Harpers Ferry and the Civil War
Schedule of Harpers Ferry's Civil War Events, 2013-2015
Exhibit: Forever Free: The Emancipation: A New Birth of Freedom
Event: The Birth of a State: 150th Anniversary of the State of West Virginia
Event: First Alert: Harpers Ferry, the Gettysburg Campaign
Exhibit: The USCT & the Spirit of Freedom
Event: Harpers Ferry and the USCT Recruiting Station
Date: July 4-6, 2014
Event: Thunder in the Valley: Sheridan's 1864 Valley Campaign
Event: Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864
Event: Capt. Flagg's US Quartermaster City: Prospects of Peace
Exhibit: The Freedman's Bureau, Educating the Newly Freed Slaved and the Prelude to Storer College
A downloadable version of this schedule is available as a PDF.
The Civil War had a profound and disastrous effect on Harpers Ferry, leaving a path of destruction that wrecked the town's economy and forced many residents to depart forever. Because of the town's strategic location on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, Union and Confederate troops moved through Harpers Ferry frequently. The town changed hands eight times between 1861 and 1865.
On April 18, 1861, less than 24 hours after Virginia seceded from the Union, Federal soldiers set fire to the Armory and Arsenal to keep them out of Confederate hands. The Arsenal and 15,000 weapons were destroyed, but the Armory flames were extinguished and the weapons-making equipment was shipped south. When the Confederates abandoned the town two months later, they burned most of the factory buildings and blew up the railroad bridge. [Learn more about the Armory & Arsenal]. The first Harpers Ferry citizen killed during the Civil War was Frederick Roeder. To learn more about him, click here.
Federal forces re-occupied Harpers Ferry in 1862. During the Confederacy's first invasion of the North, on September 15, 1862, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson surrounded and captured the 12,700-man Union garrison stationed here. When the Federals returned to Harpers Ferry after the Battle of Antietam, they began transforming the surrounding heights into fortified encampments to protect both the town and the railroad. In 1864, Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan used Harpers Ferry as his base of operations against Confederate troops in the Shenandoah Valley. [Learn more about the 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry].
Did You Know?
The National Park Service brochures are designed and produced at the Harpers Ferry Interpretive Design Center located in Harpers Ferry.