Embedded with the Troops - Follow James Taylor as He Sketches the Lower Shenandoah Valley in 1864 ~ October 20-22 - DEPART at 8:00 AM, TODAY, FRIDAY. OCTOBER 20 in front of BEST WESTERN LEE JACKSON in WINCHESTER, VA

On October 20, 2017 - 08:00 - October 22, 2017 - 11:30
Led by
  • Activity Level: Easy

In August 1864, artist James E. Taylor was sent by Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine to follow and record the fortunes of Union General Philip Sheridan’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. His sketches appeared in that publication but then languished for decades at Ohio's Western Reserve Historical Society. In 1989, Bob Younger and his Morningside Press collected these drawings and released them as the James E. Taylor Sketchbook: With Sheridan Up the Shenandoah Valley in 1864: Leaves from a Special Artist's Sketchbook and Diary.

More recently, researcher/photographer Dana MacBean has retraced Taylor's steps from all those years ago and matched up his modern photographs to the original drawings that Taylor made. To date, he has documented 95 percent of the illustrations in the Sketchbook, creating in essence a "then and now" book. Taylor's sketches and MacBean’s photos will be presented side-by-side in a new book soon to be published.

In October, using the original sketchbook as the model, MacBean will lead a field and walking tour that will be a visual and interpretive guide to the Sketchbook sites found in the Lower Shenandoah Valley of Frederick and Clarke counties in Virginia. Referencing the topographical features and man-made structures, we will see where Taylor’s drawings remain true to form and where he used artistic license to fit the scene to the story line. And because Taylor was as much a story teller as an artist, we will explore his insights into events taken from mundane day-to-day encounters with people and places to complex battles and strategies. In so doing, we will find that many of the sites have changed very little over the years and look very similar to the artist’s sketches.

On Friday morning, we will set forth to Harpers Ferry, Summit Point, Berryville, Old Chapel, Boyce, Double Toll Gate, Nineveh Church, Cedarville, Reliance, Middletown, Newtown (Stephens City) and Bartonville. We will unfold the historical narrative of the 1864 Valley Campaign as it plays out from stop to stop – and Dana will reveal Taylor’s particular slant on the events and sites as we study and visit them.

On Saturday, we will tour the Second Battle of Kernstown, including a visit inside the Pritchard House, and we’ll tour sites south, east and north of Winchester pertinent to the Taylor Sketchbook and to the October 19, 1864 Battle of Third Winchester.

On Sunday morning, we’ll walk through Old Town Winchester, again comparing Taylor’s exquisite sketches with the old buildings and churches as they stand today.

What an artistic and historical tour-de-force this will be! During prime autumn weather when the leaves have begun to turn, we will:

  • visit important Civil War sites that are not often seen even by afficionados
  • more fully appreciate the enduring art of the legendary James E. Taylor
  • enjoy the idyllic beauty of old roads, villages, bridges, churches and historic homes that have changed little since 1864

We hope you’ll come aboard with Dana MacBean and embed with the troops as did James E. Taylor when he rode with Philip Sheridan in 1864!


Dana MacBean

Dana MacBean is a leading authority on the 1864 Valley Campaign and is the co-author of A Shenandoah Sketchbook: James E. Taylor Draws the Valley. He recently retired as the exhibit coordinator of the Marine Corps Museum at Parris Island, South Carolina.


Full Program Regular Rate:  $395

If You Must Cancel we will refund 100% of your fees paid within 30 days of your notice.

What is Included in your Registration:

  • the services of an expert historian chosen for his knowledge and experience     
  • transportation to the sites as described
  • Friday and Saturday lunches
  • refreshments and snacks during the tour 
  • substantial information package 


WE'RE SWITCHING CREDIT CARD SOFTWARE so online registration is currently unavailable

FOR NOW, CALL 800-298-1861 to complete your credit card registration; or SEND CHECK to:


Box 78, Winchester, VA 22604


Base Location & Lodging: We will be based at the Best Western Lee Jackson hotel, 711 Millwood Avenue,  Winchester, VA. To book a room call 540-662-4154 - no room block code need be identified.

Friday, October 20

8:15 AM                           Depart on Tour from lobby of Best Western Lee Jackson hotel in Winchester

5:00 PM                            Arrive Back at Best Western Lee Jackson in Winchester

Saturday, October 21

8:15 AM                             Depart on Tour from Best Western Lee Jackson

4:30 PM                            Arrive Back at Best Western Lee Jackson

Sunday, October 22

8:30 AM                           Depart on Tour from Best Western Lee Jackson 

11:30 AM                          Arrive Back at Best Weestern Lee Jackson


Taylor's Sketchbook 2017

Base Location & Lodging: We will be based at a hotel in Charles Town, West Virginia soon to be announced.