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Harrisonburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Court Square & Springhouse
Temporary Prison Camp
 
Court Square & Springhouse Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Robert H. Moore, II, February 26, 2009
1. Court Square & Springhouse Marker
 
Inscription. During the Civil War, a road (Market Street) ran east and west through the courthouse square, dividing it roughly in half. The courthouse occupied the northern portion while the jail, clerk’s office, and springhouse were in the southern section. Plank fences surrounded both yards. These enclosures occasionally were used as holding pens for prisoners during the conflict. After the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson confined about 2,000 Union prisoners of war in the yards briefly before they were marched to Richmond. Civilians and soldiers alike quenched their thirsts at the springhouse (later reconstructed) in the southwestern corner of the square. Artist J.E. Taylor sketched the original springhouse while traveling with Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s Federal army in the fall of 1864.

Fighting occurred on Harrisonburg’s doorstep several times during the war, especially in 1862/. On June 6, just before the nearby battles of Cross keys and Port Republic, a rearguard engagement southeast of town resulted in the death of Gen. Turner Ashby, Jackson’s cavalry chief.

(Sidebar):
For a town of its size (about 1,400 in 1860), Harrisonburg had a large number of hotels, reflecting its importance as the county seat and a regional commercial center. The American Hotel (built
 
Court Square & Springhouse Marker as seen in front of the modern courthouse Photo, Click for full size
By Robert H. Moore, II, February 26, 2009
2. Court Square & Springhouse Marker as seen in front of the modern courthouse
 
about 1820), also known as the McMahon’s Tavern, which stood on main Street opposite the southeastern corner of the square, was a popular stopping place during the war. On June 5, 1863, the local newspaper reported that the famous Confederate spy, Belle Boyd, had “been in Harrisonburg for a few days past, stopping at the American.” The hotel was destroyed in the great Harrisonburg fire on Christmas Day, 1870
 
Erected by Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation & Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 26.97′ N, 78° 52.145′ W. Marker is in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Marker is on Main Street (Business U.S. 11), on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harrisonburg VA 22801, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Harrisonburg (here, next to this marker); The Big Spring (within shouting distance of this marker); McNeill’s Rangers (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hardesty-Higgins House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Warren-Sipe House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Confederate General Hospital (approx. ¼ mile away); The Woodbine Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Woodbine Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Harrisonburg.
 
Reconstructed springhouse Photo, Click for full size
By Robert H. Moore, II, February 26, 2009
3. Reconstructed springhouse
 

 
More about this marker. On the left is a Wartime courthouse photo (1834 courthouse, Harrisonburg’s third). To the right is a portrait of Belle Boyd in the sidebar.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on February 26, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,087 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 26, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
 
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