September 2018
 Volume No. 2, Issue No. 3
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A Note from Our Director

As you will see from this newsletter it has been an extremely busy summer for the McCormick Civil War Institute (MCWI). I continue to be amazed at the support our various programs, seminars, tours and other endeavors have received since my arrival at Shenandoah University in January 2017. Although it's rewarding to reflect on the progress we’ve made in such a relatively short period of time, I am always looking forward to the future. You will note as you peruse this newsletter that MCWI has a number of exciting ventures in the works and some ambitious future plans. I am fully confident that with your help and support MCWI will realize all that is on the horizon and more. As always, my deepest gratitude to everyone for your continued support and friendship.

Jonathan Noyalas '01, M.A. 
Director, McCormick Civil War Institute 

Headlines from the Quarter

October Seminar and Tour is SOLD OUT!

MCWI’s annual fall semester seminar and tour, “‘A Peculiarly Undesirable Place’: Martinsburg’s Civil War,” sold out at the end of August. If you are interested in this seminar and tour, and would like to be placed on a waiting list, please contact Stephanie Swaim at 540/545-7293 or

Spring 2019 Conference Topic & Speakers Set

In the spring of 2018 MCWI held its largest-ever conference. Planning is already underway for our spring 2019 conference, “‘A House Divided…’: Dissent, Disagreement & Subversion During the Civil War Era.” The conference, being held on the campus of Shenandoah University on Saturday, April 6, features presentations by Dennis Frye (Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, retired), Dr. Jennifer Weber (University of Kansas), Dr. Paul Quigley (Virginia Tech) and our director. The conference covers such topics as Copperheads, reactions to John Brown’s raid, issues in Jefferson Davis’ cabinet and dissent in the Shenandoah Valley. Conference registration opens at the end of October. Registration fee of $50 covers the cost of the conference, refreshments and lunch. Stay tuned for more details via email, Facebook, Twitter and at

Dana Shoaf to Speak at Shenandoah in November for Fall Perspectives Lecture Series

Originally, MCWI planned to welcome Dr. Jennifer Murray to Shenandoah on Thursday, Nov. 1, for its fall installment of “Perspectives.” Dr. Murray recently accepted a position at Oklahoma State University and her new responsibilities make her visit in November impossible. In her place, Dana Shoaf, editor of Civil War Times — arguably the most significant and oldest popular Civil War publication—will speak at Shenandoah at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1 in Henkel Hall, Hester Auditorium. This lecture is free and open to the public. Additional details about Shoaf’s presentation will be circulated via email, Facebook and Twitter and

Update on Volume Two of the Journal of Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era

Throughout the summer we’ve made steady progress on volume two of the Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era. Volume two is set for release in December and features, in addition to a slate of book reviews of the latest scholarship in Shenandoah Valley Civil War era history, essay contributions by Allen Guelzo, Margaretta Barton Colt, Scott Patchan and others. Copies of volume two will once again be available for purchase online at, and at retailers throughout the Shenandoah Valley. A special notice about its release will be sent to all on the newsletter’s distribution list.

First-Ever Kids' Camp Offered at Cool Spring

On Friday, July 20, MCWI teamed up with the Clarke County Department of Parks & Recreation for an all-day kids’ camp — “In History’s Footsteps,” at Cool Spring. The program conducted by our director with support from history major Jake Gabriele '18 as well as the director’s wife (and Shenandoah alumnus) Brandy Noyalas ’02 and son Alex, offered an immersive learning experience where students learned about communication methods during the Civil War, soldier life, Cool Spring’s artifacts and the battle. The program was such a hit that plans are underway to offer the program in the summer of 2019.

Busy Summer at Cool Spring

In addition to the installation of tour stop markers, expansion of the exhibition in the Lodge, a new interpretive sign on the kiosk and installation of two new Virginia Civil War Trails signs on the property, Cool Spring saw record visitation throughout the summer. Cool Spring was open on seven Saturdays throughout the summer, including for the battle’s anniversary weekend commemoration. More than 650 individuals visited the exhibition and countless others took advantage of our free printed battlefield guide. While many of our visitors were local, the Cool Spring exhibition drew people from as far away as Alaska and Nevada. Additionally, our director offered a variety of private tours for various groups throughout the summer including a contingent of historians from various Civil War-related National Park Service sites.

Many Thanks to Generous Donors

MCWI wishes to thank all of those who have made contributions to support the McCormick Civil War Institute. Since the publication of our last newsletter the following individuals and organizations have made generous contributions which will support MCWI’s myriad efforts: Warren R. Hofstra, Ph.D., Dr. Ken Rutherford, and the North-South Skirmish Association.

