The writer recalls no local event of special interest from January 1st to June 5th, 1864. In the month of May the battles of the Wilderness, or Spottsylvania Courthouse, between Generals Grant and Lee, occurred. Colonel James H. Skinner, commanding the Fifty-second regiment, was severely wounded and permanently disabled on the 12th at Spottsylvania Courthouse. On the 15th of the same month General Breckinridge defeated a considerable Federal force at New Market, many Augusta people participating in the battle.
No resident of Staunton then living and over the age of infancy will ever forget Sunday, June 5, 1864. For a week or more we had heard that a Federal force under General Hunter was coming up the Valley, and that Generals Crook and Averill were pressing in from the west with another large force. Imboden, with two skeleton regiments and a company of artillery, was in the Valley, while McCausland and Jackson, each with a small force, were between Staunton and Crook and Averill. The reserves (men over forty-five and boys under seventeen years of age) were also with Imboden; and during the previous week all the men in the county able to bear arms—detailed workmen, farmers, etc.,—were hastily collected and formed in companies, and joined him at North river, near Mount Crawford. On Thursday and Friday troops arrived from the southwest under General William E. Jones, probably twenty-five hundred men. General Jones joined the force at North river on Saturday morning and assumed command. The enemy finding our men strongly posed and intrenched, moved toward Port Republic and crossed North river to the Augusta side. During Saturday night our army fell back to a point between New Hope and Mount Meridian, near the village of Piedmont. Skirmishing began early on Sunday morning.
From eight or nine o’clock in the morning till three in the afternoon, many citizens of Staunton were on the hills observing the smoke arising from the battlefield. For several hours no one of them imagined that a battle was in progress only eleven or twelve miles off, but the smoke was supposed to arise from the conflagration of mills
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Edited Annals of Augusta County,Virginia, from 1726 to 1871 copyright © 2006-2017 by EagleRidge Technologies, Inc..