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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New Market: The Confederate General, Plan, & Units

John C. Breckinridge, pre-war political days. (LOC)

So…who was the Confederate commander facing Union General Franz Sigel at the Battle of New Market? What units did this Southerner pull together to defend the valley and what was the Confederate plan and situation by spring 1864?

In today’s video you’ll “meet” John C. Breckinridge – a Kentucky politician turned skillful commander. He was another in a line of Confederate generals defending the vital Shenandoah Valley, but he had fewer resources than his predecessors. His pulled together army included infantry, cavalry, and artillery from Virginia and Tennessee, along with a few unique units like Woodson’s Missourians and Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets.

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New Market: The Town & Community

The back of the Strayer House, New Market, VA

New Market, Virginia, was not reserved land for the battle in 1864. It was a town and community that war invaded.

When was the town founded? Why was it named “New Market”? How many people lived there in the 1860’s? What were they names? Are their homes still standing today?

Today’s video addresses these questions about the town of New Market. Hopefully, it reminds you that Civil War battles took place in real communities and you’ll appreciate the civilian side of the story which clashed with the military events.

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