The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, to the north by the Potomac River and to the south by the James River. The cultural region covers a larger area that includes all of the valley plus the Virginia highlands to the west, and the Roanoke Valley to the south. It is located within the Ridge and Valley province and is a portion of the Great Appalachian Valley.
The Shenandoah Valley contains a number of geologically and historically significant limestone caves:
* Skyline Caverns
* Luray Caverns,
* Shenandoah Caverns
* Endless Caverns
* Grand Caverns,
* Dixie Caverns
You may wonder why all this is in the story or even important to it"
It is not the caves themselves but what some contain that this story is trying to unfold.
During March 1865 the 'War of Northern Aggression' had gone badly for us. The 'Blue Bellies' were marching, raping and pillaging the land and all we had to stop them were our women, children and old men(Sherman's March To The Sea).
The war between soldiers was bad enough, but when the 'Federals' decided to kill women and children it was then revenge and no longer just a war. We knew how those injuns felt when their families were slaughtered by them Yankees. The pro-Union federals resorted to capturing & imprisoning the female and children family members of the suspected Southern sympathizers and our patriot fighters.
These, some of them babies and teenagers, were jailed in Kansas City, MO, in George Caleb Bingham's house, on Grand Street. When imprisoning them did not result in the response they wanted, the federal soldiers (or Kansas jayhawkers) dismantled the foundations of the house they were kept in, causing it to collapse. Many women and children were maimed and killed. To this day, the cause of that building collapse remains controversial, as the 'Blue Bellies' claim the building was 'decrepit', though the house was only 7 years old.
This harming & killing of females and children, all non-combatants, caused outrage among the citizens & patriots of Western Missouri and Kansas.
Calling for revenge, Bill Quantrill organized a unified raid on Lawrence, Kansas as payback.
This action seemed to be the only thing we had left after General Lee surrendered 9 April, 1865. We took it then as it was all we had left.
We had nothing to go back home to anyway. We fought on, hoping against hope the Confederacy would, once more, rise up and take revenge for all the destruction done to our families and lands. Another thing we fought for was to give our friends and families some hope and maybe time to hide from the resulting killing and raping the Yankees were doing.
Bill was killed and we went our separate ways. George Todd's splinter group of Quantrill's patriots was attached to Major General Sterling Price's raids South of the Missouri river and functioned as cavalry scouts. He was shot out of his saddle by a damn Union sniper.
Some of our other patriots continued under the leadership of Archie Clement, who kept us together after the war was lost and harassed the state government of Missouri. In December 1866, state militiamen killed Clement in Lexington, Missouri, but our men continued on, emerging in time under the leadership of Jesse and Cole (the James-Younger Gang).
Swamps, caves, mountains and some hidden valleys became not only places of refuge but for some the only place to be safe. Some of our 'Glorious' troops, those who had fought what was a battle we could not win, went West and left their mark on history and the causes we fought and died for.
In most places though, those Eastern refuges became synonymous with hiding, and the caves were well hidden and could more easily be defended. On a long term basis they became not only safety but provided shelter to our homeless.
Sometime in the future it would provide more, much more.
Real life had passed me by in exchange for monetary success I had given up trusting people and any glimmer of finding happiness. In-fact, I never even knew what that was nor what I might need to have it.