The roar of cannon has always been an integral part of Buchanan’s Civil War History Weekend because a canon barrage by the Union and Confederate artilleries started “the Battle of Buchanan” on a June day in 1864.
As an acknowledgement to that barrage, the Botetourt Artillery Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be using its six-pounder replica cannon during artillery demonstrations Friday at noon and 6 p.m. on the Town Park.
Several Civil War era campsites and some sutlers will already be open for visitors Friday morning, but the cannon demonstrations are the real kickoffs for the Friday-Sunday events that are designed to provide living history lessons for the public and re-enactment opportunities for the men, women and youth who portray the soldiers and their families affected by the war.
More than 120 re-enactors are already signed up for the events that will be scattered through Buchanan’s downtown.
The weekend helps tell the story of General John McCausland and his Confederate troops fighting to secure the James River covered bridge that delayed Union General David Hunter’s fiery raid through the Shenandoah Valley in June 1864.
The events will include several street skirmishes, two full-fledged battles re-enactments, an opening ceremony and a host of living history skits and activities
The re-enactors will camp along the James River where visitors will be able to see their Living History Camps and Sutlers Row. Other events are scheduled at the Town Park on Lowe Street and on Main Street throughout the weekend.
The Friday evening artillery demonstration will be followed by a street skirmish on Main Street at 8 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule opens with breakfast from 8-10 a.m. at the Historic Wilson Warehouse/Community House. The Buchanan Town Improvement Society (TIS) will be serving breakfast for $5 for re-enactors and the public. The TIS will also serve breakfast Sunday. All proceeds go toward ongoing maintenance of this historic Civil War era structure.
There’s an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Buchanan Bicentennial Gazebo on the Town Park on Lowe Street.
The Botetourt County Historical Society (BCHS) is holding a book signing with author Edwin McCoy from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Wilson Warehouse/Community House. The BCHS is hosting the book signing for “Botetourt County & the War Between the States – Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War,” the collection of articles McCoy wrote about Botetourt’s involvement in the war for The Fincastle Herald between 2011 and 2015.
That will be followed by a series of activities that includes the free movie “Fields of Lost Shoes” at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Buchanan Theatre and a bonfire Saturday night at 9 p.m. at the Town Park.
Re-enactments of the Battle of Buchanan are scheduled at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Town Park. Admission to those is by donation.
For more information, contact the Buchanan Town Hall at 254-1212 or visit the Town of Buchanan website at www.townofbuchanan.com.
Youth Historical Scavenger Hunt
As part of Buchanan’s Civil War History Weekend, youth up to 15 years of age are invited to participate in a Historical Scavenger Hunt.
Youth will be able to answer questions about Buchanan and Civil War camp life and enter for the opportunity to win prizes that include canoe/kayaking/or a tubing day trip for four people and a picnic lunch courtesy of Twin River Outfitters and Hilltop Market; movie passes for four and pizza and ice cream, courtesy of Buchanan Theatre and Swinging Bridge Cafe; movie passes, T-shirts and more,
Entry forms are available at Purgatory Emporium, Gallery by the James, Twin River Outfitters, and the Buchanan Library during merchant’s hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They can also be downloaded from www.townofbuchanan.com.
Entries close at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Buchanan Civil War History Weekend Schedule
April 28, 29 & 30
Friday, April 28
10 a.m.-5 p.m.– Explore living history displays set up on the Buchanan Town Park located at 485 Lowe Street. Re-enactors will be arriving all day. Sneak a peek behind the scenes as re-enactors set up camp along the banks of the James River. Explore living history camps with displays of period tents and shelter methods plus other presentations by the Botetourt Artillery.
12 p.m. & 6 p.m.– Artillery demonstration on the Buchanan Town Park located at 485 Lowe Street
8 p.m.– Main Street Skirmish– Word spreads throughout the Town of General Hunter’s fiery raid on the city of Lexington and the burning of VMI. Scouts arrive in town crossing the James River to be held back by General McCausland’s troops. Witness the chaos as cavalry arrives on Main Street where fighting breaks out near the Buchanan Theatre in the heart of the business community.
Saturday, April 29
In addition to Civil War activities, explore Community Market Booths set up on sidewalks along Main Street. Check out Merchant Sidewalk Sales.
8-10 a.m.– “Breakfast at the Historic Wilson Warehouse/Community House” – Re-enactors and the public are invited to enjoy a hearty breakfast served in the same building that was used for shipping and receiving of goods during the Civil War at 421 Lowe Street. Cost of the breakfast is $5 with all proceeds going toward ongoing maintenance of this historic Civil War-era structure.
