Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Battle of New Market: The Trans-Mississippi Connection

Recently, I read Charles R. Knight’s excellent book titled Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May 1864 (New York: Savas Beatie, 2010). How can there possibly be a connection between a Virginia campaign and the trans-Mississippi? I kid myself sometimes by thinking that I know a lot about the Civil War, and then I read a book like Valley Thunder and realize that I still have much to learn. For instance, I learned that there was a company of Missouri Confederates that fought at the battle of New Market. I had no idea until then that any Missouri Confederates served in Virginia!

Based on information from Knight’s book plus James E. McGhee’s Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865 (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2008), THE source on Missouri Confederate units, I learned that Charles H. Woodson and Edward H. Scott received permission to raise a company from “exchanged Missouri prisoners in late June 1863” (McGhee, p. 164). Raised as a cavalry company, these Missourians were attached to the 62nd Virginia Mounted Infantry. At the battle of New Market, the 62nd Virginia, along with Woodson’s men, fought as infantrymen and held the center of the line. The Virginia Military Institute’s Cadet Battalion were to their left during the most intense part of the battle. Woodson’s company has the distinction of suffering the highest proportion of casualties during the battle of New Market. Knight estimates that 62 Missourians were in the ranks, and that the company suffered 8 killed and 33 wounded for a total of 41; that amounts to a 66% casualty rate.

In 1905, a simple monument to Woodson’s Company was dedicated on the New Market battlefield. According to Knight, the marker reads:

“’This rustic pile/The simple tale will tell:/It marks the spot/Where Woodson’s Heroes fell’” (Knight, p. 295).


  1. Thanks for reading; glad you enjoyed it. Woodson's company is a fascinating lot - the people of the Valley really took a liking to them.

  2. Your book has inspired me to do some more reading about Woodson's men! I noticed from the book jacket that you live in Norfolk now--are you working on any other Civil War projects at this time?

    Thanks so much for writing.