The Long Road to Freedom: African-Americans in the Shenandoah Valley
The Centuries-Long Journey from Slavery through Civil War to Civil Rights
James Madison University
(November 2, 2019)
This conference will look at the African-American experience in the Shenandoah Valley during various time periods, including the Colonial, Antebellum, Civil War, Jim Crow Era, and Civil Rights Era periods. Speakers will include Dr. Betty Kilby Fisher Baldwin, Phoebe Kilby, Kristen Laise, Jonathan A. Noyalas, Dr. Michael Rackett, Dr. Amy Tillerson-Brown, and Dr. William B. Wiggins.
The cost will be $27 for members; $30 for non-members. All college and high school students will be able to attend for free, but still must pre-register here. Lunch will be on your own. Space will be limited, and pre-registration is required.
To register, click the button below
or call the SVBF at 540-740-4545.
For more information, click here or call the SVBF at 540-740-4545
"Sword of the Spirit"
The Old Opera House, Charles Town, West Virginia
(Saturday, November 2, 2019, 7:30pm)
Join for the final Harpers Ferry 75th anniversary speaker series event! Taking place on the 160th anniversary of the sentencing of John Brown, we invite you to the Sword of the Spirit play, which is just one example of how the history of Harpers Ferry has influenced the arts over time.
"Sword of the Spirit" is a one-act play by Greg Artzner, Terry Leonino, and Richard Henzel, based upon the life and letters of John & Mary Brown. The time is the end of November, 1859. The place is the county jail in Charlestown, Virginia, (today West Virginia), and also the home of abolitionist Lucretia Mott near Philadelphia. John Brown has spent the last forty days of his life in the jail cell. During this time he has received many visitors, given interviews and composed over one hundred letters to acquaintances, friends, and members of his family, including his wife, Mary. At rise Brown addresses the audience. They are one last "interview" he has agreed to give. He tells them his story, expounding on his life, his beliefs, and what he considers his God-given mission to destroy the evil of slavery. From another part of the stage Mary writes to him from Lucretia Mott's home, where she has stopped on her journey to see him one last time. She also addresses the audience directly, telling the story of her life with her famous husband to "Mrs. Mott."
Sponsors of the event include Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry Park Association, and the Old Opera House Theatre Company. Tickets: $15. 204 N George St, Charles Town. To purchase tickets, click
"Rebecca and Thomas: A Civil War Tale" &
"General Sheridan and the Last Battle of Winchester"
The Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville
(Thursday, November 7, 2019, 7-9pm)
This program is in partnership with The Josephine School Community Museum and The Dr. Martin Luther King scholarship committee of the Winchester Area NAACP. This event will be a fundraiser for both organizations.
"Rebecca and Thomas: A Civil War Spy Tale" is a play in one act, written by Winchester resident Sharon Dixon. This event is a reading of this play.
Following the play Scott Patchan, Historian, will present his talk on General Sheridan and the Last Battle of Winchester in which Thomas Laws played a vital part. The Battle of Berryville and the resulting change of Lee's plans which immediately preceded the Last Battle will be brought into focus. 95 Chalmers Court, Berryville. For more information, call 540-955-2004.
Atlanta, the Valley, and the Crossroads of History:
The Battles and Leaders That Influenced Lincoln's Reelection in 1864
George Washington Hotel
(November 9, 2019, 9am-5pm)
In August 1864, the outcome of the Civil War hung in the balance, and Abraham Lincoln's chances for reelection looked doubtful - until a series of pivotal battles around Atlanta and in the Shenandoah Valley helped propel Lincoln to victory. Led by historians Gary Ecelbarger and Scott Patchan, this conference will examine those events - and the fights and personalities that changed the course of history.
The cost will be $27 for members; $30 for non-members. Lunch will be on your own. Space will be limited, and pre-registration is required. To register, click the button below or call the SVBF at 540-740-4545.
For more information, click
or call the SVBF at 540-740-4545.
Inalienable Rights: Free and Enslaved Blacks Crafting a Life in the Shenandoah Valley
Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown
(Saturday, November 9, 2019, 10am-6pm)
The Slave Dwelling Project
's mission is to identify and assist property owners with documenting and preserving extant slave dwellings and they bring people together to talk about these important spaces of American history. While Belle Grove's slave quarters have long ago been removed, the Slave Dwelling Project will discuss the lower level of the Manor House, one place where the enslaved worked and may have slept. There will also be an opportunity to learn about the archaeological evidence that has been found where Belle Grove's slave quarters once stood. The Hite family at Belle Grove owned and enslaved 276 men, women, and children from 1783 to 1851 and we are committed to learning more about their lives, contributions to the success of the plantation, and to remember and honor their legacy.
