Author: Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai

an associate professor of history at Angelo State University

Washington College during the Civil War

Washington College in Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia, was a small but lively liberal arts college in the Shenandoah Valley. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), its students largely supported Virginia’s secession from the Union while its older faculty members, including the Presbyterian clergyman Dr. George Junkin, the father-in-law of future Confederate general Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, were staunch Unionists. A company of infantry formed at the school became part of the Stonewall Brigade. In June 1864, during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, Union general David Hunter entered Lexington and ransacked the college. In an effort to rejuvenate the college following the war, the Board of Trustees hired former Confederate general Robert E. Lee to serve as college president, which he did until his death in 1870.


Potomac River during the Civil War

The Potomac River, which is located in Maryland with Virginia on its southern shore, extends 383 miles from the Appalachian Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay and serves as the geographical boundary between the states of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. From the colonial period until well into the nineteenth century, it was an important navigation route and helped facilitate exploration inland from the coast. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the Potomac traced the border between the Union and the Confederacy and lent its name to the most important Union army, the Army of the Potomac. Throughout the war, the river functioned largely as it always had—as an avenue for transport.


Emory and Henry College during the Civil War

Emory and Henry College, located in the town of Emory in Washington County, is the oldest college in southwestern Virginia and was attended by the future Confederate cavalry general J. E. B. Stuart. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the school was closed while many of its students fought in the Confederate army, and the Confederate government used its buildings to establish the Emory Confederate States Hospital. After the nearby Battle of Saltville in October 1864, wounded Union soldiers, including members of the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry, were treated there. On the morning of October 3, Confederate soldiers reportedly killed a number of Black troopers and their white lieutenant in what has come to be known as the “Saltville Massacre.”


Cedar Mountain, Battle of

The Battle of Cedar Mountain was fought on August 9, 1862, just prior to the Second Manassas Campaign during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Confederate general Robert E. Lee ordered Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson to defend Gordonsville from Union general John Pope and his newly formed Army of Virginia. When Jackson saw that a single Union corps, under Nathaniel P. Banks, was isolated at Cedar Run south of Culpeper, he attacked. The commander of the Stonewall Brigade was killed in the initial fighting, and Confederate victory looked far from certain when Jackson personally rallied his troops. A countercharge by Confederate general A. P. Hill won the day, although on August 11, Jackson withdrew in the direction of Orange.