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Encyclopedia > Battle of Opequon
Battle of Opequon

Conflict: American Civil War
Date: September 19, 1864
Place: Winchester, Virginia
Outcome: Union victory
Combatants
United States of America Confederate States of America
Commanders
Philip H. Sheridan Jubal A. Early
Strength
Army of the Shenandoah
39,240
21,000
Casualties
5,020 3,610
Sheridan's Valley Campaign
Guard Hill – Summit Point – Smithfield Crossing – Berryville – OpequonFisher's Hill – Tom's Brook – Cedar Creek

The Battle of Opequon, also known as the Third Battle of Winchester, was a decisive victory for the Union army during the Valley Campaigns of 1864 in the American Civil War. The American Civil War was fought in North America from 1861 until 1865 between the United States – forces coming mostly from the 23 northern states of the Union – and the newly-formed Confederate States of America, which consisted of 11 southern states that had declared their secession. ... September 19 is the 262nd day of the year (263rd in leap years). ... 1864 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... Winchester is a city located in the state of Virginia. ... State nickname: Old Dominion Other U.S. States Capital Richmond Largest city Virginia Beach Governor Mark R. Warner (D) Official languages English Area 110,862 km² (35th)  - Land 102,642 km²  - Water 8,220 km² (7. ... The United States of America — also referred to as the United States, the U.S.A., the U.S., America, the States, or (archaically) Columbia—is a federal republic of 50 states located primarily in central North America (with the exception of two states: Alaska and Hawaii). ... Motto: Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God our Vindicator) Anthem: God Save the South (unofficial) Dixie (popular) Capital Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861 Richmond, Virginia May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865 Danville, Virginia April 3–April 10, 1865 Largest city New Orleans February 4, 1861 until captured May... Philip Sheridan Philip Henry Sheridan (March 6, 1831 – August 5, 1888), a military man and one of the great generals in the American Civil War. ... Jubal Anderson Early (November 3, 1816 – March 2, 1894) was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. ... The Army of the Shenandoah, first promulgated in 1861 and then disbanded, is best known for its creation in 1864 under (later one of the first Generals of the Army) Philip Sheridan. ... Battle of Fishers Hill Conflict American Civil War Date September 21- 22, 1864 Place Shenandoah County, Virginia Result Union victory In the Battle of Fishers Hill, Phil Sheridan had almost 30,000 men while Jubal Anderson Early had just under 10,000. ... Battle of Cedar Creek Conflict American Civil War Date October 19, 1864 Place Frederick County, Shenandoah County and Warren County Result Union victory The Battle of Cedar Creek, or The Battle of Belle Grove, October 19, 1864, was one of the last battles in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign (August-December... The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... Eastern Theater operations in 1864 The Valley Campaigns of 1864 were American Civil War operations and battles that took place in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia from May to October, 1864. ... The American Civil War was fought in North America from 1861 until 1865 between the United States – forces coming mostly from the 23 northern states of the Union – and the newly-formed Confederate States of America, which consisted of 11 southern states that had declared their secession. ...

Contents


Background

Major General Philip H. Sheridan had been given command of the Army of the Shenandoah and sent to the Shenandoah Valley to deal with the Confederate threat under Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early. For much of the early fall of 1864, Sheridan and Early had cautiously engaged in minor skirmishes while each side tested the other's strength. Early mistook this limited action to mean that Sheridan was too afraid to fight and he left his army spread out from Martinsburg to Winchester. Sheridan learned of Early's dispersed forces and immediately struck out after Winchester, the location of two previous major engagements during the war, both Confederate victories. Insignia of a United States Air Force Major General German Generalmajor Insignia Major General is a military rank used in many countries. ... Philip Sheridan Philip Henry Sheridan (March 6, 1831 – August 5, 1888), a military man and one of the great generals in the American Civil War. ... The Army of the Shenandoah, first promulgated in 1861 and then disbanded, is best known for its creation in 1864 under (later one of the first Generals of the Army) Philip Sheridan. ... Canoeing on the Shenandoah River near Winchester, Virginia. ... For other meanings of confederate and confederacy, see confederacy (disambiguation) National Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God our Vindicator) Official language English de facto nationwide Various European and Native American languages regionally Capital Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861 Richmond, Virginia May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865 Largest... Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. ... Jubal Anderson Early (November 3, 1816 – March 2, 1894) was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. ... 1864 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... Martinsburg is a city located in Berkeley County, West Virginia. ... Winchester is a city located in the state of Virginia. ...


