Friday, March 5, 2010
Faux “Fredericksburg” Battle – July 1979, held at Spotsy Courthouse
Rounding off what was designed to be the largest 4th of July celebration held in the region; The Fredericksburg Heritage Festival of July 4-8, 1979 staged a re-enactment of the Battle of Fredericksburg in the field behind the American Legion Building at Spotsylvania Courthouse. Initially planned to present “several hundred” east coast re-enactors the numbers were diminished due to the gas shortage that gripped the country that year. “Union” participants from Ohio and Pennsylvania opted not to attend when the prospects of not finding enough gasoline for the return trip stood as a distinct possibility. Thus the “Confederates” would enjoy a 3-1 advantage of numbers as the opposing forces had dwindled considerably before the first shot was fired. Some of the southern troops kicked in to wear a blue coat and help even out the sides.
The Sunday, July 8 “battle” was oddly planned to depict the December 13, 1862 breakthrough by Union forces commanded by General Meade during the Battle of Fredericksburg. How portraying a moment in the actions of May 1864 was not considered more appropriate is anyone’s guess, especially since the very ground the event was being held on had contained a section of the Confederate right wing during the two weeks of fighting at Spotsylvania.
The pictures included with this post were taken by my good friend James Anderson from the spectator line during the “conflagration”. Local newspapers covered the event to great fanfare, undoubtedly inspiring some of those reading about it to get involved in the “hobby” of re-enacting. In 1986, the 125th anniversary of the Civil War began and saw an influx of participants far greater than had been realized even during the Centennial observances from 1961-1965. Currently, there has developed a decline in both participant numbers and quality at reenactment events. Hopefully the Sesquicentennial observances, 2011-2015, will see a rejuvenation that will properly and respectfully honor those who fought and died during the tragic years of 1861-1865. We shall see.