Civil War Reenactors to Set Up Camp at Arlington Church

by ARLnow.com July 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm 5,698 15 Comments

This Sunday (July 15) the Mount Olivet United Methodist Church at 1500 N. Glebe Road will be transformed into a Civil War encampment, in honor of the church’s role as a field hospital during the war.

Reenactors from 49th Virginia Infantry Regiment organization will be on hand for a Civil War living history event that will feature displays of medical tools and practices from the Civil War era, along with a wreath-laying, talks by actor portraying notable historic figures and opportunities to discuss “the boredom, hardship and daily activities of camp life” with the reenactors.

The event, sponsored by the Arlington Historical Society and the Arlington Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, is free and open to the public. It will run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In an email, organizers described some of the history behind the event:

On July 15th, 2012, Mount Olivet UMC along with the Arlington Sesquicentennial Committee and Arlington Historical Society will host a Civil War Living History and medical display to honor the church’s use as a field hospital following the First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas. As Union troops fled back to Washington, DC in disarray after their rout on the battlefield, Mount Olivet was commandeered to treat the wounded.

Re-enactors from the 49th Virginia Regiment will set up an encampment on the Mount Olivet Green at the corner of Glebe Road and 16th Street. Visitors will meet and converse with soldiers about life in the camp, hardships they face, burdens, daily activities, drills, combat and boredom. Guitar and banjo music will help to carry the visitor back to an earlier day.

Inside the church, visitors can explore the state of Civil War medicine at a detailed display of medical tools and practices assembled from a member of the 49th Virginia’s extensive collection. Guests will gain an understanding of the primitive treatments and appalling conditions the sick and wounded experienced at the time.

The theme of the event is Mount Olivet: A Place of Comfort at a Time of Suffering. “The First Battle of Bull Run was a significant early battle in a conflict that would usher in the horrors and suffering of modern warfare,” says Dr. Bill Carpenter, Archivist and Chair of the Mount Olivet History Team. “The vast numbers of battlefield dead and wounded were unprecedented; the war would transform how Americans thought about death and suffering.”

In July of 1861, pews were broken apart and used as operating tables. Ultimately during the fall, the church was consumed by the surrounding Union encampments’ need for firewood and flooring in tents.

“Although Mount Olivet could no longer serve as a church for a time,” says Dr. Carpenter, “it is important for our community to remember its use to bring comfort and healing to wounded soldiers.”

Other special events during the morning will include:

  • Commemorative Sermon. “A Christian Response to Suffering” by Rev. Tim Craig. 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM
  • Living History Program. Wounded soldiers carried across 16th St. on stretchers into the church for treatment. 10:30 – 11:00 AM
  • Remembrance of Civil War Dead. Laying of wreath on new monument honoring Civil War dead buried in our cemetery.
  • “Sleeping Sentinel of Chain Bridge.” Living history presentation, George Dodge. On the stage throughout the day.
  • “Lydia Bixby.” Anne Sedula portrays the grieving mother who lost 5 sons during the Civil War. Throughout the day.
  • Georgia Meadows in authentic Civil War era widow’s mourning garb available through out the day to discuss 19th century mourning traditions.

  • FrenchyB

    Very cool idea. Since the church was commandeered by Union troops, wouldn’t it be more accurate to have Union reenactors?

    • drax

      Was thinking that too.

  • Westover

    “Lydia Bixby.” Anne Sedula portrays the grieving mother who lost 5 sons during the Civil War. Throughout the day.

    Yeesh, I can do without those theatrics.

  • novasteve

    Will they have reenactments of Lincoln sending in federal troops to prevent a vote in the House of Delegates like he did in MD? Nothing like violating the constitution.

    • Ronan

      Nothing like committing treason just because you think your ability to own other human beings as property is in jeopardy!

    • drax

      A Constitution that embraces slavery deserves to be violated.

  • Arlington cat

    World War II reenactors at Sully Road near Dulles this weekend as well. The will be displays and a reenactment.

  • chris

    I will spend the weekend looking forward, rather than embracing the past…..

    • Elmer

      Guess you were never taught that: “Those who don’t learn from the past are…”.
      Your assignment? Go look it up!

  • Cyrus

    “Civil War Reenactors to Set Up Camp at Arlington Church”

    Nerd Alert!

    • NAI


  • Ronan

    A few re-enactors should get shot, have their leg amputated by with dirty tools after waiting for a day, and then slowly die of gangrene. Now that would gives us a good idea of the real thing!

    • Rice Queen

      I nominate KKKev, he’s the military “expert”

  • Mc

    It might be more fun to re-enact the tearing up of the pews. Somehow talking to the re-enactors about their ‘boredom’ doesn’t sound like much fun at all.

    • i no rite?

      it’s like all those dudes on CL m4m and MH who are all “sup, i’m bored, i’ll post on here and see if you can entertain me for 5 min”


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