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Shepherdstown in Jefferson County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

Battle of Shepherdstown

Deadly Crossing

 

— Antietam Campaign 1862 —

 
Battle of Shepherdstown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 11, 2020
1. Battle of Shepherdstown Marker
Inscription.  
After Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's smashing victory over Union Gen. John Pope at the Second Battle of Manassas, Lee decided to invade Maryland to reap the fall harvest, gain Confederate recruits, earn foreign recognition of the Confederacy, and perhaps compel the Union to sue for peace. The Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac River on September 4, 1862. Lee divided his force, detaching Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's corps to capture Harper's Ferry. At Antietam Creek on September 17, Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac fought Lee's men to a bloody draw. Lee retreated to Virginia September 18-19.

If you had been here on September 19, 1862, you would have seen Federal troops across the river trading shots with the Confederates along this bank. The previous evening, after the bloody Battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had pulled his 30,000 troops, horses, and artillery away from Sharpsburg and crossed the Potomac River here. Rain turned the roads to mud and wounded Confederates begged to not be left behind. By the next morning, Lee and the bulk of his army, then across
Battle of Shepherdstown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 11, 2020
2. Battle of Shepherdstown Marker
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the river, headed to Williamsport planning to reenter Maryland there. Gen. William Pendleton commanded the army's rear guard on the bluffs here above overlooking Boteler's Ford, exchanging fire with Union Gen. George B. McClellan's men. Finally, a Federal charge scattered Pendleton's command. Pendleton rode through the night to inform Lee of the disaster. Lee turned his army back to Shepherdstown.

On September 20, amid thunderous Union artillery fire, Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill's division slammed into the Union Fifth Corps on the bluffs here and drove the Federals into the river. Some died as they fell or jumped into the narrow ravine, and some were shot in the water. Fighting with defective weapons, the 118th Pennsylvania Infantry lost 271 of 737 men in its first battle. Confederate casualties were 30 killed and 231 wounded. President Abraham Lincoln used the end of Lee's Maryland Campaign as an opportunity to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22.

Confederate and Union forces periodically crossed the Potomac River here for the rest of the war.

"Here we have no Sundays. I … see our dead men laying on the dam and the rocks. I pray God that this war soon may close and that it may be known no more in our country forever."
— Pvt. William Livermore, 20th Maine Infantry

 
Erected by
Ford near Shepherdstown, on the Potomac.<br>Pickets Firing Across the River image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
3. Ford near Shepherdstown, on the Potomac.
Pickets Firing Across the River
by Alfred R. Waud, September 1862. -- Published in Harper's Weekly, October 11, 1862.
West Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the West Virginia Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is September 4, 1862.
 
Location. 39° 25.702′ N, 77° 46.856′ W. Marker is in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Jefferson County. Marker is on River Road (County Road 17/1) 0.1 miles west of Trough Road (County Road 31/1), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shepherdstown WV 25443, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Barnes' Brigade (a few steps from this marker); 118th Pennsylvania Infantry (a few steps from this marker); Battle of Boteler's Ford (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Boteler’s Ford Tablet B. F. 3 (about 600 feet away); Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (about 600 feet away); Pack Horse Ford (about 600 feet away); Boteler’s Ford Tablet B. F. 1 (about 600 feet away); Boteler’s Ford Tablet B. F. 2 (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shepherdstown.
 
Grave of General William Pendleton, CSA image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, October 15, 2017
4. Grave of General William Pendleton, CSA
Located in Oak Grove Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 82 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   3. submitted on November 6, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   4. submitted on January 30, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia.

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Apr. 23, 2021