Descendant tour: Following the 21st Virginia Infantry at Cedar Mountain

Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) welcomes requests for battlefield tours by individuals or groups seeking to learn more about the battle. FCMB was delighted to respond to a request by Mr. Mike Dove for a  private tour in August 2018. Board member Bradley Forbush provided the tour and wrote this tour report.

Mike Dove had traveled to Cedar Mountain several times in the past, but those trips were before a crucial portion of the battlefield was preserved by American Battlefield Trust.

On those previous visits, only a solitary sign on the side of route 15 indicated the Battle of Cedar Mountain happened “near here.”

In 2018 Mike contacted Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield and scheduled a guided tour of the field. He and his cousin, Kay, drove up from North Carolina for the battle’s 156th anniversary weekend on August 10, 2018. For the first time Mike retraced the footsteps of three of his ancestors, present at the battle on August 9, 1862.

Mike and Kay

Five of Mike’s ancestors served in the 21st Virginia Volunteer Infantry at one time or another. The first 3 family members to enlist were William J. Dove (about age 29), his younger brother Jackson Green Dove (about age 18) and their brother-in-law John J. Rowland (about age 41). Each man was  from Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Their company organized at Chalk Level and was accordingly called the “Chalk Level Grays.” The 3 recruits signed enlistment papers July 1, 1861 in Richmond, and the “Grays” became Company H of the 21st Virginia Volunteer Infantry.

The 21st was sort of a “hard luck” regiment. From its earliest days the men suffered from sickness and exposure. A brief synopsis of their difficult first year of service is provided in a separate post.

The history of the 21st Virginia is closely related to the history of the 3 other regiments of their brigade, the 42nd Virginia, 48th Virginia, and 1st Virginia (Irish) Battalion. This brigade, under the command of Colonel Thomas S. Garnett, fought at Cedar Mountain.

At the Cedar Mountain engagement, Garnett’s brigade happened to occupy the most deadly position on the Confederate line. The 21st Virginia suffered 37 men killed and 85 wounded. Three of the casualties were members of the Dove family.

Walking Tour of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, August 10, 2018

Walking in the footsteps of your ancestors leads to powerful emotions. During the anniversary weekend of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Mike was retracing the last moments of his great-great grandfather’s life.

Mike was familiar with the memoir of John Worsham, a member of Company F, 21st Virginia. One incident in particular from Worsham’s narrative stood out in Mike’s memory. Worsham wrote:

“Our division was hurried along the road some distance, the Second Brigade marched to the front of the column and halted, the roll was called, we were ordered to load, and, after a few minutes of rest, we resumed the hurried march. Going a short distance, the men on the  left of the road cleared the way for a cannon ball that came bounding along like a boy’s ball.

The force with which it was traveling is indicated by its striking the stump of a tree, glancing  up, and going out of sight. A little farther on we came to four of our men lying in the road dead, killed by this same ball. The road was fairly alive now with shot and shell from the enemy, and we filed to the left into the wood, went about one hundred yards, filed to the right, and continued our march, parallel to the road.” #1

“Where did that happen?” Mike asked me, as we stood in the battlefield’s meeting house.

“Right outside the door here, on the Old Orange Road in front of the battlefield parking area,” I replied.

The tour proceeded from the meeting house.  We followed the Old Orange Road trace  past the Crittenden Gate and onto the battlefield proper. After their circuitous advance through woods to avoid enemy artillery fire in the road, the 21st formed at the edge of the trees lining the turnpike.

John Worsham’s narrative continues:

“The Second Brigade [Colonel T. S. Garnett] formed a line of battle in the corner or angle of the wood, the 21st Virginia Regiment on the right, the 48th Virginia next, both facing east, the 42d Virginia. next, and, at right angles to the road facing north, the Irish battalion next, forming the left.” #2

Our tour followed the path of the Confederate line pointing out approximately where it bent back at a right angle into what was then woods, but what is now an open field. At a point across the field the Confederate line ended. Supporting troops were coming, but would not arrive until after a devastating attack swept past the open left flank of the brigade line. The charging Federals turned, and headed through the woods towards the unsuspecting troops lining the road. The attack rolled up that part of the Confederate line perpendicular to the road. Elements of the 42nd Virginia, virtually defenseless with their front at a right angle to the enemy, did what they could to defend themselves in vicious hand to hand combat, but it proved of little  use.

