Volume XXVI Issue #5 • An Excerpt From:

The Luray Valley Campaign of 1862
The Road to Front Royal

by Gary Ecelbarger

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Note: All Blue & Gray feature articles are annotated.

View from the south bank of the South Branch of the Shenandoah River at Front Royal, Virginia. The railroad bridge stands on the site of the wartime Manassas Gap Railroad bridge. The confluence of the North and South branches is marked by the bridge in the background.

Ranking among the most enthralling campaigns in military history is Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862. The battles fought within the mountain corridor during the spring of 1862 were small affairs, ones easily forgettable had they occurred two years later in the midst of the monstrosities of 1864. But for the Confederacy, any victory in the early months of 1862 was a memorable event, for it kept up the hopes and ambitions of a struggling new nation attempting to prevent its extinction barely a year after its formation.

The hallmark of Jackson’s springtime campaign in the Valley was his ability to exploit the terrain within the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains by rapid maneuver to concentrate a large force on the flank of an unsuspecting opponent. No better example of this exists than in the movements that culminated in the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862, the smallest of Jackson’s six Valley battles in regard to the number of troops actually engaged, but one that ranks among the most important of contests in terms of its impact both within and outside the Shenandoah Valley.

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