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This is marker #20 in a series of obelisks erected in 1910 by the Jefferson County Camp, United Confederate Veterans to mark locations of engagements and other significant Civil War events in Jefferson County. This obelisk marks the location of an August 21, 1864 battle between Generals Jubal Early and Philip Sheridan as part of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

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In 1864 newly appointed General in Chief Ulysses S. Grant pursued a new strategy of pressuring the Confederate ability to wage war. His plan had Union armies move against Confederate forces in unison to prevent the Confederacy from moving their resources to fill in weak points in their defenses. This grand strategy included the Overland Campaign of Meade’s Army of the Potomac against Richmond, VA and Sherman’s march through Georgia and the Carolinas, as well as other supporting campaigns. The Shenandoah Valley was a crucial supply region for the Confederacy, particularly for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Grant intended to interrupt that supply line by threatening the railroads in western Virginia and hopefully forcing Lee to send troops to counter the Union in the Valley, thus weakening his force engaged against Grant and Meade near Richmond. The 1864 Valley Campaign began in the spring, at the same time that the Army of the Potomac began to move south to the Wilderness and beyond towards Richmond.

Three of the obelisks erected by the Jefferson County Camp of United Confederate Veterans in 1910 commemorate a set of engagements in August 1864. Near the beginning of August, General Philip Sheridan assumed command in the Shenandoah Valley. The previous month Confederates under General Jubal Early threatened Washington D. C. and won the Battle of Monocacy, another force freed prisoners from Point Lookout and burned Chambersburg, and both sides engaged in acts of retaliation in the Valley against civilian homes. Returning to the Valley, Early had a force of less than 20,000 men organized into five infantry divisions and Sheridan reorganized the Department of West Virginia to meet the threat. The Army of West Virginia was redesignated the 8th Corps and Sheridan was assigned additional troops from General Horatio Wright’s 6th Corps, two divisions of the 19th Corps (Major General William H. Emory), and two divisions of cavalry from the Army of the Potomac. This was Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah and the General departed Harpers Ferry of August 10 towards Berryville, VA with a force of 18,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry. General Grant trusted Sheridan with taking care of Early in the Valley to prevent further attacks towards Washington and pursuing Grant’s original goal of cutting of supply lines. After August 10, Sheridan took his force south to engage with Early and Early responded by pulling back to Cedar Creek. A day or so later Early pushed back and Sheridan retreated; he was given incorrect intelligence that General Longstreet’s Corps was in the area and Sheridan did not want to risk a major defeat during Grant’s campaign and the presidential election.

Sheridan returned to West Virginia and his troops engaged with those of Early in Jefferson County at the end of August, the events marked by the UCV obelisks. On August 21 General Early ordered his force to advance towards Charles Town: General Richard H. Anderson was to move through Summit Point towards Charles Town, Early’s main force moved from Bunker Hill through Smithfield, and General Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry advanced along the Berryville Pike. Sheridan’s force was encamped near Cameron’s Depot, just west of Charles Town. Union cavalry under Brigadier Generals James H. Wilson and Wesley Merritt delayed the force under Anderson and Lee’s cavalry, so the main force under Early arrived first. Advancing from the direction of Middleway, Early’s troops surprised Union pickets from the 6th Corps at Welch’s Spring and then set up artillery near Richwood Hall. Sheridan countered with artillery at Locust Hill. At the beginning of the battle of Cameron’s Depot the Confederates were able to put pressure on the Union position and force them off the ground by Locust Hill. Around noon, the First Division of the Union 19th Corps connected with Sheridan’s right flank and successfully fought the Confederates there, but after dark Sheridan decided to pull back to Halltown. As Sheridan’s force retreated, Early’s advanced and threatened Charles Town.

