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Battle of New Market this weekend

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

NEW MARKET — Visitors to the 153rd Battle of New Market re-enactment will see more horses and a more complete version of the conflict this weekend.

The event, to be held on Saturday and Sunday at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park, recalls the May 15, 1864 Civil War battle during which 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute assisted Confederate troops in temporarily preventing Union forces from claiming the Shenandoah Valley.

About 1,400 Union and Confederate soldiers were casualties of the battle, including 10 cadets.

Demonstrations of home front life will be held at the Bushong Farm at 10 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday. An artillery demonstration on the park grounds and a lecture on the battle in the museum start at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

In a new feature this year, the park will stage a cavalry battle at noon on Saturday. It replaces the tactical re-enactment usually held on Saturday.

Lt. Col. Troy Marshall, site director for the battlefield park, said the new battle comes courtesy of U.S. Brig. Gen. Darrell Markijohn and Confederate Maj. Gen. Terry Shelton, who are bringing 70 horses to New Market for the weekend.

“We want to utilize the extra horses we have,” Marshall said. “It will show cavalry tactics of the 19th century.”

Also debuting this year is the extension of the battle re-enactment into two days instead of one. The first part, which depicts the two days of skirmishes that occurred around the town before the battle, will start on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The second part, which portrays the actual battle, will be held on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Like the cavalry battle, the schedule change reflects the park’s goal to make the re-enactment weekend more authentic for participants and spectators, Marshall said.

“Sunday is the historical scripted action,” he said. “The tactical re-enactment is more a Civil War battle that’s unscripted. This way adds to the showmanship part of it and the authenticity part of it. We’re building a better narrative.”

About 800 interpreters and re-enactors from across the country will participate in the New Market event, according to Sarah C. Mink, director of historical interpretation for the battlefield park.

Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 9 years old and younger. Events like the New Market re-enactment put spectators in the shoes of people who fought for their country, Mink said.

“It provides a view of what they went through,” she said. “It really lets it sink in how these gentlemen would be feeling. It helps you understand the chaos and how that fear and adrenaline would have carried them through the day.”

For a full schedule of re-enactment events, visit www.vmi.edu.




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