Description of the Battle
Prelude: On 21 May 1862, the US army under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, numbering about 9,000 men, was concentrated in the vicinity of Strasburg with two companies of infantry at Buckton Depot. Col. J. R. Kenly commanded 1,063 men and two guns at Front Royal. CS cavalry under Col. Turner Ashby confronted Banks near Strasburg, but then withdrew to join the main army which crossed Massanutten Mountain via New Market Gap to reach Luray.
On 22 May, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson's Army of the Valley (about 16,500 men) advanced along the muddy Luray Road to within ten miles of Front Royal. Jackson's headquarters were at Cedar Point. Colonel Thomas Munford's cavalry regiment was sent east to close off Manassas Gap and cut communication between Front Royal and Washington.
Phase One. CS Advance: On the morning of 23 May, the vanguard of Jackson's army reached Spangler's crossroads (present day Limeton). Here the CS cavalry under colonels Ashby and Flournoy diverged west to cross the South Fork Shenandoah at McCoy's Ford. The infantry continued to Asbury Chapel and right onto a cross road to reach Gooney Manor Road. Following this road, they approached Front Royal from the south, bypassing Federal pickets stationed near the river on the Luray Road one mile south of the courthouse. After minor skirmishing the Federals withdrew.
Phase Two. Deployment of Forces: Jackson's leading brigade, Taylor's, deployed on Prospect Hill and along the ridge to the east. The 1st Maryland and Wheat's Louisiana battalion were thrown out in advance, entering the town and clearing it of US skirmishers. Col. J. R. Kenly, in command of US forces, withdrew his force to Camp (Richards') Hill, supported by a section of artillery. The US line extended in an arc from the South Fork to Happy Creek, defending the South Fork bridge. Kenly's artillery opened fire and slowed the CS advance. Kenly's headquarters were in the Vanoort House.
Phase Three. US Defense of Ca...