Inscription reads: "Near this site on April 17, 1861, approximately one hundred local citizens, many of whom had just enlisted in The Staunton Artillery, met to board trains for Harper's Ferry. They were led by prominent local citizen John D. Imboden, who would remain an active figure throughout the war during which he served as a Confederate General." This neighborhood was the commercial heart of Staunton, with numerous warehouses and factories located close to the railroad station of the Virginia Central Railroad. Staunton served as an important supply center, providing a vital link between the Shenandoah Valley - "The Breadbasket of the Confederacy" - and Richmond, the Capital of the Confederate States, and other points east. In June 1864, Union Gen. David H. Hunter's troops destroyed the station and area factories, foundries, stables, warehouses and mills as well as one of two newspaper offices. The newspaper which survived did so because the publisher had hidden the presses, which he was able to use to publish his newspaper within hours after the departure of Hunter and his troops. While in Staunton, Hunter's headquarters was located in the Virginia Hotel which stood nearby on New Street. The Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, which survives in Staunton, served as a military hospital for the duration of the Civil War. Directly across from the railroad station stands the old American Hotel, built in 1854 by the Virginia Central Railroad. A leading hostelry for many years, notable guests included the reconstruction Governor of Virginia Francis Harrison Pierpont in July 1866 and Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard in 1874. In June 1874, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife were serenaded by Staunton's Stonewall Brigade Band from the front of the hotel when their train passed through town. The band would later perform in Grant's funeral procession in New York City and again at the dedication ceremonies for Grant's Tomb. This unexpected kinship began when Grant made an exception by allowing the Stonewall Brigade Band to keep their instruments at the surrender at Appomattox. It is the nation's oldest, continuously performing band which receives municipal support.
Last Updated: 7/20/2011 2:42 PM