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This study of Civil War sites in the Virginia part of the

Shenandoah Valley was authorized by Public Law 101-628. It

accomplishes the following tasks:

The time and funds available dictated a need to focus the study

on major battlefields as the kind of historic sites under the

greatest preservation pressures. While the Civil War certainly

did not play out exclusively on battlefields, the latter are

among the most dramatic sites conveying a very high level of

meaning to Americans and are extremely vulnerable to development

and visual intrusion. Action to preserve and interpret key

battlefields can provide the conceptual structure around which to

evaluate and preserve other sites, buildings, and structures

significant to preserving a record of the Civil War in the


1. Significant Sites

The study examined battlefields in eight Virginia counties:

Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham,

Shenandoah, and Warren. Official war records document 326 armed

conflict incidents in the Shenandoah Valley and this does not

include many of the raids, ambushes, and partisan actions. As a

result of historical analysis, the 326 notable armed conflicts

were reduced to fifteen battle events of major significance. The

battlefields selected for study were associated with Stonewall

Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862, the Gettysburg Campaign of

1863, and the decisive Lynchburg-Early-Sheridan Campaigns of

1864. These three campaigns, encompassing the fifteen individual

sites, are the most significant events in the Valley's Civil War


The sites associated with these campaigns were: (1862) Cross

Keys, Front Royal, First Kernstown, McDowell, Port Republic,

First Winchester; (1863) Second Winchester; (1864) Cedar Creek,

Cool Spring, Fisher's Hill, Second Kernstown, New Market,

Opequon, Piedmont, and Tom's Brook.

The analysis of military campaigns as

the historic context for the major battlefields in the Valley

indicates that the 1862 and 1864 campaigns are of higher

importance, although for different reasons, than the local events

associated with the 1863 Gettysburg campaign. From the field

survey and historical research, it further appears that both the

1862 Jackson campaign and the 1864 Lynchburg-Early-Sheridan

campaigns, as represented by their fourteen associated sites,

meet National Historic Landmark (NHL) criteria. Cedar Creek

already is designated a National Historic Landmark, and Opequon

may also individually meet NHL criteria. The other sites

probably would not meet NHL criteria on their own (a key factor

in considering potential additions to the National Park System),

although they appear to qualify for the National Register of

Historic Places. There is no clear line of historical argument

that assures a credible relative ranking of individual

battlefields based on significance other than for Cedar Creek and

Opequon; however, both of these latter sites represent the same

campaign with neither telling the whole story of its campaign.

As a result of field survey and research into the records of

battle events, each site was documented as a study area, the

entire area of activity involved in the battle event; and its

incorporated core area, the area of principal armed conflict and

other closely related activity such as command and control


Taken together, the fifteen battlefield study areas in the Valley

comprised 85,909 acres. The average size of the study areas was

5,727 acres and they ranged from 3,082 acres at Front Royal to

22,274 acres at Second Winchester. Battlefield core areas

totaled 33,844 acres, with an average size of 2,415 acres. Core

areas ranged from 944 acres at Front Royal to 6,252 acres at

Cedar Creek. A table is enclosed with this Executive Summary

listing all battlefields and their associated campaign context,

their size, condition, and preservation risk.

2. Condition And Threats To


Integrity tells the current condition of the battlefield core

area, and threats tell what to anticipate in the foreseeable

future. Of the 85,909 acres of battlefield study areas 82% were

determined to have generally good integrity. The primary losses

of integrity have occurred in the lower (northern) Valley in the

vicinity of the cities of Winchester and Front Royal. The

battlefields of McDowell, Piedmont, Port Republic, Cross Keys,

Cool Spring, Cedar Creek, Fisher's Hill, First Kernstown and

Tom's Brook were all found to be in fair to good condition. The

battlefields of Second Kernstown and New Market were in poor to

fair condition, Opequon and Front Royal were in poor condition,

and First Winchester has been lost as a coherent battlefield


Threats to preservation of the fifteen battlefields under study

come primarily from residential construction (threatening 12

sites), commercial development (threatening 7), highway

construction (threatening 6) and industrial development

(threatening 3 sites). Taken together, integrity and threats

identify categories of risk to preservation. The following list

of battlefield sites is the nearest approximation to a listing of

current relative risk priority that is possible based on both

historical and descriptive site analysis (1 is highest risk, 15

is lowest risk).

