NEW MARKET, Va. – Five acres in the core of the Third Winchester battlefield are now forever protected, including the site where the Army of the Shenandoah, commanded by Union Gen. Philip Sheridan, crossed Opequon Creek early on the morning of Sept. 19, 1864. Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation closed on the project on July 13.
“This preservation success would not have been possible without the support of our members and donors,” Keven Walker, CEO of the Battlefields Foundation, said. “As an organization, we are so thankful for their commitment to the preservation of sites such as the Opequon Crossing.”
The five-acre tract sits on the east bank of the Opequon Creek, and contains the original roadbed of the Winchester-Berryville Pike, the place where the pike historically forded the creek.
The SVBF made its appeal to protect the property in March of this year. The project called for the organization and its partners to raise $150,000 in 120 days to preserve the Opequon Crossing site.
With the successful closing of the project, the first piece of land associated with the Third Battle of Winchester in Clarke County is now preserved.
“Clarke County played a huge role in the early phases of Third Winchester,” Walker added. “We believe the protection of this property highlights this and will give people an even better understanding of what took place there over 150 years ago.”
Around 4:30 a.m. on the morning of the Sept. 19, Union cavalry charged down the Berryville Pike and crashed into Confederate troops at the crossing, initiating an exchange of gunfire that would launch the largest, costliest battle ever fought in the Valley.
The property was in a large-lot subdivision when its owner approached the Foundation last year to see if it could be protected. The successful completion of the project was made possible with additional support from the Civil War Trust and National Park Service.
The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District was created by Congress in 1996. It includes eight counties and four independent cities in Virginia.
As authorized by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation serves as the community-driven non-profit manager of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District, partnering with local, regional and national organizations and governments to preserve the Valley’s battlefields and interpret and promote the region’s Civil War story.
The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields website is located atwww.ShenandoahAtWar.org.