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The members of the 1st Virginia Infantry / 2nd Virginia Infantry were blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We were invited to participate in the 150th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battle of Manassas to portray the 2nd Virginia Infantry of the famed Stonewall Brigade. We had the honour of being asked to step up and portray the 33rd Virginia Infantry on Sunday as well. We were proud to represent these two heroic regiments which justly earned a place in the annals of American History and were proud to do so while serving with a superb organization, The Army of Northern Virginia.

We are no strangers to the 2nd Virginia Infantry. Along with the 1st Virginia Infantry it is one of our regular portrayals. We have portrayed the 2nd Virginia Infantry at the 145th of Manassas, The Battle of Winchester and on other occasions as well. We were proud to portray the gallant 2nd Virginia Infantry again at the 150th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battle of 1st Manassas and were also truly honoured to portray the heroic 33rd Virginia Infantry in their climactic charge and capture of Griffin's Battery. To charge and take these guns, re-form our line of battle and have a panoramic view of half the Union Army arrayed and moving forward against our lone regiment was an awesome and thrilling spectacle! The Old Dominion called. Defenders were needed. Our General's orders had been received. It was for us to obey.

The 150th Reenactment of Manassas took place July 19th - 24th, 2011 at Pageland Farm in Prince William County, Virginia on hallowed ground adjacent to the preserved section of the historic battlefield. The Manassas Sesquicentennial was an occasion for us to honour the memory of the brave 2nd Virginia and 33rd Virginia of the Stonewall Brigade. To do so we turned out in force, with about 100 of our members participating; well trained, looking good and with the attitude of respect and service which are at the heart of our mission.

Our representation was truly national with members participating from Arizona, Utah, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and New York.

All of our people - and any who are aware of our regiment - know that we are unusual in several ways.

1) Though encompassing a wide age range we include a large number of young men in our ranks. Thus, the median age of our soldiers is historically accurate - under 25.

2) Our specialty is "first-person" reenacting. We enjoy being "in character" when interacting with the public and indeed throughout an event.

3) We keep our mission front and center - Maintaining a heart of respect and service as we educate ourselves, serve and educate the public, honour those who have gone before us, and do all in an environment that is inspirational, uplifting, family friendly and in pursuit of positive Christian character development and the ideals of ladies and gentlemen.

Sound the drum. Fall in! Preparation, planning and training for the next Sesquicentennial event have already begun!

For further information see our website or contact us here. Photos and art may be viewed below.

YHS

Col. Scott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The People of the Shenandoah Valley

Pvt. L.T. Pierce, a native of Virginia, was living on a family farm near Berlin, Maryland in the Spring of 1861. Though not quite 16 years of age he crossed over the Potomac and enlisted in the 2nd Virginia Infantry, seeing action at Manassas in July of '61 and on many other fields in the years to come. Several extant letters shed light on the life of a teenager caught up in the titanic struggle we call the Civil War.

 

The 2nd Virginia Infantry was raised in the lower (northern) region of the Shenandoah Valley with its soldiers coming from towns such as Winchester, Martinsburg, Charles Town and Berryville and farms scattered across Frederick, Jefferson, Clarke and Berkeley Counties. The 2nd Virginia Infantry had a nickname "The Innocents" in reference to the devout Christianity of many of its soldiers. The men of the 33rd Virginia Infantry came mostly from the middle section of the Valley such as Page, Shenandoah, Hardy, Hampshire and Rockingham Counties plus one Company from Frederick County in the lower Valley.

For our ladies and gentlemen who are developing historic personas some historic background on the people who populated the Shenandoah Valley will likely be helpful.

While Virginia as a whole was dominated by English settlers throughout the Colonial period, those who populated the Shenandoah Valley were more diverse and thus created a different cultural, economic and religious mix than the rest of Virginia. Yet when it came to the events of 1861 the residents of the Shenandoah Valley stood very strongly with Virginia as a whole. The Shenandoah Valley of 1861 stands in defiance of numerous modern stereotypes and assumptions. The "Plantation Society" of the Deep South or even of Tidewater Virginia simply didn't apply here. There were few large estates, few archetypal "plantations" and few slaves. While the Shenandoah Valley was indeed thriving and very prosperous in 1861, the farms were mostly of moderate size and often worked entirely by family members. The towns were bustling but were indeed towns, not cities; nevertheless commerce, trade, medicine, law, education, culture and religion were all thriving. The Shenandoah Valley was very much what one might call a pastoral scene, a landscape dotted with thousands of farms, numerous busy towns, good roads, excellent colleges and full churches. In modern terms one might compare the Shenandoah Valley to a thriving middle class suburb full of active, hopeful families, locally owned businesses and conservative values. It would not seem to fit the stereotype of an area ripe for secession. And like most Virginians the people of the Shenandoah Valley initially opposed secession. But as federal coercion grew and all other options proved fruitless the people of the Valley finally did support secession as the last possible resort - and overwhelmingly so, in some counties by unanimous vote! The people of the Shenandoah Valley were among the most ardent patriots and defenders of Virginia and The South. The fighting abilities of the Shenandoah Valley regiments which together formed the Stonewall Brigade would indeed become legendary in the annals of war. (For more on Virginia's reluctant path to secession in 1861 see this page.)

