Stone Sentinels, battlefield monuments of the American Civil War

Front Royal

Asbury Chapel

The Asbury Chapel Civil War Teails wayside marker is south of Front Royal, Virginia. It is the first stop on the Virginia Civil War Trails Battle of Front Royal tour. (see next stop, Belle Boyd)

 

Location

The marker is about 3.5 miles south of Front Royal on the west side of the Stonewall Jackson Highway (U.S. 340). (38.880821° N, 78.246658° W; see map)

 

Text from the marker

 

Asbury Chapel
“1st Maryland to the Front!”


— Battle of Front Royal - May 23, 1862 —

 

Early on the morning of Friday, May 23, 1862, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson paused here at Asbury Chapel well in advance of his 16,000-man army. Although he was familiar with the main roads to Front Royal, Jackson knew that the terrain through which they passed would restrict his troop-deployment options. He also wanted to find a route concealed from his Union adversary at Strasburg, Gen. Nathaniel Banks, who still thought Jackson was in the main part of the Shenandoah Valley to the west of the Massanutten Mountain. In fact, the Confederate army stretched for twelve miles south of here on the Lurray and Front Royal Turnpike (present-day U.S. 340), which passed the western side of the church in 1862.

 

Jackson noticed Col. Isaac King, a church leader, sitting on a fence here. King informed Jackson that Lt. Samuel J. Simpson, a Warren County native, was in his army and knew the area like a book. Simpson soon arrived and told Jackson that a road just south of the church (today’s Rocky Lane) led northeast to Gooney Manor Road (now Browntown Road) and Front Royal, with good ground for deployment.

 

Jackson ordered the 1st Maryland to the front to lead his army as it veered off the turnpike onto Rocky Lane. He also sent Col. Turner Ashby ahead to cross the Shenandoah River at McCoy’s Ford and ride west to Buckton Station on the Manassas Gap Railroad. His orders were to cut communications between Front Royal and Strasburg. The attack on Front Royal had begun.

After winning a battle at McDowell May 8, 1862, Jackson crossed the Massanutten Mountain and marched north towards Front Royal hoping to outflank a Union army in Strasburg.

 

From the sidebar:

Asbury Chapel (now Asbury United Methodist Church) was built in 1848 and named for Bishop Francis Asbury; who evangelized throughout the Shenandoah Valley from 1783 to 1805. During the Civil War, the congregation met irregularly, and the church was used as a hospital, probably after the Battle of Front Royal.

In 1916, the building was dismantled, revealing bloodstained floorboards. Using original materials when possible and following a similar design, the congregation completed the present structure the next year. The reconstructed church was dedicated on the fourth Sunday in October 1917.

Closeup of the Asbury Chapel Civil War Trails wayside marer south of Front Royal, Virginia.(above) The Asbury Chapel wayside marker in Front Royal, Virginia.
(see enlargement)
(below) The marker in front of the present church. In 1863 the modern highway on the right did not exist, and the main road was on the left side of the church
(see enlargement)
Asbury Chapel Civil War Trails wayside marer south of Front Royal, Virginia.




About the Author • ©2007-2014 Steve Hawks