While Early and Sheridan’s main forces fought at the battle of Cameron’s Depot, there was an additional engagement just to the north on the Leetown Road. Confederate reinforcements under Major Generals Robert E. Rhodes and Stephen D. Ramseur took position on Early’s left and cavalry under Major Lunsford L. Lomax was tasked to guard the Confederate’s left flank. Lomax ordered Harry Gilmor to protect the flank and Leetown Road with two Maryland battalions and the 19th and 20th Virginia of the Stonewall Brigade. Some of Gilmor’s men had dismounted near the home of a Mrs. Daniel, a Confederate sympathizer, when they were surprised by the 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry and Duffie’s Brigade. After the initial surprise, Gilmor’s men were able to regroup and counter the 12th PA’s attempts to flank the Confederate force. Eventually the Union troops fell back behind their artillery which started to fire into the woods where Gilmor’s men were fleeing the open field. Thinking their enemy in retreat, the Union men charged but met the rest of the full Confederate force and were forced to retreat.

At the end of the day on August 21, Sheridan’s troops were at Halltown and Early’s settled outside of Charles Town. In the next days Early tested Sheridan’s defenses at Halltown and decided to move towards Shepherdstown. Early left General Anderson’s force at Charles Town on August 25th and took the rest of his men towards Shepherdstown, meeting Union resistance along the way. First Early encountered cavalry under Wilson and Merritt and after a skirmish the Union cavalry retreated towards Shepherdstown while Early continued to Kearneysville. At Kearneysville, Early’s force met another Union resistance but was able to force the Union troops to retreat towards Halltown. The Confederates made it to Shepherdstown on the evening of August 25 and during the night the rest of the Federal force in that city retreated across the Potomac at Pack Horse Ford. Because the Union troops at Shepherdstown retreated, Early decided not to stay there and to return to their camp at Bunker Hill.

Returning to Bunker Hill, Early left cavalry under Fitz Hugh Lee and Lunsford L. Lomax at Shepherdstown and Anderson still guarded Charles Town. On August 26 Sheridan’s force at Halltown took advantage of Anderson’s diminished numbers and attacked with two infantry divisions (Major General George Crook) and a cavalry brigade (Brigadier General Russell Lowell). This attack forced Anderson from his earthworks outside of Charles Town into the town proper. Ultimately, Crook forced Anderson out of Charles Town towards Early at Bunker Hill; Anderson stopped at Stephenson’s Depot near Middleway. Sheridan needed to regain control of the entire area so on August 28 he ordered Merritt’s cavalry to remove the Confederate cavalry from Shepherdstown. Merritt’s men successfully forced the cavalry under Lee and Lomax to retreat towards Middleway. At Leetown, Lomax ordered Harry Gilmor to defend the road, but the Union quickly forced his men to retreat and the Federals were able to retake control of Middleway. One August 29, Early attempted to retake Middleway by sending Major Generals Ramseur and Gordan towards the Opequon Creek. Initially the Confederate force was able to dislodge the Union from Middleway; however, Sheridan needed to prevent Early from advancing again on Charles Town and in the afternoon the Union force was able to retake Middleway and force Early from the county. This allowed Sheridan to expand his force through Jefferson County to control the area and force a buffer against Early. After these engagements, the 1864 Valley Campaign moved back into Virginia. 

About the Monuments:

This series of monuments and accompanying tour pamphlet were part of an initiative from the Jefferson County Camp, United Confederate Veterans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil War. In 1910 Col. R. Preston Chew and the Jefferson County UCV raised the funds to place 25 concrete obelisks in Jefferson County to mark locations of engagement or other significant events. The following year the Camp published a pamphlet to accompany the obelisks and give more information about each location. This was Military Operations in Jefferson County, Virginia (Now West Virginia), 1861-1865 published in 1911. The pamphlet has been reprinted several times by the Henry Kyd Douglas Camp, No. 199 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Because the monuments and accompanying pamphlet were done by Confederate veterans it is likely that the locations and descriptions are biased towards or favor the Confederate view and experience of the war. 

