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Captain Stump at New Market


By Tim Sullivan



While awaiting General Breckinridge’s re-enforcements to come up, General Imboden was engaged in a series of delaying actions against Major General Franz Sigel as he advanced up the Valley.1


On May 14, Imboden’s brigade formed a battle line across the pike, four miles below New Market at Rude’s Hill. Sigel ordered Colonel Augustus Moor forward to ascertain Imboden’s strength. At 3 P. M., Major Quinn’s cavalry, engaged the rebel skirmishers, with Colonel Wynkoop’s cavalry quickly coming up in support. The Confederates were steadily driven back until New Market was reached. With the infantry and artillery now in support, Colonel Moor’s artillery unlimbered and opened fire. Imboden’s battery returned fire but the cannonading soon ceased.2


As the intense dark night fell, it began to rain; Colonel Moor was now afforded the opportunity to realign his forces more to the front along the Shenandoah River. The Federals now arrayed in perfect order of battle were ordered to remain in position. Around 8 P. M., Captain Stump’s Co. B was spotted crossing an open field, directly in front of Major Edward W. Stephens’ 1st WV Infantry. The 1st WV waited quietly in position until the Confederates came within range of their muskets.3


About 9 P. M. General Imboden summoned Lt. Charles W. Buchanan, Co. G, 18th Regt to his headquarters. Imboden stated to the Lt. that he had good news and that General Breckinridge was now encamped at Lacey Springs and that we must fall back to that position to avoid the danger of a night attack. The General went on to say that Captain Stump and his Co. were deployed to the left of town as skirmishers and that the Lt.’s mission was to bring Capt. Stump in. The Lt. feeling uneasy about the mission stated: “General, you know Sigel occupies the hill just in front of us.” Imboden, well aware of Sigel’s position eased the Lt.’s fears by stating that the mission was both “difficult and dangerous” but through his “courage and discretion” he would be able to accomplish the mission.4


The Lt. thanked the General and rode off in search of Capt. Stump. The thick darkness, hindered the Lt.’s search for Capt. Stump, forcing him to return to the main street of town. Lt. Buchanan stood listening to the still of the night for but a few minutes, when Colonel C. T. O’Ferrell, of the 23rd VA Cav. rode up on him. The Colonel was also looking for skirmishers, but from his regt. and after conversing for a few minutes, the officers departed their separate ways. Shortly thereafter, Lt. Buchanan’s horse noisily stumbled over some rocks, attracting a heavy volley of fire from the enemy. Capt. Stump’s Co. immediately returned the fire and from their rifle blaze the Lt. was able to ascertain Capt. Stump’s position, which was but a short distance away. With Imboden’s orders delivered, Lt. Buchanan and Capt. Stump’s Co. withdrew to headquarters.5


With Captain Stump’s disengagement of enemy forces, Imboden withdrew south, to the excellent defensive position on Shirley’s Hill.6


In the early morning on the 15th, Sigel’s aide de camp, Major Lang was ordered forward to ascertain the night’s skirmish. Arriving at Colonel Moor’s position, Maj. Lang learned that Imboden withdrew from the front during the night. The Major, pushing the reconnaissance further and taking an elevated position, witnessed the rebel skirmish line forming across the Valley floor. In but a short time, Confederate forces had formed their first and second lines of battle at leisure. Major Lang’s repeated messages for Sigel to push forward with his entire army went unheeded. The day was lost when the over-confident Sigel finally came up. The rebel assault hurled Sigel’s forces down the Valley, inflicting some 600 casualties.7




1 Delauter, Roger U. “62nd Virginia Infantry,” Lynchburg: H. E. Howard, Inc. 1988 pg. 28


2 Lang, Theodore F. “Loyal West Virginia 1861 to 1865,” Baltimore: The Deutsch Publishing   CO.1895 pg. 112


3 Ibid


4 Potts, J. N. “Who Fired The First Gun At New Market?,” Confederate Veteran., XVII 1909 pg. 453


5 Ibid


6 Delauter, Roger U. “18th Virginia Cavalry,” Lynchburg: H. E. Howard, Inc. 1985 pg 19


7 Lang, pgs. 113, 114