Union Forces Commanded by:
Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright
Confederate Forces Commanded by: Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early
*Killed and Wounded/ m=missing Conclusion: Confederate Victory
On July 12, Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early was chased away from the Washington, D.C. area by the Union forces. Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright, and 3 Union corps, pursued and met Early's rear guard while crossing the Shenandoah River at Snickers Ferry, near the farm of Cool Spring. The Battle of Cool Spring is also known as Snickers Ferry or Parker's Ford. On July 17, during the afternoon, the Union cavalry division of Alfred Duffi, reached Snickers Ford and attempted to force a crossing. Two regiments of Confederate infantry and 2 artillery pieces positioned themselves on North Hill, overlooking the ford. They repulsed the Union crossing attempt. The Union cavalry then tried to cross at Shepherd's Ford, which was 2 miles south, but were repulsed again. During the night, the Union force continued south along the river, leaving a smaller force to guard the fords. On July 18,
in the morning, Union cavalry pickets once again attempted a crossing at Snickers Ford but were repulsed again. Col. ?? Thoburn's division, followed by the VI Corps, arrived on the Berryville Pike. Wright, Brig. Gens. William H. Emory, and George Crook met on River Hill. They established a signal station and brought up an artillery battery. They thought that Early was retreating back to Winchester and that the ford was defended only by some of his cavalry.
Because the earlier morning crossing at Snickers Ford was unsuccessful, the Union commanders decided to cross a division one mile downstream. The Union force left the main road onto a cart road that led to Judge Parker's house, mill, and ford. The nearby hills disguised the Union movement from the Confederate pickets on the west bank of the river.
At 3:00 P.M., the Confederate skirmishers were forced back from Parker's Ford and the Federals crossed the river at several different places. Once across, they spread out across the Cool Spring farm, while the main body deployed along a rise about 100 yards from the river. The entire Union force regrouped after the crossing and prepared to move south to uncover Snickers Ford. Some Confederates prisoners revealed that the fords had been defended by some infantry and that the Confederate army was close by. Col. ?? Thoburn alerted his superiors on River Hill and awaited further instructions. He was told that he would be supported by a division of the VI Corps, which had begun to arrive on the east bank near the Parker House.
In response to Thoburn's crossing, Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon's division advanced along the Berryville Pike. He deployed along the river bluffs north and south of North Hill. At the same time, Brig. Gen. Gabriel Wharton's division moved toward Cool Spring. He deployed his battle line and advanced on Cool Spring and forced the Union skirmishers back to their main line near the river. Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes's division was farther north at Gaylord but was set in motion to come up on the left of Wharton. Skirmishing extended along Wharton's and Gordon's fronts.
Thoburn hoped to hold out until he was reinforced or withdraw after dark. Rodes's division arrived, and was within striking distance of Thoburn's line. Rodes deployed to Wharton's left flank, his line bending in an arc almost at right angles to the river and the US right flank.
About 6:00 P.M., Rodes threw his division forward on a compact front, surprising and crushing the Union right.
Thoburn sent a regiment to reinforce his right flank, and both Federals and Confederates struggled for possession of the stone fence that bisected the wheatfield that they were in. A second Confederate attack drove Union forces back to another stone fence along the river bank. There, they held out against a third Confederate attack. Three Union artillery batteries were brought up from the heights on the east bank. A Union division was sent to the east river bank and engaged the Confederates.
The Union line held out until dark, then began to recross the river. An artillery duel between both forces broke out across the river. When the Federals were safely across the river, the artillery fire tapered off, ending about 9:00 P.M. Later, some Confederates advanced to the river, finding that the Union line had been abandoned.