Fulkerson's Virginians Attack!
The low, marshy ground stretching from here to the distant road lay uncontested through the five-hour artillery duel that opened the First Battle of Kernstown. The scene changed dramatically at 2:00 P.M. when 900 Virginians marched toward this position from the leafless woods previously standing across the road.
Colonel Samuel V. Fulkerson led this Confederate attack. A lawyer from Abingdon, Virginia, Fulkerson received his orders directly from General "Stonewall" Jackson, who ordered him to "turn a battery of the enemy" on Pritchard's Hill (the hill directly behind you). To protect his men from the sixteen cannon that opposed him, Fulkerson placed the 37th Virginia and the 23rd Virgina in a formation that spanned 80 yards across and 200 yards deep. With Fulkerson leading his men on a white horse, 600 Virginians paced with him followed by the 33rd Virginia marching 150 yards behind them. As the head of the 37th Virgina passed by this position, the tail of the 33rd Virginia crossed the distant road into this field.
Union artillery fired upon the approaching Virginians, tearing gaping holes into the deep ranks of troops as they marched though the field. When Fulkerson shifted his men to the left, the horror intensified as the Confederate flanks became hopelessly exposed to the unrelenting cannon fire. Unable to reach his destination at the base of Pritchard's Hill, Fulkerson rushed his men westward across Middle Road (to your right) and up the wooded edge of Sandy Ridge. Perhaps as many as 80 Confederates were killed and wounded in the charge. One company, from Colonel Fulkerson's hometown, lost 24 men in this daring but fruitless assault.
(Center Sidebar, with portrait of Colonel Samuel V. Fulkerson):
Commending his men for fighting "with desperate courage," Colonel Samuel V. Fulkerson conspicuously led the assault across the fields in front of Pritchard's Hill. Considered "a great favorite" of "Stonewall" Jackson, Fulkerson's death at Gaines' Mill, three months after Kernstown moved Jackson to tears.
(Right Sidebar, with portraits of the Clarke brothers):
Edward Lindsey Clarke (top) was struck in the leg and arm by shell fragments during the charge against Pritchard's Hill, while his brother Clordoma (bottom) suffered a lesser wound. The brothers, serving in the 23rd Virginia infantry, survived their injuries and the remainder of the war.