Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County, West Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Prize of War
Trapped on the border between North and South, Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times during the Civil War. Because of its position on the Potomac River—an international boundary for four years from 1861 to 1865—the town’s industries were destroyed, its buildings were abandoned, its mountains were raped, and the population dwindled from more than 3,000 to fewer than 100 residents.
Both Union and Confederate forces coveted Harpers Ferry’s strategic location at the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. The Federals used the town and its connection to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as a supply base, launching repeated invasions from here into the heart of Virginia. The Confederates targeted this area as an avenue of invasion into the United States, occupying Harpers Ferry during the 1862 Maryland (Antietam) Campaign, the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863, and the raid on Washington in 1864.
Throughout the war, the mountains surrounding Harpers Ferry played a key role. Forests were denuded for artillery fire and firewood; the earth was carved into earthworks and forts; and ridge tops were converted into campgrounds and battlegrounds.
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Erected 2009 by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 39° 19.425′ N, 77° 45.672′ W. Marker is in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in Jefferson County. Marker is at the intersection of Whitman Avenue and Prospect Avenue, on the right when traveling south on Whitman Avenue. Touch for map. Located at the parking lot for the Bolivar Heights tour stop at Harpers Ferry Historical Park. Marker is in this post office area: Harpers Ferry WV 25425, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bolivar Heights Trail (here, next to this marker); Historic Heights (a few steps from this marker); Facing the Enemy (a few steps from this marker); Battle of Harpers Ferry (a few steps from this marker); Closing the Doors (within shouting distance of this marker); The First Year of the War (within shouting distance of this marker); Rats in a Cage (within shouting distance of this marker); Casualties of War (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harpers Ferry.
More about this marker.
On the upper middle of the marker is a photograph captioned Former U.S. Armory buildings at Harpers Ferry served as Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's quartermaster and commissary supply base during his 1864 campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, where he crushed Confederate Jubal A. Early's army. — Courtesy Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
On the upper right of the marker is a sketch captioned The burning of the United States Arsenal in Harpers Ferry on April 18, 1861, was the first destruction wrought during the Civil War in Virginia. Harpers Weekly, May 11, 1861
Also see . . . Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. National Park Service website (Submitted on October 11, 2009.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 11, 2009. This page has been viewed 1,231 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 11, 2009. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.