Soon after Gettysburg, the Federal cavalry crossed the Potomac River on July 15, and occupied Shepherdstown.
The following day, July 16, the Federals advanced toward Kearneysville where they were met by mounted Confederate forces, which drove the Federals back to within a mile of Shepherdstown.
The hilly and rocky ground was ill-suited for effective cavalry combat, so both Union and Confederate horsemen dismounted and fought. The line of battle extended a mile and a half on both the North and South sides of the road. Townspeople could hear heavy cannonading from the severe fight.
The Federal troops held up in Butler's Woods, where they remained until midnight and then retreated in the direction of Harper's Ferry.
During this battle, Col. James Drake of the 1st Virginia Cavalry was killed, which led to Shepherdstown soldier William Morgan's promotion to colonel.
(In 1910, to commemorate the slain colonel's death, Confederate veterans placed monument marker No. 2 on W.Va. 480 near Ridge Road; Drake's name remains on the original base.)
When the Battle of Kearneysville, began early on the morning of Aug. 25, 1864, there were 18,000 to 20,000 men - infantry, artillery, and cavalry - on the field.
The Union cavalry charge, involving more than 2,000 horsemen was the outstanding feature of the early fighting, while the flanking movement of the Confederate infantry, about noon, was the decisive outcome of the battle.
Union troops retreated toward Shepherdstown around 1 p.m., followed by the Confederates. When the Union troops attempted to take a stand just south of Shepherdstown (in the area of present day Morgan's Grove Park to Ridge Road, and north of W.Va. 480), the Confederates renewed their attack and forced the Union troops to retreat toward Halltown. At this point, there were about 13,000 troops involved.
The Civil War Atlas has a map of the Aug. 25, 1864 battle, showing the battle area from Kearneysville to the present day Morgan's Grove Park area, drawn by topographer Jedediah Hotchkiss.
A book about Hotchkiss recounts many of his day-by-day activities - sketching battle areas, visiting with Alexander Boteler, and on one occasion, being so exhausted that he fell asleep on a street in Shepherdstown.
Several years ago while at the Library of Congress, I had the privilege of holding, in gloved hands, one of his diaries/sketchbooks. One small, worn color pencil that Hotchkiss used to sketch his maps was still with the journal.
It may have been during the 1864 fight that a cannonball hit and became lodged in the southwest corner of Falling Spring, the home of Col. Morgan, near Morgan's Grove Park. And perhaps it was also during this battle or earlier ones, that a small barn, which still stands, near Morgan's Grove Road, was used as a hospital for wounded horses.
Another aside to that battle: During the four years of war, both Union and Confederates encamped in the woods between present day Morgan's Grove Road and Flowing Springs Road. A young eyewitness to the four years of turmoil near his home, Falling Spring, Augustine Morgan (Colonel Morgan's son) vividly remembered talking with a soldier, who with his troops, was camped in the woods near the house.
The man - with "his fine soldierly bearing, his blue eyes, fair skin and yellow hair, inclined to curl, and reaching his shoulders" - was later identified as Maj. Gen. George Armstrong Custer.