The Second Battle of Winchester: The Confederate Victory That Opened the Door to Gettysburg June 13-15, 1863 (PB)

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Pub Date:
June 2023
Paperback, 6 x 9
Images, maps, 528 pp.
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About the Book

June 1863. The Gettysburg Campaign is underway. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia is pushing northward through the Shenandoah Valley toward Pennsylvania, and only one significant force stands in its way: Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s Union division of the Eighth Army Corps, in the vicinity of Winchester and Berryville, Virginia. What happened next is the subject of the provocative new book The Second Battle of Winchester: The Confederate Victory That Opened the Door to Gettysburg, June 13-15, 1863.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, General Milroy defied repeated instructions to withdraw his command even as the overpowering Second Corps under Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell approached within striking distance. The veteran Indiana politician-turned-soldier was convinced the enemy consisted of nothing more than cavalry or was simply a feint. Milroy’s controversial decision to stand and fight pitted his outnumbered and largely inexperienced men against some of Lee’s finest veterans. The complex and fascinating maneuvering and fighting that followed on June 13-15 cost Milroy hundreds of killed and wounded and some 4,000 captured (about one-half of his command), with the remainder of his command routed from the battlefield. The combat cleared the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley of Federal troops, demonstrated Lee could obtain supplies on the march, justified the elevation of General Ewell to replace the recently deceased Stonewall Jackson—and sent shockwaves through the Northern states.

Today, the Second Battle of Winchester is largely forgotten. But in June 1863, the politically charged front-page news caught President Lincoln and the War Department by surprise and forever tarnished Milroy’s career. The beleaguered Federal soldiers who fought there spent a lifetime seeking redemption, arguing their three-day “forlorn hope” delayed the Rebels long enough to allow the Army of the Potomac to arrive and defeat Lee at Gettysburg. For the Confederates, the decisive leadership on display outside Winchester proved an illusion that masked significant command issues buried within the upper echelons of Stonewall Jackson’s former corps that would only make themselves known in the earliest days of July on a different battlefield.

Award-winning authors Eric J. Wittenberg and Scott L. Mingus Sr. combined their researching and writing talents to produce the most in-depth and comprehensive study of Second Winchester ever written. Their balanced effort, based upon scores of archival and previously unpublished diaries, newspaper accounts, letter collections, other firsthand sources, and a deep familiarity with the terrain in and around Winchester and the lower Shenandoah Valley, explores the battle from every perspective.

The Second Battle of Winchester is comprehensive, highly readable, deeply researched, and immensely interesting. Now, finally, the pivotal battle in the Shenandoah Valley that opened the door to Gettysburg has the book it has long deserved.


"The Second Battle of Winchester uniformly receives scant mention when historians discuss the  Gettysburg Campaign, but its significance should not be so quickly dismissed. Authors Wittenberg  and Mingus--whose demonstrated expertise is evident by their numerous books and awards on a  variety of Gettysburg-related titles--describe the complex Winchester affair with tight clear prose  and solid analysis. It belongs on your shelf."
-- David A. Powell, award-winning author of The Chickamauga Campaign trilogy

"The authors have mined a stunning array of freshly unearthed primary sources to produce the definitive account of the long-overlooked but vitally important battle of Second Winchester. The superb writing and sharp insights make it essential reading for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of the long and complicated campaign that culminated at Gettysburg."
-- Robert J. Wynstra, award-winning author of The Rashness of That Hour: Politics, Gettysburg, and the Downfall of Confederate Brigadier General Alfred Iverson

"Gettysburg experts Eric Wittenberg and Scott Mingus Sr. have joined forces to produce the definitive work on the Second Battle of Winchester, finally filling one of the few remaining gaps in the Gettysburg Campaign literature. They have done so by utilizing a wide array of sources to craft the complicated pieces of this forgotten battle in the Shenandoah Valley into a narrative readers will easily understand, while simultaneously offering them a front row seat for the action that opened the door for Robert E. Lee's long-sought campaign north of the Potomac River that resulted in the legendary showdown at Gettysburg."
-- Scott C. Patchan, author of The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7 - September 19, 1864

"Despite the vast library on the Gettysburg Campaign, the Second Battle of Winchester has received scant attention. This unjustly neglected battle gets the spotlight it deserves in this outstanding new book by Eric Wittenberg and Scott Mingus, who rectify that oversight with this sterling, impressively detailed account. From the story of Richard Ewell's finest hour to the travails of Milroy's 'weary boys,' Second Winchester is brought to life with consummate skill."
-- Terence M. Heder, Director of Interpretation, Education, and History, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation


Scott L. Mingus Sr. is a scientist and executive in the global paper industry. A resident of York, Pennsylvania, he is the author of a dozen Civil War books, including the bestselling Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River, June 1863 (Savas Beatie, 2011), and Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith: From Virginia’s Statehouse to Gettysburg Scapegoat (Savas Beatie, 2013), which won the Nathan Bedford Forrest Southern History Award and the Dr. James I Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize, and was nominated for the Virginia Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Scott has written several articles for Gettysburg Magazine, maintains a blog on the Civil War history of York County (, and received the 2013 Heritage Profile Award from the York County Heritage Trust for his contributions to local Civil War history. Eric J. Wittenberg is an accomplished American Civil War cavalry historian and author. An attorney in Ohio, Wittenberg has written numerous articles in a variety of magazines and a dozen books, including (with co-authors J. David Petruzzi and Michael F. Nugent) One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4 - 14, 1863; The Battle of Brandy Station; and (with J. David Petruzzi) Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg. Eric’s first book, Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions, won the prestigious 1998 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award, and the second edition won the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award, for Reprint, 2011.