Summer Civil War Encampment


2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the deadliest battle of the American Civil War and the inspiration for President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.   Join us on August 2 through August 4 for a weekend of specialty tours and Civil War reenactments that retrace General Robert E. Lee's retreat from Gettysburg to the hills surrounding Montpelier and the Army of Northern Virginia's 1863 winter encampment.

Close to 1500 troops camped at Montpelier following the battle in 1863, but eventually these sites and structures were abandoned and overgrown with brush and forest in a type of natural preservation.  The effect has rendered Montpelier the site of some of the best-preserved Civil War encampments in the nation.  The Montpelier Foundation has been recognized by the National Park Service for the protection of these encampments, many of which are held in protective easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  

Montpelier's Summer Civil War Encampment represents an authentic recreation of these camps based on archeological and documentary research. Interpreting the domestic life of soldiers "at camp" sheds light on new aspects of "troop life" that receives little attention at national battlefields.  

Visitors may explore the Civil War Trail & the Gilmore Farm Walking Trail, which lead through the archeological site of one of these regimental camps, through a reconstructed company street, and then to Gilmore Farm, a small cabin built by one of the Madison's former slaves from recycled timber from the encampments. Signage along this trail documents the experience of troops as well as the impact these camps had on the local rural community.  

A specialty Candlelight Tour is designed to showcase camp life during the evening hours.  The public will have a unique opportunity to learn about the Civil War history of each unit as they travel from camp to camp. The tour will end with an artillery firing demonstration.

This specialty weekend highlights James Madison's Montpelier as it relates to the Civil War, as well as the transition to freedom for the hundreds of slaves in the region.  

Schedule of Events

Friday, August 2
12:00 p.m.  Camps open for set up and public visitation
7:30 p.m.  "Relics at Montpelier" by Lance Crosby
12:00 a.m. All quiet in camp

Saturday, August 3
9:00 a.m.  Morning Dress Parade
9:30 a.m.  Individual Company Drill  
10:00 a.m. Civilian mini display/activity
11:00 a.m. "McGowan Trail & Hut Living Tour" by Matt Reeves
12:00 p.m.  Artillery Demonstration
1:00 p.m.  Civilian mini display/activity
2:00 p.m.  Skirmish
2:45  p.m.  "Civil War Medicine" by Dave Cauffield
3:30  p.m.  Civilian mini display/activity
5:00 p.m.  Firing Competition
8:00 p.m. Candlelight Tour 
12:00 a.m. All quiet in camp

Sunday, August 4
9:00 a.m.  Church Service
11:00 a.m.  Ladies Fashion Show 
1:30 p.m.  Skirmish