155th Anniversary Program and Tour on the Battle of Wapping Heights
July 21 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pmFree
155th anniversary program and tour on the Battle of Wapping Heights led by Matt Wending. (Fought on July 23, 1863, the action is also known as the Battle of Manassas Gap.) The event will begin with a short talk at the Warren Heritage Society (101 Chester Street, Front Royal) followed by a car caravan tour of battlefield sites. Sponsored by the Warren Heritage Society, the Warren Rifles Confederate Museum, and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. Free but pre-registration is required.
To register, click here or call 540-740-4545.
For more information, contact Matt Wendling at 540-636-3354.
More on the Battle of Wapping Heights (Manassas Gap):
The final battle of the Gettysburg Campapign took place in Warren County, Virginia in July of 1863, as US Gen. George G. Meade’s pursuit CS Gen. Robert E. Lee climaxed east of Front Royal. Nicknamed “the Blackberry Affair” – as hungry troops of both sides foraged during lulls in the fighting – the battle was significant as the last major engagement of Lee’s Gettysburg Campaign, and the only point in the war during which Warren County’s infantry would fight as a unit on their home soil.
“I start tomorrow to run another race with Lee”, wrote Meade to his wife on July 14, 1863. As the Confederate army moved south up the Shenandoah Valley Union troops mirrored their movement through the Loudoun Valley east of the Blue Ridge. On July 22, Federal cavalry units under US Gen. Wesley Merritt approached Linden Station in Manassas Gap, and Confederate 17th Infantry – including Company B, the Warren Rifles – fought them at the mountain pass adjacent to the little settlement of Wapping.
On July 23 CS Gen. A. R. Wright’s Brigade, under the command of Col. E.J. Walker of the 3rd Georgia Infantry, was assigned to guard the left flank of A.P. Hill’s Corps as it passed through Front Royal and on to Chester Gap. At daylight, the brigade marched to Manassas Gap, where at 10:00am US Gen. William French had arrived with nearly 20,000 reinforcements, although French would not order his men into the attack until 2:00pm. At around 3:00pm Meade arrived at Linden Station but did nothing to spur on French. Outnumbered, the Confederates withdrew to a crest further west in an area of Warren County known as the “Valley of Retreat,” and called up reinforcements. As troops from the 70th New York and 3rd and 4th Maine pressed Walker’s Georgians, a six-gun Alabamian artillery unit commanded by Col. T.H. Carter’s opened fire, briefly stalling the Federals, who then rallied and took the second crest, flanking the Confederates who fell back again towards Front Royal. From the heights of Manassas Gap Federal soldiers could easily see Confederate wagon trains and troops moving southward along Valley roads. If Meade wanted to break his enemy’s lines in two, this was his last – and best -opportunity.
As the Confederate infantry reformed along the road to Front Royal, Carter stationed his artillery on a hill within sight of the town from which he could shell approaching Union troops from a distance. This helped to suppress the Federal advance, and nightfall ended the battle. At dawn on July 24, US Gen. George Sykes sent in a reconnaissance to Front Royal, only to find that the Confederates had succeeded during the night in withdrawing south and east out of danger. The Battle of Manassas Gap/Wapping Heights was over, as was the Gettysburg Campaign.