Gen. William T. Sherman inspects battlements at Atlanta in 1864 prior to his March to the Sea during the Civil War. After his capture of Atlanta, Sherman went on to capture Savannah and divide the Confederate States of America. (AP)

From April 6 and 9, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, headquartered in New Market, Va., is sponsoring a national conference  in Georgia — “Atlanta, The Shenandoah, and the Turn to Total War” — that will tie together the war experiences in those two locations. Both experienced the Union’s fiery destruction of factories, stores, warehouses, supplies and homes in what became known as total war.

Looking for a way to make the work of the foundation known to a wider audience, foundation CEO Keven Walker said in an interview that a national conference tying together the fate of Atlanta and that of the Valley seemed like a good choice. “We had done just about everything we could do in the way of seminars and tours here in the Valley,” he said. “We didn’t want to start repeating ourselves.”

For the foundation’s first large conference, Walker has copied some of the most popular features offered by other Civil War-based organizations for their annual and well-attended conferences. They include the Civil War Trust, the country’s largest membership organization devoted to saving battlefields, and the Lincoln Forum, an organization devoted to the latest scholarship about the 16th  president. Walker selected a city that is relevant to the conference topic, chose a convenient hotel as headquarters, provided an array of nationally known historians as speakers and offered battlefield tours.

The presenters in Atlanta include James I. “Bud” Robertson, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, Brian Steel Wills and Richard  McMurry among others. The bus tours include the Atlanta Campaign and the Battles of Atlanta. For those who want to skip an afternoon of lectures, a “Gone With the Wind Country” tour is offered as an alternative.

The cost for the event, excluding hotel, is $475 for members and $550 for non-members and includes most meals.

For more information or to register, see the Foundation’s website at, call 540-740-4545 or send an email to