Those troops along the road, the 21st Virginia and most of the 48th Virginia, were busily engaged with the enemy Ohioans advancing through the cornfields to their front-left, unaware of the charging force directly behind them.

John Worsham continues, “…As soon as we reached the road, we saw a line of Yankees advancing from the corn field, the 21st and 48th opened fire on them at once; and the battle of Cedar Run had commenced in earnest. We caused the advancing line to halt, and the fighting was terrific.”

While thus engaged, the Federal soldiers in their rear began to trickle, then pour, out of the woods behind the Virginians’ line. The Colonel of the 21st realized what was happening and tried to get his men out of harm’s way.

“A part of the force advancing against the left of the brigade, were firing directly into the flank of the 48th and 21st Regiments, and were making terrible havoc in their ranks. Col. Cunningham of the 21st, who was sick, came along the line, walking and leading his horse,  and said to the men as he passed that the enemy are in our rear and he desired to get us out of the position we were in, and we must follow him.

“… After a few steps, I saw a Yankee sergeant step into the road about fifty or seventy- five yards ahead of us, and at the same time heard the firing of rapidly approaching enemy in our rear. … The sergeant, having  his gun in his left hand, his drawn sword in his right, turned  up the road towards us, and approached. A Yankee private stepped into the road just ahead of him; this being the road on which we marched to get to our position, it shows that the enemy were not only in our front, flank, and rear, but actually had the second brigade surrounded. The Yankee sergeant did not stop his advance towards us until he actually took hold of one of the men of our regiment and pulled him out of ranks, and started toward the rear with his prisoner. One of our men, who was in the act of capping his gun, raised it to his shoulder, fired, and the sergeant fell dead not ten feet away. By this time the road was full of Yankees, and there was such a fight as was not witnessed during the war; guns, bayonets, swords, pistols, fence rails, rocks, etc., were used all along the line. I have heard of a “hell spot” in some battles, this sure was one.

“… Col. Cunningham had crossed the road leading his horse, pulled down the fence, passed through the gap into the field, started to mount his horse, his foot in the stirrup , when he was struck by a bullet, and fell back dead, his horse receiving his death wound at the same time. It was a terrible time, the Second Brigade was overwhelmed, nearly half of the 21st VA. Regt. lay on the ground, dead and wounded.” #3

Colonel Cunningham

Among the casualties were Mike Dove’s great great grandfather, Private William J. Dove, killed in action. William’s brother Jackson Green Dove was badly wounded, shot in the left lung; yet he survived the war, even returning to his regiment after his recovery. Their 18 year old cousin  William A. Dove was killed at Cedar Mountain.

The day after the battle, after some minor skirmishing in the morning, the opposing  sides dis-engaged. Orders came to care for the wounded and bury the dead. On this day, August 10, 1862, one Confederate described the section of the Orange Road where Garnett’s Brigade fought, “so backed up with dead men and horses that it was impossible to follow it.”#4

During our tour the question arose: what became of the Confederate dead buried on the battlefield? The answer is a sad one. The field remains a graveyard to this day.

On August 10 and 11, 1862, “The majority of the Confederate dead were buried tenderly by friends and comrades who retraced their movements for that cheerless purpose.”#5

No matter how carefully or hastily the Confederates were buried by their comrades, the graves are lost.

In 1863, on two separate occasions, Southern soldiers camped near the battlefield took the time to cover up the exposed bones and graves of the Confederate fallen because “hogs had been rooting there.” #6

After the war, in 1868 the remains of 405 Union soldiers were exhumed from the battlefield and re-interred at the newly established Federal Cemetery in Culpeper. Only the remains of one of these was identified, the rest are unknown. There is no evidence extant of the removal of Confederate dead. Their remains are most likely forever mingled with the soil on which they died.

Mike’s great great grandfather William J. Dove was about age 30 when he was killed on August 9, 1862. His wife Susan, with her 3 children — William Henry (age 5), Mary Elizabeth (age 3), and Martha J. (age 2) — moved back to Caswell County, North Carolina where she was born and where her parents still lived. In late August 1864, she was granted a one time payment of $83.30 from the Confederate States government for the loss of her husband.

Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield Anniversary Weekend

Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield offers guided tours anytime for visitors who contact us in advance, but there are advantages to visiting during our annual event, always the second weekend in August. Several activities are planned, and as Mike Dove learned, you never know who you might meet.

