The historian Mark Grimsley recognized that towards the latter half of the Civil War General Grant implemented the art of “hard war.” This Union military strategy indirectly brought a swifter end to the conflict by destroying southern resources that could go towards fueling the Confederate war effort. With this mindset Grant sent Philip Sheridan into the Shenandoah Valley, in the fall of 1864, with the intention of leaving this area of modern day western Virginia a barren wasteland. What later became known as “The Burning,” Sheridan’s efforts in the Shenandoah Valley seemed to have left the Breadbasket of the Confederacy completely devoid of any resources that could sustain the local populations, let alone any southern war effort. However, this practice of “hard war” does not apply to all of Sheridan’s actions in the Valley. In regards to Augusta County, Sheridan and his cavalry generals do not reach a fraction of the devastation that is prevalent in their reports. By comparing Union documents to local diaries and letters, the revelation is that northern recounts are exaggerated and do not accurately reflect the minimal northern destruction experienced in Augusta County. However, by being left largely unscathed by the Union troops, this area of the Shenandoah Valley now had to contribute disproportionate amounts of resources to the southern war effort. Within this reality the citizens of Augusta County would come to fear Confederate impressment agents more than Union raiders for the remainder of the war.

Additional Abstract Information

Student(s): Ross A. Hawkins

Department: History

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Philip Dillard

Type: Oral

Year: 2013

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