Soldier of Southwestern Virginia: The Civil War Letters of Captain John Preston Sheffey

Soldier of Southwestern Virginia: The Civil War Letters of Captain John Preston Sheffey

Far more than a documentation of the horrors and banality of the Civil War, John Preston Sheffey’s literate and witty writings demonstrate his ardor for battle, his love of Virginia, and his passion in waging a most arduous and suspenseful campaign: to win Josephine Spiller as his wife. Superbly edited by James I. Robertson, Jr., Sheffey’s letters are the first published correspondence by a member of the 8th Virginia Cavalry. A native of Marion, Virginia, Sheffey provides an invaluable picture of socio-military affairs in the overlooked western and southwestern regions of the state. His combination of intimate minute-to-minute, day-to-day recording and larger insight into the dynamics of men, terrain, supplies, and protocol make this collection unique. Sheffey’s more than ninety letters are a singular source of interest for revealing the paradoxes and tragedies of isolated but vital Civil War skirmishes in southwest Virginia.


“Readers will find this carefully annotated, soundly edited collection easy to read. . . . southwestern Virginia’s contribution to the Civil War is oftentimes overlooked, and Sheffey’s firsthand accounts of military action in this little-discussed theater are refreshing and enlightening.”–Virginia Libraries

“Robertson has again enriched Civil War literature. . . . Those who want to know more about the war in West Virginia and southwest Virginia will want this work in their libraries. Those who enjoy reading about what happened during the war outside the more familiar venues should also find Sheffey’s letters interesting.”–Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

“Readers are treated to the only collection of letters in book form from the 8th Virginia Cavalry, but more importantly the observations of an intelligent and discerning correspondent deeply concerned not only about the progress of the war but also with the prospects for his southwestern section of Virginia.”–Appalachian Heritage

“Sheffey is fortunate that his letters came into the hands of James I. Robertson, Jr., perhaps the consummate Virginia historian. . . . Each chapter is prefaced with explanatory material that summarizes Sheffey’s experiences and their place in the larger story of the war.”–Blue & Gray

256 pages, 3 Halftones, 1 Map, 6 x 9

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