Confederate Counterattack and Union Retreat

Confederate Counterattack and Union Retreat (HM2GED)

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N 39° 8.311', W 77° 52.198'

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Battle of Cool Spring

—Early's 1864 Attack on Washington —

In June 1864, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee detached Gen. Jubal A. Early's corps from the Richmond battlefields and dispatched it to the Shenandoah Valley to counter Union Gen. David Hunter's army. After driving Hunter into West Virginia, Early launched an incursion through Maryland against Washington, D.C., to draw Union troops from Richmond and to release Confederate prisoners held at Point Lookout. On July 9, Early detached Gen. Bradley T. Johnson's cavalry brigade, including Maj. Harry Gilmor and his cavalry to raid eastward toward Baltimore. Union Gen. Lew Wallace delayed Early at the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, as Federal reinforcements strengthened the capitals defenses. Early probed them briefly on July 11-12 and then withdrew to the Shenandoah Valley, where he stopped the Federal pursuit at Cool Spring on July 17-18.Despite failing to take Washington, Early's invasion succeeded in diverting Federal resources.

(Main Text)
Early in the evening of July 17, 1864, Confederate forces under Gens. Gabriel C. Wharton and Robert E. Rodes counterattacked Union Col. Joseph Thoburn's division across the Shenandoah River from where you are standing. While Rodes's men pressured Thornton's right flank, Wharton's staged two attacks that pushed the Federals back toward the river. Union artillery

fire from the high ground behind you, however, stopped the Confederate advance. An artillery duel continued into the evening, as Union forces withdrew across the river under the cover of darkness. By 9P.M., the Battle of Cool Spring was over.

Gens. Wharton and Rodes were both native Virginians who studied civil engineering at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). After graduating from VMI in 1847, Wharton became a mining engineer in the Arizona Territory. Rodes graduated in 1848 and remained on the faculty of VMI until 1851. He then moved to Alabama to work as a railroad engineer. When the war began, both men joined the Confederate army, Wharton in his native state and Rodes in Alabama. Wharton spent most of the war in the Western Theater, while Rodes saw action throughout the east. Wharton returned to Virginia in May 1864 and joined Rodes in Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, fighting under Gen. Jubal A. Early during the Maryland invasion and back to the Shenandoah Valley. Rodes died at the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864. Wharton survived the war, returned to his engineering career, and served in the Virginia General Assembly until his death in Radford in 1906.
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 at 8:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 251948 N 4336071
Decimal Degrees39.13851667, -77.86996667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 8.311', W 77° 52.198'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 8' 18.66" N, 77° 52' 11.88" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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