‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s spring 1862 Shenandoah Valley operation in West Virginia was essentially diversionary. The Union armies in the East were in the process of mounting an offensive against the Confederate capital Richmond, and Jackson’s aim was to tie up Union military resources through a campaign of manoeuvre. In this he succeeded brilliantly, occupying three Union armies and 52,000 troops, which enabled Robert E. Lee to repulse the Richmond offensive. The action at Mc Dowell was indeterminate. The Union forces mounted an assault across the Bullpasture River against Jackson’s army, situated on the crest of Sitlington’s Hill. Despite advancing uphill, the Union suffered lighter casualties than the Confederate defenders, owing to their superior armaments. However, they were unable to take the hill, and withdrew. Jackson followed up within the month with far more decisive victories over the other Union armies in the vicinity of Front Royal and Winchester.
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