BUCHANAN – Two Civil War battle re-enactments are just a part of the fourth Buchanan Civil War History Weekend Friday-Sunday, April 23-25.
While the battles will make the most noise, visitors and participants will have many other activities they can enjoy and learn from as the weekend unfolds.
That list includes presentations and classes for the ladies, living history camps, an opening ceremony and gun salute, street skirmishes, a bluegrass band competition, a camp dance and period music, presentations about Gen. Robert E. Lee, and sutlers, artists and crafters selling period and heritage wares.
Organizers estimate 250 re-enactors will travel to Buchanan from North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York to participate in this weekend’s activities, and there will be a dozen sutlers and crafters, antique dealers and artists.
The activities will be spread along Main Street, Bedford Street and on the Town Park on Lowe Street.
Main Street will be closed from Bedford Street (next to Bank of Botetourt) to Lowe Street from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
The weekend-long event is part of Virginia’s recognition of Confederate History Month and is hosted by the Town of Buchanan, Buchanan Special Events Committee, Botetourt Artillery Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the 14th VA Cavalry Co. H Rockbridge Dragoons and the Joseph W. Anderson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).
Buchanan was the only Botetourt community that saw military action during the War Between the States.
That came on June 13, 1864 when U.S. Gen. David Hunter’s Federal troops marched on Buchanan en route to his ill-fated raid on Lynchburg.
Hunter’s troops were fresh off their raid on Lexington and burning Virginia Military Institute as they marched south through the Valley of Virginia.
As the last leg of the James River and Kanawha Canal, Buchanan served as an important Confederate supply depot for shipment of agricultural produce and pig iron to Richmond.
Botetourt’s farmers provided the Confederate quartermaster with beef, cotton, yarn and corn as well as troops for the Confederate war effort. Among the troops were those in the Botetourt Artillery. That unit distinguished itself in the defense of Vicksburg, Miss.
Gen. “Tiger” John McCausland’s Confederate troops were assigned to Buchanan where they fired the covered bridge over the James River to slow Hunter’s march as the Federal troops headed south out of Lexington.
The following day Confederate Gen. J.D. Imboden reported that Hunter had driven the 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 that 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.
Interestingly, a month later, under Gen. Jubal Early’s orders, on July 30, 1864, McCausland burned the town of Chambersburg, Pa. in retaliation for the destruction of private property by Hunter’s Raid in the Shenandoah Valley.
Weekend visitors are invited to explore this lesser known site of the war by discovering how this tiny riverfront community nestled within the steep slopes of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains was thrust into the battle.
Visitors will also learn about Buchanan’s resistance to Hunter and thousands of troops as they fought to secure the James River bridge.
The activities begin Friday when many of the re-enactors will set up camp and host presentations for school children from Buchanan, Buena Vista and Lexington.
The first cavalry skirmish takes place Friday evening on Main Street at about 7 p.m., just before the Battle of the Bluegrass Bands in Buchanan Theatre.
Opening ceremonies on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Confederate monument at the Presbyterian Church on Main Street will honor the late Frank Dickerson. Dickerson, who died earlier this year, was a member of the Botetourt Artillery SCV and was one of the few remaining True Sons of a Confederate Veteran.
There will be other skirmishes on Main Street during the day and the first re-enactment of the Battle of Buchanan will be at 3 p.m. The second is Sunday at 2 p.m.
The battles will be fought on the Mutespaugh property on South Main Street across from Buchanan Super Market. Admission to the battles is $2 (children under 10 free). Free shuttle is provided from the Town Park on Lowe Street.
For more information, visit http://www.townofbuchanan.com/ or call 254-1212.
Buchanan Civil War History Weekend
Schedule of Events
Friday, April 23
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Field Trips from regional schools arrive throughout the morning to explore Living History Displays set up on the Town Park. Displays include Life on the Home Front, Food and Cooking, Medical Efforts During the War, Religious, Arms and Bullet Making, Camp Boredom and Prisoner of War Treatment; displays of period tents and shelter methods plus other presentations. Local chapters of The United Daughters of the Confederacy also will make living history presentations on various topics including Shortages and Substitutes During the War; Clothing of the Period; Hand Quilting, Knitting, Wool Gathering, Carding and Spinning Wheel Use, and Children at Home.
All Day—Encampments and sutlers set up and open to the public.
5:30 p.m. —Generals Meeting—Campaigners organize companies for evening skirmish.
6:30 p.m.—Campaigners depart encampment for evening street skirmish on Main Street near the Buchanan Theatre.
7 p.m.—Battle of the Bluegrass Bands – Buchanan Rotary invites families to vote for their favorite bluegrass band during the concert featuring five area bands. Admission $15 adults, $10 students.