8 a.m.-5 p.m.– Camps Open – Enjoy a full day of family activities. Civil War Era Camps will open in the morning and remain open throughout the day. Special displays and re-enactments highlight the life and times of the Civil War era. Enjoy guest speakers, period music and costumed re-enactors. Watch the chaos reenacted on Main Street throughout the day as word of eminent arrival of Hunter’s troops, explore Sutlers Row on the Town Park where vendors set up to sell period wares and the Community Market on Main Street.
10 a.m.– Opening Ceremony – As church bells ring, re-enactors and guests will be welcomed to Buchanan’s Civil War History Weekend. The ceremony will be held at the Buchanan Bicentennial Gazebo on the Town Park on Lowe Street.
10:45 a.m.– Off to War – Main Street
10 a.m.-2 p.m.— Meet Edwin McCoy, author of “Botetourt County & The War Between The States” during an open house in the historic Wilson Warehouse. McCoy will be available to discuss the book, sign copies and will do a brief program at 11 a.m. and 12 noon.
11 a.m.– “Victorian Fashion Show at UDC Pavilion” – During the Civil War, women were expected to continue dressing in the same fashion as before the war despite having limited to no income. Learn how to stretch your dollars and have a period correct outfit for your activities. Held in the UDC Pavilion on the Town Park with guest speaker Debbie Sifford.
11 a.m.– “Main Street Skirmish” – Word spreads throughout the Town of General Hunter’s fiery raid on the city of Lexington and the burning of VMI. General McCausland and his troops fight to prevent Hunter’s troops from advancing by filling the covered bridge with straw and lamp oil, setting the bridge on fire, delaying the troops. Others escape to blast the hillside leading to Liberty, further delaying Hunter’s troops. Witness the chaos as citizens struggle to save their homes and stores.
11:30 a.m. – Food Robbery on Main Street
12 p.m.– Explosive Situation on Main Street
12:30 p.m.– Billy Yank and Johnny Reb on Main Street
1 p.m.– Coffin Skit on Main Street
1:30 p.m.– “Main Street Chaos” – Word spreads throughout the town of General Hunter’s fiery raid on the city of Lexington and the burning of VMI. General McCausland and his troops fight to prevent Hunter’s troops from advancing by filling the covered bridge with straw and lamp oil, setting the bridge on fire, delaying the troops. Others escape to blast the hillside leading to Liberty, further delaying Hunter’s troops. Witness the chaos as citizens struggle to save their homes and stores.
3 p.m.– Battle of Buchanan– See the flash, smell the smoke and witness Confederate General McCausland and his troops fighting to delay Union General Hunter’s fiery Raid. As troops ford the river, McCausland’s troops hold their ground as the Buchanan Turnpike Bridge burns, destroying 30 homes and businesses. Troops blast the mountainside blocking passage along the ridge road leading from Buchanan to Liberty. Admission by donation.
4 p.m.– Free showing of movie “Field of Lost Shoes” in Buchanan Theatre on Main Street.
8 p.m.– Camp Dance – Enjoy taking part in or just watching as musicians play period music and everyone gathers for a dance in the Picnic Pavilion on the Buchanan Town Park on Lowe Street. Enjoy the performance of Civil War era tunes performed by local musicians, the Olin Bare Band. Light refreshments will be available. Come in period costume or just as you are. There will be a mix of called dances and uncalled dances. Free admission, everyone invited to participate or just enjoy watching activities.
9 p.m.– Camp Bonfire on Town Park
Sunday, April 30
8-10 a.m.– “Breakfast at the Historic Wilson Warehouse/Community House” – Re-enactors and the public are invited to enjoy a hearty breakfast served in the same building that was used for shipping and receiving of goods during the Civil War at 421 Lowe Street. Cost is $5 with all proceeds going toward ongoing maintenance of this historic Civil War-era structure.
9 a.m.– Camp Church Services– Public invited! Experience a period church service where a chaplain portrays a 19th century back-country circuit rider. Service will be held at the UDC Pavilion on the Town Park. Experience a glimpse of the role of religion in the Civil War while witnessing a firsthand re-enactment of troop services.
1:30 p.m.– Battle of Buchanan. See the flash, smell the smoke and feel cannons roar as reenact the June 13, 1864 Battle of Buchanan. Union troops gathered on the north bank of the James River in Pattonsburg while Confederate troops delayed Hunter’s arrival with the firing of the covered bridge and battle response from Oak Hill. Battle to take place on the Buchanan Town Park. Admission is by donation.