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

Near Stephenson in Frederick County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Stephenson Depot

"The Thermopylae of my campaign.”

 
 
Stephenson Depot Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
1. Stephenson Depot Marker
Inscription.  In the spring of 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia began a march that culminated at the Battle of Gettysburg. Lee chose the Shenandoah Valley for his invasion route. Ninety-six hundred Federals under Gen. Robert H. Milroy stood in his way at Winchester.

Lee sent Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s 2nd Corps to clear the way. On June 14, 1863, the Confederates attacked the Federals at Winchester. Realizing it was in danger of being surrounded, Milroy’s command evacuated the city during the night. Anticipating the move, Ewell directed Gen. Edward Johnson’s division to block the Union escape route to Harper’s Ferry.

In the pre-dawn darkness, Johnson, with only Gen. George H. Steuart’s brigade and two cannon from the 1st Maryland Battery, moving west on the road to your right, struck the Federals. The Confederate infantry took positions along the railroad tracks and Lt. Col. Snowden Andrews placed the two guns in the road at the bridge (right front).

The Federals repeatedly tried to take the bridge and clear the way. The Confederate line was in danger of collapsing when reinforcements arrived. Additional
Two Civil War Trails Markers at Stephenson image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
2. Two Civil War Trails Markers at Stephenson
Southern artillery was placed on the high ground (behind you). When the Federals were repulsed for the last time, Lt. C.S. Contee, commander of the two guns at the bridge, told Andrews, “Col., I have a Sgt. and two men, and the enemy is retreating.” Thirteen of the sixteen artillerists had been killed or wounded. Lee called the stand at the bridge “the Thermopylae of my campaign.”

The 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry also suffered heavy casualties. While they changed position to charge the Confederate artillery on the hill, the Southern gunners found their range and sent exploding shells into the horsemen. Of the 655 men in the unit, 334 became casualties.

Milroy escaped capture, but nearly half his troops were not so lucky. Lee marched across the Potomac River, taking the 23 newly captured cannon and supplies.

(Sidebar) The Culp family of Gettysburg was one of the many divided by the Civil War. Wesley Culp, who moved to Virginia prior to the war, cast his lot with the South while his brother William enlisted in the Union army. Both were participants in the clash at Stephenson Depot. William survived the war. Wesley was killed at Gettysburg near a hill named for his ancestors.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil
Close Up View of the Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
3. Close Up View of the Map
. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
 
Location. 39° 13.784′ N, 78° 6.6′ W. Marker is near Stephenson, Virginia, in Frederick County. Marker is at the intersection of Milburn Road (County Route 662) and Old Charlestown Road (County Route 761), on the right when traveling south on Milburn Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Stephenson VA 22656, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Action at Stephenson’s Depot (approx. 0.6 miles away); John Rutherford's Farm (approx. 1.3 miles away); Rutherford's Farm (approx. 1.3 miles away); Battle of Rutherford's Farm (approx. 1.3 miles away); Hackwood Park (approx. 1.3 miles away); Action of Rutherford’s Farm (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Great Indian (and Wagon) Road (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Third Battle of Winchester (approx. 1.6 miles away).
 
More about this marker. A map depicts the tactical actions described on the marker. A small inset on the left depicts, “A view of the battle from the pike as the Federals advance on the Confederate line.” The map contains a portrait of Lieutenant Colonel Snowden Andrews. The sidebar contains portraits of Wesley and William Culp.
 
Also see . . .  Second Battle of Winchester. National Park Service survey of the battle and battlefield. The action at Stephenson Depot is discussed in phase nine of the battle. (Submitted on September 7, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Additional keywords. Gettysburg Campaign
Steuart's Line image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
4. Steuart's Line
Taken from the overpass of Old Charlestown Road crossing the railroad, looking south down the line of battle held by Steuart's command.
 
Artillery Position image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
5. Artillery Position
Recent development of the area is encroaching upon the battlefield site, just outside of view to the left. However, the major portions of the action at Stephenson Depot are still intact.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 7, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,284 times since then and 7 times this year. Last updated on April 12, 2011, by Jonathan Carruthers of Bealeton, Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 7, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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Jan. 18, 2021