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1. Background

P.L. 101-628, which mandated the study of Civil War sites and structures in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, calls for the National Park Service to ``provide alternatives for the preservation and interpretation of such sites by Federal, State, and local governments, or other public or private entities, as may be appropriate. Such alternatives may include, but shall not be limited to, designation as units of the National Park System or as affiliated areas. The study shall examine methods and make recommendations to continue current land use practices, such as agriculture, where feasible.''

The comparison which the National Park Service conducted, using the Jedediah Hotchkiss 1862 map of the Valley and modern USGS maps of the same area, indicates a remarkable level of overall integrity-- the retention of the physical and visual qualities of the natural and manmade environment in the Valley present at the time of the Civil War, due not only to the unique topography of the region, but also to continued patterns of agricultural use. Because few systematic efforts have been made to preserve the Valley's battlefields, preservation of battlefield land to date, much of which was farmed at the time of the war, has depended largely on the stewardship of private landowners who have continued to farm the land. Many of the property names present on the Hotchkiss map are the names of family members still retaining ownership of these farms today, most noticeably in the Upper Valley.

The Shenandoah Valley has a vibrant, contemporary mixture of urban, agricultural, and forested landscape which represents evolving uses of land by a growing population. The landscape reflects this change in such forms as Interstate 81, which has developed as the Valley's major transportation corridor, and in the growth of modern cities such as Harrisonburg and Winchester. This is not a region that ``time has forgotten,'' but rather one which has retained elements of the past into a contemporary future. The study indicates that change in the battlefield areas is intensified relative to change in other parts of the Valley, due to the location of these battlefields along major transportation routes both in the nineteenth century and the twentieth. There is greater change to the landscape where agricultural land has been converted to other uses, particularly in the Lower Valley, near Front Royal and Winchester. Most of the battlefields in this area have witnessed some residential, industrial, and commercial development. But many parcels of battlefield land remaining retain a high degree of integrity

Despite the overall good integrity of major battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley, some sites have deteriorated, and preservation possibilities are constrained. Earlier, in Part Four, an analysis of the relative importance was given for each battlefield based on historic significance, integrity, threats, and risks to preservation.


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Creaton Date: 3/13/95

Last Update 7/17/95 by VLC