Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where Ashby Fell

Where Ashby Fell marker A-30 in Harrisonburg, VAMarker No. A-30
City of Harrisonburg
Rockingham County, VA

Marker Text: A mile and a half east of this point, Turner Ashby, Stonewall Jackson's cavalry commander, was killed, June 6, 1862, while opposing Fremont's advance.

Location: On U.S. Route 11 (South Main Street), just south of Port Republic Road. Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1927.

"Poor Ashby is dead. He fell gloriously. I know you will join with me in mourning the loss of our friend, one of the noblest men and soldiers in the Confederate army." In a letter by Stonewall Jackson to General Imboden.

Where Ashby Fell marker A-30 along U.S. Route 11 in Harrisonburg, VA

Photo taken looking north on Route 11.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  Brig. Gen. Turner Ashby cut a striking figure, called by many the "Black Knight of the Confederacy". He generally rode horses that were pure white or pure black. Ashby stood about five feet eight inches in height and probably weighed from 150 to 160 pounds. His hair and beard were described as black as a raven's wing, he had a long, sweeping mustache concealing his mouth and a heavy and long beard completely covered his breast.

  As Stonewall Jackson continued his Valley Campaign his army moved south along the Shenandoah Valley (or up the Valley as they say in Virginia) while being pursued by Union Gen. John C. Frémont’s forces. General Ashby’s final role in the Valley campaign occurred as Jackson’s army retreated south and east from Harrisonburg toward Port Republic.

The Battle of Harrisonburg marker outside of Harrisonburg where Ashby Fell

The Battle of Harrisonburg

Marker Text:  On wooded Chestnut Ridge the evening of Friday, June 6, 1862, Pennsylvania Bucktails under Col. Kane were defeated in a hard fight with the 58th Va. under Col. Letcher and Gen. Turner Ashby and the 1st Md. under Col. Bradley Johnson. Gen. Ashby killed; Col. Kane captured. Stonewall Jackson said of Gen. Ashby: “I never knew his superior, his daring was proverbial.”
  Above marker and Turner Ashby Monument can be reached from Turner Ashby Lane 0.2 miles north of Neff Avenue.

Turner Ashby Monument at site where Ashby was killed

On June 6, 1898, the Turner Ashby Monument was dedicated under the auspices of Turner Ashby Chapter 162, United Daughters of the Confederacy. The Chapter continues to maintain the death site.

  On June 6, 1862, Union Gen. John C. Frémont’s forces encountered Confederate Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s army near this point in Harrisonburg. As Jackson's army withdrew from the pressure of John C. Frémont's superior forces, moving from Harrisonburg toward Port Republic, Ashby commanded the rear guard. On the 6th, the First New Jersey Cavalry attacked Ashby's position at Good's Farm near Harrisonburg and captured Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, the English commander of the First New Jersey Cavalry who had earlier boasted that he would “bag Ashby.”

Inscription on Turner Ashby Monument in Harrisonburg, VA  The First Maryland Infantry and the 58th Virginia Infantry set an ambush for the Federals. At about 6 p.m., however, Union forces did not appear in the road as expected, but in a concealed position near Ashby’s force. When Ashby’s horse was shot from under him, he rolled off the mount, regained his footing and ordered his men to stop shooting and use the bayonet, shouting, “Charge, men! For God’s sake charge!” While Ashby was leading the Confederate infantry into action, a bullet from a Pennsylvania Bucktail pierced Ashby's side and passed through his heart, killing him instantly. He fell dead while his men cleared the Federals from the wood line.


Ashby tomb stone on right.  He is buried with his brother, Richard who was killed a year earlier.  In the Stonewall Cemetery with the Mount Hebron Cemetery in Winchester, VA.

  The next day, Ashby’s body lay in state in the Frank Kemper house in Port Republic, where a brief funeral service was held. Jackson viewed the body there in private. Although Ashby’s lack of discipline had drawn Jackson’s sharp rebuke two months earlier, he later praised Ashby.

Ashby Brothers Tomb Stone in Stonewall Cemetery  “As a partisan officer I never knew his superior; his daring was proverbial; his powers of endurance almost incredible; his tone of character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy.” Stonewall Jackson's report of the Harrisonburg engagement and Turner Ashby.

  Turner Ashby's body was moved from Port Republic and originally buried at the University of Virginia cemetery in Charlottesville, VA. Ashby's body was moved and reinterred at the Stonewall Cemetery within the Mount Hebron Cemetery in Winchester on October 1866.

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