The Third Battle of Winchester Va.
WITH RICH FARMLAND THAT EARNED IT THE NAME “THE BREADBASKET OF the Confederacy” Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley formed a natural travel corridor for the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War. Winchester, Virginia and its environs at the mouth of the Valley were often frequented by these armies. In addition to changing hands dozens of times, Winchester experienced intense battles in 1862, 1863, and 1864.
The Third Battle of Winchester was the bloodiest battle ever fought in the Shenandoah Valley, producing more casualties than the entire 1862 Valley Campaign. Sheridan lost 12 percent of his army with 5,000 of 39,000 soldiers killed, wounded and missing. Early suffered fewer casualties but he lost 25 percent of his army.
The dead and wounded were everywhere. One soldier of the 12th Connecticut recalled, “the Rebel dead lay thickly in the fields beyond, and were piled upon each other in the yard of a large stone mansion [Hackwood] … A ghastly row of gray-clad corpses lay along a wall, behind which some Rebel brigade had evidently found shelter; and the fields and hillsides as far as Winchester were dotted with the fallen.”
The dead were buried where they fell. Many were later moved to the nearby Winchester National Cemetery or the Stonewall Cemetery. Some 8,000 Union and Confederate soldiers from the many battles around Winchester rest in these cemeteries today. The wounded were treated in a variety of field hospitals until better facilities were established. Captain Ira B. Gardner of the 14th Maine, wounded in the arm in the Second Woods, walked back across the Middle Field to a field hospital on Red Bud Run. He soon joined some 300 wounded men at the nearby home of Charles L. Wood where his arm was amputated near the shoulder, wrapped in cloth, placed in a box, and buried in the yard. Thirty years later Gardner returned and was told that Mr. Wood had unearthed his arm and reburied it in the Winchester National Cemetery.
Steen Cannon & Ordnance Works provide three 3-inch ordnance rifles on all aluminum gun carriages in time for their 150th anniversary of the battle