Grand Caverns has been open continually since 1806. During the Civil War and the “Valley Campaign” the cave was visited by both Confederate and Union soldiers. There are over 200 verified civil war signatures in the cave. The most ‘famous’ signature is W W Miles. This signature is easily seen, and is one of the few pointed out to our visitors. Most of the signatures are very fragile, and are not pointed out in order to protect these historic ‘documents’.
The two largest engagements taking place near Cave Hill were the battle of Cross Keys on June 8, 1862 in which the Confederate forces were commanded by Maj. Gen Stonewall Jackson defeated Union forces led by Gen. John Freemont. On June 9, the following day, Jackson defeated a union force under the command of Brig. Gen. James Shields. The confederates lost approximately 1,100 men while Union losses were approximately 2,100 men. On June 11-17, 1862, Stonewalls troops camped along the South River and visited the Caverns (then known as Weyer's Cave)
The famous Confederate officer Turner Ashby lost his life in a skirmish on June 6, 1862 in Harrisonburg and was at state in Port Republic. Other well known names along with Jackson, Freemont, and Ashby were David Hunter, Percy Wyndham, Richard Ewell, and others. Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, Stonewall’s mapmaker, led an attack against enemy artillery being repulsed several times but eventually took the field.
On May 19, 1864 General Duvall, a Virginian of the 5th New York Volunteer Calvary, visited Grand Caverns with some of his officers and privates. Captain Kirkpatrick and others visited the Caverns on September 26, 1864 on their way to support an engagement in Waynesboro on the 28th.
Captian W W Miles,of the 14th Pennsylvania Calvary, visited and signed the Caverns on September 26, 1864.
Standing on Cave Hill today and viewing the serene landscape and bountiful farmland surrounding it, it is difficult to imagine that in a two day period in 1862, over 3,000 men lost their lives within a 5 mile range of Grand Caverns.
The information contained on this page is for general purposes only and may not contain the most current information. For answers to more specific questions or concerns, or to receive the latest information possible, please call the Grand Caverns main office.