MCWI, SCIL & SVBF Team Up to Recreate John Brown’s Trial

MCWI, Shenandoah University’s Center for Immersive Learning (SCIL) and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF) are teaming up to recreate some of the most significant moments of John Brown’s trial using virtual reality (VR). Funded by a grant from SVBF, MCWI’s director is authoring the script. Taping will occur in late September, with the VR experience being released on Dec. 2, (the anniversary date of John Brown’s execution) at the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum (formerly the Old Courthouse Civil War Museum on Winchester’s downtown walking mall).

Miles’ Summer Fellows Gabriele and Herrera Complete Work

History majors Jake Gabriele and Victor Herrera, who worked closely with our director this summer, have completed their work as the 2018 Dr. David and Mrs. Melanie Miles MCWI Summer Fellows. They spent the summer researching and writing about the Union and Confederate soldiers who perished during the Battle of Cool Spring. Their research not only resurrected long-forgotten stories, but also pointed to potential burial sites of Union soldiers on the property now owned by the university. Some of the initial findings from the research project were shared at a special College of Arts and Sciences colloquium on July 26. The complete findings from their research will be published in volume three of the Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era, set for release in December 2019.

Winchester’s Civil War Weekend

For the second straight year, MCWI was proud to be part of Winchester’s Civil War Weekend. On Saturday, Aug. 18, our director conducted a special caravan tour of Winchester sites which focused on the ways in which Union and Confederate veterans tried to heal the Civil War’s wounds, and the limits to that reconciliation.

Director Part of ‘Great Conversations at Gettysburg’

On Saturday, June 30, MCWI’s director, Jonathan Noyalas, was one of a distinguished group of historians invited by the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park to speak as part of its “Great Conversations” series. Noyalas spoke about his research on Union Gen. Robert H. Milroy. Other invited historians included Edward Ayers, Carol Reardon and Judith Giesberg. Noyalas’ presentation also aired on Pennsylvania Cable Network.

MCWI Teams Up with Youth Theology Institute

This summer MCWI continued its practice of partnering with various entities at Shenandoah University to offer unique learning experiences. On July 18, our director conducted a special tour — “Uncertain Freedom: African Americans and Civil War Winchester” — for the Youth Theology Institute, a program that draws high-school aged children from across the United States.

The McCormick Civil War Institute Always Needs Your Help!

None of what we are able to do, particularly our myriad efforts at Cool Spring, would be possible without outside financial support. Looking ahead to next year, MCWI aims to continue and build its various programs, but it cannot happen without your help. We are in the early stages of planning a variety of additional interpretive enhancements to Cool Spring, including development of an interpretive video and a virtual reality experience. Additionally, we are looking into the possibility of further study at the site, not to mention providing unique learning opportunities for our students and the community.

If you would like to make a contribution to the McCormick Civil War Institute to support its various efforts, we would be most appreciative. Any amount, however big or small, will go a long way to support the McCormick Civil War Institute’s vision – a significant part of which is  is making certain that younger generations understand the Civil War's importance and its complexities.

Quarterly Features

Publication of Note

“Reconstruction: A Concise History” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018). $18.95 hardcover,

For decades Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution” stood as the standard work on Reconstruction, that tumultuous moment in the Civil War’s aftermath where the nation reunited and African Americans attempted to realize the full promise of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. 

» Continue Reading 

Artifact of the Quarter

18th Connecticut Ribbon

Among the artifacts added to the exhibition in the Lodge at Cool Spring is a ribbon for the 18th Connecticut Infantry’s reunion at Mystic Island, Connecticut, on Aug. 20, 1890. Regarded by historian John Niven as “a typical Connecticut three-year regiment,” approximately 65% of the men who served in the regiment were either farmers or factory workers prior to the conflict.

» Continue Reading 

Coming Events

Saturday, Oct. 27: “'A Peculiarly Undesirable Place': Martinsburg’s Civil War" – annual fall semester seminar and tour. THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT. 

Thursday, Nov. 1: Fall semester “Perspectives in the Civil War Era” lecture series, Dana Shoaf, editor of the Civil War Times, Henkel Hall, Hester Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 6: Annual MCWI Spring Conference. “'A House Divided…': Dissent, Disagreement & Subversion During the Civil War Era." $50 registration fee, includes lunch, held on campus of Shenandoah University. Registration opens late October.  

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