After taking in an artillery demonstration Mike and his cousin Kay chatted with living historian Kevin Dawson. During the conversation Dawson revealed he too had an ancestor in the Confederate army killed at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.

“What regiment?” Mike asked. “The 21st Virginia,” replied Kevin.

“That’s the same regiment!” Mike responded, surprised. “What Company?” “Company H,” Kevin replied.

The Dove and Dawson ancestors were in the same Company!

Kevin shared his family’s story with Mike and Kay:

“Our family history says that my great great great grandfather, along with his 5 sons (including my great great uncle, Samuel Templeton) joined the 21st Virginia Infantry, Co. H, “Chalk Level Grays”, out of Pittsylvania County. During the fighting, Samuel was mortally wounded, and when the fighting began to subside, his father and brothers went back and found Samuel leaning against a tree, having been shot in the neck. According to family history, Samuel, knowing he was near death, told his family to tell his mother that he loved her and that he was sorry. He told his father and his brothers to continue fighting, so that his death wouldn’t “be for nothing.” He then held his father’s and brothers’ hands and slipped away.”#7

Living historian Kevin Dawson (photo credit Kevin Odom Photography )

In all, it was a memorable visit for Mike and Kay, and they plan to return to attend the anniversary weekend in 2019. The Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield were pleased and honored to make their acquaintance and happy to provide the tour.

A late afternoon memorial service closes the anniversary weekend events. A list of names of soldiers present at the battle, provided by descendants of those soldiers, is read aloud to the gathered crowd. A bell rings out for the names of those mortally wounded or killed. In 2018 the names of William J. Dove and William A. Dove were added to the list.

If you are interested in a guided tour of the battlefield or a customized tour similar this experience, please contact the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield at 540-727-8849 or info@friendsofcedarmountain.org

NOTES

  1. John Worsham. One of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry, Neale Publishing Company, New York, 1912. p. 110-111.
  2. Worsham, p. 111.
  3. Worsham, p. 111-114.
  4. Robert K. Krick, Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1990. p. 339.
  5. Krick, p. 340.
  6. Krick, p. 388-392.
  7. The roster in author Susan A. Riggs History of the 21 VA, (H. E. Howard Publisher, Lynchburg, VA, 1991) lists the following members of the Templeton family in Company H.

Templeton, James R. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania in Company H as Private. Wounded flesh July 1864. Listed AWOL November-December 1864 (final roll).

Templeton, Robert A. Present from November-December 1861. Company H Sergeant. Then to Private. To Corporal August 31, 1862. To Sergeant November 1, 1862. AWOL. To Private January-February 1863. KIA May 3, 1863 Chancellorsville.

Templeton, Samuel; Father John Templeton. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. KIA August 9, 1862 Cedar Mountain.

Templeton, William E.; Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. AWOL and arrested. POW May 20, 1864 Spotsylvania Court House. (Point Lookout). Joined U.S. service June 15, 1864.

Templeton, William H.; 5’9 1/2”, dark complexion, brown hair, blue eyes. Resident Greenhill, Campbell County. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. POW April 6, 1865 Burkeville. Oath and released June 2, 1865.

ADDENDUM

Members of the Dove Family who served in the Confederate Army

21st VA Company H:

Dove, William J. Age about 30 at time of death. (b. between 1832 – 1839 though 1850 census and his widow’s age suggest 1832 is correct). KIA Cedar Mountain. One of 7 children, was born in the 1830s in the foothills of the White Oak Mountain on Magoty Creek in Pittsylvania County, VA. He married Susan A. Strader on March 25, 1853 in Caswell County, NC. In 1860 he was living in Pittsylvania County. Left widow Susan A. Dove and 3 children, William Henry, age 5, Mary Elizabeth, age 3, and Martha J., age 2. His widow moved back to Caswell County, NC where she was born and where her parents still lived. In late August, 1864, she was granted a one time payment of $83.30 from the Confederate States government for the loss of her husband.

Dove, Jackson Green (brother of William J. Dove). 5’11 1/8”, dark complexion, dark brown hair, dark hazel eyes. Resident of Pittsylvania County. Company H. Wounded August 9, 1862 at Cedar Mountain. Court-martialed March-April 1863. POW September 25, 1864 Harrisonburg (Point Lookout). Oath and released June 11, 1865. [Age 18 or 19; b. 1843 – 1844/ source = 1850 census.]

