Civil War Reenactment - The Battle at Liberty
Bedford, Virginia - July 23, 2005
100 photos by Wes Mayhle of AZITWES
Battle at Liberty
Bedford (previously named Liberty), Virginia was a key part of Hunters Raid. In June of 1865 Gen. U.S. Grant ordered Gen. David Hunter and his Union Army of West Virginia to proceed to Lynchburg, Virginia with the goal of capturing this important C.S.A. supply and transportation center and hasten the end of the war. Hunters Raid began in Lexington with the destruction of VMI and Washington University, proceeded through Natural Bridge to Buchanan, through the Peaks of Otter, to Bedford (called Liberty then), to New London, with skirmishing along the way. The raid culminated in a battle at Lynchburg on June 17 and 18, where the Union forces were defeated by C.S.A. Gen. Jubal Early in command of Lees' 2nd Corps. Following the Union defeat, the Confederate forces pursued Union forces back through Bedford (Liberty), then to Salem where they fought again, at the Battle of Hanging Rock.
I planned to attend the reenactment on Saturday the 23rd. It was a 12 hour straight though drive. As I passed through rural countryside on a small road on the south side of N. Carolina I noticed tobacco fields for miles and miles. I had never before seen a single crop planted for such a long stretch. At the event I was surprised to learn that all the Union reenactors were "galvanized" (switched sides to make it more even), but soon I realized where I was. In Virginia Civil War passions still run hot. Even though I had traveled 750 miles north of my home, it felt more “Southern” than my Florida home.
All the reenactors were very gracious and kind, probably wondering to themselves "what kind of fool travels so far to photograph us". The various camps were spread out over many sites. The battleground used by the reenactors is part of the National Elks Home property. A couple of gentle hills creating a valley, made for a beautiful battle site. The battle was over before I knew it. Because of the oppressive heat, most of the reenactors quickly got off the field seeking shade and water. My thanks go out to all the reenactors who suffer the elements for our pleasure.
I was very fortunate to be close at hand when Gen Robert E. Lee (portrayed by Al Stone) and Matthew Brady (portrayed by Wayne Ritchie) were preparing to take some photos in the very bedroom of the Avenel House where Gen. Lee had slept while visiting friends after the war. My photos of this are on page 1. There were many other Generals being portrayed at this event. I spotted Gen. Longstreet, Gen. Pickett (Jim Choate), Gen. Jubal Early (Mike Mehaffey), and others. Also on page 1 you will see the only refreshment stand that this reenactment offered. It was run by the Delledera children and mom. Page 2 and 3 show the battle and a 6 horse hitch dragging a cannon about. Page 4 is mostly "camp life" and page 5 shows the evening ball inside the Elks Home and a period wedding where Gen. Lee gives away the bride.
Go to our US Civil War page to learn more about the war.