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You Are There: Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign

Staunton Guided Tours joins the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign with guided daylong tours to the Reenactment of the Battle of McDowell on May 5 and a You Are There living history day at the battlefields of Cross Keys and Port Republic on June 9.

The first and the final battles of the Confederate general’s1862 campaign in the Shenandoah, the three were fought against overwhelming union forces—the odds were as high as about ten to one at the beginning of the campaign. Jackson’s successes prevented federal troops from taking the large Confederate rail and supply centers at Staunton. And the triumphs in the Valley permitted the Confederate soldiers to join General Robert E Lee’s in the defense of Richmond.

Civil War writer Terry Shulman leads both tours. His articles have appeared in Civil War Times and other national publications, and he reviewed studies of the war for the Richmond Times Dispatch. Shulman is also a Staunton businessman, the owner of the historic district’s The Storefront. It’s arguably the world’s smallest hotel–consisting of one suite.

The focus of the May 5 visit to McDowell, in Highland County, is the noontime battle reenactment just yards from the original site. Jedediah Hotchkiss of Churchville, later of Staunton, was a major force in this battle. Pridgeon’s Legion coordinates the reenactors in the largest gathering of campaign style military and authentic civilians in the East. Horse drawn wagons take visitors to Union and Confederate Camps and the artillery installation on cemetery hill. Living history presentations continue all day and include historic military-civilian interactions. In one of them, Dr. John Ocheltree of Staunton enacts a field surgeon, using authentic equipment. Participants also will enjoy gorgeous mountain views and visits to the Confederate Breastworks atop Shenandoah Mountain, Highland County Museum and Heritage Center, and other historic buildings and sites.

Presentations about Civil War life offered at the McDowell Presbyterian Church include Col. Keith Gibson of Virginia Military Institute, on the role of VMI Cadets at McDowell, and a talk on “Stonewall Jackson, The Black Man’s Friend” by Rick Williams, author of the well-reviewed book of the same title. A Shenandoah Valley native, he is active in organizations that promote historical preservation, and is the descendant of three Confederate soldiers.

The June 9, 2012 tour to the twin battlefields at Cross Keys and Port Republic features  visits to key battlefield sites and encampments, where reenactors portraying the units that fought there interpret the battles. Daylong “You Are There” living history programs are presented by the 10th Virginia Infantry Regiment, described as “the premier campaign regiment in the Shenandoah,” joined by other reenactors. Most of the members of the 10th Virginia are descendants of civil war soldiers and are natives of the Shenandoah Valley. Period music and an exhibit of artifacts are also on tap.

Both tours depart from the Visitors Center at 35 South New Street, Staunton, the town Smithsonian just named number 10 on its list of The 20 Best Small Towns in America. Fees include round trip transportation and admission. Fees include round trip transportation and admission; places are limited to twelve, so reservations are essential and advance deposits are required. Information at, or call 540-885-2430 for information, reservations.

Call 540-885-2430 for more information and reservations.

augusta free press
augusta free press