September 17
 Volume No. 1, Issue No. 3
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A Note from Our Director

Greetings from Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute. Over the past several months, the Civil War Institute has made enormous progress on the exhibition in The Lodge at the University’s River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield. Phase one of the exhibit—made possible through the generous support of Dr. Robert F. Boxley, Jr. and Mr. Alexander MacLeod, as well as Dr. David and Mrs. Melanie Miles, who supported CWI’s first-ever summer fellows Shelby Shrader and Zachary Thompson – opened to the public during the 153rd anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Cool Spring. Arrangements are being made for a formal dedication of the exhibition this autumn. The exhibit will continue to grow and expand with additional artifacts and interpretive media in the coming year. In addition to all of the wonderful things happening at Cool Spring, the Civil War Institute has an array of exciting programs in the coming months, so please be sure to check out our upcoming events calendar. The growth and early success the McCormick Civil War Institute has enjoyed since my arrival at Shenandoah University has certainly been a team effort. None of it would have been possible without the tireless efforts of the members of our advisory board, Shenandoah University officials, and all of our friends and supporters who have attended events and made generous contributions to CWI. My thanks to all for your continued support and friendship. As always, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email at

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

Quarterly Features

Publication of Note

Thomas P. Nanzig, ed., “The Civil War Memoirs of a Virginia Cavalryman” (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2016). $24.95 softcover,

First released in 2007, this paperback reprint makes available the rich reflections of Confederate cavalryman Lt. Robert Hubbard, Jr. an officer in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry, Hubbard and his unit saw extensive service during the conflict.
» Continue Reading 

Artifact of the Quarter

The Spencer Rifle  

Invented by Christopher M. Spencer, the Spencer rifle was unlike any other firearm—save the Henry—used during the Civil War. With a magazine located in the rifle’s butt-stock, the Spencer held seven metallic rim-fire cartridges. The federal government purchased more than 95,000 Spencers during the conflict.  

The rifle, so famously tested by President Abraham Lincoln, played critical roles on many battlefields of the Civil War, including Cool Spring on the night of July 18, 1864, and into the following morning.
» Continue Reading 

Coming Events

Saturday, Oct. 28 
CWI’s annual fall semester seminar and tour –“Love Not, the One You Love May Die”: The Battle of Milford and the Front Royal Executions.
$25 pre-registration required. Space is limited. 

Wednesday, Nov. 8:
Free public lecture with CWI’s director “Pursuing an Honest Life in Our Relations to the Past and the Present”: World War I in the Shadow of the American Civil War. Henkel Hall, Hester Auditorium, Shenandoah University.

Saturday, April 7:
CWI’s annual spring conference — “Another Era in Our War Life”: When the Home Front Became the Battle Front. Shenandoah University.


Headlines from the Quarter

153rd Anniversary Commemoration of Cool Spring a Success 

On Saturday, July 15, more than 120 Civil War enthusiasts, including descendants of individuals who fought at the Battle of Cool Spring, visited the River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield to commemorate the battle’s 153rd anniversary. The day included two guided tours, living history demonstrations and two presentations. This will be the beginning of a new CWI tradition. Planning is already underway for the 154th anniversary commemoration of Cool Spring.

Cool Spring Battlefield Guide Popularity

Since its release in April of this year, the McCormick Civil War Institute has distributed nearly 500 printed guides. The eight-page guide provides a sweeping overview of the Battle of Cool Spring in nine stops stretched out over approximately two miles of walking trails. CWI continues to make the full-color guide available to the public for free and is able to do so because of the generous support of donors. If you would like to donate (any amount is a great help) to help perpetuate this printed guide please contact the director at for additional details on how you can help.

Cool Spring Exhibition

For most of the summer months CWI’s director, with research and writing support from CWI’s two summer fellows Shelby Shrader and Zachary Thompson, worked diligently on an exhibition housed in The Lodge at Cool Spring. The exhibition, a mix of interpretive panels and artifacts associated with the Battle of Cool Spring, tells the story of Snickers Gap during the conflict, the Battle of Cool Spring and its aftermath, and the personal stories of men who fought and died at Cool Spring on July 18, 1864. The exhibition also includes “A Call to Learn!” which provides hands-on activities for children to learn about the life of the common Civil War soldier.
The exhibition would not have been possible without the generous support of Dr. Robert F. Boxley, Jr. and Mr. Alexander MacLeod. Dr. David and Mrs. Melanie Miles kindly provided financial support for CWI’s summer fellows, who proved crucial in the timely completion of this exhibition.

