Early's and Sheridan's 1864 Valley Campaigns and the Strike on Washington, D.C.

Updated 05/19/04

Eastern ACW Books

I have recently read both of these books back to back, starting with Judge's book and then moving on to Wert's book. This extended Campaign saw the results swing wildly to one side's favor and back to the other's in rapid succession. Sigel's initial failure brought David Hunter to the Valley, and his depredations in turn brought Early and his vaunted II Corps, which basically scared Hunter away without a major fight (though a fight did occur near Lynchburg). Early then proceeded North, fought the Battle of Monocacy against a scratch Union force under Lew Wallace, and finally tested Union Ft. Stevens before retiring to the Valley. Early's incredible successes prompted the final change of fortune in the Campaign. Phil Sheridan, the veteran Union VI Corps from the Army of the Potomac, some of the Union Cavalry Corps from the AotP, and the less than reliable Union XIX Corps from Louisiana all were directed to the Valley and combined with George Crook's Army of West Virginia (the Union XIII Corps) to form the new Army of the Shenandoah. In about a month, spectacular Union successes at Winchester, Fisher's Hill, Tom's Brook, and especially Cedar Creek had destroyed Early as a General, the Shenandoah Valley as the breadbasket of the Confederacy, and Early's veteran II Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. Never again would the Valley be used as a springboard for a Confederate invasion of the North.

From Winchester to Cedar Creek: The Shenandoah Campaign of 1864

Jeffry D. Wert
Updated 2/23/04 Wert has written a very readable account of the Valley Campaign of 1864 between Sheridan and Early. In the beginning, he recounts how Early's successes that summer prompted Grant to send a trusted subordinate (Sheridan) to the Valley to take care of matters there once and for all. He chronicles the relationships between the two Army commanders and their subordinates. It is interesting to note that Early and Sheridan both had quarrels with top subordinates John Gordon and George Crook, respectively. The interesting thing to note is that Crook and Sheridan saw eye to eye during the Campaign, while Early and Gordon mistrusted each other from the beginning. In fact, Wert claims that Early's jealousy of key Generals under his command was one of the main reasons for the disasters to come. Wert's battle accounts are very readable and kept me interested thorughout. However, the lack of adequate maps, which usually only went to Division level, left me more than a little unsatisfied. His account of Cedar Creek especially could have used many more maps. Definitely get this book for the overall treatment of the Campaign, but keep an eye out for tactical level studies of the individual fights. 325 pp., 9 maps

Season of Fire: The Confederate Strike On Washington

Joseph Judge

Updated 2/23/04 I finally finished this book some six or so years after first purchasing it. I decided to read it after realizing it made sense to read this book and then Wert's book from above. Judge's book recounts the operations in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 from the time of the Union Army's general advance on all fronts in May of 1864, through Early's advance on Washinton, D.C., up until Sheridan arrived to help rescue the situation for the Union in early August. Judge has written many books, almost none of them on the Civil War. He is definitely a good storyteller, and the story he has to tell is an interesting one. Where the book could use some work is the tactical level details of the individual battles, and the maps associated with these battles. Also, a few more strategic maps at various points would have helped me follow the action more cleraly. Still, this book enlightened me on this part of the Valley fight in 1864, and is recommended for an overview of the Campaign. As in Wert's book, however, be sure to look for monographs on the major battles, such as New Market (William C. Davis has written one) and Monocacy (B.F. Cooling has done this). I have recently ordered those books, and hope to have information posted on those soon.

The Battle of New Market

William C. Davis

Updated 5/19/04 Davis has written the definitive account of the small but popular battle. He describes the action in great detail, and gives the story of the VMI Cadets his full attention. The maps appear very detailed, and are down to the regimental level in almost all cases. Additionally, the OOB gives unit strengths to the regimental level, making this book a must have for wargamers. This is the only book I know of on New Market, and I can't recommend it enough. 249 pp., 7 maps

Jubal Early's Raid on Washington: 1864

Benjamin Franklin Cooling
NEW 5/19/04 I just recently bought this. It covers much the same ground as Judge's book above, but I'm willing to bet that Cooling's book is better.
edited by Gary Gallagher

NEW 10/18/05 Contributors to this collection of essays include Dennis E. Frye, Gary W. Gallagher, A. Wilson Greene, Robert K. Krick, and Jeffry D. Wert. I’m familiar with all of these authors, and I’ve read books by all except Dennis Frye. Several have written books on the 1864 Valley Campaign, so they are all well qualified to author essays on the subject. This book is the first in a series of essay collections edited by Gallagher. In later titles, some essays wander into Social History, and I’m not too fond of that. However, I was pleasantly surprised here when I found that all five essays focused on the military aspects of the campaign. The maps were only okay. It helps to have Jeffry Wert’s From Winchester to Cedar Creek on hand when reading this title for the maps. Topics include an overview of the campaign, separate essays on Union and Confederate leadership, Early and the Confederate Valley Cavalry, and John S. Mosby’s quest to hinder Sheridan’s campaign. The book is rather short at 137 pages, but the excellent quality of each makes this one worth owning.

137 pp., 5 maps

Read a complete review and summary HERE.