It all started with the book – Defend the Valley: A Shenandoah Family in the Civil War by Margaretta Barton Colt. The book tells the story of the Civil War in the Valley through the letters and private papers of the Barton and Jones clans—two great limbs of one family tree with roots in Winchester. The Bartons and Joneses collectively sent twelve men to war, most in the brigade led by Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Defend the Valley presents a fully rounded picture of the daily struggles of ordinary families living through the Civil War and a documentation of the passing of a way of life. 


The book was published in 1994 and received rave reviews.

Jonathan Noyalas, Director of the Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute, ranked Defend the Valley as “one of the top ten Civil War era related publications released in the past quarter century.” Jonathan A. Noyalas said in his remarks at the Tapestry Unveiling Ceremony on October 20, 2018:

For a quarter century Defend the Valley has informed, inspired and educated. In my classroom at Shenandoah University it is a staple. Today, that book which has inspired historians such as myself to research and write about the complexities of life for the region’s demographically diverse population, has also inspired a miraculous artistic achievement—this tapestry.

Margaretta Barton Colt is a direct descendant of the Barton-Jones clan. She was a researcher, writer and picture editor at Time, Inc. and American Heritage. In 1976 Margaretta joined her husband Harris S. Colt in founding The Military Bookman, an out-of-print and rare bookstore dealing exclusively in military, naval and aviation history. The store, which had an international clientele, flourished in New York City until 2003.


Margaretta enthusiastically endorsed the Shenandoah Valley Tapestry project, providing outstanding support, advice, and encouragement.

Defend the Valley is the result of seven years of research by Margaretta Barton Colt. Margaretta tells the story of how she wrote Defend the Valley in her second book Martial Bliss: The Story of the Military Bookman. The New York Times published an excellent review on July 30, 2015.