History Explored

Events across the Commonwealth commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War offer something for everyone.

Commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War abound in the Commonwealth in 2011. From events like walking tours and wine tastings to reenactments and lectures you can get a feel for what life was like in Virginia while war was shaping our nation 150 years ago. To help you navigate the jam-packed slate of statewide events, we’ve put together a guide to what’s happening in the next few months to mark the sesquicentennial.

For the tactically minded, professors from universities throughout the state will continue to lead the popular Signature Conference series discussing Civil War military strategy, events which continuously draw crowds of over 2,000. If you prefer your Civil War history less abstract then the Virginia Historical Society’s Civil War exhibit “An American Turning Point” might be more to your liking, telling personal stories of life during the war told through original objects and interactive technology.

You can also hop on board the Civil War HistoryMobile, which—as its name suggests— is a mobile, 53-foot expandable trailer housing an immersive Civil War exhibit. The trailer will be traveling throughout Virginia and the surrounding states, with 19 visits already scheduled. Catch it if you can!

If that sounds like too much hard work, then you can still commemorate the Sesquicentennial from the comfort of your own home. The Commission has produced the Emmy Award-nominated two-volume, nine-module DVD set titled Virginia in the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance, featuring commentary from historians and high-definition footage.

So the Sesquicentennial commemorations offer something for everyone. Below you’ll find just a selection of the events that will both entertain and educate you about our nation’s past throughout August and September. Whether you prefer reenactments, musicals, wine tasting or park restoration, you’ll be able to find something to suit your style. Visit VACivilWar.org for a full listing of statewide events.

Gallery Walk, The Civil War in Virginia, Why the Battle of Kernstown?August 3, Richmond

A guided walk through the “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia” exhibit at the Virginia Historical Society, conducted by exhibit coordinator Andrew Talkov.

$6 adults, $5 seniors, $4 students, free to VHS members, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., 428 North Boulevard, Richmond, (804) 358-490, VAHistorical.org  

Stonewall Jackson Personal Visit and 2nd Corps Wine Release PartyAugust 6, Etlan

Stonewall Jackson and his troops’ march over the mountains on their way to the Battle of Fredericksburg will be commemorated when reeanactors visit the DuCard Vineyard in Etlan, Madison County to taste the new Jackson-inspired 2nd Corps wine. Reenactors will also make camp at the winery and demonstrate the life of soldiers on the move.

Free, family friendly, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with march scheduled for 2 p.m., 40 Gibson Hollow Lane, Etlan, (540) 923-4206, VirginiaWine.org

Family Night at Chapman Beverley MillAugust 6, Broad Run

The First Virginia Cavalry Confederate reenactors will demonstrate Civil War camp life and the role of cavalry units in the Civil War. Families can participate in a variety of 19th century activities for kids of all ages, plus 19th century music and interpretive tours of Chapman/Beverley Mill.

$15 per family or $5 per person, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., 17504 Beverley Mill Road, Broad Run, (540) 253-5888, ChapmansMill.org

Stonewall CountryAugust 4 to 7, Lexington

Musical about the life and death of Stonewall Jackson, performed under the stars in a 19th century lime kiln and quarry. Picnicking encouraged and picnic tables provided, but no outside alcohol allowed.

Advance/day of prices: adults $25/$30, seniors $12/$27, child $12.50/$15, 7:30 p.m., 607 Borden Rd, Lexington, (540) 463-7088, TheatreatLimeKiln.com

History Day Camp at Pamplin ParkAugust 9 to 11, Petersburg

Pamplin Historical Park’s three-day History Day Camps combine learning, camaraderie and fun for children ages 8-12. Live the life of a Civil War soldier in camp, on the march, on the battlefield, and at home on furlough at this full day camp.

$100, reservation and permission slip required, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, 6125 Boydton Plank Rd., Petersburg, (804) 861-2408, PamplinPark.org/day_camp  

Civil War Camp Site and Court Martial ReenactmentAugust 19 to 21, Montpelier Station

Watch reenactors use Civil War-era tools and techniques to rebuild the huts once occupied by General Samuel McGowan’s South Carolinian troops. Visitors can tour the Gilmore Farm, home of George Gilmore, who was born a slave at Montpelier and emancipated after the Civil War.

Free, 11395 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, (540) 672-2728 Montpelier.org

Hard Tack and Coffee, Civil War Soldier CampAugust 20 to 21, Bristow

Overnight mock soldier camp event where participants can step into the past and discover the military and daily life skills of Civil War soldiers that citizens had to learn 150 years ago.

$125 per person (with the registration), meals included, 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday. Ages 16 (with adult) and older only, 12229 Bristow Road, Bristow, (703) 395-7895, VisitPWC.com

Civil War Sesquicentennial Emersion TourAugust 28 to September 1, Orange

The Inns at Montpelier have a special, five night, five day Civil War package of tours, luxury accommodations, gourmet dining, unique events and gifts that allows visitors to get a firsthand look at the event that shaped our nation and our future 150 years ago.

$1,123 per couple, Main Street, Orange, InnsAtMontpelier.com  

Park Restoration DaySeptember 10, Bristow

Join Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division staff in the ongoing efforts to restore Bristoe Station Battlefield. Come dressed to get dirty as volunteers will remove invasive plants, plant native species and maintain the trails. Wear sturdy work shoes and bring gloves, sunscreen and bug spray. Tools will be provided.

Meet 10 a.m., parking lot off Iron Bridge Avneue, no pets. (703) 792-5546 or PWCgov.org

Beyond the Battlefields: Civil War Sites In Prince William CountSeptember 17, Bristow

Prince William County witnessed three major battles and many skirmishes, but the impact of the war reached far beyond the battlefields. Departing from Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, this tour will highlight the plight of citizens in the county and share their stories of hardship and survival, visiting Civil War campsites across the Prince William County, Brentsville, Liberia Plantation, Haymarket and Chapman’s Mill.

$80 per person, includes admission to the sites and a boxed lunch. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., reservation required, 12229 Bristow Road, Bristow, (703) 365-7895 ManassasBullRun.com/Event

—A full list of statewide events can be found at VACivilWar.org

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