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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Confederate Women Fire on Retreating Wisconsin Troops

On May 25, 1862, the forces clashed at the First Battle of Winchester. Outnumbered by Confederates on two sides, Union troops fled from the field and into the town of Winchester, Virginia. A soldier in the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry describes how local Confederate women joined in the combat by firing at retreating troops from their windows.

Overpowered by such an overwhelming force, orders were given for a retreat; on we went pell mell through the streets of Winchester, in such a confused mass, we hope never to witness again: wagons, ambulances, soldiers, horses and mules in a pile together, making big tracks for the Potomac, then 37 miles distant. Soldiers throwing off knapsacks, guns, accoutrements, clothing and in fact everything to accelerate their speed — the last hope left. Astonished we was, though not unexpectedly, did citizens of the city, including women and all, fire at our troops from their windows, which killed and wounded quite a number. Several "ladies" while taking deliberate aim at our troops, were knocked down with muskets, by observers passing, in time to save the life of many intended victims. More to aid the excitement were some three or 4,000 cavalry dashing through streets, killing and capturing large numbers who couldn't keep up with the main body.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 3, page 20.

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Confederate spy Belle Boyd.
Confederate spy Belle Boyd.

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Battle of Winchester.
Battle of Winchester.

Harpers Weekly, 4/12/62, page 232.
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