Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley

 

The Shenandoah Valley was the scene of many battles during the Civil War. These battles are shown on the Shenandoah Valley - Avenue of Invasion map. The sites in the Shenandoah Valley are also presented in a series of Trail Guides by CivilWarTraveler.com at Valleys and Mountains.

From March until May 1862, Maj. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson conducted his famous Valley Campaign:

Battle Date(s) Result Winning General
Kernstown I, VA March 23, 1862 Union Col. Nathan Kimball
Winchester I, VA May 25, 1862 Confederate Maj. Gen. T. J. Jackson
Cross Keys, VA June 8, 1862 Confederate Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell
Port Republic, VA June 9, 1862 Confederate Maj. Gen. T. J. Jackson
McDowell, VA May 8, 1862 Confederate Maj. Gen. T. J. Jackson
Front Royal, VA May 23, 1862 Confederate

Maj. Gen. T. J. Jackson

In May through June 1864, Confederate forces won victories at New Market and Lynchburg.

Battle Date(s) Result Winning General
New Market, VA May 15, 1864 Confederate Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge
Piedmont, VA June 5-6, 1864 Union Maj. Gen. David Hunter
Lynchburg, VA June 17-18, 1864 Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early

In the Fall of 1864, Major General Phillip Sheridan conducted a successful campaign against Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early that won the Valley for the Union.

Battle Date(s) Result Winning General
Guard Hill, VA August 16, 1864 Indecisive  
Summit Point, WV August 21, 1864 Indecisive  
Smithfield Crossing, WV August 25-29, 1864 Indecisive  
Berryville, VA September 3-4, 1864 Indecisive  
Opequon, VA September 19, 1864 Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan
Fisher's Hill, VA September 21-22, 1864 Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan
Cedar Creek, VA October 19, 1864 Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan

A good way to see many of the sites is to travel on US Route 11 (or the parallel road, Interstate 81) from north to south.  Our road trip starts in West Virginia at Harpers Ferry, WV. Please click on link below for map.

Harpers Ferry Visitor Center (visitor center), West Virginia, United States

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, WV - Harper's Ferry, WV is a good place to begin your trip.  On October 16, 17, and 18, 1859, John Brown and his "Provisional Army of the United States" took possession of the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown had come to arm an uprising of slaves. Instead, the raid drew militia companies and federal troops from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. On the morning of October 18, a storming party of 12 Marines broke down the door of the Armory's fire engine house, taking Brown and the remaining raiders captive. Brown, charged for "conspiring with slaves to commit treason and murder," was tried, convicted, and hanged in Charles Town on December 2, 1859.

On April 28, 1861, just ten days after Virginia seceded from the Union,  Colonel Thomas J. Jackson arrived at Harpers Ferry to assume his first command of the Civil War. He spent the next six weeks drilling thousands of Virginia volunteers camped on Bolivar Heights before withdrawing south into the Shenandoah Valley.

Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson returned to Harpers Ferry on September 13, 14 and 15, 1862. Jackson was now a celebrated Confederate commander and one of Robert E. Lee's most trusted generals. Jackson took possession of Maryland Heights, Loudoun Heights, and School House Ridge, and trapped the Union Garrison inside Harpers Ferry. "Stonewall's Brilliant Victory" at Harpers Ferry secured the surrender of 12,500 Union troops which was the largest capitulation of Federal forces during the entire Civil War.


From Harpers Ferry travel to Winchester via US 11.  Please click on link below for map.

Winchester, Virginia, United States

Winchester, VA - The Winchester area was the site of six battles.  The Third Battle of Winchester site is located off US 81.   In the city of Winchester you will find Stonewall Jackson Headquarters Museum, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Old Courthouse Civil War Museum and the Civil War Orientation Center and Shawnee Springs Hospital.


From Winchester drive south on US 11 to the Kernstown, VA battlefield. Please click on link below for map.

Kernstown, Winchester, Virginia, United States

Kernstown, VA I (March 23, 1862) - Relying on faulty intelligence that reported the Union garrison at Winchester numbered only about 3,000, “Stonewall”  Jackson marched aggressively north with his 3,400-man division. The 8,500 Federals, commanded by Col. Nathan Kimball, stopped Jackson at Kernstown and then counterattacked turning Jackson’s left flank and forcing him to retreat. Despite this Union victory, President Lincoln was disturbed by Jackson’s threat to Washington and redirected substantial reinforcements to the Valley, depriving McClellan’s army of these troops. The Battles of Kernstown, VA on March 23, 1862 and July 24, 1864 are preserved thanks to the efforts of the Kernstown Battlefield Association.  A small museum  contains maps and descriptions of the Shenandoah Valley battles near the town of Winchester, VA. The battlefield is located off US 11 south of Winchester, VA.


