Lull between the Storms
When Union Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks marched east into Rappahannock County through Chester Gap in July 1862, he and his 16,000 men were still reeling from recent defeats in the Shenandoah Valley. There, although Banks's command had bested Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson at the First Battle of Kernstown in March, the tide had turned against the Federals. Jackson routed Banks's forces at Front Royal and Winchester in May and then defeated two other Union armies at Cross Keys and Port Republic, Banks reoccupied the northern end of the Valley in June after Jackson departed for Richmond and the battles there.
Now, in July, Banks's force had been designated the 2nd Corps of Gen. John Pope's newly formed Union Army of Virginia. Banks and his men enjoyed a month-long respite from fighting while camped here. The nearby hills and the rolling open fields on the opposite side of present-day U.S. Route 211 afforded expansive views of the surrounding countryside and anchored defensive positions. The camp eventually stretched several miles eastward with lookout posts as far as Rock Mills, four miles to the south. Illness struck the
On August 7, Banks and his corps marched to the Hazel River south of Woodville in the vanguard of Pope's army. Two days later, Banks again met defeat at Jackson's hands at the Battle of Cedar Mountain in Culpeper County.
Nathaniel Prentice Banks was born into poverty in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1816. He worked in a cotton factory as a youth, gaining the nickname "Bobbin Boy Banks." A former factory worker, Mary T. Palmer, married him in 1847. Banks apprenticed as a mechanic, edited newspapers, read law, and was admitted to the bar at age 23. He quickly became well known as a public speaker with a distinctive voice that carried well in large crowds. Elected to the Massachusetts House of Representative in 1848, he served as a speaker from 1581 until he was elected in 1853 to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became speaker in 1856. At first a Democrat, Banks was reelected as a Know-Nothing Party candidate in 1854, but soon joined the newly forming Republican Party. In 1856, he coordinated the Republican nomination of John C. Frémont for the presidency. Banks was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1858, and tried and failed to gain the Republican presidential nomination in 1860. President Abraham
Lincoln appointed Banks a major general in 1861. His military career was less successful than his political career, notably his defeats at the hands of Stonewall Jackson and his leadership of the ill-fated Red River Campaign in 1864. Appointed commander of the Army of the Gulf, headquartered in New Orleans (1862-1864), Banks and his wife entertained lavishly to build new support for Lincoln's Louisiana reconstruction pans. Banks left the army in 1865 and was reelected to Congress (1865-1877; 1888-1890), where he helped secure the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. He died in Waltham in 1894.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & Politics • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Virginia Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1862.
Location. 38° 42.86′ N, 78° 8.834′ W. Marker is in Washington, Virginia, in Rappahannock County. Marker is at the intersection of Library Road (County Road 683) and Old Mill Road, on the right when traveling west on Library Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3 Library Rd, Washington VA 22747, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Union Army of Virginia (here, next to this marker); Union Army of Virginia 2nd (Banks's) Corps Encampment
Credits. This page was last revised on April 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 36 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.