The Town of Gilbert has collaborated with the Larry Joe Harless Community Center, Gilbert Development Company, the 22nd Virginia Infantry and Hale’s Battery of Artillery (re-enactment groups) to provide the Second Annual Civil War Re-enactment “Skirmish on the River”. The event will take place beginning Friday, April 29th. On Friday, the day is planned for the 150 expected re-enactors to set up their camp and provide teaching stations of what the grounds were really like during the Civil War. These stations include a Cooking tent, where you will learn how they prepared their meals over open fires and an Infantry Drill. The Artillery Run station will feature both an Authentic Civil War Musket and Pistol. The pistol is a STAR Revolver that was built in New York circa 1860 and purchased by the Union Army. A Field Packing Tent will also be demonstrated so that we can see how the soldiers packed all their necessities for travel during these turbulent times. Finally, a Re-enactor of General Lee, Al Stone, will regale the stories of the Civil War.
Al Stone, who portrays General Lee was born in rural upstate New York, a few miles north of the Pennsylvania state line. He had two Great-Great Grandfathers who served as volunteers in the War Between the States and was raised by a father who was an avid American history buff, seldom passing up the opportunity to visit historic sites. By the age of 15 years, Al had trekked the rocks and fields of Gettysburg on numerous occasions while on trips to Maryland and Washington, DC.
In 1965, at the age of 21, Al accepted employment which necessitated a relocation to Lynchburg Virginia, where he continued to explore his developing interests in the conflict which so divided our (then) young nation. While his employment allowed him to visit and spend many hours at meaningful sites probably the most profound event on Al’s life while in Lynchburg, was his meeting with a lady who was 112 years young at the time. As a youngster, Mrs. Royal and her family were slaves on a nearby plantation and her vivid accounts of life during the mid 1800’s mesmerized many a listener. It was during his residence in the Old Dominion State that Al became aware of the impact that Robert E. Lee had, not only on Virginia, but on the "Union", both before and after the war.
Re-enactors include those from Hale’s Battery of Artillery and 22nd Virginia Infantry. These groups have over 20 years of experience in re-enacting and perform in more than 5 events annually throughout the state.
“I am pleased that we are bringing a piece of history to Gilbert,” Says Reuben Mitchell. “Earlier, the New York Times reported that the casualties of Civil War have been revised. By combing through newly digitized census data from the 19th century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York, has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent — to 750,000-- by far the greatest toll of any war in American history.”
The Town of Gilbert Mayor Vivian Livingood is also excited to bring this event to the area. “It is important for each of us to not only remember our heritage but to honor those that have fought to make our state and nation what it is today. I hope that everyone will attend this event and learn about the history of this time period in Mingo County.”
Cheryl Mitchem, Executive Director of LJHCC, wrote a grant and was awarded funding by the WV Cultural Center. Delegate Harry Keith White also made a contribution toward funding and hopes this will continue to be an annual event. The Mingo County Commission awarded $2,500. toward this worthy cause.
The battles will take place in the field above the Community Center at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30th and 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1st. Special period music will be presented on Saturday at 7 p.m. and a dance as well as a Ladies Tea at noon. The firing of the cannon is scheduled at 9:30 p.m. The event is free to the public.