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At the beginning of May 1862, the defeats at Pea Ridge and Shiloh, and a federal Army advancing on Richmond, gave little hope for the Confederacy. Even “Stonewall” Jackson, in his first battle as an independent commander a few months earlier, was defeated at Kernstown.
Jackson, who now led a small Confederate army, knew Gen. Robert H. Milroy was near the town of McDowell. On May 8, forward elements of Jackson’s infantry, his “foot cavalry” as they came to be known, were in sight of McDowell. Having completed a series of tough marches, they now stood atop Sitlington’s Hill. Although outnumbered, the Union made the first move. Milroy launched an assault up the jagged slopes and through the tangled forest around Sitlington’s Hill. Taking advantage of depressions and the trees, the Union force dealt Johnson’s Confederates an alarming number of casualties. Johnson appealed to the nearest of Jackson’s Brigades, led by Taliaferro, for help. At this point, both sides were losing cohesion. Johnson was severely wounded, but Taliaferro took charge and, despite the confusion, was able to blunt a final enemy attempt to take Sitlington’s Hill. Around 9 p.m. the musketry sputtered to a conclusion. Milroy burned his camps and retreated northward toward Franklin.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
May 8, 1862
Battle of McDowell
The Battle of McDowell, also known as the Battle of Sitlington's Hill, was fought on May 8, 1862, near McDowell, Virginia, as part of Confederate Major General Stonewall Jackson's 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign during the American Civil War. After suffering a tactical defeat at the First Battle of Kernstown, Jackson withdrew to the southern Shenandoah Valley. Union forces commanded by Brigadier Generals Robert Milroy and Robert C. Schenck were advancing from what is now West Virginia towards the Shenandoah Valley. After being reinforced by troops commanded by Brigadier General Edward Johnson, Jackson advanced towards Milroy and Schenck's encampment at McDowell. Jackson quickly took the prominent heights of Sitlington's Hill, and Union attempts to recapture the hill failed. The Union forces retreated that night, and Jackson pursued, only to return to McDowell on 13 May. After McDowell, Jackson defeated Union forces at several other battles during his Valley campaign.
Introduction to Wikipedia Article
Wikipedia: Battle of McDowell