Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Winchester - the Shuttlecock of the Confederacy


Winchester, Virginia was a seesaw during the American Civil War and exchanged occupiers more than any other locale in the Confederacy – changing hands 72 times between March 12, 1862 and September 19, 1864 when Confederate General Jubal Early lost to Federal General Philip Sheridan at the 3rd Battle of Winchester.

It’s position in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley created the confluence of events that created its history as the most fought over piece of real estate in the South. Although Winchester is situated a short geographical distance from what would become West Virginia, politically, Winchester part and parcel of the Confederacy. The women of Winchester were reputed to be strong partisans of the South who refused to walk under the federal flag, wore “Jeff Davis” bonnets which hid their eyes so they would not have to look at federal soldiers and reportedly shot at federals fleeing after the 1st Battle of Winchester.

Because of its location within striking distance of Washington with easy access to Maryland, West Virginia, Richmond, and Pennsylvania, both armies coveted control of the area.  The major thoroughfare from east to west traversed Winchester. Whoever controlled Winchester, controlled the flow of supplies. Winchester was the site of 3 major battles and within short distances of the battles of Kernstown and Cedar Creek.

Stonewall Jackson maintained his headquarters in Winchester during the 1862 campaign. The old Courthouse was utilized as both a prison and a hospital by both sides.

I am blessed to live in an environment so awash with our history on every acre. The men and women who trod this land shed their blood for causes we, today, may not fully appreciate. However, one cannot help but feel awe for those who charged with their bayonets across corn fields and engaged in hand to hand combat, who forded streams with water waist high, and gave their lives for what they believed. I am not so sure that I would have the courage to do th
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