Cedar Creek re-enactors disappointed

Last year, Tom Mack was set to “call” the dance, along with the rest of the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Era Dancers, at the Battle of Cedar Creek re-enactment.

But the dance, intended to teach people about a historically accurate activity from the era, never happened. Earlier that day, officials stopped the re-enactment after they found a suspicious device on the battlefield grounds.

Now, less than a year later, the dance will be canceled again, this time because the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation canceled the event in its entirety.

For Mack and others, the Battle of Cedar Creek re-enactment was the last big event of its type of the year, the last time in 2017   to reconnect and celebrate history with a group of friends.

“It was a large crowd, re-enactors on both sides,” Mack said.

It was also one of the few Civil War re-enactments occurring on the land where the battle was fought, something that Ben Miller of New Market particularly cherished.

“The plantation house that was there during the battle is still there,” Miller said. “The Heater House further down in the field was there in the battle. So you’re right smack dab in the middle of it.”

Miller said he has been doing re-enactments for about 17 years and that he’s been doing them at Cedar Creek since 2010. He currently does living histories at Belle Grove Plantation down the road from the Cedar Creek Battlefield.

“We do mostly infantry demonstrations, demonstrating the infantry tactics that would’ve been used during the Civil War,” Miller explained. “We also do artillery demonstrations as well.”

Miller said that he was drawn to re-enactments because of his love for history and because of how close he lives to the New Market battlefield.

“The battlefield’s right there,” Miller said. “They’ve always had a really good living history [interpretation] program there. So I’ve known a lot of people there for many years, and I’ve always been drawn to history.”

For him, seeing the Battle of Cedar Creek re-enactment canceled was disappointing, although he doesn’t blame the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation for deciding to cancel the event.

“I really can’t imagine; that must’ve been an incredibly hard decision for those people,” Miller said.

He said that he is “sure [the battlefield foundation] did what they had to do to make sure everybody was safe and to keep everybody in good order.”

The battlefield foundation issued a statement stating that “new circumstances beyond the control of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, and our paramount concern for the safety of our reenactors and visitors, have forced us to cancel this year’s reenactment.”

Still, Miller said he and other re-enactors are sorry to see the event canceled this year.

“It was always one of the big events of the year; it’s usually the last event of the year for most people,” Miller said. “Being in October, everything kind of stops after that. So it was really sad to see it go.”

But even with that disappointment, Miller is hopeful that the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation will be able to hold its re-enactment again next year, the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek.