Marker Text: On July 19, 1861 Stonewall Jackson's brigade of General Joseph E. Johnston's corps marched to this station from Winchester. They crowded into freight and cattle cars and travelled to the 1st Battle of Manassas. The use of a railroad to carry more than ten thousand troops to the Manassas battlefield gave striking demonstration of the arrival of a new era in military transport and contributed significantly to the Confederate victory there.
Location: At the intersection of Route 17 (Winchester Road) and Route 623 (Rokeby Road) next to railroad tracks. Erected by the Piedmont Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1981.
In my last post on “Jackson's Bivouac” at Paris, VA located about seven miles north of this marker, Jackson's Army stopped overnight to rest from their march from Winchester before marching here to Delaplane or Piedmont Station to board trains to travel to the First Battle of Manassas.
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston commander of the Confederate Army of the Shenandoah rode ahead of the army while they rested and went to Piedmont Station to arrange the trains to transport his men. Johnston knew that his group of inexperienced volunteer soldiers would mostly likely be unable to make the march on foot to Manassas in time to help Beauregard's troops already positioned along Bull Run protecting the Manassas Rail Junction.
When Johnston arrived at Piedmont Station, he met a messenger with word of the fight earlier that day at Blackburn's Ford. Now real urgency was upon Johnston to get his army to Manassas. Johnston sent back word to Beauregard that he was coming and that parts of his command would arrive in the morning. Johnston worked throughout the night and had some rail cars waiting when Jackson's column marched into sight around 6 a.m., July 19 and within a few hours the entire brigade was on its way eastward.
Traveling by rail was a new experience for most of the army since many of the soldiers had never before traveled on a train in their lives. While their officers grumbled at the slow pace of the train engine, the men marveled at the speed of their progress and I would guess because they now could ride rather than march to Manassas. Though the trip by train was slow compared today's standards, it did have advantages. It was faster than any army this large marching on foot over the Blue Ridge mountains and plus the troops would arrive on the field of battle far more rested and ready for battle than after a long march. The movement of such a large army so quickly from a location where the Union army thought they still remained would definitely be a surprise to the union army.
The state marker B-21 is in the background across the railroad tracks.
At every town and hamlet along the rail line, townspeople turned out to cheer them on while the women waved their handkerchiefs. It took them eight hours, but finally they saw smoke from Beauregard's campfires in the distance that signaled their approach to Manassas Junction. They had come in time. Fatigued after marching and riding sixty miles in the past twenty-eight hours, the Virginians collapsed on the ground, unaware as yet that they had just made history, being the first soldier ever to make a major territorial shift by rail from one war zone to another.
Behind them came the others. There was only one engine on the Manassas Gap line, so Bartow had to wait for the train to return to Piedmont Station before he could embark his brigade. They would travel all night, not reaching Manassas until daylight July 20. At that same time Bee boarded his brigade, thanks to Johnston finding another train somewhere, and this engine moved at seeming light speed, getting Bee's brigade to Manassas shortly after noon that same day. That still left some elements of Bee's, Bartow's, and all of Elzey's brigade-commanded by Smith - awaiting transportation, with Smith's own command hurrying on as well. It was 3 a.m., July 21, when the next train left, carrying most of Elzey's brigade, and behind them would come one last train bringing some of the remnants, They could not arrive before dawn, July 21, at the earliest. Meanwhile, Johnston's cavalry, commanded by Colonel James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart rode hard for thirty-six hours and reached Manassas late July 20.
This photo is on the road on the opposite side of the railroad tracks from the B-21 marker.
Jefferson Davis, Beauregard, and Johnston had achieved a small miracle. In barely forty-eight hours they came close to doubling the strength of the army along Bull Run, with a combine army of 34,000, while doing it virtually under the noses of McDowell's Union army. Completely fooling Patterson in the Shenandoah Valley who still thought he had contained Johnston in Winchester. They even managed to deceive McDowell to the meaning of the sound of the train whistles coming into and going out of Manassas Junction, McDowell believing at first that the Confederate troops were leaving Manassas junction by train.
Piedmont Station - By Train to Manassas
Marker Text: Here at Piedmont Station (now Delaplane) trains were used for the first time in history to move troops to impending battle. On July 19, 1861 the fields surrounding this stop on the Manassas Gap Railroad—which appeared then almost exactly as they do today—were filled with thousands of volunteer soldiers, members of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of the Shenandoah. A single steam locomotive was on hand to move the army to Manassas Junction, then threatened with Federal attack. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson’s 1st Brigade, ordered here from their bivouac in the meadows just south of Paris, were loaded onto freight and cattle cars for the first transport, which took eight hours to cover the 30 miles to Manassas.
Sunday morning. July 21, Jackson’s troops marched from Manassas Junction to Henry House Hill to participate in the first major battle of the Civil War. There Jackson would earn the immortal title “Stonewall.”
That same day the final brigade to leave this station was delayed en route when the train collided with an unspecified obstruction. Suspecting sabotage by railroad officials, the Confederates held a military trial, found the conductor guilty of bribery and intentionally wrecking the train, and executed him on the spot.