Winchester, a city and the county seat of Frederick co., Virginia, in the lower Shenandoah valley, 67 m. W. N. W. of Washington, and 32 m. W. S. W. of Harper's Ferry by the Winchester, Potomac, and Strasburg division of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad; pop. in 1860, 4,392; in 1870, 4,477, of whom 1,377 were colored; in 1875, about 5,000. It is about 1½ m. long by ½ m. wide. The streets are well paved or macadamized. The court house and jail are of brick, and most of the houses are of brick or limestone. The principal manufactories are one of shoes, three of furniture, four of gloves, one of soap, one of agricultural implements, a sumach and bark mill, a flour mill, two iron founderies, and five tanneries. There are two banks, six free publie schools (four white and two colored), a male high school, four female seminaries, two weekly newspapers, and 15 churches (several having fine buildings), viz.: 3 Baptist (2 colored), 1 Church of God, 1 Episcopal, 1 Friends', 1 German Reformed, 1 Lutheran, 2 Methodist Episcopal (1 colored), 1 Methodist Episcopal, South, 2 Presbyterian, 1 Roman Catholic, and 1 United Brethren. - The first settlers of Winchester were principally Germans. It was laid out as a town in 1752, and incorporated in 1779. A portion of Fort Loudoun, built by Washington in the autumn and winter of 1754, is still standing.

Winchester furnished a large number of men to the revolutionary armies, including Gen. Daniel Morgan. From its situation Winchester is the key to the valley of the Shenandoah. In June, 1861, Gen. J. E. Johnston fell back from Harper's Ferry and intrenched himself at Winchester. On July 18 he moved the bulk of his army to join Beauregard at Bull Run, leaving his sick at Winchester; and after that battle the place was reoccupied by the confederates under Jackson. In March, 1862, they moved up the valley, and Winchester was occupied by a Union force under Banks. On March 23 Jackson attacked Shields, who was in command of a division of Banks's troops, at Kernstown near Winchester, but was repulsed and retreated up the valley. The Union loss was 103 killed and 441, wounded; of the confederates 270 were buried on the field, and they lost several hundred prisoners, most of them wounded. The Union forces in northern Virginia were soon widely scattered. Banks with about 6,000 men was isolated at Strasburg, 20 m. S. of Winchester, to which he had begun to fall back when Jackson undertook to intercept him by a rapid march. After some skirmishing Banks reached Winchester, whence on May 25 he retreated to the Potomac, being closely pursued and losing about 900 men, mostly prisoners.

Lee's operations in the autumn of 1862 gave the confederates possession of Winchester, which they held for some months, when it came again into the hands of the federals. In June, 1863, it was occupied by about 7,000 men under Milroy. The advance of Lee's army, moving toward Pennsylvania, appeared in force near the town on the 13th; Milroy retreated toward Harper's Ferry, but was intercepted (June 15), and his troops were captured or dispersed, the cavalry only escaping. Besides a few killed and wounded, he lost 4,000 prisoners, about 30 guns, many small arms, and nearly 300 wagons; the confederate loss was 47 killed and 219 wounded. On July 24, 1864, Crook with a small Union force unexpectedly encountered Early near Winchester, and on the 24th was defeated with a loss of 1,200. In August Sheridan was placed in command on the Shenandoah, and soon moved upon Winchester. Early fell back, and Sheridan took up a position about 10 m. E., while Early occupied the town, his principal force being on the Opequan creek, 4 m. distant. Here he was attacked on Sept. 19 by Sheridan, defeated, and driven back to Winchester, whence during the night he fell back 8 m. further to Fisher's Hill, where he took up a strong position.

This action is called by the confederates the battle of Winchester, by others that of the Opequan. The Union loss was 4,990, of whom 653 were killed, 3,719 wounded, and 618 captured. The entire confederate loss was probably about 6,000; 2,000 wounded were found in the hospitals at Winchester, and nearly 3,000 prisoners were captured on the field and in the pursuit. On the 22d Sheridan attacked Early at Fisher's Hill, and routed him after a brief action. The loss in killed and wounded was about 300 on each side, the confederates also losing 1,100 prisoners. Sheridan pursued up the valley for nearly 50 m., when he returned to Cedar creek, half way between Fisher's Hill and Winchester. At daybreak of Oct. 19, after a rapid night march, Early surprised the Union camps at Cedar creek, captured more than 20 guns, and before 9 o'clock seemed to have won a complete victory. But most of his men scattered themselves in search of food and plunder, and the federals, after being hotly pursued three miles, began to make a stand. Sheridan, who had been called to Washington, and had slept the night before at Winchester, was riding toward the front, and when a mile and a half from the town he met the fugitives.

With a brigade which had been left at Winchester he moved upon the enemy, who had begun to intrench themselves. The action was sharp but brief, and resulted in the rout of the confederates, who abandoned all their guns and trains. Early's army was completely broken up. The Union loss at Cedar creek was 5,990, including about 2,000 temporarily missing. The confederate loss was barely half as great; there were 1,500 prisoners, and about as many killed and wounded.