The Great Valley Road of Virginia: Shenandoah Landscapes from Prehistory to the Present, Warren R. Hofstra et al., University of Virginia Press, 320 pages, extensive maps, photographs, charts and illustrations, notes, index, 2010, $50.00.
The Great Valley Road of Virginia contains historic landscapes from frontier to modern times. It is not a coffee table book but is an fine combination of academic history and popular culture. An accessible narrative with a foundation of solid research in local, state and regional documents contains much on the American Civil War and ranges from the Shenandoah Valley's prehistory to the presetn.
Native Americans had used this great Appalachian valley for kinship and commerce travelling before Europeans began their settlements. A segment of a path that began in southeastern Pennsylvania and ended in northern Georgia, the Valley Road was essential to Native American communities. Americans used the Valley Road as a route through the Cumberland Gap to Tennessee and Kentucky.
When the Valley Road became a turnpike and played a vital role in the economic and social life of Virginia and the South before the Civil War. During the war it was the focus of two great Confederate military campaigns: Jackson's in 1862 and Early's in 1864. After the war the Valley Road was essential to the recovery of western Virginia. US Route 11 and Interstate 81 now carry the traffic.
There are eight chapters in the book; the 30 page fifth chapter that covers 1836 to 1865 is entitled 'Strategy and Sublimity: A Gallery of Valley Pike Images during the Civil War'. There are 24 illustrations selected by an associate professor of art; the text is written by an associate professor of history. Both are on the faculty of at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. For anyone who reads and studies Civil War history, The Great Valley Road of Virginia: Shenandoah Landscapes from Prehistory to the Present offers much in every chapter. The mindset aand cultural heritage of Virginia troops from the Shenanhoah Valley is revealed on nearly every page. CWL recommends this book to those who wish to understand what Virgina's western soldiers brought to the war.
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