Fall Seminar and Tour Near Capacity

On Saturday, Oct. 28, CWI will host a one-day seminar and tour “Love Not, the One You Love May Die”: The Battle of Milford & the Front Royal Executions. As of the publication of this newsletter, only three openings remain. If you would like to register you can download the form at

Cultural Landscape Report Complete

In the summer of 2015, Shenandoah University received a $55,000 grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program to conduct a Cultural Landscape Study at Cool Spring. The grant allowed Shenandoah University to hire Commonwealth Heritage Group as a consultant for this project. After nearly two years of work, the study is completed. The study will provide guidance to Shenandoah University and the McCormick Civil War Institute in prioritizing projects at the site.

Many Thanks to Generous Donors

CWI wishes to thank all of those who have made contributions to support the McCormick Civil War Institute’s various efforts. Since the publication of our last newsletter, the following individuals have made generous contributions which will support interpretive efforts at Cool Spring, public presentations, and a variety of unique opportunities for students—Jean F. Gay; Warren Hofstra, Ph.D.; Dr. Adriana Hohl; Bruce Kramer; Alexander MacLeod; the Village at Orchard Ridge and the North-South Skirmish Association.

Civil War Institute Participates in Civil War Weekend

For the first time in its history, CWI participated in Winchester’s Civil War weekend. In partnership with the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, CWI’s director led an approximately 90-minute caravan tour on Saturday, Aug. 19, of various sites in Winchester which brought to light the experiences of the community’s African Americans during the Civil War. The tour visited various locations including Camp Hill, Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s headquarters, Market Square, Hawthorne, and the graves of United States Colored Troops in Orrick Cemetery.


First Issue of The Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era Taking Shape

One of CWI’s most ambitious undertakings is the publication of an annual journal. The first volume of The Journal will be released in the spring of 2018. Although its release is months away, the content for the first volume is nearly finalized. The first volume will feature contributions from some of the most important historians working in Shenandoah Valley Civil War era history, including Kenneth Koons, Gary Ecelbarger, Jonathan Berkey, Troy Marshall, Rod Gainer, Scott Patchan and Jonathan Noyalas. In addition to a wide array of essays, the journal will feature reviews of books pertinent to the study of the Civil War era in the Shenandoah. The first volume will feature reviews by such notable scholars as Brandon Beck, James Broomall, Eric Campbell, Warren Hofstra, Ann Denkler, Kenneth Noe, James Gillispie, Jonathan Steplyk, and Kevin Pawlak. More information on how you can get your copy of The Journal’s inaugural issue will be made available in the coming months.

CWI to Kick Off New Free Public Lecture Series on Wednesday, Nov. 8

Each semester, beginning with the fall 2017 semester, CWI will host one free public lecture. On Wednesday, Nov. 8, CWI’s director will kick off the new series with his presentation “Pursuing an Honest Life in Our Relations to the Past and the Present”: World War I in the Shadow of the American Civil War. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. and be held in Henkel Hall, Hester Auditorium.


Volunteers Wanted!

Beginning in the summer of 2018, the McCormick Civil War Institute plans to increase visitor accessibility to the exhibition in The Lodge and offer more guided tours of the battlefield. CWI cannot realize that goal without the assistance of volunteers. Anyone interested in learning more about the developing volunteer program should email the director at

Save the Date: Spring 2018 Conference, Saturday, April 7!

The slate of speakers for CWI’s annual spring conference—“Another Era in Our War Life”: When the Home Front Became the Battle Front—is set. The slate of speakers will include Allen Guelzo, Jonathan Noyalas, Frank O’Reilly, and Anne Sarah Rubin. In order to meet the increased demand for these spring conferences, the 2018 conference will be held this year on the main campus of Shenandoah University on Saturday, April 7. Registration will open in late October with more information on how to register forthcoming.

The McCormick Civil War Institute Always Needs Your Help!

One of the reasons the McCormick Civil War Institute is able to offer more public programming and opportunities for students than ever before is due to the generosity of those who responded to the initial call for contributions three months ago. While those contributions are much appreciated and will allow CWI to do a great deal in the short-term, CWI appeals to your generosity, kindness, and love of Civil War era history and graciously asks for your continued support. If you would like to make a contribution to the Civil War Institute to support its various efforts—free public programming, offering unique learning opportunities for Shenandoah University’s history majors focused on Civil War-era studies, and various interpretive efforts at Cool Spring—we would be most appreciative. Any amount, however big or small, will go a long way to support the Civil War Institute’s goals; one of the most significant of which is making certain that younger generations understand the Civil War's importance in the history of our great nation.

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