Marker Text: In June 1863, as Gen. Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia through Blue Ridge gaps to the Shenandoah Valley, Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart's cavalry screened the army from Federal observation. The Union cavalry chief, Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, dispatched Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg to penetrate Stuart's screen. On 17 June, Gregg ordered Col. Alfred A. N. Duffié to reconnoiter from Aldie to Middleburg. Duffié drove off Confederate pickets there, alerting Stuart. Duffié withdrew south of Middleburg, but Brig. Gen. Beverly H. Robertson's brigade surrounded and almost wiped out Duffié's command before it escaped the next morning.
Location: On Route 50 (John Mosby Highway), 2.59 miles west of Route 15 (James Monroe Highway), just east of Champe Ford Lane. Group with three other markers, B-30 (Stuart and Bayard); B-22 (Cavalry Battles); B-33 (A Revolutionary War Hero). Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 1998.
Today’s marker is the second from the right. Click any photo to enlarge.
After 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg, we might not think that Confederate General Robert E. Lee did not set out to have a battle at Gettysburg, PA. He only wanted to invade the north and take the war to the north. Gettysburg was simply the place where the two armies finally met up with one another. General Lee's moving his army into the north was no easy task, particularly when you want to move a large military force mostly undetected without having the Union Army discovering his objective.
Lee moving his army from east of the Shenandoah Valley near Chancellorsville through Chester Gap and other neighboring gaps in the Blue Ridge Mountains and north within the Shenandoah Valley through Winchester and into Maryland was a good choice. The Blue Ridge mountains provided a natural barrier to hid the movement of an army. Despite this natural mountain barrier some military movements by his cavalry was necessary and moving the Union troops out of the Shenandoah Valley at Winchester needed to take place.
Photo taken looking west along U.S. Route 59 on the right. There is a roadside pull-off to read the four markers.
So the Second Battle of Winchester on June 13-15, 1863 was necessary. Also protecting the movement of the troops from the prying eyes of the Union Army from the east along today's U.S. Route 50. Many major and minor battles and military engagements occurred during the Civil War along and near U.S. Route 50 between Washington, D.C. and Winchester, VA. Travel this route today and you will encounter hundreds of historical markers, historical signs, monuments, and memorials speaking about the military engagements along this road.
To escape detection while General Lee moved his troops north, Lee positioned his cavalry under General J.E.B. Stuart east of the Blue Ridge mostly where current day U.S. Route 50 goes, with orders to shield the infantry’s movements. Anxious to learn Lee’s intentions, Union commanders dispatched several cavalry brigades from Washington, D.C., to find the Confederate Army.
Stuart had stationed a cavalry brigade at Aldie (near the location of this marker) to prevent Union troops from gaining control of the two roads over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley: the Little River Turnpike (now Route 50) through Middleburg and Upperville, and the Snickersville Turnpike, which runs northwest out of Aldie. The Union cavalry clashed with Stuart’s cavalry first at Aldie on June 17, 1863 then again at Middleburg and Upperville in the days following.