Friday, August 11, 2017

Oh, Shenandoah! with Guest Andrea Boeshaar #giveaway

It’s with pleasure that I write a piece for the Stitches Thru Time Blog. I began years ago as one of its regular bloggers. But, alas, I can never keep up a blog. I’m terrible with keeping up journals and/or diaries too. Instead my time seems better spent writing books.

Two of the books I’ve written in the past 4 years are the first in my series, titled A Thousand Shall Fall and Too Deep for Words. The third book will release some time next year and it’s titled, There Is A Season. All three books take place in the Shenandoah Valley, home of the famed Shenandoah River.

What is it about rivers anyway? Stop a moment with me and think about my question. Rivers evoke emotions, of course. Serenity and longing, sadness and fear. They inspire songs like “Moon River,” “Old Man River,” and “Proud Mary” who’s “rolling on the river,” just to name a few tunes. There’s also “Oh, Shenandoah,” an early nineteenth century folk song about the Shenandoah River. Most of us have heard it, but if you’re not familiar with the song, below is a YouTube link to a lovely, heart-tugging rendition.

Figure 1: The Shenandoah River taken from a Mountain Lookout
Indeed, the same elements of romance and mystery surround the Shenandoah Valley or “Daughter of the Stars,” as the Native Americans called it, and a couple of years ago my husband Daniel and I decided to take a road trip and explore it. We picked the perfect time of year, October. The trees were just beginning to turn.

The year we went was 2014, which also marked the 150th anniversary of the Battles of Winchester III and Cedar Creek which some would argue ensured a Union victory during the American Civil War.

Figure 2: Historical Marker on Old Valley Pike (US 11)

Figure 3: Marker and the place where both Union and
Confederate troops bivouacked
Battles for control of the Shenandoah Valley involved legends of the Civil War—men like Turner Ashby, also known as the “Black Knight of the Confederacy,” and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on the Confederate’s side. On the Union’s side were notable officers like Phillip “Little Phil” Sheridan and George “Autie” Custer, two men who went on to fight Indian wars in the west after the Civil War ended. General Sheridan was also instrumental in the preservation of the land now known as the Yellowstone National Park.

I’m an American History enthusiast, so the Valley’s rich history beckoned me. It was the second day of our road trip, a perfect autumn day, warm and sunny when Daniel and I visited historic Winchester. I walked past the Taylor Hotel that often served as a hospital for wounded soldiers. During the Civil War, the town was the center of three battles, one in May of 1862, the second in June of 1863, and the last in September, 1864.

Why so many? Winchester is the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley.

Figure 4: The Taylor Hotel which served as a hospital during the CW

Figure 5: Historic Winchester
I had no problem imagining the ladies of Winchester, Virginia, caring for soldiers who had been wounded in those conflicts. But no matter how gruesome the task, these courageous women rolled up their sleeves and tended to bloodied, wounded warriors. During America’s Civil War, their town, located in the lower Shenandoah Valley, was no stranger to cavalry raids, guerilla ambushes, and clashes between the North and the South.

Diarist Laura Lee lived in Winchester. She was age thirty-eight when she wrote the following on October 19, 1864: “Heavy cannonading was heard here from daylight this morning. It was distant but very distinct. By 10 o’clock, news came that (General) Early had made the attack at Middletown and had been very successful, cutting up the 6th and 19th Corps badly and capturing a large number of guns and prisoners” (excerpt from Winchester Divided, p. 173).

But the Confederate successes were short lived. The famed “Sheridan’s Ride” took place that day, and the commander sufficiently roused his war-weary troops and led them on to victory. The Shenandoah was then in control of the Union Army and stayed that way until the end of the war.

You can see more pictures of my road trip and some historical images on my Pinterest Board, “A Thousand Shall Fall.” Click on the link below.

Later that morning, Daniel and I decided to spend time cruising Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. It’s known for its spectacular views, and that’s no understatement!

We stopped at Signal Knob, a place on Massanutten Mountain where Confederate soldiers spied on the Union Army. Southerners watched Yankees’ movements, and then signaled their commanders as to the enemy’s location. At just the right time, the Rebel Army would attack.

Figure 6: Andrea at Signal Knob (on a windy day)
Afterwards, Daniel and I paused on the Old Valley Pike (US 11) to glimpse the historic Stickley farm (now private property). The home once belonged to Colonel Daniel Stickley. During General Jubal Early’s pre-dawn attack on October 19th, the Stickley property became a battlefield. Later, the Stickley’s home became a hospital. The sturdy pine kitchen table was used for surgical amputations.

