Zenfolio | Oak Hill Studio | MCDOWELL COUNTRYSIDE
Generally considered the second full scale engagement of Jackson's brilliant Valley Campaign, the Battle of McDowell took place May 8, 1862 on the slopes of Sitlington's Hill, a spur of Bullpasture Mt. lying above the village of the same name. It was here that 2000 Federal troops under Robert Milroy & Robert Schenck attacked an advanced force of Confederates under Edward "Allegheny" Johnson, who had already occupied the hill. Johnson's troops were reinforced by the brigades of Taliaferro and Campbell (under Jackson), and the Federal attacks were successfully repelled. Nevertheless, the battle furnished enough time for the remaining 4000 Federal troops to retire beyond McDowell, where they were joined by the attacking force at dark. Jackson's army, numbering nearly 10,000, took up the pursuit the next day, leaving behind a detachment of cavalry and the VMI Cadet Battalion to guard Federal prisoners (mostly wounded). The remainder of Jackson's troops chased the Federals through Monterey, and down the South Branch valley to just south of Franklin, West Virginia, where they turned back. In many ways the battle could be considered a lopsided, "Pyrrhic" Southern victory, as the Confederates suffered 498 casualties vs. the Federals' 256. Milroy had boldly attacked Jackson's advanced guard and the courage of the Federal troops had staved off a potential Union disaster. Nevertheless, the battle accomplished several important objectives for Jackson. It immobilized the major portion of Union General Fremont's Army, isolating them well beyond the imposing barrier of Shenandoah Mountain, and intimidated Fremont himself from any further deployment for nearly a month. It also convinced Nathaniel Banks, overall commander of the Valley Region, that Jackson had much greater strength than he actually possessed, a suspicion which Banks had held since the Battle of Kernstown. Finally, it provided Jackson's troops, especially the men of his second (Campbell's) and third (Taliaferro's) brigades, with a much needed victory, boosting their lagging morale and convincing them of their ability to win. The hard marching and fighting of the McDowell action, often with little or no rest, soon resulted in their referring to themselves as Jackson's "foot cavalry".
Bullpasture River McDowell, VA USA