McNeill's Rangers

McNeill's Rangers (HMQAW)

Location: Harrisonburg, VA 22801
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 26.863', W 78° 52.133'

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"Hurah for McNeal"

Harrisonburg is associated with the exploits of McNeill's Rangers, a famous Confederate partisan unit. In 1862, John Hanson McNeill, a native of Hardy County in present-day West Virginia, recruited men for Co. E, 18th Virginia Cavalry. With McNeill as captain, the unit entered Confederate service on September 5, 1862, as partisan rangers under Gen. John Imboden's nominal command.

McNeilI's Rangers attacked Federal camps, raided railroads, and seized Union supplies. Early in March 1863, McNeiIl and his men rode into Harrisonburg with captured "horses and harness," which he auctioned off at the courthouse for $36,000. A local resident noted in his diary, "A good haul don't you think hurah for McNeal."

On the morning of October 3, 1864, McNeiII attacked Federal troops in Mount Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Seriously wounded, McNeiII ordered his men to leave him at a nearby house. He was rescued from captivity a few days later and brought to Hill's Hotel, which was located to your left on the corner of Main and Water Streets. He died there on November 10, and his son, Lt. Jesse C. McNeiII, took command of the Rangers.

Young McNeill orchestrated the Rangers' greatest coup. On February 21, 1865, the unit kidnapped Union Gens. George Crook and Benjamin F. Kelley from a hotel in Cumberland, Maryland. Crook had come there late in 1864 to command the Department of Western Virginia. The Rangers quickly returned to Virginia and, in a snowstorm, brought the generals here and treated them to "a hearty breakfast at Hills Hotel." Crook and Kelley were soon exchanged. The Rangers continued to operate until they surrendered on April 24, 1865.

The capture of Union Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley may have been especially satisfying to Lt. Jesse C. McNeill. In 1863, McNeill's mother, sister, and young brother were arrested under Kelley's orders and confined briefly in Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio. The arrest was a futile attempt to intimidate Capt. John H. McNeill.
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2010
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 29th, 2014 at 4:54am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 685972 N 4257643
Decimal Degrees38.44771667, -78.86888333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 26.863', W 78° 52.133'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 26' 51.78" N, 78° 52' 7.98" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 154 S Main St, Harrisonburg VA 22801, US
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