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Three Days in the Shenandoah: Stonewall Jackson at Front Royal and Winchester (Campaigns and Commanders Series) Hardcover – April 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0806138862 ISBN-10: 0806138866 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Series: Campaigns and Commanders Series (Book 14)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806138866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806138862
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,605,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gary Ecelbarger, an independent scholar, is the author of several books on the Civil War.  His publications include Black Jack Logan: An Extraordinary Life in Peace and War (Lyons Press, 2005) and The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta (Thomas Dunne Books, 2010).


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862 is a textbook example of what a small well lead force can do to change the course of events. Stonewall Jackson becomes a legend during this campaign and it is still considered one of his best. This is a history of the start of this storied campaign, beginning on May 22 and ending on the 25th. During this time, Jackson drives Union General N. P. Banks north and panics Washington into depriving McClellan of expected reinforcements. A few thousand men and two small battles start a chain of events with far reaching consequences.
Small battle histories are a major treat, allowing the reader opportunity to become involved in the actual tactics used. Fences, stonewalls, hills and buildings assume an importance that big battle histories cannot convey. This book is full of these details, giving us a feel for Civil War campaigning that many books lack. The chapter "A Tale of Two Cavalry Attacks" is one of the best reads I have encountered. You are literally in the middle of the battle, alternating charging with the cavalry or defending with the infantry.
The author does not ignore the marches, fog of war or the big picture. Each of these is introduced and/or referenced when needed to move the story forward. This produces a seamless compelling narration conveying a full understanding of the problems, successes, failures and missed opportunities for both sides. The treatment Jackson and Banks is very even-handed and fair. Neither man is all good or all bad, both do good things and both make mistakes. The portrayal of Banks will be a surprise. He is not the political general completely out of his depth we so often see. This is a more balanced portrait that gives us a better idea of why he would get an important command.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brett R. Schulte on July 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Were Union troops even involved in the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign? From reading many sources focusing on Jackson's famous campaign, one wonders at times. Gary Ecelbarger sets out to fairly chronicle Three Days in the Shenandoah, including the battles of Front Royal (May 23) and Winchester (May 25). The results of May 23-25, 1862 on the strategic situation in the Eastern Theater far outweighed the number of men involved. By focusing on both sides, Ecelbarger hopes to tell the full story of this mini-campaign within a campaign, and largely succeeds. This well-written, engaging, insightful book offers up some opinions decidedly different from standard accounts of the campaign.

In mid-May 1862, the Confederate cause looked bleak. Confederate forces had been losing battles and ground all spring from Pea Ridge to Shiloh to Richmond. Large Union armies were on the doorsteps of both Richmond and Corinth, Mississippi. The Confederate War Department needed a way to take some of this pressure off. Ecelbarger argues that the events of May 23-25 may have had their genesis in a meeting of some of the top men in the Confederacy in mid-May, including Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Joseph Johnston. A telegram asking Jackson to drive Banks out of the Shenandoah arrived not long after this meeting, and Stonewall set out to make this happen. Outnumbering Banks 3 to 1 due to the departure of Shields' veteran division east to Fredericksburg, Jackson struck Banks on the flank at Front Royal on May 23, 1862. Jackson and Banks, located several miles to the west at Strasburg, were now in a race to see who could reach Winchester first, and Banks won this race late on May 24.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fife and Drummer on April 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nicely written campaign and battle study of the most decisive portion of Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862. Many excellent maps, at both the operational and tactical level. As usual, a nice University of Oklahoma Press package. Especially good on Jackson's and Banks's decision making process throughout the three days, based as it was on the inadequate information the two generals had at the time. Good on how Confederate victory influenced overall Union strategy during the Peninsula Campaign. Important point is made that both armies were physically exhausted and barely functioning after three days and nights of marching and fighting with inadequate sleep and food. Some criticism of Jackson for feeding his troops into battle piecemeal, thus preventing a quick victory.
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5 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Sherman Peabody on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ecelbarger writes about Stonewall Jackson's victories over Nathaniel Banks at the Battles of Front Royal and Winchester on May 23-May 25, 1862. He previously authored a decent study of the Battle of Kernstown and a biography of Black Jack Logan. I really want to rate this book high because of his subject: he is the only author to devote a book to this subject. But I can't. Ecelbarger somehow overlooks too many sources. Where is the 2000 edition of Hoffman/Ide's history of the 1st Vermont Cavalry? He says he consulted the Charles Blinn Papers at the University of Vermont. How did he miss the William Wells Papers and Ide's manuscript regiment history held there? [By the way, Hoffman just published the Wells Papers: "A Vermont Cavalryman in War and Love."] Also, he used the Charles Gordon Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, but missed their extensive material on the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. The really big question is what else did he miss in all the repositories he consulted? The result is a decent study of this critical portion of Jackson's Valley campaign, but one that could have been much better.
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