Scott Patchan's Blog
The Last Battle of Winchester is the first serious study to chronicle the largest, longest, and bloodiest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley. The fighting began about daylight and did not end until dusk, when the victorious Union army routed the Confederates off the field. It was the first time Stonewall Jackson’s former corps had ever been driven from a battlefield, and the stinging defeat set the stage for the final climax of the 1864 Valley Campaign at Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek. The Northern victory was a long time coming.
After a spring and summer of Union defeat in the Valley, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant cobbled together a formidable force under redoubtable cavalryman Phil Sheridan. His task was a tall one: sweep Jubal Early’s Confederate army out of the bountiful Shenandoah and reduce the verdant region of its supplies. Thus far, the aggressive Early had led Jackson’s veterans to one victory after another at Lynchburg, Monocacy, Snickers Gap, and Kernstown.
Author Scott Patchan, recognized as the foremost authority on the 1864 Valley Campaign, dissects the five weeks of complex maneuvering and sporadic combat before the opposing armies ended up at Winchester, an important town in the northern end of the Valley that had changed hands dozens of times during the war. Tactical brilliance and ineptitude were on display throughout the day-long affair as Sheridan threw infantry and cavalry against the thinning Confederate ranks, and Early and his generals shifted to meet each assault. A final blow against Early’s left flank collapsed the Southern army, killed one of the Confederacy’s finest combat generals in Robert Rodes, and planted the seeds of the sweeping largescale victory at Cedar Creek the following month.
Patchan’s vivid prose is based upon more than two decades of meticulous firsthand research and an unparalleled understanding of the battlefield. Nearly two dozen original maps, scores of photos, hundreds of explanatory footnotes, and seven invaluable appendices enhance our understanding of this watershed battle. Rich in analysis and dramatic character development, The Last Battle of Winchester is certain to become a classic Civil War battle study.
About the Author: A life-long student of military history, Scott C. Patchan is a graduate of James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of many articles and books, including The Forgotten Fury: The Battle of Piedmont (1996), Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign (2007), and Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge (2011). Patchan serves as a director on the board of the Kernstown Battlefield Association in Winchester, Virginia, and is a member of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation’s Resource Protection Committee.
“The Last Battle of Winchester is the most detailed analysis yet of this third and final crucial battle in the Shenandoah Valley, and should stand as the definitive work on the subject. Scott Patchan, as he always does, brings his unique insight, good storytelling skills, deep research, and keen appreciation for the terrain together in one outstanding work of history.”
— ERIC J. WITTENBERG, AWARD-WINNING CIVIL WAR AUTHOR OF GETTYSBURG’S FORGOTTEN CAVALRY ACTIONS
“Scott Patchan’s The Last Battle of Winchester is a masterpiece in Civil War campaign studies. Indeed, it is a thrilling read. Nothing that has come before it approaches this level of artistry. Unequaled research in primary sources provides the foundation for the extensive coverage of every operation leading up to and including the bloodiest battle ever fought in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you read one Civil War book this year, this blockbuster must be it.”
— THEODORE C. MAHR, FORMER NATIONAL PARK HISTORIAN, FREDERICKSBURG AND SPOTSYLVANIA NATIONAL MILITARY PARK, AND AUTHOR OF THE ACCLAIMED THE BATTLE OF CEDAR CREEK: SHOWDOWN IN THE SHENANDOAH, 2013-06-14
“Fast-paced, comprehensive, and vividly written, The Last Battle of Winchester is a must-read for anyone interested in the 1864 Valley Campaign.”
— Scott L. Mingus Sr., author of Flames Beyond Gettysburg and Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith
— SCOTT L. MINGUS SR., AUTHOR OF FLAMES BEYOND GETTYSBURG AND CONFEDERATE GENERAL WILLIAM “EXTRA BILLY” SMITH, 2013-06-14
“Few communities in the Civil War found themselves fought over as much as Winchester, Virginia, which changed hands dozens of times. The last time was thanks to the dramatic battle of Winchester in September 1864, when Philip Sheridan and Jubal Early began their immortal Valley campaign. No battle fought in the Shenandoah has received the kind of exhaustive treatment that Scott Patchan brings to The Last Battle of Winchester, in what must instantly become the definitive work on the subject. Combining exhaustive research and skillful analysis, Patchan presents in vivid prose the story of the beginning of the end of Confederate control of that fabled Valley.”
— WILLIAM C. DAVIS, VIRGINIA CENTER FOR CIVIL WAR STUDIES, VIRGINIA TECH, 2013-06-14
“This is a masterful recounting of the first major battle between Jubal Early and Phil Sheridan in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, and Scott Patchan brings the combat of the 19th of September vividly to life through years of research and the use of previously untapped materials.”
— CHARLIE KNIGHT, AUTHOR OF VALLEY THUNDER: THE BATTLE OF NEW MARKET, 2013-06-14