(The Battle of the Opequon)
September 19, 1864
The decisive assault in the campaign set in motion by General Grant to free the Shenandoah Valley from the control of the Confederacy took place here. This high ground was part of Winchester's defensive rampart against attack from the east.
At daybreak the first gunfire was heard as General Ramseur's North Carolinians fired on Capt. Hull's NY Cavalry as it emerged from the Berryville Canyon (VA 7 near the I-81 overpass) 1.5 miles northeast of here.
General Philip Sheridan's 39,000 Federal troops converged throughout the day on Winchester from the east and north to compel the withdrawal of General Jubal A. Early's 15,000 Southerners. The relentless advance of Federal troops was contested by men in mortal combat in every segment of the Confederate's shrinking front. Overpowered, the Confederates finally withdrew southward at sundown through town, Ramseur their rear guard. General Archibald C. Godwin was killed here as his men rallied to him and is buried in this cemetery.
As the sun set, this cemetery ridge was the southern anchor of the Confederate battle line, which stretched in an arch east and north of town to the vicinity of Fort Collier and Star Fort.
Many of those buried here lie near where they fell in battle. The remains of many that died in local fields, homes, or hospitals between 1861 and 1865 are also interred in the hallowed rows or in family plots.
Union dead lie in the National Cemetery just across Woodstock Lane.
These Honored Remains: Destiny's Debris When Diplomacy Fails.