150th Anniversary Tour: Battle of Cool Springs

Posted: July 17, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Local organizations will mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cool Spring with a tour of the battlefield on Friday.

The battle, which occurred on July 17-18, 1864, was the beginning of a series of conflicts that year that ended with the Confederate Army being routed from the Shenandoah Valley and Abraham Lincoln being guaranteed re-election.

The tour will be held at 4 p.m. and will begin at Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey at 901 Cool Spring Lane, east of Berryville.

It is a joint effort by the McCormick Civil War Institute at Shenandoah University, the National Park Service and the Clarke County Historical Association.

The tour will first cover the west side of the battlefield and be led by Shannon Moeck, a park ranger at Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park.

Visitors will then cross the Shenandoah River, and the tour will continue on the east side of the battlefield, guided by Jonathan Noyalas, an assistant professor at Lord Fairfax Community College.

The tour will finish with a special preview of the “Relics of Cool Spring” exhibit at SU’s Shenandoah River campus at Cool Spring Battlefield at 1400 Parker Lane in Bluemont.

The exhibit will feature items collected by Brother James Sommers, a member of the Holy Cross Abbey. It includes bullets, rocks and personal artifacts.

While the tour is a one-day event, the exhibit will open officially on Saturday and be available by appointment until the end of September.

The Cool Spring Battlefield was donated to SU by the Civil War Trust on the condition that every year there would be some kind of Civil War event held by the school, according to Calvin Allen, dean of SU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“This seemed appropriate,” Allen said.

According to Laura Christiansen, director of the CCHA, the Cool Spring Battle holds special significance to the area.

“The battle is Clarke County’s largest battle of the Civil War.”

And, while the battle itself wasn’t tide-changing, it marked the beginning of the end of the war, Allen said.

“[Cool Spring] started the 1864 Valley Campaign,” Allen said. “The war was over in less than a year after this all started.”

The Battle of Cool Spring tour will be followed by events marking the Second Battle of Kernstown and the battles of Third Winchester, Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek.

“There’s gonna be a lot of stuff going on,” Allen said.

— Contact Stephen Nielsen at snielsen@winchesterstar.com