Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Battles of Cool Spring and Rutherford’s Farm

As I attempt to keep up with the 150th events in the Shenandoah Valley, my two latest posts have appeared on Emerging Civil War.

To read about the Battle of Cool Spring on July 18th, 1864, click here.

150 Years Ago today, the Battle of Rutherford’s Farm occurred. To read my post on this battle click here.

Also, my “On This Day” tour of the Second Battle of Kernstown will take place this Thursday, July 24th from 4-6pm at the Kernstown Battlefield. For information on this tour, click here, or contact me personally.

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Was Early’s Raid to D.C. a Success?

My short stint as a guest author on the Emerging Civil War Blog began today.

Follow along as I track some of the events that took place in the Shenandoah Valley 150 years ago this summer.

Here is my first post that was posted today:

http://emergingcivilwar.com/2014/07/14/was-earlys-raid-to-washington-d-c-a-success/

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Guest Blogger on Emerging Civil War

Next week, my first of numerous posts will be featured on the popular, Emerging Civil War’s Blog. I will be a guest author writing and blogging on events that took place 150 years ago in the Shenandoah Valley. These include the Battles of Cool Spring, Rutherford’s Farm, Second Kernstown and more. My fellow Ranger, friend and author, Phil Greenwalt approached me with this great opportunity.

This is part of a bigger effort to promote special events taking place at the park. With the sesquicentennial of the Civil War underway, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park is rapidly approaching the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek in October. Myself and my other compatriots at the park are holding numerous special events leading up to this. These include special “On This Day” tours, History at Sunset programs and a brand new lecture series the park is hosting. In an effort to promote these events, especially the “On This Day” tours I will be writing and blogging on these battles and actions.

For more information about these upcoming events, check out Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP’s park’s website here. Or, keep up to date via the park’s Facebook page, here. I will post links to my posts from the Emerging Civil War Blog as the appear on the anniversary dates.

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A Trip to Mosby’s Confederacy

Last week, my friend and fellow Ranger, Shannon informed me that Carol Bundy would be speaking in nearby Aldie, Virginia. Carol Bundy is an author and historian from Boston, Massachusetts. She is known in the Civil War community for her excellent biography on Charles Russell Lowell Jr., The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr.  This Boston born horseman inspired one of the park’s most successful programs known simply as, “The Lost Generation.” In this program, Shannon examines two men whos lives experiences paralleled each other before the war. Both men were mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek. These two men, Stephen D. Ramseur and Charles Russell Lowell exemplify this “lost generation” of men who perished during the Civil War. One of Shannon’s inspirations for this program was the biography written by Carol. So after work this past Saturday, we headed into Mosby’s Confederacy to meet some friends for the event.

The organization sponsoring this event was the Mosby Heritage Area Association. This non-profit group preserves numerous acres of land in Northern Virginia as well as restoring historic properties to their 19th century appearances; all for the effort in “education through preservation.” Most recently, the MHHA implemented interpretative signage at the Mt. Zion Historic Park, a part of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority system. The program began with the unveiling of these five new sign. Two greetvisitors at the parking lot giving historical context to the site, two interpret the cavalry action that took place there in 1864 and the final is located next to the historic cemetery.

View of the historic Mt. Zion Church

View of the historic Mt. Zion Church

During the summer months of July 1864, Col. Charles Russell Lowell Jr. was given the impossible task of dealing with John S. Mosby and the 43rd Virginia Battalion. Russell’s brigade was situated between the Union capital at Washington D.C. to the east and “Mosby’s Confederacy” to the west. During the first week of July 1864, Union troopers from New Jersey and Massachusetts under Maj. Forbes clashed with Mosby’s rangers at the Mt. Zion Church. This clash was a resounding victory for Mosby’s men. To commemorate the 150th Anniverary of this event, MHHA dedicated these signs and brought Carol Bundy to Dixieland to speak.

The group then headed into the newly restored Mt. Zion Church to hear Carol Bundy’s remarks. Bundy introduced herself and began to talk about the rag-tag brigade that Lowell commanded in 1864. She mentioned that these men were from the urban areas of the northeast and even included men from California known as the “California 100”. She poetically described the men’s frustrating experiences attempting to deal with Mosby in 1864, culminating at the action occurring at Mt. Zion Church. The action was quickly described as Bundy moved to the relationship forged between Union Major Forbes and Mosby following the Civil War. This friendship born on the battlefield blossomed in the post war decades. The lecture concluded with Carol fielding questions from the crowd, who not surprisingly enough focused their questions on the Civil War military actions of Mosby and Lowell.

