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Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of History
The Second Shenandoah Valley Campaign in 1864 created new challenges for commanders, soldiers, and civilians on both sides. Pressure on General Grant and President Lincoln to end the war quickly precipitated an increase in the use and severity of hard war policies in the South. Meanwhile, Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early worked against his foe, implementing hard war in southern Pennsylvania in a desperate attempt to maintain his supply base in the Shenandoah Valley. Soldiers and civilians found themselves caught in the middle of an increasing cycle of destruction that they seemed to find equally demoralizing. Three towns suffered significant damage resulting from hard war tactics between June and October 1864: Lexington and Dayton, Virginia, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Together, raids in these three locales reveal the changing nature of the war in regard to private property and the effect new policies had on soldier and civilian morale. In each town that summer and fall of 1864, commanders and enlisted men exercised restraint in the midst of destruction. Often, men from both sides had been involved in or witnessed more than one of these raids, contributing to the effectiveness of these incidents as case studies. To say that the level of destruction steadily increased from June to October would be an oversimplification. Yet the destruction did seem to become less discriminate and more widespread as the campaign progressed. Concurrently, the level of distress soldiers and civilians expressed also increased with each incident, prompting soldiers to go to new lengths in circumventing orders to spare private property. Each instance was sparked by some sentiment of retaliation, and causal relationships existed among all three. In every instance, without fail, the men and civilians caught in the middle expressed profound regret. Both sides decided that hard war had limits.
Harding, Jeannie Cummings, "Retaliation with restraint: Destruction of private property in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign" (2013). Masters Theses. 228.