The Battle

Early quickly gathered his army back together at Winchester just in time to meet Sheridan's attack on September 19. The Union forces coming in from the east had to march through narrow canyons and roads, which eventually got clogged up with supply wagons and troops delaying the attack. This delay allowed Early to further strengthen his lines. John B. Gordon's division arrived from the north and took up position on the Confederate left. By noon Sheridan's troops had made it to the field and he ordered a frontal attack along Early's lines. Horatio G. Wright's Union VI Corps on the left flank halted when faced with well entrenched Confederates on a hilltop supported by artillery. The XIX Corps, under William H. Emory, to the north of the VI Corps, drove Gordon's division through some woods, but when the Yankees continued pursuing the Rebels through they were cut down by artillery as they entered the clearing on the far side. The VI Corps resumed its advance and began driving back the Confederate right flank, but the VI and XIX Corps were slowly moving apart from each other and a gap appeared between them. Brigadier General David Russell's division was rushed forward to plug the gap. Russell was hit in the chest, but continued moving his division forward. The brigade of Brigadier General Emory Upton reached the gap, but was too late—the Confederates had already launched a counterattack through the gap. Upton placed his men in line of battle and charged. Leading the charge was a young colonel named Ranald S. Mackenzie, commanding an artillery regiment serving as infantry. Russell received a second bullet and fell mortally wounded. Upton assumed command of the division and a lull came over the battlefield. September 19 is the 262nd day of the year (263rd in leap years). ... The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... John Brown Gordon John Brown Gordon ( February 6, 1832 – January 9, 1904) served as one of Robert E. Lees most trusted generals during the Civil War. ... Horatio G. Wright Horatio Gouverneur Wright ( March 6, 1820 – July 2, 1899) was an engineer and officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. ... The VI Corps (Sixth Corps) was a corps of the Union Army during the American Civil War. ... XIX Corps was a corps of the Union Army during the American Civil War. ... David Russell (born in 1953 in Glasgow) is a classical guitarist. ... Portrait of Emory Upton during the Civil War Emory Upton (August 27, 1839 – March 15, 1881) was a U.S. Army general and military strategist. ... Ranald Slidell Mackenzie was once called the most promiscing young officer in the entire Union army. ...


At this point Sheridan called the battle a "splendid victory", but had no intentions of stopping the fight just yet. Sheridan sent the VIII Corps under George Crook to find the Confederate left flank. Meanwhile, cavalry units under James H. Wilson were swinging around the Confederate right flank. With the three corps in line, Sheridan ordered them all forward. This new advance did not start well. Crook's troops had to march through a swamp and the XIX Corps was not advancing at all. General Upton was struggling to persuade the XIX Corps units on his flank to move forward with his own division when an artillery shot tore off a chunk of his thigh. The surgeon was able to stop the bleeding and Upton ordered a stretcher brought forward from which he would direct his troops for the rest of the battle. Finally the Confederate lines began to give way. Sheridan, so excited by the imminent victory, rode along the lines waving his hat and shouting. The Army of West Virginia was a minor force during the Civil War that served the Union in southwestern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. ... Portrait of George Crook George Crook (September 8, 1828 – March 21, 1890) was a career U.S. Army officer, most noted for his distinguished service during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. ... Portrait of James Wilson during the Civil War General James Wilson graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1860. ...


Late in the day, two divisions of Union cavalry arrived from the north and came thundering into the Confederate left flank. The division of Wesley Merritt crushed the Confederate works while the division of William H. Averell swung around the flank. The Confederate army was in full retreat. Caught in the retreat were the wives of several Confederate generals staying in Winchester. John B. Gordon was forced to leave his wife behind in attempts to keep his troops intact, believing she would become a prisoner of the Union army. She did, however, manage to escape in time. Wesley Merritt ( June 16, 1834 – December 3, 1910) was a general in the United States Army during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. ...


