Battle of Kernstown, Virginia - HISTORY
Year
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.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Mormons settle Salt Lake Valley

After 17 months and many miles of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Gazing over the parched earth of the remote location, Young declared, “This is the place,” and the pioneers began preparations for the thousands of Mormon ...read more

Mary Queen of Scots deposed

During her imprisonment at Lochleven Castle in Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots is forced to abdicate in favor of her one-year-old son, later crowned King James VI of Scotland.In 1542, while just six days old, Mary ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King ...read more

Kennedy’s goal accomplished

At 12:51 EDT, Apollo 11, the U.S. spacecraft that had taken the first astronauts to the surface of the moon, safely returns to Earth.The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of ...read more

Machu Picchu discovered

On July 24, 1911, American archeologist Hiram Bingham gets his first look at Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world’s top tourist destinations.Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a ...read more

Lance Armstrong wins seventh Tour de France

On this day in 2005, American cyclist Lance Armstrong wins a record-setting seventh consecutive Tour de France and retires from the sport. After Armstrong survived testicular cancer, his rise to cycling greatness inspired cancer patients and fans around the world and ...read more

O. Henry is released from prison

William Sydney Porter, otherwise known as O. Henry, is released from prison on this day, after serving three years in jail for embezzlement from a bank in Austin, Texas.To escape imprisonment, Porter had fled the authorities and hidden in Honduras, but returned when his wife, ...read more

Saving Private Ryan opens in theaters

On this day in 1998, the director Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic, Saving Private Ryan, is released in theaters across the United States. The film, which starred Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, was praised for its authentic portrayal of war and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. ...read more

Hundreds drown in Eastland disaster

On this day in 1915, the steamer Eastland overturns in the Chicago River, drowning between 800 and 850 of its passengers who were heading to a picnic. The disaster was caused by serious problems with the boat’s design, which were known but never remedied.The Eastland was owned ...read more

Hancock scolds Schuyler

Schuyler was likely ill-prepared to deal with the diversity of enlisted men under his command, coming mainly from the lower ranks of society. They were brought together only by their common desire to defeat the British. He himself had a much different background as the product ...read more

Operation Gomorrah is launched

On this day in 1943, British bombers raid Hamburg, Germany, by night in Operation Gomorrah, while Americans bomb it by day in its own “Blitz Week.”Britain had suffered the deaths of 167 civilians as a result of German bombing raids in July. Now the tables were going to turn. The ...read more