The Battlefield at Kernstown

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Jan 3, 2019
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492
Location
Waynesboro, Virginia
#1
"The Battle of Kernstown. The Battle of Kernstown on March 23, 1862, set the stage for Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's successful Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862 during the American Civil War (1861–1865). While a tactical defeat for the Confederates, and Jackson's only loss, the battle nevertheless was an important strategic victory."

The house shown in two of the photos is The Pritchard House.
The Pritchard House
A Family Caught in the Midst of War!

The large brick dwelling before you is the Pritchard House, built by Steven C. Pritchard, Jr. and his son Samuel R. Pritchard. During the Civil War, Samuel, his wife Helen, and their two small children occupied the house. Fighting swirled around the home during the First and Second Battles of Kernstown, as it did during smaller engagements on June 13, 1863, and August 17, 1864. Whenever combat raged across the farmstead, Samuel sheltered his family in the cellar.


When the fighting subsided, the home was used as a field hospital, and Helen Pritchard, a Unionist from New York, personally cared for many wounded Union soldiers in the house. “If it had not been for me,” she recalled, “they would have died…” After Second Kernstown, Confederate soldiers carried the mortally wounded Colonel James A. Mulligan of the Union army into the house. A Confederate surgeon offered what little medical care he could, and a priest from the Louisiana Tiger Brigade gave Mulligan his Last Rites. Two days after the battle, Mulligan died peacefully as Helen Pritchard cradled his head in her arms.


With armies moving up and down the Shenandoah Valley throughout the war, the Pritchard Family (as did most other families) endured the loss of and damage to their property. After the First Battle of Kernstown, Union Colonel Nathan Kimball impressed seven of Pritchard’s horses to replace artillery horses killed in the battle. During the winter of 1864-1865, Major General Philip H. Sheridan’s Union Army occupied the Lower Shenandoah Valley, taking crops and harvesting a valuable stand of timber from Pritchard’s property to build and supply the Army’s large winter encampment near Kernstown. After the war, the Federal Government refused to reimburse the Pritchard’s for their losses because Samuel Pritchard could not prove his loyalty to the United States during the war, although many former Union officers supported his effort.

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