Battle of New Market Re-enactment May 19-20
NEW MARKET, Va., May 11, 2012 – Some 1,200 Civil War re-enactors are expected to take part in the 148th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of New Market May 19-20. The event, held on Virginia Military Institute’s New Market Battlefield, is the oldest battle re-enactment in the nation, and one of few held on the original site.
Events will take place both on the battlefield, where soldiers blue and gray fought and died that rainy Sunday afternoon of May 15, 1864, and on Bushong Farm, where the Bushong family hid as the fighting raged around them.
VMI cadets entered the battle after the famous words of Confederate Gen. John C. Breckinridge: “Put the boys in, and may God forgive me for the order.’’ Breckinridge’s 4,000-man army, including the 257 cadets, went on to defeat a Union force of over 6,000 under Gen. Franz Sigel in one of the South’s last significant victories of the Civil War. Overall, the Confederates suffered 531 casualties, compared to 841 for the Union force. Ten VMI cadets were killed or mortally wounded.
On Saturday, May 19, living history presentations will demonstrate Union and Confederate military tactics and camp activities. Historical interpreters will also portray civilian life during the Civil War era, including medical treatment, domestic crafts, and agricultural work. Activities new to this year’s event will include a National Park Service program, Valley Campaign in a Box, at 1 p.m., followed by a commemorative re-enactment of the First Battle of Winchester at 2.
“These special program elements highlight the importance of the 1862 Valley Campaign during [Virginia’s] 150th anniversary series,” said Maj. Troy Marshall, site director.
Activities will continue on Sunday, May 20, with a Civil War-period church service and living history programs, followed by the Battle of New Market re-enactment at 1:30 p.m.
Throughout the weekend, visitors will be able to purchase food provided by community non-profit organizations. The sutler area will offer Civil War-period products, as well as items from the General’s Store, including Ghost Cadet, the popular children’s book based on the battle, now back in print.
M&R Productions, a Gettysburg-based company that has managed the event for the past five years, is coordinating the re-enactment. The event is supported by the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Auxiliary, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Virginia Defense Force, and Virginia Military Institute Civil War Roundtable. The Virginia Museum of the Civil War is accredited by the American Association of Museums and administered by VMI.
One-day tickets for the re-enactment are $10 for those age 10 and over, with children age 9 and under admitted free. Local residents who present proof of a New Market mailing address will receive free admission. Tickets will be sold at the gate, with no advance reservations. Ticket sales are final, with proceeds supporting preservation and interpretation efforts at the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield. Parking is free.
More information and directions are available from the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at 866-515-1864 (toll free), 540-740-3101, or www.vmi.edu/newmarket.