Inscription reads: "The Battle of McDowell began three miles to the southeast (near the intersection of Routes 629 and 716) when Confederates were fired upon by Union cavalry on May 7, 1862. After skirmishing, Federals rushed to the base camp here, sounding the alarm as they rode through." A Northern cavalryman wrote, "Our company was the only company in the fight. They were the furthest company out - five miles beyond Shenandoah Mountain. They were cut off by Johnson's force, and the only way they had to get back was to fight their way, which they did nobly. We lost but one man [but] had six horses killed in the road, and tenmore shot that will never get well." This land was part of a farm abandoned by Henry Ryan, a prosperous settler who had moved from the area because he was a pacifist. On May 8, 1862, a Staunton diarist wrote, "General Johnson suprised the Federal scouts, some 200 cavalry, on yesterday at Ryan's in the Pastures...Cannonading was heard today from early morning till four o'clock p.m. in the direction of Shenandoah Mountain." Georgia troops had camped in Ryan's fields while stationed atop Shenandoah Mountain. After they abandoned Camp Shenandoah on April 19, Federals advanced to this point, with cavalry stationed to the east as pickets. "The enemy... had retreated up the Shenandoah Mountain but we supposed was still holding our "Fort Johnson" at the pass on the top. The General ordered me to go up the spur of the mountain on our right, preceded by a line of skirmishers.... We had to scramble up a steep slope but finally reached the top only to find the enemy all gone but seeing their rear guard on the top of Shaw's Ridge." Jed Hotchkiss, Stonewall Jackson's mapmaker, May 7, 1862.
Last Updated: 7/20/2011 2:56 PM