Published on July 11, 2019

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A Preservation Crisis

Click image to see Battle Maps

There is a preservation crisis looming at New Market.  I need you to join me to save key portions of this battlefield before precious acres are lost forever.

New Market represents one of the last opportunities in the Valley to save almost an entire battlefield.  But we are facing great odds and running out of time before development pressures and municipal projects overtake us and this hallowed ground is lost.  Over the next few years you’re going to hear a lot about New Market because we have a town that is eager to develop battlefield land.

You’ve already helped us achieve recent victories at New Market.  In 2017, I came to you with the beginning of a new preservation initiative there.  We had identified three core battlefield properties that we had the opportunity to protect – and we’ve been able to save two of them, the Clinedinst-Crim and River Road properties.  Thanks to the help of dedicated supporters like you, over 15 of the 24 acres that we targeted in 2017 have been preserved!

Click image to see Battle Maps

But we can’t stop there.  Not when we have the chance over the next several years to save almost an entire battlefield – one that looks much as it did when the armies of Breckinridge and Sigel clashed there in 1864.

You and I have the opportunity to save not only the remaining 9 acres from my original appeal, but also an additional 26 acres of core battlefield – a total of over 35 acres, including a portion of the historic Bushong Farm.

Saving these 35 acres is a fight we must win.  Saving them is critical to the preservation and interpretation of the New Market battlefield – and we need your help to win this fight.

To learn more, click here to read a letter about this preservation effort from SVBF CEO Keven M. Walker.

The Battle of New Market: A Town “Wrapped in Battle Smoke”

Click image to see historic sketch

The most famous part of the Battle of New Market, the charge of the VMI Cadets, took place on the western part of the battlefield, and historical accounts often focus on that action.  But the battle covered a much greater area, stretching two miles from west to east and six miles north to south, with the fighting sprawling across the landscape, along the Valley Turnpike, and through the town in a riotous scene full of smoke and fire.

VMI Cadet John S. Wise described the beginning off the battle:  “In a picturesque little Lutheran churchyard, under the very shadow of the village spire and among the white tombstones, a six-gun battery was posted in rear of the infantry lines of the enemy. Firing over the heads of their own troops, that battery opened upon us the moment we came in sight.”

Confederate artillery returned fire.  “The town [was] now wrapped in battle smoke and swarming with troops hurrying to their position,” Wise recalled.  “We had their range beautifully. Every shell hit some obstruction, and exploded in the streets or on the hillsides.”  The shellfire struck Target Properties #1, #2 and #3; see maps.

In town, Jessie Rupert witnessed the effects of the shelling.  “…Cannon balls and shells rolled and exploded in every direction…the air was filled with dust and smoke, and curses and shrieks.”  Rupert and her husband hid their infant son under their floorboards for protection.

For more on the battle and the action along the Valley Turnpike, click here.

“[The Confederates] poured in upon us such a storm of shot and shell so thick that the very air seemed alive with bullets.” – A Union soldier in the 123rd Ohio, describing the attack at the Rice Property