Thornton Gap Historical

Thornton Gap Historical (HM1WDS)

Location: Luray, VA 22835 Page County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 39.605', W 78° 19.271'

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Tactical Mountain Pass

During the Civil War, this gap in the Blue Ridge was of significant tactical importance for the movement of troops, artillery, and supply wagons. The Thornton's Gap Turnpike, a macadamized (hard-surfaced) road, passed through the gap and linked Luray in the Shenandoah Valley with Culpeper Court House in the central Piedmont. The Sperryville and Rappahannock Turnpike ran from Warrenton to a junction with the Thornton's Gap Turnpike at Sperryville.

Union Gen. Franz Sigel's corps used the pass en route to the month-long occupation of Sperryville in July 1862. The 29th and 68th New York Infantry and the 73rd Pennsylvania Infantry of Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr's division served as pickets here in the summer of 1862. They camped at the Shenk farm on the western slope just below this location. In October—November 1862, after the Antietam Campaign, Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia marched this way as it retreated south. Confederate Gen. Richard S. Ewell's corps crossed through the Blue Ridge here in July 1863 during the retreat after the Battle of Gettysburg. In 1864, Union forces patrolled the gap.

In June 1865, during the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, a letter dated April 6 was introduced into evidence. It suggested Thornton's Gap as an alternate escape route for assassin John Wilkes
Booth: "If you can't get through on your trip, ...strike through Thornton Gap, and cross by Capon, Romney's, and down the Branch, and I can keep you safe from all hardships for a year." It is uncertain whether the letter was genuine or a hoax.

Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Richard S. Ewell Courtesy Library of Congress
"Schurz's Division at Thornton Gap," Harper's Weekly August 9, 1862
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, December 27th, 2016 at 5:01pm PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 733088 N 4282462
Decimal Degrees38.66008333, -78.32118333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 39.605', W 78° 19.271'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 39' 36.3" N, 78° 19' 16.26" 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 US-211, Luray VA 22835, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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