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

Stonewall’s Surprise

Banks’s Fort

 
 
Stonewall's Suprise Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
1. Stonewall's Suprise Marker
Inscription. In the spring of 1862, U.S. Army Capt. Edward Hunt, an engineer, constructed a fortification on the hill where the Strasburg water tower now stands. Hunt selected the hill "because it had an effective command over the roads, the railroad, and the town." From there, the Federal army could guard the junction of the Manassas Gap Railroad and the Valley Turnpike here at Strasburg. Union soldiers leveled the hilltop and erected earthworks and artillery emplacements surrounded by trenches. By May 15, 1862, the fort was manned. It was named Banks's Fort for Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, commander of the Union army here.

Early in 1862, Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's army of about 4,600 had wintered at Winchester. By March 1862, Banks's army began operating in the Shenandoah Valley to prevent a Confederate attack on Washington. Jackson sought to defeat Banks and lure Union forces away from Richmond. After several engagements in March and April, however, Jackson's outnumbered army marched east as though it was en route to Richmond to deceive Banks. Then it turned around and slipped back into the Valley.

Banks soon learned the truth but continued to occupy the fort, which Confederate scouts on Signal Knob had observed under construction. Jackson soon surprised the Federals by stealing a march north through the Luray Valley
Close Up of the 1868 Photo image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
2. Close Up of the 1868 Photo
Compare to the modern day view from atop the fort location in photo #5.
to Front Royal, which he attacked and occupied on May 23. When he turned toward Strasburg and the fort, Banks retreated to Winchester, where Jackson defeated him on May 25. Banks then withdrew across the Potomac River. Throughout the rest of the war, Federals and Confederates each briefly occupied Banks's Fort.

(Sidebar): Keister Family
Here Adam Keister, Sr. (1782-1847) settled and made stoneware, beginning the Strasburg pottery industry. One of his descendants, Cyrus Keister, served as a bugler in Co. G., 4th Regiment Virginia Cavalry, during the Civil War. E.E. Keister (1890-1972), purchased the Strasburg News in 1912 and merged it with other newspapers to create the Northern Virginia Daily in 1932.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 59.418′ N, 78° 21.675′ W. Marker is in Strasburg, Virginia, in Shenandoah County. Marker is at the intersection of West Washington Street and North Holiday Street / Banks Fort Road, on the right when traveling east on West Washington Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Strasburg VA 22657, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within
Marker at the Intersection image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
3. Marker at the Intersection
walking distance of this marker. Historic Strasburg (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Historic Strasburg (about 500 feet away); This Fertile Land (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Historic Strasburg (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Historic Strasburg (approx. 0.2 miles away); Banks’ Fort (approx. ¼ mile away); Signal Knob (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Strasburg.
 
More about this marker. On the left side of the marker is a photograph showing the "View from atop the remains of the earthworks known as Banks's Fort, shows east Strasburg and Signal Knob around 1868." In the sidebar is a portrait of Cyrus Keister.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Site of Banks' Fort image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
4. Site of Banks' Fort
Looking up hill from the marker, Banks' Fort was located where the water tower stands today.
Present Day View from Banks' Fort image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2007
5. Present Day View from Banks' Fort
Massanutten Mountain looms in the background, atop which the Confederate signal station kept tabs on the construction of the fort.
Cyrus Keister image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, May 14, 2014
6. Cyrus Keister
Keister Family
Here Adam Keister, Sr. (1782-1847) settled and made stoneware, beginning the Strasburg pottery industry. One of his descendants, Cyrus Keister, served as a bugler in Co. G., 4th Regiment Virginia Cavalry, during the Civil War. E.E. Keister (1890-1972), purchased the Strasburg News in 1912 and merged it with other newspapers to create the Northern Virginia Daily in 1932.
Close-up of photo on marker
Keister Family Monument image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, May 14, 2014
7. Keister Family Monument
In Saint Paul's Lutheran Church Cemetery
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 10, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,676 times since then and 85 times this year. Last updated on July 26, 2008, by Linda Walcroft of Strasburg, Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 10, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   6, 7. submitted on May 30, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.
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