ARARAT, Va. — Soldiers will wage war on each other this Saturday and Sunday at Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s birthplace in Ararat, but it will all be make-believe.
Organizers of the annual Civil War Encampment and Living History Weekend held there have have announced the subjects of mock battles, which tend to highlight the entertaining and educational gathering. It will be held at Laurel Hill, located just across the Virginia line via N.C. 104 from Mount Airy.
Saturday’s skirmish by reenactment troops in blue and gray, scheduled for 2:45 p.m., will feature the Battle of Marion (Virginia), while Sunday’s, set for 2 p.m., is to highlight the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, also in Virginia.
The Battle of Marion occurred on Dec. 17-18, 1864. It was part of Union Maj. Gen. George Stoneman’s attack on Southwest Virginia, aimed at destroying the Confederate industrial infrastructure near Saltville and Marion. Stoneman also led a raid on Surry County in 1865.
Meanwhile, the Battle of Fisher’s Hill was waged on Sept. 21-22, 1864, near Strasburg, Virginia, as part of the Valley Campaigns of that year. During the conflict, Rebel troops of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early were defeated by the Union Army of the Shenandoah, commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan.
The re-staging of those engagements will feature horse soldiers and large cannons, said Tom Bishop, a spokesman for the weekend event sponsored by a trust group that oversees the birthplace.
However, there will be more attractions than the mock battles during the Civil War Encampment and Living History Weekend, now in its 25th year.
Also planned are various exhibits related to the Civil War and live music by The Fisher Peak Timber Rattlers, Zephyr Lightning Bolts, Laurel Hill String Band and Herbert, Tina and Catherine Conner.
“We have lots of guests, including direct descendants of J.E.B. Stuart who will be there to meet the general public,” Bishop added.
Another noteworthy guest will be Henry Kidd, lecturer, Civil War artist and reenactor.
Reenactors dressed as various generals also will be there to interact with the public and speak as if they are those generals, Bishop mentioned. A new one this year is Jubal Early.
Other scheduled activities include a black rose memorial service after the battle sequences, a ladies tea directed by Joan Williams, a Saturday night dance, a candlelight tour and a Sunday morning church service led by the Rev. Allen Farley, a Civil War chaplain.
Gates will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.
The admission cost for the event is $8 per person (but free for children 12 and under), with parking free.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.