Battles on the Home Front
Harrisonburg and Rockingham County played a significant role in the Civil War. Harrisonburg was situated at the cross roads of two major highways, the Valley Turnpike (modern-day Rt. 11) and the Rockingham Turnpike (modern-day Rt. 33). It was also just 25 miles north of a huge Confederate rail and supply center in Staunton. At the time, Rockingham County was one of the most prosperous agricultural counties in the nation, thus it garnered the nickname “the breadbasket of the Confederacy.”
Begin your adventure at the Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center, where history comes alive in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Civil War Orientation Center offering stories of individuals, battles, and campaigns through film and interpretation, as well as the Valley Turnpike Museum hosting a Model of 1862 Harrisonburg and Engine 199.
While you’re in the Visitor Center, make sure to grab a copy of our Battles on the Home Front brochure and map, which will provide you with additional information about historic sites and museums in town as you plan your self-guided tour of our Civil War Trails.
A visit to the Virginia Quilt Museum in downtown Harrisonburg will also allow you to explore the rich history of the community. Located within a building that dates back to 1856, the museum’s grounds hold a history of their own, telling the story of a Civil War soldier and his bride. Don’t forget to ask about boy Major Joseph Latimer’s ghost that is sometimes felt at the top of the museum’s staircase.
Civil War markers can also be found at the Confederate Hospital, Rockingham County Courthouse, Massanutten Regional Library.
With the map as your guide, travel to Woodbine Cemetery; where more than 250 Confederate soldiers are buried. From there visit Mill Creek Church, which saw action during the Battle of Cross Keys. The Battles on the Home Front driving tour will take you from site to site on a journey through iconic Civil War history.
Round out your day of Civil War exploration by visiting another important historic landmark within Harrisonburg: the Turner Ashby Monument. This piece commemorates the site of Turner Ashby’s death in the Battle of Chesnut Hill on June 6, 1862.
It’s a day in New Market at the Virginia Museum of the Civil War. Take a self-guided battlefield tour and see artifacts and dioramas that convey the story of Virginia in the Civil War. Before you depart the area grab lunch at Jalisco Mexican Restaurant.