Valleys of the Shadow
The Memoir of Confederate Captain Reuben G. Clark
Valleys of the Shadow is the previously unpublished account of Captain Reuben Clark’s first-hand experiences as a Confederate officer, a prisoner of war, and a post war civilian living in a conquered state.
Captain Clark was a twenty-seven-year-old Knoxville businessman when the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861. Like many southern gentlemen, Clark was opposed to secession but could not desert his family and friends. Enlisting as a first lieutenant in the Confederacy’s Third Tennessee Infantry Regiment, he spent his first night as a soldier on the bloody battlefield of Manasses. Clark’s recollections of Manasses and the battles and skirmishes that followed pinpoint his regiment’s activities in previously undocumented areas while providing valuable analyses of battles from a participant’s point of view and discussing the irony many soldiers felt when battle pitted them against men they had known before the war in business, politics, and society.
Captured after the battle of Morristown in the fall of 1864, Clark was jailed in Knoxville, then under Federal control. His account of the eight months he spent as a prisoner—his harsh treatment, a near-fatal illness, the false accusations of traitorous activities—offer a detailed description of the physical and legal battles of a Confederate prisoner of war fighting to obtain his freedom. Clark’s post war experiences relate his struggles as a former Rebel living in a conquered state, reflecting the deeply divided loyalties of East Tennessee that continued for years after the war’s end.
This first book in the Voices of the Civil War series shares the story of a man who remained sensible of his kinship with those he was forced to call his enemies. Written a quarter-century after the war began, Clark’s memories vividly bring to life the tragedy that was the Civil War.
Willene B. Clark, a granddaughter of Captain Clark, is a professor of art history at Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vermont.