Dove, William A. (cousin to William J. Dove & Jackson Green Dove). Son of George A. P. Dove who also served in 53rd Virginia. Age 18 when KIA at Cedar Mountain.

Rowland, John J. Father John Rowland. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. Died January 31, 1862 in Winchester. [Probably exposure from Romney Campaign – BF] Age about 42 at time of death. 1850 census gives his age at 31, (b. about 1819 which corresponds with the birthdates of his siblings. His mother, Nancy Tucker is born about 1791).

Shelton, Nathan Frank. Born December 22, 1827, 5’10”, dark complexion, dark hair, dark eyes. Resident of Pittsylvania County. Farmer.  Enlisted March 10, 1862.  Company H.  Private.  Court martialed August 3, 1862. Shoemaker January-February 1864. Wounded. Minie ball March 25, 1865 Fort Stedman and POW April 25, 1865 Petersburg or April 6, 1865 Farmville (Newport News, Fairground Post Hospital, Petersburg). Oath July 1, 1865. Some discrepancies in record. (Brother-in-law to William J. Dove and Jackson Green Dove). [Nathan Frank Shelton lived to be aged 77. He died January 21, 1907; buried in Shelton Cemetery, Pittsylvania County; source  Find A Grave).

Other Regiments:

Thomas H. Dove (brother to William J. and Jackson Green). Enlisted on February 14, 1862 in Motley’s Company 1st Regiment Virginia Light Artillery. Died July 19, 1862 in CSA Hospital at Danville, VA of typhoid fever. He was about age 37 at the time of death. Born about 1825; source: Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853 – 1912. Index. Family Search, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010; index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.

George A. P. Dove (father of William A. Dove, cousin to William J. and Jackson Green Dove). George served in the 53rd Virginia. Record not on hand.

The 21st Virginia Infantry: A difficult first year

The following review of the 21st Virginia Infantry’s first year of battle was prepared by FCMB board member Bradley Forbush. This review was prepared in conjunction with a tour of Cedar Mountain in August 2018 by Mike Dove, a descendant of five 21st Virginia Infantry members. Read the tour report.

The 21st Virginia Volunteer Infantry was organized in July 1861 at Richmond. The regiment spent a couple of weeks training in Richmond before it was ordered to the Allegheny mountains of Western Virginia. At 11 a.m. on July 18, 1861, the newly minted soldiers, 850 strong, boarded a slow train to Staunton, on the Virginia Central Railway, and arrived early the next morning. From Staunton they proceeded westward on foot, arriving July 26 at Huntersville where they joined Brigadier General W. W. Loring’s command. #1

Loring’s army was then battling Federal troops for control of the mountain roads and passes that led east to Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley. They had recently lost ground to the increasing number of Federals in the region. The 21st Infantry was part of the badly needed reienforcements hurried forward to help out.

Unfortunately, the 21st would not provide much aid in the coming campaign. As soon as they arrived a measles epidemic broke out in camp effecting 75 percent of the men. By August 6 only 25 percent of the men were fit for duty. Those that were well enough helped clear land and build roads for the impending military operations.

The poor condition of the men caused the 21st Virginia to be assigned a lesser role in the Cheat Mountain Campaign, September 12 -15, 1861.

The Cheat Mountain Campaign
To defeat the Federals, General Robert E. Lee and General W. W. Loring devised a complicated plan for 5 Confederate columns to simultaneously attack two strong Union Forts, 8 miles distant by bridle path over the mountains, but 15 miles distant by road. Three columns attempted to assault the Federals at their Cheat Mountain fort, while 2 columns waited to attack the Federal stronghold at Elkwater. The debilitated 21st Virginia was held in reserve guarding a road far from the intended action.

Rain, fog, bad roads, and poor communication between the columns doomed the campaign. The lead column was repulsed before its assault on Cheat Mountain fairly began, and the entire affair was called off. It was a fiasco for General Lee. The army returned to their camps at Valley Mountain, while General Lee tried to formulate another plan. He left the area on September 24.

The soldiers of the 21st Virginia remembered him fondly as a kind and fair leader during this time, and the regiment could later boast about being among the earliest troops commanded by the future great general.

The 21st Virginia continued picketing different mountain roads in this region until early December 1861. Their next assignment was with General “Stonewall” Jackson at Winchester, and what was to become the brutal Romney Campaign.