Saturday, April 24
10 a.m.—5p.m. Enjoy a full day of family activities. Civil War era camps will open in the morning and remain open throughout the day. Special displays and re-enactments highlight the life and times of the Civil War era and life in Buchanan. Enjoy guest speakers, period music, costumed re-enactors and cavalry. Watch the chaos re-enacted on Main Street throughout the day as word of eminent arrival of Hunter’s troops spreads, culminating in a downtown street skirmish. Explore sutlers, crafters, civic organizations and artists set up on Main Street and the Town Park selling period wares, crafts, art and antiques.
10 a.m.—Opening Ceremony: As church bells ring, Mayor Tom Middlecamp welcomes re-enactors and guests to Buchanan’s fourth Civil War History Weekend during a ceremony at the Botetourt Artillery monument next to the Buchanan Presbyterian Church on Main Street. Re-enactors will perform a volley before laying a wreath at the monument. This year’s ceremony is dedicated in memory of Frank Dickerson, son of a Confederate veteran and member of the Botetourt Artillery who passed away earlier this year.
11 a.m.—”Mrs. Boyd Saves her Husband’s Business Records” skit at the Old Rogers House now open as the James River Inn, Main Street.
11 a.m.—“Victorian Dressing on A Shoestring Budget.” During the Civil War, women were expected to continue dressing in the same fashion as before the war despite having limited to no income. Learn how to stretch your dollars and have a period correct outfit for your activities. To be held in the UDC Pavilion on the Town Park with guest speaker Debbie Sifford.
11:30 a.m.—Gen. Robert E. Lee presentation featuring David Palmer as he presents a firsthand account of the Confederate commander.
12 p.m.—Buchanan downtown restaurants, the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department and Trinity Episcopal Church invite guests to dine with them on Main Street, Lowe Street and the Town Park.
12:30 p.m.—“Tea and Stitching I.” During the strife of war, the order of etiquette helped to hold society together and one of the most interesting customs of the era was the “Art of the Call.” During this presentation learn about the etiquette of visiting your neighbor, when to go, what to say, what to wear, how long to stay. At the conclusion of the presentation, a class will be offered so that you can make your calling card and a case to put them in. This class will involve writing and sewing. All supplies will be included in the price of the class and class participants will receive light tea while stitching. The presentation is free, those attending the class will be asked to pay $10 for the class. Pre-registration is not required but suggested. Presentation will be in the UDC Pavilion on the Town Park.
1:30 p.m.—Gen. Robert E. Lee presentation featuring David Palmer as he presents a first hand account of the general.
11 a.m.—3 p.m. Skirmishes. Main Street is the site of several street skirmishes. As word spreads that Hunter’s troops are marching this way after burning VMI, local troops prepare to burn the James River bridge in an effort to prevent Hunter’s troops from advancing.
2 p.m.—”Has Anyone Seen My Husband” skit.
3 p.m.—Battle of Buchanan on the Mutespaugh Field near Buchanan Super Market on South Main Street (US 11). Ride the free shuttle from the Town Park. Admission to the battle is $2, children under 10 free admission.
6 p.m.—Dinner is Served! All pre-registered participants will have a ticket for dinner to be served from the food stand at the Carnival Grounds on Lowe Street. This evening’s meal is being provided by Bojangles of Daleville.
8 p.m.—Camp Dance on Town Park. Enjoy taking part in or just watching as musicians play period music and everyone gathers for a camp dance on the Town Park at the UDC Pavilion. Civil War era tunes will be performed by band members Mike Lee, Chuck Whiting, Amy Whiting and Charissa Sangster. Tunes will include the medley of music from “Grand March” from one of the most famous writers of the day, Steven Foster. The Joseph W. Anderson United Daughters of the Confederacy will be hosting a silent auction at the Camp Dance and also serving refreshments. Free admission.
Sunday, April 25
9 a.m.—Camp Church Services. The public is invited. Experience a period church service as the Rev. Farley portrays a 19th century, backcountry circuit rider. Get a glimpse of the role of religion in the Civil War while witnessing a firsthand re-enactment of troop services.
1 p.m. —“Tea and Stitching II.” This presentation will focus on the needlework and sewing of the period. At the conclusion of the presentation, a class will be offered so you can learn to do simple embroidery. All supplies will be furnished. Light tea will be presented to class participants. The presentation is free, those attending the class will be asked to pay $10 for the class. Pre-registration is not required but suggested. Presentation will be in the UDC Pavilion on the Town Park.
2 p.m.—Battle of Buchanan. See the flash, smell the smoke and feel cannons roar as re-enactors fight the June 13, 1864 Battle of Buchanan. Union troops gathered on the north bank of the James River in Pattonsburg while Confederate troops delayed Hunter’s arrival with the firing of the covered bridge and battle response from Oak Hill. Battle to take place on the Mutespaugh Field near Buchanan Super Market, South Main Street (US 11). Ride the free shuttle from the Town Park. Admission to the battle is $2, children under 10 free admission.