After visiting Kernstown, continue traveling south on US 11 to the Cedar Creek Battlefield. Please click on link below for map.

Cedar Creek Battlefield, Virginia, United States

Cedar Creek, VA (October 19, 1864) - At dawn, October 19, 1864, Early's Army of the Valley surprised the Federal army at Cedar Creek and routed the VIII and XIX Army Corps.  Sheridan arrived from Winchester to rally his troops, and, in the afternoon, launched a crushing counterattack, which recovered the battlefield. Sheridan’s victory at Cedar Creek broke the back of the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley.

If you can arrange it try to attend the Battle of Cedar Creek re-enactment on October 17-19, 2008.

From Cedar Creek drive south on US 11 to Strasburg, VA.  Please click on link below for map.Strasburg, Shenandoah, Virginia, United States


From Strasburg drive east on route 56 to Front Royal, VA. Please click on link below for map.

Front Royal, Virginia, United States

Front Royal, VA (May 23, 1862) - On May 23, Confederate forces, spearheaded by the Louisiana “Tigers” and the 1st Maryland, surprised and overran the pickets of a 1,000-man Union garrison under Col. Kenly at Front Royal. Driven through the town, the Federals made a stand on Camp Hill and again at Guard Hill after attempting to fire the river bridges. Outnumbered and outflanked, Kenly continued the retreat to Cedarville, where two cavalry charges led by Maj. Flournoy broke the roadblock and routed the Union force. Nearly 900 Federals surrendered.  Jackson’s victory at Front Royal forced the Union army under Banks at Strasburg into a rapid retreat towards Winchester.


Return to US 11 via route 56 and visit Fisher's Hill, VA.  Please click on link below for map.

Fishers Hill, Shenandoah, Virginia, United States

Fisher's Hill, VA (September 21-22, 1864)- Early’s army, bloodied by its defeat at Opequon (Third Winchester) on September 19th, took up a strong defensive position at Fisher’s Hill, south of Strasburg. On September 21st, the Union army advanced, driving back the skirmishers and capturing important high ground. On the 22nd, Crook’s Corps moved along North Mountain to outflank Early and attacked about 4 pm. The Confederate cavalry offered little resistance, and the startled infantry were unable to face the attacking force. The Confederate defense collapsed from west to east as Sheridan’s other corps join in the assault. Early retreated to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, opening the Valley to a Union “scorched earth” invasion. Mills and barns from Staunton to Strasburg were burned in what became known as the “Burning” or “Red October.”


From Fisher's Hill drive south on US 11 to New Market, VA. Please click on link below for map.

New Market, Shenandoah, Virginia, United States

New Market, VA (May 15, 1864) - In conjunction with Grant's 1864 Spring offensive, Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant ordered Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel to move up the Shenandoah Valley along the Valley Pike with 10,000 men to destroy the railroad and canal complex at Lynchburg.  Sigel was attacked at New Market on May 15th by a Confederate army of about 4,100 men commanded by Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge. At a crucial point, a key Union battery was withdrawn from the line to replenish its ammunition, leaving a weakness that Breckinridge was quick to exploit. He ordered his entire force forward, and Sigel’s stubborn defense collapsed.  Threatened by the Confederate cavalry on his left flank and rear, Sigel ordered a withdrawal and burned the North Fork bridge behind him. 
From New Market continue south on US 11 to Harrisonburg, VA


After your visit to Harrisonburg take route 659 southeast to the Battle of Cross Keys.  Check out Shenandoah at War for information on battles in Rockingham County. Please click on link below for map.

Cross Keys, Rockingham, Virginia, United States

Cross Keys, VA (June 8, 1862) - Moving up the Shenandoah Valley in pursuit of Jackson's army, Major General John C. Frémont's army encountered Major General Richard S. Ewell's division at Cross Keys on June 8th. Brigadier General Julius Stahel's brigade, attacking on the Union left, was stunned by a surprise volley from Trimble's command and driven back in confusion. After feeling out other parts of the Confederate line, Frémont withdrew to the Keezletown Road under protection of his batteries. The next day, Trimble's and Patton's brigades held Frémont at bay, while the rest of Ewell's force crossed the river to assist in the defeat of Brigadier General E. Tyler's command at Port Republic.


