On July 17, 1864, following an attempted attack on Washington D.C., Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early withdrew toward Winchester with the Union cavalry in pursuit. Early established his headquarters in Berryville and left a division to guard the ford at Castlemans Ferry on the Shenandoah River. The Union cavalry attempted to cross the river at Castlemans Ford but were driven back by Early's forces. The following day the Union crossed the river at Island Ford one mile north of the Confederate stronghold and deployed artillery on the eastern heights.

The Confederates formed battle lines in a wheat field and behind a stone wall west of the Shenandoah River. The Union attacked the Confederates near the stone wall on the wheat field amidst a rain of artillery fire from the bluffs on the east side of the Shenandoah River. The Confederates fell back without pursuit and the following day Early and his men withdrew from Berryville and headed toward Kernstown.

Visiting Cool Spring Battlefield

Your best bet to tour Cool Spring Battlefield is to begin at Shenandoah University's River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield. The campus is a little off the beaten path but can be reached by following Parker Road north from Rt. 7 in Bluemont for about a mile and a half. At the campus there is a picnic area, information kiosk, self-guided battlefield and nature trail as well as water sports and activities such as swimming and rafting on the scenic Shenandoah River. The 2-1/2 mile battlefield and nature loop trail begins at the information kiosk where there are self-guiding trail maps. This campus offers classes in Outdoor Leadership and Education, Environmental Studies and History. The information kiosk and trail guide were prepared by undergraduate students at the university.

Along this scenic trail there are two Virginia Civil War Trails markers describing the battle actions at Cool Spring as well as nine nature trail stops. The paved, level trail is highly accessible and suitable for mobility devices and scooters. The nature trail features fun learning activities for kids and kids-at-heart of all ages. The trail also provides views of the scenic Shenandoah River. The nearest public access point to the river is at Castlemans Ferry. Cool Spring Battlefield is open year round from dawn til dusk.

Visit Shenandoah University River Campus at Cool Spring and Civil War Trust for battlefield park information, battle details and information about the preservation of this battlefield.

Pictured at the top: Cool Spring Battlefield is preserved and interpreted at Shenandoah University's River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield.

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The Cool Spring battlefield and nature trail winds through fields and forest along the Shenandoah River.

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Wildflowers are abundant in late summer at Cool Spring.

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As a nocturnal hunter, a single bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in one night. Bat boxes like the one pictured here are a handy way to control insect pests along the trail.

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You can walk in history and scenic beauty at Shenandoah University River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield.