Sesquicentennial events

May 1862 & 2012

Events Then & Now

150May 5, 1862 – Battle of Williamsburg (VA)

Then: Confederates stiffened here in prepared defenses while withdrawing from their Warwick River lines on the Peninsula. The Confederate effort here gave the retreat to Richmond some breathing room.

2012: Colonial Williamsburg plans a commemoration of the battle May 3-6 with living history, special programs, music, tours and more. An evening walking tour of the Confederate fortifications on Jamestown Island is set for May 3.

A list of the town's Civil War resources, tours, events and more

UDC wreath laying scheduled May 6 at Redoubt No. 6.

150May 8, 1862 – Battle of McDowell (VA)

Then: Confederates under Stonewall Jackson turned back a threat from the west by elements of Union Gen. Robert Milroy's army. The battle was a draw, but the Federals withdrew deeper into the mountains. Jackson's flank was safe for the time being.

2012: Beautiful mountain site. See for battlefield features.

Ranger-guided "On This Day" car-caravan tour of the battlefield at 4 pm May 8.

Reenactment of the battle scheduled May 5-6 in McDowell.

150May 15, 1862 – Battle of Drewy's Bluff (VA)

Then: Union gunboats, including the famed USS Monitor, were turned away from Richmond by Confederate guns placed on this high ground above the James River.


2012: Richmond National Battlefield site preserves the earthworks and the story.
The park is planning a commemoration on the battle date.

  • A variety of anniversary activities is planned at the Chesterfield County Central Library May 9-12 including an evening panel discussion Friday evening.
  • A living history weekend at Drewry's Bluff May 12-13 includes ranger-led tours, camps and demonstrations, music and more.
  • Living history programs, ranger tours and an evening ceremony is planned at the site on the anniversary date, May 15.


150May 23, 1862 – Battle of Front Royal (VA)

Then: Small Union detachment was routed by Stonewall Jackson's unexpected attack. Federal soldiers fled north toward Winchester during a running battle May 24. The following day, Jackson pursued the retreating Federals toward Winchester, fighting a running battle on the Valley Pike.

2012: Good driving tour available. Information at the town's visitor center.

  • Car-caravan tour of the battlefield 1-4 pm May 23.
  • Ranger-led "On This Day" tour of the running battle to Winchester on the Valley Pike May 24 (4 pm). Begins in Middletown.
  • Living history at key sites on the battlefield 10 am-4 pm May 26. Website:
May 23, 1862 – Battle of Lewisburg (now WV)

Then: Union forces held off a sprited early-morning attack as Confederates hoped to break up Federal plans to consolidate in the resources-rich mountains.

2012: Civil War Trails sign and a tour of Civil War sites. A living history history weekend with a re-created street battle is scheduled May 19-20.

150May 25, 1862 – First Battle of Winchester (VA)

Then: Jackson followed up his startling victory at Front Royal by routing Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks near Winchester. Jackson pursued the Federals to the Potomac River, scaring Lincoln and freezing Union troops intended for the Richmond campaign.


  • Ranger-led "History at Sunset" program at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley at 7 pm. May 25.
  • Car-caravan tour of the battlefield 1-4 pm May 25.
  • Living history at key sites on the battlefield 10 am-4 pm May 27.
150May 28-29, 1862 – Confederates approach Harpers Ferry
(now West Virginia)

Then: Following their victory at Winchester, a detachment of Stonewall Jackson's army approached a strong Union position and garrison at Harpers Ferry. Not willing to take it on, and getting word that other Union forces were preparing a trap, Jackson withdrew without much of a fight.

2012: The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park commemorates the Union defense of Harpers Ferry May 26-27. "Stonewall Stopped: Jackson's 1862 Valley Campaign," features special ranger programs and living history.

150May 31–June 1, 1862 – Battle of Seven Pines/Fair Oaks (VA), Lee takes command

Then: A Confederate attempt to attack an isolated wing of the Union army in the Richmond suburbs failed at Seven Pines/Fair Oaks. Southern commander Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was badly wounded during the fighting. Robert E. Lee was named to succeed him.

2012: Nothing remains of the battlefield today. The Seven Pines National Cemetery was established shortly after the war and a Civil War Trails sign at the Sandston Library describes the action.

NPS ranger talks and bus tours are offered on the anniversary of the battle May 31and on June 2. (Sign up for the bus tours by May 16.)

Talks and ceremony at the Seven Pines National Cemetery 7:30-9 pm.

Richmond-area events mark Robert E. Lee's taking command of what became the Army of Northern Virginia. A lecture May 31, dinner June 1 and a tour June 2 mark the anniversary.

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