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

Hunter's Raid Begins

Hunter's Order to Burn Newtown

— Hunter's Raid —

Hunter's Raid Begins Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), October 23, 2020
1. Hunter's Raid Begins Marker
On May 26, 1864, Union Gen. David Hunter marched south from Cedar Creek near Winchester to drive out Confederate forces, lay waste to the Shenandoah Valley, and destroy railroads at Lynchburg. His raid was part of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's strategy to attack Confederate simultaneously throughout Virginia. After defeating Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones at Piedmont on June 5, Hunter marched to Lexington, burned Virginia Military Institute, and headed to Lynchburg. There, on June 17-18, Gen. Jubal A. Early repulsed Hunter pursued him to West Virginia. Early then turned north July to threaten Washington.

Late in May 1864, Union Gen. David Hunter led his army south through the Shenandoah Valley, with his supply wagons following. Confederate rangers and their supporters attacked a wagon train here on May 23. Hunter ordered the houses of civilians suspected of involvement burned and threatened to reduce the town to ashes if another attack occurred. Three houses were burned the next day, including the Methodist parsonage after an abandoned wagon was found in front of it. Widow Mary Wilson's movable property was burned
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outside her rented house; she had fed dinner to Confederate sympathizers. Confederate Col. Harry Gilmor's cavalry attacked another wagon tried here on May 29, killing three, wounding nine, capturing six officers and thirty-five men, and burning many wagons. When Gilmor learned of Hunter's threat he wrote that he would kill his prisoners if Hunter followed through.

The next morning, Confederate Col. John Singleton Mosby's cavalrymen struck another wagon train's rear guard south of town, killing two and capturing five. Incensed, Hunter ordered Maj. Joseph K. Stearns, 1st New York (Lincoln) Cavalry, to burn the town. On June 1, residents scrambled to save their possessions. Town leaders persuaded Stearns they were unconnected to the attackers and had nursed wounded Federals. When they showed him Gilmor's threat to execute the prisoners, Stearns decided to disobey Hunter's order provided the townspeople pledged allegiance to the Union. And as a resident wrote in her diary, "Word was sent to the citizens to come … and take the Oath. We complied with this request."
Erected by 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 Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 26, 1864.
Location. 39° 
Hunter's Raid Begins Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), October 23, 2020
2. Hunter's Raid Begins Marker
4.973′ N, 78° 13.107′ W. Marker is in Stephens City, Virginia, in Frederick County. Marker is on Main Street (U.S. 11) south of Fairfax Street (Virginia Route 277), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5408 Main St, Stephens City VA 22655, 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. Andrew Pitman House (a few steps from this marker); The Old Graveyard (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); In Memory of All American Veterans (approx. 0.2 miles away); Newtown Stephensburg Historic District (approx. 0.2 miles away); Stephens Family (approx. ¼ mile away); Newtown (approx. 0.3 miles away); Stephens City (approx. 0.7 miles away); House of First Settler (approx. 2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Stephens City.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 24, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 24, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 242 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 24, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 21, 2024