Hoke’s Run/Falling Waters Battlefield in Berkeley County, West Virginia

Scattered markers and signs amidst modern buildings and highways are all that remain to mark the scene of this early Civil War battle.

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The Battle of Hoke’s Run (Falling Waters/Hainesville) was fought on July 2, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson and Confederate forces commanded by Col. Thomas J. Jackson in Berkeley County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a tactical Union victory, though it allowed Confederate forces to concentrate and achieve victory at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21. Hoke’s Run resulted in 114 total casualties.

After the Commonwealth of Virginia formally seceded on May 23, 1861, Union troops moved to secure territory bordering Maryland and Washington, DC. Confederate Col. Thomas J. Jackson’s 4,000-man brigade was ordered to delay the Federal advance toward Martinsburg, then a town in Virginia (today, West Virginia). On July 2, 1861, Union Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson crossed the Potomac River with two brigades totaling approximately 8,000 men.

Jackson, who would go on to earn the nickname “Stonewall” and become one of the Confederacy’s most famous generals, deployed his men and four artillery pieces in Patterson’s path just south of Falling Waters. A brief fight erupted, Col. J. J. Abercrombie’s brigade turned Jackson’s right flank, and Jackson fell back. After two miles, Patterson broke off pursuit and ordered his men to make camp.

Though Jackson retreated and Union forces occupied Martinsburg, Jackson’s stubborn delay convinced Patterson he was outnumbered and he withdrew to Harpers Ferry several days later. Union forces lost nine killed, 17 wounded, and 50 captured to the Confederates’ 91 killed or wounded. The skirmish at Hoke’s Run allowed Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah to slip away and reinforce P.G.T. Beauregard on July 21st at the First Battle of Bull Run, which turned the tide of that battle in favor of the Confederates.

Fought between Northern and Southern states from 1861 to 1865, the American Civil War erupted over questions of slavery, the legality of secession, and the primacy of the Federal government. It ended with Northern victory and restoration of the Union. Nearly 850,000 people died in the conflict, the bloodiest war in U.S. history. Most of the war’s battles were fought in the South, devastating its economy and leaving generational scars.

The area around Falling Waters has changed considerably since 1861, and this small and often overlooked battlefield is in danger of being erased by commercial development. A few markers and interpretive signs dot the roadside, and a nonprofit called the Falling Waters Battlefield Association has cropped up to help preserve the site. Decades ago, the Berkeley County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a bronze plaque affixed to a boulder commemorating “Stonewall” Jackson, who was unfazed by a passing cannonball during the battle.

The Battle of Falling Waters interpretive signs are located along the Williamsport Pike (U.S. Route 11) between Hainesville and Falling Waters, West Virginia. One sign is located in the parking lot of a Sheetz gas station at 5715 Hammonds Mill Road, another near United Bank at 5453 Williamsport Pike. The stone dedicated to Col. Jackson is located at GPS coordinates 39.537207, -77.910125. The interpretive sign dedicated to Stuart’s capture of a Union infantry company is at the intersection of Hammonds Mill Road and Saint Andrews Drive.

Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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