On September 21, 1864, after his defeat at Opequon, Early withdrew his forces to Fisher's Hill, nicknamed the 'Gibraltar of the Valley' for its unique defensive position in the center of the Shenandoah Valley at its narrowest point of just 4 miles between Little North Mountain and Massanutten. However, the defeat at Opequon left Early short of sufficient men and artillery to hold the 4-mile Confederate line. The line extended along Fishers Hill for several miles with the right flank anchored on Massanutten and the left flank falling short of Little North Mountain. This left Early's left flank unanorched, or 'up in the air.' Union Gen. Sheridan attacked and exploited this weakness, and the following day the Confederate line collapsed. Early retreated to Waynesboro, leaving the Valley undefended against Sheridan's mass destruction that came to be known as 'The Burning.'

Visiting the Fishers Hill Battlefield

Your best bet to tour the Battle of Fisher's Hill is to follow the Battle of Fisher's Hill Driving Tour published by Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. This scenic tour begins on the Valley Pike and takes you through the Early American village of Fishers Hill with its 1772 gristmill and water wheel and 1844 Stoner-Keller house.

The highpoint of the battlefield tour is the splendid Ramseur's Hill Trail named after Confederate Gen. Dodson 'Dod' Ramseur who was mortally wounded at Cedar Creek following the Battle of Fishers Hill. On the day after receiving word of the birth of his daughter via signal men on Signal Knob, Ramseur held the center of his line during Sheridan's counter-attack. Two horses were shot out from under him, and while on his third horse, Ramseur himself was mortally wounded. The Ramseur's Hill Trail is a scenic approximately 1-mile loop trail that consists of a mowed grass track that goes to the top of Ramseur's Hill where the Confederate left flank was positioned. The trail is a little steep in places but as it nears the top the trail winds through a shaded forest along a gravel trail that provides solid footing, and there are benches for sitting and relaxing. The trail features numerous stops with interpretive signs and benches for resting and enjoying the views.

Visit Civil War Trust and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation for battle details and information about the preservation of this battlefield.

Pictured at the top: The Ramseur's Hill Trail at Fishers Hill Battlefield was named after Confederate Gen. Dodson 'Dod' Ramseur who was mortally wounded at Cedar Creek.

fishers hill confederate lookout tree

Confederates on Ramseur's Hill used this old tree as a lookout by thinning some branches and constructing a viewing platform on it.

fishers hill confederate gibraltar

The fishers Hill Battlefield Trail provides views of Signal Knob on Massanutten.

fishers hill confederate gibraltar

Fishers Hill Battlefield lies within the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District.

Historical Photo

Fishers Hill Confederate Prisoners

Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher's Hill, VA. Sent to the rear under guard of Union troops, 1864. (Library of Congress)