On September 19, 1864, in the bloodiest battle of the Shenandoah Valley, Union Gen. Sheridan first attacked Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's forces at Berryville Canyon and then at Middle Field. In the afternoon the Federals crossed Red Bud Run, a tributary of Opequon Creek, and pushed the Confederates back to Winchester. The Confederates made valiant stands on the outskirts of Winchester but retreated by nightfall, paving the way for the Sheridan's ultimate victory in the Valley at Cedar Creek.

An Algonquin Indian name that rhymes with 'I reckon', Opequon Creek is a tributary of the Potomac River. After intense fighting with heavy casualties, Early pushed Sheridan's men back, but the Union cavalry later returned with a vengeance causing Early's retreat. Opequon was Sheridan's first victory in the Valley, and a schoolteacher turned Union spy helped turn the tide. As a Quaker, Rebecca Wright was a staunch abolitionist. Sheridan dispatched a courier to request Early's position, the size of his forces, and his movements from Mrs. Wright. Risking imprisonment or death, she bravely recounted information she had learned from a wounded Confederate soldier that a full division of the Confederate army as well as artillery had been dispatched to Richmond. Based on her information that Early was low on troops and artillery, Sheridan proceeded with his planned attack.

Visiting the Opequon Battlefield

Your best bet to tour the Battle of Opequon is to start at the Third Winchester Battlefield Park Visitor Center on Red Bud Road north of Winchester. Here there are exhibits describing the Third Battle of Winchester as well as programs and events in a restored historic farmhouse. The center is located across the street from the Third Winchester Battlefield Tour and parking area. The combined trails on the walking tour cover 5 miles, but you can mix-and-match trails to create shorter hikes. The trails consist of gravel, paved and dirt roads. The trails are hilly in places and may not be accessible for everyone. Benches are provided at Hackwood Lane for resting and enjoying the views. The multi-use trails are popular with hikers, bikers, runners, and birders and provide scenic views of Opequon Creek and the surrounding countryside.

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

Pictured at the top: Hackwood Lane connected the Berryville Pike and the Valley Pike during the Civil War era.

Opequon Red Bud Run sunset

Union troops forded the waist-high bog at Red Bud Run under enemy fire to drive the Confederates back toward Winchester.

Opequon Shortcut Trail

The Shortcut Trail is one of five miles of trails that pass through the heart of the Opequon Battlefield.

Opequon Battlefield Preservation

The greatest battle facing Opequon today is the preservation of the battlefield itself amidst ever-encroaching suburban development.

Historical Photo

rebecca wright

A school teacher and Quaker from Winchester, Rebecca Wright turned Union spy after her father died in a Confederate prison.