total (US 875; CS 1500)
Result: Federal Victory

June 6

Hunter enters Staunton, Va.

June 11

Hunter's Raid on Lexington

Hunter burns the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

June 13

Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's Second Corps is ordered to the Shenandoah Valley.

June 17

Early arrives in Lynchburg, Va.

June 17-18

Battle of Lynchburg

Forces Engaged: 30,643 total (US 16,643; CS 14,000)
Estimated Casualties: 900 total (US 700; CS 200)
Result: Confederate Victory

July 2

Part of Jubal Early's advance during the 1864 Maryland Campaign (raid and operations against B&O Railroad)

Early's Army of the Valley reaches Winchester, Va.

July 9

Battle of Monocacy

Result: Confederate Victory

July 18

Battle of Cool Spring 

Result: Confederate Victory

July 22

Federal troops reoccupy Winchester.

July 24

Second Battle of Kernstown

Forces Engaged: 23,000 total (US 10,000; CS 13,000)
Estimated Casualties: 1,800 total (US 1,200; CS 600)
Result: Confederate Victory (last in the Valley)

July 30

Confederate cavalry under John McCausland burns Chambersburg, Pa.

July 14

Early crosses the Potomac back into the Valley at White's Ferry, Va.

August 7

Start of Sheridan's 1864 Valley Campaign

Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan arrives in Harper's Ferry, W.V., assuming command of the Middle Military Division and the Army of the Shenandoah.

August 15

Early's army is reenforced by Kershaw's infantry and Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry divisions.

September 16

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant meets with Sheridan at his Charles Town, W.V., headquarters. Kerhsaw's Division begins returning to Lee's army.

September 19

Third Battle of Winchester (Opequon)

Forces Engaged: 54,440 total (US 39,240; CS 15,200)
Estimated Casualties: 8,630 total (US 5,018; CS 3,612)
Result: Federal Victory.

September 22

Battle of Fisher's Hill

Forces Engaged: 38,944 total (US 29,444; CS 9,500)
Estimated Casualites: 1,763 total (US 528; CS 1,235)
Result: Federal Victory

September 23

Skirmish at Front Royal, Federal cavalry execute six of Mosby's Rangers.

September 24

Kershaw's Division rejoins Early's army.

September 27

"The Burning"

The systematic destruction of the Valley begins under Sheridan's command. Lee urges Early to defeat Sheridan in the Valley.

October 3

Lt. John R. Meigs is killed by Confederate scouts near Dayton. Sheridan orders the burning of Dayton, Va. and surrounding homes in retaliation.

October 4

Sheridan rescinds the order to burn Dayton.

October 9

Battle of Tom's Brook (Woodstock Races)

Forces Engaged: 9,800 total (US 6,300; CS 3,500)
Estimated Casualties: 407 total (US 57; CS 350)
Result: Federal Victory

"The Burning" is completed after 13 days.

October 10

Sheridan's army encamps along Cedar Creek.

October 13

The Sixth Corps marches to Ashby's Gap en route to Alexandria but is recalled by Sheridan.

Skirmish at Hupp's Hill

Forces Engaged: 8,400 total (US 1,900; CS 6,500)
Estimated Casualties: 370 total (US 220; CS 150)

October 14

The Sixth Corps returns to right of Federal line along Cedar Creek.

October 15

Sheridan leaves for Washington, D.C. to attend a war strategy meeting.The Eighth and Nineteenth Corps begin entrenching.

October 16

Early has decoy message wigwagged from Signal Knob in view of the Federal army. Sheridan receives word of the decoded message in Front Royal and wires the news to Halleck.

October 17

Gen. John B. Gordon, Gen. Clement A. Evans, Maj. Robert W. Hunter, and Maj. Jedidiah Hotchkiss climb Massanutten Mountain and observes Sheridan's army from Signal Knob. Rosser attacks Custer's pickets.

Sheridan arrives in Washington at 8 a.m., meets with Stanton and Halleck, and takes a noon train to Martinsburg, W.V.

October 18

At a headquarters conference, Early accepts attack plan proposed by Gordon and Hotchkiss. Gen. Gordon, Gen. Stephen D Ramseur, and Maj. Hotchkiss reconnoiter trail around Massanutten Mountain. Pioneers from Rodes' (Ramseur's) Division improve trail.

Sheridan rides from Martinsburg to Winchester.

October 19

Battle of Cedar Creek (Belle Grove)

Forces Engaged: 46,091 (US 32,000; CS 14,091)
Estimated Casualties: 8,575 total (US 5,665; CS 2,910)
Result: Federal Victory


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      Battles, Skirmishes, & Raids

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        Part of a series of articles titled The War Consumed Everything.

        Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park

        Last updated: August 20, 2023