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Virginia's Southside and Valley & Mountains

~ Hunter's Raid Driving Tour ~

Map available: Download the PDF.


On May 26, 1864, Union Gen. David Hunter marched south from Cedar Creek near Winchester to drive out Confederate forces, lay waste to the Shenandoah Valley and destroy transportation facilities at Lynchburg. His raid was part of Gen. U.S. Grant's strategy to attack Confederates simultaneously throughout Virginia. After defeating Gen. William "Grumble" Jones at Piedmont on June 5, Hunter marched to Staunton, then Lexington where he burned the Virginia Military Institute.

He then crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains heading to Lynchburg. There on June 17–18, Confederate Gen. Jubal Early repulsed Hunter and pursued him into West Virginia. Early then turned north to threaten the Union capital at Washington in July.

Here are the sites on the tour:

Battle of Piedmont, Trails sign on Route 608 north of New Hope - Sharp fighting north of here June 5, 1864, cleared the road to Staunton, Lexington and Lynchburg for new Union Valley commander David Hunter. Confederate Gen. William "Grumble" Jones, fighting his outnumbered and ultimately defeated troops, was killed here.

Staunton, Trails sign at the railroad station downtown – Hunter's troops entered town after the Battle of Piedmont and burned warehouses and things related to the important Virginia Central Railroad, that shipped Valley supplies to Richmond. The station on this site also was destroyed.

Brownsburg, Trails sign at the Brownsburg Museum, 2716 Brownsburg Turnpike, Brownsburg VA 24415  Road map  – After leaving Staunton, elements of Hunter's force were harassed by Confederate cavalry under Gen. John McCausland. Hunter skirmished with Confederates here before making camp the night of June 10, 1864 while McCausland fell back toward Lexington.

Lexington, Trails signs located at the visitor center downtown and in Jordan's Point Park on the Maury River – Hunter's men swept aside Confederate resistance, then occupied the town. His men burned the Virginia Military Institute and the home of Virginia Gov. John Letcher, among other buildings.

Natural Bridge, 15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge 24578  Road map  – Some of Hunter's troops detoured to see this famous attraction on their march from Lexington to Lynchburg. Confederates did the same while moving north after the Battle of Lynchburg.

Buchanan, Trails signs at Buchanan Bridge and Wilson Warehouse, just off Route 43 and public boat landing, and at Mount Joy, two miles southwest of Buchanan on Route 11 – Confederate cavalry put up a stiff fight here, defending the town at the terminus of the James River and Kanawha Canal. It was an important Confederate depot for shipment of supplies east to Richmond. Embers from the burning James River bridge destroyed several buildings in town. On their way out of town, Union soldiers destroyed Mount Joy, home of Confederate congressman John T. Anderson.

Peaks of Otter, Trails sign at the visitor center on the Blue Ridge Turnpike – Tells the story of the rough roads and the tough march the soldiers endured as they crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains on their way to Lynchburg. The wonderful views, though, must have been almost worth it.

Bedford, Trails sign located at the intersection of Main and Bridge streets and at Avenel (follow Trailblazer signs from Main Street for Avenel) – Union troops under Gen. David Hunter began arriving here June 15, 1864, and continued their mission of tearing up railroads and burning buildings used as Confederate supply depots. Following his occupation, Hunter marched to Lynchburg where he was defeated by Confederates under Jubal Early June 18.

New London Academy, Trails sign on Route 460 between Bedford and Lynchburg – Confederate cavalry challenged the Union march toward Lynchburg here in this tiny village. The delays here probably prevented Hunter and his Union troops from easily capturing the lightly defended city.

Lynchburg – See Southside Virginia for Battle of Lynchburg driving tour.

Hanging Rock Battlefield, near Roanoke just off Route 311 about 0.5 mile north of I-81 exit 141 – Markers and monuments mark the spot of a running battle fought June 21, 1864, between Confederate forces under Early and Union troops as Hunter was withdrawing from Lynchburg. A new park with an interpreted battle trail and Civil War Trails interpretation.