Killed Wounded Missing or Capt. Total
U.S. 118 450 22 590
C.S. 139 312 286 737
Gen. Shields sends this message to Gen. McClellan at Washington:
WINCHESTER, VA., March 23, 1862.
We have this day achieved a glorious victory over the combined forces of Jackson, Smith, and Longstreet. The battle was fought within 4 miles of this place. It raged from 10.30 o'clock this morning until dark. The enemy's strength was about 15,000; the strength of our division not over 8,000. Our loss, killed and wounded, is not ascertained, but is heavy. The enemy's loss is double that of ours. We have captured a large number of prisoners, some of their guns, and the ground is strewn with the arms they have thrown away in their flight. The cavalry is still in pursuit of the retreating enemy. The particulars cannot be accurately ascertained until daylight.
A result of this battle, even though it was a Union victory, is that Lincoln cancels the movement of Banks’ corps to join with McClellan, and begins moving more troops westward toward the Valley. Banks is to work in concert with Gen. Fremont in West Virginia to destroy Jackson. Lincoln also detaches Gen. Irwin McDowell’s corps to protect Washington. McClellan protests that these depletions mean that he does not have the strength to take Richmond.
The fact that both sides grossly underestimated the strength of the enemy before them underscores the challenges of gathering battlefield intelligence without aircraft, radio, motor vehicles, or satellites.
—During the Battle of Kernstown, George Michael Neese, a young Confederate artilleryman in Chew’s Battery, and new to combat, notes in his journal his view of the fight when the Federal artillery opens up on the Rebels—and of his fascinating encounter with a Federal shell:
The first shell they fired at us from the battery on our right was a twelve-pounder, and I saw it flying in its graceful curve through the air, coming directly toward the spot where I was standing. I watched it until it struck the ground about fifteen feet in front of me. I was so interested in the sky ball, in its harmless appearance, and surprised that a shell could be so plainly seen during its flight, that I for a moment forgot that danger lurked in the black speck that was descending to the earth before me like a schoolboy’s innocent plaything. It proved to have been a percussion shell, and when it struck the ground it exploded and scattered itself in every direction around me, and threw up dirt and gravel like a young volcano. Some of the gravel struck me on the arm. Then I left that place instantly, as I did not have any inclination whatever to watch any more shell just then, and my gun had already retired. . . . The artillery fire now became terrific. Hundreds of shell went just over our heads, howling and shrieking in the air like demons on their way to deal death and destruction to Rebels. Some of their shell exploded over our heads and sowed their fragments and leaden hail in the sod around us.