Published on December 17, 2019

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“Tar Heels in the Valley”
North Carolina Soldiers in the Shenandoah Valley
A Civil War Conference

Saturday, October 23, 2021
North Carolina Museum of History
Raleigh, North Carolina


Far from home, North Carolinians played a pivotal role in many of the actions in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War, from Stonewall Jackson’s early campaigns to the epic fights of the 1864 Shenandoah Campaign.  On Saturday, October 23, 2021, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation will present a Civil War conference, “Tar Heels in the Valley”: North Carolina Soldiers in the Shenandoah Valley, that will look back on the experiences of those North Carolina soldiers.

Held at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina, the conference will focus on famous personalities such as Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur, the experiences and hardships of everyday foot soldiers, and battles such as Harper’s Ferry, Second Winchester, and Cedar Creek.  Speakers will include Keith Bohannon, Michael Hardy, Charles Knight, Scott Mingus, and Brian Steel Wills.

Cost:  $30; $27 for SVBF members.  Pre-registration is required.

For more information call, 540-740-4545.  PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Schedule for the day:

8am:  Check-In Desk Opens
9am:  Welcome and Introduction – Keven Walker
9:30am:  “There Never was Such a Campaign”: W.D. Pender and Harpers Ferry in 1862Brian Steel Wills
10:30am:  Tar Heel Soldiers, Food, and the Shenandoah Valley Michael Hardy
11:30am:  Tar Heels at the Second Battle of Winchester, 1863Scott Mingus
12:30pm:  Lunch (On your own)
2:00pm:   Carved in Stone: New Market’s “Mystery” North Carolinian – Charles Knight
3:00 pm:  “I am making a reputation as Maj. Gen’l”:  Stephen D. Ramseur in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley CampaignKeith Bohannon

Summary of Talks

“There Never was Such a Campaign”: W.D. Pender and Harpers Ferry in 1862 – Brian Steel Wills
Edgecombe County, N.C., native and West Pointer William Dorsey Pender served under Joseph E. Johnston at Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) and Robert E. Lee from the Seven Days to Second Manassas, before preparing to move with that army on a foray onto Northern soil in the fall of 1862.  As part of Ambrose Powell Hill’s “Light Division,” under Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, the fighting Carolinian closed with his command on the vulnerable, but significant target of Harpers Ferry.  “There never was such a campaign,” he explained to his wife Fanny from Frederick, Maryland, in September, likening General Lee to Napoleon.  The contingencies of war, including critical “lost” orders, complicated matters, but Confederate eyes were set on Harpers Ferry and Pender was prepared to play his part.

Tar Heel Soldiers, Food, and the Shenandoah Valley – Michael Hardy
It is often said that an army moves on its stomach. The Confederate Army was possibly the best example of this observation, with its successes and failures largely corresponding to food supplies, or lack thereof. Campaigns often began with promise, but as it became increasingly difficult to keep the troops fed, morale and stamina often declined with the size and quality of the rations. During the Antietam Campaign of 1862, the North Carolinians serving under General Robert E. Lee experienced both famine and feast as they moved through the Shenandoah Valley toward Sharpsburg and across the Potomac River. Two years later, in 1864, they suffered mightily from General Philip Sheridan’s scorched earth policies as they fought in the Shenandoah Valley. Veteran Civil War author and historian Michael C. Hardy brings to life the trials faced by these Tar Heels as they battled Union troops, the elements, but most of all, their own hunger through these two pivotal campaigns.

Tar Heels at the Second Battle of Winchester, 1863 – Scott Mingus
In the summer of 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia began pushing north toward Pennsylvania. Only one significant force stood in the way — Union Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s division of the Eighth Corps in Winchester and Berryville. Milroy stubbornly defied repeated instructions to withdraw to safety, believing the enemy action to be merely a cavalry raid or feint. His controversial decision put his outnumbered, largely inexperienced men on a path to disaster. Milroy lost half his force and routed from the battlefield. The attacking force contained several brigades of North Carolinians. Author Scott Mingus will discuss their role in the battles around Winchester.

Carved in Stone: New Market’s “Mystery” North Carolinian – Charles Knight
The Confederate Memorial in St. Matthews Cemetery in New Market contains the names of those killed in the May 15, 1864, Battle of New Market and buried in that cemetery. Included is the name “W. Tomberlin – 53rd NC Regt”. Although there were a handful of North Carolinians who fought at New Market, there was no NC unit present. So just who is this Tar Heel soldier and how did he come to rest amidst soldiers who lost their lives fighting at New Market?

“I am making a reputation as Maj. Gen’l”:  Stephen D. Ramseur in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign – Keith Bohannon
This talk will explore the promotion of Confederate General Stephen D. Ramseur to division command, focusing particularly on his performance in the 1864 battles of Stephenson’s Depot, 3d Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, and Cedar Creek.  Ramseur’s death in the last stages of the battle of Cedar Creek was a great blow to the Valley Army commanded by the ill-fated General Jubal Early.

“A fatal ball pierced his temple and killed him instantly; thus has fallen another brave son of North Carolina.” – account of the death of Capt. John S. R. Miller, 1st North Carolina, at the Second Battle of Winchester

Speaker Bios

For bios of our speakers, click here.

Host Site

The conference will be hosted in the Daniels Auditorium at the North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.  For more information, see the museum’s website here.


Lunch will be on your own.  A list of nearby restaurants will be available at check-in.


A block of rooms has been set aside for conference guests at the Holiday Inn Raleigh Downtown (320 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC (919) 832-0501).  The block includes rooms on Thursday, October 21; Friday, October 22; and Saturday, October 23.  The room rate is $92 per night.  To reserve a room at the hotel, click this link or call the hotel at 855-914-5878 and use the block code “SAW”.

Visitor Information

For information about historic sites, attractions, lodging, and dining opportunities in the Raleigh area, see Visit Raleigh website here.

Questions or Need More Information?

Call the SVBF at 540-740-4545 or email