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Shenandoah Campaign


SHENANDOAH CAMPAIGN (1864). Coincident with General Ulysses S. Grant's advance, Union forces in western Virginia moved eastward to clear the Shenandoah Valley and cut General Robert E. Lee's supply communications. After engagements at Cloyd's Mountain (9 May), New Market (15 May), and Piedmont (5 June), the Union columns under General David Hunter were united for an advance on Lynchburg. To meet this threat, Lee detached General Jubal A. Early's corps with instructions to threaten Washington, D.C. Early drove Hunter into the mountains, crossed the Potomac, and defeated Union General Lew Wallace at Monocacy, Maryland, on 4–5 July. Too weak for a direct assault on Washington's defenses, Early interrupted railroad traffic, destroyed vast supplies, burned Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (30 July), and then safely withdrew.

Alarmed by Early's successes, Grant consolidated all Union troops in the valley under General Philip H. Sheridan. A month of maneuvers followed. On 19 September Sheridan, with a three-to-one superiority, defeated Early at Opequon and at Fisher's Hill. Instead of destroying his opponent, Sheridan spent several weeks burning crops, provisions, factories, and farm property. On 19 October, Early attacked during Sheridan's absence (Battle of Cedar Creek) but was repulsed and retreated up the valley. By mid-December 1864, both Early and Sheridan had been recalled to Virginia.

Early had saved Lynchburg, collected immense supplies, diverted a large force from Grant's army, and preserved Lee's western line of supply. Sheridan, despite his great superiority, never seriously interfered with Lee's defense of Richmond.


Cooling, Benjamin F. Jubal Early's Raid on Washington, 1864. Baltimore: Nautical and Aviation Pub. Co. of America, 1989.

Gallagher, Gary W., ed. Struggle for the Shenandoah: Essays on the 1864 Valley Campaign. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991.

Heatwole, John L. The Burning: Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. Charlottesville, Va.: Rockbridge, 1998.

Thomas RobsonHay/a. r.

See alsoCivil War ; Petersburg, Siege of ; Saint Albans Raid ; Sheridan's Ride ; Wilderness, Battles of the .

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