Hancock and Romney Campaign
The already legendary “Stonewall” Jackson was anxiously awaiting reinforcements for which he had been pestering authorities at Richmond ever since he received command of the Shenandoah Valley in November 1861. He planned an assault on the Federal Garrison in the Allegheny Mountains at Romney, VA, 43 miles west of Winchester. General W. W. Loring reluctantly agreed to reinforce Jackson and began slowly shuffling his command to Winchester from Staunton in early December.

The 21st Virginia reached Winchester on December 27 after a slow and exhausting sixteen day march. They were the last of General Loring’s men to arrive. That evening, Brigade Commander, Colonel William Gilham, a friend of Jackson’s, paid him a visit, and brought along Lieutenant Colonel John M. Patton, then commanding the 21st Virginia.

Patton explained to Jackson, “Both my regiment and myself are ready to execute your orders, but I feel it is my duty to say to you that my men are so foot sore and weary that they could just crawl up barely and if they have any double-quicking to do from the character of your orders, I suppose they will.”

Jackson replied, “Colonel, if that is the condition of your men, I will not send them on this expedition. Take them back and report to your brigadier.” Patton quickly back-tracked his opinion in front of Jackson but his comment reveals something of the health of his men. #2

The truth is, the troops in General Loring’s command were not ready for the hardships of a winter campaign.

The March to Hancock
The first march of the campaign got off to a balmy start on an unseasonably warm New Year’s Day, 1862, causing many inexperienced soldiers to leave their tents and overcoats behind for the supply wagons to carry. In the afternoon the weather changed. The temperature dropped and the wind kicked up. It turned very cold. Men without coats or blankets tried to sleep at night out in the open on frozen ground. The supply wagons would not get up for another full day. The second day’s march was worse, continuing in a snow storm in “bone-numbing cold” without food or proper clothing,

Snow and cold crippled Jackson’s force during this campaign yet he pushed the men hard, ever onward. By January 6, Jackson had accomplished his first strategic objective. He drove Federal pickets out of Bath Hot Springs and across the Potomac River to Hancock, Maryland. The Federals reacted quickly and sent reinforcements to Hancock forcing Jackson to abandon plans to take the town. But, with his rear guard now cleared of Federal troops, he turned his attention to his main objective; capturing the town Romney.

On January 7, he marched his troops south. To quote Jackson’s biographer James I. Robertson, this was the worst day of the campaign: “The region was in the throes of a major snowstorm.” Henry Kyd-Douglas of the 2nd Virginia wrote in a letter after the campaign, “The road was an uninterrupted sheet of ice … 3 men in our Brigade broke their arms by falling, several rendered their guns useless. Several horses were killed & many wagons were compelled to go into night quarters along the road, being unable to get along at all.” #3 The army camped at Unger’s Store for 4 days to put winter shoes on the surviving horses. About one third of the troops were sick or disabled.

The four day delay frustrated Jackson who was impatiently waiting to proceed, when suddenly, Confederate scouts returned to his camp with the astonishing news that Federal troops had abandoned Romney. The town was open for the taking.

Learning this, Jackson quickly moved to occupy Romney on January 14. He posted Loring’s troops there as a guard, and returned to Winchester with the Stonewall Brigade, January 23, satisfied he had obtained a strategic victory. But the officers and men of General Loring’s force saw things differently. Feeling vulnerable to Federal attack at Romney, influential officers of Loring’s command petitioned authorities at Richmond to order a return to Winchester. Their request was granted. Jackson was ordered, unwillingly, to bring Loring’s command back to Winchester in early February. The campaign had a devastating effect on morale. John Worsham of the 21st Virginia summed up the regiment’s experience in these words:

“We reached Winchester on the [Feb] 6th, and went into camp, after being away a little over a month, undergoing the most terrible experience during the war. Many men were frozen to death, others frozen so badly they never recovered, and the rheumatism contracted by many was never gotten rid of. Many of the men were incapacitated for service, large numbers were barefooted, having burned their shoes while trying to warm their feet at the fires.” #4

About 1,500 men out of 8,500 total were sick in hospitals around Winchester and surrounding towns as a result of the Romney campaign.

The Valley Campaign; Battle of Kernstown March 23, 1862
Union General N. P. Banks crossed the Potomac River into the Shenandoah Valley March 1, 1862, and proceeded to slowly move up the valley to clear it of Confederate troops. General Jackson had been reluctant to abandon the town of Winchester to the approaching enemy, but his small command was no match for the number of advancing Federals. He vacated the town on March 11. Ten days later, he learned a large part of General Banks’ army was leaving the Shenandoah Valley for Manassas. Jackson decided to strike.

