Battle of Cool Spring: Sharp Action at the Shenandoah River


Battle of Cool Spring

History: To draw Union troops from Petersburg to Washington, Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early attacked the capital’s defenses on July 11, 1864. While unsuccessful in invaded the Federal capital, he withdrew to the Shenandoah Valley, where he had left Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s division to hold the Shenandoah River fords.

Union Gen. George Crook, pursuing Early, decided to make a reconnaissance in force across the river near here on July 18. Guided by a Confederate deserter well acquainted with the area, three brigades forded the river about a mile north of Castleman’s Ferry, concealed by woodlands and virtually undetected by Early’s pickets. The brigades formed a line of battle in woods behind a stone fence on Cool Spring Farm.

An attack by all three Confederate divisions, led by Gens. John B. Gordon, Gabriel C. Wharton and Gen. Robert E. Rodes, threw the Federals into confusion, and they retreated across the river to safety, losing 422 killed, wounded, and missing (some drowned). Confederate casualties totaled about 295. Early continued his withdrawal to Winchester, where his army regrouped for the next phase of the Valley Campaign.

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Photo Credits:

  1. “Union General Crook”
  2. “Confederate General Breckinridge”
  3. “Confederate General Robert E. Rodes”