Civil War re-enactors to invade Ararat, Va., soon

Tom Joyce Staff Reporter

September 26, 2013

ARARAT, Va. — Normally, rural Ararat, Va., is a quiet place, but that won’t be true on Oct. 5-6 when invading Civil War soldiers awaken the countryside with the sounds of battle.

Actually, they will be re-enactment troops recreating encounters between the North and South as the featured attraction of the 23rd-annual J.E.B. Stuart Civil War Encampment and Living History Weekend.

Appropriately, the gathering is held at the birthplace of Stuart, the Confederate Cavalry general, on the grounds at Laurel Hill, just across the state line on N.C. 104 from Mount Airy.

Between 300 and 400 re-enactors from units based in various states typically attend the event, according to Tom Bishop, who serves on the board of directors of the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust. Horses, cannons and other artillery pieces will add to its authenticity.

The weekend encampment usually draws between 1,500 and 2,000 spectators if the weather cooperates, Bishop said. “We had a weather issue on Sunday” last year, he said, which dampened overall attendance.

In addition to the battle recreations, the event is designed to educate the public about the overall history of the Civil War period. That includes how soldiers lived, as illustrated by the encampment.

Also planned are an 1800s fashion show, string music from the period, a candlelight tour, a Saturday night dance, Black Rose memorial services, food and other vendors, a Sunday morning church service and more. Those attending also will have the chance to meet Civil War “generals.”

Such living history gatherings have special significance due to the observance of the 150th anniversary now being under way for the war that raged from 1861-65.

Admission to the J.E.B. Stuart Civil War Encampment and Living History Weekend will cost $8 per person, but is free for children 12 and under. Parking also is free.

The event is sponsored by the birthplace organization, with all proceeds to go toward the preservation of the site.

Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or