The Civil War in Shepherdstown: Research Proposal

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Research proposal
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Shepherdstown is found in Jefferson County, west of Virginia in the united state. In fact, it is located in the lower part of Shenandoah Valley that lies along the Potomac River. In 1860, Shepherdstown was still a Commonwealth member (Dandridge & Danske, N.P). However, in 1863, there was a significant change with the admission of West Virginia as being the 35th state to be incorporated in the organization. However, its location illustrated that it was nearly suitable for the fight. For instance, there was a nearby river known as the Potomac River which facilitated a lot in support of the war. In fact, several soldiers would hide in the valley whenever there was an invasion. The research proposal concerns the entire process of the civil war in Shepherdstown. For instance, it highlights the year when the war started, its course as well as when it ended. On the other hand, the research covers some of the fundamental questions concerning the findings. For example, it seeks to understand why Shepherdstown emerged to be the center of the civil war, the event that left the town in quite exhausted conditions among many others.

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The civil Shepherdstown war took place in 1862 in Virginia County precisely after the completion of the Maryland campaign of the American public fight. In the course of the American civil war, the battle emerged as the bloodiest war in the entire of West Virginia. However, in 1861, the city was split on the line between the disloyal states and the federal government (Kennedy & Frances, N.P). However, Shepherdstown remained as part of the union until Virginia decided to quit the union. The primary reason for its breakaway was to protect itself against external invaders so that it could hold back a rebellion in the Deep South. After Virginia passed the secession bill, Shepherdstown men gathered and went to the two sides of the fight. In the course of the war, Shepherdstown remained to be calm (Misner & Paul, N.P). In fact, although the battle was too close to the town, it did not affect the town's operation directly.

In 1862, the town was silent in a way that it was distancing itself from the war. As the days continued, the battle shifted to the center of Virginia an event that left Shepherdstown out of the effects of the war. In fact, the closest section of the war was at hand with Stonewall Jackson's force which was situated in Winchester Virginia which is roughly near Shepherdstown. As the days went on, Shepherdstown became victimized just like the other towns within Virginia County. As a result, Shepherdstown residents at that time were in disarray. For example, they could hear gunshots from different sides of the town. Therefore, they realized that the war was now at their front doorstep. Immediately after the Antietam battle, Shepherdstown emerged as being what they feared most. It proceeded to encounter direct effects of the war with the majority of its troops dying while in their homes (Wuthnow & Robert, N.P).

Although Shepherdstown lay aside from the war, the reminder that the fight was among them still lingered. For example, an essential reminder of the war that remains involves a scenario where the majority of the men went to fight but they never returned home. According to the residents, they perceived an event has to be more destructive and hence it was to be dealt with appropriately (Wuthnow & Robert N.P). The aspect brought back the real war to the entire parts of the town. Throughout the civil war, Shepherdstown emerged as the center for the civil war across the eastern theatre due to its proximity to Potomac valley (Hagerman & Edward, 2016 N.P). In fact, it is only a single fight that managed to occur.

However, the battle became very apparent to the town for the entire war from 1860 to 1865. The only conflict that was evident in Shepherdstown arose in 1862. However, a severe battle was exhibited in the whole of the town during the war. Among the places where the fight included crossing the Potomac valley, Shepherdstown appeared to be a major crossing point for both troops. The event left the town in quite exhausting situations and hence it had to recuperate itself from the war with the rest of the country ("Shepherdstown", N.P).

From the historian's perceptions, Shepherdstown was not much for battles in the past as the new fights go (Misner & Paul, N.P). However, the struggle had several consequences. For instance, the war marked the termination of Robert Lee’s confederate first invasion in the north. Also, the town's battle convinced McClellan that there was a likelihood of the emergence of the second invasion. In fact, the second invasion was thought to paralyze the entire Potomac army in Maryland which would allow Lee's troops to regroup. Furthermore, the fight facilitated Abraham Lincoln to demote McClellan as the chief commander of the Potomac army.

The Shepherdstown residents were able to witness the act of the war since they were situated near the Mason-Dixon Line. In fact, the marching of the armies and tensions of the battle reached the doorsteps of the Shepherdstown residents in 1862. The Maryland campaign that happened in the same year resulted in thousands of wounded Confederates in churches and homes. Besides, the short narration of Shepherdstown’s transformation into one big hospital illustrates nightmarish events of the soldiers under the care of army doctors and civilians. For instance, Kevin retraces the awful accounts of Shepherdstown as being the town for civil war (Hagerman & Edward, N.P).

