Principles of Maneuver, Offensive and Surprise

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The Valley Campaign of the Shenandoah Valley of 23 March to 9 June 1862 saw the rise of the Confederate Major General (MG) Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. The Shenandoah Valley campaign allowed for MG Jackson to incorporate the principles of maneuver, offensive and surprise operations (US Army Center of Military History, 2012) through the use of his cavalry and foot soldiers.

FM 100-5 describes the following: Principles of Maneuver are to place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. The Principles of Offensive are to seize, retain and exploit the initiative. And the Principles of Surprise are strike the enemy at a time or place for which he is unprepared. It is not essential he be unaware, but that he become aware too late to react effectively.

The Shenandoah Valley is located in the western part of Virginia. The valley lies between the Allegheny Mountains, Shenandoah Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Potomac River being the northern boundary to the valley. The Valley offered two tactical advantages to the Confederates with the Union having knowledge of this. The first is a Northern Army invading Virginia would be vulnerable to a Confederate flanking attacks pouring through the many winding gaps across the Blue Ridge Mountains. The other is that the Valley offers a sheltered avenue that would allow any Confederate army to head north into Pennsylvania uncontested. The Shenandoah Valley also contains twelve bridges that are of significance to any maneuvering army of the day and the valley is only 25 miles wide. The valley represented to the Army of the Potomac (Union) a direct approach to the CSA capital of Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War (Keeg...

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Global, T. (n.d.). Jackson's Valley Campaign - 1862, The Campaigns - Shenandoah Valley Battlefields. The Shenandoah Valley Civil War History and Battlefields Foundation - Shenandoah At War. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from

Keegan, J. (2003). Local Knowledge: Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Intelligence in war: knowledge of the enemy from Napoleon to al-Qaeda (pp. 66 - 98). New York: Knopf.

Rickard, J. (2006, May 1). American Civil War: The Shenandoah Valley. Military History Encyclopedia on the Web. Retrieved March 25, 2012, from

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