The battle of Kernstown was a Confederate defeat, but it was the first stand up fight for the soldiers of the 21st Virginia and they did well. During the engagement they rushed to the aid of the 27th Virginia “and restored their broken line.” #5 It was also the first time many of them saw a man struck by an enemy shell. John Worsham wrote:

“A gun or two of the Rockbridge battery now joined us, we marched under a hill, and they to the right on top of the ridge. These guns were occasionally in their march exposed to the view of the enemy’s battery, and they fired at them, the shells passing over our regiment. One of them struck one of the drivers of the guns, tearing his leg to pieces, and going through the horse. Both fell; the shell descended and passed through our ranks and struck a stump not far off, spinning around like a top, and before it stopped one of the company ran and jumped on it, taking it up and carrying it along as a trophy. This is the first man of the war I saw struck by a shell; it was witnessed by the majority of the regiment.” #6

After the defeat at Kernstown, the eccentric general Jackson led his small force 100 miles up the valley in a slow fighting retreat, seeking to confront the enemy at any given opportunity. John Worsham described it this way:

“This was the boldest retreat I ever saw. General Jackson was defeated at Kernstown on the 25th of March by an overwhelming force, and the next day retired up the valley more slowly than I ever saw him march; and when we went into camp at night we tarried as long as possible. If the enemy did not hunt for us, General Jackson would hunt for them The regiments had orders to drill just as if no enemy was within a hundred miles of us. It can be seen that our movements were slow since it took us from March 24 to April 18 to march about one hundred miles, although we marched about half that distance in two days when we advanced to Kernstown.” #7

During the course of this famous campaign General Jackson sequentially defeated 3 independent Union commands and drove the Federals out of the Shenandoah Valley.

The campaign consisted of a series of stealth marches and surprise attacks that caught his enemies off guard.

Battle of McDowell, May 8, 1862
On April 30, General Ewell’s force of 8,500 men joined Jackson’s force, more than doubling his army. Jackson felt he still needed more troops than he had available to clear the valley of Federals. Meanwhile, Brigadier General Edward Johnson in the Allegheny mountains west of Staunton was pleading with Jackson to come help him confront General John C. Fremont’s advancing army. Leaving Ewell to watch Union General N.P. Banks to the north, Jackson marched his command west to Staunton, and then into the Allegheny Mountains (more than 100 miles) to help Johnson. Jackson and Johnson encountered the vanguard of Fremont’s army at the hamlet of McDowell on May 8, repulsed their repeated attacks, and forced the ill- equipped Northerners to retreat. Once again the 21st Virginia were fighting in the Allegheny mountains about 45 miles distant, by way of winding roads, from their initial camp at Huntersville.

Jackson’s force chased the retreating Federals into the mountains for a few days but when satisfied they were no longer a threat he turned his attentions back to the more urgent task of defeating General Banks. Success in the Allegheny’s added General Johnson’s 3,000 men to his command. These troops would suffice for the reinforcements he needed to confront Banks in the Shenandoah Valley. Now General Jackson needed to quickly re-unite with General Ewell before the latter general’s force might be called away. In order to make good time, Jackson issued a strict marching regimen to his troops so they could cover 15 — 20 miles a day, under the most difficult of conditions. With little or no food, they marched over horrible mountain roads during a 5 day period of torrential rain, May 12-17, and covered the 67 miles they needed to reach the vicinity of Harrisonburg. The troops began to refer to themselves as Jackson’s Foot Cavalry.

On May 18, near Harrisonburg, Generals Jackson and Ewell met, and planned their next move. On May 19 the new military offensive began. The first objective was to defeat the Union garrison at Front Royal.

Again we turn to the pages of John Worsham’s memoir. He wrote, “On May 21st Jackson marched down the Valley pike. When we reached New Market we took the road leading to the Luray valley, and formed a junction on the 22d, near Luray, with the balance of General Ewell’s command… Jackson now had the largest army he had ever had. He had brought Gen. Edward Johnson’s force of six regiments and some artillery with him from the Shenandoah mountain, and had Ewell’s command, and his old command.

“On the 23d Jackson’s army left its bivouac near Luray, taking the road to Front Royal, the head of the column arriving about three or four o’clock in the afternoon. General Jackson as usual, made an immediate attack on the enemy, with the few men who were up. His eagerness all through this campaign was surprising, and his escape from death was almost a miracle.” #8 Front Royal was captured, although the 21st Virginia was not engaged there.