336 Belle Grove Rd., Middletown. For more information, including a detailed schedule for the day, click here.
"The General in Love: Gabe and Nannie Wharton's Confederate Romance" - William C. Davis
Shenandoah Valley Civil War Round Table Meeting,
Sunnyside Retirement Community, Harrisonburg
(Monday, November 11, 2019, 7:30pm)
The speaker for the meeting is the legendary William C Davis. Publisher of over 50 books and winner of many awards, Davis retired after thirteen years as Professor of History and Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. He will present "The General in Love: Gabe and Nannie Wharton's Confederate Romance." A book sale will precede the meeting from 6:30-7:30. If you have any used books you care to donate, please feel free to bring them to the book sale. Many new books will be available for purchase at a nominal cost.
Please note that the round table's meeting location has changed. The SVCWRT will meet in the Sunnyside Room at the Sunnyside Retirement Community at 3935 Sunnyside Drive off Massanetta Springs Road in Harrisonburg. For more information, call (540) 433-0676.
"The Saga of Turner Ashby, the 'Black Knight' of the Shenandoah Valley" - Keven M. Walker
Nichols Auditorium, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington
(Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 7:30pm)
Keven M. Walker, CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, University will present "The Saga of Turner Ashby, the 'Black Knight' of the Shenandoah Valley." A privileged upbringing in northern Virginia provided Ashby with the skills of an accomplished horseman; he exhibited a strong affinity for things Elizabethan and often won first honors in equestrian competitions like jousting, skill-at-arms, and vaulting. During the Civil War, Ashby formed the Mountain Rangers, served under Stonewall Jackson, and ultimately took command of the 7th Virginia Cavalry until his untimely death near Harrisonburg, Virginia, on June 6, 1862. Idolized by his men, scores flocked to serve in his cavalry units. His dark complexion, flowing beard, and plumed hats made for a striking figure, striving to exhibit the gallantry and dash that recalled the bygone age of Virginia Cavaliers.
155 Years Ago: November 1864 During the Civil War
November 1, 1864
Maryland Abolishes Slavery. Maryland outlaws slavery 22 months after President Abraham Lincoln had issued his famous Proclamation. Maryland had been different from most slave states where slavery was ended by the Emancipation Proclamation that became law on January 1, 1863. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War as a special wartime measure. It declared slavery to be ended in all states that were in rebellion against the United States. Because Maryland stayed in the Union during the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply and the Maryland legislature writes a new Constitution that abolishes slavery on November 1, 1864.
Battle of Johnsonville (Tennessee).On the morning of the 4th, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest begins positioning his artillery across the river from the Federal supply base and lands at Johnsonville. The Union discovers the Confederates finishing their entrenchments and battery emplacements in the afternoon of the 4th. The Union gunboats and land batteries, across the river, engage the Confederates in an artillery duel. The Confederate guns, however, are so well-positioned, the Federals are unable to hinder them and the Confederate artillery disables the Union gunboats. Fearing that the Confederates might cross the river and capture the transports, the Federals set fire to them. The wind then extends the fire to the piles of stores on the levee and to a warehouse loaded with supplies. Seeing the fire, the Confederates begin firing on the steamboats, barges, and warehouses to prevent the Federals from putting out the fire. An inferno illuminates Forrest's night withdrawal as he escapes.
November 7, 1864
Second Session of the Second Confederate Congress (Richmond). The Confederate Congress gathers in Richmond where President Jefferson Davis sends a surprisingly optimistic message. He plays down the capture of Atlanta and assures that supplies and provisions will be found. He concludes by saying that the Confederacy prefers a negotiated peace, but only with independence, not "our unconditional submission and degradation."
Lincoln is re-elected (Washington, D.C.). Abraham Lincoln defeats George McClellan to serve a second term as President of the United States. Andrew Johnson, a unionist from Tennessee is his Vice President. Lincoln's re-election, which has long been in doubt, even by Lincoln himself, reaffirms the North's confidence in the administration which has been aided in recent months by successful campaigns by Gen. Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley and Gen. William Sherman in Atlanta. The Southern hopes for a peaceful recognition of the Confederacy are severely tarnished with the Lincoln's victory.
November 11-13, 1864
Battle of Bull's Gap (Tennessee). In November 1864, Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge undertakes an expedition into East Tennessee, anticipating that Confederate sympathizers will join his force and help drive the Yankees from the area. The Federals initially retire in front of this force and, on November 10, were at Bull's Gap on the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. The Confederates attack them on the morning of the 11th but are repulsed by 11:00 am. Artillery fire continues throughout the day. The next morning, both sides attack; the Confederates hit the Union forces in a variety of locations but they gain little. The next day firing occurs throughout most of the day, but the Confederates do not assault the Union lines because they are marching to flank them on the right. Before making the flank attack, the Union forces, short on everything from ammunition to rations, withdraw from Bull's Gap after midnight on the 14th. Breckinridge pursues, but the Federals received reinforcements and foul weather played havoc with the roads and streams. Breckinridge, with most of his force, retires back to Virginia. This victory is a temporary Union setback in the Federal plans to rid East Tennessee of Confederate influence.
