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Battlefields Foundation presents conference on 1865, post-Civil War era

newspaperIn 1865, the Civil War came to an end, but the rocky road to peace had just begun.  In the Shenandoah Valley, 1865 witnessed the final bursts of battle, along with the initial attempts to rebuild lives and homes left in ruin by four years of war.  But the history of the war in the Valley did not end in 1865.  The stories of the years and decades that followed – the winding path to rebuilding and reconciliation, and the fight to preserve the war’s memories – are every bit as fascinating as the battles themselves.

On Saturday, June 20, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation will look back at that period with a Sesquicentennial conference, “The Rocky Road to Peace”: 1865 and the Post-War Era in the Valley.  The conference will feature eminent Civil War historians and authors Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jonathan A. Noyalas, Jonathan Berkey, Jeff Driscoll, Nancy T. Sorrells, Col. Keith E. Gibson, and Keven M. Walker.  The conference will be held at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center in Staunton, Virginia, and will run from 10 am to 5:15 pm.  The cost to attend is $20.

Topics during the conference will include:

  • Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson – The Civil War in Life and Memory
  • Jeff Driscoll – Jubal Early’s Last Stand: The Battle of Waynesboro and the Road to Petersburg
  • Nancy T. Sorrells – Freedom in the Upper Valley
  • Col. Keith E. Gibson – The New Market Legacy: The Post-War Story of the VMI Cadets
  • Jonathan Berkey – A New Phase of Struggle: Citizenship, Race, and Statehood in the Lower Shenandoah Valley, 1865-1870
  • Jonathan A. Noyalas – “Not So Much Treading on Eggs”: Sheridan’s Veterans and the Opening Campaign of Reconciliation in the Shenandoah Valley
  • Keven M. Walker – Remembering the Voices: The Fight to Preserve the Valley’s Battlefields

The topics will look at the post-war years from a variety of perspectives.  Speaker Col. Keith E. Gibson will examine the post-war lives of the young VMI Cadets who fought in the Battle of New Market.  Noted Gibson: “Civil War veteran and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously stated that ‘We have shared the incommunicable experience of war, we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youth our hearts were touched with fire.’  Certainly that was true for no one more than the VMI cadets. What lasting effects did those young men carry away from the battlefield? How were their lives altered by the experience? What became of them in the years that followed?”

Event details include:

  • Date: Saturday, June 20, 2015
  • Time: 10:00am to 5:15pm.  (Doors open at 9 am; book sale continues through 5:45 pm.)
  • Location: Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center, 24 South Market St., Staunton, Virginia
  • Fee: $20
  • Lunch: Attendees will be able to pre-order lunch from the hotel or lunch on their own.
  • To register:  Visit or call the SVBF at 540-740-4545.

Pre-registration is required.  Those interested in attending can register through the SVBF website at or by calling the SVBF offices at 540-740-4545.

Throughout the conference, books by the featured speakers and other Civil War authors will be available for sale courtesy of the Harpers Ferry Bookshop.  Attendees will have the opportunity to have purchased books signed by the featured authors.

“We’re approaching the end of the Sesquicentennial on a high note,” said Keven M. Walker, Chief Executive Officer of the Battlefields Foundation. “The commemoration has been an amazing success for the Valley and the Foundation, and our conferences have been a huge part of that success.  This year’s may be our best yet.  We’re honored to have such great speakers, and pleased to be able to shine a light on the fascinating stories of what happened in the years after the guns fell silent.”

augusta free press
augusta free press