The command of Maj. Gen. George Crook in Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah consisted of two infantry divisions and a single artillery brigade. This command is often erroneously referred to by both officers within Sheridan’s army and historians as the Eighth Army Corps. The Eighth Army Corps was not in the Shenandoah Valley at all during 1864. That small corps served under the command of Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace and was responsible for the defense of Baltimore. Wallace commanded it at the Battle of Monocacy in July 1864. The Eighth Corps was so small that a division of the Sixth Corps comprised the vast majority of Wallace’s small command.
The force serving under Crook in the Shenandoah Valley was formally known as the Army of West Virginia. A number of its troops had been part of the Eighth Corps in 1863 under Robert Milroy and some even wore that corps’s official badge on the hats. For this reason, many officers and men of Sheridan’s army believed that Crook’s men were the Eighth Corps. Even officers referred to that command as such.
The veteran’s of Crook’s command often decried being called the Eighth in veteran newspapers and insisted on being referred to as the Army of West Virginia. This horror at being referred to as the Eighth Corps was especially strong among the men of Col. Isaac Duval’s (formerly Crook’s) division, which had no connection to Milroy’s disgraced command. Instead, they pointed to their proud roots in the Kanawha Division which served proudly at South Mountain and Antietam in 1862.
Most telling was the pride these veterans had in their commander. One of them wrote that he was satisfied at simply being called one of “Crook’s men.”
For more information on Crook’s command, see my latest book, “The Last Battle of Winchester.”