Days of Uncertainty
It’s the early spring of 1861. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas have all seceded. The first shots of the Civil War ring out over Fort Sumter. In Virginia, a state secession convention is underway, but a cloud of uncertainty hovers over the state. What would life in the Confederacy mean for Virginians serving in the U.S. Army? What would a war mean to civilians at home?
Montpelier’s April 15-17, 2011 Spring Civil War Weekend will introduce visitors to the uncertain days that led to Virginia’s secession from the Union. Visitors will experience an enlistment ceremony, Civil War-era worship service, dress parades, weapons demonstrations, and civilian and camp life.
You might recall from previous posts that the war eventually came to Montpelier. The reenactors will encamp in the same place General Samuel McGowan’s South Carolina Brigade encamped during the winter of 1863-1864, between the battles of Gettysburg and the Wilderness.” Guests will have the opportunity to see the reenactors rebuild the huts McGowan’s troops occupied.
Some of the Civil War Weekend events will be different from what people usually see at Civil War reenactments. There will be an enlistment ceremony on the mansion grounds on April 16 at 1 p.m. Visitors will hear civilian reenactors answer questions about their readiness to join the militia and see them sworn into the militia. On April 17, 2011, the 150th anniversary of Virginia’s secession, visitors can watch the soldiers receive the Virginia Ordinance of Secession and form their battalion at 12:15 p.m. in the wooded area opposite the Montpelier Train Depot on Route 20.
The uniforms will be different too. Many of the reenactors will wear replica uniforms from militia units that formed before Virginia’s secession. The reenacting unit that portrays the Montpelier Guard militia will wear replicas of the Montpelier Guard’s red frock coats over their grey uniforms.
We hope you will join us for Spring Civil War Weekend! Please visit the website to plan your visit!
The Montpelier Foundation/John Strader