Aftermath

The Battle of Opequon marked a turning point in the Shenandoah Valley in favor of the North. Early's army for the most part remained intact but suffered further defeats at Fisher's Hill and Tom's Brook. Exactly a month later, the Valley Campaigns came to a close after Early's defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Victory in the Valley, along with other Union victories in the fall of 1864, helped win re-election for Abraham Lincoln. Canoeing on the Shenandoah River near Winchester, Virginia. ... Union states are shaded blue; light blue states allowed slavery to continue during the War During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the United States, the northern states that did not secede. ... Battle of Fishers Hill Conflict American Civil War Date September 21- 22, 1864 Place Shenandoah County, Virginia Result Union victory In the Battle of Fishers Hill, Phil Sheridan had almost 30,000 men while Jubal Anderson Early had just under 10,000. ... Battle of Cedar Creek Conflict American Civil War Date October 19, 1864 Place Frederick County, Shenandoah County and Warren County Result Union victory The Battle of Cedar Creek, or The Battle of Belle Grove, October 19, 1864, was one of the last battles in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign (August-December... Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865), sometimes called Abe Lincoln and nicknamed Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, was the 16th President of the United States (1861–1865), and the first president from the Republican Party. ...


Loss of Commanders

The battle was particularly damaging due to the number of casualties among key commanders. The Union army lost General David Russell killed and Generals Emory Upton, George H. Chapman, and James B. McIntosh seriously wounded. The Confederates lost Generals Robert E. Rodes and Archibald Godwin killed and Generals Fitzhugh Lee, William Wharton, and William Terry wounded. Also among the Confederate dead was Colonel George S. Patton, Sr. His grandson and namesake would become the famous U.S. general during World War II, George S. Patton. Portrait of Emory Upton during the Civil War Emory Upton (August 27, 1839 – March 15, 1881) was a U.S. Army general and military strategist. ... Robert E. Rodes Robert Emmett Rodes ( March 29, 1829 – September 19, 1864) was a railroad civil engineer and a promising young Confederate general in the American Civil War, killed in battle in the Shenandoah Valley. ... Fitzhugh Lee in the Civil War Fitzhugh Lee (November 19, 1835 – April 18, 1905), nephew of Robert E. Lee, was a Confederate cavalry general in the American Civil War, governor of Virginia, diplomat, and U.S. Army general in the Spanish-American War. ... World War II was a truly global conflict with many facets: immense human suffering, fierce indoctrinations, and the use of new, extremely devastating weapons like the atom bomb World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a mid-20th-century conflict that engulfed much of the globe... George S. Patton, Jr. ...


See Also

The Army of the Shenandoah, first promulgated in 1861 and then disbanded, is best known for its creation in 1864 under (later one of the first Generals of the Army) Philip Sheridan. ... The Army of West Virginia was a minor force during the Civil War that served the Union in southwestern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. ... The Valley Campaign was Confederate General Stonewall Jacksons brilliant campaign through the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia in 1862, during the American Civil War. ...

References

  • National Park Service battle description
  • Lewis, Thomas A. The Shenandoah in Flames: the Valley Campaign of 1864 (1987)
  • McPherson, James M. The Atlas of the Civil War (1994)

  Results from FactBites:
 
OPEQUON or Third Winchester (19 September 1864) (3011 words)
The battle was a turning point of the war in the Valley, marking the rise of Sheridan and the decline of Confederate power.
Battle's Alabama brigade ``came out of the woods like a whirlwind,'' crushing Ricketts's division, which formed the right flank of the VI Corps.
The Union cavalry deployed five brigades in line of battle, stretching from the railroad west toward the ridge near the intersection of the Valley Pike and Welltown Road.
Horses Of The Civil War Leaders (4179 words)
The battle chargers of the general officers of the Confederate and Federal armies during the American Civil War, wrote their names upon the scrolls of history by their high grade of sagacity and faithfulness.
He was wounded twice at the first battle of Bull Run; he was at the battle of Dranesville; he took part in two of the seven days' fighting around Richmond in the summer of 1862; at Groveton, August 29th, at the second battle of Bull Run; at South Mountain and at Antietam.
In the last battle the gallant horse was left on the field as dead, but in the next Federal advance "Baldy" was discovered quietly grazing on the battle-ground, with a deep wound in his neck.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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