Hiking Through History: Civil War Sites on the Appalachian Trail – A book review

Hiking Through History: Civil War Sites on the Appalachian Trail by Leanna Joyner

HikingThroughHistory_coverThere’s no untouched wilderness in the East and that includes the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This is so well brought out by Hiking through History by Leanna Joyner.

Leanna has written a great book combining the A.T. with Civil War history. She takes readers to many Civil War sites, where she explains the history in colorful, understandable language. She also tells you how to walk to the sites with clear instructions and color maps.

In the Southern Appalachians, you’ll visit Hot Springs, then called Warm Springs, where skirmishes occurred in late 1863. Unionists from East Tennessee were able to invade the large French Broad river valleys. The companion hike is the easy Lovers Leap-Silvermine Trail loop.

Moving north, readers encounter the events leading up to the Shelton Laurel Massacre, which started in late 1962. It’s a complicated, bloody, and conflicted history, which changes depending on which version you read. Leanna does a great job of investigating the various stories. Still, when hikers find the three graves on the trail, their first question is:
      How did they get the graves up here?
Two local preachers procured the gravestones for the soldiers from the Federal Government and hauled them up by ox sled. Both sections are part of the A.T. maintained by Carolina Mountain Club.

After the Southern mountains, you’ll reach Pearisburg, Virginia, one of the best rest stops on the A.T. When I walked the A.T. years ago, I was like most hikers, moving along and mostly concerned about making the miles. Now I see that I missed the Union occupation of Pearisburg with future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley.

from the Antietam National Battlefield website
from the Antietam National Battlefield website

And I can’t forget the photographs. The book is peppered with modern and historic pictures, many taken by Joyner. My favorite memory is of the Civil War Correspondent Memorial in Maryland, now maintained by the National Park Service, as part of Antietam National Battlefield. See the picture to the right.

Leanna makes a great trail guide. She researched the areas on foot and in the library. As an A.T. thru-hiker and now Appalachian Trail Conservancy trail resources manager for the Southern Regional Office, she loves and understands the trail.

If you want an excuse to dayhike the A.T. and learn some history, you can’t do much better than to pick up this book. If Leanna is looking for another project, maybe she’ll consider the American Revolution and the War of 1812 on the A.T. All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

The Details
Hiking Through History: Civil War Sites on the Appalachian Trail by Leanna Joyner
176 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-1889386942 $24.95 published by Appalachian Trail Conference (2016)

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