|Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson began|
his famous Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862
with the Battle of McDowell.
The Richmond Daily Dispatch
May 20, 1862
Camp of Northwestern Anne. May 16, 1862.
Generals Jackson and Johnson having driven the enemy from Shenandoah mountain in great precipitation, they relied on the main body of their forces at McDowell, where they made a stand. That village is very strongly situated for defence from an attack from the East--there being a very narrow gorge between the mountains. through which the turnpike runs before entering the village.
Generals Jackson and Johnson waited on the top of a high hill called "Washington's Hill," on the left of the turnpike, for the purpose of reconnoitering the position of the enemy.--General Milroy at once saw that this hill commanded his position, and determined that we should not occupy it if he could prevent it.
|Gen. Edward Johnson|
(Library of Congress)
The hill is denuded of tress, but has a few clumps of bushes in some parts of it. Col. Scott formed his line of battle on the crest of the hill, and his men faced west. This was a mere prevention to guard against attack, which he did not expect; but, very unexpectedly, the enemy made a vigorous, attack on Col. Scott's right wing and immediately the battle became fierce and furious. In a short time several regiments of the enemy were sent to the Col.. Scott's right flank, but Col.Connor's brigade was then formed at right angles to Col. Scott's, to resist them. The battle was then general and unremitting. At one time the enemy, by covering themselves by a hill, appeared suddenly in a very short distance of Col. Scott's right wing, and poured into it so deadly a fire as to cause his men to recoil some fifteen or twenty yards.
Scott's situation was then perilous in the extreme. He placed himself on his line of battle before his men with not more than a dozen men who had not left, and waving his hat around his head, appealed to his men in the most animating manner to rally to his support. He asked them if Virginians would let a parcel of Yankees make them run on their own soil? By such appeals as this he soon rallied them, and as they returned to the charge, he waved his hat and cheered most vociferously.
His men then wandered into the enemy, who had by this time got very near to his line, so deadly a fire as to drive them down the hill. During this fire his men shot down the flag bearer, shot the flagstaff in two or three places, and during the temporary flight of the enemy Major Colsy, of the Fifty-eight Regiment, ran out and got the flag which is still in the possession of that regiment. As soon as the enemy were driven down the hill, Colonel Scott proposed three cheers for old Virginia, which were given with a will.
The battle was equally fierce with Colonel Connor's Brigade. Indeed, It was fiercest where the left wing of Connor's and the right wing of Scott's united at right angles to each other. The 12th Georgia was nearer the left of Connor's and suffered most. Connor's suffered more than Scott's, because Scott's line of battle was on the west of the hill, and as his front rank would fire he would cause it to fall back a few paces and lie down and load, while Connor's had no such advantage. But for that it is generally believed that a majority of Scott's right wing would have been killed. General Taliaferro's Brigade came up before the battle closed, but I am not advised as to the part it bore in the action. It is highly complimented.
The battle commenced about 5 o'clock, and did not close until nearly 9 P. M. In this action all the officers and men behaved most gallantly--Gen. Ed. Johnson, as usual, displayed great gallantry, and had his horse killed under him, and was wounded in the ankle. Col. Harman was wounded in the arm early in the action, and his regiment was then well commanded by Lieut. Col. Skinner and M. Ross. Col. Taliaferro's, of the 23d regiment, had his horse killed; Col.Scott, also, had his horse killed under him by two balls. Indeed, it looks like a miracle that he should have, escaped unhurt. No one in the battle distinguished himself more.
I visited the field of battle again yesterday, and saw the marks of the enemy's balls, and it is my opinion, and the opinion of nearly all with us , that no one could have stood on any one place during the whole battle, near Col.Scott's right wing, without being hit. The artillery on our side was not in action.