New Market Valley
From St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, drive .3 mile to the traffic
light at CR 260 (Old Cross Roads). En route, one block south of the
church on the east at the corner of US 11 and Seminary Road is a building
which was occupied by the Federal provost marshal during Reconstruction.
At the crossroads, notice the large building on the southeast corner. This
was the Lee-Jackson Hotel, the home of Dr. Joseph B. Strayer at the time
of the battle. Stonewall Jackson reviewed his men from this corner in May
1862 as they turned east, bound for the New Market Gap. In the fall of
1864, the building was used as a headquarters by Maj. Gen. Jubal Early.
Turn west onto CR 270 and proceed .4 mile under the Interstate and turn
left (south) into the parking lot of the Shenandoah Valley Tourist Association.
(You are back by Interchange 67.) This is the New Market Valley referred
to earlier. South of the parking lot is Shirley's Hill over which Wharton's
Brigade came, while to the north is Manor Hill on which the 18th Connecticut
skirmishers deployed. Northwestward is some low ground bounded by Manor
Hill and another hill with some houses on it. This is Indian Hollow down
which Lt. Col. George M. Edgar's 26th Virginia Battalion advanced.
The 30th and 51st Virginia dashed over the brow of Shirley's Hill and
down into this area. As they pressed forward, Edgar's Battalion and the
VMI cadets then marched over Shirley's Hill in formation, offering a target
for the Federal artillery. The first five VMI casualties were sustained
on the northern slope of the hill. When they got to the bottom into the
little valley, they grounded their packs along the road and watched the
first wave press the Federals north, then followed in reserve.
Lieutenant Colonel Scott Shipp, Commandant of Cadets, described the
As Wharton's line ascended a knoll it came in full view of the enemy's
batteries, which opened a heavy fire, but not having gotten the range,
did but little damage. By the time the second line reached the same ground
the Yankee gunners had gotten the exact range, and their fire began to
tell on our line with fearful accuracy. It was here that Captain Hill and
others fell. Great gaps were made through the ranks, but the cadet, true
to his discipline, would close in to the center to fill the interval and
push steadily forward. The alignment of the battalion under this terrible
fire which strewed the ground with killed and wounded for more than a mile
on open ground, would have been creditable even on a field day.
The cadets held briefly along CR 260 and prepared to advance. Captain Frank
Marching down the first hill we were exposed to the enemy's batteries,
but were too far to reply with arms. In this advance one man was killed
in the first line, and several wounded in our Battalion. . . . After getting
to the bottom of the hill we were entirely covered, and here we waited
half an hour, while some change was made in the lines. A half hour of intense
suspense-the artillery on either side firing-the shot and shell flying
and bursting high over our heads-knowing that in a short time we must charge
the infantry, whose dark lines we saw drawn up in the woods. . . . After
some time the first line began to move forward up the hill. . . . Then
the second line began to move, and our nerves were strung and our lips
firmly closed, our breath coming short and quick, waiting for the crash
of musketry which we expected would receive the first line.
The cadets eventually headed north in support of the battle, as described
by Cadet John C. Howard.
We now marched on down the hill in front, which was a right steep
one. There was a road at the bottom, and just beyond the road a fence.
Crossing this fence we were halted and ordered to take off blankets and
everything else except gun and equipment. This looked like business, stripping
for the fight, and we began to think our work was really cut out for us.
"Attention, Battalion! Forward!" This was the beginning of that long-ascending
field, the main theater of the fight. The ascent at first was steeper than
it afterwards became, but in a very little while we were within range of
the Federal infantry as well as artillery as they directed their fire against
the line. I heard the hiss of the bullets and saw where they had struck
the ground in different directions, right, left, and in front, but I was
a green hand, and didn't know that this meant we were among the Minie balls.
A few minutes after being under fire we were halted, and the corps commenced
marking time; but as we lay down almost instantly for a few seconds, a
cadet near me remarked:
"What damn fool gave the order to mark time under this fire." We were
up again almost instantly, and then forward. We could clearly hear the
firing of the Southern artillery over our heads, and hoped it would silence
some of the hostile guns in front—which, in a
measure, it did.
Return to Table of Contents
page created 17 December 1999