Historical Markers
on the
Fisher's Hill battlefield

 


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Battle of Fisher's Hill Facts

Who fought in the Battle of Fisher's Hill?

The Confederate Army of the Valley, about 9,500 men under Lieutenant General Jubal Early, versus the Federal Army of the Shenandoah, about 29,500 men under Major General Philip Sheridan.

 

Both armies had just taken heavy casualties at the Third Battle of Winchester two days earlier.

 

Where was the Battle of Fisher's Hill?

The Battle of Fisher's Hill was fought two miles southwest of Strasburg, Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley here is split in two by Massanutton Mountain, an almost impassible ridge which runs down the middle of the valley. At Fisher's Hill the northern valley narrows to only about four miles. Fisher's Hill is halfway across this narrow gap, high ground that slopes steeply on its northern side to a stream, Tumbling Run. The result is a natural fortress facing north, an ideal spot for Confederate defenders.

 

The battlefield is about 19 miles south of Winchester, Virginia, 71 miles west of Washington, D.C. and 112 miles in a direct line (165 miles by highway around the mountains) from Richmond.

 

When was the Battle of Fisher's Hill fought?

The battle was fought on September 21-22, 1864. It was part of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.

 

Why was the battle fought?

In June Early had been given the mission of creating a diversion in the Shenandoah Valley and by threatening Washington that would draw Union forces away from the Siege of Petersburg and the fighting around Richmond. He succeeded, drawing two infantry corps and two cavalry divisions away from the forces slowly strangling Lee.

 

Sheridan had been given command of Union troops in the Shenandoah Valley with the mission to eliminate Early. After a month of delays he had made a fair start of it in the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, when after a hard-fought battle the Confederate defences collapsed in headlong retreat. Early had reformed on Fisher's Hill, hoping he could use the excellent defensive position to hold off Sheridan or force him into a costly frontal assault.

 

Who won the Battle of Fisher's Hill?

Sheridan's Union forces won a decisive victory. Early didn't have enough men to properly defend his four-mile line. Sheridan used his superior numbers to send Crook's 8th Corps on a flankng march around the high ground on the west. They surprised Early's weak flank forces and rolled up his defensive line as the rest of Sheridan's army attacked from in front. For the second time in three days the Confederate army collapsed and fled the field.

 

How many casualties were there in the Battle of Fisher's Hill?

Only 81 men were killed at FIsher's Hill - 30 Confederates and 51 Federals. Early lost 200 men wounded and Sheridan over 400. The great loss for the Confederates was over 1,000 men captured.

 

What was the significance of the Battle of Fisher's Hill?

Sheridan had further battered the already outnumbered and badly hurt Confederates. Early was forced to fall back 75 miles up the Valley to Waynesboro, where he could slip across Rockfish Gap and out of the Valley if necessary. This left the Valley as far south as Staunton open for the next stage in Grant's strategy - The Burning. Crops and cattle, barns and mills, all would be carried off or put to the torch to eliminate the Shenandoah Valley once and for all in its role as the breadbasket of the Confederacy.


 

Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early commanded the Army of the Valley. He was Robert E. Lee's choice as the closest he could get to the late 'Stonewall' Jackson.
Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early

Union Major General Philip Sheridan rode through the remnants of a beaten army and by sheer force of personality led them in a devastating counterattack that turned defeat into victory.
Major General Philip Sheridan






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