Battle of Waynesboro, Virginia

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For the battle fought in Georgia, see Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia.
Battle of Waynesboro
Part of the American Civil War
Date March 2, 1865 (1865-03-02)
Location Augusta County, Virginia
Result Union victory
Belligerents
United States United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Commanders and leaders
Philip Sheridan
George Armstrong Custer
Jubal Early
Strength
2,500 [1] 1,600 [1]
Casualties and losses
9 1,500+

The Battle of Waynesboro was fought on March 2, 1865, at Waynesboro in Augusta County, Virginia, during the American Civil War. It was the final battle for Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early, whose force was destroyed.

Background[edit]

Battle of Waynesboro VA
  Confederate
  Union

On February 27, 1865, Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan rode with two cavalry divisions from Winchester "up" the Shenandoah Valley toward Staunton. He had orders to take his cavalry south to join Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's army in the Carolinas Campaign. After crossing the North Fork of the Shenandoah River on March 28, Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer's division encountered some 300 Confederate cavalrymen under Brig. Gen. Thomas Rosser guarding the Middle River near the village of Mount Crawford. Rosser set a long covered bridge on fire, hoping to delay the Federals. Custer ordered two of his regiments to swim across the river and strike Rosser's flank, while additional regiments stormed the bridge. Custer successfully drove off Rosser's meager force, extinguished the fire, and rode on to Staunton, where they were joined by the bulk of Sheridan's force the next day.

Battle[edit]

Desiring to eliminate Early's small force as a threat to his rear and perhaps wanting to remain in Virginia to help finish off Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia near Richmond and Petersburg[citation needed], Sheridan turned east instead of proceeding to Sherman. Custer's Union division slogged through muddy roads in cold downpour, and on March 2 encountered the last remnant of Early's Army of the Valley at Waynesboro. Aligned in a defensive position along a ridge in front of the South River, Early had placed his artillery (11 to 14 guns) in a good position to contest any Federal advance. However, he left his left flank exposed, supposing (incorrectly) that a dense woods would impede any Union thrust in that direction. After a brief stand-off, a determined Federal attack rolled up Early's left flank and scattered his small force. CSA general William Henry Harman was killed attempting to rally the routing Confederates.

Aftermath[edit]

More than 1,500 Confederates surrendered, while Early and a few of his staff evaded capture. Sheridan crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains to Charlottesville and then raided south, destroying the James River Canal locks near Goochland Court House. He joined forces with the Army of the Potomac near Petersburg on March 26 for the opening of the Appomattox Campaign. Early never received another field assignment for the rest of the war.

Captain Christopher C. Bruton of the 22nd New York Cavalry later received the Congressional Medal of Honor for the capture of Early's headquarters flag during the battle. [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b CWSAC Report Update
  2. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients". US Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 

Coordinates: 38°03′56″N 78°53′46″W / 38.0656°N 78.8962°W / 38.0656; -78.8962