Symposium Spotlight: Lincoln, Sheridan, and the Shenandoah Valley in 1864

Welcome back to our spotlight series, highlighting speakers and topics for our upcoming symposium. Over the coming weeks, we will continue previewing of our speaker’s presentations for the 2024 Emerging Civil War Symposium. This week we feature Jonathan A. Noyalas’s Keynote topic.

Cannon adorn part of the Opequon (Third Winchester) battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley. BUDDY SECOR

“To Appreciate the Relation”: Lincoln, Sheridan, and the Shenandoah Valley in 1864

Throughout the Civil War’s first three years the efforts of Union forces to control the strategically vital Shenandoah Valley–valuable to Confederates as an avenue of invasion, point from which they could threaten Washington, and source of provender–failed. So often had Union troops suffered defeat in the Shenandoah that it was dubbed “the Valley of humiliation.” By mid-July 1864, following Confederate general Jubal Early’s advance to Washington’s outskirts, President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant had enough and consolidated forces in the region and placed them under General Philip H. Sheridan’s command. This presentation will explore the thinking behind Lincoln’s and Grant’s decision to entrust Sheridan with such an important command; examine how the looming presidential election complicated Sheridan’s decision-making; and evaluate how the Army of the Shenandoah’s triumphs over Early’s Army of the Valley at Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, and Cedar Creek impacted Lincoln’s bid for reelection, bolstered Union morale, and sank Confederate hopes.

Find more information and tickets for our 2024 Symposium by clicking here.

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