A quote from the Farrar book tells us; "The charge by a small mounted force upon a well-supported battery within a strong earthwork was as great a blunder as the Charge of the Light Brigade at Baklava although not attended with such a loss of life. The order for the charge must have emanated from Gen. Averill, who evidently believed the guns and the fort were unsupported." Col. Schoonmaker was awarded the Medal of Honor for this charge.
A report from the troopers says, "The fort was occupied by a strong force who swarmed the embankments and poured a hot and continuous fire into our column. Finding the enemy’s superior force inside a strong earthwork, and fully realizing the futility of an assault with a mounted force, Col. Greenfield moved to the right, where the men were partly protected from the enemy’s fire, and where the column, somewhat broken up in the charge, was reformed, when the enemy within the fort, becoming alarmed lest they be flanked and cut off, hastily evacuated, and retreated rapidly down in the direction of Winchester." 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry at the Star Fort
When the 22nd Pa Cavalry came out into the open plane, the men, observing the enemy in the line of battle, gave a rousing cheer and ongoing without any delay. Lt. Col. Greenfield was in command of the regiment. He and Major Troxel rode the line shouting “Hold on boys! Hold on”. But the boys had their blood up and could hardly be restrained. Just then bugles blew the charge. There seem to be 100 bugles blowing all at once. Then with a cheer, officers and men charged over the plane, starting in line, but not keeping that formation a minute. The whole plateau was covered with men on horses going at the utmost speed at the enemy. All the while, the enemy’s artillery played on our charging troopers until we had come near their cavalry, who fired several volleys and then broke and fled pell-mell to the rear of their infantry, many of them taking shelter in the town of Winchester. 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry at the Star Fort
This is the famous painting of the charge of the 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry against Confederate strongholds is titled "Schoonmaker's Charge" in honor of Col. Schoonmaker; Medal of Honor winner. His medal was awarded in 1899. 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry at the Star Fort
After the Star Fort, the 22nd was then reunited and took part in the final charge upon the left, which resulted in the complete route of the enemy. General early, in his report says: “The enemy’s cavalry again charged around my left flank, and the men began to give away again, so that it was necessary for me to retire through the town.” 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry at the Star Fort
My wife and I found and walked in the Star Fort in Winchester in 2018. While it is in a built-up area of town, it is protected from development. Weather has taken a toll over the 150+ years but the features are still there. These pictures are from our visit.
Copyright © 2019 Twenty Second Pennsylvania Cavalry - All Rights Reserved.