Saturday, August 13, 2016

Battle of McDowell May 8, 1862 Part 1

McDowell Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

~Orders of Battle~
Union Forces

MG John C. Fremont
 approx 4,600 men

BG. Robert H. Milroy's Brigade

25th OH Inf                        8 stands
32nd OH Inf                        8 stands
75th OH Inf                         8 stands
3rd WV Inf                         8 stands

BG Robert C. Schenck's Brigade

82nd OH Inf                      7 stands
5th WV Inf                        7 stands

Confederate Forces

MG Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
approx 4,100 men

Col Jesse Burke's Brigade

21st VA Inf                   3 stands
42nd VA Inf                 4 stands
48th VA Inf                  4 stands
1st VA Inf Bn (Irish)    2 stands

BG Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's Brigade

12th GA Inf                    3 stands
25th VA Inf                    3 stands
31st VA Inf                     3 stands
44th VA Inf                    2 stands
52nd VA Inf                   3 stands
58th VA Inf                    3 stands

BG William Taliaferro's Brigade

10th VA Inf                    4 stands
23rd VA Inf                   3 stands
37th VA Inf                     4 stands

Jackson's columns departed West View and Staunton, Virginia, on the morning of May 7, marching west along the Parkersburg turnpike. BG Edward"Allegheny" John's Brigade was in the lead. By mid-afternoon, Union pickets were encountered at Rodger's tollgate. The Union force, which consisted of three regiments under BG Robert H. Milroy, withdrew quickly and abandoned their baggage train. They retreated west to the crest of Shenandoah Mountain.
The Confederate Force  split into two columns to envelope the Federal position at Shenandoah Mountain. Milroy ordered his force once again to fall back and concentrate at McDowell. By dusk Johnson's advance regiments reached Shaw's Fork where they camped for the night. The narrow roads and mountainous terrain left little in the option for camping sites. Jackson's force encamped along the road for 8-10 miles. Jackson established his headquarters at Rodger's tollgate. Milroy withdrew his brigade behind Bullpasture River inside McDowell. Milroy made his Headquarters in the Hull House. The morning of May 8, brought Jackson's forces to battle.

Turn 1 Union Initiative. Milroy orders his brigade forward. 75th OH, 25th OH, 32nd OH on the Confederate left. begin to advance up the hill towards the 12th GA and 32nd Va regiments who were in advance of the main force. on the Confederate right we see the 3rd WV infantry advance in line of battle down the narrow mountain road towards the 31st VA infantry. The Union Force begins their turn set up on the East side or Confederate Side, of Bullpasture River. "Stonewall Jackson's forces are set up in line of battle along the crest of the mountain and down the reverse slope. BG WIlliam Taliferro's Brigade is seen in column formation n the Staunton Parkersburg Turnpike.

"Stonewall" Jackson can be seen in front of Col. Jesse Burk's Brigade on the reverse slope of the mountain.

BG Robert H. Milroy's Brigade set up in line. you can see the 82nd OH Infantry Regiment in column formation in McDowel on the other side of the river.

BG Milroy gives the order for the brigade to advance.

82nd Ohio, part of BG Robert Schenk's Brigade in McDowell.

Schenck's other regiment, the 5th West Virginia.

The 25th Virginia draws first blood as the 3rd WV come in range of their muskets. the West Virginia regiment takes casualties as they continue to advance.

Turn 2. Union Initiative. Milroy's Brigade continues to move forward. Jackson orders his brigades to hold in place. The 25th Virginia now turns their attention to their immediate front and gives a volley to the 25th OH Infantry. The Ohio infantry takes casualties but passes their cohesion test and continue. The 3rd West Virginia now become the subject of interest of the awaiting 31st Virginia who cut loose a devastating volley. The opening volley caused heavy casualties. However, the West Virginians continue forward.

from this view we see how the numbers stack up. the Confederate Regiments are small in manpower compared to the larger Federal regiments.

A close up view of the battle. we can begin to see some of the ground features. It's important to note that the Staunton Parkersburg Turnpike  is basically in a valley with mountains and steep hills on each side.

Turn 3. Union Initiative. the Union brigade has moved in close enough. the 25th OH opened up on the 25th VA. they lose over half their force in the volley and are routed. the 3rd WV fires on the 31st VA blocking the road. The Virginia regiment also takes heavy casualties and is routed. BG William Taliferro is ordered to advance his brigade u the road.

The situation does not look good for Jackson's force. two regiments already routed. his right flank is in danger of collapsing.

"Stonewall" Jackson knows something must be done.

Milroy continues to advance his brigade. confident with his initial victories with the leading Confederate Regiments.

Turn 4. Confederate Initiative. The 12th GA infantry falls back from their advanced position. they reform in line with "Allegheny" Johnson's brigade line. Johnson shifts his force to the right to bring his line to bear. Taliferro's Brigade goes into battle line and continues to advance. Milroy continues to advance. Schneck's brigade moves to cross the river and add their support to the advance.

The mountainside is rated as "rough terrain" so the movement is slower then it would be if this were an open field. The maximum movement is 2 inches.
Taliferro's brigade moving forward.

The situation looks grim. in the first few movements of the engagement, Jackson hasn't started the turns with the initiative. Milroy has taken advantage of this and using his superior numbers advanced into contact with Jackson's pickets and managed to drive two regiments from the field. The battle will continue to develop in the second part.

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