After Action Report - 13 May 2000

Action in Northern Virginia

Warren Peterson


Assault on a small fortification

General Early gave orders to attack the Union fortification near Winchester. The capture of this fortification was important as it held the road junction leading to Harpers Ferry. C.S.A. Intelligence reports indicated that the position was lightly garrisoned by Union forces. As events unfolded it was found that the fortification was garrisoned by two regiments and four heavy guns, and there were two additional Union brigades in the vicinity with which we had to contend. An attack by five brigades organized into two commands would result in capture of this position.

Early's plan was to approach a village located south of the fortification using two converging roads, once at the village we were to split our attack force into two wings, move off the road, and advance through the surrounding terrain to flank the Union's position. I was commanding the left flank force composed of two brigades.
My advance into the village was accomplished in good order. I arrived at the scheduled time (0800 hours) and met the right flank force under the command of General Early. As a diversion, I deployed three regiments in the village with orders to demonstrate in view of the fortification. It was hoped that this force would draw the attention of the Union artillery. I directed the remaining regiments on a flanking march taking advantage of some low hills and woods to guard my approach.

The advance went well, when scouts reported Union troops massed along a tree line across a stream. It would be necessary for me to take this position in order to attack the fort as ordered. Moving my regiments into line I proceeded to advance on the position. Fire from the Yankee's was devastating as it was difficult to cross the stream and charge the position. Eventually I was able to rout the Yankees and carry the position, capturing a battery in the process. However, several of my regiments sustained heavy casualties.

With the Union troops fleeing towards the fort I endeavored to reform my troops and once again advance. It was several hours before I was in position to assault the Yankee works. To our benefit I was able to position cannon on a small rise overlooking the fort's rear. The artillery fire from this position was key to our victory.

Using the my artillery and remaining regiments I attacked the rear of the works with vigor. The rear was held by the retreating Yankees I had bested at the stream. Several gallant charges gained the rear of the works only to be beaten back. My casualties were heavy. However, my efforts were successful as I had weakened the defenders enough to allow General Early's right flanking force to victoriously charge the works.

Respectfully Submitted,
General Patterson