From the Mountains to the Bay

The War in Virginia, January-May 1862

Ethan S. Rafuse

From January to July of 1862, the armies and navies of the Union and Confederacy conducted an incredibly complex and remarkably diverse range of operations in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Under the direction of leaders like Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, George McClellan, Joseph E. Johnston, John Rodgers, Robert E. Lee, Franklin Buchanan, Irvin McDowell, and Louis M. Goldsborough, men of the Union and Confederate armed forces marched over mountains and through shallow valleys, maneuvered on and along great tidal rivers, bridged and waded their tributaries, battled malarial swamps, dug trenches and constructed fortifications, and advanced and retreated in search of operational and tactical advantage.

In the course of these operations, the North demonstrated it had learned quite a bit from its setbacks of 1861 and was able to achieve significant operational and tactical success on both land and sea. This enabled Union arms to bring a considerable portion of Virginia under Federal control—in some cases temporarily and in others permanently. Indeed, at points during the spring and early summer of 1862, it appeared the North just might succeed in bringing about the defeat of the rebellion before the year was out.

A sweeping study of the operations on land and sea, From the Mountains to the Bay is the only modern scholarly work that looks at the operations that took place in Virginia in early 1862, from the Romney Campaign that opened the year to the naval engagement between the Monitor and Merrimac to the movements and engagements fought by Union and Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley, on the York-James Peninsula, and in northern Virginia, as a single, comprehensive campaign.

“Prodigiously researched, eloquently crafted, and engaging, historian Ethan Rafuse’s From the Mountains to the Bay offers a fresh perspective and cogent analysis of operations throughout the Old Dominion during 1862’s first five months. For anyone seeking a comprehensive understanding of the fighting in Virginia during this period, Rafuse’s study is essential.”

—Jonathan A. Noyalas, author of Slavery and Freedom in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War Era

“Remarkably, there is no other modern work of scholarship that weaves all the operations in Virginia together. Rafuse provides a comprehensive view, with strong attention to politics, the media, African Americans, civilian perspectives, and effects on civilians. His detailed military analysis emphasizes the delays imposed by weather and logistics, with critical but nuanced assessments of the commanders on both sides. A model holistic campaign study.”

—Samuel J. Watson, professor of history at the United States Military Academy and author of Peacekeepers and Conquerors: The Army Officer Corps on the American Frontier, 1821–1846

About the Author

Ethan S. Rafuse is a professor of military history at the US Army Command General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His publications include McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863–1865, and (with Charles R. Bowery, Jr.) Guide to the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series