Young), visited the theater of events recorded in this chapter early in October, 1866.
Having explored places made famous by the exploits of Sheridan
and others at a later period of the war, from Harper's Ferry
, and at Kernstown
, Cedar Creek
, and Fisher's Hill
, we left Strasburg
at nine o'clock in the evening,
in an old-fashioned stage-coach, making three of nine passengers inside, with a remainder on the top. Our route lay along the great Valley Pike from Winchester
to Staunton, a distance of fifty miles, and we were at breakfast in Harrisonburg
the next morning at eight o'clock. An hour later we were on our way to the battle-fields of Cross Keys
and Port Republic
, in a well-worn and rusty pleasure-carriage belonging to a colored man, the proprietor of a livery-stable, who furnished us with an intelligent colored driver and a good team of horses.
It was a very beautiful morning; and in the clear atmosphere the lofty hills of the Blue Ridge
on the east, the Short Shenandoah Mountains
on the west, and the Massanutten range northward, were perfectly defined.
Our driver was a competent guide, being familiar with the events and the localities in that region, and we anticipated a day of pleasure and profit, and were not disappointed.
A mile south of Harrisonburg
we turned to the left up a rough, lane-like road, that skirted the field upon a ridge in which Ashby
The place of his death was at the edge of a wood two hundred yards north of the road.
The abrupt southern end of Massanutten Mountain
, on which Jackson
had a signal-station while Banks
lay near him, arose like a huge buttress above the general level, seven miles to our left, while before us and to the right was a beautiful hill country, bordered by distant mountain ranges.
We soon came to the battle-ground of Cross Keys
, sketched the Union Church
(see page 396), that was in the midst of the storm of conflict, and rode on to Port Republic
, twelve miles from Harrisonburg
, where we passed over a substantial new bridge on the site of the one fired by Ewell
After spending a little time there, we rode through the once pretty but then dreadfully dilapidated and half-deserted village, forded the Shenandoah
(which was very shallow because of previously dry weather) a little above the town, and rode on two miles to the house of Abraham Mohler
, the owner of Weyer
's Cave near by, where we ordered dinner, and then proceeded with a guide to explore the famous cavern.
Near it was the camping-ground of Jackson
We climbed a steep ridge, about one hundred and fifty feet above a tributary of the Shenandoah
at its base, entered a rocky vestibule, each with a lighted tallow candle, and went down by rough paths and sometimes slippery acclivities far into the awful depths of the mountain, along a labyrinth of winding passages among the rocks.
Chamber after chamber, recess after recess, passage after passage was visited until we were many hundred feet from the daylight.
Here we were compelled to stoop because of the lowness of the roof; there its glittering stalactites were ninety feet above us; and everywhere we had the most strange and wonderful visions of cavern scenery.
Nowhere did we find regularity of forms, nor abundant reasons for many of the fanciful names given to the localities, which Cooke
's valuable little guide-book contains.
This is not the place nor the occasion to describe this really great wonder