1. Front Royal (1862)

2. 1st Winchester (1862)

3. Opequon (1864)

4. 2nd Kernstown (1864)

5. 2nd Winchester (1863)

6. New Market (1864)

7. 1st Kernstown (1862)

8. Tom's Brook (1864)

9. Cool Spring (1864)

10. Fisher's Hill (1864)

11. Cedar Creek (1864)

12. Cross Keys (1862)

13. Port Republic (1862)

14. Piedmont (1864)

15. McDowell (1862)

3. Relative Significance

This listing of sites based on the current risk to preservation

leaves unanswered the public policy question of whether it is

better to focus preservation efforts on sites nearly lost, or on

sites where pristine historic landscapes remain well-preserved

and the Civil War setting is evoked easily. There are arguments

to be made for either approach but the question itself cannot be

answered further through historical analysis. There are

basically three choices that can be made.

A. The lowest risk, good condition sites often lend themselves

to a high degree of protection and preservation with minimum

costs and least disruption of local people while resulting in

retention of exceptional quality historical sites. Sites in this

category are Cross Keys (1862), Port Republic (1862), Piedmont

(1864), and McDowell (1862).

B. The higher risk, poor condition sites generally would require

higher costs and often more difficult resolution of competing

interests. However, these sites represent historic events of

great importance too, and if action is not taken imminently,

there will not even be fragments remaining to commemorate the

former existence of these battle locations. Sites in this

category are Opequon (1864), First Winchester (1862), and Front Royal (1862).

C. There also are good reasons to choose sites under

intermediate levels of risk as the primary preservation focus.

For example, sites that are in good to fair condition but under

moderate levels of threat; or, sites that are in poor to fair

condition experiencing yet greater levels of threat. The

rationale here is that good condition, low threat sites might

survive longer without intervention, and that worthwhile

preservation results can no longer be obtained from lost or poor

condition sites under extreme threats given the extreme

confrontational and other costs, while sites in the intermediate

risk categories represent problems that still are manageable.

Sites in the relatively LESS risky intermediate group are Cool

Spring (1864), Fisher's Hill (1864), and Cedar Creek (1864).

Sites in the relatively MORE risky intermediate group are

First/Second Kernstown (1862/64), New Market (1864), Tom's Brook

(1864), and Second Winchester (1863).

4. Preservation Alternatives

Current information indicates that the Valley's population will

grow by 18%, or by 63,150 people, over the next 30 years. Much

of this growth will be in and around the cities of Winchester,

Front Royal, and Harrisonburg. Associated with this growth will

be the four principal sources of changing land use that will

damage or destroy key historic sites: residential, commercial,

highway, and industrial development.

One key to preserving Civil War sites is to assure that local

governments have available to them information on the location

and significance of such sites so that they are able to use their

planning, zoning, and other powers to channel economic

development in ways and places that do not bring harm to

important resources. This report and its supporting data begins

to serve that purpose.

Moreover, Civil War and other historic resources are a key part

of the Valley's resource base for a heritage

tourism component of economic development. The study

determined the general prospects for heritage tourism in the

Valley are broadly positive, although there should be targeted

market research as part of designing a specific battlefield

protection and interpretation program in the Valley that would be

structured to avoid undue intrusion on private property owners

and retention of the rural Valley way of life. Nevertheless,

protection of these fifteen major Civil War battlefield sites

can be seen as not only an important national objective, but also

as an important element of the local economy and, therefore, an

added incentive to local governments to play a substantial role

in protecting these sites.

Five approaches are available for protecting some or all of the

fifteen major Civil War battlefields in the Virginia part of the

Valley. Generally these actions would apply to core areas and

selected parts of study areas of each site. A summary of the

specific preservation potential at each site is given in Part

Four of the main report. The alternative preservation approaches

are the following:

1. No focused action but continue to let private and local

government actions occur as they are now.

2. Enhanced public funding and technical assistance to State

and local governments and to private owners for site preservation

and interpretation.

3. Create one or more affiliated areas of the National Park


4. Acquire one or two sites for the National Park System as

interpretive, technical assistance, and management focal points

in conjunction with other battlefields under non-federal


5. Acquire selected parts of all fifteen significant

battlefields for the National Park System.

Since the fifteen battlefields vary considerably in ownership,

land use, integrity and threats, no single alternative is best

suited to these sites. A balance must be achieved between

preservation, the Valley lifestyle, and economic development;

this suggests a regional approach and flexibility in how each

site is treated. While alternatives 1 and 5, above, do not seem

feasible or desirable, some combinations of 2, 3, and 4 would be

appropriate if developed through a regional mechanism

emphasizing: (a) stewardship through continued private ownership

when current land use practices are compatible with battlefield

preservation and interpretation; and (b) wide participation of

local governments and property owners together with State and

Federal agencies.

The Virginia Shenandoah Valley is the locale for tangible remains

of some of the nation's major historic resources. Effective

retention of most of these remains is an opportunity that still

is available but one that must be handled by governments and the

community working together in order to be successful, for this

opportunity will only remain for a relatively short time.

Select TABLE 1 for first summary table of battlefield statistics.


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Creation Date: 3/13/95

Last Update 7/17/95 by VLC