The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

Where did the battle begin?

Winchester—now part of West Virginia—had changed hands no fewer than seventy times during the war. As Sheridan and his 35,000 men approached, Jubal Early’s (1816–1894) force, estimated at anywhere from 20,000 to 28,000, rushed to make a defense. As it turned out, the fighting began well outside of town, and the battle is called either Opequon or the Third Battle of Winchester.

Sheridan’s two columns forced their way through a narrow canyon to find the Confederates awaiting them. The men on both sides had seen plenty of hard fighting before, but there was something especially vicious about the Battle of Opequon. The Confederates had the advantage at the beginning, and among the Union killed was Major-General David Russell, a close friend of Sheridan. But in the furious fighting that followed, the superior Northern numbers allowed them to press, and when Sheridan gathered 7,000 cavalry for the final strike, he was ready to send a shock blow to the entire Confederacy.


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