August meeting – Eric Campbell

August LCCWRT Meeting Notice. We welcome all guests with the hopes that they will join, so please consider bringing someone to the meeting this month.

Join us on August 12 as we explore Jubal Early’s Army in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Meeting time: Tuesday, August 12, 2014; 7:30 p.m.

Location: Thomas Balch Library, 208 West Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia

Topic: “I have never attributed the result to a want of courage on their part’’: Jubal Early’s Army in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

During the critical summer of 1864, having cleared the Shenandoah Valley of the Federal forces under Union General David Hunter, newly appointed Lt. Gen. Jubal Early quickly moved to consolidate his strategic position in the bread basket of the Confederacy in accordance with Lee’s instructions. In early July, he ordered his 17,000 man mobile strike force, composed of the 2nd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia and John C. Breckinridge’s infantry division, to cross the Potomac and threaten the outer defenses of Washington, D.C. On July 24, 1864, Early’s Army of the Valley won a resounding victory at the Battle of Second Kernstown, which completely cleared the Shenandoah Valley of all Union troops. Six days later, on July 30, Early’s cavalry crossed the Potomac and put the torch to Chambersburg, completely gutting the central section of the town in retaliation for similar acts of criminal violence against civilians in Virginia. These important events marked the pinnacle of Confederate success in the Valley in 1864. However, less than 90 days later, Early’s army had been completely shattered and much of the Valley had been laid a barren waste under the hard hand of Union General Phil Sheridan.

What caused this dramatic reversal of fortune for Early’s Army of the Valley? On whose shoulders rests the principal blame for the loss of this vital theater of the war? National Park Historian Eric Campbell’s program will seek to answer these questions and analyze the principal reasons for Early’s defeat by examining the Army of the Valley itself throughout the duration of this important campaign.

Eric Campbell is the Chief of Interpretation at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. He has worked as a park historian for the National Park Service for more than 28 years, including 23 years at Gettysburg National Military Park (along with previous short-term assignments at Independence National Historical Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site). He has also authored over two dozen articles and essays for scholarly publications, such as the Gettysburg Magazine, North and South, Civil War Times Illustrated, and America’s Civil War. Campbell’s chief responsibilities at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP include overseeing the planning for future interpretation at the park, plus the development of ranger-lead programs; the opening of a visitor contact station (including interpretive exhibits and a fiber-optic map of the Battle of Cedar Creek); and developing interpretive trails, brochures, exhibits, podcasts, and other media and infrastructure. He and his staff are currently busy preparing special programs and events for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign later this year.


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