New Market: The Union Retreat

Capt. Henry DuPont, Union artillery officer

If a possible is impossible to hold, a retreat will happen. With attacks coming from the right, left, and center, the Union line along Bushong Hill headed for collapse. This new video explores how and why that happened, along with highlighting the history of James Madison Burns and Henry DuPont who exhibited exceptional courage during the retreat.

With the action on May 15, 1864, coming to a close, we’re also heading for the close of this video series. But fear not – we have at least two more weeks (watch for the next install next Wednesday) and so we’ll be unveiling plans for a new video series with a history focus.

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1864: “A Case of Mismanagement”

May [15th]

Rain. Rain. On picket, wondering why we do not get relieved. It is past time for the relief to show up. Lieutenant Kerr sends a detail to camp to learn the cause. Returned in a short time, reported the regiment had left for parts unknown. The Lieutenant called in the pickets to the reserve headquarters in the woods. Formed company and were ready for action as we marched out of the woods to the pike, expecting to meet the enemy scouts. Instead we met our own cavalry scouts who reported our regiment left in the night, going up the valley towards New Market

We started on after them, making a forced march, wet, tired, hungry, well used up…. Lieutenant Kerr kept urging us on, making a forced march up the pike. Duty having been so severe, and the lack of rations for the past few days, we were near used up. The last two miles of the march we ran, and joined the regiment as they were going into action, having made a march of sixteen miles with hardly a rest, and very little to eat.

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1864: “May Be Relied Upon For Active Duty”

May 2, 1864 HQ, VMI
Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge
Comd. Dept. of Western Va. Dublin Depot

I have the honor to enclose herewith a letter from General R.E. Lee, Commanding Army of N. Virginia, addressed to the Adjutant General of Virginia–also–a copy of instructions from the Governor of Virginia communicated by the Adjutant General defining my duty as Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute.

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New Market: The Union General, Plan & Units

Franz Sigel, LOC

Spoiler: The Confederates won the Battle of New Market. But there wouldn’t have been a battle without two sides. Two combative armies.

Today’s video takes a closer look at the Union strategy in the spring of 1864, the life of the new Union general in the Valley region, and the order of battle list for the Union army at New Market. From their excitement to “fight mit Sigel” to frustration and a battlefield defeat, Union soldiers marched and fought their way through the campaign with great courage. For some of the units, New Market was just an episode in their Shenandoah Valley combat record and they would return to fight again other generals.

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