Roanoke Civil War History

Civil War History in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Civil War StatueThe Roanoke Valley was the site of an important Civil War battle, "Hunter's Raid" of 1864, which took place where Peters Creek empties into the Roanoke River.

It was an important prelude to the Battle of Hanging Rock, near Salem, becoming a Confederate victory. Union General David Hunter, notorious for his hatred of slave-holding states, was driven to retreat.

The Battle of Hanging Rock in Salem is marked by a monument on Rt. 311. Confederate forces under General John McCausland won a substantial Southern victory here against General Hunter, who was ultimately beaten in Lynchburg.

General McCausland's grandson is Dr. Alexander McCausland, a Roanoke physician.

Soldiers weren't the Civil War's only victims. Following General Hunter's retreat, 700 horses died of exhaustion trying to climb massive Potts Mountain in Craig County on the way to West Virginia. It took local residents two weeks to bury them all.

The Village of Bonsack, on U.S. 460 near Vinton, was the site of two important woolen blanket mills during the Civil War. One was burned by Yankees; the other was saved when its owner promised not to sell any blankets to the Confederate traders at the Roanoke depot. Legend has it that the latter owner's fingers were crossed as he made his vow.

In Botetourt County, the Town of Buchanan served as an important supply location for the Confederate army, providing troops with food, cotton, yarn and many other supplies. Men from the area also served as troops in the army. The town was part of General David Hunter's Raid through the region, and confederate troops fought hard to defend the area, particularly the James River Bridge.

You can learn much more about the town's unique Civil War history when visiting Buchanan in Botetourt County.

The region is also home to the birthplace of Jubal Early, who served as a General in the Confederate Army. Early was born in Franklin County and his homeplace still exists today.

Early fought in more battles than any other confederate general and, after the war, he was exiled to Canada along with many other members of the confederate forces before being granted amnesty in 1869. He eventually returned to Virginia, where he practiced law in Lynchburg and passed away in 1894.

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Roanoke Valley Spotlight