One of the more grueling marches for the regiment came the next day on May 24 and 25 as Jackson attempted for a second time to retake Winchester. The 21st Virginia suffered through an especially difficult 7 mile march from Cedarville to Middletown, followed by a forced night march to Winchester with only 2 hours rest.

Col. John Patton of the 21st Virginia reported, “As the men limped along with weary limbs and feet throbbing with pain, on what seemed to them an aimless march, I heard them denouncing Jackson in unmeasured terms to ‘marching them to death for no good.’ It was my duty no doubt to have rebuked these manifestations of insubordination, but, feeling that their sufferings in some measure condoned their offense, I took no notice of the breach of discipline.” #9

Battle of Winchester, May 23, 1862
The 21st VA supported the Rockbridge artillery during the attack on Winchester. They were under fire from enemy shells but lost no men during the engagement. General Banks men put up a heavy resistance with artillery fire, but before long, the Union line was outflanked and driven north through the town. Banks’ force continued retreating north, 35 miles to the Potomac river, which he crossed into Maryland.

Jackson’s continuing success caused many to forgive him the hard service they endured. John Worsham wrote, “Jackson lost a very small number of men, but he had led us for three weeks as hard as men could march. In an order issued to his troops the next day, he thanked us for our conduct, and referred us to the result of the campaign as justification for our marching so hard. Every man was satisfied with his apology; to accomplish so much with so little loss, we would march six months! The reception at Winchester was worth a whole lifetime of service.”#10

Three days after the battle of Winchester, the 21st Virginia was detached from Jackson’s main body to guard the large number of captured Union prisoners, estimated to be about 2,300 men. The regiment numbered only 250 men at this time. This is down from 600 men tallied in a report dated April 18. One factor that contributed to the drop in numbers was the muster out of Company B, the Maryland company. Its one year term enlistment expired during the Winchester campaign. Going forward, the regiment had only 9 companies.

Anxiety that the prisoners might escape was ever-present during Jackson’s hurried retreat up the valley from May 31 to June 5. The wagon train led the march. The prisoner escort followed. Once again, a pelting hard rain daily encumbered the move. The roads were muddy. Union Generals Fremont and Shields were threatening to close in and cut off the small Confederate army’s retreat. Things got a little dicey for a while around the village of Port Republic on June 6, but the 21st Regiment made the long journey with their captives, across the mountains, from the Shenandoah Valley to Lynchburg without serious incident. They marched beyond Waynesboro, to just south of Charlottesville where prisoners and escort boarded cars at the North Garden Depot of the Orange & Alexandria railroad, and made the last stretch of the journey by train. At the Lynchburg Fairgrounds, the Federal prisoners were turned over to the care of the City Guards. The 21st Virginia returned by rail to Charlottesville where they reunited with the rest of their brigade and General Jackson’s army on June 21 and proceeded with them to Richmond.

Battle of Gaines Mill
The regiment did well in Richmond, participating in newly appointed Commanding General Robert E. Lee’s largest attack of the war at Gaines Mill, June 27, 1862. They came out of the 7 days fighting around Richmond with only 1 man reported wounded. That luck would be absent at their next engagement: Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1862.

NOTES

  1. John Worsham. One of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry, Neale Publishing Company, New York, 1912. p. 37.
  2. James I. Robertson, Jr. Stonewall Jackson. Macmillan Publishing USA, New York, 1997. p. 302.
  3. Robertson, p. 309. Footnote: Kydd-Douglass to Tippie Boteler, Jan. 12, 1862, Boteler Papers.
  4. Worsham,p. 63.
  5. Robertson, p. 342.
  6. Worsham, p. 67.
  7. Worsham, p. 74.
  8. Worsham, p. 82.
  9. Robertson, p. 401. Southern Historical Society Papers, 8 (1880): 141.
  10. Worsham, p. 88.

Clara Barton at Cedar Mountain

Did you know that Clara Barton, the pioneering nurse who founded the American Red Cross, treated wounded soldiers at the Battle of Cedar Mountain? From a recent Washington Post article: “In August 1862, she rode her wagon full of supplies to a field hospital by the Cedar Mountain battlefield in Virginia. She showed up in the middle of the night, and to the surgeon there, it seemed like a miracle.” Read more