October 29, 2019

Blog Post #6900: Two Tours Around Berryville

Usually I use a blog anniversary to talk about blogging or tell something about myself, but this one sneaked up on me and I had a bunch of pictures ready for Tuesday Treasures. Well, the topic is not unsuitable because I have been doing Civil War tours for at least 25 years, and documenting them with photos. I got my bachelor's degree in combined studies of  American History and Photography.

Recently I took two tours covering a similar topic a month apart. I signed up for the second one months ago, basically it was a historical seminar with Jonathan Noyalas of Shenandoah University, and those fill up early. (I starting taking tours with Professor Noyalas in 2008 and sign up for as many as I can.) Then a month ago, I went on a History at Sunset tour with Ranger Rick of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. I knew it was on Mosby's actions at Berryville and I had forgotten that Jonathan would be covering that topic. No matter, I would have gone anyway. Mosby's Rangers are interesting, and every tour is different. I had previously gone on quite a few Mosby tours with Northern Virginia Community College,  where Dr. Poland was pretty much an expert on Mosby.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's John Singleton Mosby, famed Confederate Cavalry commander. His exploits are legendary in Virginia. If you don't like the fact that he fought for the losing side, consider that he served the United States after the war as Consul to Hong Kong, among other things.

I'll start with Ranger Rick's tour in September. We started at Chet Hobert Park in Berryville and went by car caravan to several sites. Of course, we stopped at the site where Mosby's men swooped down on a Federal Wagon Train.
A state historical marker summarizes:
"Just after dawn on 13 Aug. 1864, Col. John Singleton Mosby and 300 of his 43rd Battalion Partisan Rangers attacked the rear section of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s 600-vehicle wagon train here. The train, headed for Winchester, carried supplies for Sheridan’s cavalry. Mosby surprised and routed the Federals as they rested, cooked breakfast, and hitched their horses. Mosby’s men, losing only one killed and one mortally wounded, captured 200 beef cattle, 500–600 horses, 100 wagons, and 200 soldiers. The raid ended by 6:30 a.m. Berryville’s citizens including many small boys, helped burn the wagons after liberating their contents."

We also visited Morgan's Lane, site of a horrific incident in which a detachment of Mosby's Rangers under Captain William Chapman pretty much murdered 30 soldiers of the 5th Michigan Cavalry. (Mosby was not present at this slaughter. Neither was Custer, who is mentioned on the marker.) The marker was erected in the 1890s by a chapter of the Confederate Veterans.
"Col. Morgan's Lane
Aug. 19, 1864

Mosby's Attack on Custer's House Burners.

No Prisoners."
As often happens in war, revenge was met with more revenge. Some of Mosby's men were executed in Front Royal, and then Mosby's Rangers executed some Federal soldiers near Berryville. The next photo shows Ranger Rick near the site of that vengeance at what's left of Beemer's Woods.

By the time our group reached our final stop in Millwood, sunset was drawing near. The lecture was in a parking lot across the road from a building where Mosby discussed terms of surrender after Lee was defeated. He did not trust the Federals and left without surrendering. However, it was not long before he formally disbanded the Rangers in Marshall, Virginia.

Next I'll share the second tour. Since this post is getting long, I'll try to be brief.

We started in an auditorium at Shenandoah University. This seminar was on military action around Berryville, including Mosby's raids and the Battle of Berryville. 

The Battle of Berryville was not planned. The armies happened to run into each other. Since no ground was really held as a result, you don't often hear about it. The action took place near Rosemont and the present-day Clarke County school complex.

We also covered Mosby's wagon train raid. We did not pull off at the sign but at a wider area along the same road, present-day Route 340.

We made our way to Morgan's Lane, which now has a different name. This time we were shown around by a caretaker and took a long walk up the lane.

The cottage you see here is said to be an extended version of what was originally home to some of the enslaved workers.

Jonathan's brother takes a family photo.
Our final stop was at the grave of Thomas Laws. Laws was a black man who held a pass to get through Confederate lines to sell produce to troops and citizens in Winchester. He was recruited to carry secret messages, which enabled Sheridan to learn the size of Confederate forces in the area. This was crucial to the Federal success at the Third Battle of Winchester.

Group Photo Courtesy of McCormick Civil War Institute.


  1. Interesting tour. Hope there will be no more wars.

  2. ...we all live in areas with a rich history, but your neck of the woods takes the prize. I love the stone and red house. Thanks Linda for stopping by, what are you going to be for Halloween?

    1. A little old lady. All I need is a gray wig.

  3. So many interesting historic stories in that area.

  4. Your area is so rich in history.

  5. Lots of history, thanks for sharing.

  6. Mosby was a hell of a commander. I'd enjoy that talk.

  7. Well done on blog post 6900 which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    All the best Jan


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