College of Arts and Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)
Shenandoah Valley, American Civil War, Stonewall Jackson, Philip Sheridan
Conn, Todd Alan, "The Importance of the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4583.
The purpose of this research and writing is to examine the military history which transpired in the Shenandoah Valley during the American Civil War. There is a general motivation to discover more about the people who made the decisions that impacted the Valley. Two research questions will be considered. First, why did the Union and Confederate leadership conduct operations in the Shenandoah Valley as they did in the Civil War? Second, how did the conduct of operations in the Shenandoah Valley change during the war for both the North and the South? Readers will encounter what happened in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War from the perspective of some of the participants who lived through it. This encounter will be presented from the analysis of both primary and secondary sources. Such sources as collected papers of people including Robert E. Lee and Robert Milroy along with recorded history from units like the 118th Pennsylvania will be included. The Shenandoah Valley campaigns of the Civil War tell the story of two wars. In the beginning, there was the dramatic success of the Confederate army in the Valley in the first half of the war. Subsequently, there was the ultimate, final success of the Union army in the last half of the war. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, the Union success came at the right time and marked the end of the war for the South. This duality of emphasis on the Valley can be seen in two observations. First, the Federal leadership did not understand the importance of the Shenandoah Valley until they did. Second, the Confederate leadership always understood the importance of the Valley. Their problem was they were able to adequately defend it until they could no longer defend it. In the end, the explanation for the ability to access the Valley boiled down to the ability of both the Union and the Confederacy leadership to hold on to it.