Today in History:


Battle Name: Piedmont
Other Names: None
State: Virginia
Location: Augusta County
Campaign: Lynchburg Campaign (May-June 1864)
Dates: June 5-6, 1864
Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. David Hunter [US]; Brig. Gen. William E. Jones [CS]
Forces Engaged: 14,000 total (US 8,500; CS 5,500)
Estimated Casualties: 2,375 total (US 875; CS 1500)

After replacing Sigel in command of Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, Maj. Gen. David "Black Dave" Hunter renewed the Union offensive. On June 5, Hunter engaged the Confederate army under "Grumble" Jones north of Piedmont. After severe fighting, a flanking movement made by Thoburn’s brigade turned Jones’s right flank. While trying to stem the retreat of his soldiers, Jones was killed. The retreat became a rout. More than 1,000 Confederates, including 60 officers, were captured. Jones lost three guns. Hunter occupied Staunton on June 6 and, after a pause to await the arrival of Brig. Gen. George Crook’s column, began to advance on Lynchburg, destroying military stores and public property in his wake.


From the Marker:
Final Action at New Hope


The Battle of Piedmont, fought on June 5, 1864 between Union Gen. David Hunter and Confederate Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones. ended here. It began more than a mile northeast when the 12,000-man strong Federal army, whose mission was to scour the Shenandoah Valley of Confederates and then destroy the rail center at Charlottesville, encountered Jones's combined force of 6,000 infantry and cavalry. The third Union assault uphill against Jones's fortified line ended in Confederate disaster when Jones was killed while trying to rally his men during a Union flank attack.


The Southerners retreated across the Middle River to the west, as well as south behind you on the old East Road (present-day Rte. 608). Just north of you, where the road curves, the ground was forested in 1864. There Capt. John H. McClanahan's Confederate battery in a rear-guard action, deployed a two-gun section and cut down pursuing Federal cavalrymen as they charged four abreast on the narrow road. The Southerners regrouped at Fishersville, then marched east to the Blue Ridge and blocked the gaps, thereby compelling Hunter to change his targets to Lexington and Lynchburg.


New Hope became a hospital, and soldiers who died of their wounds were buried nearby. The Methodist church cemetery contains one marked Confederate grave, and the bloodstained wooden floor in the original church still survives, covered by linoleum.


The Battle of Piedmont cost the Confederates some 1,600 casualties, and the Federals lost about 875. On June 6, the Confederate supply base at Staunton fell to Hunter's army. At Lexington on June 11, Hunter ordered the home of former Virginia war governor John Letcher and buildings of the Virginia Military Institute to be burned.


Hunter's spring campaign ended June 15-17 when he was defeated at the Battles of Lynchburg and Hanging Rock by Jubal Early and the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Results: Union victory

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