Published on March 17, 2021

  • Share:
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Email Article

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and its partners are presenting a series of programs to commemorate the 157th Anniversary of the Battle of New Market, fought on May 15, 1864.

Programs will include real-time interpretive programs – at the locations where the events happened – and living history.

THE PROGRAMS ARE FREE, BUT PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.  (In order to help with logistics and planning.) Registrants will receive additional information prior to the events.

Schedule of Events (Saturday, May 15, 2021):

  • 9:00 am – Real-Time Program: Grant’s War in Western Virginia, Spring 1864 and the Opening of the Battle – Keven Walker
  • 10:00 am – Artillery Demonstration
  • 11:00 am – Real-Time Program: War in the Streets: The Early Stages of Battle – Charlie Knight
  • 1:00 pm – Artillery Demonstration
  • 2:00 pm – Real-Time Program: “Mowed Down Like Grass”: The Union Cavalry Charge and the Afternoon Fight on the Right – Keven Walker
  • 3:30 pm – Real-Time Program: “The Most Awful Spot on the Battlefield”: The Final Confederate Infantry Advance on the Left – LTC Troy D. Marshall
  • 5:00 pm – Real-Time Program: “There Was No Peace”: The Civilian Experience – Sarah Kay Bierle
  • 7:00 pm – Real-Time Program: Sigel’s Retreat: The Flight to the River – Charlie Knight
  • 8:30 pm – Night-Time Artillery Demonstration
  • Throughout the Day: Living History

Program Details

9:00 am Program
Grant’s War in Western Virginia, Spring 1864 and the Opening of the Battle – Keven Walker
New Market Battlefield Military Museum, 9500 George Collins Parkway, New Market

In the Spring of 1864, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sent multiple forces into the Shenandoah Valley. Confederate commander Gen. John C. Breckinridge, assailed from different directions, decided that Gen. Franz Sigel’s army was the greater threat and took the bulk of his force north to confront Sigel. This program will cover Grant’s plans, the fate of other Union efforts, the road to New Market, and the initial fighting on May 15.

Keven Walker is the CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

11:00 am Program
War in the Streets: The Early Stages of Battle – Charles Knight
Breckinridge Road, near Reformation Lutheran Church, 9283 N. Congress St., New Market

“There will be hot work here soon,” a Union officer warned New Market resident Jessie Rupert, recommending she and her family leave their home before it was too late. But it was already too late – fighting was about to tear through the streets of town and into the fields beyond

Charles Knight is the author of Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market.

2:00 pm Program
“Mowed Down Like Grass”: The Union Cavalry Charge and the Afternoon Fight on the Right – Keven Walker

Buhl Property, behind Budget Inn, 2912 Old Valley Pike, New Market

When the Confederate advance faltered around 2pm, Union cavalry was ordered to counterattack along the Valley Pike. The charge that followed – with muddy conditions, unfavorable terrain, and well-prepared Confederate defenders (including the 2-gun VMI battery) – would be a disaster. This program will cover that ill-fated attack, along with nearby action such as the stand of the 54th Pennsylvania in “The Bloody Cedars.”

Keven Walker is the CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

3:30 pm Program
“The Most Awful Spot on the Battlefield”: The Final Confederate Infantry Advance on the Left – LTC Troy D. Marshall

Virginia Museum of the Civil War, 8895 George Collins Parkway, New Market

Devastating fire in the center of his line forced Breckinridge to put in his reserves and the 257 VMI cadets. General Breckinridge lamented, “Put the boys in…and may God forgive me for the order.” Lieutenant Colonel Scott Shipp directed his battalion of cadets forward and for the first time they saw the full savagery of battle directed right at them. The program will cover the Confederate advance around the Bushong House and into their orchard, ultimately moving up to Sigel’s gun line.

LTC Troy D. Marshall is the Director of the Virginia Museum of the Civil War.

Please Note: The Virginia Museum of the Civil War has graciously and generously offered to present this program as we cooperate in commemoration of the battle’s anniversary – and in lieu of their traditional Director’s Tour. Please take an opportunity during the day to visit their outstanding museum and battlefield park.

5:00 pm Program
“There Was No Peace”: The Civilian Experience – Sarah Kay Bierle
United Methodist Church, 9330 N. Congress St., New Market

When battle swept through New Market, civilians hid in their cellars and later ventured out to help care for the wounded. This presentation will explore the experiences of civilians such as Jessie Rupert, Eliza Clinedinst, the Bushong Family, and others, and will include town history, Civil War events, and post-war experiences and memory.

Sarah Kay Bierle is the author of Call Out the Cadets: The Battle of New Market, May 15, 1864.

7:00 pm Program
Sigel’s Retreat: The Flight to the River – Charles Knight
Wissler Rd. (Route 720), off US-11, 5 miles north of downtown New Market

Once the line at the Bushong farm broke, Sigel’s army retreated north toward the Shenandoah River bridge. It quickly became a mix of fresh troops arriving on the field, broken units trying to rally and stem the pursuit, and others in a full-out sprint for the bridge.

Charles Knight is the author of Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market.

Throughout the Day
Living History and Artillery Demonstrations

(Artillery Demonstrations – 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 8:30 pm)
New Market Battlefield Military Museum, 9500 George Collins Parkway, New Market

Living history throughout the day by the Liberty Rifles (portraying the 12th West Virginia Infantry), Breadbasket Mess (portraying the 51st Virginia Infantry), and the Buck and Ball Living History Association. Special artillery demonstrations at 10:00, 1:00 pm, and 8:30 pm.

For more information, email info@svbf.net.