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Conference: “Red With Fire”: The Burning of the Shenandoah Valley
August 13, 2016$20
In 1864, a new kind of warfare came to the Valley. That fall, Gen. Philip Sheridan’s Union army embarked on “The Burning,” a systematic two-week campaign to neutralize the Shenandoah Valley’s role as the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy.” Thousands of mills, barns, and farm buildings were put to the torch, stores of grain and livestock were destroyed or confiscated, and livelihoods were turned to ash.
But the destruction in the Valley wasn’t limited to those two weeks, or to the areas customarily identified with “The Burning.” It began much earlier, under Union Gen. David Hunter, and ranged throughout the Valley, north to Clarke County and east to Page County. And its effects were widespread, from civilians left destitute by “fire and sword” to soldiers ensnarled in the vicious cycle of reprisals. Those who witnessed the scale of the destruction were stunned. Confederate guerilla Newtown Burkholder described how “The whole vale is red with fire mile on mile, and enveloped in smoke high overhead, twisting and writhing, dissolving. Is the world being set on fire?”
On Saturday, August 13, 2016, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation will look back at those events with a conference entitled “Red With Fire: The Burning of the Shenandoah Valley.” The conference will feature eminent Civil War historians Eric A. Campbell (“[A] scene of desolation and ruin”: The Burning of the Shenandoah Valley), Col. Keith E. Gibson (Hunter in the Valley), Scott C. Patchan (“Fire and Sword”: Destruction and Reprisal in the Northern Valley), Eric J. Wittenberg (Union and Confederate Cavalry and the Battle of Tom’s Brook), and Edward L. Ayers (“Making Sense of the Burning”: The Civilian Experience).