On the morning of March 2, 1865, the remnants of Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's army defended the Valley one last time against Union invaders. Due to a tactical error on Early's part, it ended badly for the Confederates, who were captured and sent to Fort Delaware as prisoners, and paved the way for Union Gen. Sheridan's march to join the Army of the Potomac for the opening of the Appomattox Campaign and the final battles of the Civil War.

The last battle of the Valley Campaign was fought between what are now Pine and Cherry streets in the historic 'Tree Streets' neighborhood of Waynesboro. Early was expecting Sheridan's army as they marched from Staunton through the fog and freezing rain that morning. He built a defensive line along what is now Pine Avenue from 14th Street past Main close to the Plumb House. Early placed artillery facing west between 12th and 13th streets on a hilly area on the west side of the South River where the Confederates could get a good shot at the approaching Yankees. Unfortunately, Early left an 1/8 mile wide gap in the left flank between the Confederate line and the river thinking that the wooded area would offer protection. The Union quickly discovered the gap, and Custer ordered an attack on the exposed left flank. Since they were positioned on the west side of the river, the Confederates were trapped between the Union line and the river behind them.

Visiting the Waynesboro Battlefield

Your best bet to tour the Battle of Waynesboro, which is now entirely privately-owned residential property in a historic district, is to begin at the Waynesboro Heritage Museum and view the Battle exhibit. From the museum, you can walk or drive up to the site where the Confederate artillery was positioned along Pine Avenue. From here, you can walk or drive up 13th or 14th to South Magnolia Avenue, turn left and proceed for a few blocks into Ridgeview Park. Here there are views of the South River that played an important role in the outcome of the battle. From Ridgeview Park, head back down to Pine and turn left. The Plumb House Museum was struck by cannon fire and raided by Sheridan's army during the Battle of Waynesboro. It will be on the right just after Pine bends sharply to the left. You can park in the lot by the playing field and enter the museum from the rear. Next, head back down Pine about 100 feet to the back entrance of Stone Soup Books on the left where Confederate trenches were dug during the Battle.

History courtesy of and many thanks to Richard G. Williams Jr. ,
Remembering the Battle of Waynesboro.

Pictured at the top: The South River winds through present day Ridgeview Park. The river runs fast and deep with strong currents after late-winter snow and rain and trapped the Confederates during the attack.

waynesboro battle ridgeview park bench waynesboro battle ridgeview park picnic tables

Union troops would have marched in the area of present-day Ridgeview Park on the morning of the Battle, and Gen. Jubal A. Early formed the Confederate line along what is now Pine Avenue near Ridgeview Park. An attorney and West Point graduate, 'Old Jube' was a colorful character known to be aggressive, outspoken and given to highly imaginative cussin'. Referring to him as a 'bad old man', Robert E. Lee placed Early in charge of defending the Valley. Early drove Union forces from Lynchburg and headed down the Valley holding off Union troops with his small, ragtag army until their eventual defeat at Waynesboro.

waynesboro plumb house museum

The oldest frame house in Waynesboro, the Plumb House, was built in 1804 and now houses a Museum containing Civil War exhibits and 19th century artifacts.