Continue on route 659 to Port Republic and drive north on 340 to Port Republic Battlefield.

Please click on link below for map.

Port Republic, Rockingham, Virginia, United States

Port Republic, VA (June 9, 1862) - Maj. Gen. T. J. Jackson concentrated his forces east of the South Fork of the Shenandoah against the isolated brigades of Tyler and Carroll of Shields’ division, Brig. Gen. Erastus Tyler commanding. Confederate assaults across the bottomland were repulsed with heavy casualties, but a flanking column turned the Union left flank at the Coaling. Union counterattacks failed to reestablish the line, and Tyler was forced to retreat.  Confederate forces at Cross Keys marched to join Jackson at Port Republic burning the North River Bridge behind them. Frémont’s army arrived too late to assist Tyler and Carroll and watched helplessly from across the rain-swollen river. After these dual defeats at Cross Keys and Port Republic, the Union armies retreated, leaving Jackson in control of the upper and middle Shenandoah Valley and freeing his army to reinforce Lee before Richmond.

Drive south on route 340 to Waynesboro, VA. 

From Waynesboro drive northwest on route 250 to its junction with route 608 and proceed northeast on route 608 to the Battle of Piedmont site.  Please click on link below for map.

Piedmont, Augusta, Virginia, United States

Piedmont, VA (June 5-6, 1864) - After replacing Sigel in command of Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, Maj. Gen. David “Black Dave” Hunter renewed the Union offensive. On June 5, Hunter engaged the Confederate army under “Grumble” Jones north of Piedmont. After severe fighting, a flanking movement made by Thoburn’s brigade turned Jones' right flank. While trying to stem the retreat of his soldiers, Jones was killed and the retreat became a rout. More than 1,000 Confederates, including 60 officers, were captured.

After visiting the battlefield return to route 250 and travel northwest to Staunton.

From Staunton drive southeast on US 11 to Lexington, VA. Please click on link below for map.

Lexington, Virginia, United States

Lexington, VA - Virginia Military Institute (VMI Museum) is the site of a collection of Stonewall Jackson memorabilia.  VMI is located in Lexington, VA which is also home to Washington & Lee University and the Stonewall Jackson House. The year 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of General Lee's birth and the University has commemorative page on its website. Directions and Map to Lexington and VMI are found on the VMI website.


After visiting Lexington continue to travel southwest on US 11 to the junction with route 43. Proceed southeast on 43 until Bedford, VA.  From Bedford take route 460 via New London to Lynchburg, VA.  Please click on link below for map.

Lynchburg, Virginia, United States

Lynchburg, VA (June 17-18, 1864) - Maj. Gen. David Hunter advanced against the Confederate rail and canal depots and the hospital complex at Lynchburg. Reaching the outskirts of town on June 17, his first tentative attacks were thwarted by the timely arrival by rail of Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s II Corps vanguard from Charlottesville. Hunter withdrew the next day after sporadic fighting because of a critical shortage of supplies. His line of retreat through West Virginia took his army out of the war for nearly a month and opened the Shenandoah Valley for a Confederate advance into Maryland.

Opequon, VA (September 19, 1864) - After Kershaw’s division left Winchester to rejoin Lee’s army at Petersburg, Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early renewed his raids on the B&O Railroad at Martinsburg, badly dispersing his four remaining infantry divisions. On September 19th, Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with the VI and XIX Corps, crossing Opequon Creek. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault. The Confederate line was gradually driven back toward the town. In mid-afternoon, Crook’s Corps and the cavalry turned the Confederate left flank and Early ordered a retreat. 

Please click on link below for map.

Berryville, Clarke, Virginia, United States

Berryville, VA (September 3-4, 1864) - Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s divisions marched south from Halltown, reaching Berryville on September 3. Happening upon elements of Brig. Gen. George Crook’s corps going into camp, Maj. Gen. R. H. Anderson’s (Kershaw’s) division attacked with limited results. During the night, Early brought up his entire army but by daylight found Sheridan’s position too strongly entrenched to assault. General Early withdrew after dark behind Opequon Creek.

See Shenandoah at War for more information about the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley.


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Revised 04/12/2013