Kernstown in Frederick County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Second Battle of Kernstown
July 24, 1864
From this position near the Hoge Run creek bed, you have a view similar to that of the Confederate sharpshooters as they saw the Union defensive line along the stone wall by Pritchard's Lane. (Note that the creek bed has been significantly deepened by erosion over the years since the battle.)
Early on the morning of July 24, Union Col. James Mulligan's small infantry division moved to support Brig. Gen. Alfred Duffié's Union cavalry division, only to be driven back by the accurate fire of the Confederate sharpshooters of Maj. Gen. John Gordon's division. Mulligan's troops skirmished throughout the day with Gordon's men, who were posed in Barton's Woods to the south. Later in the afternoon, Union commander Bvt. Maj. Gen. George Crook ordered Mulligan to once again attack Gordon in conjunction with Col. Rutherford Hayes, who was to attack Gordon's right flank from the east side of the Valley Pike (today's U.S. Route 11).
As the small Union assault force moved against Gordon, Confederate commanding Gen. Jubal Early sprang to the attack. He ordered Maj. Gen. John Breckinridge to lead the onslaught, with Brig. Gen. Gabriel
Simultaneously, Confederate Maj. Gen. Stephen Ramseur's division advanced along the axis of the Middle Road west of this point. Overwhelmed, Col. Mulligan's troops fell back behind the stone wall along Pritchard's Lane and contested the advance of Gordon's division.
The Confederate sharpshooters led the way for Gordon, with some crawling well in advance of the Southern line and taking shelter in this creek bed as the main battle line crossed the open fields south of the stream. A brief but furious battle erupted between the commands of Gordon and Mulligan while Breckinridge and Ramseur attacked both Union flanks.
Sharpshooters from Georgia and Virginia spied Col. Mulligan rallying his men and from their positions here in the creek mortally wounded the Union commander, thus ending Union resistance at the Second Battle of Kernstown.
The Confederate infantry raced toward the lane, climbed over the wall and surged up the hill, pursuing the defeated Union troops through Winchester to Stephenson's Depot, where the Southerners halted and camped for the night.
Confederate Gen. Jubal Early's astonishing success here as commander of the Army of the Valley District cleared the way for his second incursion north of the Potomac River in less than one month. Early's cavalry under Gen. John McCausland burned Chambersburg, PA on July 30, 1864, in retaliation for the burning of civilian homes in Jefferson County by Union Gen. David Hunter.
Union Maj. Gen Crook of Ohio had proven himself to be a competent leader, but at the Second Battle of Kernstown he seriously misread Early's intentions and was soundly defeated. Crook would redeem his reputation at the battles of Winchester and Fisher's Hill in September of 1864. He later gained fame as one of the army's premier Indian fighters in the West.
Erected by Shenandoah At War; Kernstown Battlefield Association.
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: #19 Rutherford B. Hayes series list.
Location. 39° 8.547′ N, 78° 11.782′ W. Marker is in Kernstown, Virginia, in Frederick County. Marker can be reached from Battle Park Drive 0.4 miles west of Saratoga Drive, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Winchester VA 22602, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named The Second Battle of Kernstown (within shouting distance of this marker); The Pritchard House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The First Battle of Kernstown (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The First Battle of Kernstown (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pettus Cousins in the Battle of First Kernstown (approx. 0.2 miles away); Battle of Kernstown (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Kernstown (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kernstown Battles (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kernstown.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 2, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 51 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 2, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.