Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute (CWI) recently released “Touring the Battle of Cool Spring.” The eight-page guide, which includes nine stops within the university’s Shenandoah River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield, offers the university’s first significant effort to interpret the Battle of Cool Spring for the broader public.
The CWI has also received a grant from the Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley’s Dr. Robert F. Boxley, Jr. Donor Advised Fund to support the research, writing and installation of a permanent exhibition at the Cool Spring lodge, giving those who stop by the site more of a real visitors’ center experience.
“This guide will afford the opportunity for Cool Spring visitors to experience and understand the battle in a way that was never before possible – it is the first guide of its kind ever produced,” said Director of the CWI Jonathan Noyalas ’01, M.A., who created the guide. “Additionally, the generous gift from Dr. Boxley will allow the McCormick Civil War Institute to create a cohesive exhibit that tells the story of the battle through artifacts and from the perspective of those who battled on that ground now made sacred.”
The Battle of Cool Spring, fought on July 18, 1864, was the largest and bloodiest clash in Clarke County, Virginia, during the Civil War. “Touring the Battle of Cool Spring” includes a trail map, maps of the battle, historical images, succinct descriptions of various phases of the Battle of Cool Spring, detailed walking directions and a suggested reading list.
The full-color printed guide is available to visitors to the Cool Spring river campus for free. Visitors can obtain a copy of the guide at the kiosk located near the parking lot at the river campus. The guide is also available electronically.
The permanent exhibition planned for the Cool Spring lodge—“‘A More Sharp and Obstinate Affair’: The Battle of Cool Spring”—will include a series of interpretive panels examining events leading up to the battle, the engagement, and the battle’s aftermath.
Additionally, the exhibition will include an array of artifacts from the Battle of Cool Spring on loan from the collections of the Clarke County Historical Association. The funding for this exhibit—the first permanent, cohesive exhibit ever at the site—will establish the foundation for additional exhibits at the river campus, which will offer insight into the Civil War’s common soldiers as well as the Parker family, who owned the property during the nation’s most tumultuous period.
Anyone wishing to provide financial support to make the printed guide available to the broader public, or wishing to offer support for additional Civil War era-related programming at the river campus should contact Noyalas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540/665-4501.
The CWI will also host a commemoration event of the Battle of Cool Spring on Saturday, July 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will consist of a series of guided walking tours, talks, presentations and living history demonstrations. The event is free and open to the public.