Charles Town in Jefferson County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
Focus of Action
Jeﬀerson County in the Civil War
Jefferson County’s association with significant events in Civil War history began in October 1859, when abolitionist John Brown raided the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Quickly captured, Brown and his followers were brought here to Charles Town and then tried, convicted, and executed. On December 2, 1859, Brown rode by here in a light freight wagon on the way to his execution. George W. Sadler, local undertaker and cabinet-maker who also made Brown’s coffin, owned the wagon.
During the war, the county’s position at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley – the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy” – and the proximity of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad made it strategically important to both sides. Confederate troops trained in Harpers Ferry in 1861 under Col. Thomas J. Jackson, who returned in September 1862 to capture the Federal garrison just before the Battle of Antietam. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army retreated through the county after the battle, and his wounded filled buildings in Shepherdstown. In July 1864, part of Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early’s army passed through on his Washington Raid. In September, Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan launched his Valley Campaign from Charles Town.
Two notable Charles Town natives served in the war. R. Preston Chew, barely eighteen in 1861, raised
< Sidebar: >
The Jefferson County Museum was founded in 1965 to preserve the local history for future generations. The collection has gradually expanded; today, fully one-third is devoted to the Civil War. Among the historic artifacts displayed are the wagon in which John Brown rode to his execution on December 2, 1859; the flag carried by Stuart’s Horse Artillery under Charles Town native Col. R. Preston Chew; and uniforms and other memorabilia of county residents who served in the war.
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 39° 17.408′ N, 77° 51.452′ W. Marker is in Charles Town, West Virginia, in Jefferson County. Marker is at the intersection of N Mildred Street and E Washington Street, on the right when traveling north on N Mildred Street. Touch for map. Marker is located at the Jefferson
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Zion Episcopal Churchyard (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sergeant Littleton Tazewell Cordell (about 600 feet away); George Washington Turner (about 700 feet away); The Stribling House (about 700 feet away); Rutherford House (about 700 feet away); John Yates (about 700 feet away); George Upshur Manning (about 700 feet away); Confederate Soldiers of Jefferson County (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charles Town.
More about this marker. The lower left of the marker contains a picture of Charles Town from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, Nov. 19, 1859 – Courtesy of Richard A. Wolfe. Near this is a portrait of Maj. Martin R. Delany, courtesy National Portrait Gallery. The right side of the marker contains a map which highlights significant Civil War Sites in Jefferson County, WV, many of which are interpreted by Civil War Trail signage.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 13, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 727 times since then and 65 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 13, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.