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
The Old Dominion called. Defenders were needed. Our General's orders had
been received. It was for us to obey.
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
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
Sound the drum. Fall
in! Preparation, planning and training for the next Sesquicentennial event
have already begun!
information see our website or
here. Photos and art may be viewed below.
The People of the
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.
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.)
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.
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
E. Lee for the Liberty of Virginia.
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.
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
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,
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