December 2017
 Volume No. 1, Issue No. 4
View this email in your browser

A Note from Our Director

As 2017 draws to a close and I approach my one-year anniversary as director of Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute (MCWI), I feel fortunate to have so many wonderful friends and supporters who have helped make my first twelve months at the helm memorable and productive. Throughout 2017, MCWI offered a variety of programs and seminars, established the university’s first-ever academic peer-reviewed journal, opened an exhibition, and provided the first-ever interpretive experience at Cool Spring. While this final newsletter of 2017 will highlight the successes of the past three months, it offers a glimpse into the many exciting things to which MCWI and its supporters can look forward in 2018. 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 

Headlines from the Quarter

Annual Fall Semester Seminar and Tour a Success

Despite some traffic congestion in Front Royal on Saturday, Oct. 28, attendees at MCWI’s annual fall semester seminar and tour—“Love Not, the One You Love May Die”: The Battle of Milford and the Front Royal Executions—enjoyed an in-depth examination of one of the Shenandoah Valley’s most overlooked engagements along with one of the most heartbreaking moments during the conflict. Participants in the SOLD OUT seminar and tour came from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Ohio.


Cool Spring Battlefield Guide Continues its Popularity

The MCWI has distributed more than 1,000 copies of the Cool Spring guide since its April release. 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. MCWI 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 assist.


Cool Spring Exhibition Formally Dedicated

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, officials from Shenandoah University, Clarke County, and various historic organizations throughout the Shenandoah Valley gathered at the university’s Shenandoah River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield to officially dedicate the exhibition “A Sharp & Obstinate Affair.” The dedication, which recognized the generosity of Dr. Robert Boxley, Dr. David and Mrs. Melanie Miles, and Mr. Alexander MacLeod, received extensive coverage in local newspapers and on WDVM.


Many Thanks to Generous Donors

MCWI 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—Mr. Curry Fisher, Dr. Warren Hofstra, Dr. Geraldine Kiefer, Mr. Alexander MacLeod, and Dr. Ed and Mrs. Prue Yelinek.


Inaugural Issue of The Journal of the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War Era Close to Release

One of MCWI’s most ambitious undertakings, the publication of The Journal of the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War Era, is running about two months ahead of schedule. The journal's copy editor, Dr. Elizabeth Guiliano, completed her task ahead of schedule which has allowed the journal to go into production earlier than anticipated. The journal will retail for $10 and be available for purchase at all MCWI events, various retailers throughout the Shenandoah Valley including the Winchester Book Gallery, and online at All proceeds from the journal will go directly to supporting MCWI’s many efforts. So when you buy your copy of the journal you will not only be gaining access to the latest groundbreaking scholarship on the Civil War era in the region, but also helping MCWI to continue its mission. The inaugural issue will contain 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.

The journal is now available for purchase online.


Inaugural “Perspectives” Lecture Series Kicked off Nov. 8

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, a crowd of 103 individuals gathered in Hester Auditorium for the inaugural lecture in MCWI’s “Perspectives” series. MCWI’s director Jonathan Noyalas spoke about World War I in the Shadow of the Civil War. The next lecture in the series will be held on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, at 7 p.m. and feature Dr. Heather Butts (Columbia University) who will speak on a topic related to her recent book “African American Medicine in Washington, D.C.: Healing the Capital during the Civil War Era.” All of the lectures in this series are free and open to the public. 


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. MCWI cannot realize that goal without the assistance of volunteers. Volunteers would be responsible for staffing The Lodge, and answering basic questions about the site and exhibition. MCWI is looking to staff the battlefield and offer various programs on the following Saturdays in the summer of 2018: June 9, June 23, July 7, July 14 (battle anniversary commemoration), July 21, July 28, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25. The Lodge will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. those days. Training sessions will be planned for the spring 2018. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact our volunteer coordinator Ms. Shelby Shrader at Anyone with additional questions about volunteer responsibilities can contact MCWI’s director via email or phone 540-665-4501. 


Registration Open for Spring 2018 Conference!

Registration for the annual spring conference is now open. The theme of this year’s conference is “Another Era in Our War Life”: When the Home Front Became the Battle Front. The conference will examine the ways in which some of the conflict’s most storied battles and campaigns impacted civilians and communities. The conference will feature nationally recognized Civil War historians Eric Campbell, Allen Guelzo, Jonathan Noyalas, Frank O’Reilly, and Anne Sarah Rubin. The conference will be held on the campus of Shenandoah University. The registration fee of $50 includes all presentations, lunch, and interpretive program at the Sheridan’s Field Hospital site. For additional information on the conference, including registration forms, visit the MCWI online at

MCWI is pleased to offer a special student rate of $20 to any student with a valid ID. For additional information about the conference or student registration, please contact the director via email

MCWI Commissions Artist to Paint Original Watercolor

In October, MCWI commissioned Pennsylvania-based artist Wendy McKeithan to paint an original watercolor depicting the Union crossing at Island Ford on July 18, 1864. The watercolor will portray troops from Colonel George Wells’ brigade crossing under fire from troops of the 42nd Virginia Infantry. It is anticipated that the watercolor will be complete by the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Cool Spring. Once complete, MCWI will make a limited run of prints which will be available for purchase. All proceeds from this project will go to support MCWI’s many efforts, including interpretive efforts at Cool Spring.

The Institute to Team Up with SU’s Mosaic Center for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, at 7 p.m., MCWI will team up with various organizations at Shenandoah University including its Mosaic Center for Diversity to offer a free public lecture, “A Joyous Daybreak”: Reflections on Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Emancipation’s Centennial. The lecture will be delivered by MCWI’s director and be held in Henkel Hall, Hester Auditorium.  

Director Leads Special Tour at Gettysburg for FYS Students

On Friday, Oct. 13, the institute’s director conducted a special tour of Gettysburg for students in his first year seminar. The tour focused on Gettysburg’s place in American history, its establishment as a national park, and Gettysburg’s commemorative landscape.


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 in its history is due to the generosity of those who have responded to the call for contributions. While those contributions are much appreciated and will allow MCWI to do a great deal in the short-term, MCWI 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 vision; one of the most significant of which is making certain that younger generations understand the Civil War's importance and its complexities.

Quarterly Features

Publication of Note

Edward L. Ayers, “The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of
America” (New York: Norton, 2017). $35 hardcover,

Fourteen years ago one of our nation’s most distinguished historians, Edward L. Ayers, released his groundbreaking study, "In the Presence of Mine Enemies," which examined the tumultuous events of John Brown’s raid, the secession crisis, and the Civil War’s first two years from the perspective of residents of Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. For nearly a decade-and-a-half Ayers’ fans have waited patiently for the rest of the story. It was well worth the wait.
» Continue Reading 

Artifact of the Quarter

Horse’s Curb Chain at Cool Spring

Contributed by Shelby R. Shrader  

One of the greatest challenges for Union or Confederate forces during the Civil War was moving massive armies and all of the supplies necessary to keep those commands properly fed and equipped. While locomotives proved useful, armies could not have functioned had it not been for horses. From moving artillery, foodstuffs, ammunition, medical supplies, etc. both armies leaned heavily on horses.  

» Continue Reading 

Coming Events

Wednesday, January 7, 2018:
Free public lecture Free public lecture “A Joyous Daybreak”: Reflections on Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Emancipation’s Centennial.

Saturday, April 7, 2018:
CWI’s annual spring conference MCWI’s annual spring conference—“Another Era in Our War Life”: When the Home Front Became the Battle Front. Shenandoah University.
Copyright © 2017 Shenandoah University, All rights reserved.