The Battle of McDowell, Confederates Hold the High Ground, 1862 Valley Campaign

Inscription reads: "Beyond the ridge you are facing is Sitlington's Hill. On the afternoon of May 8, 1862, Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson directed two brigades of Confederate infantry to take position on the hill facing the Federals across Bull Pasture Creek in front of the village of McDowell. As the afternoon grew late, the Federals, commanded by Gen. Robert H. Milroy, crossed the swollen Bull Pasture Creek using the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike bridge and advanced against the right of Johnson's position held by the 31st Virginia Infantry. The Federals gained some success until this portion of the Confederate line was stabilized by the arrival of Gen. William Taliaferro's brigade of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Valley Army en route from Staunton."  

The Federals then launched a furious assault against the Confederate center held by the 12th Georgia Infantry supported by Taliaferro as his regiments came onto the field. As darkness fell, the fierce volleys continued claiming heavy casualties on both sides. Col. Samuel Gibbons of the 10th Virginia Infantry was killed and General Johnson was removed with a severe ankle wound.  Shortly before 9 p.m., the Federals broke off their unsuccessful attack, burned their camps, and began their retreat toward Franklin.

The hiking trail to your right leads to the top of Sitlington's Hill.  The trail, marked by blue-painted stripes, is a steady incline approximately one mile long. The trail ends at the Confederate position on Sitlington's Hill and affords spectacular views of the surrounding terrain. Appropriate clothing is recommended.

This parking area is built upon land donated by Lt. Col. Leonard Harris, U.S. Army (Ret.), and his cousin John Howard "Duffy" Smith.  Their family was deeded property here shortly after the Civil War. Allegedly, Robert Sitlington, a wealthy landowner, gave small parcels of land to slaves he had freed. The cousins' great-grandfather, John Smith, was a free man and a community leader in the African American community near McDowell called Anthony's Burg. Leonard Harris was raised by his grandparents, Ulysses Grant Smith and Callie Stewart Smith. He remembers many Civil War artifacts in the old homestead, including a well-preserved rifle and bayonet.