“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrisonburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Court Square & Springhouse

Temporary Prison Camp

Court Square & Springhouse Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 17, 2020
1. Court Square & Springhouse Marker
Inscription.  During the Civil War, a road (Market Street) ran east and west through the courthouse square, dividing it roughly in half. The courthouse occupied the northern portion while the jail, clerk’s office, and springhouse were in the southern section. Plank fences surrounded both yards. These enclosures occasionally were used as holding pens for prisoners during the conflict. After the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson confined about 2,000 Union prisoners of war in the yards briefly before they were marched to Richmond. Civilians and soldiers alike quenched their thirsts at the springhouse (later reconstructed) in the southwestern corner of the square. Artist J.E. Taylor sketched the original springhouse while traveling with Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s Federal army in the fall of 1864.

Fighting occurred on Harrisonburg’s doorstep several times during the war, especially in 1862/. On June 6, just before the nearby battles of Cross keys and Port Republic, a rearguard engagement southeast of town resulted in the death of Gen. Turner Ashby, Jackson’s cavalry chief.

Court Square & Springhouse Marker as seen in front of the modern courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Robert H. Moore, II, February 26, 2009
2. Court Square & Springhouse Marker as seen in front of the modern courthouse
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a town of its size (about 1,400 in 1860), Harrisonburg had a large number of hotels, reflecting its importance as the county seat and a regional commercial center. The American Hotel (built about 1820), also known as the McMahon’s Tavern, which stood on main Street opposite the southeastern corner of the square, was a popular stopping place during the war. On June 5, 1863, the local newspaper reported that the famous Confederate spy, Belle Boyd, had “been in Harrisonburg for a few days past, stopping at the American.” The hotel was destroyed in the great Harrisonburg fire on Christmas Day, 1870
Erected by Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation & 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 month for this entry is May 1863.
Location. 38° 26.97′ N, 78° 52.145′ W. Marker is in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Marker is on Main Street (Business U.S. 11), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harrisonburg VA 22801, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Harrisonburg (here, next to this marker); In Honor of Charles Watson Wentworth (a few steps from this marker); Charlotte Harris Lynched (within shouting distance
Reconstructed springhouse image. Click for full size.
By Robert H. Moore, II, February 26, 2009
3. Reconstructed springhouse
of this marker); The Big Spring (within shouting distance of this marker); Lucy Frances Simms (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); McNeill’s Rangers (about 700 feet away); Bishop Francis Asbury (about 800 feet away); The Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisonburg.
More about this marker. On the left is a Wartime courthouse photo (1834 courthouse, Harrisonburg’s third). To the right is a portrait of Belle Boyd in the sidebar.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on February 26, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,840 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on October 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   2, 3. submitted on February 26, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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May. 16, 2021