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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 31–45 | Cite as

Confederate Fortification and Troop Deployment in a Mountain Landscape: Fort Edward Johnson and Camp Shenandoah, April 1862

  • Clarence R. Geier
Article Memory, Armed Conflict, and Landscapes

Abstract

By April 1862 Union forces had established control of the headwater streams of the Potomac drainage in what was to become West Virginia and were beginning to move south into the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia. Threatened by the possible flanking of his Confederate Army at the mountain stronghold of Camp Allegheny, which blocked Union access into the central Shenandoah Valley, General Robert E. Lee ordered the camp commander, General Edward Johnson, to identify and then move to a more defensible position to the east. On 5 April, Johnson’s 4,000-man army began the process of converting the apex of Shenandoah Mountain, 40 mi. to the east of Camp Allegheny, into a complex fortification designed to again prevent Union access into the valley and the important military depot at Staunton, Virginia. For 14 days, the troops worked to fortify the mountain and prepare the encampments needed for their support. Then, in the absence of Johnson and in an environment of rumor and believed Union threat, the military complex was ordered abandoned. In 1998 and 1999 researchers from James Madison University, with support from George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, surveyed, tested, and mapped the earthwork and encampment features of the Fort Edward Johnson-Camp Shenandoah Military Complex. While never actually used in the engagement of the enemy, the archaeological remains provide an invaluable, glimpse into the manner in which the Confederacy adapted fortification and encampment strategies to a mountain landscape.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clarence R. Geier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyJames Madison UniversityHarrisonburgUSA

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