County: Augusta, VA
General Location: Near village of Piedmont, crossing of rtes. 608 & 778; Piedmont is four miles east of the Valley pike, and seven miles southwest of Port Republic
Size of Study/Core Areas: 9,340/2,693 acres
GIS Integrity of Study/Core Areas: 97/98 percent; Good/Good
Field Assessment of Study Area Integrity: Good
USGS Quadrants: Grottoes, Crimora, Fort Defiance
Select to view a summary of 1991 LAND USE / LAND COVER
Campaign: Lynchburg Campaign (Hunter)
Principal Commanders: [c] Brig. Gen. William E.``Grumble'' Jones; [u] Maj. Gen.David Hunter
Forces Engaged: [c] Two infantry brigades (Jones and Browne), home guards, and cavalry under Imboden and Vaughn, about 5,500; [u] Sullivan's division (two brigades under Moor and Thoburn), Stahel's cavalry division, and artillery under DuPont, about 8,500
Casualties: [c] about 1,500 (100k/500w/900m&c); [u] 875 (150k/650w/75m)
Significance: On 5 June 1864, the US army of General David Hunter crushed the smaller Confederate army at Piedmont, killing the CS commander (General ``Grumble'' Jones) and taking nearly 1,000 prisoners. Piedmont was an unmitigated disaster for CS arms in the Valley. The disorganized Confederates could do nothing to delay Hunter's advance to Staunton, where he was reinforced by Brig. Gen. George Crook's Army of West Virginia marching from the west. United, the US forces moved on Lynchburg. Hearing of Jones' defeat, Gen. Robert E. Lee first rushed J. C. Breckinridge's division back to Rockfish Gap (7 June) and then detached the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early to confront Hunter at Lynchburg (12 June). This detachment severely limited Lee's ability to undertake defensive-offensive operations on the Richmond-Petersburg lines and served to open up the Shenandoah Valley as a second front in the 1864 fighting in Virginia.
Phase One. Cavalry Action at Mt. Meridian: Shortly after dawn, 5 June 1864, US cavalry advanced on the Staunton Road and met CS cavalry under Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden at Mt. Meridian. The US troopers were driven back until reinforced and again advanced to Mt. Meridian, supporting their attack with ten field pieces. The Confederates responded with two guns. Imboden continued to delay the US advance, while gradually retiring. US cavalry incurred about 100 casualties in the morning's action. Fighting occurred around Bonny Doon. In the wake of the cavalry, US infantry marched south from Port Republic.
Phase Two. CS Deployment at Piedmont: General ``Grumble'' Jones deployed his army in an ``L'' anchored on a bend of Middle River facing north and bending south along the ridge line. He placed his two veteran brigades (under Col. Beuhring Jones and Col. William H. Browne) on the left and center behind barricades of fence rails. His reserves, which consisted of home guards, were drawn up in the woods just south and west of Piedmont. Vaughn's cavalry brigade was in position along the Cross Road (present day rte. 778) east of Piedmont. His line was supported by artillery. Jones made his headquarters in a tent in the yard of the modern McDonald House. (Imboden's cavalry brigade after the morning's delaying action withdrew behind Polecat Draft near Round Hill.)
Phase Three. US Advance to Piedmont: About 1000 hours, US cavalry drove the CS troopers back to the main infantry line at Piedmont and then withdrew out of cannon range to await the arrival of their infantry and artillery. Moor's brigade arrived first and deployed to the right of the road into the river bend. They were fired on by CS skirmishers. Thoburn's brigade deployed to the left of the road in the vicinity of the Shaver House. DuPont arrayed his artillery battalion on the heights confronting the CS position. Hunter made his headquarters in the Shaver House. One brigade of US cavalry was held in reserve.
Phase Four. US Attacks on the Right: DuPont massed 22 guns against the angle in the CS line, eventually forcing two batteries to retire and take up a position closer to Piedmont village. Shortly after noon, elements of Moor's brigade (18CT) assaulted the hill to their right front, driving out the CS skirmishers. Supported by a regiment of Thoburn's brigade, Moor's entire line advanced, driving back the advanced CS line on the northern brow of the ridge. Jones withdrew his infantry to barricades along Walker's Lane, reinforced his left to meet the US charges, and launched a counterattack. Fighting swayed back and forth across the fields. Hunter now reinforced Moor with Wynkoop's cavalry brigade, fighting dismounted, and renewed his attack.
Phase Five. US Attack on the Left: While fighting raged on the right, Col. Thoburn led three regiments through a ravine and woods on the left and attacked across the Givens Run Valley. Mid-afternoon, he charged directly into a gap in the CS line that was opened when Jones reinforced his left flank. CS reserves were advancing to fill the gap but Thoburn's regiment reached the crest first, and a savage, hand-to-hand mel‚e erupted. About this time, Gen. Jones was killed, and the CS defense came unraveled. Inexplicably, the CS cavalry (Vaughn) witnessed Thoburn's attack but did not advance.
Phase Six. CS Rout: Pressed on the front and rear, Confederate soldiers went streaming over the steep bluffs behind to wade and swim the river. All order was lost. A nasty skirmish was fought over possession of the ford to the rear of the Col. Crawford House. Stahel's US cavalry division advanced on the far left to close in on the village by the Cross Road. They were met by Vaughn's and Imboden's cavalry who at last came into play to act as rear guard. Some CS units attempted to stand near the Middle River Church and at New Hope, and US pursuit gradually slackened. The CS army lost about 900 captured.
Piedmont battlefield is located on the Middle River in an area of great scenic beauty. The battle is readily interpreted from public roads with minimal access to private lanes and farm roads. The landscape in much of the area is similar to its appearance at the time of the battle with some intrusions, most notably the Wampler-Longacre experimental poultry farm. This farm, with about a dozen very large barns, is situated just behind a major US artillery position and is visible from several parts of the field. One of the best views of the CS position is from this farm, although access is restricted. The site of the major US attacks on the right is in very good condition. Site of Thoburn's attack on the left along Givens Run is in good condition. There are considerably fewer trees along the river now than at the time of the battle. Round Hill was a CS signal station and anchored the far right flank of the CS cavalry.
The Shaver House, which was General Hunter's headquarters, is owned by the same family as at the time of the battle. Various other historic structures remain, including the Finley House, Crawford House, David Beard House (Belmont), Mt. Horeb Church, and the old Garber barn; Bonnie Doon and Givens House in Mt. Meridian. Grand Caverns (Weyer's Cave) is nearby at Grottoes. ``Jackson's Prayer Tree'' is located just north of Mt. Meridian. Local landowners say that Jackson conducted a prayer meeting here in June 1862. Jackson's headquarters were in the woods near here. There is strong anecdotal evidence among local landowners that burials have been unearthed on Piedmont battlefield.
Much of the northern half of the battlefield, scene of the most severe fighting, has been placed in a county agricultural preservation district, which restricts non-agricultural development for seven years. Several property owners in the core area refused to participate in the voluntary district. Long-time residents state that they desire to ``keep farming forever'' and express concern that the government might take their land to make a national park. The agricultural district allows intensive poultry farming similar to the Wampler-Longacre farm, although densities of these barns are limited by disease considerations and may already be close to maximum density. The southern end of the field around the villages of Piedmont and New Hope has attracted some new residential construction and is served by county sewage lines. New construction along rte. 778 east of Piedmont or on rte. 608 between Mt. Meridian and Piedmont would tend to degrade the battlefield's high integrity. Round Hill is a distinctive feature of the area, dominating views from many parts of the battlefield.
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Creation Date: 3/13/95