Battle of McDowell
When Plans Collide
Elements of three Union armies moved through the Shenandoah Valley in the spring of 1862, while a fourth army marched up the Virginia Peninsula toward Richmond. Together, these two wings comprised a pincer movement against the Confederate capital.
To block the western hook of the pincers, Confederate authorities ordered Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson to the Valley. At his headquarters at Conrad's Store (present-day Elkton) east of Harrisonburg, Jackson planned a northward counteroffensive, trusting speed and aggression to put his more numerous foes to flight.
Elements of John C. Frémont's Union Army of the Mountain Department, which had camped at McDowell and Franklin (in present-day West Virginia), posed a grave threat to Jackson's plan. If the Confederates moved north, the Federals could march into Staunton behind them unopposed and block the vital supply line to Richmond. Jackson sought to drive this force out of the Valley and secure his base before beginning his campaign in earnest.
At 10 A.M. on May 8, Union scouts spotted Jackson's army advancing up the road behind you. The Federals withdrew
"The plan would be to … assault the enemy and deliver a blow … and then retire from his front before he had recovered from the surprise." — Gen. Robert C. Schenck, USA
"Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy. … A small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible." — Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, CSA
Confederate Gen. Edward Johnson led Jackson's column.
Schoolteacher and amateur cartographer Jedediah Hotchkiss, whom Jackson had famously ordered to "make me a map of the Valley," guided Stonewall's men to the battlefield. As they approached bends in the road, Hotchkiss moved ahead and waved a handkerchief if the path was clear of Union soldiers.
The Union offensives in the spring of 1862 threatened the Confederate capital at Richmond.
Erected by Civil War Trust; Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition,
Location. 38° 19.483′ N, 79° 27.957′ W. Marker is near McDowell, Virginia, in Highland County. Marker is on Highland Turnpike (U.S. 250) 1½ miles east of Bullpasture River Road (Virginia Route 678), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10561 Highland Turnpike, Head Waters VA 24442, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Anthony's Burg (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Battle of McDowell (within shouting distance of this marker); A Road From The Past (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle Of McDowell (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Battle of McDowell (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named The Battle of McDowell (approx. 0.6 miles away); Commemorating The Battle Of McDowell (approx. 0.6 miles away); Hometown Foes (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in McDowell.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 9, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 184 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 9, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.