Shenandoah Valley Sites Announce Slate of 40 programs to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of Stonewall Jackson’s historic 1862 Valley Campaign
NEW MARKET, Va.— “This campaign made the fame of Jackson as a commander…The rumor of his rapid movements and constant successes came like a wind from the mountains to the Confederate capital, and infused fresh life into the languid pulse and desponding hearts of the people.”
-- John Esten Cooke
In the spring of 1862, amidst the breathtaking beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson conducted one of the most brilliant and audacious campaigns in American military history. The exploits of Jackson and his hard-marching "foot cavalry" helped save Richmond – and changed the course of the Civil War.
Now, 150 years later, more than 20 sites in the Shenandoah Valley will commemorate that historic campaign with a series of 40 events and programs – reenactments, living history programs, walking and driving tours, conferences, lectures, youth programs, memorial ceremonies, and exhibits. The programs will follow the timeline and route of historical events, allowing visitors to retrace the path and course of the campaign – and to follow the “foot cavalry,” Jackson’s famous hard-marching troops.
Earlier this month, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation was joined at the Museum of Shenandoah Valley by partners throughout the Valley and the Commonwealth to announce the wide-ranging slate of programs. Partners gathered for the announcement included the Winchester-Frederick County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, the Warren Heritage Society, Front Royal-Warren County Tourism, the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, the Luray Valley Museum at Luray Caverns, Shenandoah County Tourism, the Virginia Museum of the Civil War (New Market Battlefield), Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitor Services, the Heritage Museum (Dayton), Grand Caverns (Grottoes), Waynesboro Tourism, Stonewall Jackson House (Lexington), and Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism.
“Civil War sites in the Valley have been hard at work planning these programs for four years,” said Terry Heder, Director of Interpretation and Field Programs at the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. “And it shows not just in the quality of the programs, but also in the variety; these programs truly offer something for everyone. These programs cover all aspects of the war, military and civilian, and run the gamut from scholarly talks to full-scale reenactments, from battlefield tours to fun-filled historical programs for kids, and from ceremonies that honor the fallen to programs about the work we do today to preserve the sites where these historic events occurred.”
Jackson’s campaign is regarded as one of the most pivotal campaigns not just of the Civil War – but in American military history. “In the spring of 1862, the infant Confederate nation stood on the precipice of military disaster, and the Confederate people searched desperately for any glimmer of hope,” said historian Jonathan A. Noyalas, assistant professor of history and director of the Center for Civil War History at Lord Fairfax Community College, and author of Stonewall Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign: War Comes to the Home Front. “That hope came in the form of Stonewall Jackson. Throughout the spring of 1862, Jackson utilized the Shenandoah Valley as a diversionary theater of war to alleviate pressure on Richmond. Despite a tactical loss at the First Battle of Kernstown, Jackson regrouped, planned, and recruited, and throughout the remaining months of that spring marched his men nearly 700 miles, won five engagements, but more importantly he brought hope to a people who had none.”
During the commemoration, Rangers from Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park will present a series of special National Park Service commemorative programs: “Jackson’s Valley Campaign in a Box,” “History at Sunset,” and “On This Day” Battle Anniversary Tours. “These programs will give visitors a chance to learn about the battles of this famous campaign, not only on the battlefields themselves, but also on the actual anniversary of each,” said Eric Campbell, the park’s lead ranger. “While the power of place is significant, it can be magnified by the power of time. To be able to commemorate each battle on its 150th anniversary is a once-in-a-life time opportunity.”
The commemoration of the Valley Campaign also promises to be a sizeable tourism draw for the region, with resulting benefits for local economies. “The traveler who experiences a historic site while in Virginia spends more money per day and stays longer than the average visitor,” said Richard Lewis, Public Relations Manager for the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Preserving and interpreting historic sites for visitors to enjoy is truly an investment in that it helps to attract the history and heritage visitor, generating visitor spending and tax revenue for Virginia and its communities.”
“Whatever draws us to the commemorative events of Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign,” Noyalas added, “The historical observances, educational opportunities and moments of reflection will undoubtedly bring us to a similar conclusion made by a British observer during the conflict that the affairs of Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign were ‘a chapter in history which is without parallel.’”
For more information, call 540-740-4545 or email email@example.com
A full list of the Valley Campaign programs is attached. For more details, see www.ShenandoahAtWar.org.
As authorized by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation serves as the non-profit manager of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District, partnering with local, regional, and national organizations and governments to preserve the Valley’s battlefields and interpret and promote the region’s Civil War story.
Created by Congress in 1996, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District encompasses Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties in Virginia and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester. The legislation authorizes federal funding for the protection of ten battlefields in the District: Second Winchester, Third Winchester, Second Kernstown, Cedar Creek, Fisher’s Hill, Tom’s Brook, New Market, Cross Keys, Port Republic, and McDowell.
ON THE WEB:
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District:
National Park Service 1992 study of the Shenandoah Valley’s Civil War battlefields: