On March 23, 1862, in the opening battle of Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign, Jackson marched his army to Winchester after receiving inaccurate intelligence that only a small Union garrison was stationed there. Instead, the Confederates were confronted and greatly outnumbered by Federal troops at the Pritchard Farm in Kernstown where the Union army had placed an array of 16 artillery pieces atop Pritchards Hill. The battle raged throughout the day and swept over to the adjoining Glass Farm (Rose Hill) where the Confederates took cover behind a stone wall and exchanged fire with the Union.

The Confederates eventually retreated with high casualties in what would become Stonewall Jackson's sole defeat during the Civil War. Despite the defeat, Stonewall Jackson's threat to the Valley was taken seriously by President Lincoln, who diverted men and artillery away from McClellan's Peninsula Campaign toward gaining control of the Shenandoah Valley. Another clash would occur here two years later during the battle of Kernstown II.

Kernstown Battlefield Pritchard House Construction

Two Civil War battles raged over the Pritchard Farm at Kernstown, and the manor home served as a Union headquarters and field hospital for both.

Visiting the Kernstown I Battlefield

Your best bet to visit Kernstown I Battlefield is to begin at the visitor center at The Kernstown Battlefield on the Pritchard-Grim Farm. Here there is a museum, gift shop, artillery display, the ca. 1854 Pritchard House, and the Kernstown Battlefield Walking Trail as well as guided tours with local historians, special events, and re-enactments with costumed interpreters. Operated by the Kernstown Battlefield Association, the park is open seasonally on weekends. A scenic hiking trail takes you through major areas of battle action along a grass track that is a little hilly in places and climbs Pritchards Hill. There are guided tours of the Pritchard House that tell you about the history of the home and the Pritchard family and about the Kernstown Battlefield Association's ongoing restoration of this magnificent period home.

An exhibit in the Pritchard House contains a letter home from a Confederate soldier. The house is undergoing restoration and is open to the public seasonally on weekends.

After touring the Pritchard-Grim Farm portion of the battlefield, your next stop will be Rose Hill Park where the Glass Farm portion of the battlefield is preserved and interpreted. Here there is a 1.1 mile Loop Trail plus a .3 mile Stone Wall Spur Trail. Along the way interpretive signs tell the history of Rose Hill and describe the battle actions. Operated by the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, the park features rest rooms, a picnic pavilion, and benches for sitting, relaxing and enjoying the views. The trails are a little hilly and consist of gravel track.

Kernstown Rose Hill Battlefield Stone Wall Trail

During the Glass Farm portion of the battle, Confederate soldiers took cover behind a stone wall that was at the time about four to five feet in height.

Kernstown Rose Hill Battlefield Trail

Popular with history buffs, hikers and joggers, the scenic Rose Hill Park Trail is a little hilly in places and consists of gravel track.

Pictured at the very top: Union artillery was placed atop Pritchard Hill seen in the distance beyond the trees.

Visit Civil War Trust and Kernstown Battlefield Association for battle details and information about the preservation of this battlefield.