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Near Winchester in Frederick County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Third Battle of Winchester

The Middle Field - Bloodiest Encounter in the Shenandoah Valley

 
 
The Third Battle of Winchester Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 26, 2007
1. The Third Battle of Winchester Marker
Inscription. You are standing in the Middle Field - perhaps the bloodiest place in the Shenandoah Valley. After hours of preparation, Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah was ready to advance against the Confederate position east of Winchester at 11:40 a.m. Emerging from the woods behind you Union Gen. Cuvier Grover's 2nd Division, Nineteenth Corps was to move across the field in two lines of battle, advancing with the Sixth Corps to its left. Unfortunately, the Sixth Corps was ordered to follow the Berryville Pike, which curved to the south taking Grover's men away from the Confederate flank. This movement, along with difficult terrain rendered the brigades of the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps disconnected and vulnerable to counterattack. Recognizing the danger, Grover tried in vain to hald and realign his troops. Union Gen. Henry Birge, whose brigade advanced over this ground and into the Second Woods in front of you, described the situation:
"[We]...crossed this field under an artillery and infantry fire from the enemy in position in a belt of woods in front and extending to the right, and when within 200 yards charged with fixed bayonets at double-quick. [We] broke his line on the entire front of the brigade and drove him through and out of the woods. As the troops entered the woods I was ordered by Gen. Grover to halt and hold that position and
Help Preserve 3rd Winchester image. Click for more information.
2. Help Preserve 3rd Winchester
Details of CWPT efforts to save this battlefield.
Click for more information.
not to go farther into the woods, but the charge was so rapid and impetuous and the men so much excited by the sight of the enemy in full retreat before them that it was impossible to execute the order, and the whole line pressed forward to the extreme edge of the timber."


At that moment Confederates attacked the exposed flanks of Birge's brigade and drove it out of the Second Woods and back across the Middle Field. Grover did his best to fill the gaps with his second line but the counterattack and the devastating artillery fire from Braxton's and Breathed's Confederate guns was too much. The entire line was driven back to the edge of the woods behind you. Grover's Division suffered more than 1,500 casualties (killed, wounded, and missing) in the action here.
 
Erected by Civil War Preservation Trust.
 
Location. 39° 11.896′ N, 78° 7.638′ W. Marker is near Winchester, Virginia, in Frederick County. Marker can be reached from Redbud Road (County Route 661), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Located at the Middle Field Wayside, along the Battle Trail, inside the CWPT Third Winchester Battlefield site. The closest access site is a trail head on the west side of the Frederick County School complex parking lot. Marker is in this post office area: Winchester VA 22603, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
The Battle Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 26, 2007
3. The Battle Map
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named The Third Battle of Winchester (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named The Third Battle of Winchester (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The Third Battle of Winchester (about 500 feet away); The Third Battle of Winchester (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Third Battle of Winchester (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Third Battle of Winchester (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Third Battle of Winchester (approx. ľ mile away); a different marker also named The Third Battle of Winchester (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winchester.
 
More about this marker. On the left of the marker is a battle map showing the tactical situation between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on September 19, 1864. On the right is an "Alfred Waud's sketch of Grover's division attacking across the Middle Field." The sketch is also used as the background image for the marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. Civil War Preservation Trust page on Third Winchester. (Submitted on October 27, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Summary of the Battle of Third Winchester. The action
Middle Field Wayside image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 26, 2007
4. Middle Field Wayside
The Federal advance crossed this spot moving from the right to the left (northeast) toward the Second Woods.
described on the marker is covered under phase 4 of this National Parks Service summary (Submitted on October 27, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

3. CWPT Walking Tour of The Third Battle of Winchester. This marker is one along the walking trail around a portion of the Third Winchester Battlefield, preserved by the Civil War Preservation Trust. (Submitted on October 27, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. A passage from my ancestor's diary
September the 19, 1864: Wee took up line of march, marching som distance. The cannons begun to rore (roar), the musketry the same. Wee marching don (down) in the direction of Winchester, stopping a while, then wee was ordered on crossing Opequan Creek near Winchester. Then wee was ordered on double quick for some distance, then ordered into line of battle, and fixed baynetts (bayonets) then ordered on a charge through a piece of thick pine brush, getting through the thicket was ordered to stop and lay down. Laying thare a few minuets (minutes) then was ordered on double quick to charge the enamy out of thare works. The Sixth and nineteenth Corps on our left and Averalís Cavalry on our right. The whole thing on a charge, chragin gthe enamy out of thare works
The First Woods image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 26, 2007
5. The First Woods
Grover's Division emerged from these woods and pressed forward against the Confederate positions on the other side of Middle Field.
captuern (capturing) a great many prisssners and som(e) few pieces of canon and a great many small arms. Marching to the mill race on the other side of Winchester, wee camped for the night, marching 12 miles. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted September 25, 2010, by Rodger Lemley of Mt.morris, Pennsylvania.

 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Looking from Middle Field Towards the Second Woods image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 26, 2007
6. Looking from Middle Field Towards the Second Woods
Visible in the distance are the power lines and the trees screening the I-81 bypass. The forward elements of Grover's Division reached positions there before being driven back by the Confederate counterattack.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 27, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,771 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on October 27, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on March 13, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 27, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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