“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Broad Run in Prince William County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Thoroughfare Gap

A “Dark, Gloomy Cleft”


— Mosby’s Confederacy and Second Manassas Campaign —

Thoroughfare Gap image. Click for full size.
By Roger Dean Meyer, June 3, 2006
1. Thoroughfare Gap
Inscription.  The gap to your left between Biscuit Mountain (the northern promontory of Pond Mountain) on the south and Mother Leathercoat Mountain on the north, described as “that dark, gloomy cleft” in an 1862 issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, was the site of several Civil War skirmishes. The most significant action, August 26-29, 1862, is described on the adjacent markers and illustrated on the map. Although technically a Confederate victory, the confrontation illustrated for the Federals the strategic importance of the gap and the rail line in the movement of troops and supplies. For the remainder of the war the Federals occupied the gap whenever Lee’s infantry was thought to be in the area. In spite of Federal surveillance, Col. John Singleton Mosby and his raiders frequently camped in the area and used their intimate knowledge of the difficult terrain to stage surprise raids or evade capture.

Chapman’s Mill (now Beverley’s Mill), located directly across I-66, also played a role in the August 1862 action and in subsequent skirmishes. Built in 1759 and enlarged to five stories in 1858, its upper floor windows were used
Thoroughfare Gap image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, February 4, 2007
2. Thoroughfare Gap
A view of the gap from the East side, looking down I-66, from an overpass approximately 1 mile East of the marker site.
by sharpshooters from both sides to attack or defend the pass. The mill survived the 1862 action with only minor damage but by 1864 it was little more than a shell. Mill owner John Chapman filed suit against the U.S. to recover $5,194.59 for damage suffered in July and October 1863, which rendered the mill inoperable and destroyed the business. Chapman never recovered from his losses. He was committed by his family to the lunatic asylum in 1864 and died in 1866. The mill was bought and restored in 1870 by Col. Robert Beverley and continued in operation until 1951.

Sidebar under picture: A view of the gap, looking west, as it appeared in the late 1800s with the mill in the clef, the original farm-to-market road through the gap on the left and the rail line on the right. (Photo courtesy of the Manassas National Battlefield Park)

Sidebar under map: Map courtesy of Terrence Haney, Cartographer, and Civil War, The Magazine of the Civil War Society, Berryville, Virginia.
Erected by Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable BuildingsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 38° 49.411′ N, 77° 42.653′ 
Chapman's Mill image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, February 4, 2007
3. Chapman's Mill
Looking across I-66 from the marker pull off, the original mill burned in 1998, but is currently being reconstructed.
W. Marker is near Broad Run, Virginia, in Prince William County. Marker is at the intersection of John Marshall Highway (Virginia Route 55) and Beverleys Mill Road, on the right when traveling west on John Marshall Highway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Broad Run VA 20137, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Campaign of Second Manassas (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Thoroughfare Gap (here, next to this marker); Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve (approx. ¼ mile away); Heflin's Store (approx. 1.1 miles away); Free People Of Color At Thoroughfare (approx. 1.9 miles away); Antioch Church (approx. 2.8 miles away); Hopewell Gap (approx. 2.8 miles away); Buckland (approx. 3.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Broad Run.
Also see . . .  Culpeper National Cemetery. Union soldiers from the Thoroughfare Gap fighting are interred here. (Submitted on August 3, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Additional comments.
1. Chapmans Mill
This place is of interest to me as my great great-uncle John Berry was killed here serving in the 11th Pa. on August 28th, 1862. I plan on spending some time looking around when I can get down there.

I am a reenactor in the 5th Va. Co. H. Thanks for the information
Quarry Trench image. Click for full size.
November 17, 2006
4. Quarry Trench
Informational marker along the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy trail near Beverley's Mill.
I have seen on this site.

Are there any Union grave sites in the area? From what I have studied not many soldiers were removed from the battlefield that day.
    — Submitted August 2, 2007, by Howard D Berner of Rural Valley, Pennsylvania.

2. Thoroughfare Gap Union Grave Sites
I could not locate any reference to existing grave sites at Thoroughfare Gap. Most likely the solders who were buried at the Gap immediately following the fighting were reintered at Culpeper National Cemetery. That cemetery was established in 1867 for the purpose of consolidating the Union dead scattered about Northern and Central Virginia. More details on that cemetery are at the “Also See” link No. 1 on this page.

Since the bulk of the fighting at Thoroughfare Gap, and in particular the 11th PA’s fighting, occurred right where modern I-66 runs, much of the original lay of the land has been disturbed when the highway was built and enlarged.
    — Submitted August 3, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

3. Quarry Trench
Transcription of text on interpretative sign on photo No. 4

This site is the remnant of a quarry from which masons extracted most or all
Photo of the Quarry Trench image. Click for full size.
November 17, 2006
5. Photo of the Quarry Trench
On Bull Run Mountain near Beverley's Mill.
of the quartzite used to build Chapman’s Mill and Meadowland, the Chapman family home (both along the Mill Trail, to the south).

On August 28, 1862, this trench and the surrounding woods were filled with bullets as fierce battle blazed between Union and Confederate forces. At one point in the battle, the 11th Pennsylvania positioned itself on this side of the trench against the 1st Georgia on the other, and they fired at each other from point-blank range.

It became known as the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap, and it proved strategically important to the Second Battle of Manassas (August 28-30, 1862). Union troops under General Ricketts were attempting to delay Lee and Longstreet’s passage through the gap long enough to destroy Stonewall Jackson’s troops near Manassas. Although the Confederates were slowed by the fighting here, they routed the Union troops and moved on to join Jackson, uniting the Army of Northern Virginia. Historians say that had Ricketts prevailed, the Second Battle of Manassas would never have taken place.
    — Submitted October 24, 2009.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 22, 2018. It was originally submitted on October 13, 2006, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 5,053 times since then and 78 times this year. Last updated on June 21, 2018, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1. submitted on October 13, 2006, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota.   2, 3. submitted on June 6, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4, 5. submitted on December 1, 2008. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Aug. 11, 2020