Foundation to hold bus tours of battlefields

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

NEW MARKET — The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is launching its Fall Bus Tours program with sojourns through northern Shenandoah County in September and October.

Scott Patchan, a Civil War author and historian, will lead tours of the Fisher’s Hill battlefield on Sept. 23 and the Cedar Creek battlefield on Oct. 21.

Bill Miller, author of “Decision at Tom’s Brook,” will lead a tour of the Tom’s Brook battlefield on Oct. 7 to mark the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Tom’s Brook.

The tours will focus on the strategies and impact of U.S. Gen. Phillip Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, during which he and his troops set fire to farms, mills and buildings in the area in a series of events known as “The Burning.”

The Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek tours cost $50 for foundation members and $60 for non-members. Between Patchan’s “encyclopedic knowledge” of the campaign and the unveiling of recently-preserved areas of both battlefields, participants will see more than the usual sites, according to Terry Heder, the foundation’s director interpretation, education and history.

“This is our first chance to show people these new areas,” he said.

The Tom’s Brook tour covers 60 miles of farmland using roads that Confederate cavalry used during the battle. It costs $65 for foundation members and non-members.

“[Miller] knows all the traditional sites and the backroad sites, so folks will get to see things they wouldn’t normally see,” Heder said.

Patchan has written five books on the Valley Campaign, while Miller’s “Decision at Tom’s Brook” was published in October 2016.

The foundation created the tours as a way to draw more tourism to the smaller battlefields near Winchester, Heder said.

“Our largest battlefield is Third Winchester,” he said. “We do a lot with that, and we wanted to pay attention to the other battlefields in that area.”

The tours coincide with other Civil War commemorations. Historians Clarence Geier and Joe Whitehorne will present their research on the military history of Fisher’s Hill at that battlefield at 1 p.m. on Sept. 22.

A presentation on “The Burning” will also be held at The Heritage Museum in Dayton on Oct. 3.

All three tours start at 9 a.m. Registration for the Cedar Creek and Fisher’s Hill tours can be completed at

Online registration for the Tom’s Brook tour is closed, but participants can sign up by calling the foundation at 740-4545.

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