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Banks signs a document for General James Shields, regarding the Union men taken prisoners
Manuscript Document Signed: "N.P. Banks/M.G. Commding. Corps d'Armeè", 1p, 7¾x9¾. Head Quarters Fifth Corps d'Armee, 1862 March 22. To General James Shields, Commanding Division. In full: "When the Rebels evacuated Winchester, some twenty Union men were taken prisoners and carried away with their army. My judgment is that reprisals should be made but as you are to remain for the present on the line covering Winchester, the result of such action would more directly affect you and I should not like to issue the order without your concurrence. Will you please give me your judgment upon this subject." On March 23, 1862, the day after this letter was written, about 9,000 Union troops clashed with 4,200 Confederates at Kernstown, just south of Winchester, Virginia. While the southern forces under Jackson were outnumbered and retreated, the Union suffered greater losses: 118 killed and 450 wounded and 22 missing to the Confederates' 80 killed, 375 wounded and 263 missing. This assault suggested the possibility of a threat on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and General Banks' troops were ordered to return there rather than join General McClellan. Two months later, at Winchester, Jackson's troops again attacked Federal positions, routing Banks' forces and forcing them north across the Potomac River in a decisive battle in Jackson's Valley campaign. Banks, a former Congressman and Governor of Massachusetts, had received a political appointment as Major General of Volunteers in 1861. With no military training, he proved to be an inept leader on the battlefield, and was nicknamed "Commissary Banks" by the Confederates as a result of his tremendous loss of supplies during the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Ink lightly smudged at signature. Light transference of ink at mid-right margin from being folded. Otherwise, fine condition.

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Born: January 30, 1816 in Waltham, Massachusetts
Died: September 1, 1894 in Waltham, Massachusetts

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