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June 14, 1863: Lee's troops push up Shenandoah Valley; fighting rages in Winchester

Jun. 14, 2013 - 05:32PM   |  
Gen. Robert H. Milroy commanded the 2nd Division of the VIII corps from February to June 1863.
Gen. Robert H. Milroy commanded the 2nd Division of the VIII corps from February to June 1863. (Mathew Brady / National Archives)
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WINCHESTER, VA. — Confederate troops drove fast and deep into the Shenandoah River Valley today, seizing their first major foothold inside Union territory in what is expected to become a major offensive by Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Thousands of troops are still fighting in the fields and hills around this town, about 75 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., nestled between the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains.

The battle actually began in earnest yesterday afternoon after Lee’s 20,000-strong II Corps, led by Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, surged into the valley at Chester Gap and pushed three divisions past Front Royal. That’s when the first Union outposts were soon overrun near Kernstown, with Federal troops retreating to harder fortifications around Winchester.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert Milroy, who leads the Union forces protecting Winchester, says he is confident his troops can hold the strategic town.

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