Tagged With: Battlefield

Middle Field, Third Battle of Winchester

Cathy at Middle Field, Third Battle of Winchester

Cathy at Middle Field, Third Battle of Winchester

As mentioned yesterday, we are visiting Winchester, Virginia this weekend to do a little family history work. This time it doesn’t involve library work. Mostly we wanted to visit the battlefields of the Second and Third Battles of Winchester. Cathy’s great, great grandfather was taken prisoner on June 15, 1863 during the second battle. He spent some little while on Belle Isle in Richmond before being paroled. Today we were able to find the road he and his fellow soldiers were on when they ran into the main body of the Confederate Army.

After that we had a late lunch and then moved on to the battlefield for the Third Battle of Winchester, also known as the Battle of Opequon Creek. This avenue of trees, which would not have been there in 1864, runs through the middle of what is known as the Middle Field where some of the heaviest fighting took place. Cathy’s ancestor was, with the rest of his Pennsylvania Volunteer regiment, fighting in General Wright’s Sixth Corps in General Ricketts’s division. They were along the Berryville Road (now Virginia route 7) about a mile to the south of this point and what is now the site of the Winchester Gateway shopping center. We don’t know when or where in the course of the battle he was killed but sometime that day he died. He is, presumably, in one of the graves marked ‘Unknown Soldier’ in the National Cemetery in Winchester.

Here is a short description taken from CivilWar.org:

On September 19th [1864], Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright’s Sixth Corps and Brig. Gen. William Emory’s Nineteenth Corps, crossing Opequon Creek east of town. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy.

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Harrison Island from Ball’s Bluff

Harrison Island from Ball's Bluff

Harrison Island from Ball’s Bluff

It was a cool but pleasant day and Cathy and I decided we needed an outing. We drove through Poolesville and crossed the Potomac River on White’s Ferry. From there we drove the short distance to Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. The battle fought here in October, 1961 is not one of the really well known engagements of the war and compared to the likes of Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Antietam, or Shiloh but it was significant nonetheless. Among other things, it marks the only sitting United States senator (Colonel Edward Baker of Oregon) to be killed in action. This photo was taken from below the bluffs. It was a quiet, peaceful place but would have been a really bad place to get caught with your back to the drop of the bluffs.

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