October 11, 2006

Historic Court Square, Harrisonburg

signA few weeks ago we were at a bank in Harrisonburg and I checked out a Civil War Trails sign. I took a picture of the sign and the spring house in front of the courthouse. Here's the text of the sign:

Court Square & Springhouse
Temporary Prison Camp

During the Civil War, a road (Market Street) ran east and west through the courthouse square, dividing it roughly in half. The courthouse occupied the northern position while the jail, clerk's office, and springhouse were in the southern section. Plank fences surrounded both yards. These enclosures occasionally were used as holding pens for prisoners during the conflict. After the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson confined about 2000 Union prisoners of war in the yards briefly before they were marched to Richmond. Civilians and soldiers alike quenched their thirsts at the springhouse (later reconstructed) in the southwesern corner of the square. Artist J. E. Taylor sketched the original springhouse while traveling with Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's Federal army in the fall of 1864.

Fighting occurred on Harrisonburg's doorstep several times during the war, especially in 1862. On June 6, just before the nearby battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic, a rear-guard engagement southeast of town resulted in the death of Gen. Turner Ashby, Jackson's cavalry chief.

courthouse and spring house

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