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Historic America

Funkstown Battlefield in Washington County, Maryland

This small town could have witnessed a sequel to the Battle of Gettysburg, but the exhausted combatants had no stomach for another bloodbath.

The Battle of Funkstown was fought on July 10, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. John Buford and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in and around Funkstown, Maryland during the American Civil War. The battle, which followed the Army of Northern Virginia’s retreat from Gettysburg, was a minor Confederate victory and resulted in approximately 381 total casualties.

After three bloody days of fighting around Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee retreated southwest toward the Potomac River and Virginia. The main army settled into defensive works around Williamsport, Maryland, while a rearguard was stationed in Hagerstown and nearby Funkstown. Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was tasked with keeping the Union army at bay while Confederate forces found passage across the swollen river.

By July 10, the Union Army of the Potomac was located just west of Boonsboro, with Hagerstown and Funkstown on its right flank. The army could not advance with Confederate cavalry threatening its flank, so Brig. Gen. John Buford’s cavalry division rode north along the Old National Pike to attack J.E.B. Stuart’s crescent-shaped defensive line around Funkstown north of Antietam Creek. Buford hoped to drive them off, but Stuart’s troopers put up a spirited defense. 

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Historic America

Yellow Tavern Battlefield in Henrico County, Virginia

Development has nearly erased this key Civil War battle, in which the South’s most famous cavalry commander was mortally wounded.

The Battle of Yellow Tavern was fought on May 11, 1864 between Union cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Henrico County, Virginia during the American Civil War. This nominal Union victory, part of Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, was notable mainly for the mortal wounding and death of J.E.B. Stuart, which deprived Robert E. Lee of his finest cavalry commander.

On May 9, 1864, Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan rode south with 10,000 Union cavalry and 30 horse artillery to confront his Confederate counterpart, who had a reputation for invincibility. Stuart and his Confederates, however, could only muster around 4,500 troopers to confront him. Sheridan raided a supply depot at Beaver Dam Station on May 10 and continued south toward the Confederate capital of Richmond. On the morning of May 11, Stuart’s exhausted troopers arrived at the intersection of Telegraph and Mountain roads near an abandoned inn called Yellow Tavern.

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Historic America

Williamsport Battlefield in Washington County, Maryland

Visit the place where the Civil War could have ended two years early, when a desperate defense saved General Lee’s army from disaster.

The Battle of Williamsport was fought on July 6, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gens. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and John Buford and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gens. John D. Imboden and Fitzhugh Lee outside Williamsport, Maryland during the American Civil War. This minor Confederate victory followed the Army of Northern Virginia’s retreat from Gettysburg and resulted in approximately 350 total casualties.

After three bloody days of fighting at Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee retreated southwest toward the Potomac River and Virginia. As the main army staggered toward Williamsport, Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden was tasked with managing its wagon train of thousands of wounded soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg. He placed artillery on strategic high ground around Williamsport while hundreds of wagons waited to cross the flooded Potomac River.

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Historic America

Thoroughfare Gap Battlefield in Prince William County, Virginia

Hike nature trails and visit the ruins of a Colonial-Era mill at this historic battlefield in the Bull Run Mountains.

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The Battle of Thoroughfare Gap (Chapman’s Mill) was fought on August 28, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts and Col. Percy Wyndham and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet in Fauquier and Prince William Counties, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Confederate victory, allowing two wings of the Confederate army to unite and win the Second Battle of Bull Run over the following three days. It resulted in 100 total casualties.

In late August 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia squared off against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia 40 miles from Washington, DC. Lee outmaneuvered Pope, sending Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s wing around Pope’s flank to destroy his supply depot at Manassas Junction. Confederate Maj. Gen. James Longstreet followed with the rest of the army. To reach Jackson, Longstreet had to pass through Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains.

