WINCHESTER — A free tour led by Civil War author Scott Patchan is planned to commemorate next month’s 157th anniversary of the Second Battle of Kernstown.
The battle, fought on July 24, 1864, was one of the Confederate Army’s last victories in the Shenandoah Valley. Approximately 1,200 Union soldiers became casualties that day while Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s Confederate forces lost only 200 men. Afterwards, Early launched the South’s final foray into Northern territory, attacking railroad stations in West Virginia and Maryland and burning buildings in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In response, the Union Army placed Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan in charge of its Valley forces and, within three months, the Confederates were forced out of the Shenandoah Valley for the final time. The South surrendered to the North on April 9, 1865, in Appomattox County.
According to a media release from the nonprofit Kernstown Battlefield Association, Patchan — known for his books “Shenandoah Summer” and “Last Battle of Winchester” — will start the tour at 9 a.m. July 24 at 610 Battle Park Drive. His presentation will provide an overview of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign and highlight key moments from the clash in Kernstown between Early and commanding Union Brig. Gen. George Crook.
After the overview, the tour will visit significant battle sites in the Kernstown and Stephens City areas. Weather permitting, anticipated stops include Opequon Church, Middle Road, Pritchard’s Hill and the location of Confederate Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s flank attack on the east side of Interstate 81.
Breckinridge was a senator from Kentucky and vice president of the United States who left the Union to fight for the Confederacy. Other notable participants in the Second Battle of Kernstown included future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley.
Tour participants are asked to wear comfortable walking shoes and proper clothing for late-July weather, and to bring along water to stay hydrated. While the tour is being offered free of charge, donations would be appreciated.
For more information about the Kernstown Battlefield Association or to register for the 157th anniversary tour, visit kernstownbattle.org or leave a message at 540-450-7835.