“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Natural Bridge

Time Out for Touring

— Hunter's Raid —

Natural Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
July 19, 2010
1. Natural Bridge Marker
Inscription.  (Preface): On May 26, 1864, Union Gen. David Hunter marched south from Cedar Creek near Winchester to drive out Confederate forces, lay waste to the Shenandoah Valley, and destroy transportation facilities at Lynchburg. His raid was part of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s strategy to attack Confederates simultaneously throughout Virginia. After defeating Gen. William “Grumble” Jones at Piedmont on June 5, Hunter marched to Lexington, burned Virginia Military Institute, and headed to Lynchburg. There, on June 17-18, Gen. Jubal A. Early repulsed Hunter and pursued him to West Virginia. Early then turned north in July to threaten Washington.

On June 14, 1864, Union Gen. David Hunter’s army marched near here en route from Lexington to Lynchburg. Union Col. David Hunter Strother wrote, “We passed within three miles of the Natural Bridge. Officers were much disappointed by not being able to see it. Lieutenant Meigs and some others did go by that road.”

After Hunter’s attack on Lynchburg was repulsed June 17-18, Confederate troops passing through this area wanted to view Natural Bridge. Assistant Surgeon
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Thomas Fanning Wood of the 3rd North Carolina Infantry later wrote in his memoirs, “On the 23rd started on the march towards Lexington, and on the same day I got permission to visit or go by the Natural Bridge. … We had pointed out to us the letters G. Washington carved in stone, which were once quite plain, but time has nearly effaced the last vestige of them. … The story was that George Washington had climbed this ledge to the top. None of us tried this experiment, but we learned that Henry MacRae [of the regiment] … climbed to a very dangerous point, and finding he could not get to the top had to be rescued by a rope let down from above.”

(Sidebar): David Hunter Strother, artist and illustrator, was born in Martinsburg, Va. (now W.Va.) on Sept. 16, 1816. He studied art in Philadelphia and New York then toured the American West and Europe. Under the pen name Porte Crayon, he gained fame in the 1850s for his illustrations for Harper’s Magazine and his books, including Virginia Illustrated. He served in the U.S. Army as an officer during the Civil War and as consul-general to Mexico (1779-1885). He died in Charleston, W.Va., on Mar. 8, 1888.

Natural Bridge, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, was one of the nation’s first tourist destinations, heavily visited during the 18th and 19th centuries by travelers from all over the world.
Natural Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
July 19, 2010
2. Natural Bridge Marker
Many explored the countryside around the bridge on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages. The braver guests were lowered over the edge from the top of the bridge in a hexagonal steel cage while a violinist played. During the Civil War, Union and Confederate officers and soldiers visited Virginia’s Natural Bridge and recorded their impressions in letters, diaries, and memoirs.

Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Natural FeaturesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1901.
Location. 37° 37.722′ N, 79° 32.598′ W. Marker is in Natural Bridge, Virginia, in Rockbridge County. Marker can be reached from Wert Faulkner Highway / Rockbridge Road (Virginia Route 130). Marker is in the front of the parking lot at the Natural Bridge visitor center. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Natural Bridge VA 24578, 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 Natural Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); Natural Bridge Patent (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); “Vires-Acquirit-Eundo” Ancient Arbor Vitae (about 300 feet away); A Miracle in Stone ... Old as the Dawn
Natural Bridge image. Click for full size.
July 19, 2010
3. Natural Bridge
(about 400 feet away); George Washington (approx. 0.2 miles away); Monacan Village (approx. ¼ mile away); “The Most Sublime of Nature’s Works” (approx. 0.3 miles away); Saltpetre Cave (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Natural Bridge.
More about this marker. On the lower left of the marker is a sketch captioned “View from the Cliff,” by Strother, showing top of the Natural Bridge arch. The sidebar displays a portrait of David Hunter Strother. On the upper right of the marker is a painting captioned “Natural Bridge, Virginia,” 1852, by Frederick Edwin Church University of Virginia Art Museum. The lower right of the marker features a map of the Civil War Trails Hunter's Raid driving tour.
Also see . . .
1. Hunter's Raid (or the Lynchburg Campaign). John's Military history website entry (Submitted on March 25, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.) 

2. Natural Bridge Virginia. Natural Bridge Conference Center website entry (Submitted on July 21, 2010.) 
Additional commentary.
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1. Lieutenant Meigs
The Lieutenant Meigs mentioned on this marker is the same Lt. Meigs whose death is the subject of markers 15121, 15123 and 15140. In the book "A Civil War Soldier of Christ and Country," editor Mary A. Giunta summarizes the visit to Natural Bridge with the statement "John Rodgers Meigs and others were able to see the rock formation and climbed South Peak." Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted August 14, 2011, by Linda Walcroft of Woodstock, Virginia.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 25, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 21, 2010. This page has been viewed 2,013 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 21, 2010. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 16, 2024