Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute is commemorating the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Cool Spring with tours, lectures and the unveiling of an augmented reality experience.
The commemorative event occurs on Saturday, July 20, at the university’s River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield located at 1400 Parker Lane, Bluemont. This event is free and open to the public.
155th Anniversary Schedule of Activities
10:15 am – noon
Walking tour of Battle of Cool Spring with historian Jonathan Noyalas ’01, M.A. Tour includes vignettes with living historians.
Noon – 1 pm
Lunch on your own. Please note that there are no food vendors on site. Please bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it either in the air-conditioned lodge or the shade of the pavilion.
1 – 1:45 pm
“Dreams of War & Peace: The Remarkable Night Life of Civil War America” with Jonathan White, Ph.D., associate professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University
2 – 2:45 pm
“Follow Him to the Death: Sheridan, Early, and the Shenandoah Valley in the Summer of 1864” with Jennifer Murray, Ph.D., teaching assistant professor at Oklahoma State University
3 – 4 pm
Unveiling of “Through Their Eyes: An Augmented Reality Experience at Cool Spring”
Through Their Eyes
The augmented reality experience, “Through Their Eyes,” is a collaborative effort between the McCormick Civil War Institute and the Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning (SCiL).
Visitors will use an iPhone or iPad to float a holographic 3D version of the battlefield above a 2D map. Clickable flags on the map will take users into one-minute experiences of the battle using 360 virtual reality. Visitors will find themselves in a dramatic attack, retreat, camp scene, or the battle’s sorrowful aftermath.
More than a dozen scenes were filmed with actors from both Shenandoah and the community. The experience is based on the primary accounts of Union and Confederate soldiers who fought at the Battle of Cool Spring on July 18, 1864.
The second part of the project involves an immersive audio walk of the battlefield using an iPhone app and earbuds.
Jonathan A. Noyalas ’01, M.A., director of the McCormick Civil War Institute, served as historian for the project (he also appears in the production). Associate Professor of Theater and SCiL Director J.J. Ruscella, M.F.A., and his SCiL team directed the action.
I have often been bothered by the fact that some overlook the Battle of Cool Spring because statistically it pales in comparison to the Civil War’s larger and more well-known engagements – Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh and the like. While statistically not as big (13,000 troops engaged and nearly 1,000 total casualties), to the men who died there, to their families, and to those wounded at the battle who lived with the pain and disfigurement of those wounds for the rest of their lives, the Battle of Cool Spring was the most significant action of the Civil War. It is my hope that this experience will help people better comprehend the human element of the battle and understand the dramatic costs a nation endures when a people become divided to an unbridgeable point.”
Jonathan A. Noyalas ’01, M.A., Director of the McCormick Civil War Institute
A total of 12 students in Noyalas’ spring 2019 Civil War & Reconstruction course researched the backgrounds of the soldiers whose accounts are used as the basis for the various scenes and moments. Shenandoah history major Jessica Kronenwetter ’20 documented the process through photography. History majors John Oross ’19 and Steven Stabler ’22 played various roles in the filming.
Self-Guided Experiences Available Throughout Day of Commemoration
In addition to the scheduled activities, battlefield trails will be open throughout the day for self-guided tours, and the exhibition about Cool Spring and its aftermath will be available for viewing. Tour guides are available for free, or visitors can download a pdf with information about the site. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park bookstore is selling books by the day’s speakers, as well as other relevant titles.
This event is free and open to the public, though monetary donations are appreciated. Please email Noyalas at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 540/665-4501 with any questions. Pre-registration is not required for this event.