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|
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
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|
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)|
|Figure 7: The Stickley Farm|
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 11: Andrea with two “living historians.”|
|Figure 12: Reenactors pose for a picture|
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!