Sherman's March to the Sea begins (Georgia.). Riding with the XIV Corps, Gen. William T. Sherman and his army leave Atlanta, embarking on his famous march. With his communications cut behind him, the North will hear little of him for weeks to come.
November 22, 1864
Battle of Griswoldville (Georgia). Union Gen. Charles Walcutt sets out on the morning of November 22, and after a short march he runs into some of Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry and drives them beyond Griswoldville. Having accomplished his mission, Walcutt retires to a position at Duncan's Farm and fortifies it with logs and rails to meet an expected Confederate attack force composed of three brigades of Georgia State Militia. The Georgia Militia has been ordered from Macon to Augusta, thinking the latter was Sherman's next objective, and accidentally collides with Walcutt's force. The Union force withstands three determined charges before receiving reinforcements of one regiment of infantry and two regiments of cavalry. The Confederates do not attack again and soon retire.
November 25, 1864
Confederates agents, arranged for in Canada, set fires to ten or more New York hotels and in P.T. Barnum's American Museum. None of the hotel fires are successful and the blaze at Barnum's cause little more than excitement. Help from Copperheads in New York is not forthcoming and there are rumors that the chemists who compounded the combustibles purposefully made them defective. Southern agent R.C. Kennedy is later captured and hanged for setting the fire at P.T. Barnum's.
Battle of Buck Head Creek (Georgia). As Sherman's infantry marches southeast through Georgia, his cavalry, under Gen. Judson Kilpatrick moves northeastward, on November 24, 1864, to destroy the railroad midway between Augusta and Millen, burn the trestle near Briar Creek and, if possible, release Union prisoners confined at Camp Lawton, near Millen, while feigning a drive towards Augusta. Confederate Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler is fooled and concentrates his cavalry forces around Augusta. When Kilpatrick did not show, Wheeler realized his mistake and rides off in an attempt to catch his Union counterpart. On the 26th, Wheeler catches up with two lagging Union regiments, attacks their camp, chases them to the larger force and prevents Kilpatrick from destroying the Briar Creek trestle. Kilpatrick instead destroys a mile of track in the area and moves southwest to join up with Sherman. Kilpatrick also discovers that the Union prisoners at Camp Lawton have been taken to other unknown sites. He encamps near Buck Head Creek on the night of the 27th. Wheeler comes along the next morning, almost captures Kilpatrick, and pursues him and his men to Buck Head Creek. As Kilpatrick's main force crosses the creek, one regiment, supported by artillery, fight a rearguard action severely punishing Wheeler and then burns the bridge behind them. Wheeler soon crosses and follows, but a Union brigade behind barricades at Reynolds's Plantation halts the Confederates' drive, eventually forcing them to retire.
Battle of Spring Hill (Tennessee). Confederate Gen. John B. Hood's infantry crosses the Duck River and converges on Spring Hill. In the meantime, Union Gen. John M. Schofield reinforces his troops holding the crossroads at Spring Hill. In late afternoon, the Federals repulse a piecemeal Confederate infantry attack. During the night, the rest of Schofield's command passes from Columbia through Spring Hill to Franklin. This is, perhaps, Hood's best chance to isolate and defeat the Union army. The engagement is described as "one of the most controversial non-fighting events of the entire war."
November 30, 1864
Battle of Honey Hill (South Carolina). Leaving Hilton Head on November 28, a Union expeditionary force under Gen. John P. Hatch steam up the Broad River in transports to cut the Charleston & Savannah Railroad near Pocotaligo. Hatch disembarks at Boyd's Landing and marches inland. On November 30, Hatch encounters a Confederate force of regulars and militia under Col. Charles J. Colcock at Honey Hill. Determined attacks by U.S. Colored Troops (including the 54th Massachusetts) fail to capture the Confederate entrenchments or cut the railroad. Hatch retires after dark, withdrawing to his transports at Boyd's Neck.
Battle of Franklin (Tennessee). Having lost a good opportunity at Spring Hill to hurt significantly the Union Army, Gen. John B. Hood marches in rapid pursuit of Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's retreating Union army. Schofield's advance reaches Franklin about sunrise on November 30 and quickly forms a defensive line in works thrown up by the Yankees in the spring of 1863, on the southern edge of town. Schofield wishes to remain in Franklin to repair the bridges and get his supply trains over them. Skirmishing at Thompson's Station and elsewhere delays Hood's march, but, around 4:00 pm, he marshals a frontal attack against the Union perimeter. Two Federal brigades holding a forward position give way and retreat to the inner works, but their comrades ultimately hold in a battle that caused frightening casualties. When the battle ceased, after dark, six Confederate generals are dead or have mortal wounds. Despite this terrible loss, Hood's army, late, depleted and worn, crawls on toward Nashville.