New Market in Shenandoah County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Heroism in Defeat
Captain Henry A. DuPont and Sergeant James M. Burns
About 3 PM, Confederate Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge sensed that the tide of battle had turned. He ordered an advance, with the cadets from VMI in the center. As the Confederate charge swept across the muddy wheat field, the cadets overwhelmed the exposed position of Capt. Alfred von Keiser’s 30th Battery of New York Artillery. With many of his battery’s horses dead, von Kleiser abandoned two of his guns. The exuberant cadets captured one of them.
The Confederate charge forced the Union commander, Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, to order a retreat. At this moment, Battery B, 5th U.S. Artillery, under the command of Capt. Henry DuPont, arrived on the field at Rude’s Hill, two miles northeast of the Bushong Farm. Acting on his own initiative, DuPont deployed his battery of six 3-inch ordnance rifles in three sections of two
DuPont served in the Union Army for the rest of the war, and received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Cedar Creek. In June, 1864 he reluctantly carried out orders to shell and burn the Virginia Military Institute. Fifty years later, as a United States Senator from Delaware, DuPont sponsored legislation to compensate VMI for the damage. The Senate majority leader was Thomas Staples Martin of Virginia, who fought as a VMI cadet at New Market.
(Sidebar):Courage Under Fire
Sgt. James M. Burns of the 1st West Virginia Infantry was awarded the Army’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Union retreat at New Market. His citation reads: “Under a heavy fire of musketry, rallied a few men to the support of the colors, in danger of capture, and bore them to a place of safety. On of his comrades having been severely wounded in the effort, Sgt. Burns went back a hundred yards in the face of enemy’s fire and carried the wounded man from the field.” The medal (on the far left in the picture below) was awarded in 1896, as Burns, now a major, neared the end of three decades of service in the U.S. Army.
Location. 38° 39.954′ N, 78° 39.985′ W. Marker is in New Market, Virginia, in Shenandoah County. Marker can be reached from George Collin Parkway (County Route 305), on the right when traveling south. The marker is located at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. Take Exit 264 off I-81 onto Rt. 211 West. Take immediate right onto Rt. 305 (George Collins Parkway). Continue one mile until you see the circular, distinctive Hall of Valor. A staff member will share park and ticketing information. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New Market VA 22844, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Battle of New Market (a few steps from this marker); This Rustic Pile (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); “Good-bye, Lieutenant, I am killed.” (about 700 feet away); The Bushong Farm (approx. 0.2 miles away); 54th Pennsylvania Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); The Bloody Cedars (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Battle of New Market (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of New Market (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Market.
More about this marker. The marker features a painting captioned, The Charge of the VMI New Market Cadets, by Jack Woodson. The marker also has two portraits captioned, Captain Henry A. DuPont Battery B, 5th U.S. Artillery and James M. Burns as U.S. Army major, 1899.
Also see . . .
1. Henry A. DuPont. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (Submitted on November 1, 2008.)
2. New Market. Shenandoah At War (Submitted on November 1, 2008.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 1, 2008. This page has been viewed 1,357 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 1, 2008. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.