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

Thornton Gap

Tactical Mountain Pass

Thornton Gap Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 25, 2016
1. Thornton Gap Marker
Inscription. During the Civil War, this gap in the Blue Ridge was of significant tactical importance for the movement of troops, artillery, and supply wagons. The Thornton’s Gap Turnpike, a macadamized (hard-surfaced) road, passed through the gap and linked Luray in the Shenandoah Valley with Culpeper Court House in the central Piedmont. The Sperryville and Rappahannock Turnpike ran from Warrenton to a junction with the Thornton’s Gap Turnpike at Sperryville.

Union Gen. Franz Sigel’s corps used the pass en route to the month-long occupation of Sperryville in July 1862. The 29th and 68th New York Infantry and the 73rd Pennsylvania Infantry of Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr’s division served as pickets here in the summer of 1862. They camped at the Shenk farm on the western slope just below this location. In October—November 1862, after the Antietam Campaign, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia marched this way as it retreated south. Confederate Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s corps crossed through the Blue Ridge here in July 1863 during the retreat after the Battle of Gettysburg. In 1864, Union forces patrolled the gap.

In June 1865, during the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, a letter dated April 6 was introduced into evidence. It suggested Thornton’s Gap as an alternate escape route for assassin John Wilkes
Thornton Gap Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 25, 2016
2. Thornton Gap Marker
Booth: “If you can’t get through on your trip, …strike through Thornton Gap, and cross by Capon, Romney’s, and down the Branch, and I can keep you safe from all hardships for a year.” It is uncertain whether the letter was genuine or a hoax.

Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Richard S. Ewell Courtesy Library of Congress
“Schurz’s Division at Thornton Gap,” Harper’s Weekly August 9, 1862
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Location. 38° 39.605′ N, 78° 19.271′ W. Marker is near Luray, Virginia, in Page County. Marker can be reached from Skyline Drive south of Lee Highway (U.S. 211), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Located in the Panorama parking area. Marker is in this post office area: Luray VA 22835, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Greatest Single Feature (within shouting distance of this marker); William Randolph Barbee (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Rappahannock County / Page County (about 300 feet away); Rocks Older than Mankind (approx. ¾ mile away); Marys Rock Tunnel (approx. 0.8 miles away); Through the Gaps (approx. 1.3 miles away); Old Rag (approx. 2.6 miles away); Shenandoah National Park (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Luray.
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page was last revised on December 27, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 27, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 535 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 27, 2016, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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