The People

Three ethnic groups made up the vast majority of settlers to the Shenandoah Valley and indeed account for most of the residents of the area to this very day.

The English crossed the rivers and mountains as they gradually made their way west across Virginia. Settling up and down the Shenandoah Valley they were often the archetypal frontiersmen, farming lonely 18th century clearings with rifles loaded in case of attack from the Indians or French. These English were mostly the descendants of earlier immigrants who had settled in the Tidewater or Piedmont areas of Virginia. Restless people, they moved west with each new generation looking for new land. Those who sunk their roots in the Shenandoah Valley and lived to old age saw children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren populate a prosperous and civilized region that they had once known as wilderness.

The Scots also populated the Valley in large numbers during the 18th century. Highland Scots, Lowland Scots and especially the so-called "Scots-Irish" (a nickname they disdained) were all among them. The most numerous group was the Scots-Irish, ethnic Scots who lived in northern Ireland. They had warred for generations with their Irish neighbors to the South. Very tough and very independent they also made excellent frontiersmen, transferring their tenaciousness, resolve and fighting abilities from the borderlands of Northern Ireland to the borderlands of the American Frontier. Scottish society was centered both on the individual family as well as on the extended family or "clan". They had a reputation for being intensely loyal as friends but dogged and determined as enemies.

The Germans were the third large group to populate the Shenandoah Valley. The first Germans arrived in Virginia early in the history of Jamestown but it was not until the early to middle decades of the 18th century that they began to arrive in Virginia in large numbers with most of these settling in the Shenandoah Valley. These Germans were mostly outright religious refugees (Baptist, Lutheran, Reformed) or persons who had lived with the concern of imminent religious persecution and ensuing economic pressure. From the very beginning the Germans won their place in America - and in the Shenandoah Valley - by obtaining a reputation for hard work, industriousness, cleanliness and piety.  One of the many interesting facts about the Germans is that few of them - wherever they settled in America - ever engaged in slavery. Slavery simply didn't fit with their religious and cultural ideals. These Germans were committed to liberty. In the War for Independence they had fought for American Liberty under leaders such as General Peter Muehlenberg (of German Heritage), General Daniel Morgan (of Scots-Irish Heritage) and of course General George Washington (of English Heritage). They would fight again under General Stonewall Jackson and General Robert E. Lee for the Liberty of Virginia.

Their Beliefs

The religious backgrounds of most people in the Shenandoah Valley in 1861 (and to a large extent to this day) greatly reflected the three streams of people who populated the region. Thus the Protestant Episcopal Church (Episcopalians), Presbyterians and Baptists represented the three largest groupings of belief in the Valley - though not in that order.

The Church of England was the official state-supported church of Virginia from the earliest settlement in 1607 until the American Revolution changed everything. The Church of England became the "Protestant Episcopal Church" and was "dis-established" that is to say the church was no longer supported by tax money, preferential laws or mandatory attendance statutes. As a result of this and the religious liberty statutes adopted by Virginia, the Episcopal Church suddenly found itself competing on equal ground with numerous denominations. The result was a sudden and steep decline which took decades to reverse. Nevertheless, by 1861 the Episcopal Church was strong, healthy and renewed. It well reflected the "low church Anglicanism" favoured by Anglo-Virginians and had a distinct evangelical bent. Robert E. Lee was a serious, sober and devout Episcopalian who very much reflected the ideal of his denomination.

The Presbyterian churches were mostly populated by the descendants of Scottish settlers. Calvinistic with a strong belief in God's sovereignty they were divided between "Old Lights" who favoured a more rigid approach to church and religious education and "New Lights" who were evangelical, more open to "revivals" and new methodology and who (like most Baptists) saw "spreading The Gospel" as a Biblical mandate. Stonewall Jackson was a Presbyterian who enjoyed the company and conversation of serious Christians of any denomination.

The Baptists were not only the largest but the most diverse of the Christian groups in the Shenandoah Valley. In Colonial times Baptists had sometimes been repressed but with the religious freedom that sprung from the American Revolution and the revivals and awakenings of late 18th and early 19th centuries the Baptists quickly grew from a tiny minority to the largest religious group in Virginia, a place they have never relinquished. During this period of growth many German and English Baptists found and made common cause. Great numbers of converts came both from the "un-churched" and from nominal members of other denominations with the result that Baptist congregations often reflected the entire range of the population rather than one dominant ethnicity. But there were exceptions. German "Dunkers" (a particular type of German Baptist) maintained their own identity as did the Mennonites. The Mennonites (not to be confused with the Amish of Pennsylvania) lived very structured lives with mandates including that of pacifism. Despite the tenet of pacifism many Mennonites would serve in defense of their homes during the War Between the States, some voluntarily and others as a result of social pressure, legal coercion (the draft of 1862) or the cruel reality of experiencing first-hand what yankee armies would inflict upon their farms and families.

German Lutherans were also a strong force in the Shenandoah Valley where they had operated a printing press in New Market publishing newspapers, Bibles and church related materials. Like other Germans, the Lutherans of the Valley had supported Virginia through the American Revolution and would step up again to defend their homes from invasion during the War Between The States.

YHS

Col. Scott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos & Art of our Portrayals of the 2nd Virginia Infantry & 33rd Virginia Infantry at the Manassas Sesquicentennial

 

 

 

All Images and Content Copyright 2011 We Make History