Union General Philip H. Sheridan’s preliminary advance into the Shenandoah Valley was marked by caution. The Confederate General in the area, Jubal Early, interpreted this to mean Sheridan was performing a holding operation, and rashly allowed his forces to become dispersed along the Valley. Learning of this opportunity through reconnaissance, Sheridan rushed to launch an attack at Winchester. Early’s hastily reassembled forces fought stoutly, but the action was decided by Union General Crook’s cavalry charge, which buckled the Confederate left flank. A further charge through the centre sent the Confederates fleeing through the streets of Winchester. The heavily outnumbered Confederates later rallied in a strong defensive position at Fisher’s Hill outside the town of Strasburg. In a reprise, on 22 September, Crook once more turned the Confederate left flank, and, driven back by the VI Corps infantry, the Confederates retreated towards Woodstock.
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