On this date, October 18, 1863, 150 years ago today, there was fighting on the streets of Charlestown (now Charles Town).
Although the engagement was fairly small, the courthouse and town were shelled by Brig. General John Imboden’s Confederate artillery. The Confederates including the 18th Virginia Cavalry and the 62nd Virginias Mounted Infantry fought the Union cavalry (6th Michigan Cavalry and Loudoun Rangers), commanded by Colonel Benjamin J. Simpson, on the outskirts of town.
The Maryland Infantry (Union) had taken position at the courthouse. The shelling eventually led Simpson to surrender his men (totaling 365). A Union force from the 34th Massachusetts Infantry arrived around 5 p.m. from Berryville to chase Imboden’s forces out of town.
Casualties were recorded as 452 Union and 61 Confederate, including dead, wounded and captured. The Jefferson County Courthouse could certainly be listed as a casualty of this skirmish too as it was virtually destroyed in the artillery attack.
Within the last few years, a live Confederate shell was found in the wall of a structure under renovation just one block south of the courthouse in Charles Town. That shell is believed to have been from Imboden’s artillery bombardment. The shell has since been defused. It is now in possession of the Jefferson County Museum where it is on display.
Civil War marker 18 located at 531 S. George Streets in Charles Town and part of the Military Operations in Jefferson County and placed by the United Confederate Veterans commemorates this action and others in Charles Town.
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