The modern US 340 corridor between US Route 50 and Interstate 64 encompasses some of the most beautiful landscapes and intriguing Civil War history in Virginia. During the war, the territory east of the Massanutten Mountain was connected by a variety of roads, most of them inferior to the “improved” and more famous Valley Pike west of the mountain. Stonewall Jackson made good use of these roads during his 1862 campaign as his little army used the Massanutten to screen his movements from various Federal armies operating in the Valley. The area also saw action in 1864 as competing commanders maneuvered for advantage. Here’s a Civil War tour of the corridor from north to south.
The Battle of Front Royal
Download a pdf copy of tour brochure.
For a free printed map/brochure of the Battle of Front Royal driving tour, stop at the town visitor center. Two Civil War Trails markers just outside the visitor center give general information about Front Royal during the war.
The Virginia Civil War Trails driving tour follows the action as Confederate troops under Stonewall Jackson swept through town May 23, 1862, sweeping aside light Federal resistance. The stunning Southern victory outflanked the main Union force under Gen. Nathaniel Banks located to the west of the Massanutten Mountain in Strasburg. From Front Royal, Jackson marched northwest toward Winchester hoping to cut off and destroy Banks. Jackson was partially successful. Banks, soundly defeated at Winchester May 25, did manage to escape.
Jackson’s rapid successes alarmed Washington DC and froze Union troops supposedly on their way to the Richmond area to join Gen. George McClellan’s campaign against the Confederate capital. President Abraham Lincoln saw a chance to trap Jackson in his exposed position and sent several Federal armies against him. Jackson eluded them all and capped his dramatic “Valley Campaign” with victories at Cross Keys and Port Republic June 8-9 before joining Robert E. Lee in Richmond.
Battle of Manassas Gap (Wapping Heights)
Trails sign located near the VDOT Park and Ride, 2663 Dismal Hollow Road, Linden VA 22630
Historians call this battle the last engagement of the Gettysburg Campaign. On July 23, 1863, elements of the Confederate army were stationed here to guard the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia as it passed through Front Royal and marched toward Chester Gap and safety. Fighting erupted as nearly 20,000 Federals attacked the small force here. Outnumbered, the Confederates retreated west, but succeeded in allowing Lee’s army to pass through Front Royal unmolested.
Front Royal Museums
Belle Boyd Cottage
101 Chester St, Front Royal VA 22630
House museum decorated in Civil War style. Tour topics include Confederate spy Boyd (who visited Front Royal often and played a role in the 1862 battle), women, slavery and journalists in the war. Open Monday–Saturday 10 am–4 pm May–August; Monday–Friday 10 am–4 pm September–April. $3.
Warren Rifles Confederate Museum
95 Chester St, Front Royal VA 22630
Battle flags, arms uniforms and items relating to Belle Boyd, Stonewall Jackson, Jubal Early, Turner Ashby and others are displayed here. Open April 15–Nov. 1, 9 am–4 pm weekdays and noon–4 pm Sundays. Admission fee.
Each stop is interpreted with a Civil War Trails marker. The tour begins a few miles south of downtown Front Royal on U.S. 340 at Asbury Chapel.
Asbury Chapel — Jackson stopped here on his way into town to plan his attack and assess his opponent. The church still stands.
“Belle Boyd” interpretation — The famous Confederate spy tells Jackson that the Union force was small.
Prospect Hill Cemetery — Confederates got a good look at the town from this high point. Confederate dead and some of Mosby’s men are buried in the cemetery.
Warren County Courthouse — Marylanders on both sides fought each other in the streets surrounding the courthouse as civilians greeted the Confederates.
Bel Air — Stately manor, still standing, was home to Lucy Buck, who witnessed the action from here and wrote about it.
Rose Hill — Another home was the site of fighting as Union artillery opened on Confederate attackers.
Richardson’s Hill — The outnumbered Federal force made a stand here on this high ground south of the rivers.
The Bridges — Union soldiers hurried over bridges spanning the two forks of the Shenandoah that come together in Front Royal. Their attempts to burn the bridges behind them failed.
Guard Hill — Union rear-guard with a couple of artillery pieces attempt to hold off Confederates who have crossed the rivers in pursuit.
Fairview — The last stand made by Union troops north of Front Royal. The Confederates overran the Federals here, taking many prisoners. Of the 1,000-man garrison, Union losses in killed, wounded and captured in Front Royal were 904. The Confederates lost fewer than 100.