Figure 7: The Stickley Farm
In his book, From Winchester to Cedar Creek, Historian Jeffry Wert quotes a soldier who survived the Cedar Creek battle. “Here one of our boys, Anthony Riley, was shot and killed…His father was by his side; the blood and brains of his son covered the face and hands of the father. I never saw a more affecting sight than this; the poor old man kneels over the body of his dead son; his tears mingled with his son’s blood. O God! What a sight.” (Kindle e-book edition, location 4781).

The next day, Saturday, our final visit was Middletown and its annual Civil War Weekend. The majority of events were held on the Belle Grove Plantation grounds. Some 5,000 re-enactors descended on the plantation’s grounds, and about the same number of attendees were expected, making this particular Civil War event one of the nation’s largest.
Figure 8: The Cooley Mansion (aka Belle Grove Plantation)

Figure 9: This is the office inside the mansion that General Philip
Sheridan used when Belle Grove served as Federal Headquarters

Figure 10

Figure 11: Andrea with two “living historians.”

Figure 12: Reenactors pose for a picture
But before we left for home, I asked Daniel if we could stop and see the Shenandoah River once more. I was particularly drawn to its north fork near Front Royal where a skirmish between Yankee and Rebel cavalries took place in August of 1864. The river was shallow last year, but its banks were just as hallowed as ever.

As we drove home to Wisconsin I realized that rivers are living entities, life sustainers, and, most importantly, God’s creation. Like these rolling waters, remnants of history will continue to ebb and flow throughout generations. However, it’s up to us to keep them alive.
Figure 13: Andrea at the north fork of the Shenandoah River near Front Royal

Leave a comment below to be entered in this post's giveaway. One blessed winner will receive a copy of A Thousand Shall Fall AND Too Deep for Words

Winner's choice of print or ebook, although outside of the USA will get an ebook. Winner will be announced in the Weekly Wind-up post on Monday, Aug 14 so be sure to check back to see if you won!


Andrea Boeshaar has been married for nearly 40 years. She and her husband, Daniel, often brag about their 5 precious grandchildren. Andrea’s publishing career began in 1994. Since then, thirty of her books have gone to press with nearly one million copies in print! Additionally, Andrea cofounded ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and served on its Advisory Board. In 2007, Andrea earned her certification in Christian life coaching and she and her husband operate Steeple View Ministries which strives to eradicate illiteracy throughout the United States and the world by providing wholesome alternatives with clear Christian messages to readers.

Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar


  1. Thanks for the great history lesson! Would love to rad your books.

  2. Fascinating history about the Shenandoah valley. Would love to read your books. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Andrea, thank you so much for sharing your very interesting post. It is always nice to learn bits of history first thing in the morning...a great way to start the day!!!!!

  4. Reading this makes me want to go back. I've been where you were but it was years ago.
    I am proud to be from the South.
    Janet Estridge

  5. I have seen the Shenandoah Valley once! And I'm pretty sure I have the same picture of me on a stone wall above the valley. :) I love reading about our history!

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wonderful pictures. We learned the song Oh Shenandoah in grade school and I have always wanted to see the area. Thanks also for a great giveaway.

  7. I love history. My father was born 20 miles from Gettysburg. We visited my grandparents every summer for two weeks. My mother always planned day trips from there. We visited many places such as Carter's Grove, Philadelphia, Washington DC. I grew up with antiques, because my mother was an antique dealer and we lived in a house built in 1836. My husband and I visited many places, also, on our trip to his first duty station in Florida in 1969. We saw Lookout Mt. Tennessee, Chickamagua. I learned to appreciate history and the people who made our nation great. I would love to win the books! paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

    1. Congratulations, Paula! You're the giveaway winner! Please contact us and let us know if you'd prefer print or ebook. Thanks!

  8. So interesting! I used to have an old copy of a battlefield map, confederate money and some other items. WIsh I still had them they were cool. This history reminds me of that. Thankyou for sharing your books with us! :D

  9. The Civil War era is one of my favorite to read in fiction. Thank you for sharing your journey at Shenandoah National Park, river and valley with the reactment events. The beautiful pictures added so much. I've been wanting to read your books. Thank you for the giveaway. God bless.
    marilynridgway78 [at] gmail [dot]com

  10. Congratulations to Paula. Happy reading.

  11. Congratulations Paula. Enjoy!