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Tour of The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley

Join us for a tour of Civil War sites in and around the Shenandoah Valley. I hope you enjoy your journey.
Hal F. Sharpe.

Begin the Tour

Upper Valley

Farther south, discover the significance of Staunton, a major rail depot between the Shenandoah Valley and Richmond during the Civil War.

For those following the Valley Campaign, head west for an important detour into the Alleghenies along US 250. This was the route of Jackson's "Foot Cavalry" in May 1862, culminating in the Battle of McDowell, the first victory of the Valley Campaign. The McDowell Battlefield, fought over Alpine-like terrain in Highland County, is unchanged by time. The route leads through mountain passes and over peaks still marked with trenches, all the way to the site of Camp Allegheny at the West Virginia border. The town of Monterey, one of the most picturesque in Virginia, also played a role in the war, but it's better known today for the annual Highland County Maple Sugar Festival in March.

Back on US 11, the journey leads to Lexington, one of the most significant Civil War towns anywhere. Only one engagement occurred in this handsome old Scots-Irish town in the shadow of House Mountain, but it lives in notoriety. Union General David Hunter's 1864 raid on Lexington was directed mostly at VMI, where Jackson had been an instructor, and whence came the cadets who gained immortality at New Market. Hunter devastated VMI by fire and cannon, a fact to bear in mind when viewing the five-star artifacts on display at the VMI museum. Most visitors linger over the bullet-punctured black raincoat Jackson wore at Chancellorsville in 1863 when he received his fatal wound.

Jackson's home, the only one he ever owned, has been restored to its state in the 1850s, when he was a young professor at VMI. It holds many Jackson furnishings. Across Lexington's small downtown, on the campus of Washington and Lee University, is the postwar office in Lee Chapel of the one man higher than Jackson in the Confederate pantheon: Robert E. Lee. The general's office, used when he headed the college from 1865-70, remains as it was the day he died. He is interred in the chapel mausoleum. Jackson, his great lieutenant, lies in a Main Street cemetery.

And his words proved fatefully true. When, long after Jackson fell at Chancellorsville, the great valley was lost to the North, Virginia - and the rest of the Confederacy - soon fell. The victories and defeats played out in this valley have become the passion of many preservation groups, who work to ensure that the land remains in its present pastoral state.

Lower Valley
Front Royal
Middle Valley


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