Battle of Falling Waters tour popular


Gimbel gives talk on Civil War skirmish


July 3, 2011
By Jenni Vincent - Journal staff writer ( ,

SPRING MILLS - It seems more and more folks are becoming interested in the Battle of Falling Waters, at least based on the standing-room-only crowd that turned out Saturday for a presentation by local historian Gary Gimbel followed by an in-depth tour of local sites associated with the Civil War skirmish.

After all available chairs had been filled, some of the approximately 60 audience members stood for his presentation at the North Berkeley Public Library, including Morgan County resident Paula Jacobs.

Because she's only been in the area about a year, Jacobs decided to attend the popular session as a way to find out more about local history, since she'd already been studying history while commuting to work out of town.

Article Photos

Falling Waters Battlefield Association President Gary Gimbel speaks to an audience of about 60 people Saturday afternoon as he prepares to take them on an in-depth tour of the local battle site in northern Berkeley County. (Journal photo by Jenni Vincent)


"I went through the colonial history and now I'm doing the Civil War history, so it's interesting and worthwhile to me to come see what happened nearby. Everyone goes to Antietam, but this is something different," Jacobs said, adding that local landmarks now have new meaning.

"I drive past Stumpy Hollow but I've never stopped there, so now I have a different perspective," she said.

Stumpy Hollow, located on W.Va. 901, was one of the tour's stops, since it was where 44 Union soldiers were captured during the battle, which occurred on July 2, 1861, according to Gimbel, who is president of the Falling Waters Battlefield Association.

Gimbel readily acknowledged his passion for learning more about the battle since his wife first noticed a local monument along W.Va. 9 honoring Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, who was only a colonel at the time of the battle and relatively unknown in military circles, he said.

He said the two armies met just north of the current intersection of Hammond's Mill Road and U.S. 11 on the farm of William Rush Porterfield.

During his presentation, Gimbel also stressed that the local battle lasted only about 35 minutes, had few casualties and is sometimes labeled a skirmish - a label he doesn't necessarily disagree with, he said.

But it does have a place in history because it helped propel Jackson onward - leading to his well-known nickname, Gimbel said.

"Granted the timing of this battle was also important and if it had happened two years later, it wouldn't have got a mention. But because of when it happened, the media was all over it," he said.

However it also had some "important repercussions," Gimbel said.

"Although tactically the Battle of Falling Waters was a Union victory, strategically the Confederates were successful. From this point on, Union Gen. Robert Patterson would be less aggressive, thinking he was up against a larger Confederate force," he said.

Eventually there was a re-enforcement of the Confederate troops preparing to fight along Bull Run at Manassas, Va., which was the Civil War's first major land battle, Gimbel said.

Less than three weeks after Falling Waters, on July 21, 1861, the Confederates won a decisive victory at the Battle of Manassas, where Jackson his nickname of Stonewall, he said.

Although all of the local battlefield has since been developed to some extent, signs have been erected to help people understand what happened, and his nonprofit organization hopes to do more toward that end, Gimbel said.

Additional information is available online at

- Staff writer Jenni Vincent can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 138, or





From I-81 take Spring Mills Exit 20, then proceed West on Hammonds Mill Road (WV 901).  T.J. Jackson Drive is the first road on the left (south side) approximately 300 yards west of I-81.  The library is on the corner, next to, but set back from the CNB Bank, across the street from the Shell Gas Station & Convenience Store.  Library Phone Number: (304) 274-3443.