Engagement at Great Cacapon

Engagement at Great Cacapon (HM13SQ)

Location: Berkeley Springs, WV 25411 Morgan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 37.356', W 78° 15.576'

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Struggle in the Snow

— Jackson's Bath-Romney Campaign —

(Preface): On January 1, 1862, Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson led four brigades west from Winchester, Va., to secure Romney in the fertile South Branch Valley on the North Western Turnpike. He attacked and occupied Bath on January 4 and shelled Hancock, Md.; he marched into Romney on January 14. Despite atrocious winter weather, Jackson's men destroyed telegraph lines and 100 miles of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad track. Leaving Gen. William W. Loring's brigades in Romney, Jackson led the Stonewall Brigade back to Winchester on January 23. Loring followed on January 31, and the Federals reoccupied Romney on February 7.

Before you is the village of Great Cacapon. After driving off the Federal garrison in Bath (present day Berkeley Springs) on January 4, 1862, Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson sought to tear up the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, including the heavy timber railroad bridge over the Cacapon River. Jackson dispatched Col. Albert Rust to tend to it.

That evening, Capt. William B. Slaughter's Co. G, 39th Illinois Infantry, guarded the bridge. Shortly after dark, part of Co. E arrived as well as the 13th Indiana Infantry, brought by train from Sir Johns Run (down the Potomac River to your right). Slaughter spread his men out along the western (far) bank of the Cacapon River from the bridge to a ford down-stream, as the Indiana men prepared to get off the train to cook dinner.

Just then, Rust led 600 men of the 3rd Arkansas and 37th Virginia Infantry regiments, with two cannons, down this mountain. The Arkansas men attacked the bridge while the Virginians struck the ford. Exploding shells frightened the train engineer, who immediately steamed upriver toward Cumberland, taking the Indiana regiment with him. Alone and outnumbered, the two Illinois companies held their ground, and the Confederates slowly withdrew. When fighting stopped, Slaughter ordered a retreat across the Potomac into Maryland, where his men emerged from the freezing water "encased in sheets of ice." The next morning, the Confederates returned and burned the bridge and depot.

With the railroad destroyed from Great Cacapon to Hancock, and Federal soldiers forced back into Maryland at all points, Jackson began his march west to Romney.
HM NumberHM13SQ
Series This marker is part of the West Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByWest Virginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 12:17pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 735219 N 4389459
Decimal Degrees39.62260000, -78.25960000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 37.356', W 78° 15.576'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 37' 21.36" N, 78° 15' 34.56" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)304
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2934 Cacapon Rd, Berkeley Springs WV 25411, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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