Date Presented

Fall 10-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Access Type

1

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Kirt von Daacke

Second Advisor

Dr. Lindsay Eades

Third Advisor

Barbara Rothermel

Abstract

On June 18, 1901, Charles Minor Blackford, brother of Battle of Lynchburg veteran Eugene Blackford, made a speech commemorating the thirty-five year anniversary of the Lynchburg Campaign. In the Battle of Lynchburg, as a part of the wider Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864, General Jubal Early and the Confederate force defended the city from General David Hunter and the Union in a two-day engagement, marked mostly by skirmishing. Blackford stated in this speech that, “During the night of the 17th, a yard engine, with box cars attached, was run up and down the Southside Railroad, making as much noise as possible, and thus induced Hunter to believe and to report that Early was being rapidly reinforced.”1 2 While this story of the cunning of Confederate leadership is compelling, it is not referenced at any time before this speech, more than thirty years after the end of the war; additionally, all subsequent published accounts of the battle accept and reproduce Blackford’s story. Furthermore, no first hand accounts, even those of Confederate general and future Lost Cause proponent Jubal Early, make any reference to this ruse. After the Civil War, the history of the Battle of Lynchburg evolved into a myth exemplifying Confederate leadership and the sacrifices of Confederate soldiers through the embellishment, and sometimes fabrication, of the facts of the story in postwar recollections of the battle. The question, then, is why did Southern memories of the Civil War undergo such significant transformations in the years after the war?

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