Union Major General Nathaniel P Banks had about 9,000 troops in the area of Strasburg, Virginia on May 21st 1862. Union Colonel John R Kenly had another 1,000 soldiers at Front Royal, Virginia. Confederate Major General Thomas J Jackson’s Army of the Valley totaling about 16,500 men was advancing along the Luray Road May 22nd 1862, within ten miles of Front Royal.
On the morning May 23rd 1862 Confederate Colonel Thomas L Flournoy’s cavalry crossed the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, approaching Front Royal from the south. There was some minor skirmishing with Union pickets, who withdrew. The leading Confederate brigade under Brigadier General Richard A Taylor deployed along Prospect Hill, with the 1st Maryland and the Louisiana Tigers entering Front Royal and clearing it of Union skirmishers. Kenly’s Union troops pulled back to Camp Hill and the support of a section of artillery. Finding more Confederate Cavalry coming from the west Kenly retreated across the South and North Fork bridges, trying to burn them behind him. The Confederate troops were able to put out the flames and make repairs to the bridges. Flournoy’s cavalry continued to press the Union men. Kenly continued his withdrawal fighting a rear guard action against the 6th Virginia Cavalry.
Kenly withdrew to beyond Cedarville, Virginia with the Confederate Cavalry in pursuit. Upon reaching the Thomas McKay House about a mile north of Cedarville, the Union troops made a stand deploying on the heights. Flournoy’s Confederate Cavalry flanked the Union troops, Kenly was wounded. The Union saw losses of 960 men of which 691 were captured or surrendered after Kenly’s wounding. The Confederates lost only 56 men.
The advance on Front Royal allowed Jackson to get into the rear of the Union army and place his troops in position to move on Winchester, Virginia.