Valley of the Shadow Project and Civil War Memory

Posted on March 26, 2008 by


I had planned on posting about something to do with Southern Unionists today, but in the course of deciding exactly what I wanted to write about (and after a little Web navigation), I came across something that I wanted to pass along. Most in Civil War era studies are probably aware of the Valley of the Shadow site, and some are probably already aware of the portion of this site that I would like to mention today. I have been to this section before, but having returned to it again since creating my blog, well, it just took on new meaning.

Two Communities in the American Civil War

Under the main directory of the site, in the “Aftermath” section, there is a subsection (or sub-pathway) titled “Memory of the War.” I accessed this pathway again last night and, having written a book about Augusta County in the Civil War (and having included a chapter about the remembrance years), I’m very interested in what this subsection has to offer. The different nodes offered in this subsection include

Apart from the last node, I think all offer different features that are worth examining when considering memory of the Civil War in Augusta County. I was a bit disappointed however that the newspapers were not scanned for articles through the beginning of the twentieth century. There were, after all, two Grand Camp Confederate Veterans of Virginia Reunions in Staunton, as well as a major UDC and SCV reunion.

Likewise, the “Popular Culture” segment, I think, deserves greater attention. For example, there is no mention of Buckley’s History of the Great Reunion (of course, I didn’t find it myself until after I had published Gibraltar in the Shenandoah). This book provides a very detailed account of the reunion that took place between the veterans of the 5th Virginia Infantry and the 28th New York Infantry (including the Confederate Veterans placing a wreath at the Staunton National Cemetery (according to the book, the wreath later became part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution) and subsequent return of the flag of the 28th New York Infantry – taken at the Battle of Cedar Mountain – at the reunion that took place in Niagara Falls.

Civil War Sites and Stories of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County, VirginiaIncidentally, the node about the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton leads to some interesting information about the hotel, but curiously, there is no mention of the large UDC reunion held there in the late 1930s, when some of the last surviving local Confederate veterans were in attendance.

Please don’t get me wrong. This project is a tremendous (and groundbreaking) contribution to the field of Digital History and the Civil War as a whole. The amount of work that has gone into it is amazing. However, before the Virginia Center for Digital History wraps-up work on the project (this coming year, from what I understand), it would be great to see a few more things covered.