A bridge too far for Stonewall (1/3)

[This post has been revised on 1/16/07. Revisions are in brackets.]

Am rather disoriented by this news story - the reporter jumbled a lot of unfamiliar information together producing a messy recap. The newspaper's capsule history reads:
... Jackson's forces drove Union soldiers out of Bath, Va., shelled Hancock, Md., and marched on Romney, Va. Thanks to his surprise attacks in January 1862, Jackson met with success, driving out Union soldiers and cutting off their supply lines by briefly controlling the Potomac River, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Later that month, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered Jackson's men out of Romney after some of Jackson's soldiers complained of harsh conditions to Davis.
[The actual events are these, allowing for a little CWBN spin: Jackson advanced on and succeeded in occupying Bath, on the Va. side of the Potomac. That's what "driving out Union soldiers" refers to. In fact, they were not driven, they set up a defense on the Maryland side of the river before he arrived. After Frederick Lander (photo, right) defeated Jackson's attempts to cross at Hancock, his Union pursuit with an inferior force caught up with and mauled the Rebel rear guard and supply wagons. The retreating Jackson eventually escaped Lander and occupied an abandoned Union post at Romney. (Romney had been the object of a campaign proposed by Jackson in November, but his plans had gone terribly wrong.) Jackson then split his forces. Loring's Army of the Northwest was ordered out of amentity-free Romney after Jackson's army had gone into comfortable winter quarters at Winchester. Lander immediately occupied the place, again with an inferior force.]

May I propose a simpler way of saying this: Jackson advanced on the B and O railroad; his crossing of the Potomac was defeated by Frederick Lander; Lander launched a counteroffensive routing Jackson's men; Jackson then [raced] Lander for a town called Romney in Jackson's own rear area. [It became Jackson's rear area after he left Winchester and arrived at Bath. At that point Romney and Winchester were both in his rear area. Romney was also the eastern edge of Rosecrans' domain.]

[Wikipedia timeline deleted.]

And yet, this is not the "Hancock campaign," or the "B&O Campaign," much less "the Retreat to Winchester," - it is the "Romney Campaign," Romney being a secondary objective after the railroad campaign fails. Romney is designated winter quarters for Loring's brigades.

Is there an "Alexandria Campaign" named for federal soldiers placed into winter quarters there? How do you make this campaign so Jackson-centric, without portraying it as a series of failures culminating in resignation of his commission? He is defeated. He retreats. He evacuates winter quarters. He resigns his commission.

[I want to explore the Jackson-centricity and the Romney naming in my next post.]

Note [in most histories] the Union side seems to be a leaderless collection of odds and ends. The federals are maguffins, plot devices, literary elements needed to play off the main (Jackson) story. [More on this next.]

A few notes from Beatie on this in the next post.


p.s. Brett Schulte on Rankin's book on the "Romney Campaign" here. "The book traces Jackson's unsuccessful campaign to take back some of the northwestern Virginia counties wrested away by George McClellan late in 1861." "... the troops involved came out of it with their confidence in their commander greatly shaken..." In Brett's synopsis, the aim of the "campaign" is Romney, with detours to Bath and Hancock.

p.p.s. Will Keene writes to say "Jackson's correspondence during December 1861 makes it clear that Romney was a primary target. " He does not like the characterization of Romney as being in Jackson's rear, either. More on this next.