Monday, January 23, 2017

Stonewall in the Valley 8 - The Stonewall Brigade's Battle

Union Forces - Col Knipe's column from Front Royal
 - approaches Genl Winder's rearguard: The Stonewall
By the time General Jackson called off the pursuit of General Banks's battered command, two or three miles to his rear the 'Stonewall' Brigade had been engaged already well over an hour with a Union column approaching from Front Royal.  As messaged to Jackson, General Winder at once led his brigade into the attack.  Outgunned and outnumbered though he was. Col Knipe hoped to make a stand for the three hours it would take for General Shields to come up and join the action.  To that end, he placed his reliance upon the mobility his cavalry battalion - 1st Michigan - to disrupt and entangle the rebels, should they attack.
Union column: two infantry regiments, a cavalry battalion,
and a battery.  
Colonel Knipe had with him:
     46th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry - 27 figures
       3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry - 27 figures
       1st  Michigan Cavalry Battalion - 15 mounted figures
   H/1st New York Artillery - 1 gun, 4 gunners.
Stonewall Brigade - three regiments that had been heavily
engaged the night before, and two batteries.
General Winder's rearguard comprised:
     Stonewall Brigade:
       5th Virginia Infantry - 24 figures
     27th Virginia Infantry - 27 figures
     33rd Virginia Infantry - 22 figures
     Cutshaw's Battery - 1 gun, 4 gunners
     Poague's Battery - 1 gun, 4 gunners.
Having lost 8 figures in the previous day's action, Winder's command did not much outnumber Knipe's force, but he did have double the Union artillery.
While the uneven infantry action rages in the plain,
the Union horse sweeps over the height to flank
the Confederate guns.
Col. Knipe arranged his infantry in line, supported by his artillery, a little forward of a barn belonging to one Tobias Barnett, that stood just to the left of the road.  46th Pennsylvania took a position a little west of the barn, partially lining a fenced field.  To their right stood 3rd Wisconsin.  The gun battery was slightly refused in the centre.  The plan was to hold this position whilst the cavalry battalion swept around the Confederate northern flank.
Three against two -surely this can have but one outcome?
For his part, Winder threw his main attack against 46th Pennsylvania, supported by Cutshaw's battery.  Poague's guns were sent up the hill flanking the northern end of the Confederate line, there to support 33rd Virginia's duel against the men from Wisconsin, or to act as a flank guard against the Union horse.  The orders issued, he sent a courier to General Jackson, then two or three miles to the west along the Strasburg road, harrying Genl Banks's fleeing command.
27th Virginia Infantry in action.
The infantry firefights proved a fairly prolonged and bloody affair, which gave time for the Union cavalry to mount the hill flanking the Confederate line.  Quickly deciding he had no chance of wheeling his battery betimes, Capt. Poague at once gave the order to limber up and pull out. Although the cavalry were slowed by having to negotiate the contours of this eminence, only the arrival at 11 o'clock of 15th Alabama infantry and Ashby's cavalry saved the guns.   Jackson was not far behind with the rest of his army.   The Union horse reined in and hastily retraced its steps.
Confederate artillery hastily skedaddling
 with Union cavalry in hot pursuit.  Can they possibly escape?
The infantry fight was by now decided... more or less.  Though artillery support ceased when Capt. Cutshaw had swung his battery around to see off Knipe's cavalry,  numbers told upon 46th Pennsylvania.  Even so, the Pennsylvanians held on to their position until more than half their strength were dead, wounded or skedaddled, before finally breaking to the rear.  But the fight between 3rd Wisconsin and 33rd Virginia went the other way.  Somewhat weakened by the previous afternoon's action, the Southerners would probably have held their own with Poague's support.  As it was, they got the worse of the encounter, and, possibly apprehending certain fast moving developments to the left, fell back in disorder towards the road.
The preliminaries are over by 11 o'clock with the arrival
of Confederate reinforcements:  15th Alabama and
7th Virginia Cavalry.

So matters matters stood as the leading elements of Jackson's main army began to spill onto the field. Colonel Knipe was not about to quit the field, however.  So far, his men had given as good as they had got - in fact he was certain victory had been snatched from him by those importunate reinforcements.  Further, within the half hour, he knew that Brigadier General Shields would be up with his whole Division.

Meanwhile, what of General Banks?  Donnelly's Brigade and 1st Maine Cavalry had taken a terrible mauling, and were probably lucky that Jackson had broken off the pursuit when he did.  All the same, back his troops had to go, and there was no question of stopping at Strasburg, neither.  The retreat continued until, shortly before dusk that day, his exhausted men staggered into Middletown.  Of General Fremont, somewhere to the west of Strasburg, there had come not a word.  Not yet.

(My rule is that a defeated force must retreat at least a half day's march, not stopping until reaching a town or settlement, or else an equal or larger body of friends.  Strasburg being less than a half day (4 hexes) away, means the retreat continues through it.  By coincidence, Middletown is exactly a half-day's march from where the pursuit action took place.)

To be continued:  The Battle of Passage Creek


  1. interesting game. Can't wait to see what happens next. Also going to be celebrating 5 years of Oronegro (it has been 5 years since my trip to Argentina which was the catalysis for the Oronegro project.)

    1. How are you going to celebrate the quintennial (?)? Battle? campaign? Grand review? A grand review can be quite nice, laying out all the toys - I mean troops and naval units - and basking in their magnificence. I don't do grand reviews myself so much these days, but it is a joy from which one ought not deprive oneself.

    2. As fior the present campaign, so far we have seen a bit of skirmishing. Now comes a real battle...

    3. A Grand review would be nice but sadly some of the model tanks got damaged while I was away (my parents turned my old room into storage and some of my models got crushed under the things put on my desk)

      What I will be doing is a display of the development of the Oronegrean infantry soldier from the first arrivals in the late 15th century to the soldiers who fought in the second civil war of the 2020s.