Jefferson County is the home of Frank Buckles, the only living U.S. soldier from WWI. He celebrated his 109th birthday on February 1, 2010.
Jefferson County, West Virginia provides for a dichotomy of restful experiences. You can just completely “veg out” here, or you can jump into a myriad of the outdoor recreation or history experiences.
Jefferson County, which was western Virginia at the time, has great history dating back to the American Revolution. George Washington’s family lived here as well as many of George Washington’s soldiers and military leaders.
Jefferson County — birthplace of the US Army
On July 16, 1775, Captain Hugh Stevenson and his company began their famous Bee Line March from Shepherdstown, traveling 600 miles to join the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their march took 24 days. Upon arrival they became the first company from the south to join Washington’s army. In 1989, the Secretary of the Army designated Morgan’s Grove, where they started the famous Bee Line March, as the birthplace of the United States Army.
John Brown put Harpers Ferry on the map
The town that bears Robert Harper’s name today was put on the map in October, 1859 when abolitionist John Brown and his men raided the arsenal in an attempt to free the slaves. Although the raid itself was a failure, John Brown’s message of the evils of slavery made it into most of the newspapers of the day. When Brown was hanged in Charles Town on December 2, 1859, he became a martyr for the cause. Many think the shots fire at the John Brown raid at Harpers Ferry were the first shots fired in the American Civil War.
Frederick Douglass, unofficial colored president of the day, said later, “If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery.”
Harpers Ferry was the scene of much action during the American Civil War, including the largest surrender of the war when Stonewall Jackson’s forces captured 12,500 Union soldiers at Bolivar Heights on Sept. 15, 1862. Maryland Heights, overlooking Harpers Ferry, was a strategic command post with whichever side commanding the heights also being able to control the town and the two rivers.
The Civil War intersected Jefferson County countless times
Jefferson County is also quite rich in Civil War history. A recent Civil War Trails committee listed thirty three significant sites relating to that conflict. Included among them were battles at Shepherdstown, Bolivar Heights, Summit Point, Cameron Depot, Leetown, Kabletown, Smithfield and Myers Ford. Other sites include Boteler’s Ford (also called Packhorse Ford) which was crossed by Lee’s army after the Battle of Antietam, Fountain Rock, Ryan Hall, The Bower, the Rutherford House and others.
Lee’s army retreated through Jefferson County following the battle at Antietam Creek (Sharpsburg, Maryland) and later his army crossed through Jefferson County on his way to Gettysburg.
General Ulysses S. Grant and General Phil Sheridan planned the Shenandoah Campaign on September 17, 1864 in the Rutherford House in Charles Town. The house now serves as the Carriage Inn Bed and Breakfast.