Stone Sentinels, battlefield monuments of the American Civil War

Front Royal

Guard Hill Wayside Marker

A waysde marker on the fight for Guard Hill was placed by Virginia Civil War Trails north of Front Royal on the north bank of the Shenandoah River at the site of the Civil War bridge.


This is stop 9 on the Civil War Trails tour of the Battle of Front Royal. (previous stop: Guard Hill • next stop: Fairview)



The marker can be reached from Winchester Road. Take Riverton Road east from just north of the Shenandoah River bridges and turn south onto an access road to the boat ramp. (38.949912° N, 78.198503° W: see map)


Text from the marker


Guard Hill

“Oh, What an Opportunity for Artillery!”
— Battle of Front Royal - May 23, 1862 —


Closely pursued by the 8th Louisiana Infantry, Union Col. John R. Kenly's rear guard occupied Guard Hill just west of here. The two-gun section of Knap's Battery E, Pennsylvania Light Artillery, commanded by Lt. Charles Atwell, covered part of the peninsula between the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River as the Confederates surged toward the North Fork Bridge.


As the Confederate forces crossed the South Fork onto the peninsula, Kenly's Union troops deployed on the Winchester side of the Pike Bridge over the North Fork. The prominence of Guard Hill offered Kenly a good position to slow down the Southern advance. Atwell unlimbered his cannons on the height west of the turnpike near Dr. Kenner's home, while the Federal infantry dug in on either side of the road to combat any attempt by the Confederates crossing at the bridge.


Atwell's guns held off the commands of Col. Bradley T. Johnson and Maj. Chatham Roberdeau Wheat for almost an hour, despite being shelled by Capt. John A. Lusk's Confederate battery from Atwell's former position on Richardson's Hill. When Kenly rode forward to check the progress of his bridge-burning orders, he found "the river below the bridges ... alive with horsemen (Lt. Col. Thomas S. Flournoy's 6th Virginia Cavalry), crossing in two different places by fording." Kenly ordered a retreat, leaving two companies of the 5th New York Cavalry as a rear guard while the infantry and artillery hastened north on the Front Royal Turnpike.

Battle of Front Royal Circle Tour Marker(above) Guard Hill wayside marker north of Front Royal, Virginia
(see enliargement)
(below) Ford of the North Fork of the Shenandoah by the marker
Ford of the North Fork of the Shenandoah by the marker

About the Author • ©2007-2014 Steve Hawks