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Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Campaign, May 1864, by Charles Knight

New York: Savas Beatie, 2010. Pp. xx, 314. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 1932714804.

Although he has written extensively on the Civil War, this is Knight’s first book, and it’s a good one.

Knight opens Valley Thunder by noting that New Market is the most well-known small battle of the Civil War, with barely 10,000 engaged, both sides taken together.  Then, taking advantage of newly available archival material, the work of other scholars, and his own experience as a guide at the battlefield park, he gives us the first new monograph on the subject in some forty years.  Knight covers the background and operations leading up to the battle on May 15, 1864.  He then begins a very detailed – sometimes minute-by-minute – account of fighting that day, carefully including a number of very important but very small actions that were of critical importance to the outcome.  In the process, there are profiles of a number of the participants, anecdotes, human interest stories, and controversies that resulted from the battle.  His account then looks at the consequences of the battle.  Knight also gives us a little “meditation” as it were, on the reason for the battle’s unusual fame, due primarily to the celebrated action by the VMI Corps of Cadets that helped turn a seeming Confederate disaster into a success. 

A good battle piece, Valley Thunder can read with profit by anyone interested the Civil War.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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