Jackson’s gone

Posted on December 6, 2012 by

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Some might expect to see this title this coming May. Others might get what I’m saying, realizing that I’m referring to Jackson leaving the Valley, 150 years ago last month. As things were I just wasn’t able to post within the Sesqui envelope, in conjunction with the actual dates… but it was on my mind nonetheless. Then too, some will recollect that, at this time (actually 150 years ago last week), Jackson’s corps had already reached Fredericksburg, had his headquarters tent pitched at the Chandler estate of “Fairfield” (Guiney Station), and… 150 years ago, just two days ago, had received word of his daughter’s birth.

Yet, it wasn’t just about the event as a military movement of commander and troops. There were other things happening here in the Valley, before Fredericksburg, and… whether you like the man or not… for what one might believe to be the cause that motivated him, and his actions… personable exchanges and interactions between Jackson and civilians took place. Generally, he turned-down offers to stay it homes, wishing to be no burden. Giving time to read about the time around Winchester, in the fall of ’62, gives a chance to consider another side of the man (perhaps the side that is even better documented during his time at Moss Neck), away from the troop movements and battlefields.

Coming from this blog, some might find such reflections odd, and, to be sure, Southern Unionists of the Valley were probably glad to see him go, with his army (though conscript hunters remained). Others were genuinely upset at his departure; women openly weeping in the streets of Winchester at the departure of troops. After all, to many of the civilians here, the man and his army kept Union forces at bay… not all the time, but sufficiently enough. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to see children of the Valley named for Jackson, from 1861-62 (and later)… my central Valley relatives being among the lot.

I’d cite various locations where Jackson went, from October to November, but that’s been done… and especially well by James I. “Bud” Robertson, in his book about Stonewall. I recommend it, especially after revisiting the work within the last month, reading about November ’62, and going around to some of the places where he was during that time. From Bunker Hill, in Berkeley County, to Millwood, in Clarke County, and then to sites in Winchester.

I stopped at the Hunter McGuire House, at the corner of Braddock and Amherst, and then into what is now the walking mall in Winchester… a natural transition considering Jackson lunching with McGuire on November 1, and the request of “Gettie” McGuire, his visit to Nathaniel Routzahn’s studio (you can stroll back to my post on Routzahn, from earlier this year, here)…

No longer there, the studio stood somewhere to the right of the stone house in the foreground.

No longer there, the studio stood somewhere to the right of the stone house in the foreground.

Then there is the Smith/Vilwig House at the corner of Washington & Fairfax. It’s the Jackson headquarters site that seems to be eclipsed by the more popular one in which he spent time earlier in the year.

winchHQ

I visited Millwood, where Jackson headquartered on the lawn of Carter Hall… Nathaniel Burwell’s home; and in the nearby Page family home. Though I didn’t have a chance to visit either home, I was able to visit the cemetery in which most of the Page and Burwell family members were later buried, at Old Chapel…

OldChapel

These were places that I had not visited before, and that’s probably why I spent more time around these sites than those with which I’m more familiar, up the Valley, toward New Market, and across the Massanutten, into my home county.

It’s not a difficult trek, and though the road through New Market/Luray Gap isn’t the same one traveled at the time, it’s close enough.

Looking down into the Page Valley from New Market/Luray Gap

Looking down into the Page Valley from New Market/Luray Gap

From this point on, it’s very familiar ground to me and I have no doubt, to some, I’ll sound as if I’m waxing overly romantic, but I’ve walked and driven this route several times… and at the root of it all, it is home and the home of over three-quarters of my ancestors.

Down Rt. 211, and making a right onto Rt. 340, one heads to “Battle Creek”, and then onto the old grade of the Gordonsville Turnpike…

An old postcard showing the pike

An old postcard showing the pike

… and then past the Elder John Koontz home (an ancestor) toward the ruins of Columbia Bridge…

The south abutment, on the South Fork of the Shenandoah, is all that remains of the destroyed wartime bridge

The south abutment, on the South Fork of the Shenandoah, is all that remains of the destroyed wartime bridge

From the heights behind the bridge, locals came out in the snow to watch troops move across the river. Allowed to break away from the army for a short furlough, distant uncle Capt. Michael Shuler was one who watched, along with his parents… my third great grandparents, John and Mary Kite Shuler.  Pvt. John P. Louderback, of the “Page Volunteers” of Co. K, 10th Virginia Infantry had also gone home, and came back to the ford, only to miss watching his unit go across. The following day, he came back, and watched “A.P. Hill’s Division pass over”, though “They did not all pass over to Day.” By noon on the 27th, Louderback watched “the rear of the Army pass along” with about “sixty prisoners with them.”

From there, one follows River Road, toward Honeyville, and past the Reuben Nauman home, which, in April, had also witnessed Hotchkiss’ dilemma with troopers (and, yes… my relatives among the lot :) … under the influence of apple brandy.

Naumanhome

Just up the hill from Honeyville proper is also family land… where my grandparents and great grandparents lived… and where I spent many pleasant days walking across the land and exploring, and yet in those early years never aware that Jackson and his army had passed here.

Though built in the latter 1800s, the home of my great grandparents, along the old Gordonsville Turnpike, about half a mile from the village of Honeyville.

Though built in the latter 1800s, the home of my great grandparents, along the old Gordonsville Turnpike, about half a mile from the village of Honeyville.

Continuing on toward what is now known as Stanley, the troops would pass the old Stoneberger Church, where a cousin without leave papers, home from the Confederate army, would be killed in the coming winter, by conscript hunters

No longer standing today, this is a late 19th century view of the Stoneberger Church.

No longer standing today, this is a late 19th century view of the Stoneberger Church.

Moving on, along the edge of Stanley, and then on toward Marksville, the army would pass Graves Chapel

GravesChapel

View of the modern road, in front of Graves Chapel, which follows the grade of the old turnpike.

Ca. 2001 view of the modern road, in front of Graves Chapel, which follows the grade of the old turnpike.

… and then move on across Hawksbill Creek, toward toward the stagecoach stop at Mt. Hope…

MtHope

… before coming to the village of Mauck, where Jackson camped in the Valley for the last time, on the night of November 24th…

Mauck2

On the morning of November 25th, Jackson moved along what is known to the locals of Page County as “Red Gate Road”, up into Fisher’s Gap, and atop Franklin Cliffs.

Franklincliffs

At one point, probably near Franklin Cliffs, Pvt. John H. Worsham of the 21st Virginia wrote:

Near the top, as we were marching, there was a rock, and looking back and down that road, we could see six lines of our army; in one place infantry, in another artillery, in another ambulances and wagons. Some seemed to be coming towards us, some going to the right, some to the left, and some going away from us. They were all, however, climbing the winding mountain road, and following us.

One has to wonder if romanticized or not, but Jackson is said to have paused a short time on Franklin Cliffs, watching his troops and taking a last glimpse of the Valley.

It might sound sappy to some, but with this being such familiar ground to me, woven together with what amounts to a poetic ending to such a massive chapter in a major historical character’s life… it’s a tour which I never grow tired of reviewing… even if it’s only told while sitting in a chair, posting pictures, and writing in a blog.

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