“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

McDowell in Highland County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Battle Of McDowell

The Guns Of Cemetery Hill


— 1862 Valley Campaign —

Battle Of McDowell Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, October 14, 2017
1. Battle Of McDowell Marker
Inscription.  (preface)
Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackon's unsuccessful attack on Union forces at Kernstown on March 23, 1862, alarmed Federal officials, who assigned additional troops to the Shenandoah Valley to guard against a Confederate assault on Washington, D.C. In May and June, Jackson's "foot cavalry" marched 350 miles; defeated three Union armies in engagements at McDowell (May 8), Front Royal (May 23), Winchester (May 25), Cross Keys (June 8), and Port Republic (June 9); inflicted twice the number of casualties it suffered; and tied down 60,000 Federal troops. The campaign made Jackson the Confederacy's foremost hero.

(main text)
During the Battle of McDowell on May 8, 1862, Cemetery Hill was crowded with Federal cannons, each served by a crew of 10 men or more. Capt. Henry Hyman, Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery, positioned his guns here with the 55th Ohio Infantry Regiment behind them as a guard.

To support the Union infantry attack on Sitlington's Hill, where Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's men under Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson waited for the assault, Hyman directed fire on the Confederate
Battle Of McDowell Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, October 14, 2017
2. Battle Of McDowell Marker
Closeup of Battle Map on the marker.
positions. (At the time, Civil War gunners had to see a target to aim at it; a year later, a Confederate gunner in West Virginia "invented" indirect fire using a forward observer.) The hill was so steep that the artillerists dug trenches for the cannons' trails (rear of the carriages) to elevate the muzzles enough to reach the Confederates.

Union Gens. Robert C. Schenck and Robert H. Milroy launched their "spoiling attack" up Sitlington's Hill. Recognizing that Jackson had the superior position, they hoped to delay any Confederate attack so that the Federals could withdraw in good order. Schenck encouraged the assaulting troops, mostly regiments from his native Ohio, with an appeal to state pride: "Remember that you are from Ohio!" Good luck, capable leadership, and high morale among the Ohio infantrymen nearly carried the day before darkness and Confederate reinforcements ended the fighting. The result was a costly victory for Jackson, who suffered twice as many casualties as the Federals, but it also was the first of his string of victories during the campaign.

Sgt. Oscar D. Ladley, 75th Ohio Infantry, sketched the McDowell Battlefield and Sitlington's Hill from approximately this position. He and his regiment crossed over Cemetery Hill to join the attack. The regiment lost 39 killed, wounded, and missing. Ladiey survived the war and
Battle Of McDowell Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, October 14, 2017
3. Battle Of McDowell Marker
View of Sitlington's Hill from the Union Position at the marker on Cemetery Hill.
left the army in 1865 as a captain.

The Battle of McDowell May 8, 1862.

1st Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery gun crew — Courtesy Ohio Historical Society

Sgt. Oscar D. Ladley Courtesy Wright State University

Sitlington's Hill (center) from McDowell — Courtesy Wright State University
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.
Location. 38° 19.977′ N, 79° 29.515′ W. Marker is in McDowell, Virginia, in Highland County. Marker can be reached from Bullpasture River Road (Virginia Route 678) 0.2 miles west of Highland Turnpike (U.S. 250), on the right when traveling west. Turn right at the Civil War Trails "Bugle" sign and take the road to Cemetery Hill. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mc Dowell VA 24458, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Village of McDowell (approx. 0.2 miles away); Felix Hull House (approx. 0.2 miles away); McDowell VA - May 8, 1862 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Battle of McDowell (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also
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named The Battle of McDowell (approx. 0.9 miles away); Commemorating The Battle Of McDowell (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named Battle of McDowell (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named The Battle of McDowell (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in McDowell.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 31, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 30, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 45 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 30, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 6, 2021