CLARKE COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Shenandoah University is celebrating the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Cool Spring.
The Battle of Cool Spring was the largest and bloodiest battle fought in Clarke County. It was near the end of General Jubal Early’s time in the valley, in the summer of 1864.
“It’s not a well-known battle. It’s not one of the big battles that Gettysburg, or Antietam or Chickamauga. But none the less, this a battle to the guys who fought here and to family members who lost loved ones here, to guys who were wounded here, this battle meant a great deal,” said McCormick Civil War Institute director Jonathan Noyalas.
The 155th anniversary event started with a walking tour, followed by lectures and an augmented reality experience.
“Sometimes people look at battle commemorations as celebrations of war and all that kind of stuff. I really look at it as a reminder of a couple of things, as a reminder of the tragedy of conflict and also as a reminder of what happens when people become divided to an unbridgeable point,” said Noyalas.
The Cool Spring Battlefield was acquired by Shenandoah University in 2013 and is used as an outdoor classroom where students can learn how to interpret and study a battlefield site.
“It’s a really unqiue opportunity for students to have hands on work at a battlefield owned by the university. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Christopher Newport University American studies professor Jonathan White.
The McCormick Civil War Institute is focused on educating university students as well as the general public.
“There’s just a beautiful field and a river and you can then get the stories of the people who fought here, who died here and that humanizes it in a way that you often don’t get at other places,” said White.
Battlefield trails were open throughout the day for self-guided tours and the exhibition about cool spring and its aftermath was on display.