Carol Bundy speaks to the crowd inside the church

Carol Bundy speaks to the crowd inside the church

Following the lecture, I purchased my own copy of her biography and asked Carol one last question. After the Battle of Cedar Creek, Gen. George Custer traveled to Washington D.C. to present the thirteen captured Rebel flags from the battle to the War Department. I heard through the grapevine that Gen. Sheridan’s first choice was actually Lowell, not Custer. So I asked Carol this question. She responded stating following the Battle of Antietam some two years prior, Lowell was the man who presented Rebel flags in D.C., not Custer. Carol elaborating saying that the men of his own division loved Lowell; and there would have been no other choice if he had survived. Finally, she cited a conversation between Custer and a Massachusetts politician when Custer visits D.C. Here, she points to the fact that in this dialogue, Custer said he was the second choice and Lowell would have been the first.

I found this lecture and event highly enjoyable and added yet another book to my growing library collection. At the same time, I was tad bit disappointed. Once again, the majority of the crowd attending the event were older, white and male.  As the excitement of the Civil War Sesquicentennial comes to an end next year, what will the future of Civil War history be? That is a question for yet another day.

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“it won’t appear in history!”: Early’s Raid on Washington D.C. and return to the Shenandoah Valley

Confederate Gen. Jubal Early’s time in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 was extensive. From his first appearance near Lynchburg on June 17th to the crippling defeat at Cedar Creek on October 19th. His tenure is marked by both blistering defeats and remarkable victories. One of these victories took place 150 years ago as he pushed towards the Union capital, Washington D.C.

Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early. West Point graduate of 1837 and lawyer before the Civil War.

Native Virginian Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early. West Point graduate of 1837 and lawyer before the Civil War.

By July 12th 1864, Early’s command was on the outskirts of Washington D.C. Debate ensued whether to push into the city, as Union reinforcements filed into the city’s defenses. When Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant heard of the threat to D.C. he quickly sent the Union 6th and 19th Corps to the capital. By doing this, the number of men threatening Lee in Richmond depleted by nearly 15,000. This loss of men proved detrimental to Grant’s grand strategy in the summer of 1864. By July 14th, knowing he could push no farther, Early headed back west towards the Valley of Virginia. Major Henry Kyd Douglass simply recalled Early’s reaction to this maneuver, “Major, we haven’t taken Washington, but we’ve scared Abe Lincoln like hell!”

Early’s Confederate veterans crossed the Potomac at White’s Ford on July 14th and made his headquarters around Berryville. A Georgian in Early’s command, G.W. Nichols breathed a sigh of relief, “We were all glad to back to Dixie land, for we never loved to cross the Potomac going north.” The Union 6th Corps under Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright followed the Confederates.

However the question stands was Early successful up to this point? Originally, Lee dispatched the Second Corps and Early to secure the rail lines in Lynchburg, which he did. Then, Early quickly marched down the Shenandoah Valley, captured Harpers Ferry, threatened Washington D.C. and forced Grant to pay more attention the Valley. Early did more than what was asked of him. His job in the Valley was similar to that of Stonewall Jackson’s two years prior. Be a distraction and keep Union forces away from Richmond. Early had done just that by threatening Washington D.C., and forcing Grant to send two Union corps from Petersburg. Early however, was not done.

Stay tuned as we follow his actions as he re-enters the Shenandoah Valley 150 years ago. To commemorate these events, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park will be conducting special “On This Day” Battlefield Tours. These tours will occur exactly 150 years after certain actions took place in the Valley. Tours include The Battle of Cool Spring on July 18th, Battle of Rutherford’s Farm on July 20th and the Battle of Second Kernstown on July 24th. All of these tours are free and we encourage visitors to walk in the footsteps of these soldiers some 150 years later. For more information, visit our website at www.nps.gov/cebe. Or call us at 540-869-3051. Also, like our Facebook page at, https://www.facebook.com/CedarCreekNPS.

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