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Bluemont in Clarke County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Col. George D. Wells Leads the Way

Battle of Cool Spring

 

— Early's 1864 Attack on Washington —

 
Col. George D. Wells Leads the Way Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 30, 2019
1. Col. George D. Wells Leads the Way Marker
Inscription.  
(Preface)
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)
Here at Island (Parker's) Ford, at about 3:30 P.M. on July 18, 1864, Union Col. George D. Wells's brigade, the vanguard of Col. Joseph Thoburn's division, splashed
Col. George D. Wells Leads the Way Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 30, 2019
2. Col. George D. Wells Leads the Way Marker
across the Shenandoah River to the western side. They were in pursuit of Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's corps, which had retreated across the Shenandoah River the day before. Although part of Confederate Maj. Jesse Richardson's 42nd Virginia Infantry attempted to contest the advance, their efforts proved no match for Wells's brigade. During the fight to secure the crossing, his men captured, twelve Virginians—one captain and eleven enlisted men.

When Thoburn's superior, Gen. George Crook, learned from the captured Confederates that Early's entire force was nearby, he pleaded with the overall Union commander, Gen. Horatio G. Wright, to withdraw Thoburn's regiments immediately. Wright refused and instead ordered Gen. James B. Ricketts's division to support Thoburn. Although Ricketts arrived around 6:00 P.M., he never crossed the river, as both he and Wright believed the battle lost. Ricketts's failure to support Thoburn became something that many of Thoburn's veterans could never forgive, even decades after the war's end.
 
Erected by Shenandoah University, Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 39° 8.254′ N, 77° 52.229′ W. Marker
34th Massachusetts Infantry in camp, Fort Lyon, Va. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 30, 2019
3. 34th Massachusetts Infantry in camp, Fort Lyon, Va.
“The 34th, leading the advance, pushed boldly on, forced the crossing, drove the enemy.” – Lt. Col. William S. Lincoln, 34th Massachusetts Infantry
Close-up of photo on marker - Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art
is in Bluemont, Virginia, in Clarke County. Marker can be reached from Parker Lane south of Alder Lane, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bluemont VA 20135, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Battle of Cool Spring (was a few steps from this marker but has been reported missing. ); Confederate Counterattack and Union Retreat (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Battle of Cool Spring (about 500 feet away); Judge Parker's “Retreat” & the Battle of Cool Spring (about 600 feet away); Thoburn’s Rescue (approx. one mile away); The Retreat (approx. 1.4 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Cool Spring (approx. 1.4 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Cool Spring (approx. 1½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bluemont.
 
Also see . . .  Touring the Battle of Cool Spring. (PDF) This marker is No. 3 on the Walking Tour. (Submitted on May 1, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Col. George D. Wells image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 30, 2019
4. Col. George D. Wells
Close-up of photo on marker- Courtesy of Jonathan Noyalas
Gen. James B. Ricketts image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
5. Gen. James B. Ricketts
You are Here image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 30, 2019
6. You are Here
Close-up of map on marker
 

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Credits. This page was last revised on May 2, 2019. This page originally submitted on May 1, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 97 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 1, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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