ARARAT, Va. — Rebs and Yanks once again will meet on the battlefield, during a gathering next week at the birthplace of one of the Civil War’s most-colorful figures.
The J.E.B. Stuart Encampment and Living History event on Oct. 6-7, now in its 22nd year, not only will feature recreations of notable engagements between the South and North. An array of activities designed to portray life during a turbulent period in American history also are planned during the two-day reenactment at Laurel Hill in Ararat, Stuart’s birthplace.
“There will be a wide variety of activities for the whole family’s enjoyment,” according to Tom Bishop, a Claudville resident who serves on the board of directors of the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust Inc.
These include period string music, a council of war presentation involving Civil War generals, an 1800s fashion show, a Saturday night dance, displays by Civil War sutlers (merchants who sold provisions to soldiers), a candlelight tour, a Sunday church service at 10 a.m. and food and other vendors.
One addition this year will be the premiere showing of “Daniel and Elizabeth,” a Civil War story shot and directed by local filmmaker Richard Fawcett at the 2011 J.E.B. Stuart encampment.
Showings are set for 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the historic Earle Theatre at 142 N. Main St. in downtown Mount Airy.
Admission is free for the screening sponsored by the Surry Arts Council in conjunction with the birthplace trust, with Bishop noting that those attending the reenactment are invited to make the short side trip to Mount Airy for the film.
Battles Both Days
Then there will be the battles featuring hundreds of reenactors, which are scheduled during each day of the event that is the longest-running of its kind in this area. “I would say in the range of 400,” Bishop said Thursday of the number expected.
About half those modern-day Civil War troops will hail from North Carolina, added Bishop, who pointed to the closeness of that state and Virginia not just in proximity but the bond they shared during the actual four-year conflict.
“They were big Civil War states,” Bishop said, including serving as sites of major battles and in the number of troops each devoted to the Confederate cause.
On Oct. 6 during the first day of the gathering, cavalry tactics will be highlighted during a recreation of the Battle of Brandy Station, in which Gen. Stuart played a key role. It begins at 1 p.m.
That same day at 3 p.m., an infantry engagement will take center stage, which also will be the case Sunday at 2 p.m.
In addition to Brandy Station, the events of the Battle of Hoke’s Run, which unfolded in a part of Virginia that later became West Virginia, and Stuart’s Raid will be highlighted. The latter is the name commonly given to a campaign in which Stuart captured horses, supplies and prisoners in the Hagerstown, Md., area before the South invaded the North and engaged in the bloody Battle of Antietam.
Artillery pieces including cannons, and possibly mortars, will provide sound effects and add to the overall realism for the proceedings along with horses and the men wearing uniforms and bearing the weapons of their respective military units.
More Youths Involved
While re-enactments have long been of interest to historians, there has been an increase in attendance at such events by younger audiences, Bishop said in focusing on the family-oriented nature of the upcoming encampment.
With action movies popular today, youths tend to be attracted to “anything that has swords and knives,” Bishop said. Toy versions of those Civil War items will be available at the Oct. 6-7 event, he said.
Bishop also notices many young people who accompany their reenactor parents to the annual gathering, and sleep in small tents alongside those of the adults.
Gates at Laurel Hill will open at 9 a.m. on Oct. 6 and close at 4 p.m. on Oct. 7. A flag-raising ceremony is planned at 11 a.m. on the first day of the reenactment. Additional details are available at the website http://www.jebstuart.org/.
Admission will cost $8 for adults, but is free for children 12 and younger. Parking will be free.
Laurel Hill is located at 1091 Ararat Highway, just past the North Carolina state line via N.C. 104 from Mount Airy.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.