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Remembering Stonewall's Bath/Romney Campaign

Remembering Stonewall's Bath/Romney Campaign

January 11, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - After Confederate Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson was nicknamed "Stonewall" at Manassas, Va., but before he really made a name for himself during the Valley Campaign, Jackson's forces drove Union soldiers out of Bath, Va., shelled Hancock, Md., and marched on Romney, Va.

Thanks to his surprise attacks in January 1862, Jackson met with success, driving out Union soldiers and cutting off their supply lines by briefly controlling the Potomac River, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

Later that month, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered Jackson's men out of Romney after some of Jackson's soldiers complained of harsh conditions to Davis.

Furious, Jackson submitted his resignation only to be talked out of it by many high-powered Confederate officials, says Jim Charles Bailey, park ranger with the National Park Service at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore.

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While attending University of Maryland Baltimore County, Bailey wrote his history thesis on the Bath/Romney campaign. He is helping to organize this weekend's commemoration of its 145th anniversary. Bath is the former name of Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Bailey and his father, Jim Henry Bailey of Berkeley Springs, are part of a small group of Civil War re-enactors who remembered the campaign in recent Januaries by camping out to get a feel for the changing weather the soldiers dealt with during the campaign.

In 2005, they discovered another small group doing the same thing, and the groups joined forces.

The Bath-Romney Campaign Historical and Preservation Association, formed in spring 2006, will commemorate the campaign this weekend with a larger scale event that the public is invited to, in hopes of educating people about this lesser-known Civil War campaign, the Baileys say.

Most of the events will take place in the Unger's Store area with an encampment of Civil War re-enactors on the grounds of Oakleigh, the house that served as Jackson's headquarters during the campaign.

People are welcome to come to the encampments to watch and ask questions so they can learn about the campaign and Civil War encampments during winter, the Baileys say.

Saturday morning, the re-enactors will prepare breakfast just as soldiers would have during the war, says Jim Henry Bailey. They will eat authentic-style food such as hardtack and bacon, cooking the bacon as it hangs on sticks over a campfire.

There will be toy wooden muskets for children to participate in drills Saturday morning.

After camp breaks Saturday, invited re-enactors will march the route of the campaign. The public is not invited to participate in the march, which will include walking along narrow back roads, but might see the men as they proceed along Route 13 and other roads.

At 1 p.m., the march will take a break for a ceremony at the Oakland Cemetery graveside of William Henry Harrison Lowe, a 19-year-old Confederate soldier believed to have died of pneumonia. Speakers will talk about the campaign and Lowe, whose grave was marked with a new stone two years ago.

On Sunday, the re-enactors will be in Berkeley Springs State Park, where they will have a campfire, do drills, cook a meal, talk to the public and possibly re-enact part of the Confederate occupation of Berkeley Springs with Union prisoners.

Normally, Civil War soldiers camped during the winter and didn't move or fight much due to the difficulties presented by the cold, ice and snow, says Jim Charles Bailey.

In late 1861, Union forces vastly outnumbered the Confederate Army in Maryland and northern Virginia (Berkeley Springs was part of Virginia at the time; West Virginia was formed and joined the Union in 1863.).

Back then, the only way to get over the mountains was by one or two roads, the canal, river and railroad, all of which were controlled by the Union.

Jackson surprised the Confederates when he had his men attack in winter. Conditions during the campaign ranged from warm to sleet, freezing rain and snow.

At Sir Johns Run upriver of Hancock and at Hancock, Union soldiers who didn't want to be captured by Jackson's men crossed the Potomac River amid chunks of ice. Many of the men weren't in boats but waded or swam across while those in boats had to break the ice to escape, Bailey says.

Out of 8,500 men in Jackson's army, almost 2,000 were incapacitated by pneumonia, flu, cold or frostbite during the campaign, Bailey says.

All of which was for naught after Davis ordered Jackson's men out of the area and the Union soldiers moved back in.




Schedule of events



Friday, Jan. 12

· 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Driving tour of the Bath/Romney campaign. Meet at Unger's Store (historically known as Unger's Crossroads) at 9 a.m.

· 5 to 8 p.m. Encampment on the grounds at Oakleigh, which is near Unger's Store.

Saturday, Jan. 13

· 8 to 10 a.m. Encampment on the grounds at Oakleigh.

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