July 24

This Day in History

Civil War

Jul 24, 1864:

Battle of Kernstown, Virginia

Confederate General Jubal Early defeats Union troops under General George Crook to keep the Shenandoah Valley clear of Yankees.

On June 13, 1864, General Robert E. Lee sent Early north from Petersburg to clear the Shenandoah of Union troops and relieve pressure on his own beleaguered force. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had been pinned in Petersburg after a bloody six-week campaign with General Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Potomac. The campaign mimicked that of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's in 1862, when the Confederates successfully relieved pressure on Richmond and held off several Union armies in the Valley.

Early moved into Maryland in July and even threatened Washington before moving back up the Potomac and into the valley with Yankee troops in pursuit. On July 23, Early's troops engaged the Union force under Crook near Kernstown, with no clear victory for either side. The next day, Early struck Crook with his entire force and found the Federals in a vulnerable position. The Yankees were routed and fled back down the valley.

Early's victory led to significant changes in the Union approach to the Shenandoah Valley. President Abraham Lincoln urged Grant to secure the area once and for all. Grant sent General Philip Sheridan to command the district in early August, and in the fall Sheridan dealt a series of defeats to Early and pacified the valley.

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