To delay Longstreet and his 28,000-man force, Pope sent one brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts and a regiment of cavalry commanded by Col. Percy Wyndham, a British adventurer who volunteered to fight with the Union Army. Their force totaled approximately 5,000 men. On August 28, Wyndham was guarding the pass when Longstreet’s men began to march through. The cavalry retreated and sent for help, but Ricketts’ small brigade was severely outnumbered. By the time Ricketts arrived with reinforcements, Longstreet’s lead units held the high ground and easily fended off several Union attacks.

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Historic America

Cedar Mountain Battlefield in Culpeper County, Virginia

Walk the ground where “Stonewall” Jackson snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, in a short but bloody prelude to the Second Battle of Bull Run.

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The Battle of Cedar Mountain (aka Slaughter’s Mountain) was fought on August 9, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in Culpeper County, Virginia during the American Civil War. In what was also known as the Battle of Slaughter’s Mountain, Confederates snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, resulting in 3,691 total casualties.

In July 1862, Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s newly formed 51,000-man Army of Virginia was spread out in three corps across northern Virginia. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had appointed Pope to lead this new army after Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s disastrous Peninsula Campaign earlier that summer, and Pope intended to distract Confederate forces to cover McClellan’s withdrawal.

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee sent Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson north with over 14,000 men to confront this new threat. He was later joined by Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill’s division with an additional 10,000 men. Jackson intended to strike Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’ II Corps while it was isolated, but Banks struck first. On August 9, Banks’ 8,000-man force attacked Confederate Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder’s division northwest of Cedar Mountain after a long artillery duel. Winder was mortally wounded and in the confusion, his men fled.

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Historic America

Bulltown Historic Area and Battlefield in Braxton County, West Virginia

Camp on a Civil War battlefield and explore historic Bulltown in the Allegheny wilderness along the Little Kanawha River.

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The Battle of Bulltown was fought on October 13, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Capt. William Mattingly and Confederate forces commanded by Col. William L. Jackson in Bulltown, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Union victory, with Confederates failing to take take their objective and cut Federal communications. It resulted in a dozen or so total casualties.

In April 1863, a small Confederate force under Brig. Gens. William E. Jones and John D. Imboden embarked on what’s become known as the “Jones–Imboden Raid” into western Virginia, a few months before West Virginia formally separated and joined the Union. They burned railroad bridges, captured supplies, and temporarily reversed Confederate military fortunes in the area. Col. Jackson had served under Brig. Gen. Imboden during the raid.

That fall, Jackson and a force of 775 men and two artillery pieces sought to capture the small Federal garrison at Bulltown in Braxton County. Capt. Mattingly had between 125 and 400 infantry with which to defend his “fort”. On October 13, Jackson divided his force and attacked piecemeal. At 8am, Jackson called on Mattingly to surrender, and he replied: “Come and take us.” Though Mattingly was wounded in the thigh, miraculously his was one of the few injuries sustained by his command all day.

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Mysterious America

Do Civil War Ghosts Wander Richmond's Belle Isle?

An old Civil War prison camp is enough to fuel ghost stories, but several abandoned structures also contribute to Belle Isle’s mysteries.

It’s not often local folklore and urban exploration collide at a city park, but Belle Isle in Richmond, Virginia has a lot to offer curious visitors. Picturesque bike paths and hiking trails past long abandoned structures fuel visitors’ imaginations, and stories of wandering ghosts in blue have been shared for decades. Is there any truth to these tales?

Traces of human activity on Belle Isle date back hundreds of years, starting with American Indians who found the island in the James River ideal for fishing. Captain John Smith explored it in 1607, and locals called it ‘Broad Rock Island’. Following in his footsteps, the area’s first White settlers carried on the Indians’ activities by building a fishery.

Other industry soon followed with an iron and nail factory in 1814 and a granite quarry. By the 1860s, this industry had attracted a small community, but their idyllic life was interrupted by war. When Virginia seceded in 1861, the Confederate government found Belle Isle an ideal place for a prisoner of war camp. Rushing water on all sides discouraged escape, as did the artillery pieces pointed at the camp.