Shenandoah University uncovers little-known history of civil war in new journal

shenandoah universityThe Shenandoah University McCormick Civil War Institute illuminates some little-known history of the Shenandoah Valley with the release of volume two of its Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era.

Volume one of the journal was completed in December 2017.

Topics covered in the second volume include a re-evaluation of Robert E. Lee’s tenure as president of Washington College against the backdrop of postwar Reconstruction; how the war’s first year in the Shenandoah Valley impacted New England families whose sons, husbands, brothers and friends fought in the region; Union Army Col. James Mulligan’s powerful story of how he was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Kernstown; and the changing sentiment among North Carolina soldiers who fought in the Shenandoah Valley in the autumn of 1864.

“The theme is discovery and rediscovery,” said Jonathan Noyalas ’01, M.A., director of the McCormick Civil War Institute. “There are essays about artifacts and letters that people didn’t know existed.”

Included in the journal are eight letters written to Rev. Alonzo Quint, chaplain of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, who received these letters from family members about their loved ones who fought and died in the regiment. Noyalas bought these letters at an auction in California.

The letters offer a new, fresh perspective of how the war impacted New England families, including how family members were concerned about the morality of their loved ones and their hope that these loved ones were seeking Rev. Quint’s religious guidance.

This second volume includes contributions by 17 historians, including Allen Guelzo, who won the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize three times; Brian Jordan, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History; and acclaimed historians Barton Myers, Scott Patchan and Noyalas. The journal includes a lost chapter from Margaretta Colt’s now classic book “Defend the Valley.”

“The release of the second volume of the Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War builds upon impressive beginnings by including work from several prominent historians on a range of subjects,” said Jeff Coker, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute is rapidly emerging as a critical voice in Civil War history nationally.”

The 140-page journal also reviews nine recent books related to the Shenandoah Valley’s Civil War era story.

“At the end of the day, it’s a very personal volume,” Noyalas said. “You get to know more about people who have been in the shadows. It’s adding to the rich fabric of Shenandoah Valley history. There’s such a wealth of information out there that hasn’t been tapped. We can write so many different stories, from so many different angles, to give people a more nuanced and better understanding of the period.”

The journal can be purchased online and will be available this week at the Winchester Book Gallery, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park, and the Winchester-Frederick County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

All funds support the McCormick Institute and its offerings, including student scholarships, public programs, outreach, and interpretation at Shenandoah University River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield.

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