Site of Total War in Civil War Now Preserved for Conservation

Pencil drawing depicting man in military uniform and boots on his horse, bowing with hat in hand as horse kneels. Light sketches of soldiers and horses indicate a crowd in background.
General Custer on his horse saluting Confederate General [Rosser] at the Woodstock Races, by Alfred R. Waud

Courtesy Library of Congress

Recipient: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Award Amount: $308,641.72
Acreage: 123.66

As the Civil War dragged on, the Union Army embarked on a policy of total war in the Shenandoah Valley known as “The Burning." They targeted civilian property to destroy supplies and discourage Southern troops. Gen. Jubal Early ordered Confederate cavalry “to pursue the enemy, to harass him, and to ascertain his purposes.” Among the cavalry was the “Laurel Brigade” under Gen. Thomas Rosser. Many soldiers in the brigade were from the Valley in the fall of 1864, forcing them back “in one continuous running fight.”

On October 9, 1864, the rolling and hilly terrain along Tom’s Brook in Shenandoah County was the backdrop to a decisive victory for Union cavalry. The Battle of Tom’s Brook resulted in the complete rout of Rosser’s command. The high-speed retreat of the Confederate cavalry was referred to as the "Woodstock Races." Looking to deliver a knockout blow, the Federal cavalry forces pursued the Confederates southward for almost 20 miles.
Grassy field with two cows and white farm buildings on horizon
Cattle farm on the preserved tract of land

NPS Photo/Liz Buxton

Now a cattle farm, this 123-acre tract was used as the Confederate defensive line and provides the perfect vantage point to interpret the calvary-to-calvary battle. Thanks to funding from an American Battlefield Protection Program Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and its partner, the Shenandoah Battlefield Foundation, will protect this property with a perpetual conservation easement. They plan to work with the landowner to install a parking area, interpretive signage and trails to allow for public access.

Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants empower preservation partners nationwide to acquire and preserve threatened Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War battlefields. In addition, the program administers three other grants: Preservation Planning Grants, which are open to all sites of armed conflict on American soil, the newly authorized Battlefield Restoration and Battlefield Interpretation grant programs. This financial assistance generates community-driven stewardship of historic resources at the state, tribal and local levels.

Get Your Project Funded

Check out the American Battlefield Protection Program's website for more information about various grant offerings and eligibility.

Learn more

Part of a series of articles titled 2021 Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant Highlights.

Last updated: June 10, 2022