Roanoke Civil War History

Civil War History in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Much of Virginia's Civil War history can be found in other parts of the state, but there are a couple spots in Virginia's Blue Ridge that recognize significant moments in the war.

The region was part of the raid of Union General David Hunter, whose goal was to lay waste to the Shenandoah Valley while other Union troops engaged with Confederacy on the other side of the state, forcing them to fight battles on two fronts.

Hunter's Raid Civil War Trail can still be traced today and you can learn about the impact it had on the region.

Civil War History

The Battle of Hanging Rock in Salem, one of the final parts of Hunter's Raid, is marked by a monument on Rt. 311. Confederate forces under General John McCausland won a substantial Southern victory here against General Hunter, who ultimately retreated to West Virginia.

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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