The Army of the Shenandoah was officially known as the Department of the Shenandoah, Middle Military Division. It grew out of Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early's great raid of 1864. Defeating hastily assembled Union forces at Monocacy and sending bullets zinging past President Lincol's head in the Washington Defences, Early's use of the Shenandoah Valley disrupted Grant's siege of Petersburg by making him detach the veteran Sixth Army Corps to save Washington.
Grant gave Major General Philip Sheridan the Sixth Army Corps and two cavalry divisions from the Army of the Potomac, two divisions of the 19th Army Corps recently returned from the Department of the Gulf, and Major General George Crook's Army of West Virginia. His mission was to drive Early from the Valley and neutralize it as a Confederate threat.
Timeline of the Army of the Shenandoah
July 9, 1864
Battle of Monocacy
Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early defeats a hastily assembled Union force and advances on Washington D. C.
July 11 - 12
Early skirmishes with Union defences on the north side of Washington before withdrawing, unable to attack the veteran reinforcements Grant has sent from Petersburg. President Lincoln comes out to observe and comes under fire, the only sitting U.S. President to have done so.
Major General George Crook's troops are forced back from Winchester and retreat across the Potomac to Williamsport, where they raly and reform.
The Department of the Shenandoah, Middle District is organized under Major General Philip Sheridan
Battle of Guard Hill
Starting as a cavalry action near Front Royal, infantry from both sides is drawn in, but the battle dies out inconclusively.
Battle of Summit Point
Confederate infantry under Major General Richard Anderson attacks Union cavalry, who withdraw to Halltown.
Battle of Smithfield Cossing
Two Confederate infantry divisions cross Opequon Creek and push back Merritt's Division of Union cavalry, but are counterattacked and stopped by Rickett's Division of Union infantry.
Battle of Berryville
Confederate General Joseph Kershaw's division attacks and routs the Union division of Colonel Joseph Thoburn. After heavy Union reinforcements arrive during the night, Early pulls back behind Opequon Creek.
Third Battle of Winchester, or Opequon
Sheridan's 40,000 men attack Early, who has around 12,000 men. The battle is a defeat for Early, but not a disaster, and Early is abe to retreat in good order.
Having lost heavily at Third Winchester and being further weakened by the transfer of Breckenridge's Division, Early takes up a strong defensive position near Strasburg. However, Crook launches a sunset flank attack that links up with an irresistable assauly by the rest of Sheridan's army. Early is forced to retreat, losing a disproportionate number, many as prisoners.
Battle of Tom's Brook
As Confederate cavalry under Major General Thomas Rosser pursue and harass Union cavalry, who are laying waste as they withdraw down the Shenandoah Valley, Union General A.T.A. Torbert turns and attacks. Two divisions of Confederate cavalry break and flee in what becomes known as "The Woodstock Races."
Early launches a surprise attack at dawn that throws most of the Union army into disorder and retreat, but fails to follow up when the attack runs out of energy in mid-morning. Sheridan, who had been away from the battlefield, returnes in an epic ride and rallies his army. He then launches a counterattack that crushes Early's extended and outnumbered force, driving them from the field and capturing hundreds of prisoners and 25 Confederate guns and recapturing 18 of their own guns that had been lost that morning.
February 28, 1865
Sheridan turns command of the department over to Major General Alfred T. A. Torbert and moves to rejoin the Army of the Potomac with the First and Third Cavalry Divisions.
Battle of Waynesboro
On the way up the Shenandoah to rejoin Grant at Petersburg Sheridan with two cavalry divisions encounters Early with the outnumered remnants of his army. Early is decisively defeated and most of his men captured. Although Early escaped capture, it was his last command.
Major General Winfield S. Hancock takes over command of the department