Harrisonburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
“Hurah for McNeal”
Harrisonburg is associated with the exploits of McNeill’s Rangers, a famous Confederate partisan unit. In 1862, John Hanson McNeill, a native of Hardy County in present-day West Virginia, recruited men for Co. E, 18th Virginia Cavalry. With McNeill as captain, the unit entered Confederate service on September 5, 1862, as partisan rangers under Gen. John Imboden’s nominal command.
McNeilI’s Rangers attacked Federal camps, raided railroads, and seized Union supplies. Early in March 1863, McNeiIl and his men rode into Harrisonburg with captured “horses and harness,” which he auctioned off at the courthouse for $36,000. A local resident noted in his diary, “A good haul don’t you think hurah for McNeal.”
On the morning of October 3, 1864, McNeiII attacked Federal troops in Mount Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Seriously wounded, McNeiII ordered his men to leave him at a nearby house. He was rescued from captivity a few days later and brought to Hill’s Hotel, which was located to your left on the corner of Main and Water Streets. He died there on November 10, and his son, Lt. Jesse C. McNeiII, took
Young McNeill orchestrated the Rangers’ greatest coup. On February 21, 1865, the unit kidnapped Union Gens. George Crook and Benjamin F. Kelley from a hotel in Cumberland, Maryland. Crook had come there late in 1864 to command the Department of Western Virginia. The Rangers quickly returned to Virginia and, in a snowstorm, brought the generals here and treated them to “a hearty breakfast at Hills Hotel.” Crook and Kelley were soon exchanged. The Rangers continued to operate until they surrendered on April 24, 1865.
The capture of Union Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley may have been especially satisfying to Lt. Jesse C. McNeill. In 1863, McNeill’s mother, sister, and young brother were arrested under Kelley’s orders and confined briefly in Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio. The arrest was a futile attempt to intimidate Capt. John H. McNeill.
Erected 2010 by Virginia Civil War Trails and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
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° 26.863′ N, 78° 52.133′ W. Marker is in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Marker is on South Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 174 South Main Street, 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. The Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District (within shouting distance of this marker); Bishop Francis Asbury (within shouting distance of this marker); Hardesty-Higgins House (within shouting distance of this marker); Warren-Sipe House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Charlotte Harris Lynched, 6 March 1878 (about 500 feet away); The Big Spring (about 600 feet away); In Honor of Charles Watson Wentworth (about 600 feet away); Confederate General Hospital (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisonburg.
More about this marker. On the lower left is a "You Are Here" map of downtown Harrisonburg.
On the lower left are portraits of "Gen. George Crook"
Courtesy Rick Wolfe and "Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley" Courtesy Library of Congress
On the right is a portrait of "Capt. John H. McNeill" Courtesy Rick Wolfe
On the upper right is a photo of "Hill’s Hotel (renamed Revere House; demolished 1905), 1875 photo" Courtesy Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Civil War Trails in Harrisonburg & Rockingham County. (Submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. Virginia Civil War Trails - Harrisonburg and area. Civil War Traveler (Submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
3. The McNeill Rangers: A Study in Confederate Guerrilla Warfare. West Virginia Archives and History, West Virginia Division of Culture and History (Submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
4. Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation(Submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,003 times since then and 70 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on October 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.