The first event in Gloucester County’s multi-year commemoration of the Civil War will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday in and around the historic court circle.
Reenactors from throughout Tidewater will be coming to town to put on a recreation of the last muster of the Gloucester Militia, as well as perform a number of other living-history activities. Participants will play period music, explain about Civil War medicine, and hold drill and musket demonstrations. A reenactor will also portray Gen. Robert E. Lee.
"One Nation Divisible," an exhibit of memorabilia directly related to Gloucester County and the Civil War era, will be located in the Clayton Building on the Court Circle. The never-before-displayed exhibit will recount the story of Gloucester’s Home Guard of infantry, cavalry and artillery that in 1860 answered the call to mobilize and evolved into Confederate regulation troops in 1861.
Gloucester has been loaned material from two of the largest private Civil War collections on the Middle Peninsula, a release said. The names of the donors are being kept confidential for security reasons, as the grouping of items on display is valued at nearly $100,000. Security will be extremely tight at the Clayton Building, with four volunteers sleeping on the premises over the two nights in order to safeguard the collection.
Among the Gloucester items displayed will be a rare cadet training rifle and engraved belt plate of the Cappahoosic Cadets, a unit made up of local boys too young to join the regular militia and trained under Capt. James H. Waddell, an 1855 VMI graduate. A collection of excavated items will include a group of early Virginia buttons and buckles recovered where it appears the local militia left behind outdated or broken equipment dating to the War of 1812 after being issued new Confederate accoutrement.
One button of particular interest is a coat button of the Mississippi Infantry worn by a single company from Jackson, Miss., sent by General Lee in 1861 to bring the local regiment to full strength, as troops from Mathews and King and Queen counties were slow in reporting to Gloucester Point. Another important button from the 1840s has on its face a raised beehive, the symbol of Gloucester County, which may be from a militia uniform.
Armaments will include an 1808 flintlock musket of the type issued to the Gloucester Grays by the Commonwealth in 1861 and a percussion shotgun, the type preferred by the Gloucester Dragoons (a cavalry unit).
Side arms include Colt and Remington revolvers and swords of both the cavalry and infantry, and smaller items such as side knives, powder flasks and bullet molds. An 1830s short artillery sword on display with its original leather scabbard is of the type used by the Gloucester artillery and is an unusual weapon patterned after the Roman short sword which was used to protect cannon positions during hand-to-hand combat. One seldom-seen cavalry item will be a picket pin used to tether a horse with a swivel top, allowing a horse the ability to graze in a large circle.
Also featured will be a Confederate officer’s tunic that began life as a pre-Civil War Virginia militia uniform. It was worn by a medical officer turned artillerist who was killed by Union artillery fire in 1862.
The last muster itself is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday. For more information about this event, including a complete schedule of events, visit www.co.gloucester.va.us/pr/events/lastmuster.htm.