June 27, 2006

Battle of Lexington, Virginia

story of Hunter at Lexington
When we were in Lexington yesterday, I followed a Civil War Trails sign to Jordan's Point. Here a sign tells the story of the Union victory at the North Maury River:
"In this spot, in the early morning hours of Saturday June 11, 1864, Confederate Gen. John McCausland and about 1,500 gray-clad soldiers lined the riverbank between a cedar thicket and the warehouses that cluttered the canal landing. They stretched up the bluff behind you where a Confederate artillery section was located. By mid-morning, Gen. David Hunter's 18,000 Union infantry and artillery occupied the hillside across the river in front of you, en route to Lynchburg to destroy the railroad facilities there. Two of Hunter's infantry divisions under Gens. George Crook and Jeremiah C. Sullivan attempted to cross the North River here and a mile uptream at Leyburn's Ford, while Gen. William W. Averill's cavalry division crossed several miles upstream and to the west.

General HunterMcCausland torched the covered bridge (the stone abutments are still visible) after calling in his skirmishers from the far bank. Union Gen. Rutherford B. Hayes, later our 19th president, commanded the first Federals to arrive on the opposite bank. Several hours of skirmishing followed while Hunter's forces consolidated their position. By mid-afternoon, McCausland ordered a withdrawal, leaving open the road into Lexington. The Confederates retreated to Buchanan and Lynchburg. The following day, Hunter ordered the Institute and the home of former Virginia Governor Letcher burned. The library and classrooms of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) as well as many private residences were ransacked. Hunter departed Lexington for Lynchburg on June 14."

Near the Lexington Vistors' Center is another historical marker telling a similar story and stating that shells went through some houses, frightening the inhabitants. The picture of General Hunter is from that sign. Below is a street scene looking uphill from the Visitors' Center.

1 comment:

  1. It's a really nice town. We have thought about moving there but we are already in a beautiful part of the Shenandoah Valley. Lexington prices are reasonable compared to Northern Virginia but are not as cheap as in more rural areas.

    I've known two couples who moved there upon retiring. They were attracted by the amenities and surrounding natural beauty. I hope you will get a chance to visit Lexington and see for yourself.


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