The Shenandoah cuts a bountiful gash between Virginia Piedmont and rugged mountains of the states western regions. The countryside is of magnificent beauty and agricultural abundance increasing form the Potomac River to beyond Lexington in Rockbridge County. With the Blue Ridge Mountains on the wast and the more daunting Alleghenies to the west, the Valley runs southwest to northeast and falls gradually in its course to meet the Potomac. The forks of the Shenandoah River thus flow south to north, which means that an individual traveling to the Potomac goes “down the Valley”–an odd circumstance in a world where north is almost always “up”.
The logistical value of the Valley during the War cannot be exaggerated. Its agricultural riches assured nourishment for Confederate forces in Virginia. The most important wheat growing area of the entire Upper South, it also was the main source in Virginia in the productions of grain and cattle. In addition, it contributed significant amounts of leather, wood products, and woolen textiles.
The accounts of the Valley campaign presented in this particular book is from the experiences of a non-combatant citizen of the Valley. The author tells a story of the Civil War as related by one who was an eyewitness of the facts. The story is told form the standpoint of a boy, who here gives observations and relates experiences that are not usually recounted by the historian. The incidents connects with the story are located almost entirely in the Valley of Virginia, a region that was a scenic and important theater of military operations during the four years of strife, and that suffered as much from the effects of the war as any section of the South. The trials, sufferings , and privations of the people who remained at home and were non-combatant are presented in this chronicle as frankly and as truthfully as possible.