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McCormick Civil War Institute’s 14th Annual Fall Tour

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Battles of Cross Key & Port Republic in the Upper Shenandoah Valley- Oct. 9 & 10, 2009

Shenandoah University's McCormick Civil War Institute's program for Fall 2009 covers the Battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic in the Upper Shenandoah Valley. Stonewall Jackson's two victories on two consecutive days, June 8 & 9 1862 were the last of his great Valley Campaign. They were also the hardest fought and the bloodiest. They are, with McDowell, the best preserved.

On the evening of Friday, October 9, 2009 participants will meet on the campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester for a social hour, and two lectures followed by dinner. The following morning we will depart for the short ride to Harrisonburg and the Rockingham County battlefield sites.  We will return to Winchester in the late afternoon. The Institute is proud of its record of sticking to schedule.

The faculty includes Dr. Brandon H. Beck and Professor Jonathan Noyalas, with historian Stephen Lee Ritchie. Beck and Noyalas are published experts on the War in the Valley, while Ritchie is the leading authority on the life of General Turner Ashby. The first tour stop will be at the Ashby death site on the Port Republic Road near Harrisonburg.

Jackson's victory at Winchester on May 25 had sealed the strategic success of his great Valley Campaign. Since then he had gone as far north as Harpers Ferry before turning back south. He had completely disrupted Union strategy across Virginia, from the Valley to Fredericksburg to the Peninsula. The three armies now chasing after him had been drawn away from the primary Union objective, the taking of Richmond. But it remained to be seen if Jackson and his Valley Army could survive their own success - could they escape the clutches of their pursuers in the Upper Valley? General Robert E. Lee needed Jackson at Richmond; would he get there?

Although Union Generals Fremont and Shields get little credit for their pursuit, it was a " close call". By June 6 they were pushing Jackson hard. Ashby was killed in rear guard fighting on June 6 and Jackson himself was very nearly captured two days later. In the end, the second victory, at Port Republic, came down to whether or not Jackson could capture a strong position on high ground known as "the coaling" against outnumbered Union defenders. Finally, as at Winchester, General Richard Taylor's Louisiana Tigers took the ground to win the Battle. Casualties were severe, nearly 1,000 (combined) at Cross Keys and nearly twice that many at Port Republic. But the Valley Army had escaped.   In two weeks' time Jackson joined the Army of Northern Virginia at Richmond.

As in last October's tour, at the Third Battle of Winchester, the Institute is indebted to the preservation efforts of the Civil War Preservation Trust. The Trust has helped preserve 200 acres of core battlefield land at
Port Republic. Cross Keys is fortunately still off the " beaten path" (beaten by development) and retains much of its appearance from 1862. 

The combination of preservation and our lecture preparation should result in an unforgettable experience. The Civil War Institute has been offering this kind of lecture/field trip combination for nearly 20 years. It is a solid and unique educational experience and it is scheduled for the most beautiful time of the year in the beautiful
Shenandoah Valley.

For more information about the tour please visit here ,to download the registration form, click here.

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