See the flash, smell the smoke and feel the ground shake as cannons echo across the valley during Buchanan’s Civil War History Weekend this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
More than 100 re-enactors representing over 20 units will begin arriving to town Thursday evening through Saturday morning to take part in the event. Up to an additional 100 re-enactors are anticipated to “walk on” to add to the numbers of units and cavalry.
On Friday, students from Buchanan Elementary School will enjoy a History Walking Tour throughout the downtown highlighting the role of transportation in shaping the town’s more than 200 years of history, then end with a tour through the Living History Camps.
Highlights of the weekend’s activities include a 7 p.m. Artillery Demonstration at the Town Park on Friday, a Saturday Opening Ceremony on the Town Park at 10 a.m., Living History Camps on the Town Park throughout the weekend, skits on Main Street, movies in the Buchanan Theatre, Sam Winkler as President Jefferson Davis, Mary Houseman as a seamstress demonstrating sewing on an antique machine, battles on the Town Park on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m., a Camp Dance open to the public on Saturday at 8 p.m. and period church service on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Additional activities include a breakfast fundraiser open to the public Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. until 10 a.m.; the Friends of the Buchanan Library book and yard sale on Saturday in the Carson Memorial Building, as well as Main Street sidewalk sales and food at Buchanan’s locally owned restaurants.
Visitors are requested to leave their pets at home (Certified Service Dogs are allowed).
Members of the Botetourt Artillery have worked with the town throughout the year to coordinate activities, A full schedule of activities may be found on the town’s website as well as flyers at local businesses and on kiosks throughout town.
During the Civil War, the Town of Buchanan served as an important Confederate supply depot for shipment of agricultural produce and pig iron to Richmond via the James River and Kanawha Canal. Buchanan farmers provided the Confederate quartermaster with beef, cotton, yarn and corn. Buchanan also provided troops for the Confederate war effort, most notably the Botetourt Artillery. The unit distinguished itself in the defense of Vicksburg.
Union General David Hunter marched through Buchanan on June 13, 1864 on his ill-fated raid in Lynchburg. The following day Confederate General J.D. Imboden reported that Hunter had driven Confederate troops under McCausland’s command out of Buchanan. Period letters tell how McCausland burned the covered bridge over the James River before leaving, igniting a fire which destroyed close to 30 buildings.
Personal letters of the era also tell of the devastation to Buchanan caused by the war including the burning of Col. John Anderson’s home known as Mount Joy, the three-day Federal occupation of Oak Hill, the Anchorage, the Presbyterian Manse as well as other private homes and offices throughout town. The battle flag of the Botetourt Artillery was said to have been made from the wedding dress of Cassandra Anderson, owner of Mount Joy.
The Town of Buchanan is part of the larger Virginia Civil War Trails Program, specifically the Hunter’s Raid Trail. Buchanan has four Trail markers which may be found throughout the town. The Virginia Civil War Trails Program invites visitors to experience the Civil War dramatically by tracing the five different Civil War Trails throughout the state – more than 400 sites tell stories never before told through pictures, battle maps, and clear interpretation. Travelers can spend two days or two weeks following the campaigns fought in Virginia through 79 cities and counties. Each site is car-accessible and describes events specific to that location.
~ Fincastle Herald staff report