“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Atoka in Fauquier County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Rector’s Crossroads

They Did Their Job


—Gettysburg Campaign —

Rector's Crossroads Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
1. Rector's Crossroads Marker
Inscription. (Preface): After Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's stunning victory at Chancellorsville in May 1863, he led the Army of Northern Virginia west to the Shenandoah Valley, then north through central Maryland and across the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania. Union Gen. George G. Meade, who replaced Gen. Joseph Hooker on June 26, led the Army of the Potomac in pursuit. Their armies collided at Gettysburg on July 1, starting a battle that neither general planned to fight there. Three days later, the defeated Confederates retreated, crossing the Potomac River into Virginia on July 14.

In 1863, the Ashby's Gap Turnpike bisected Rector's Crossroads (modern-day Atoka), to your left. The hamlet became a hotbed of activity as Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart screened Gen. Robert E. Lee's forces, moving north in the Shenandoah Valley, from the Federals. On the morning of June 21, the day's fighting began two ridgelines east of here, to your right. After Union cavalry, along with Col. Strong Vincent's infantry brigade, drove Stuart westward from the first ridge and then the second, Stuart established his third position west of Goose Creek Bridge, just west of Rector's Crossroads. He detached a rear guard of 200 troopers under Capt. Angus P. Brown, 1st South Carolina Cavalry, to delay the Federals here while the rest of Stuart's men crossed
The Path to the Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
2. The Path to the Marker
Overlooking the John S. Mosby Highway, the marker is placed on one of the ridge lines described in the text.
the narrow span. Brown's men skirmished briefly near here before falling back to the high ground on your left. Holding off the Federals until ordered to retire, Brown and several of his men were wounded, but they did their job, enabling Stuart to establish a strong position across the bridge. On June 24, Stuart returned here and met with Maj. John Singleton Mosby to discuss Stuart's route across the Potomac River, to begin what would become his much-debated ride to Gettysburg.

(Sidebar): In the parlor of the stone house to your far left, on June 10, 1863, Confederate Maj. John S. Mosby first wrote orders for his famous 43rd Battalion, Partisan Rangers, while his men waited in a grove nearby. Years after the war, Mosby knocked at the door and asked Mrs. Rector if he could sit in the parlor for a few minutes. When she later returned, she saw tears running down his cheeks. Mosby seldom attended Ranger reunions, as he found them emotionally wrenching.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 58.534′ N, 77° 48.471′ W. Marker is in Atoka, Virginia, in Fauquier County. Marker is at the intersection of Atoka Road and John S. Mosby
Rector's Crossroads Today image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
3. Rector's Crossroads Today
The Rector House is in the center on the left side of the road.
Highway (U.S. 50), on the right when traveling north on Atoka Road. Click for map. Located at a bend of Atoka Road just as it intersects the highway. Marker is in this post office area: Marshall VA 20115, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Rector House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mosby’s Rangers (about 400 feet away); Welbourne (about 400 feet away); Attack at Goose Creek Bridge (approx. 0.8 miles away); Battle of Middleburg (approx. 2.2 miles away); History of St. Louis (approx. 2.7 miles away); Battle of Unison (approx. 3.6 miles away); Upperville (approx. 3.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Atoka.
More about this marker. The marker displays portraits of Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and Col. Strong Vincent flanking a map of the area. A reproduced engraving on the right is captioned, "This Leslie's Weekly engraving of the Battle of Kelly's Ford shows a typical mounted cavalry fight like those that occurred here." A portrait of Maj. John S. Mosby complements the side bar on the lower right.
Also see . . .
1. Newspaper Account of the Fighting. (PDF). From the archives of the New York Times. (Submitted on October 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Atoka Historic District. (PDF) Paperwork submitted for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. (Submitted on October 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

3. What If Stuart Had Arrived at the First Day?. An often asked question regarding Stuart's portion of the Gettysburg campaign. Stuart's meeting with Mosby at Rector's Crossroads on June 24 set in motion a chain of events which dictated Stuart's late arrival at Gettysburg. (Submitted on October 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Additional comments.
1. What Day Did Stuart Return to Rector’s Crossroads?
This marker says Stuart returned to the crossroads on June 24. The nearby Rector House marker says June 23. At least one other web resource says June 22. Stuart's official report states, "Our lines were much farther advanced than before, and Monday, the 22d was consumed in their re-establishment," indicating an advance in the direction of the crossroads during the day. On the night of the 24th, Stuart's command headed south towards Salem (modern day Marshall) precipitating the ride to Gettysburg. (Consult "Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg," by Eric J. Whittenburg and J. David Petruzzi, for more information.)
    — Submitted October 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,697 times since then and 194 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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