Culpeper County’s Cedar Mountain preserve will host some new and different kinds of living history for the 157th anniversary of the Civil War battle that made the place famous.
This Saturday and Sunday, in addition to infantry drills for children and demonstrations of period armaments, Friends of Cedar Mountain will host what its chief describes as an outdoor historical drama.
Diane Logan, president of the friends group, said an evening torchlight tour is one of the new events added this year.
Re-enactors will bring to life “scenes taken from diaries, letters and military records of actual battlefield and civilian experiences,” Logan said Thursday.
That will include a depiction of a battlefield burial, based on period photographs taken of burials just days after the battle, when both sides called a truce to treat the wounded and bury the dead. At the time, such photos were a great rarity and drew huge interest from the public.
Some 3,600 Union and Confederate troops were killed during the Battle of Cedar Mountain on Aug. 9, 1862.
Federal dead were moved to what became Culpeper National Cemetery in the nearby town. Confederate soldiers slain in the fighting were buried in a mass grave at Fairview Cemetery, now marked by a Confederate memorial.
During the the torchlight tours, visitors will be able to tour soldiers’ camps and the just-as-it-was battlefield, stepping back in time and perhaps getting swept up amidst a skirmish, and other events. A small fee for the tours will support battlefield preservation efforts.
Most of the activities, tailored for all ages, will be free.
Per annual tradition, a memorial service will be held to honor all those who died in battle. The names of people registered in the Friends of Cedar Mountain Ancestor Program will be recognized during the ceremony.
The preserved portion of the battlefield is on U.S. 15; its address is 9465 General Winder Road in Culpeper County.
Visitors should park a short distance south on U.S. 15 at the George Washington Carver Center, 9433 James Madison Highway. A shuttle bus will run every 15 minutes between the center and the battlefield.
For the occasion, the center’s 4-County Museum will display a new exhibit, “Their Sacrifice: Our Freedom,” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 and 11. It features stories of local African-American people who fought for the Union.
Alumni of what was the George Washington Carver School, the region’s five-county high school for black youth before Virginia schools were desegregated, will welcome visitors.
For details, visit friendsofcedarmountain.org.
The weekend’s schedule is as follows:
Saturday, Aug. 10
11 a.m. Opening shot, followed by combined arms demonstration (infantry and artillery).
1 p.m. School of the soldier. Open to the public, this session offers the opportunity to experience the life of a Civil War soldier by participating in basic drill and instruction; working with the infantry and learning how to handle a musket; learning how to march, drill and fight; and even serving on a gun crew.
3 p.m. Combined arms demonstration (infantry and artillery).
5 p.m. Camp life. Camps open to the public.
7 p.m. Ancestors Ceremony. Recognition of the fallen at Cedar Mountain whose names have been submitted by their descendants to the Friends of Cedar Mountain.
8 p.m. Torchlight tours of the camps and battlefield. (Students free, $5/adults)
Sunday, Aug. 11
10 a.m. Combined arms demonstration (infantry and artillery).
12 p.m. School of the soldier. Experience the life of a Civil War soldier by participating in basic drill and instruction, working with the infantry and learning how to handle a musket, learning how to march, drill and fight; or even serving on a gun crew.