The re-enactment is sponsored by the Lincoln at the Crossroads Alliance (LATCRA) with support from the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, the Lincoln Forum, and other organizations. Related events this weekend organized by LATCRA include a Grand Civil War Ball, history conference, concert, and mobile history museum. [Details below].
These activities commemorate Union General George B. McClellan’s Grand Review of the newly reorganized and enlarged Army of the Potomac, held at Bailey’s Crossroads Nov. 20, 1861, before President Abraham Lincoln and members of his Cabinet. About 70,000 troops took part in that review on a cold, wet day. The march took place on what is now Leesburg Pike and what was then a campsite that had been abandoned by Rebel forces.
Staging the event in Bailey’s Crossroads “would have been a logistical nightmare,” said LATCRA President Maria Elena Schacknies, even though VDOT and the police departments of Fairfax County, Arlington, and Alexandria did an “extraordinary” job working with her organization to make it happen. She also conceded that fundraising during the economic downturn was difficult.
“The spirit of the original event, including President Lincoln’s optimism that the Union would prevail, will mark the re-enactment,” said Schacknies. The re-enactment will reflect “Lincoln’s determination to do whatever was necessary to keep the country intact.”
The ceremony at the Fort McNair Parade Field, 10:45-11:30 a.m. Saturday, will include Civil War re-enactors along with the Joint Forces Color Guard, the Continental Fife and Drum Corps of the Third Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and modern-day armed forces veterans.
The re-enactment is open to the public without charge. Spectators must arrive at the Fort McNair Parade Ground (103 Third Ave., S.W.) by 10:15 a.m. You’ll need to bring a photo ID to pass the security checkpoint. Visit the LATCRA website for detailed instructions on IDs and directions.
Actor Jim Getty, well known for his realistic portrayals of President Lincoln, will preside as the 16th president of the United States.
The event will feature remarks by Michael S. Linnington, commanding general, Joint Force Headquarters, National Capital Region/Military District of Washington. Other speakers include Col. Carl Coffman, commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall; and renowned Lincoln scholar Frank J. Williams, chair of the Lincoln Forum and a retired member of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Williams will also speak at the History Conference on Friday, Nov. 11, along with Edna Greene Medford, chair of Howard University’s history department and board member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. The conference takes place at 8:15 a.m. in the Schlesinger Center on the Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College, 3001 North Beauregard St.
It will focus on the history of the Bailey’s Crossroads area with a particular emphasis on the Civil War period. Lecture topics include “Abraham Lincoln’s Grand Review,” “Fortifications Around Washington,” “The Pachyderm Panic of 1906: The Great Northern Virginia Elephant Hunt,” and “The Future of Development for Bailey’s Crossroads.” Tickets for the history conference are $30 per person, and advanced registration is required. Contact NOVA Assistant Dean Jean H. Braden, 703/845-6357.
The multimedia “Spirit of the Civil War” concert, Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m., also in the Schlesinger Center, is a collaboration of NOVA’s music, communication design, and photography programs. Concert tickets will be available at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. For more information, contact Wendy Matthews, 703/845-6252.
Also on Friday evening, the public is invited to a Grand Civil War Ball to commemorate the sesquicentennial, 10 p.m.-midnight at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center Hotel, 5000 Seminary Road. Guests are invited to wear period costumes or Civil War uniforms (without weapons), but it’s not required. Douglas Jimerson and the Civil War Comrades will provide the music, and the Victorian Dance Ensemble will lead the dancing.
Tickets are $26.25. Finger food will be served, and there will be a cash bar. For information, contact Maria Schacknies, 703/820-1904.
The Civil War History Mobile, hosted by the Bailey’s Crossroads Revitalization Corporation, will be parked at the Crossroads Shopping Center on Leesburg Pike and S. Jefferson Street on Nov. 11 and 12,10 a.m.-5 p.m. Members of the Baileys Crossroads Rotary Club will be on hand to assist visitors.
LATCRA is working on raising funds for a statue of Lincoln to commemorate the sesquicentennial in Bailey’s Crossroads at a site to be determined.