"What news now?"
— 1864 Valley Campaign —
The Federal offensive in the Shenandoah Valley begun in May 1864 faltered in the summer with Confederate victories and Gen. Jubal A. Early's Washington Raid in July. Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan took command in August, defeated Early at Winchester in September and Cedar Creek in October, burned mills and bars, and crushed the remnants of Early's force at Waynesboro on March 2, 1865. Sheridan's victories contributed to President Abraham Lincoln's reelection in November 1864 and denied Gen. Robert E. Lee's army much-needed provisions from the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy."
Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan and Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early jockeyed for position in the Shenandoah Valley for several weeks in July 1864. With Gen. Robert E. Lee reinforcing Early, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered Sheridan to remain on the defensive and protect his army. Sheridan moved his army north from Berryville to prepared works a Halltown, a movement that convinced Early, erroneously, that Sheridan was "timid".
On Sunday, August 21, 1864, as Sheridan marched to Halltown, Early attacked Sheridan's mile-and-a half long position on the hills here with Gen Robert E. Rodes's infantry division. The fight lasted from about 9 A.M. until dusk, and the hottest action took place here. In Washington at 3 P.M., an anxious Lincoln telegraphed an officer in Harpers Ferry "What news now?"
The fight here resulted in 260 Union casualties and 160 for the Confederates. The victories that Lincoln needed for reelection came first in September at Atlanta, Georgia, and then in the Valley, thanks to the "timid" Sheridan.
This ruin is the northwestern corner of Locust Hill, he home of John B. and Lucy W. Packett. They and their slaves sheltered inside until Lt. Henry J. Nichols, 1s Vermont Heavy Artillery, led them to safety at Henry B. Davenport's House. Nine Confederate artillery shells struck Locust Hill and set it on fire twice as Federal sharpshooters occupied the second floor. The house burned in 1973, killing six people.