May 24, 2010

Why the Valley Was Vital

During the American Civil War, the Shenandoah Valley was hotly contested, turning the beautiful countryside into battlefields and buildings into hospitals. In a recent book, Professor Jonathan Noyalas gave this overview of the Valley's strategic importance:
First, the Valley supplied numerous resources to the Confederacy, particularly forces operating in Virginia — the heart of the Confederacy. The materials that Valley farmers supplied the Confederate troops earned the Valley the nickname the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy." Additionally, the Shenandoah Valley served as an avenue of invasion for Confederate armies into the North and also served as a point from which Confederate forces could threaten Washington, D.C. Due to its strategic location, Confederate war planners also utilized the valley as a place from which to create a diversion and alleviate pressure against Richmond. Union forces likewise looked to the Valley as a point from which they could protect Washington, D.C., disrupt invasion and diminish the Valley's capacity to supply food and material to the Confederate war effort.

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