June 5

This Day in History

Civil War

Jun 5, 1864:

Union routs Rebels at the Battle of Piedmont

At the Battle of Piedmont, Virginia, Union forces under General David Hunter rout a Confederate force led by General William "Grumble" Jones, giving the North their first real success in the 1864 Shenandoah campaign.

As part of his attempt to knock out the Confederates in Virginia, Union General Ulysses S. Grant sent Franz Sigel to neutralize Rebel forces in the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia. But Sigel did little to assist Grant, instead presiding over a Union defeat at New Market on May 15.

Hunter, who replaced Sigel, quickly moved toward the rail center at Staunton with some 11,000 soldiers and another 5,000 cavalry troopers. Resisting him were about 5,600 troops under the command of Jones and John D. Imboden, cobbled together from various Confederate units scattered about western Virginia.

As the Union force marched south to Staunton, Imboden moved his part of the army to block the Yankees. They met north of Piedmont, where Hunter attacked on the morning of June 5 and forced Imboden to retreat. After being reinforced by Jones at Piedmont, the Confederates spread out to stop the Federals but left a small gap in their lines that later proved fatal. The Union troops pressed through the gap, and Jones was killed while leading an attempt to drive the Yankees back. The Confederate line was broken, and the Southerners retreated. Six hundred soldiers were killed or wounded, and another 1,000 were captured; the Yankees lost 800. Rebel opposition evaporated, and Hunter entered Staunton the next day. The victory cleared the way for Union occupation of the upper Shenandoah Valley.

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