Thank you for registering for the 145th anniversary event of the Battle of Bristoe Station.
This letter contains information that will hopefully get everyone on the same page as far as what will be offered and what will be expected to fully enjoy this event.
Consider this a hybrid event in that it offers campaign elements to include a march and battle reenactment. Its also is a living history event as it contains demonstrations and programs for the public to include a Saturday evening torch light tour and demos on Sunday. There should be something for everyone in this event.
Our portrayal is the 27th North Carolina Troops of Brig. General John R. Cooke’s unattached brigade. The 27th paid dearly for the mismanaged attack, suffering 290 casualties of 416 men engaged. An interesting component of this event is portraying the effect casualties had on regiments as they had to re-form and carry out responsibilities. One can only imagine how the loss of company officers, noncoms, and privates impacted the regiment’s ability to function effectively. At Bristoe Station we will attempt to experience this often-neglected aspect. The 27th NC Troops roster was reviewed to determine the strength of each company at the time of the Battle of Bristoe Station. Of course published soldier military histories are often sketchy and making these determinations is not an exact science. However, we have a pretty good idea as to the number of men present in each company for the battle and the number of casualties sustained. We also have a pretty accurate description as to the breakdown in terms of killed, wounded, captured, and wounded and captured in each company.
Depending on the number of folks who ultimately register for this event, we will field a battalion of 2 – 3 companies. We will try to make each company equal the size of the company that will be portrayed but individual unit requests will be honored. More importantly though, is that we accurately portray the same casualty ratio of each company.
So far, it looks like the battalion will consist of two companies. As of now registered participants hail from the North State Rifles, the Independent Volunteer Rifles, the Princess Anne Greys, 10th Virginia, the Liberty Rifles, the Stonewall Brigade, POC’R Boys/Columbia Rifles, and Rowdy Pards. We wish to insure that individual units who have a history of working well with each other are paired accordingly to insure effective and cohesive commands. This is being worked out now by respective unit reps.
Each participant will be assigned an original soldier’s identity for this event. Assignments will be posted on the website and sent out by email. Since this information will be out weeks prior to the event, it is hoped that participants will use these names when speaking with comrades and company officers. Also, these names should be used when conducting roll calls, etc. Known data for each soldier leading up to the Battle of Bristoe Station will be available. Information as to what happened to the officer/soldier during the battle will be given out during the march. Adhering to and portraying your fate during the battle is a great way to pay tribute to those honored soldiers who came before us. In addition, these portrayals will directly impact the activities that follow the battle recreation. Please do your part to ensure these needs are met.
After you complete registration/check-in at the brick house on the Bristoe Station battlefield, you will receive directions to the Friday night campsite. On your way there you will pass the village of Greenwich. A.P. Hill’s corps came through here on the morning of October 14, 1863 on the way to Bristoe Station. Take a look at the interpretive signs there before proceeding to camp.
Mr. Ralph Mauller is the owner of the 100 acre farm where we will be camping Friday night. A World War II veteran, Mr. Mauller observed the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima. Mr. Mauller has been most gracious in opening up his farm to us. Please respect him and it by not walking in crops or cutting tree branches, etc. Rations will be issued on Friday night and, as much as possible; will be accurate to this campaign. Try to cook up your rations Friday night as there will not be a lot of time Saturday morning to do so.
The march will get underway early Saturday morning. Upon arrival at the battlefield that afternoon we will engage in the battle reenactment. Post battle activities, developed from the official records and first hand accounts, will follow. Activities will last into the late evening. A torch light tour for the public will also be conducted.
Several activities and public demos have been planned for Sunday. Upon the conclusion of the event very early that afternoon, CS participants will be shuttled back to the Mauller farm.
Their tortuous march took them “through woods, fields, and country roads, moving rapidly but taking long rests,” wrote one Tar Heel. “We all entered now fully into the spirit of the movement. We were convinced that Meade was unwilling to face us, and we, therefore, anticipated a pleasant affair, if we should succeed in catching him,” one Confederate happily recorded. - Botched Battle at Bristoe by Todd S. Berkoff .
