JONESVILLE — More than 450 re-enactors and 10 infantry pieces, a full drum corps and a bugle player are expected to take part in battle re-enactments this weekend during the 17th annual Jonesville Civil War Days sponsored by Company E, 37th Virginia Volunteer Infantry and the Southern Guard Battalion.
Jerry Parsons, brigadier general of the Southern Guards, said to keep the event fresh, his men have added several new attractions and changed the battle scenario this year.
New additions this year include a period blacksmith, more sutlers than ever, the drum corps and two period photographers. Also in the lineup will be a leather worker who not only tans his own raw material, but also churns out leather goods ranging from belts and holsters to saddles and other equestrian accoutrements.
Alan Hayes, commander of a 12-pound mountain howitzer, said his weapon is a new addition to the 37th this year, and its addition is likely to add some excitement to the battle.
“The 12-pounder is a very lightweight gun that was widely used in such areas as this mountainous terrain because of its easy mobility,” he said. “Soldiers had a hard time moving the bigger guns, especially in the mountains, but five people can move this gun about anywhere. On good ground, a man can about move it by himself.”
Hayes added that the 12-pounder does not actually weigh 12 pounds — it shoots a 12-pound projectile.
Parsons said during this year’s battle most of the artillery will be located on the Union side of the battlefield, atop a hill surrounded by breastworks. The Rebels will attempt to scale the hill in the face of the artillery and small arms fire coming from men dug in behind the breastworks.
“We’ve changed the battle scenario so that the local people who come out year after year don’t see the same battle every time,” he explained.
In addition to the battle re-enactments, Parsons said his troops have planned a variety of activities so visitors can spend two full days on a trip back in time.
The troops will post colors and muster for inspection today at 9 a.m., after which a promotion ceremony will be held for three new battalion commanders.
At 10 a.m., troops from both sides will march to Jonesville for a Confederate memorial service at the town cemetery. Troops will assemble at 2 p.m. to prepare for the 2:30 p.m. battle. Troops from both sides will pass in review at 3:30 p.m., at which time the Southern Guards will honor Ronnie and Sandy Montgomery for their support of the re-enactors over the years.
Since its inception, the event has been held on the Montgomerys’ farm, which was part of the actual battlefield for the Battle of Jonesville.
Jonesville Mayor Beryle Greer will also be recognized for the town’s support of the annual event.
Parsons said soldiers will be participating in a Civil War Olympics beginning at 6:30 p.m. At 8 p.m., musically inclined re-enactors will perform free for each other and the public around a bonfire, and a special night firing of artillery will begin at 11 p.m. to end the day.
Sunday’s schedule includes period church services at 9:30 a.m. with Brigade Chaplain Fred Ufford serving as pastor and 10-year-old Zachariah Wiles serving as assistant pastor. A Union memorial service will be held beginning at 11 a.m. Troops will muster for battle on Sunday at 2 p.m. and pass in review at 3 p.m.
The ever-popular Meet the Generals program will be offered again this year at noon both today and Sunday. During this program, re-enactors portraying various generals will speak in the persona of that general. Speakers include Generals Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, John C. Breckenridge, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, James Longstreet and Ambrose Burnside.
Michael C. Hardy, historian and author of five books on the Civil War, will be on hand Sunday until camps close at 4 p.m.
Admission to the event is $1 each day. The battlefield is located just off Harlan Road in Jonesville. Harlan Road is off Route 58, adjacent to the town cemetery. Signs mark the way. Ample free parking is available at the battlefield.