Second Battle of Kernstown

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Second Battle of Kernstown

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As the forces under Maj. Gen. Jubal Early withdrew south after the battle at Cool Spring, and believing that Early’s army was no longer a threat in the Shenandoah Valley, Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright abandoned his pursuit and ordered the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps to return to Washington, where they were to be sent back to the Union army before Petersburg. Wright left Brig. Gen. George Crook with three divisions and some cavalry to hold Winchester. Under Lee's orders to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Grant, Early marched north again on July 24th against Crook. After an hour of stubborn resistance at Pritchard’s Hill near Kernstown outside Winchester, the Federal line collapsed and Crook’s divisions streamed back in disarray through the streets of the town. Col. James Mulligan commanding Crook’s 3rd Division was mortally wounded. Future president Brig. Gen. Rutherford B. Hayes commanded a brigade against Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s wing. Crook retreated all the way back to the Potomac River and crossed near Williamsport on July 26th. As a result of this victory, Early felt emboldened to carry the war north and burned Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on July 30th. Grant returned the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps and appointed Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan as commander of Union forces in the Valley, with orders to defeat Early once and for all.

Battle Facts

Result

Confederate Victory
COMMANDERS
Forces Engaged
23,000

Union

10,000

Confederate

13,000
Total Estimated Casualties
1,800

Union

1,200

Confederate

600