THE BEAUTIFUL SHENANDOAH VALLEY lies in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains a couple hours drive west of Washington, DC, and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. And as such, it was the historic setting for many memorable campaigns during the American Civil War. For me the valley offered a much-needed escape from the cities and a welcome route back to nature. Give me space!
The valley south of Harpers Ferry is nestled in a forested plateau of rolling mountains that once provided ample opportunity for Union and Confederate troops to maneuver about fighting battles, advancing, retreating, and counter attacking each other during those bloody campaigns that lasted years and took too many lives on both sides. It's estimated that over 620,000 lives were lost on the battlefields of a total 1.1 million American casualties. Unbelievably tragic!
It seems every small town had its own version of the seesaw conflicts as troops from Richmond, Virginia, and Washington battled up and down the landscape. It was sobering to encounter so many cemeteries and monuments here recounting battles of armies under Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Jubil Early, and General Philip Sheridan. The final victory came during the fall of 1864 when General Sheridan's Union forces burned much of the valley, a “total war” tactic that became known as The Burning, and the Confederacy lost control of the Shenandoah Valley. Just a few months later Virginia fell as Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox.
My journey through these former battlefields just two centuries later demonstrates how well Mother Nature can heal the ravages of war and restore its natural beauty, if given the chance.
Miles 3278, Week 39, Weather 69F🌤