Original Text from the 1911 Pamphlet:

"Marker Number Twenty

Engagement Between Early and Sheridan at Packett’s Farm

On August 21st, 1864, Gen. Early marched from the vicinity of Bunker Hill toward Charles Town, driving the Federal Cavalry before him until he reached Cameron’s Station on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, where he encountered the infantry. He engaged them about nine o’clock in the morning, and drove them towards Charles Town. The Federals threw up fortifications in front of his line and prepared to resist his advance. The cavalry under Vaughn, Johnson and Jackson advanced by way of Leetown and joined Early in front of Charles Town. McCausland marched by way of Summit Point and Fitz Lee by way of Berryville and engaged the enemy on that road. Early planted his cannon on the hill around the house of John R. Flagg, and formed his line of battle north and south of this point, while Sheridan formed his line a short distance east, the center being around the house of John B. Packett. Severe skirmishing and cannonading took place at this point, and quite a number of Federals were killed and wounded in and around Mr. Packett’s house. The house was occupied at the time by Mr. Packett and his family and quite a number of visitors, among them several of the Misses Washington, whose home was about two miles distant. The Federals declined to allow them to leave until the shelling became too serious, with Lieutenant H. G. Nickols, they made their escape, under fire, across the fields towards the Federal lines and in the direction of Charles Town. Fortunately they all escaped without injury. The house of Mr. Packett to this day bears the evidence of the cannonading and musketry firing, a number of shells being lodged in the walls. It was expected a large engagement would take place here but the Federals, although largely outnumbering Early’s army, declined to attack. One the night of the 21st, Sheridan withdrew and retired to Harpers Ferry, pursued by Early’s army. While Sheridan occupied Charles Town he had his famous conference with Ge. Grant at the house of Thos. Rutherford and the destruction of the resources of the Shenandoah Valley was agreed upon."

Bushong, Millard Kessler. A History of Jefferson County, West Virginia. Charles Town, WV: Jefferson Publishing Company, 1941.

Engle, Stephen Douglas. Thunder in the Hills: Military Operations in Jefferson County, West Virginia, During the American Civil War. Charleston, WV: Mountain State Press, 1989.

Hearn, Chester G. Six Years of Hell: Harpers Ferry During the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.

Military Operations in Jefferson County Virginia (and West Va.) 1861-1865. Published by Authority of Jefferson County Camp U.C.V. Farmers Advocate Print, 1911. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t4vh5gp6c&view=1up&seq=5.

Snell, Mark A. West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2011.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

"Locust Hill: Home of Lucy Washington Packette." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=159433.

"Battle of Summit Point." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Summit_Point.

"A Contested County: A Travel Guide of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign in Jefferson County." Jefferson County Historical Landmarks Commission. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://s3.amazonaws.com/discoveritallwv.com/JCHLC_1864-Tour-Brochure_v3.pdf.

"Battle of Summit Point." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Summit_Point.

Hotchkiss, Jedediah. Report of the camps, marches & engagements, of the Second Corps, A.N.V., and of the Army of the Valley Dist. of the Department of Northern VA., during the campaign of: Virginia. 1864. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/2005625265/. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3881sm.gcwh0008/?sp=25&r=-0.688,0.191,2.376,1.321,0.

Hotchkiss, Jedediah. Report of the camps, marches & engagements, of the Second Corps, A.N.V., and of the Army of the Valley Dist. of the Department of Northern VA., during the campaign of: Virginia. 1864. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/2005625265/. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3881sm.gcwh0008/?sp=25&r=-0.688,0.191,2.376,1.321,0.

"Philip Sheridan." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Sheridan.

"Jubal Early." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubal_Early.

"Richard H. Anderson." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_H._Anderson.

"Wesley Merritt." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_Merritt

"Fitzhugh Lee." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitzhugh_Lee.

"James H. Wilson." Wikipedia. Accessed January 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_H._Wilson.