The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley
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Civil War Railroads in the Shenandoah Valley
Map of the B & O Railroad at the Time of the Civil War
From Jefferson County west to Brady's at the mouth of Patterson's Creek, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad runs on the south side of the Potomac River in what is now West Virginia (the Potomac is outlined by blue and the railroad in yellow). This route was one of the Union's main supply lines to Wheeling on the Ohio River and on to the west. Stonewall Jackson was one of the Confederates who realized the importance of disrupting this vital Union supply line. Gen. Jackson realized that at the mouth of three Hampshire County valleys - the Cacapon, the South Branch and Patterson's Creek - the railroad was on Confederate territory. His tactical training told him that these three rivers and their wide valleys were highways for his soldiers to use in lightning strikes at the B&O.
Jackson decided he must to destroy this vital supply line and so he embarked on the Romney Campaign in early 1862. He decided to make Romney on the South Branch River his base of operations for a campaign to destroy the railroad as it passed through Confederate territory.
For the most part the campaign was a failure; however, it was the bitter cold winter weather and political wrangling in Richmond that caused Jackson to abort the campaign. For the rest of the war Romney was considered important to the Union strategy, because it guarded the approaches to the B&O as it made its way along the Potomac River.
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