Thursday, July 11, 2013

In The Review Queue: The Last Battle of Winchester

By Scott Patchan

The Last Battle of Winchester is the first serious study to chronicle the largest, longest, and bloodiest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley. The fighting began about daylight and did not end until dusk, when the victorious Union army routed the Confederates off the field. It was the first time Stonewall Jackson's former corps had ever been driven from a battlefield, and the stinging defeat set the stage for the final climax of the 1864 Valley Campaign at Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek. The Northern victory was a long time coming.

After a spring and summer of Union defeat in the Valley, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant cobbled together a formidable force under redoubtable cavalryman Phil Sheridan. His task was a tall one: sweep Jubal Early's Confederate army out of the bountiful Shenandoah and reduce the verdant region of its supplies. Thus far, the aggressive Early had led Jackson's veterans to one victory after another at Lynchburg, Monocacy, Snickers Gap, and Kernstown.

Author Scott Patchan, recognized as the foremost authority on the 1864 Valley Campaign, dissects the five weeks of complex maneuvering and sporadic combat before the opposing armies ended up at Winchester, an important town in the northern end of the Valley that had changed hands dozens of times during the war. Tactical brilliance and ineptitude were on display throughout the day-long affair as Sheridan threw infantry and cavalry against the thinning Confederate ranks, and Early and his generals shifted to meet each assault. A final blow against Early's left flank collapsed the Southern army, killed one of the Confederacy's finest combat generals in Robert Rodes, and planted the seeds of the sweeping large-scale victory at Cedar Creek the following month.

Patchan's vivid prose is based upon more than two decades of meticulous firsthand research and an unparalleled understanding of the battlefield. Nearly two dozen original maps, scores of photos, hundreds of explanatory footnotes, and seven invaluable appendices enhance our understanding of this watershed battle. Rich in analysis and dramatic character development, The Last Battle of Winchester is certain to become a classic Civil War battle study.

About the Author:

A life-long student of military history, Scott C. Patchan is a graduate of James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of many articles and books, including The Forgotten Fury: The Battle of Piedmont (1996), Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign (2007), and Second Manassas: Longstreet's Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge (2011). Patchan serves as a director on the board of the Kernstown Battlefield Association in Winchester, Virginia, and is a member of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation's Resource Protection Committee.

ISBN 978-1932714982, Savas Beatie, © 2013, Hardcover, 576 Pages, Photographs, Maps, Footnotes, Appendices, Bibliography & Index. $34.95.  To Purchase the book click HERE.

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