Battle of Fisher's Hill

Belts of trees divide a mowed grass hillside under the summer sun.
View north from Confederate positions on Fisher’s Hill; Sheridan’s force started the battle from the high ground in the distance


“About 4 p.m. I discovered a force of the enemy moving… about half a mile to the left, on the side of the mountain. I immediately changed my front to meet his force… I met the force from the mountain (about two brigades) and drove them back… but the works on my right (my original front) not being occupied as I expected, the enemy advanced… and moved on my rear. The infantry failed to come to my support; I was forced to fall back…”

Maj. Gen. Lunsford Lomax, CSA

Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s beaten, bleeding Army of the Valley retreated south after the Battle of Third Winchester on September 19th, 1864. Early’s objective was to get his force into the defensive works, and seemingly relative safety, of Fisher’s Hill before being attacked by the victorious, 35,000-man United States Army of the Shenandoah under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan.

Something of a geologic anomaly, Fisher’s Hill is actually an east-west ridge running across the northeast-southwest trending Shenandoah Valley. Located approximately two miles south of Strasburg, Virginia, Fisher’s Hill’s eastern boundary is the Shenandoah River just below Massanutten Mountain near Signal Knob, with its western boundary being the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

Extending across the Shenandoah Valley at its narrowest point, Fisher’s Hill is still nearly four miles long and fronted by streams including Tumbling Run. Very rocky and imposing when viewed from the north, Fisher’s Hill’s elevation and rockiness decline somewhat going west until reaching the wooded and rugged foothills. Often referred to as the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” Fisher’s Hill offered at least some security and even limited comfort to Early’s soldiers, many of whom were from the Valley and had occupied the area’s defensive works earlier in the war.

Fisher's Hill Battlefield

Today, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District operates Ramseur’s Hill Park on the Fisher’s Hill Battlefield. These grounds were the location of Confederate Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur’s troops during the heavy Union attacks that day. Visit Fisher's Hill Battlefield »

September 21 & 22, 1864

Part of a series of articles titled Drive the Enemy South.

Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park