After the day of the Antietam battle, the two sides remained on the battlefield that was too blooded implying that they wanted to resume fighting. On that evening, some principal components of Gen Lee’s army started to withdraw across the Potomac valley into Virginia, near Shepherdstown. Also, on the same night, Gen Pendleton catered for the crossing of the remaining Lee's troops. After three days of the fight, the two commanders were able to capture about four guns by attacking the Rebel rearguard. After the attack, Porter sent three brigades components to establish a bridgehead. The act at Shepherdstown greatly disheartened the federal quest of the Confederates across the valley of Potomac which finally resulted in the end of Lee's Maryland campaigns.

On the other hand, crossing the Potomac River was slightly threatening especially under the combination of friendly fires and enemies. Therefore, the majority of Pennsylvanians preferred the aspect of making the risks of crossing the valley rather than staying. Surprisingly, some of the troop members waded into the river while some threaded their move across the dam. Besides, some men were shot dead prior they could arrive at the safety. For instance, Gen Rudhall white spend some little time to give thanks to god after he was struck with a fatal musket ball (Kennedy & Frances, N.P).

Furthermore, the 118th battle commenced with approximately 737 men. However, after the fight died at around 2 o'clock during the day, about three offices and 60 men were killed. Also, some other 101 men were seriously injured, and 105 went on missing. The 269 casualties amounted to a bulk of 361 men who lost their lives in the course of the battle. As a result, Hill became satisfied and declined to make a follow-up.

The Rebel losses amounted to 30 of the army being dead and 261 wounded. According to the Confederates, they ascertained that the cost was much higher. For instance, Hill confessed to having witnessed the most terrible slaughter encounters in the war. For example, the entire surface of Potomac was blue with evidence of floating dead bodies. In the event, the provost's men complained about his stubbornness as a result of the regiments’ losses. However, the wound he got while waving the regiment's flag gave him a brevet promotion to become a brigadier general. Most importantly, the injury also evacuated Prevost from any official censure.

The battle for Shepherdstown marked the last aspect of shedding blood for the 1862 Maryland campaign. The existence of the minor disaster was a great lesson to McClellan. For example, it enlightened that before pursuing Lee's army, the troop should observe a lot of caution. His union armies reoccupied Harpers Ferry although it did not make any further move. The federal appeared to be contented for having several reports from several signals posts that the troop for northern Virginia was still in a static condition. Abraham Lincoln became impatient with the acts of McClellan precisely after Lee’s runaway with the half-hearted attack.

Additionally, after the deadliest day of the battle, which occurred at the midnight of 20th September 1862 the firing came to an end? After the war of 17th September, the troop kept on watching each other warily. In fact, the retreat signified a dark echo of their crossing into Maryland. As a result, cavalrymen who were in the Potomac River kept the torches on as the guns and ambulances splashed on their way to old dominion safety. In the mid of September, Gen. Lee was seen riding on horseback while some of his army remnants passed him on the road. In the event, Gen. Lee and General John conversed with each other while they were on their move. For instance, Lee kept on asking walker to notify him of the number of men who remained in Maryland. Walker assured him that only one battery and the wounded troop had safely crossed.


Shepherdstown was not a staunchly pro-confederate society. In spite of the suggestion of the local myths, the record asserts that there was a considerable difference of loyalties and quite some Loyalists Unionists in the course of the war. The infatuations from the town's north residents contended that they were ready for the fight that could only destroy them. The majority of the town's residents were against the Confederacy. For instance, some young men joined to go and fight. Also, there is evidence of bones that confirms the fact that there was a cruel war in Shepherdstown. All the collected bones were taken for further examination to ascertain whether the casualties were the real fighting soldiers. However, since the results of the tests were quite complicated, the researchers propose that there is a necessity of flowing both Confederate and Union flags during the services.

Works Cited

"Shepherdstown". Civil War Trust, 2018

Dandridge, Danske. Historic Shepherdstown. Michie Company, 2016.

Hagerman, Edward. The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: Ideas, Organization, and Field Command. Vol. 715. Indiana University Press, 2016.

Kennedy, Frances H., ed. The Civil War Battlefield Guide. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.

Misner, Paul. "The English Catholic Enlightenment: John Lingard and the Cisalpine Movement, 1780-1850. By Chinnici Joseph P. Shepherdstown, WV: Patmos Press, 1980. xii+ 261 pages. $24.95." Horizons 10.1 (2017): 153-153.

Wuthnow, Robert. Small-Town America: Finding community, shaping the future. Princeton University Press, 2016.

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