Battle of Cool Spring

Battle of Cool Spring (HM1G9G)

Location: Bluemont, VA 20135 Clarke County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 8.251', W 77° 52.241'

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Union Advance and Confederate Counterattack

— Early's 1864 Attack on Washington —

(Preface): In June 1864, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee sent Gen. Jubal A. Early's corps from the Richmond battlefields to the Shenandoah Valley to counter Union Gen. David Hunter's army. After driving Hunter into West Virginia, Early invaded Maryland to attack Washington, D.C., draw Union troops from Richmond, and release Confederate prisoners held at Point Lookout. On July 9, Early ordered Gen. Bradley T. Johnson's cavalry brigade eastward to free the prisoners. The next day, Johnson sent Maj. Harry Gilmer's regiment to raid the Baltimore area. Union Gen. Lew Wallace delayed Early at the Battle of Monocacy on July 9. Federal reinforcements soon strengthened the capital's defenses. Early attacked there near Fort Stevens on July 11-12 and then withdrew to the Shenandoah Valley with the Federals in pursuit. He stopped them at Cool Springs on July 17-18. Despite failing to take Washington or free prisoners, Early succeeded in diverting Federal resources.

On the afternoon of July 17, 1864, Union forces began arriving south of here in pursuit of Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's army as it withdrew to the Shenandoah Valley after Early's invasion of Maryland and attack on the defenses of Washington, D.C. Early's men were deployed across the river.

The next day, two Federal assaults upstream having failed, Union Gen. George Crook ordered Col. Joseph Thoburn and his 3,250-man division to cross here at Island (Parker's) Ford and march south to outflank Confederate forces at Castleman's (Snicker's) Ferry. The men began crossing at 3 p.m. and encountered light resistance. Captured Confederate pickets, however, told them that almost all of Early's army was arrayed against them. Thoburn's division continued to ford here and to your right across Parker Island to form parallel battle lines behind a stone wall along the river and another in a wheat field 100 yards inland. Meanwhile, Federal artillery was deployed on the heights behind you and farther to the north.

Across the river, Confederate Gen. John C. Breckinridge ordered Gens. Gabriel C. Wharton and Robert E. Rodes to challenge the Federals. Wharton's men pushed them back toward the river along the length of the island in front of you, and at 6 p.m. Rodes began a flanking movement from the south end of Parker Island.

(Sidebar): Joseph Thoburn, born in Northern Ireland, was an unlikely military officer. His family moved to Canada and then to Ohio where Thoburn trained as a physician. He settled in Wheeling, in present-day West Virginia, and established a successful medical practice. Soon after the outbreak of the war, he enlisted as a surgeon in the Union army but soon rose to a command position. Thoburn died in action at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864.
HM NumberHM1G9G
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2013
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 19th, 2014 at 12:22am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 251883 N 4335962
Decimal Degrees39.13751667, -77.87068333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 8.251', W 77° 52.241'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 8' 15.06" N, 77° 52' 14.46" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1400 Parker Ln, Bluemont VA 20135, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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