The Journal, Sunday, January 16, 2005
John McVey, Editorial Page Editor
Editorial Page

In Our Opinion
Falling Waters

The Battle: Group trying to save Civil War site can use everyone's support.

Charles C. Walker III - or Chuck to his friends - is absolutely correct:  The Shenandoah Valley does not stop at the West Virginia-Virginia state line.  The Valley, as it is known in these parts, stops at the banks of the Potomac River.
     One would not know that if folks in Virginia had their way.   Nor would one know that a lot of Civil War history took place in the Lower Shenandoah Valley counties of Berkeley and Jefferson.  However, the map depicted in the National Park Service brochure of National Heritage Areas shows the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields NHA stopping abruptly at the state line.
     As the state line is a political boundary so is the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields NHA formed by political boundaries.  And West Virginia has been left out again.
     Walker, the president of the Falling Waters Battlefield Association, is trying to change that with the help of some dedicated members.   Primarily, Walker would like to see what open land upon which the Civil War Battle of Falling Waters raged on July 2, 1861, is left to be preserved.
     Related to this effort, Walker would like to see the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields heritage area extended to include the Civil War engagements waged in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.  Several of the battles that took place on the West Virginia side of the line were part of campaigns that started on the Virginia side of the line.
The Journal applauds Walker's work and would encourage anyone intrested in preserving and protecting genuine historic sites in the tri-county and in  generating the economic development through tourism to get behind his efforts.  We would encourage historical associations, travel and tourism promotion organizations, economic development authorities, local governments and, of course, the general public to lend Walker and the Falling Waters Battlefield Association their support.
     As Walker described so well in his guest column on Wednesday, the Battle of Falling Waters, in which there were a reported 114 casualties, was instrumental in the Confederate troups winning decisively the First Battle of Bull Run.  But it is almost unknown as is much of the area's Civil War history.
     Actually, there was action in the Lower Shenandoah Valley practically from the outset of the Civil War.  Less than a month after the start of the war, then-Col. Thomas Jackson captured Harpers Ferry and burned the federal arsenal there. 
     A bloody rearguard action was conducted outside Shepherdstown as Union forces pursued parts of Lee's retreating army following the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 20, 1862.  The rearguard action dissuaded Union Gen. George McClellan from chasing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee into Virginia, which led to McClellan's dismissal at the hands of President Abraham Lincoln.
     There were also engagements fought in Jefferson County in mid-August 1864 as Union Gen. Philip Sheridan cleared the Valley of Rebel forces as well as attempts by Stonewall Jackson to disrupt barge traffic on C&O Canal during the early days of the war. 
     And there is even more Civil War history to be found throughout the tri-county, such as the home of Belle Boyd, the infamous rebel spy, the B&O Roundhouse burning and the crucial Seige of Harpers Ferry.
     Beside it being the right thing to do - saving America's sacred lands and dedicate them fr the causes in which they believed - all these sites together, combined with the proper promotion and marketing, could generate a great deal of tourism, which would be a wonderful addition to the area's economy.



From I-81 take Spring Mills Exit 20, then proceed West on Hammonds Mill Road (WV 901).  T.J. Jackson Drive is the first road on the left (south side) approximately 300 yards west of I-81.  The library is on the corner, next to, but set back from the CNB Bank, across the street from the Shell Gas Station & Convenience Store.  Library Phone Number: (304) 274-3443.