Thursday, June 5, 2014

Battle of Piedmont

Part of Grant's plan in Virginia for the 1864 campaign was for Federal troops to move down the Shenandoah Valley. This was tried first by Franz Sigel, but he was defeated and thrown back at the Battle of New Market. Grant removed him from command and gave the army to Major General David Hunter on May 21, for him to try again. In less than a week Hunter had the Army of the Shenandoah moving, driving back light Confederate opposition under Brigadier General John Imboden. After New Market most of the Confederates had been withdrawn from the area to reinforce Lee in his struggle with Grant. As Hunter moved quickly towards Staunton, the Southerners scrambled to assemble an army to stand up with him. Lee sent Brig. Gen. William “Grumble” Jones and his 4,000 from southwest Virginia to the Valley. On June 4 Jones joined with Imboden, who had positioned himself in Hunter's path.

On the morrow Imboden skirmished with the Federal advance guard until they reached the good position chosen by Jones at the village of Piedmont. The Union infantry deployed and attacked. Their first advance was forced to halt after driving in the Confederate's advance positions, but the Union artillery were able to silence most of their enemy's pieces. The Federals again attacked and were driven back and the Confederate hastily counterattacked, but were forced back behind their works. Grumble Jones believed there was still an opportunity, so he began concentrating his troops to hit the Union brigade which had been assaulting the Confederate position. But in doing so a gap opened up on the Confederate right. Hunter ordered in troops to take advantage of this, and the Confederate flank was smashed. All along the line the Federals advanced, driving back the rebels. Jones hurried up his reserves, but they were unable to stem the Union advance. As he tried to rally his men, he was struck in the head by a Union bullet, and fell to the ground, dead. The Union lines continued to press forward, driving the Confederates against the Shenandoah Middle River and dividing them in half. The Federal cavalry were able to round up 1,000 prisoners. Altogether the Confederates lost 1,5000 men, the Federals 900.


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