“Meet Me In Middletown”
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Town of Middletown VA
The town of Middletown is located at the northern portion of the Shenandoah Valley in Frederick county Virginia. Middletown has many things to offer visitors such as history, great food and restaurants, antique shopping, wine tasting, or a quiet weekend. Middletown is a perfect place to stay for any adventure due to its location.
History of Middletown VA
Middletown started as one of a series of settlements which sprang up along the Valley Pike within the boundaries of the 17th Century Lord Fairfax Grant, in the mid-1600’s. The Valley Pike evolved from an early Indian trail that divided the grant as it ran through the Shenandoah Valley. Middletown dates back to the late 18th century when “Senseney Town” was laid out by Dr. Peter Senseney and his wife Magdelen, German settlers who had migrated from Pennsylvania. By the time Middletown was established as a town by an act of the General Assembly in 1796, the 50-acre community was already laid out in a grid street pattern with 126 lots. Although Middletown did gain some prominence in the manufacture of quality precision instruments (clocks, watches and surveying equipment) as early as 1786 by Jacob Danner and Anthony Kline, the town has remained a rural community throughout its long history.
On a more lasting note is the small tavern built in 1797 by Mr. Israel Wilkinson. Over the decades, and then centuries, it expanded to become a stagecoach relay station and a successful Inn. It is still in operation today as The Wayside Inn and Restaurant, and is one of the oldest continuously operating Inns in the country.
Middletown earned a place in our national history through its association with major historical figures in both the colonial and Civil War eras. Between 1794 and 1797, Major Isaac Hite, Jr. and his wife, Nelly Conway Madison (sister of President James Madison), built a large limestone mansion one mile southwest of Middletown. Belle Grove, as the house and 7500-acre plantation became known, had the assistance of Thomas Jefferson in its design. The mansion was restored in the late 1960’s and is under the care of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The American Civil War brought the armies of both sides into direct conflict in the singularly most destructive event in the history of Middletown. On October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early, nearly overwhelmed the Army of the Shenandoah under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, encamped around Belle Grove, in a surprise dawn attack. The Battle of Middletown, now known as the Battle of Cedar Creek, flowed north for over five hours through the heart of the small community. Dramatically rallying his troops, General Sheridan reversed the fortunes of the victorious Confederates, causing another ferocious four-hour battle to again push through the heart of Middletown, finally destroying the Army of Northern Virginia as an effective fighting force. Twelve Union Army enlisted men and nine officers were awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the battle.
In an ongoing effort to protect both Belle Grove and the battleground, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park became the 388th unit of the National Park Service on December 19, 2002.