On January 1, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson marched north in bitter cold from Winchester to Bath with the objective of disrupting traffic on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Cumberland & Ohio Canal.
On January 5, after skirmishing with the retiring Federals, Jackson's force reached the Potomac River opposite the garrisoned town of Hancock, Maryland. His artillery fired on the town from Orrick's Hill but did little damage.
Brig. Gen. F.W. Lander, the Union garrison commander, refused Jackson's demands for surrender. Jackson continued the bombardment for two days while unsuccessfully searching for a safe river crossing. The Confederates withdrew and marched on Romney, in western Virginia, on January 7.