The march, commemorating the movement of A.P. Hill’s corps from Greenwich to Bristoe Station, will begin early Saturday morning. This eight-mile march should not be too strenuous provided that you do some walking prior to this event. There are only a few hills, none steep. I have tried to make the route as enjoyable as possible. While the majority of the route will be on paved roads (sorry) you will spend a good portion off-road. We will traverse over several private tracts of land so please be respectful of the landowners. We plan to arrive at the battlefield at 3pm and go right into battle just like Cooke’s North Carolina brigade did 145 years ago.
All participants must go through the check-in process at the brick house at Bristoe Station battlefield. Check-in will open at 12 noon on Friday October 10 and will conclude at 12:00 midnight. For CS participants, it will re-open briefly from 6 – 7am Saturday morning. We need all participants in camp as early as possible Saturday morning. If you anticipate a problem arriving during these times, please email me. I will do my best to accommodate you. At check-in you will receive a parking pass to be displayed on the dashboard of your vehicle and directions to the Friday night campsite.
Entrance to the Mauller farm (Friday night camp) will be marked off with cones. Please enter the parking area by driving between the cones. Do not use Mr. Mauller’s driveway.
Let’s hope for sunny and dry days but, unfortunately, autumn weather in northern Virginia can be quite unpredictable. The average high temperature in October is 66 and the average low is 42. It could vary by as much as 10-15 degrees. It could rain. Plan accordingly. You decide on how much you choose to suffer from the elements. For those who wish to bring an extra blanket and/or a shelter half but do not wish to carry it on the march, you’re in luck. I have a plan with two options. First option: take your extra blanket and shelter half with you to the Friday night camp for use there and then pack this gear away in your vehicle Saturday morning prior to the march. It will not be available for your use at the battlefield Saturday night. Second option: bring these items with you to check-in. Put your name on your bundle. It will be secured in the house and available to you on Saturday night. Of course, it will not be available at the Friday night camp. If you bring a shelter half to use if the weather is inclement, you must bring poles/sticks for set up. No trees or limbs will be cut on the battlefield or at the Friday night camp.
We are in need of props for this event. If you have Federal items such as knapsacks, blankets, great coats, and haversacks – please, please, please let me know and bring them with you to check-in. Put your name on a piece of paper inside each item. These items will be returned upon the conclusion of the event on Sunday at the Friday night camp parking lot.
Uniforms and Equipment
This topic has already been covered at great length on the website but I want to mention a few key issues. Ideally, this event will find CS participants wearing a jean cloth North Carolina issued jacket and trousers. However, I cannot expect you to shell out good money for a jacket that likely will see very little use after this event. A Richmond Depot Type II in (preferably) English army cloth or jean cloth will fit the bill right nicely. Are we watering down our authenticity standards in this regard? Perhaps not. Research indicates that this period of time might be (never say never in this hobby) the only time when North Carolina troops, particularly those units assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia, were wearing Richmond Depot clothing. The research is murky and much still has to be done, but several conclusions can be drawn based on the research. The nuts and bolts of the matter is this – we know that during the summer of 1863 the blockade runner Advance arrived in port at Wilmington, NC laden with a vast amount of cargo purchased in England. On the ship were large bolts of English army cloth and assorted military equipment. What exactly happened to this large amount of blue grey kersey cloth is open to speculation. It may have been used to produce NC jackets and trousers or the Richmond Depot (and possibly others) could have procured it for uniforms. If that were the case, NC troops in Cooke’s brigade likely would have been issued uniforms in blue grey kersey and, perhaps, trousers of the bright blue English cloth. One aspect that we know for certain is that most companies within the brigade received a clothing issue at about the time the brigade joined the Army of Northern Virginia in early October, 1863.
This is a great event to break out all of the English gear you’ve accumulated to include knapsack, NC blankets, shoes, and accoutrements.
One soldier account exists in which he states that as the brigade was nearing Bristoe Station and the battle was evident, the men took off their new jackets and trousers and donned their old tattered uniforms (definitely NC and jean cloth) for the hard work ahead. This is something that would be unique to portray. Evidently, some of the soldiers had kept their old uniforms in their knapsack or bedroll. If it is not too cumbersome and you have the means, please consider wearing blue grey kersey jackets and/or trousers to the event and pack jean cloth NC jackets and trousers. Time will be available to make the switch prior to arriving at the battlefield.
I hope everyone joins me in our goal to make this event a positive experience for all. I hope you feel challenged on several levels and walk away from this event with, perhaps, an even greater appreciation of those who sacrificed so much in the cause in which they believed in.
September 4, 2008